Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time Shift

(Heidelberg, Germany) - It is the weekend of a business trip to Europe.  It is the part of traveling as a part of my job that sounds exciting, but right now, it is not.  I'm not making very good use of the opportunity and I know it.  There is very little I enjoy doing by myself that is offered here in Heidelberg and I'm just not up to traveling across Europe this weekend.


This is Germany in December (above is the view from my hotel room).  The sun has not shown clearly during this whole visit and it is not expected to soon.  The temperature is just above freezing.  It has also been there since I arrived.  We are only getting about 7 hours of daylight per day.  All of that combined keeps me in my hotel room except for adventures out for food or supplies.  Is beer a supply or food?

As many readers of this blog know, this is the weekend of the annual winter gathering of the poker bloggers in Vegas.  Many of my internet friends are flesh and blood and having a good time as I write. 

The really freaky part happens when I do the math and figure out what is happing in Vegas as I do my thing here in Germany.  The time difference puts me 9 hours ahead of Vegas.  Add in the time shift that one does when in Vegas (going to bed 3 to 5 hours later than usual, if at all), and the difference seems like we are on different planets.  For instance, this morning when I awoke at 9 am, it was only midnight in Vegas.  Those girls and boys were just hitting their stride and most would not even think about bed until it was lunch time for me.  Right now the sun is well past setting at 6:45 pm.  The time is 9:45 am in Vegas and few bloggers are to be found outside of their rooms (or someone's room) save those that have yet to retire.  The big tourney at the Venetian will begin in about 5 hours and I'll be awaking to a new day by the time it ends.

So best of luck to all you bloggers.  Enjoy the good times and have a free drink for me.  I'll toast you with my genuine Germany lager at dinner while you sleep.

auf Wiedersehen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gimme Back My Bullets

It has been a pretty typical span of three weeks since I last wrote a real post.  It has been filled with travel, poker, some time at home, and a goodly amount of work.  The travel part is happening with a vengeance right now as I am typing this while sitting in my hotel room in Heidelberg, Germany.  I'll get to that in just a second.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Brown and I set out for Seattle.  We started that trip out with some poker action at the Snoqualme Casino.  That was the subject of my last post below.  The rest of that trip was a professional conference in downtown.  The information was great.  I'm still working to pull those notes together to share with my colleagues.  But if I don't have time to blog, I sure don't have time to write for work. :)

As we often do, Mr. Brown and I scheduled a long layover in Vegas on our way back from the Pac NW.  Long as in two nights.  It was a pretty wild trip.  Mr. Browns luck ran as short as it ran good in Washington.  I think he ended the trip pretty close to even.  My rough time continued.  I had a pretty good first session at the Venetian to get back my losses of earlier in the week.  Saturday morning, we entered the morning tourney at the Sahara.  I had a great early run to take the chip lead which I held for most of the tournament.  That run included a nut straight, a nice hidden full house and the following hand.  I get 77 in the big blind.  I raise 3x and get 3 callers.  The flop comes down 77K to give me quads.  I check and the player on my left raises about the size of the pot.  He gets one other caller and I come along as well.  The turn is another K.  I don't worry about this much and check.  The raiser raises about 3/4 of the pot and the late position caller goes over the top all-in.  That is exactly what I wanted to see.  I call.  The raiser goes all-in as well and I call again.  I know they each hold a king before they even show.  I rake a monster.  My luck and cards ran out with 3 players left and I took down a nice score.

The rest of the day was a nightmare.  I don't think I won a significant hand until mid-night through sessions at Harrah's and the Hard Rock and found myself down about $600 for the trip.  I headed back to the Venetian for one final session.  In a short 2 hours, I found a couple of huge hands (both huge flushes) to get back my $600 and finish the trip west just about even.

Back in the queen city, we've had 3 home games, one each at Falstaff's, BadBlood's, and Brian the Red's.  None of the three got me much in the way of cards.  I think I lost 100 points or so in those sessions.  The odd thing about all of the poker above going all the way back to Snoqualmie, is that I never saw pocket aces.  Not even once.  Not even in the 3 or 4 hours of Omaha.  In all of those hands I probably should have seen AA 5 or 6 times.  I know I've been seeing KK and QQ much less than normal as well.  I guess if I can play that much and only loose 100, I'm doing OK.

I did get to spend the last couple weeks at home which was very nice.  It seems to be just enough time to get my chores done and get ready to head out to Germany for two weeks, which is where I find myself right now.  The direct flight from CLT went well as did the train ride to Heidelberg.  I met up with colleagues who got me some lunch and took me to meet the customer.  I did get a little irritated when we were not able to leave the customer site until almost 7 pm.  At that point I had been up for about 30 hours and was ready for some sleep.  I got that done and now I think I'm ready to hit the day hard.  I hope it doesn't hit back too hard.  I hope to get some time to get out in the area of my hotel tonight and maybe get a picture or two.  The sun is just now coming up at 7:50 am and it sets around 4:30 pm, so pictures may have to wait until this weekend.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Obama, Poker and Bingo

So in the after math of the election, what with Obama in the spot light, and McCain, (well who knows exactly where he is), all the poker followers, players and experts are hoping that Obama does so something in the way of legalizing poker in the United States. This will open up so many channels for US players to partake in poker tournaments, free rolls and games small and large. There are only a select few companies which are currently taking the risk of serving US players, but so many more will diversify into the US market once OL poker. It can be practically 50% of their revenue. Incomes can practically double! Pacific Poker for one, is patiently waiting for the market to become what it once was. But Pacific Poker is just one out of the many that is waiting to steadily pounce on the new opportunities. I feel that online poker as an industry is in for some pleasant surprises in the near future. Online gaming sites have already diversified their variety of games to online bingo backgammon and even pool. The world wide web is not what it used to be!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's that time again.

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.

Registration code: 433101

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snoqualmie Poker

While out in the Seattle area for a professional conference, Mr. Brown and I went to a new local casino to check out the west coast poker action. We were told that the casino was well marked, so we found the place after only a couple of wrong turns. Once we arrived, we found the parking lot and deck to be very well marked.

The facility is new having opened in October. It is bigger than most casinos here in the PacNW though it would make a pretty small location in NV. Still, it was very nice and they seemed to have their place running very smoothly for such a new operation.

The poker room had 10 tables or so. We arrived around 6:30. The only games being spread at that time were $4-8 LHE and $2-5 NLHE. Those limits are a little high for my current roll and I wasn't looking to be a rock tonight (to conserve $$), but we were there to play so we choose the NLHE table. I didn't ask about other games but I suspect that these were the lowest limits available.

One rules situation occurred that I would like to get some comment on: Dealer deals the cards and 3 players limp in when the button tells the dealer that he only got one card. The nice thing to do for a player that is under no suspicion would be to deal him a card, but I'm wondering about dealing out more cards once action has occurred. Wouldn't it be easy for the player to drop a deuce or trey on the floor and ask for a card? I'm thinking a strict interpretation would call the buttons hand dead. Just wondering. In this case, the player got a card and play continued.

My night started with a few small wins as I played fast while the rest of the table settled in. As these things usually work, my luck changed quickly and for the worst. I got KK on the button and raised 3x to push out all but the small blind and the big blind. My flop bet of $30 pushed out the big blind, but the small was still around. I still had an overpair on the turn and bet $50. The small blind came over the top for $40 more. I knew I was probably beat, but my odds of beating 2 pair on the river were good enough, so I called. His flopped set of Js held up and my stack is now half of it's original size.

Not long after that I ordered dinner. Another hand about 10 minutes after that, I look down and see 88 in my hand on the button and raise 3x. I get a couple of callers which include Mr. Brown two seats to my right. The flop is something like 783. Cool. the betting is checked to me and I bet $25 which is called by Mr. Brown. The turn is a blank for straights and flushes. Mr. Brown bets $25 and I raise to $75. He calls. The river is another blank and MB says something like "I don't want to take all of your money" and checks. I think I'm good and read weakness in his statement and bet $100 (leaving me $30 behind). He calls and turns over 87o for two pair. I flip over my cards and lose. WHAT?!?! It turns out I misread the 83o that was in my hand so I only had two pair. Dammmmmmit! About this time my sandwich arrives so I decide it's a good time to take a break.

I rebuy after dinner and my luck continues unchanged. (OK, the misread wasn't luck induced) Shortly, I'm dealt JJ in early position. I raise 3x and get 2 callers, the cute asian chick (CAC) and the loose drunk (LD) 3 seats to my left. The flop is 8910 rainbow. Cool. I've got an over pair and a redraw to a big straight. I bet $25 or so and CAC goes all in for $15 more. LD and I both call and check the hand down. I miss on improving my hand and CAC turns over AA to scoop the pot.

Player's checks!

That was the final insult before things improved. I still had to limp and fold my way down to just over $100 when I got 44 in the big blind. The action folds around to Mr. Brown who raises to $25 or so. The player inbetween us folds and I go over the top for $95 more and all in. MB calls and turns over A10 of diamonds (Note: he still swears it was AQd, but he should get a better memory or his own blog). My 4s hold up through a 2-diamond flop and I double up to a little over $200.

It is now about 9:30 and Mr. Brown is wanting to call it a night. He is up about $1000 (that happens on a loose table and you are dealt 7 or more full houses in 3 hours) and wants to preserve his winnings. I'm wanting to double up again to get back to within $200 of my starting point. I put him off for a while when the following miracle flopped my way. I get JJ on the button. There are a few limpers and then LD raises to $20 or so. I call as does the rock on my left. The flop comes JJA with 2 hearts. I couldn't have reached into the deck and pulled out a better flop. I faux-check my cards to look like I'm drawing to a flush (and to make sure I have quads). LD bets $25 and I smooth call. I'm trying my best to keep the rock around, but he folds. I'm getting my whole stack in but no need to be in a hurry. The turn is a non-heart and LD pushed out $100. I explain that I'll only have another $70 behind so I'll just go all in and LD calls and flips over KK. Double up and time to go. We actually play around to Mr. Brown's blind and go.

All-in-all, it was a good night and I don't think I played too badly except for the misread. I get about 1 a year, so I can live with that. Friday night, Mr. Brown and I travel from SEA to LAS (Vegas), so there is more poker action to come.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Angry Young Man

(navel gazing post)
In the past few months, I've been a little surprised at myself. Some things that would have greatly upset me in my younger days now they seem to roll off my back. I'm mostly talking about little stuff like losing poker sessions or personality clashes, bad breaks at work or lost political races. Used to be those types of incidents would dig down deep under my skin and bring up reactions that were not so appropriate. Now it happens much less often.

I like to think Dr. K has something to do with that. Having a happy home life to fall back on will sooth many an emotional cut or scrape. I'd like to think growing up might also have some part in the change. I was reminded of that by a song I heard on the radio recently. It was a song that my high school and pole vault buddy FrankieX used to play on the tape deck in his car (radio? tape deck? Yea, I'm dating myself. I know). He was a big Billy Joel fan, even back before The Stranger came out, so many of the early Billy Joel songs are the songs from my childhood.

This particular song was, as the title of this post suggests, Angry Young Man. In those days, I saw myself somewhat proudly as that AYM and couldn't really understand folks who didn't get "really involved". Because I can still remember my old reaction to that song, the difference in who I am now really comes into focus. The bridge of the song really hit me. Here are those words (40 somethings feel free to sing along):

I believe I've passed the age
of conscientiousness and righteous rage
I've found that just surviving is a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
Had my pointless point of view
and life when on no matter who was wrong or right

What used to sound like surrender now sounds more like a badge of honor. I'm not totally past poor reactions and probably never will be. Although, sometimes it is helpful to be able to tap into the old me when a strong reaction seems necessary so long as I know the difference.

I haven't heard from Frankie in a few years and often miss the old days of pole vaulting and cassette tapes, but today's adventure is a better one in every way.

On with the adventure.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post Election Notes

  • So far, it looks like most Obama supporters are good winners.
  • The celebration of the Obama victory last night reminded me of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  That can't be a bad thing.
  • Just wondering, who voted for McCain (49%+ in NC), but not for McCrory (47%)?  There must be some Charlotte haters elsewhere in the state.
  • I heard one analyst  who said the youth vote for Obama was, in part, a "poke in the eye" to their elders who still see race as a factor.  I approve that message.
  • Both candidates for President said the right things last night.  We can all be proud Americans.
  • The Republicans would be smart to pick a few fights and not try to obstruct everything.  Not holding my breath for that.
  • Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed scare me more than ever and may have more power domestically than Obama as they control the agenda.
  • Along the same line, too much power on one side can be a bad thing.  I'm willing to wait and see about that. (Like I have a choice)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So is there voter intimidation?


I'm not surprised.

Looking back - Looking forward

I am looking so forward to Wednesday. I'm always tired of politics and political campaigns about a week after registration begins, so there's nothing new there.  But this political season and this presidential election  seems to be particularly vicious.

I know that many of the democrat supporters are truly inspired by the guy with the pretty words.  The republicans felt the same way back in 1980.  Nothing new there.  I also know that many of his supporters are voting for him out of hate for the other side, namely George W. Bush.  Of course most would never admit it.  They've found plenty of info to show how their guy can solve all of our problems and save us money at the same time.  Fine.  If he gets the chance, I hope he does.  The republicans have done much the same with some respect for the war hero and lots of hate for the liberials.  Nothing really new there except the amount of hate seems to be higher this time around.

But I can not escape the feeling that a lot of hate on both sides has spilled over from the campaign into daily lives.  Normally friendly, rational people have taken to relentlessly badgering their friends about getting out to vote, make calls, go to this rally, etc, as if everyone else doesn't have a brain in their head.   If you think newly born-again Christian or recent non-smokers are irritating, they have nothing on these political supporters.  The mis-information that is flying around in blogs, emails, and other channels on both sides is just mind-bloggling (new term).  I quick check of most of it show the lies for what they are, but like all good urban myths, those who forward this stuff would rather believe than check.  It is easy to do when you get excited.

They've also taken to calling each other names that we would never use in person.  In the name of (pick a candidate), it is OK to call others idiots, biggots, sexist, nazi, morons and much more.  The insults are rarely so obvious.  The usually come out as "You''d have to be numb in the head to ..." or "The only reason I could imagine that you wouldn't vote for candidate X would be that you are a (insert derogatory term from above)".  If you've taken a public side in this fight, go back and read some of what you've written.  You may owe some apologies.

After tomorrow, we will have a president-elect who will champion bipartisanship and will eventually make some token appointments to show his commitment.  Expect the word "heal" and "healing" to be tossed around like a football at a Manning family reunion, but nothing will change here.  George W. Bush came in with these promises, and the new president will, too.  They will end up the same and it will be the other sides fault.  Each side will still blame the other for all of our problems and will give their side a pass.  The party that is in power will do what they can to keep the party out of power out of power.  Those of us who feel deeply will eventually be hurt and those of us who think will shake our heads in amazement and/or disgust.  In other words, not much is going to change.  But we don't have to disrespect each other so much in the process, do we?

So to those who save the world tomorrow from those evil other-siders, congratulations.  Enjoy the victory.  But once the party is done and the world sweeps up the confetti, remember what it felt like the last time your side lost and do something personal to heal the wounds that this battle has caused. To not do so would be, well, like those other guys and you are better than that.

Where I have been guilty of the above, I apologize.  My hope is that the world will seem like a better place on Wednesday.  It has got to be a little quieter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Brian turns 40 in Vegas

Seven donks from the Falstaff home game ventured out to Vegas this past weekend to help Sir Brian the Red (SBR) celebrate the end of his 40th year on this earth (he turned 40 on Sunday).  Falstaff, T, Jim the Knife, Big Nick, Blackjack Carl and myself made to trip to honor SBR.  It was to be a weekend of much eating, some drinking and maybe one or two things that will stay in Vegas until those parties out themselves. (Note to Dr. K: None of that would get me in any trouble).

For me, it was a great week of poker.  It was actually the most productive week of poker in my life.  I booked 3 losing sessions.  One was for about $10, another for $35, and my final session was a loss of $200.  I had winning sessions at the Venetian, Harrah's, Imperial Palace, Caesar's Palace, Mirage, and Hard Rock.  The net was way positive.  That makes up for the week a little over a year ago when it seemed that I could not win a significant hand and lost almost the exact same amount.

The breaks just went my way this time.  On my first night, I went head-to-head with a very aggressive player who had bet to put me all in on the turn.  I tanked for a few seconds.  There was a club flush possible on the board.  He had been bluffing quite a bit and I knew that, even if he did have a made flush, I had a few outs as I had the Qc and a draw to a boat.  I said "I call" and flip my cards over.  I didn't think I needed to move chips.  The dealer dealt another Q as the last card and the other player mucked.  He goes a little nuts when the dealer starts counting out his chips and pushing the big stack my way.  He thought I had folded and he apparently held the winning flush.  I don't like slow-rolling jerks and this was caused by his penchant for slow-rolling and not showing when he should, so I felt that it was justice.

I played in two tournaments while in Vegas.  Both were the 11 o'clock at Sahara, one Friday and one Saturday.  I got OK cards and a few good lay-downs  to get to the final table in both.  I got 5th on Friday and 7th for a $50 save on Saturday.  In both, I bubbled on our group's last-longer bet.  Congrats to SBR and T for cashing and taking the last-longers.  I think both when out directly after me (4th and 6th).

The Hard Rock has a new poker room, so we went to check it out before dinner on Saturday.  The crowd was much younger than the other casinos that we had seen.  The staff was especially good looking.  I found out later that hiring practices at the Hard Rock means that you only get hired if you are "smokin' hot" or you know the right person.  Most didn't know the right person.  The Hard Rock also has the coolest looking players cards of the 3 dozen that I hold.

There was one notable hand at the Rock.  I was holding 99 on a J high board.  I'd been playing TAG poker.  I got heads up with a LAG.  We had a big pot going and he bet out $50 on the turn. I had $98 in front of me so I said that I had about a hundred and pushed it in.  He made a short speech about respecting me and folded his AA face up.  He had gotten confused and thought the raise was for $100 and not less than a raise of his bet.  He felt kinda stupid, but took it well.

My biggest donk move of the week was also my funniest story.  The player on my right was playing very tight.  He was on the button for this hand.  I had QhTh under-the-gun, so I raise to $7.  The player on the small blind tries to give me a little grief by asking "What's with only $7."  That amount was small in this game (1-2 NLH), but I reply with a grin as we get 5 or 6 callers, "it's called a raise and it designed to keep weaker hands out of the hand."  About this time the action gets to the big blind (immediately on my right) and he bumps it up $20 more.  I'm about even at this point and my mouth is already in gear, so I lean over to him and say, "I don't have your aces or kings beat yet, but I'll know after the flop." With that, I call.  Two other players call the $20.  The flop comes down QQ4.  He bets $25 and I smooth call.  The others fold.  The turn was a 6.  He bets $30 and I push.  He insta-calls and turns over KK.  The river was not a K so I scooped a big pot.

The dinner for SBR's birthday was held at David Burke in the Venetian.  I think everyone had a good time going to a really nice place for a change.  Falstaff and I had the "oh my god" steak.  It was actually the filet, but everyone who tried it exclaimed "Oh my god."  It was that good.  I did play around a bit when SBR and I made the reservation in person.  The chief's name was on the menu in front of the restaurant.  I acted like I knew him, thinking that we might get a nicer table out of it.  The girl taking our reservation was sorry, but Chief T would not be working  that night and did I want to leave a message for him.  I said no, that I would just call him later.  We did get a good table, but I have no idea if the story had any effect.

My final session on Sunday night was a good olde-fashioned kick in the teeth that brought me back to earth.  No cards.  No good decisions on my part and no desire to risk any more.  The trip home had me and SBR on the same flights and in first class.  That trip went off without a hitch.  It was a good trip.  I hope SBR has a great 41st year.  It is shaping up a lot better than 39 and 40 for sure.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Danube, Part III - The Journey Home

I was feeling a little queezy when we arrived in Saltzburg. I was convinced that it was my turn to have the crud that Dr. K had a few days before, but I was fine for the tour and wondering around the city. The ride to Munich for our last night took about 2 hours. It was going well until the guide and driver decided to take us on a tour through the middle of Munich with its stop-and-go traffic and fumes. Again, I was feeling pretty ill by the time we finally arrived at our hotel. It was Octoberfest time in Munich and my brothers and I were making plans to attend. I figured that I would be OK after some rest and dinner.

I got some rest and I made it about half-way through dinner, but I was not feeling better, so I had to bag Octoberfest and headed back up to the room. I had just told Dr. K that I just could not get comfortable when my pipes reversed flow and I became violently ill. This was about 8 pm. Uncontrollable retching hit me again at 10, and 12, and 3. During the 12:00 session, I heard my brothers and their wives returning from Octoberfest. I felt like I had missed Christmas and a trip to Disney World. Arrg. I also had the trip home to look forward to in the morning. I had no idea how I would survive the 15 minute ride to the airport, much less getting all the way back to the USA in this shape.

Morning came and I was mobile, but that was about it. We got to the airport early and the fun really started. Our plane to Paris was late arriving due to fog in Paris. We were told that there were so many people from our flight connecting to the US, that our plane from Paris to NY would wait. Ha! We arrive at the gate an hour late to find that the plane had left on time. Rebook.

We get on a later flight to NY-Kennedy airport that gets us into the US about the time our Delta flight to Charlotte leaves. I'm feeling a little stronger by the time we get to NY, but still not great. As we expected, the flight to Charlotte had left without us. Worse yet, there were no other Delta flights out that night. Delta had no responsibility to help us with a hotel or food or booking on another airline. Air France had the attitude that they had done their job by getting us to NY and thay were no help either. We were stuck.

At this point, Dr. K made a wise decision and said "just get me home!" We bolted for the JetBlue terminal, threw down the credit card and $600 later, we were on our way home. We made this flight, the absolute last flight to CLT, with maybe 5 minutes to spare. JetBlue was wonderful. They had live TV on each personal screen. They left and arrived on time and kept track of our bags. We walked in the door of our home at 15 past midnight. My bed never slept so good.

It was a good vacation. I enjoyed spending time with my mother, brothers and sisters in-law. I always enjoy it when Dr. K and I get away. The ride home sucked and was completely avoidable, but that didn't change the great time we had.

Next, Vegas Trip Report

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Danube, Part II

We departed Vienna late in the day and cruised all night and much of the next day until we arrived in Budapest.  That is an interesting place.  The Danube runs between the ancient cities of Buda (the high mountainous side) and pest (on the low plain).  The communist era influences were striking.  Much of the art and monuments were hold-overs from that time.  They are doing there best to bring their economies up to speed.  The will soon join the European Union and begin using the Euro, but not yet.  Here are a few pictures from Budapest.

DSC_1345 DSC_1352 DSC_1357 DSC_1369

As we returned from our half-day tour of Budapest, Dr. K starting looking pretty ill.  We had to bolt from the tour bus straight to our cabin.  Next thing I know, she is retching her guts out.  It turned out that she had picked up a stomach flu from another passenger or a crew member.  The illness only lasted a day to a day and a half.  She was back on her feet before we got to Bratislava, our next stop.  Unfortunately, the illness started working its way through our group.

Bratislava has a lot in common with Budapest.  They are both former communist areas and both are trying to get closer to the west and are having a hard time.  Bratislava does have a nice center city.  There are still a few building that are in need of renovation, but that served to show us how far they have come.  I believe there is even a European Poker Tour event scheduled for Bratislava very soon.  Here are a few pics from Bratislava.

DSC_1407 DSC_1419 DSC_1429 DSC_1434

The last stop on the river was Melk, Austria.  Melk is a small town with a huge monastery as you can see here:


It was gorgeous.  I'll let more pictures do the talking:


These are Turks (invaders) that are depicted in their punishment of holding up the ceiling



Moses with horns (anyone know why he has horns?)

By the way, these low-light, high magnification picture are brought to you my my new 400 mm lens with Vibration Reduction.  It made many of these pictures possible. It gave me about 3 to 4 extra stops, so it absolutely rocks.

Our last stop on the trip involved a 2 hour bus ride to Saltsburg (Saltzburg), Austria.  We took a short tour and were left on our own for a couple hours to tour.  Dr. K and I got some lunch at an ourdoor restaurant and then wondered around.  I, of course, took a few more pictures.


DSC_1544 DSC_1557 DSC_1558 DSC_1579 DSC_1584

They like that Mozart guy.

Tomorrow, the last night and the trip home.  It's a dozy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Danube, Part 1

I've been home for almost a week now and I'm coming up on my next Vegas adventure. That means I'd better post my impressions of my Danube River Cruise before it gets too late. Here goes.

Actually, the trip could have had a much better start. The night before I left Jackson Hole I picked up a little cold. The cold never amounted to much more than congestion and a scratchy throat, but when the cold starts 24 hours before a vacation, the stress and worry about what it's going to turn into is awful.

I got home, did the quick turnaround and Dr. K and I were on our way at 10 am the next morning. We had decided to drive ourselves later rather than have my mother pick us up 3+ hours before the flight (we live 15 minutes from the airport). That decision would turn out to be very fortunate. We had no trouble getting parked, getting our tickets, bags checked and through security. The flights to Munich went very smoothly and we arrived right on time.

Then the fun began. All of the luggage arrived except for one bag - mine. I had a couple of conversations with the Air France rep. She seemed very competent and promised to get my bag to me as soon as possible.

The cruise started after a 1.5 hour bus ride to Passau. We cruised from there to Vienna, Austria. They call it Wein. Where do we get Vienna from? We had purchased tickets to see an orchestra in Vienna. 10 minutes before we were to leave, one of the ship's crew told me that my bag had arrived. Since all of my simi-dressy clothes were in there, I bolted to my cabin and got appropriately dressed for the evening. That was a huge relief. The evening was wonderful.

We toured Wein the next day. Here are a few pictures.


The challenges didn't end with the lost luggage. I'll continue with the adventure later.

Gambling Forum

This post is about  Read on to find out why this is coming up now.

I'm getting ready to head for Vegas on Thursday.  As folks on the trip (we've got 7 this time) start to get excited, the questions start flying.  Where are we going to eat?  What tournaments are we going to play?  How do you play (insert game here)?  Where can I get some practice?

For the first two questions, I usually just smile and watch the banter.  As for the second to questions and many others, I like to point folks to  The Gambling Forum is obviously a great place for message boards on gambling related subjects.  The General Talk forum is the most active and is wide open to most any questions that players may have.  It amazes me how many really good questions get asked and answered there as well as pointers to other sites that I would never have found on my own.

The focus of is online gambling, so they have a guide for the best online casinos (, a guide for online bonuses ( as well as reviews on many other online casinos.  The subjects are not limited to Poker, though there is plenty for the poker player.  There is information on Blackjack, Video Poker, Roulette, Video Slots, and much more.  You can also play and get the feel of many of these games via links right o the Gambling Forum's home page.

So Vegas, get ready for our crew.  Crew, get ready for Vegas at Gambling Forum.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Following up on yesterday's post - Who's to blame

This video goes down the same path I started down yesterday, but it goes further to the source with more details and it names names. The results are stunning. If you have any open mind about the upcoming election (sorry Tony, that leaves you out) then you should watch this video. It is stunning.

Thanks to 23skidoo for post this video where I would catch it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Who's to Blame

There has been a question rolling around in my head for the past week. It concerns the current economic crisis. To set the stage, let's go over the problems that led up to where we are in my opinion. It started with the banks loaning too much money to home-buyers who cannot afford to make the payments on the interest and the principle. This really kicked into high gear about 6 years ago. Since the terms for many of those loans were for zero interest for 5 years, many of those loans started to default about a year ago. (This is all just off the top of my head so feel free to correct if my misstatements make a difference to my argument below or sue me).

In other words, 6 years ago, many poor people (single mothers and african-americans among them) were able to buy homes for the first time.

Back when these loans were being written, the banks were repackaging the loans (bundling them up into groups) and selling that debt as investments to each other. These are shown as assets on the books of the holders of the repackaged debt (instruments or derivatives). When the holders defaulted, the assets became worth a fraction of their original worth and the banks began losing tons of money. Since they don't have enough assets, they can not make new loans.

With me so far?

Now here is my question: Who could have possibly stopped this from happening? President Bush? Congress? The Banks?

In a way, the answer is all of the above. Any of them literally could have stepped in and stopped allowing the loans to be made. But practically, none of them could have stopped it. President Kerry would have loved it if the mean-spirited GW Bush would have cut-off poor minorities from home ownership. Congress could have, but they have no political will. Had the banks done it, they would have been accused or red-lining and would have had to relent to pressure from everywhere.

I think that looking back in this case will help us to avoid this problem in the future. There will have to be national minimum requirements for obtaining loans. Notice I didn't say mortgages. There is a ton of other debt (credit cards) out there just waiting to cause the same or bigger problem. Just as banks have to have a certain level of assets backing the loans they make, consumers are going to have to have certain levels of income and or assets backing the loans they accept. Terms for those loans will also have to be more uniform. This will slow the economy in the short and mid-term, but will avoid a melt-down in the long term.

There will either be action on this, which will include hateful accusations against whoever tries to fix the problem, or we will be right back here in less than a decade. The era of creative and flexible financing is most probably over.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Understanding How Online Poker Bonuses Work

A loyalty bonus is an online poker bonus awarded to a player who has been using a particular poker site for a certain period of time. It can be a match bonus like a poker sign up bonus or it can come in the form of some kind of promotion. All the top online poker rooms offer loyalty bonuses.

Match Online Poker Loyalty Bonuses

A match loyalty bonus will probably just show up in its own window when you log on. It will let you know that if you make a deposit within a certain period, you are entitled to a percentage of your deposit as a bonus. It usually doesn’t matter how long you’ve played on the site, as long as you have an account when the offer is made, you are eligible.

Promotion Loyalty Bonuses

The other way you can earn bonuses for continued play on a site is through player points. Most sites have a player points program where you earn points depending on how often you play on the site. These points can’t be redeemed for cash, but can be used to play in freerolls with cash prizes, or for merchandise with cash value. The great thing about online poker loyalty bonuses is that you get them for doing something you would be doing anyway: playing online poker. Keep your eyes open for any loyalty bonuses that are offered so that you can optimize your online poker playing experience by doing the same thing you’ve been doing all along.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time for a quick post

... and that is about all.

I just got home from Jackson Hole and the madness or turning around and heading to Europe in less than 24 hours has started. The dogs go to camp (code for my mother-in-law's house) as soon as Dr. K gets home from work. Then it's time to eat dinner, pack, charge batteries and get some sleep before heading back to the airport. The dump of JH pics will have to wait. If you can't wait, you can check them out at Flick'r.

See you in a couple weeks.

(Special K will be in Vegas Oct. 9-12. Get ready.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wild and crazy times

I've just been too busy to blog. Work and fun have had me running like crazy until today. Since work and fun have been balanced pretty well, that is not a complaint, it's just the fact.

For instance, last Saturday, Dr. K and I jumped on the Falstaff Boogie Express (it's really a toaster on wheels) for a trip to Brevard, NC. This was the site of the Mountain Music Festival that featured the greatest mandolin player in the world, Sam Bush. We arrive at the show about 5:30 and had just gotten settled on the grass when the crowd in the seated area just erupted. Since none of us were paying attention, we had to jump up to see what the commotion was about. Falstaff motioned me over and I saw an old silver-haired gent with a banjo. Since I don't always see real well, Falstaff had to clue me in to the fact that the new attraction was Steve Martin. Yea, that Steve Martin. The leader of the band made it clear that of all the special guests that they had hosted, Steve was easily the most recent. Steve was no slouch on the strings either. It was a good start to a great show.

Monday, I boarded a jet for Wyoming and the Tetons. I'm currently sitting in the Lake Jackson Lodge knocking out this post. This is what I see when I look to my right:


Here is a shot of Cowboy K from this morning:


Yea, work is tough today. Leave your sympathy notes in the comments. We pay for our fun tomorrow with a day full of meetings followed by a trip home on Friday. After that, this blog will go stale until October as I will be out of the country without internet service. I'll bring back tons of pictures from our European Vacation. I'll post a few more Jackson Hole pics later, so come back soon.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


A friend on another blog posed the question, "What good is Patriotism?" He went on to write that he found no good in it.  I have to disagree.

First, I need to define what I call and feel as Patriotism.  It is pride in the ideas that make our people great.  It's not really about the country.  It is more about the idea of freedom and just government than about borders.

It is not pride in the flag.   The flag is a symbol of this country.  The meanings of symbols change, both for the good and the bad over time.  The both the swastika and the cross have been symbols that have been both positive and negative depending on when they were used and who was using them.  Who knows what this country will represent in 100 years, 500 years, or more.  To pass laws that requires a special treatment of a symbol is dangerous.  When the government of this land tries to pass such laws, the patriotism in me says No,  We should protect that freedom of expression (like flag burning) against the government for the future when it might be well warranted.  (Having that right today makes it a lot easier to pick out the wackos)

It is not pride in the government.  A certain amount of government is necessary for the operation of a society.  Government should help a people to band together to do things that are for the common good that would otherwise not happen if left to the private sector.  Road, utilities, schools, protection, and law enforcement(very different from protection) come to mind.  The purchase of art, funding of unnecessary projects, and passage of unnecessary laws (laws banning poker for one) are corruption of the governmental process.  Patriotism tells me speak up about the wrong that government does especially the waste and corruption that exists.  Patriotism is a check on the power that still allows the people to govern.

Patriotism makes me cheer when a people rises up to throw off the shackles of oppression.  When the people of a land rise against a Marcos, or apartite,  or a politburo, my heart cheers them on.  When they try and fail like Tienamin Square, my heart cries for them, because Patriotism isn't about this country, it is about the ideas of freedom that founded this country.  When those ideas spring up elsewhere in the world, I know it is their Patriotism that makes them act and keeps the ideas of freedom alive.

I think my friend and I have different definitions for the word patriot.  What he calls patriotism, I would call blind faith.  Patriots follow and protect freedom.  Blind faith follows people and political parties without thought.  If I'm right about the definitions, then my and my friend agree.

Patriotism is what makes the people "The People."  It protects our way of life when it drives people to act in protection of their rights.  Patriotism has grown and suffered over the years.  It was strong in the 1940's and helped to keep the western world free.  I'd have to say it is down today.  But it is not dead.  It slumbers, waiting for a tyrant to step over the line.  Patriots and patriotism will protect us so long as the idea of freedom lives.

Keep the dream alive.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The Republicans may have the wrong person at the head of the ticket. If you listened, you know what I mean.

Friday, August 29, 2008

10 Years

Some 12 years ago this past May, I had a really good week.  The months preceding that week had been difficult (understatement).  My first marriage had come to an end and my father had passed away from cancer.  So a good week was really welcomed.  Wednesday of that week was an outing to Lazer Tag.  I can't recall if it was a Jaycee outing or a work outing.  Hell, I don't even remember if anyone got outed.  I remember meeting Bill Gates for the first time that Thursday.  Friday was a good night for dinner and drinks with friends at a bar.

But it was Saturday that changed my life.  I get tears in my eyes just writing that.  Memories can be tough bastards.  Anyway, I got up early to go to a Jaycee project of reclaiming a park in a poor neighbor hood.  The park had been destroyed by hurricane Hugo.  As we gathered in a parking lot for the ride to the work site, I noticed a cute girl that I had not seen before.  I wanted to talk to her, but kept my distance.  Why, I don't know.  We didn't speak until close to the end of the morning's work.  I invited her to come have lunch with the crew (since she was new and all), and she accepted.

The next week or so we met again after a Jaycee meeting and she gave me her number.  I still have the sheet of paper that she wrote it on.  I still have the girl, too.  To shorten what could be a very long story, we dated, I moved to Seattle forever and came back after 6 months.  We were married on August 29, 1998. 

These have been the most wonderful 10 years of my life.  We've had so many adventures and wonderful times.  Baseball and Boston, Rome and Waterfalls, and "putting our feet up" and sometimes, just a poke in the ribs have all been made more special through sharing them with her.  We've held each other up through the tough times of seeing friends and family members pass.  We've picked up a house and a couple dogs along the way to making that house a home. 

I spend a lot of time on the road, but there is no place I'd rather be than home with my wife.  Dr. K has become the best thing that has ever happened in my life and I am so grateful for all that put me in the right place and time to meet her and for all that has happened since.  I can't imagine life without her.

Thanks Honey!  Now let's start 10 more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don't know about McCain or Obama. Hope is slim.

Now is the time that our country needs patriots. I wish I saw one running for President, or Congress, or Dog Catcher. In this context, a patriot is someone who is willing to face harm for the love of one's country. Our soldiers are the most obvious example. A politician that is willing to talk straight about who his plans will help and who they will harm would be a patriot. That person would not do such a thing for his own gain. His political career would be harmed. I thought McCain might be that person, and maybe he will be later in the current campaign, but he is playing it safe for now if he want so get elected. Obama has "changed" most of his platform since the end of the primaries in order to appeal to the center of the political spectrum. That's smart, too, and for the same reason. It looks to me like they are appealing to the feelers and not the thinkers among us. Their "changes" appeal to those not paying attention or with short memories. Worst of all, they don't have to worry about the idiots who wouldn't vote for an _________ if they were the only party running.

Let me explain. If you say that you are willing to kill a child to save a thousand, you would be vilified as a monster, a Nazi, or Jessie Helms. On the other hand, if you came out in favor of saving the child without mentioning the thousands that would be killed instead, then you are told by the feelers in the electorate that you have your heart in the right place and it was good to try. That is an extreme example, but sums up politics today. The obvious right answer to this hypothetical is to hate it, but let the one child go. The politician that saves the child and fails to tell us the truth about the thousands the best gets elected and that is what both sides are trying to do. And we are getting what we vote for, liars.

So my dear friend Falstaff has posted about his support for Barack Obama (here). After reading his arguments, I appreciate his reasoning, but he needs to look again. He may come up with the same conclusion, but he has come to his conclusion based on the wrong facts.

Most telling is that he knows that Obama will raise taxes, but all of the things that he lists that would raise taxes, those are not paid for by taxes paid to the federal government. Sure, those tanks and guns are bought by the feds, but if you end the war, spending on those things will go down. He also lists garbage collection, education, sewage, police, and fire protection. In order, those things are the responsibility of the county, state, county, city, and city.

If Obama raises our taxes, he will be spending them on things that will get them more into your life, not less. Your choices on healthcare will certainly be less. Your choices on how you use your electricity will be less. Social programs will grow, and grow more wasteful. I'm not even going to get into what our current social programs have done to the fabric of poor families in this country since the start of Johnson's war on poverty, but the fact is that 30% of children in this country are born to single mothers and that puts them at a huge statistical disadvantage right from the start. That is one thing that will need to change and bigger and more social programs will not change this situation in the long run, and it must change.

Does Obama say that taxes will go up if he is elected? No? Liar. Does McCain? No? Probably a liar.

Obama promises to "change" the economy. I don't want the economy to change that much. That sound a little crazy given what we are told by the media and politicians. The the truth is that the GDP of the United States has grown every quarter of the Bush presidency. Every single one! Oil prices are up, but they are coming down. Housing prices were up, now they are coming down. If you don't like either one, just wait a bit. You may say that the rich are getting richer, but the poor are also getting richer, just at a slower rate. But Obama is going to "change" the economy. I can't wait. You can be sure that the poor will get poorer of the economy contracts.

We've got the terrorist on the run. He's going to change that, too. Oh, Joy.

I'd like to see some changes. Let's require underage girls and single mothers looking for assistance ID the fathers and force them to provide for their children (or prosecute them for rape in the case of the underage girls). That should free up a lot of money for children in greater need. I'll bet adding more responsibility to social programs is not on Obama's list.

Let's really educate all children. What a great investment that would be. Let's provide vocational training for those who won't be going to college instead of tearing those programs apart. Let's add an advanced diploma for the gifted students who are working to get into the best universities. Let's get disruptive children in a highly disciplined environment (boot camps come to mind) where they can be free from distractions. I'd pay for those things gladly.

Let's build out and harden the Internet 2. The internet is doing for our economy now what the interstate road system did for us in the 60s and 70s. It deserves massive investment. And while we are at it, let's get everyone free basic internet. Wi-Fi is not that expensive. We just have to get the cable monopolies out of the way. Then poor children would have as many resources as the rich kids. Yes, we would have to find them computers, too. That not that huge a problem.

And the list goes on and on.

Of course, most of what I've listed here are local or state matters. Truth is (IMO), the federal government gets in and takes a ton of our money and leaves the responsibilities for our services to us and other governments. Think of all the great work the TSA does in helping you get on each and every flight. So it doesn't bother me if Obama or McCain get elected to be President. Unless they do something really stupid like trip up the economy or bring a war to our country, it probably won't matter a whole lot. I don't think either man will have enough power to do either one. One or both of them need to stop lying to us about how great things will be when they are elected. It won't be. It will be a bit better for some and worse for others and none of us can be real sure who is who.

Obama speaks a lot prettier than McCain and that can inspire people. Reagan and Clinton spoke well and inspired people, but then so did Hitler. Both men say they want more alternative energy used, but neither will tell you that doing so will increase the cost of energy that we will all pay. That will mean that someone will not be able to afford something they really need. Are you ready to pull the food from Granny's mouth to get a solar powered house? McCain will try to get more land opened for drilling than Obama. That will lengthen our dependence on oil, but will keep energy costs lower in the long run (but not in the short run).

The biggest difference is that we know a lot more about McCain and what he stood for before the campaign than we know about Obama. You may like what you know, or not. There are reasons to like and dislike each side or maybe both sides. I would much rather have to straight talkers that give me the good and the bad so that we could all make truly informed decisions. I don't like gambling on which man will become what after the election. But I can understand that for one to do that in this day and age would be political suicide.

But what I can not understand are the anit-patriots who say that they would never consider voting for X party. BTW: Falstaff does not qualify here. These are the feelers who would rather pick a side like it was a sports team rather than think about the issues and look at the man or woman running for office. I would hope we could all look for the patriots and sing their praises when we find one in hopes that someday we could get better leadership than we are offered today.

BTW: I'll probably vote for McCain as an obstruction to the other party so that only the plans on which there is some agreement make it into law. However, I'm still looking for the patriot.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I've been home.  I've been gone.  I've come back.  I've played poker a couple of times and I've not written about any of it.  I haven't given up the blogger thing or been kicked off.  I just haven't felt like writing.  I've been slack.  Some folks pay to advertise on this site, so I need to make an effort to post today.  So like a fiber-challenged old man, I'll try to force one out.  (I write that knowing that my mom does read my blog.  That's the cutting edge right there, baby.)

I've not been slack about exercising.  Dr. K and I have gotten outfitted with a couple of nice bikes and the accessories that go along.  Nowadays, you have to have a helmet, clip-in shoes, a bike computer, tools, shades, etc., etc.  I keep thinking back to when we were kids.  We just got a bike and rode.  We used our eyes and ears for safety (well, sometimes).  I do remember my older brother loosing control on a friends bike going down hill at probably 25-30 mph.  He got the worst case of road rash I've ever seen, but he lived.  He also got hit by a car once and he lived through that, too.

Back to the present - Dr. K and I also got a bicycle trainer so that we can ride indoors.  It will be nice to hop on the bike and get in a workout without going to the YMCA.  I hope it leads to more workouts.  Between running and riding, I got some good cardio exercise 6 of 7 days last week, and that was a week when I was on the road for 4 days.

Those 4 days were spent in Norfolk.  It was a good visit in just about every way.  I've got the place I like to stay when in the area.  The Town Center of Virginia Beach is not far from the customer, has some good hotels and lots of restaurants.  There is also a mall and other stores in case I need to pick something up.  For instance, I decided that I needed a certain book on the spur of the moment.  A short walk to Barnes and Nobel took care of that.

The travel schedule is filled to the brim until mid-October.  Next week, I'll be in Colorado Springs.  Then I'll be home for a week of training and then I'm off to Jackson Hole, WY for a week.  Those are both business trips.  I'll get through them somehow. :)  Then a nice two part vacation starts with the Dr. and I going to Europe for a cruise followed by a trip to Vegas to celebrate the 40th birthday of Brian the Red.  Many of the members of the Falstaff Poker Crew (he may not want us to be a crew) will also attend.

I've got some other things on my mind, like:

  • Why can't John McCain remember how many houses he owns?  That looks really bad to folks who don't own a house.  Anyone who has owned rental property would understand if they wanted to.
  • Is that the best Obama can do against McCain?
  • I liked the way I played cards on Friday night.  I generally made good moves in games with which I am not very familiar.
  • I don't like the way I reacted when the cards roshambeax-ed me.  It was not fun for anyone and it was not good poker.  Sorry guys.  More Welbutrian, please!
  • I've got a lot of work to get done in the next 4 days before my 10th wedding anniversary (Friday).
  • Did anyone pay enough attention to notice that I'm not wearing my wedding ring?  Some may have and worried that it means trouble.  Not even close.  Dr K and I are getting our rings "pimped' for our anniversary.
  • How is Schoon doing?  I've thought about him and his wife every day for a while now.
  • How am I going to get my work done while blogging.  I'm not.  Bye.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A most depressing post with a happy ending

This is just one of those times. There has been a lot going on. I just haven't felt like it is the kind of thing that either I'd want to share or the kind of thing that anyone would want to read.

For instance, the mother of a very good friend past away from cancer this weekend. Yesterday morning, an elderly neighbor and nice, gentle man passed away. His was from the effects of a stroke, I think. And as much as I wish it were not true, these are probably the last days of the wife of another good friend. She is in her early 30's and a new mother. See, I told you you wouldn't want to hear about it.

There is so little that Dr. K and I can do for any of the caregivers and survivors. We offer help and suggest ways we might, but when it comes right down to it, these are private matters and we are not a part of those families. They had the same situation back in late '07 and early '08 with the passing of my father-in-law and grandmother. Other folks that have been in my life forever are getting old and it is not too difficult to see that this pattern may continue for a while.

With all of that said, thinks are good around the House of K. Dr. K has had the worst luck in getting work done on her teeth. The last two issues have resulted in a lot of pain after the fact and turned into root canals. She had been dealing with the second one for 6 months now, but it looks like grinding down the new crown has taken care of that.

The Doctor and I are also coming up on our tenth anniversary at the end of this month. We have been getting each other our gifts and frankly just reveling in our lives together. These ten years have flown by and I'm looking forward to many more. I'll have to write down the stories of how we met and how she got her engagement ring in future posts. Those are two of the stories that we like to share the most.

Dr. K has also gotten the bike riding bug. With all of the depression above, we want to help more with a cure for the cancer part. So our goal is to ride in the 24 hours of booty next year and raise a bunch of money in the process. We have our goal. We have acquired the bikes this week. Other stuff is on order. We will be fully outfitted and in training very soon (if you call riding around "in training"). We also have a commitment from Dr. K's employer to sponsor the team. I think we will have a lot of fun along the way.

So the post was depressing, but that is what is going on and on my mind. The happy ending isn't really and ending, but a milestone and a start in a new direction. It is all LIFE. I, for one, am still glad to be taking part.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I'm an anti-Obama Poker Playing ex-blogger

This blog is now doomed.

This past week has seen the web giant Google (owners of Blogger) block access to several of my friends blogs. Pauly, Al, and others lost their ability to post to their blogs after years of regularly posting their entertaining content. They were told they had been identified as Spam Sites and would have to undergo a formal hearing in order to get their sites back or see their sites deleted in 20 days. If you are wondering, a Spam Site is a page that contains mostly links to other pages, thus increasing the link counts of those pages and moving those pages higher in search engines (like Google). Just a quick glance would show anyone that none of these sites comes anywhere close to this description.

So what's up. G-Rob has written a great post that may explain what is going on. In short, someone is complaining to Google about poker related content on the Internet and Google may be knee-jerking those sites away from their authors. It is a better explanation than Google has offered to date. They have offered no comment.

So what is the anti-Obama thing all about? Just as control had returned to most of the poker writers above, I ran across this article which showed the same thing is happening to some anti-Obama blogs on, you guessed it, Blogger. It looks like some Obama supporters are complaining to Google/Blogger that not everyone sees the presidential race the same way that they do. So Google/Blogger pulls the sites and does a review. Those sites are also back up after a day or two.

I wonder what would happen if I complained to Google that they are not living up to their promise to "do no evil." Would Google go down for a day?

Now that I have outed myself to the blogsphere as an anti-Obama poker player, let's see how long it takes for Blogger to track me down and review this. Probably not more th

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Situation in Review

Let's review the current situation:

- Oil and Gas prices are dropping rapidly

- The surge in Iraq worked.

- Home foreclosures have leveled off or are dropping slightly

- Google is doing evil (dropping page ratings for bloggers whos links don't play by Google's rules)

- Apple is forcing their software onto Windows machines (first Safari and now MobileMe)

- Microsoft is showing signs of embracing Open Source

- The economy grew in the second quarter so there will be no recession during the current Bush administration.

Whatever will people bitch about now?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Final Words

"Tell the governor he just lost my vote."

- Christopher Scott Emmett just before he was executed by the state of Virginia (7/24/08).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oki-Vegas Report

My trip out to OKC was over 10 days ago and I took no notes, so this trip report will be the memories that stick with me rather than the immediate report that jogs my memory when I look back.  Memory joggers are good, but the memories that I will carry forward from this trip are good as well.

There were no pictures taken on this trip.  That is very out of character for me, but I wanted this to be a minimalist trip.  No camera.  No computer.  Just relaxation.  Keep an eye on if you want pictures.

The flight out started with an early 4 am wake up, shower and drive to the airport.  My flight on Continental connected in Houston without incident.  I got to OKC a little early and Maudie was by in short order to pick me up for the drive to the lake.  It took us less than 20 minutes to get lunch at Arby's and to miss our turn.  We didn't realize our mistake (the turn, not Arby's) until we were about 20 miles off course.  A quick stop for beer and directions got us back on track.

We arrived at the lake with beer and ready to rock.  We were warmly greeted by OOSSUUU, Tragedy, Buddy Dank, Skidoo, Kat, Mr. and Mrs. Surflexus, Joannada, and our wonderful host GCox and his assistant "Triple B" (Bill the Beer Bitch).  I drank a couple of beers during the introductions and we headed for the lake.  Great fun was had riding the waves of beautiful lake Oki-Vegas (of was it Fort Cobb Lake).  Videos of this and many other events of the weekend can be viewed at the websites of Tragedy and Kat above.  Go see.  Skidoo managed to flip on his run which sank both the boat and his knee.

I probably drank four more beer just chatting and watching the goings-on.  I guess I was still decompressing from Iraq just a bit.  We headed back to the lake place shortly thereafter.  I had a few more beers there before I realized that I was not even buzzed.  It turns out that been in OK is the 3.2% variety.  What a waist of time.  That was not the point of the trip.  The point of this part of the trip was to enjoy a meat-fest of venison burgers and polish sausages followed by a hold'em cash game.  The cash game put one of the most evil beats on me when my AK flopped a broadway straight.  I got all my money in against Skidoo's pocket 7s (that is a 96% chance to win).  The next two cards are Q and then 7 to give Skidoo a boat.  That was the end of my poker for the night.  I was down $90 and dead tired.

We headed into OKC to following morning.  After more conversation, some guitar hero, more great food and some great karaoke entertainment, we sat down to the big tourney.  To this point, I've never even come close to cashing in a blogger event.  I have a good-to-great record in charlotte area tourneys, but I'm a big O-fer with the bloggers.  Well this day I busted out to take a 3rd place and cashed for a $74 profit.  I added a few more dollars to get my Oki-Vegas balance to a -$9.

Sunday was travel day for most of the rest of the group.  I bid them farewell and headed for the Riverwind Casino down near Norman, OK.  This was a wild session that saw by early flopped set of 9s get crushed by a flopped set of Qs (felt).  After a rebuy my set of Js got out drawn by a rivered flush.  I made some good hands and actually got up by $100 before the long slow slide took my stack down to $32.  I got my first AA of the trip to hold up in a 3-way pot to get close to $100.  Shortly thereafter I raked another big pot on a set of Qs.  I finished the session up $18.  That also gave me a big $9 profit for the weekend.

Some of the mental pictures that I'll carry with me from the weekend:

Kat's very swollen ankle

Mrs. GCox and BuddyD doing karaoke (they were good)

Saving the jet ski from major repairs (I just watched)

Just hangn' on the porch at the lake

Listening to Tragedy talk to his kids (it was both happy and sad but so real)

Finally making the money at a blogger event

Toasts to Iggy as he made his run at the WSOP



So let me tally up the weekend:

Poker - Profit

Friends Made - Profit

Good times had - Profit

Get the Iraqi sand out of my system - Profit

That is one profitable weekend.  Thanks once more to Mr and Mrs GCox and the rest of the crew.  I'm already signed up for next year.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Iraq Wrap-up

I finished up my time in Baghdad way back on the 4th of July.  There is not a more fitting place to celebrate the birth of our nation that to be where another free nation is being born.  How well the current situation works out for the Iraqis is still very much up in the air, from my knowledge of history, the future of the US didn't look any better in 1776, or 1812, or 1865. Like the war or hate the war, I would hope we all wish the best for the people or Iraq.

One of my colleagues in Iraq took the time to show me around the Al Faw Palace which was used by Saddam as a resort for his loyal party members.  The palace look more ornate than any of the other palaces that I visited, though I have read that the gold isn't and the walls are paper thin and this huge chandelier is part plastic.  Still, you can't scoff too much as a half-million square feet of floor space.


To give a little perspective to how big this chandelier is, here is another view from above.  The chandelier is as big as the octagon on the floor below it (compare it to the people below).


Some of my best writing on this trip was about the "facilities."  Here is a picture of some of the facilities in the palace (holy crap!).


Here is a photo that gives a little idea about how much fun it can be to drive around in Iraq.  We were still on the base, but it still really sucked. (There is a truck directly ahead of us)


Here are a couple of left-over Iraqi tanks.  Looks like the army left them there as trophies.



Overall, I'm glad I went. Iraq is a hot, dusty, and generally uncomfortable place.  I never got used to eating meals in the chow halls and using community facilities for bathing and other personal matters.  I sure did enjoy that first long shower at home.

On the otherhand, I didn't go there for a vacation.  I went there to work and to test myself a little bit.  While I was there I did good work, I kept my patience, and I rolled with the punches (like doing without my luggage for the first 3 days).  I missed home, but never felt homesick.  I left feeling like both the military and contractors liked having me there.  There is no doubt that they treated me well.

Will I go back? I doubt it.  Three weeks is a long time to be gone and it put a lot on Dr. K's shoulders.  I like my home too much to be away for so long.  But, in case the situation arises where I'm the guy that they have to have, I'll reserve the right to reevaluate.

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


After blogging for so many days in a row, my posts suddenly came to a stop once I arrived home from Iraq. I still owe this blog a wrap up of that trip.

Additionally, I attended fabulous Oki-Vegas. My everlasting appreciation to GCox and MrsGCox25 for hosting our bunch of fairly well behaved degenerates. That gathering of friends did some serious good for my tattered soul. I played the crucial role of Geek for North Carolina standing in (but no substitute) for TripJax who could not make it this year. We missed ya. It was great to see/meet/get to know better the whole crew - Maudie, Katitude, Joanada, 23Skidoo, Sirflexus, Peaches (MrsFlexus), Oossuu, BuddyDank, and Tragedy. I'm already signed up for next year and I can't wait.

I'll start catching up on the blog writing tomorrow.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Back in the USA

Feel that humidity.  I love it.

I'm now sitting in the terminal at Dullas Int'l Airport having cleared customs and just waiting for the last leg of this journey to start.  The story of my escape from Baghdad and the scramble through the airport in Kuwait will have to wait for now.

I am so relieved to be on my way home.  I really hope I don't cry too much when I see Dr. K again.  It has been an incredible journey, but I'll be glad to get back to the wife and the life that is mine.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Iraq - Day 18

I'm just going to put up a short post today.  It is going to get super busy as the ball of life picks up speed as it rolls toward my departure tomorrow night.  I have to fix the rest of the DB corruption, run a three hour class on SQL Server (maybe I can give it again at Oki-Vegas :) ).  Then I have to pack, sleep, work and then leave.  Tomorrow afternoon will, no doubt, drag out longer than a Yanni concert.

I'll be home Saturday morning.  I'll probably have some closing thoughts then.  I'll be back in the states soon.  Thank goodness.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Yea, Who is April?

Tony Plutonium have never agreed on much, but I have to agree here.  Check out this You Tube clip.  It is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time.  Thanks for sharing, Tony.

Iraq - Day 17

I really enjoyed myself today.  I had a job to do and it took most of the day.  I think I made so good breakthroughs for the customer.  It is good to know that I can still get my hands dirty (in a geeky sort of way) and get work done that helps others out.  I'll be tackling the last trouble spot tomorrow.

More folks are leaving the office.  Today, one left for some vacation and another left for good.  The guy who left was just absolutely beside himself with excitement.  It was his own personal Christmas morning.  I expect that I will be seeing one of them again and I'll probably be talking to the other on additional support issues.  They were both good guys and I appreciate them adding their own flavor to my adventure.

100_0276 In honor of the departing team member, we had a good-ole American Barbecue.  The smell just floored me.  Chicken and burgers and kabobs on the grill is one of those smells that I'll always enjoy.  Of course, we lacked any beer to go with the other traditional fare, but I've grown used to that.

Now it is my turn to start getting excited.  I'm currently fighting the urge to start putting my stuff in bags.  I'm going to wait until tomorrow after work to start that.  I think I'll get too excited if I start now.  I've still got a good bit of work on my plate to complete, so I don't need the distraction.  Actually, work will be the distraction that helps to get Friday at 1800 here all the more quickly.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Iraq - Day 16

Today is a slow day. 

The dust outside is just as bad or worse today (see picture below).  For those who have not been in a dust storm, it's not like I would have expected.  I thought the wind would be howling and it would be tough to breath.  It's not, at least not now.  You don't even notice that you are breathing in dust.  You can taste it a little, but not much.  Its just like fog except that it is warm to hot instead of cool.  The folks who have to work outside wear something over their mouth and nose.  I'll bet they still get some interesting stuff when they blow their nose.  I do, and I work inside.

100_0274Several of the guys here have a drink called Wild Tiger.  This stuff tastes to me like Red Bull, but with a lot bigger kick.  It comes in 250ml cans and is made in Jordan.  It is not available in the states (yet).  They buy it by the case when they can get it.  The stores run by the locals sell out pretty quickly.  Just one more thing that you won't see stateside.

Today's plan was to start a closer look at the server that I saved yesterday, but plans change.  Around here, they change quickly.  We ended up building some Full Text Indexes on a huge database.  We started populating the indexes right before lunch.  It wouldn't surprise me if it ran all night.  It was something that I've not done much before.  We had to write one query that stretched my TSQL abilities, but we got that to work.  I wouldn't want to write complex SQL code every day, but it sure is fun once in a while.

Going-home-itis is really starting to creep into my mind.  I'm starting to make plans for when I get home.  Thinking about seeing the wife and the dogs.  About taking a long private shower.  Of course, thinking those thoughts just makes it harder to wait. A couple guys I work with are leaving tomorrow and that doesn't help either.

I don't think I've said anything about the showers.  Like the toilets, the showers are a short walk from the hooch.  On one side of the door there are about 12 small stalls facing each other in a row. On the other side are the mirrors and sinks.  There are shower curtains of a sort.  They cover just over 62.4% of the opening.  I've been instructed not to let me feet touch the floor of anything in that trailer, so I shower with flip-flops on.  Finally, this being the desert, we are short on water so they want us to take showers only running the water when needed.  So a desert shower is turn the water on, wet hair, turn water off. Lather.  Turn water on and rinse.  Wet body and wash cloth and turn water off.  Soap up.  Turn water on and rinse.  Turn water off.  I guess I won't bitch about water restrictions at home (yea, right).

Finally, congrats to Al Can't Hang for his new gig and new life.  Life is too short to hate spending 40 hours a week at work.  Feed your passion.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Iraq - Day 15

It's another dusty day here in Baghdad.  How dusty?  I'm glad you asked.  Here's a thousand words on the subject:


'nuff said.

Today has been shopping and kicking ass day.

I finally caught a ride with a couple guys that were going to the big PX over at Camp Liberty.  I've been wanting to get some more presents for the folks back home.  Adjacent to the PX is a bazaar where they have a better brand of junk than the mall at Camp Slayer.  I didn't find anything I liked there so I bought the quality goods at the real official store.  I got what I need. but I'm not going to spoil the surprise by listing the goods here.

As soon as we got back I got news that a server was down and I was to go help out.  "It's probably a SharePoint issue" they said.  It sounds an awful lot like an old Asian dude yelling "You got full house, you can't lose!" (props to BadBlood) on the turn only to have the one outer hit your opponent on the river.  Sure enough, I take a look at the SQL Server and it is dog slow even trying to connect to the server locally.  I found that the memory is horribly configured.  I made the adjustment necessary and everything started working much better.  I love it when that happens. (So I lost the hand but won the session)  Like I said in an earlier post, that is what I love about the job.  I wish I could make it happen every day.

Tonight is the quarterly Camp Victory Poker Championship.  I have 4 points and it looks like 5 were needed to assure a seat.  I shouldn't have any trouble getting in.  I just have to get there by 8.  I hope to have a late update tonight -  late tonight.

Late Poker Update:  (8:25) Well, I didn't waste any time hanging around only to finish out of the money.  Of the losers, I was the best, meaning I was first out.  A quick recap goes 1) I flop top pair, I bet, call, turn, I bet, call, river, I bet, call, I got out kicked.  Two hands later, exact same thing with the exact same player.  Later, this same guy made the final check on the river with the 2nd nut straight!?!?!? I won one hand with 2nd pair when 1 guy called my overbet with A high (sooted no less). (This was really terrible poker).  Final my AA got out flopped by 77.  He got got a set, I got to go to the hooch.  I'd sure love to play those guys for money.

It was still a good day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Iraq - Day 14

Today started out with a trip back over to the other side of the base to finish the installation that we started yesterday.  Every thing went smoothly.  We get SQL configured and shrunk the log file that had grown to 800 GB (GB is not a typo).  I got it down to 50 mb (not a typo either) and fixed it so that it would not happen again.  The guys were so thankful, they offered to let us use their pool or laundry.  Working 12 hours a day, I'm not sure when that would happen, if ever, but it was thoughtful.

I have since learned a bit more about where I was and some things that have happened there, and it is not at all funny.  That was one of Saddam's favorite prison, torture and execution sites.  I looked up a little about the place on the web.  Here is a sample:

"Ahmad was Uday's chief executioner. Last week, as Iraqis celebrated the death of his former boss and his equally savage younger brother Qusay, he nervously revealed a hideous story. His instructions that day in 1999 were to arrest the two 19-year-olds on the campus of Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts and deliver them at Radwaniyah. On arrival at the sprawling compound, he was directed to a farm where he found a large cage. Inside, two lions waited. They belonged to Uday. Guards took the two young men from the car and opened the cage door. One of the victims collapsed in terror as they were dragged, screaming and shouting, to meet their fate. Ahmad watched as the students frantically looked for a way of escape. There was none. The lions pounced. 'I saw the head of the first student literally come off his body with the first bite and then had to stand and watch the animals devour the two young men. By the time they were finished there was little left but for the bones and bits and pieces of unwanted flesh,' he recalled last week."
-- Sunday Times, London, July 27, 2003

The cages and cells are still there.  There are no pictures.  They are not allowed and wouldn't want them anyway.

One a happier note, we went from there back to tour Camp Slayer.  One stop that was pretty awesome was the Victory Over America Palace.  Here's a picture:


I'll put together a final picture dump in the next few days.  For now, I'm starting to think about my final assignments and the trip home.  Five days to go.  Six until I'm home, assuming all goes to plan.

Late poker update: I IM'ed into the Falstaff home game tonight.  Took a couple of hands down.  Got crap cards, but did hit one straight in about 10 hands.  I think I made Falstaff a small profit.  That shaves off a bit of my debt from the blogger game from 3 weeks ago. :)  I really appreciate them letting me slow the game down.  They are a good bunch.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Iraq - Day 13

I got to take a tour of the other side of camp today.  They have a "mall" over at Camp Slayer where the local merchants set up shop on Saturday and Sunday.  It was interesting to say the least.  Since I didn't need a $20 Rolax :) watch, or any Cuban cigars, I settled for something a bit more appropriate.  I'm not going to say what it is because it is a present for some of the folks who read this blog.  I can be sure that the don't already have one.

Here I am at the entrance to the camp:


Down this way were two of Sadam's palaces, some blown up tanks and the Mall.  No pictures of the mall allowed.

In the afternoon, I got an emergency call to help install a SQL server for a down SharePoint portal.  It just so happened that the server was in one of Saddam Hussain's palaces.  The pad was pretty cool with marble walls and heavy wood doors all over the place.  No pictures allowed here either.  Something that would surprise many folks who know me - I have not been fooling around breaking the rules.  These folks are serious and you do what they say.  They say it nicely, but you'd better listen.  I do.

The weather turned hot today.  How hot was it?  I'm glad you asked.  As I came out of one of the vision boxes (porta-potty), I hit the hand sanitizer dispenser.  That sanitizer had been sitting there in the sun just waiting for me.  It was so hot I think the burn will leave a scar.  That might be stretching the facts a little, but it sure felt like it was burning through to the other side of my hand.

It has also turned dusty as hell.  The mosque from earlier posts all but disappeared this afternoon.  So this is a dust storm.  It's not real windy, though there is a good steady breeze.  The air is hot, so the breeze actually makes it feel hotter.  It looks like orange fog, but it's not cold.  This can be a really strange place.


I have plans to play poker at Falstaff's tomorrow afternoon.  I'll let you know how, and how I do in the next post.  More pictures coming soon, too.