Friday, May 30, 2008

More Digital Photography Goodness

During my recent trip to Paris, I took the following picture of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci:


This looks pretty crappy with the yellow color from the lights and a few reflections. This happens sometimes when you can't take your time or bring lots of you own equipment. The low light and the crowds made getting even a sharp picture a small feat.

But all is not lost. Open the picture in Photoshop, adjust the levels and color and edit the spots out and you get this:


Now that is more like it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Earthquake Photography

Situation: You are the photographer at a wedding when the whole world starts to shake violently. What would the photographs look like? You just have to see it:


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


In other related news, readers may have noticed some new sponsors to this here blog. If you need anything from Amazon and you'd like to do me a favor, go to Amazon via the link on the right (doesn't matter what item is in the ad). Go check out the other new sponsors in related items as well. They are all really great folks (with one exception).


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Superusers and Silence: How UltimateBet let players get cheated for millions

Check out this very important story. I know some folk who still play on UB or Absolute Poker, at least until they read this story.

Most poker sites are fair and understand that they must to protect their reputations. Apparently, UB and AP do not.

I guess that's it for that sponsor. :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vegas Hit and Run Wrap-up

This is a few days late for a trip report, but it sometimes takes a few days to get my strength back. I was in Vegas a total of 34 hours. I did what I could to get the most out of that time.

We had no trouble getting done in Tucson and got to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport a couple hours early. Being in a rush, I managed to forget my new sunglasses (in the visor), my favorite poker shirt (in the trunk), and to get some money I had lent. I got my colleague, DR, to come back for the glasses that I realized were missing. I didn't find out about the shirt and cash until later. To DR's credit, she got both of the remaining items in the mail to me the next day.

My first-class flight to Vegas was OK. The only negative was the bumpy ride kept the flight attendants seated which means I did not get an in-flight cocktail. I know, this should be plenty of space for your sympathy: _. The plane hit the ground, I hit a cab and was at the TI in no time at all. I took time to get a shower and change of clothes while Brian the Red and Andres the Bold finished their dinner.

I missed AtB on his way to the room for an early bed time, but Brian and I headed for the Venetian Poker Room for a simi-late session of NLE. I think I won about $50 or so before calling it a morning.

After the sun came up, the three of us hit the Starbuck's before cruising back to the Venetian for their noon tourney. I think I lost about $140 while waiting for the tourney to start. That would be the start to a long day of losing poker.

This tourney is $150 to enter (a little steep), but they use 30 minute levels and start with deep stacks of 7500 in chips. I didn't do very well finishing somewhere in the 4th level. I did manage to bluff a certain WSOP final table pro (TB from the Moneymaker final table) off of two hands for pretty good pots. My undoing was taking AK to war against 88. That hand crippled me. The knock-out blow was when my 88 ran into QQ preflop. We both flopped sets, but that made no difference. I played well and still feel good about that. Brian the Red lasted a good bit longer than I and Andres the Bold took 7th place for just under $1k. Way to go, Andres. He was even good enough to buy us dinner.

Once out, I headed to some of the newer poker tables on the strip, namely at Bill's Casino and O'shea's Casino. Both properties are part of the Caesar's empire now. They have plans to connect all of the tables in the system to some mega-beat jackpots, but for now, they are playing $1 NL Holdem (just one blind) and $1-5 spread limit with high rakes and a jackpot drop. I did awful in both places and dropped another $200 before the tourney at the Venetian ended.

I got back to find out that Andres was still playing, so I sat at another $1-2 NL table and continued to bleed chips and cash. I think I got down another $100+ before I decided to take my lumps like a man, half-lit. I ordered a Southern Comfort straight up and texted Falstaff for the number of the best professional drinker I know. Al did not let me down.

My game turned around at that point. I started with a flopped boat holding A2 in the big blind. The flop was A22. I bet $10 and the very friendly gent to my left raised to $25. I re-raised to $50. He re-raised and I said something like, "well, it looks like it's all going in anyway - I'm all in." He called and his Q2 was no good. I hit a few other good hand and got up from that table with about a $240 profit.

After dinner, my next stop was the TI Poker Room where my session went real late and I made back about $150 more before I had to get to the room to get packed. That part went quicker than I planned. I still had about an hour before I had to catch a cab, so it was back to the Venetian for one more quick try.

The table that I drew was super aggressive. I hit a few more hands, and lost a few to make my last $30 of the trip. All in all, I lost about $160 in Vegas which is great since I was down over $400 at one point.

I made the early morning (Saturday now) flight in plenty of time, got a truly horrible seat neighbor, but got home just the same. I'll be home this week for some Dr. appointments, getting ready for a big upcoming trip, and catching up before heading to TX and Vegas(again, this time for the blogger gathering) next week. Then the big trip will be upon me. More on that later.

Have a good week...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's Vegas Time Again

This will be a quick hit and run.

I've been in Tucson this week running a technical workshop for part of the government. The class has gone smoothly even though I think half the class got mentally lost on day 2. They are still sitting there listening which is what really matters.

I've had a colleague along for this trip which almost always makes the trip more fun. It gives me someone to have dinner and conversation with at the end of the day instead of room service and TV.

But that all changes today. I should finish the workshop by 3 pm, drive to Phoenix and hop a quick flight to Vegas where I will meet up with 2 friends who are already in the air. I'll have tonight and tomorrow in Sin City for much pokerage. I'll head home on Saturday morning. I've already got my first class upgrade out of Phoenix, so I should be pretty well buzzed when I hit the strip.

I plan to be back in Vegas for a longer stay in a couple week for the Blogger Summer Bash. I guess this will be a warm-up. There may or may not be an update on this blog tomorrow. The update will be more likely if I'm winning. :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Grape Lady

"That will be three bags of grapes, two bags at $3.49 and one bag free."

That was the result of a recent trip to the grocery store with Dr. K. She is rapidly becoming the grape lady of Charlotte.

Readers here know that Dr. K returned to work this year. She really loves her job and her coworkers. Everyday, she like to share snacks with the office during breaks. Dr. K supplies grapes.

On the way home last week, she asked me to stop with her at our local grocery store. I knew what was on her mind as this same grape issue had played out twice in the past two weeks, though at a different location of the same store.

The grapes in this particular store are bagged and stacked on a produce display. The sign on the display clearly shows that the grapes are $3.49. Dr. K looks close and does not see what she is looking for, so instead of buying two bags, she decides to get three.

We pick up a few more items and head for the checkout. As the casher is about to cash us out, Dr. K asks, "How much were the grapes?" I think, "Here we go!"

The casher scans the register tape and responds "The grapes are three forty-nine A POUND."

Now it's on.

"No...", says Dr. K, "those grapes are $3.49 a bag."

"Manager to register 3!"

Actually, we had to walk over to the Customer Service Desk to talk to the very nice manager. He explained to us that the "/lb" label is really small and hard to see. He is trying really hard to not embarrass us for our mistake.

Dr. K says "OK, show us."

So we head back to the grape display. The manager looks at the price sign. Then he looks again. Then he cocks his head to the side and looks some more. The he stands up and says "Those grapes are $3.49."

We go back to the front and he starts to ring up three bags of grapes at $3.49 when I notice that there is a store policy sign right out on the desk. The last policy says something like if an item scans for a higher price than what is marked, then you get one of those items for free.

I point this out (not wanting to leave any chips on the table, of course) and he rings it up, two bags of grapes for $3.49 a bag.

Grocery stores of Charlotte - Beware of the grape lady.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Four Ss of Jewelry

Special K, don't you mean the four Cs of diamonds? No. If you are asking that, you don't know Dr. K.

As a reminder, the four Cs of Diamonds are Color, Cut, and Clarity and Carat weight. They are important, but the 4 Ss can be applied to any jewelry purchase and is a can't miss strategy.

Dr. K's 4 Ss of Jewelry are Sparkly, Shiny, Substantial (as in size), and 'Spensive. It is the road to what every woman wants.

When I went to Europe recently, my wife repeatedly reminded my that she wanted something special and it was to abide by the four Ss of Jewelry. She ended up with a heart-shaped pendant that I found at a gift shop near The Louvre. I think she is willing to let me practice some more.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Middle Child

I'm a middle child. I have an older brother and a younger brother. A recent study found that middle of three children tend to exibit the following characteristics:

Has neither rights of oldest nor privileges of youngest.
Feels life is unfair.
Feels unloved, left out, "squeezed."
Feels doesn't have place in family.
Becomes discouraged and "problem child"

Well all I can say about that is that is pretty damn close, but I've grown since then (as if anyone cared).

(Just Kidding) :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Poker this past week and Bodog

Look out. Here comes an actual poker post.

It was an up and down week at the poker tables. I've already written about the trip to the Desert Diamond where I made $90 and my minus 20 chips at the Falstaff home game. I attended a tournament at a new location on Sunday afternoon and evening. I knew a little over half the players from said home game and the others looked to be pretty basic tight players.

As is my winning formula for tournaments, I played tight in the early going. I played just enough to tread water. I had about the starting chip amount when we moved to the final table. Then, when we got down to the last 6 players or so, I changed gears to getting good cards and winning monster pots. When I write my poker book, No Shit Poker, this will be a key point. Winning the tourney did require a major suck-out when I ran my QQ into KK and caught a Q on the river. It was brutal. That makes up for one of the ten or so times it's happened to me.

I lost a big pot to the knife when my 2 pair was counterfeited on the river (suck-out count back to even on the night) but got all those chips back and crippled Jim when my AQ hit a Q on the flop and the Knife's Q-low kicker didn't improve. Me and "TheMan" got heads up and took 20 or 30 hands to decide it. I don't remember the final hand exactly, but it was a lot like the hand with the knife. I think my KQ hit a K on the flop and TheMan's K10 didn't catch up. That was good for a 120 chip profit.

I proceeded to give 40 chips back at the cash game before calling it a night. If chips were dollars, that would give me a $150 profit for the week. I can live with that.

One thing I may do with the profit is invest it in a trip to the WSOP. Bodog is running an online poker tournament that could lead to a cheap trip to the WSOP main event. Seats start at $1.50 (that's my speed), but you can buy in at higher levels up to $250+20 for a semifinal seat. Somebody's going to win it. It might as well be me. I think I'm ready for some unbelievably rapid wealth.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Off the road and back to the keyboard

I've been on the road again. This time I haven't felt much like writing, so I didn't. So there.

I had a good customer visit to Tucson this week. There was not much remarkable about the trip. Everything went well. I had a colleague along which always makes the trip more fun. She will be taking over this account in about 2 or 3 weeks, so this was introductions for the customer and her. I think that part went pretty well.

We did drop by the local casino on Tuesday night. The colleague dropped about $85 in the slot machines. I left with a $90 profit at the poker table. The most interesting part was the structure of the game. Arizona does not allow no-limit hold em, so the game was $2-100 spread limit, which played just like $1-2 NL.

I took the red-eye back on Wednesday night to be in CLT for a special occasion. I'll have more to say about that in another post.

Last night was poker at the Casa de Falstaff. The night started slow, but my luck started running better when Nate the Elder showed up. He had many second best hands to me, usually involving 75-100 chips in the pot. I think I got close to 4 times my starting stake at one point. Then the cards dried up. Actually, they were never really that good all night. I caught trips once and a straight once. Those were the best hands in hold em. Omaha was even worse. I couldn't buy the card I needed and Falstaff couldn't miss.

The hand that would save my night was just stupid lucky, but it happened and kept my losses reasonable. I limped with 2h4d9s7s or something closely resembling that. Pretty much everybody limps on every hand in this game. The flop brought a 6s, a red 10 and the As i think. A 5 chip bet was made and I called. The turn brought the 10s giving me a 9 high flush and a good shot at the low. I moved all in for my last 24 chips. Falstaff is pained, but he folds (of all the people on earth, he only folds to me he says later). The knife calls as does NtE. The river is a beautiful red 3, giving me the nut low. After the betting completes, the knife shows his A3 for what would have been a better low. I show my nut low (A2346) and my 7s9s flush high. Falstaff screams a profanity as he had folded a low full house. So I did a little better than tripled up to get me back near even on the night.

Falstaff (aka The Omaha Card Rack) was the winner of the night netting 240 points on the night.

My next post will be about Chapin Hall, Meckenburg County's new DSS facility. It is more exciting than it sounds, I promise.