Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sometimes, It Sucks to be Me

I got to LAX right at the end of this mess ( They wouldn't let us off the plane for 45 minutes. I got to deal with the long lines (actually, it was a mass of humanity) to get to the rental car buses. That took another 20 minutes. Then the traffic in and around the airport was snarled up because they had closed the freeway to film some TV show or movie. Yuck.

Even without checking a bag, it still took about an hour and a half from landing in LA to getting to my rental car. I guess I got a little cocky getting out of CLT and the travel gods put me back in place.

It really doesn't suck to be me though. Not anymore. Thanks Mrs. K.

It Must Suck to be Them

I really don’t know how regular people travel these days. I’m traveling today, which is a Sunday. I figured that Sunday morning would be a pretty slack time at the airport. Business travelrs (like myself) would be traveling later in the day. Vacationers would have left on Friday or yesterday if possible. I could not have been more wrong.

The airport was a mad house. Before I even got off the parking shuttle bus I see the huge long lines of the curb check-in. That line must have been 50 yards and 50 minutes long. I find a hole in that line to get into the terminal building and see the same horror repeated at the ticketing desk and again at the first class check in. I was running a little short on time to catch my flight, but I wasn’t checking any bags, so this was only some rubber-necking on my part (you know, slowing down to look at a disaster and being glad that it’s not you).

I find a ticketing kiosk in my personal corner of the asylum. I wait while the one person ahead of me finishes up and I’m on my way to the security screening in about 45 seconds. I notice that the folks that I shared the shuttle with have barely dinted the check in line. That must suck.

The line for screening is pretty long as well. There are just people everywhere. However, I’ve get my platinum status with US Air’s frequent flyers club and Charlotte has a special line for us. This line is not really a line as there is nobody waiting there. I zip to the front and the process goes just great. By not ckecking a bag and having preferred status, I’m guessing that I saved about 90 minutes in the boarding process.

I’ve got plenty of time now to find a breakfast biscuit, get to my gate and wait for the call for first-class passengers to board. That’s right. I got bumped up for this cross-country flight. I waited at the gate for about 10 minutes.

We are on our way now with arrival in about 3 hours. I’ve got a comfy seat with lots of elbow room and brunch on the way. This makes travel bearable. I don’t know how I survived travel as a commoner. It must suck to be them.

Catching Up

I took some time off from the blog over the past week or so. I was coming off a long stretch of travel and wanted to spend time resting and catching up around the house. Blogging just fell to the bottom of the priority list. But some cool things have been happening and I’ve got a few hours with nothing better to do, so I’ll go ahead and catch you up on what’s been happening.

While I was in the Seattle area, I got first wind of a new opportunity coming my way. One of my three accounts was being moved to another division. I was given the option of moving with that customer or staying on my current team with my remaining customers. When I returned home, I also got word that one of those remaining customer would probably not be renewing their contract. The new division would give me some additional money, higher profile assignments, and the travel opportunities would be more exotic.

My current manager has been the best I’ve ever worked with and my team is a great group of guys (and a gal). However, the current job would be reduced to one customer for a while, and I would probably be moved to a new manager and a new team. Since change was inevitable, I went for the money. I may end up looking back on the past year as the good times, but I’m happy about the change for now.

I started working with a local theater company as a volunteer grunt. Shakespeare Carolina is a pretty descriptive name for this low budget group of very dedicated actors, directors and stage hands. My buddy Falstaff is one of the driving forces behind SC which is why I decided to go with them. I almost always enjoy hanging out with him (losing money in a poker game is occasionally the possible exception). Working on the current production has not been an exception. I only spent a few hours on The Taming of the Shrew. I expect there will be a lot more to do in Falstaff’s production of Hamlet come July. In that play, kings get killed a lot, just like when I play poker. I’m looking forward to it.

Right now I am on a flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles for my last scheduled database performance workshop. This one is in Simi Valley on the northern edge of Greater Los Angeles. I’ll get to LA before noon. I hope it keeps going as well as the start (see next post).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My day in Vegas

Being a jet-setting world traveler is not easy, but that was my role over the weekend.

I have been in the Seattle area for the past 10 days presenting training to my colleagues. The weekend before the assignment was spent with the wife. She loves to go to major league baseball games. We had not been to Safeco Field where the Mariners play, so she came along, we went to the game and she went back to North Carolina on Sunday. So that was the first weekend of the trip.

When I found out that the second weekend was the summer edition of the World Poker Blogger Tournament in Las Vegas, I couldn’t resist making my reservation and getting my butt to Vegas. Unfortunately, airline tickets are expensive. The cheapest tickets from Seattle to Vegas were running in the $400 range. US Airways was no help with their lack of frequent flyer seats for the entire month. I was able to find an awards ticket of Southwest Air, but only for arrival Saturday morning and departure on Sunday morning. In other words, I would only be in Vegas about 22 hours. Well, 22 hours is better than nothing, so I was off.

The trip down was very smooth. The plane left right on time and arrived early. I got right into a cab to the Orleans and actually arrived before my flight was scheduled to land. I gave Falstaff a quick call and the poker was on.

I donked around with some $1-2 NL for a couple hours and decided to break for lunch when I got back to even. The bloggers really started to gather at TGI Friday’s around noon. It was good to see some old, familiar faces like Badblood, Dr. Pauley, Mr. and Mrs. Spaceman, and Zeem in addition to getting to know some new faces like Irongirl, Waffles, and Carmen. There was also the added pleasure of seeing M who I knew through Falstaff’s home game before she moved out to LA.

The tournament was not good. The Orleans really shafted us by jacking the buy-in, skipping levels, shortening levels, and generally treating us as a nuisance instead of paying customers. Maybe it was just the ass-clown of a poker room director, but it reflected on the Orleans. I’ll probably never set foot in the Orleans again.

I think I played well. I busted out 19th out of 45 or so after seeing only one quality hand in 2 hours. Congratulations to Mrs. Spaceman on her big win.

After the tourney, it was time to get out of the Orleans as quickly as possible. I jumped into the car with Carmen and Waffles and we headed for the MGM poker room, the just barely unofficial home of poker blogger cash games.

I sat at another $1-2 NL table and proceeded to get nothing for an hour and a half. I don’t think I saw a better hand than 3-3 the whole time. I busted out of my $100 and decided to just hang out the 30 minutes that remained until Falstaff, T and the rest of the gang caught up.

Dinner was great with a ton of conversation. Rock and roll and WWE style wrestling dominate my memory of the conversation, but I’m sure there was much more. The cost of dinner was steep, but that’s the way it is in Vegas. The food was great, so it worked out.

After dinner it was back to the poker room for more poker action. This time T and I sat at a $2-4 limit table. I had a really good run that saw me turn several boats and my share of other strong hands. One hand in particular that I remember had me flopping two pair with Js and 7s. The 9 on the turn hit my opponent’s pocket pair of 9s and the river J gave me a really big pot. It made for good TV I’m sure.

We played until about 3 am when T and Falstaff had to go. I left for the airport around 4 and made my way back to my hotel room in Seattle. I got there about 11 am on Sunday. Let me tell you, it is really painful waiting to get on a plane after being up all night. You want to sleep, but can’t. Once you get on and sit down, you want to lean back and sack out, but they don’t let you until you are airborne. The process feels like it takes hours.

Once back in Seattle (Issaquah, actually), I lay down for a real rest and end up sleeping until 6 pm. I ate dinner, did some work, and watched some TV until about midnight. 7:30 on Monday came and I was good to go.

The trip wasn’t easy and I ended spending $80 more on poker than I won. It was still a good time. Vegas almost always is a good time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rock and Roll

One of the many interesting conversations that occurred during the recent blogger tournament weekend was on the topic of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time. I remember someone mentioned "Stairway to Heaven" which is obligatory in this conversation. The mention also drew some retching noises from the group. It got me thinking about what would go on my top ten and why. Here is what I came up with. First, the criteria:

· No songs from the last 10 years, as it is difficult to judge a songs staying power is so little time.
· Pop, Techno, soft rock, rap, and the like are not Rock and Roll
· Powerful guitars and drums are the foundation of rock and roll
· The song must have been a commercial success as rock and roll has been a commercial form from the start.

Next, the honorable mentions:

Motor City Madhouse by Ted Nugent (Live Gonzo Version)
Just because I love the whole of his Double Live Gonzo Album. If this song had had some commercial success, it would be on the list.
Sweet Hitchhiker by Creedence Clearwater Revival
The House is a Rockin’ by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits
Loveshack by B-52s
Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer
Rock You Like a Hurricane by Scorpions
I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar
Smells Like Teen Sprit by Nirvana
Frankenstein by Edgar Winter Group
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
Wipeout by The Ventures

And now, the 10 greatest songs of Rock and Roll:
1. Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin
2. Eruption/You Really Got Me by Van Halen
3. La Grange by ZZ Top
(The first three songs are power and simplicity that is basic 3-chord rock. These songs define rock)
4. Slowride by Foghat
5. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
(A couple of longer, more complex songs that still force you to crank the radio (or iPod) up every time you hear them)
6. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
(Almost became the state song of New Jersey until they figured out it was Jersey he was running from)
7. Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones
(The definitive guitar rift of rock)
8. Paradise by the Dashboard Lights by Meatloaf
9. Radar Love by Golden Earring
10. Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis
(This last one has aged better than any song in rock. It will still rip you out of you seat.)

If you don't agree, get your own blog.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A really good day

We woke up Saturday in the Seattle suburb of Issaquah. I say we because Mrs. K came with me for the first day of this trip. The trip is to present some training to my colleagues, but that doesn’t start until Monday. So Saturday was to be a day for me and the Mrs. without dogs or chores or anything like that. It ended up being a really good day.

We took a ride down to Mt. Ranier. The views were terrific. I’ll let you be the judge.
After our trip to the mountain we headed for the ballpark. It was a bit early, even for us, but we like to be there when the gates open and watch batting practice, get autographs, and see the park. Well, Seattle is different. Three hours before game time, the sidewalks were stuffed with dads, moms and kids, all decked out in teal and white. Turns out, this was “Thank you, Edgar” day, the day when the Mariners induct Edgar Martinez into the Mariner’s hall of fame.

So the show before the game was good, the game was good, the seats were good. It was just good. All of it. Now the wife is back in Charlotte. Training starts tomorrow. I’ll be on the opposite coast from home for over a week living in a nice hotel, eating restaurant food and working some. There will be some old friends to catch up with, some teammates to get to know better and maybe some poker to play. I’ll make it through somehow.