Wednesday, April 30, 2008

High Praise, Indeed [Updated]

I may have mentioned Bacon Salt at some point in the past, but I have yet to try it. But like a chocolate martini, it's one of those things that you just *know* is going to be good no matter what. And it's been around for a bit, so I'm surprised that I haven't had any yet.

Anyhow, one of my readers, who, for his own protection, shall remain anonymous at this time, offered up the following recommendation via email this morning as we were talking about it:

Bacon Salt has changed my life. The other day I did a salmon fillet on the grill with butter and bacon salt. OMG! You could put this stuff on just about anything. I am tempted to use it the next time I “go south of the border” in the bedroom!

With a recommendation like that, I have to get some, so to speak. I'm not quite sure what I'd put it on first, maybe a burger or some potatoes, or sprinkle it on hash-browns and veggies to kick up a breakfast burrito. I know I'd probably go on a popcorn bender, at the very least.

I haven't seen it in my local grocery store yet, so it's now on my Amazon Wish List. And it's also my birthday today. I'm just sayin'.


Update: At least one person has already sent the bacon salt 3-pack from my wish list. Whoever you are, thank you! I'll pick up some popcorn sometime this week and give it a try.

Idol Hands

Ok, I can proudly admit that I've never watched one single episode of American Idol. Seriously, I'm surrounded by so much stupidity, bad music, and annoying people every night at the casino that I can't fathom coming home and letting it invade my brain from the TV screen.

But Miss Rachel has done all of the heaving lifting for the rest of us, and written up one of the funniest posts I've read in a long time. I laughed my ass off all the way through it. Go and enjoy!


PS. I kinda like Neil Diamond. And Andrew Lloyd Webber. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person.

Off To A Slow Start

Hey Gang! Hope everyone is having a wonderful Hump Day!

As you may already know, today is my 41st birthday, and the thing is, I don't feel a day older than 39! Must be all that clean livin'. However, for what should be a pretty good day, it's gotten off to an ignominious start. I'm sure it'll get better, though.

First of all, I went down to the Silverton to play a little poker last night. Oh holy shiat what a mistake that was. The tournament starts at 10 pm, but if you play two hours at the cash game during the day, you get your $2000 add-on for free. So I went down at 8 pm and got the last available seat at the 3/6 game that was going on. Normally, it's a pretty soft game, and I can usually count on making a few bucks.

But not last night--Absolutely nothing held up. Pocket Aces, pocket Kings, flopped trips, flopped straights--not one good hand lasted past the turn. I swear, every dealer that sat down either paired the board, or put four to the flush or four to the straight on every hand. It was ridiculous. And of course there were a couple of donkeys calling two raises cold with junk cards and making their hands on the river every time. So it's beginning to look like 3/6 is going the way of 2/4 has for me--it's just too cheap for other players to call raises, and I kept getting run down. So I'll probably stick with 4/8 as an absolute minimum.

Of course, a lot of this is sour grapes because I lost about $160 to a couple of complete donkeys, but the truth is, calling two raises cold with Jack/four 'because they're suited' was just about enough for me to flip my shiat right there at the poker table. But I didn't say anything...

Luckily the tournament started soon thereafter, and I got back into the no-limit frame of mind where big hands had a chance of holding up. I was doing ok, busted a couple of guys, lasted past the re-buy period, but went all-in with Ace-Queen of hearts, when the flop came Queen - Deuce - Jack with two hearts, but lost to Ace-King when a King hit the river.

Seriously, I don't think I've won a single hand with Ace - Queen in all of 2008. Amazing.

Once I was eliminated (in 13th place) I still had $40 worth of chips in my pocket, I decided to go play one hand of Pai Gow and try to double it up. I got eights and Jacks, the dealer got nines and Queens.


On my way out the door, I had to walk by the Megabucks machine. Before leaving the house, I had talked to the Future Mrs and told her that my plans for the evening were to win the poker tournament and then win the $20 million+ Megabucks progressive. She was cool with that idea. Since I was already batting oh-for-one, I decided I couldn't let her down, and I put thirty bucks in the machine.

I actually played for quite awhile on that $30, getting enough love to keep on pressing the button for a good twenty minutes. Of course, I didn't quite hit the jackpot, but I made enough to triple up and cash out for $90 before deciding that I just wasn't going to win back the poker losses in the same night.

But technically, I lost the poker money yesterday, but the Megabucks money came after midnight! So I guess I'm off to a decent start, after all.

Once I came home, I was exhausted. I tried to watch a little TV, but fell asleep in the chair, with the ice in my diet Coke melting before I'd even finished half a glass. So I turned off the lights and the electronics and shuffled off to bed. I don't know why, but I was up pretty early this morning. And I've already talked to a couple of the peeps back in Nashville who called to wish me a happy birthday.

I've got no plans for most of the day--just a lot of relaxin'. Later on, I'm having dinner at Grimaldi's with a few friends, and maybe a cocktail and cigar afterwards. Then once everyone heads home for the evening, I'm meeting up with my very most favorite lady in the whole world at a nice, kinda romantic spot where I will get to enjoy the pleasure of her company for a couple of hours. As you may have guessed, I'm looking forward to that even more than the pizza, booze, and cigars all put together...

So even though I'm gettin' old--much older than I wish I was--I still feel like it's gonna be a great day after all is said and done.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wagering With The Good Reverend

One of the (many) quirks of my family is that nobody can seem to drive anywhere or sit in traffic without talking on the cellphone to somebody. Anybody. This is especially true of my younger sister Amy and even Reverend Dave. So a couple of times a week, in mid-afternoon, my phone rings, and I always know that one of my siblings back east is doing their evening commute.

The Good Reverend has a fairly lengthy commute, 35+ miles each way every day across the wilds of northern Alabama, so I hear from him quite a bit. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. I don't know how the subject came up, but we realized that it was 16 years ago this week that I snagged our first dumpy apartment down in Phoenix and he joined me about a month later.

We had a lot of laughs reminiscing about just how poor and broke we were back then--both living on part-time jobs and student loans, going to school at ASU, buying food stamps for ten cents on the dollar from the local winos, and dating chicks that had no problem whatsoever with hopping the fence and sneaking into the neighboring complex with us to use the jacuzzi in the middle of the night. Those were the days...

Funny how things change. Now when we complain about being 'poor' it's because it costs us $70+ to gas up our brand-new trucks, there's only a couple hundred left in the checking account after the bills are paid, or that we don't feel like we have enough money to go on a ten-day cruise vacation and have to settle for just a week instead.

So we're both a bit better off now, and can afford more expensive hobbies like poker, sailing, shooting, golf, and motorcycle racing. And when Dave and I start talking, the conversation gravitates towards poker and motorcycle racing--the two things we spend most of our free time on, respectively.

Both of us enjoy our diversions immensely, but both of us are relative novices. I've played poker for years, but just started trying to be serious about it in the past year or so. Dave has ridden for years, but just started racing in the past year, too. So naturally this leads to a little sibling rivalry. Somehow in the course of our conversation yesterday we decided to make a wager as to who could emerge triumphant the soonest.

Dave hasn't finished higher than second in any of the races he's entered this year, and I haven't finished higher than second in any live no-limit poker tournaments I've entered this past year, either. We've both finished 'in the money' several times, but neither of us has gotten over the hump and been crowned champion.

So here is the bet -- If he wins a WERA Middleweight Vintage-7 race (with at least eight entrants) before I win a no-limit poker tournament against a field of thirty or more players, he wins the bet. If I notch my first tournament win against a 'real' field before he gets a checkered flag, I win. (I've won a few single-table sit-n-goes, and a couple of small two-table tourneys, but against a bigger field, I'm still on the schneid, so that's how we figured to make the bet the most evenly-matched).

Wanna know the stakes? If Reverend Dave wins, I have to send him a bottle of this:

And if I win, he has to send me a bottle of this:

Let the games begin!

Oh, and in case anyone is interested, here is a pic of Reverend Dave in his element: (clicky for full-size)

When I saw it for the first time, I was like, WTF is up with the orange shirt, dude? but then I remembered that he's from Alabama. If they ain't racin', they're huntin'. The outfit is just a time saver.


Monday, April 28, 2008

A Pretty Good Friday... [Updated]

... For a Monday, that is.

Yep, even though I still have to go to work tonight, I'm having a pretty good day. I woke up a little earlier than I'd hoped, when Falcon Rob came stumbling in, home from his cross-country adventure. Since I was awake, I crawled out of bed a few minutes later, took a shower, cleaned the bathroom, put in a load of laundry, loaded and ran the dishwasher, and then wandered down to the office to get a new mailroom key and pick up the mail.

And I wanted to give a shout-out thank-you to a couple of loyal readers who were kind enough to send me birthday presents. Jazzguy sent me a copy of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and RudySwans sent me a big damn glass mug with a SPAM logo on the side of it. Of course, the instructions said not to use it for beer, but rum drinks instead. Hell, I think the first thing I'm gonna do is use it for coffee and Kahlua--it's the perfect size.

So thanks again, guys, it's much appreciated!

Also, I believe I'm having dinner with RudySwans out at Grimaldi's on Wednesday night, since we both share the same birthday. (Lars--you comin'?) I'm also planning on going out with the Future Mrs later that night, but she has to work until the wee hours, so I'm not sure if that's gonna happen or not. I'll find out for sure tonight, but like a googly-eyed teenager, I've got my fingers crossed.

But that's still a couple of days away. Today is a nice relaxing day where I'm getting a lot of little things done. And I checked the weather and tomorrow is going to be sunny and 90 degrees here in Vegas! Oh hell yeah--it'll be the first day off I've had since March Madness where it's not going to be windy, cloudy, and relatively cold. So after I hit the gym, I'm going to spend a couple of hours lounging by the pool, catching some rays, drinking a rum cocktail, and re-reading a few of my favorite passages from the scriptures.

Once the sun goes down, I'm gonna go find myself a cash game for a few hours, and if I'm feeling up to it, I'll go and take another run at the Silverton poker tournament. With whatever money is left over, I'll probably run a bit through the Megabucks machine and take a shot at removing myself from the working class once and for all. And when it hits, well, I guess I'll have to take up the Future Mrs on her offer of being my slave (her idea, not mine!). And that would pretty much take care of the rest of the week...

Anyhow, that's about all I've got, except that I want to address a few questions from the comment section:

Lurker: The cashews hold up just fine in the fridge. It's been two days now, and I just finished off another sandie. The cashews are still crunchy, the pineapples haven't gone mushy, and the chicken salad is still damn tasty.

Alleyoop: $1 chips have nothing at all to do with the lack of $5/10 Hold-em in Vegas. Having been going to poker dealing classes on and off for almost three years now, I can tell you that the very first thing they teach you once you learn how to take the rake accurately is how to unobtrusively get $10 worth of $1 chips into every pot. If, as a dealer, you're not getting dollar chips into the pot, you're not getting paid. And one of the most popular limit games in all of Vegas, $10/20 Hold-em, is exactly the same as 5/10, only with twice as much action--all red chips and it's the fastest game in town. And every dealer who deals it gets ten bucks worth of singles into every pot, minus the rake and the jackpot drop.

As far as players not knowing about the rake, you're way off on that, too. Poker players, especially the old rocks, are keenly aware of the rake and always correct the dealer if he over-rakes. I see it all. the. time. Only drunk tourists are unaware, but the sharks that feed on them are the ones tracking the pot and the rake amounts with every hand. As a semi-serious player, I *always* know exactly how much is in the pot and how much rake has been taken, because I'm always thinking about pot odds whenever I'm involved in a hand, too.

Drew: Give up rum and poker? NEVER! Those aren't bad things, anyways. But I'm surprised at your Puritan outlook!. Heh.

Tara: I would PM you, but I have no idea what your T2V screen name is. I'd like to get my hands on that Excel workbook--email me!

I think that just about covers it for today. Y'all have a good one!


Update -- About a half-hour after I made this post, I got a call from my favorite lady. We are ON for Wednesday night.

Best. Birthday. Ever!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Best. Chicken Salad. Evar.

I'm sitting here happily rubbing my tummy after having eaten what may have been the finest chicken salad sandwich I've ever had. Yes, it was that good.

And I was looking forward to it all night, having not eaten anything at work except a banana during my entire shift. So when I got home, I was good and hungry, and after I took my shower and such, I went to work in the kitchen putting together this world-class culinary delight.

First of all, yesterday morning, I put four large chicken breasts in the crockpot, seasoning them with salt, pepper, and garlic, and then drizzled them with some extra-virgin olive oil. I also added a generous pinch of chopped chives and parsley. Then came the secret ingredient--a teaspoon of bacon drippings! I added about a quarter cup of water to the pot and turned the whole thing on 'low' and let it percolate for six hours.

Once it cooled, it was beyond fork-tender. I seriously had to use a slotted spoon to get the chicken out of the crock and into a mixing bowl. It took me no time at all to shred it up with just a single dinner fork, and once that was done, I sealed the bowl and put it in the fridge.

Off to bed I went, then I spent the evening in the casino...

When I got home around 3:30 or so, I rough-chopped about a half a cup of cashew halves, and drained about two-thirds of a cup of pineapple tidbits. I added both of those ingredients to the chicken, along with several generous dollops of Miracle Whip, and finished the whole thing off with kosher salt and cracked pepper.

I folded it all together, spooned a hefty portion onto some soft wheat bread, poured myself an icy cold Diet Coke with Lime, and attacked that sandie like Homer Simpson hitting a box of donuts. Oh man, was it ever good! And the best part is that I made enough chicken salad to have sandwiches for the next several days. I've got some wheat sub rolls in the freezer, but I'm thinking a croissant might be even better. Oh well--gotta use the bread I have before it goes bad. Anyhow, if you get the urge to make chicken salad, I gotta tell ya, this recipe just kicks ass.

As far as my night in the casino goes... well, I'll write about that later. I'm in that 'Serenity Now' stage where I want to kick the ever livin' shit out of somebody, but instead, I'm taking the high road. The cool thing is, several other people want to kick the ever livin' shit out of this particular person, too, and they don't have nearly as long of a fuse as I do...

More later... Time to put my feet up and add a little rum to my diet Coke.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Overdoing It

Sometimes I'm amazed at my own wussiness. I always thought I was a strong dude, although that whole 'crushing the egg' experiment kind of let the doubts creep in. But back in 1992-93, I used to go to the gym religiously for three hours every day, and even before that I had one of the most physically demanding jobs on the planet--rowing rubber rafts full of cruise ship passengers out to explore icebergs, then taking them down a whitewater river twice a day up in Alaska. But that's a story for another time...

Anyhow, once I quit going to school, and lost free access to a gym, I sat on my ass for ten years straight behind a computer. Clearly, it didn't help the physique.

So a few nights ago, I had the sublime pleasure of spending a couple of hours grinding dancing with the Future Mrs., and whenever we weren't doing the slow ballroom-style stuff, I had my hand on her rock-hard six-pack abs while we impressed the locals with our mad white-people-gettin'-jiggy-with-it skillz.

Excuse me, while I take a moment to reminisce...

Ok. Anyhow... So while this was going on, the thought struck me that I *really* need to start going back to the gym. So I started working out again, every day this week. But I think I overdid it. First of all, last night, my arms and shoulders were so sore that I could barely deal cards. I didn't complain, and I worked through it. And this morning, I could barely do three sets of leg curls with just 60 lbs. on the rack. I swear I thought I was going to get a charlie-horse right there, and get stuck, paralyzed on the machine, unable to extricate myself. So I did the sensible thing and scaled back the leg workout.

(Oh, and for all of you 'experts' that want to chime in and tell me that I should take a day off between workouts, I know this already--I took weightlifting classes in college and have spent $$ on personal trainers in the past--I know what I'm doing. And believe, me, I started out this week very slow and I alternate my exercise rotation daily-- so I'm in no danger of injuring myself).

Once I got out of the lower body torture device, I hit the overhead pull-downs and the butterfly press pretty hard. Just to the point where the last few reps were very difficult, just beyond my comfort zone. Once I finished, I did my time on the treadmill before heading back home.

After I showered and changed, I was enjoying the tail-end of that warm endorphin rush, and noticed that the muscles in my arms were twitching. Definitely a sign of over-exertion. No problemo, I thought--I could use a little over-exertion. But by then it was breakfast time, and I was hungry, and I wanted to cook some scrambled eggs and salsa.

Knowing I could never smash an egg in one hand, I broke them open in the traditional method, on the side of the stove. But I swear, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the salsa jar open! My arms and hands were useless. Well, not quite, but I didn't have the strength reserve to open a damn jar. I struggled with it like an old woman for entirely too long, but after a few minutes of grunting and groaning, I finally broke the seal. But then my arms went back to being useless again, and just lifting the frying pan was a test of my will.

Yep, I definitely overdid it this morning.

I'll be ok though, besides my eggs, I had some yogurt that had a monstrous dose of potassium in it, so I won't get any cramps and I'm feeling better already. But man, I've got a looooong way to go.


Spreadsheets and the Poker Junkie

Sifting through all the non-pr0n files on my hard drive, I'm amazed at how many spreadsheets I've created in the past year. And I'm not even that good with MS Excel (I really need to get my hands on a copy of Excel for Dummies). I've got useless stuff from the past football seasons, trying to find trends (not very successfully, I might add) and tracking my bets, I've compiled the traffic stats for this website, and I match up my actual tips vs. potential tips, which has been extremely helpful in motivating me to limit my Early Out time from work.

However, the most useful tool that has been a real eye-opener is a spreadsheet I made for keeping track of my poker playing. Not only hours spent, but bankroll vs. winnings (or losses). The funny thing is that I've been all about the input, and haven't even really analyzed it until this week. The good news is, I'm up over $1200 for the calendar year. The bad news is, I'm in a ten-day slump--I haven't won a dime in almost two weeks. Not that I can count on it, but it seems to be turning into a nice little 'part time job'. Heck, I'll take an extra $300 per month.

Of course, I know I don't have what it takes to be a poker 'pro', just because I don't have the nerve to play big money. Nor do I care to spend 12 hours a day with the dregs of society that sometimes come with the territory. Or maybe I just don't have the bankroll--maybe if I did, I'd find the nerve to move up in limits. Right now, the biggest cash games I play are $4/8 and $6/12. (And I still get nervous when I'm holding a mediocre hand and get raised twelve bucks).

Sidebar--can somebody tell me why nobody in Vegas spreads $5/10??? I can't find that game anywhere! And when I lived in Nashville, I couldn't even find it in Tunica--I had to drive up to some shiatty riverboat up in Indiana that had ONE table. It's hugely popular online, but nobody offers it in Vegas. WTF?

Anyhow, I also play a lot of no-limit tournaments with small buy-ins and a few single-table sit-n-gos. So far, so good. I will freely admit, however, that I have never played in a no-limit cash game. Not even once. I know that eventually I'll have to throw my hat in that ring, but right now the numbers aren't there for me to do so. A regular poker-playing bankroll is required unless I'm just playing lotto-style hit-and-run poker, and the recommended amount is 300 times the big blind. At 2/5 No Limit, that's $1500 of dedicated poker money. But at $6/12, I'm looking at having to keep $3600 on hand.

That ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

All of my profits, especially from the past month or so, have gone to pay off bills, old debt, and stockpile household staples (I learned a few things back during the Dark Times, otherwise known to the rest of the world as '2002'). Building a poker bankroll is so far down the list of priorities that I've not even wasted any ink on it. So I guess that right now I am a de-facto hit-and-run player, as my bankroll consists of whatever is leftover after the bills are paid and the groceries are bought every month.

Anyhow, my rudimentary 'analysis' of my basic spreadsheet shows that I'm a much better player now than I was a year ago, and much more conservative. But it also reveals that I need to track more details, like separating cash games from tournaments, limit from no-limit, time vs. income, which rooms I do better in than others, etc., and I need to compile it all to come up with a monthly result of how much money per hour I'm making at the poker table. This assumes, of course, that I'm actually winning at the poker table. As of right now, knock on wood, I am. But I attribute it to the fact that I have completely stopped playing online poker, which has cut down significantly on the bad beats I've taken. Also, playing live games has taught me a level of patience that online games could never do. Of course, playing slower live games (and not playing multiple games at once) is easier on the bankroll, but on the flip side, I don't see myself going on a rush and winning $1500 plus in one week, either, which has happened for me in the past when I was playing online from my bedroom back in Tennessee.

Slow, steady, and patient seems to be working for me. And not just in poker, either. (And it only took me 40 years to learn that lesson...)

Anyhow, it appears that I'm junking the entire tracking sheet I've been using and will come up with a new system in time to keep better, and more useful records starting on May 1st.

Let's hope my luck holds out and I'm not just tracking losses.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Waiting For the Sun

Hey gang! It's Friday morning here at the Man-Cave, and although I'm thoroughly exhausted from my night of work, I'm still chuggin' along, but I'm hoping to fall asleep sometime soon. Yes, I stayed till the bitter end again tonight--It seems as if I don't ask for at least an hour of Early Out time, I'm stuck until the very end--no half hour E.O, no twenty minute push--I am the last man standing. It's not a coincidence, either. There's one floor supervisor who I think is a total douchebag, and he knows I think he's a total douchebag, so whenever he's got the roadmap, he makes sure I'm on the shittiest game possible till the very end of the shift. I guess it's the cross I bear for being teacher's pet every other night, though.

But man, I didn't think I'd make it tonight, either. My first hour-and-a-half was awful. I was on dead games the whole time, and came close to dozing off a few times. I even tried to convince myself that I could skip out four hours early and not miss much money, and a few other dealers agreed. I sent the Future Mrs a text message whining about how bad my Monday sucked and that I wished she was there to endure it with me. But it was her night away from the casino, so she was havin' no part of it.

But when I got back from my second break, the casino was suddenly packed, and I was busy for the rest of the night. So I made it the entire eight hour shift, which I would've never bet on, especially around 8:00 pm or so when the place was dead.

Right now, besides making this update, I'm lying in bed working on my pre-move To Do list. Gotta love a To-Do list where the number one task is Drink as much of the booze as possible so you don't have to move all them heavy bottles. Currently, I'm working my way through a tall glass of vanilla vodka and orange juice (gotta get them vitamins!), and I'm guessing it'll help me sleep well.

After I get up and run a few errands, it's back here to the house where I spend my free time this weekend cleaning and organizing my bedroom closet and the storage closet. Anything I didn't wear or use since I've been here will get tossed in the dumpster (Goodbye, green feather boa!). Oh, and that shiatty old Compaq computer? It's still sitting in the closet. So I'm going to take the case apart and destroy the hard drive, but I'm thinking of taking the monitor to work and dropping it off the roof of the parking garage, just to see it die... That should be fun.

Just an FYI, I wrote out the checks for the utilities this morning. Electricity was $31, Gas was $39. I'm really gonna miss this place.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

Or, I guess I could have titled this post "What I Did on My Wednesday Vacation". I know, it doesn't seem like much, but I think it represents about six or seven hours worth of effort. (Clicky for full-sized goodness)

I got more work done around the sailboat, I got the 'horizon' between the mountains and the sky mostly done--the gap on the left is where the horizon is obscured by palm fronds, so those pieces are still somewhere in the silver pan. I also got the trunk of the palm tree put together, along with about two-thirds of the line where the water meets the shore. All of the blue pieces in the dingy old sheet pan are all sky pieces, and all that's left in the main box are the minor foliage and water pieces. So it's coming along pretty well. I don't know how much I'll work on it today--I was up pretty late last night and didn't get much sleep, and since I have to work tonight, I'll probably sleep all afternoon.

On my next puzzle, I think I'd like take a picture like every half hour, or maybe even fifteen minutes, from the same spot, and then put them all together on YouTube as a time-lapse video of the puzzle building itself. That would be kinda cool.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


After taking damn near an entire week away from working on the puzzle, there was much activity on it yesterday afternoon. Rob worked on the upper border, while I sifted through the box searching for any still-unfound straight edges while separating any pieces that might be part of the huge palm tree. (That's what's in the silver disposable baking tray on the left).

We got it mostly done and I found a few extra pieces that fit in around the sailboat, but we gave up early in the evening with a missing border piece. It bothered me all night, so this morning I got back to work sifting through the box and finally found the missing piece, completing the border once and for all.

Besides working on the palm tree, the other puzzle-within-the-puzzle will be working on the 'horizon' where the mountains and sky come together. Gotta dig out a cookie sheet for that, too. But it's coming along nicely, although not nearly as quickly as I thought it would. I figured we'd be done in a week--two weeks, tops--but it's a little more challenging than that. And I'm amazed, again, at how fast the hours go by when I'm working on it. Yesterday afternoon, three hours passed like it was nothing. But that's the beauty of working on a complicated puzzle--your mind is free from the worries and constraints of everyday life, and you can still relax while exercising your brain.

Anyhow, besides working on the puzzle, my first day off was nice and relaxing. I came up with a list of things to work on over the course of the next several weeks, because it's time to move again. Rob wants to go live out on the west side with the Star Trek crowd once our lease is up--they have an opening in a huge house--and I want to stay in Henderson. Since he's working on the Strip now, instead of down here, and will pay $50 less per month in rent to live in a house, he jumped on the opportunity. Trying to find another roommate here isn't really an option for me, just because I really can't afford to carry the note on this place by myself, even if it's only for a couple of months, and the one-bedroom apartments here in our complex are ridiculously overpriced, too. So right now I'm not sure where I'm going to be living on July 1st, but I know it won't be here.

Once I organized my thoughts and to-do list, I got a nice nap in, woke up in time to catch a few episodes of my favorite show, and then headed out to the Silverton to do battle in the poker arena.

Long story short--I didn't last very long, again. Ace-King got me, again--I went all-in short-handed and a dude with King-nine called me, and a nine came out on the flop, while all the Aces were strangely missing (You know damn well that if I'd had pocket kings, an Ace would've hit the board--it happens every time!). What's that cliche again? Oh yeah-- That's poker...

Still, it doesn't keep me from being slightly pissed about taking a bad beat. And even though I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, I still had a good time. Although, I'm thinking that my days of playing the Silverton Industry Night poker tournament are numbered--they took away the guaranteed prize pool, and last night there were only 17 players, so first place was only like $270 or something. Hardly worth the drive.

I can stumble down to Green Valley, Sunset Station, Joker's Wild, South Point, or even Sam's Town, if I want to find a game. And I still love them loose players at the MGM Grand!

Anyhow, that's pretty much it as far as my weekend goes. I'm going to head back into the kitchen, brew up a pot of coffee, cook me some bacon and French toast, and work on my puzzle for a few hours. I may make it out to the pool later this afternoon if the wind ever calms down, but otherwise, I have no plans. I'm living frugal again until I get my living situation figured out.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Fatigue

Enough is enough.

I cannot escape the eco-madness on either the internet or the TV today, so I'm going to do the only logical thing I can think of to fight back.

I'll be outside burning styrofoam.


Monday, April 21, 2008

When The Nuts Go Bad

The Nuts: noun
1. The best possible poker hand at any point in the game. A hand that cannot be beaten.
2. A place you don't want to be kicked in.

In the poker world, they say that nobody wants to hear your 'bad beat' stories. Yeah, I know they are a dime a dozen, but sometimes I don't mind hearing them, if only to laugh and say "Whew, glad it didn't happen to me!" But most of the time I can do without them, especially from strangers, because as soon as they start talking, I already know how it's going to end. It's like having to sit through somebody telling you a long joke that you've already heard that isn't very funny anyways. Nobody likes that.

But I took a beating several weeks ago that stung pretty bad, and I can't seem to get it out of my head. So you get to hear about it. It was so unexpected and so sudden, that my initial shock overshadowed any chance to get pissed off about it. And I'm hoping it never happens again.

During March Madness, Dougie and I were playing in one of the daily $105 tourneys at the Golden Nugget. I was doing well, had a good-sized chip stack, and both of us had made it past the break and to the final two tables.

I found myself on the big blind with Queen - Ten of hearts. Nobody raised, so I got to limp in and see a flop for free, along with three other callers. When the flop came out, I couldn't believe my eyes--it was Nine - Jack - King in a rainbow of suits!

The Nuts baby! I had them.

I was in early position, so I checked. So did the next guy. One player bet $500, the guy on the button folded, and I smooth-called, as did the third player. The turn brought a rag, so I led out the betting, hoping for a raise. The player on my left folded, but the player who bet on the flop went all-in.

Bam! Oh hell yeah--I was doing the happy-naked-Muppet dance in my head! I had the guy covered, and had a monster hand, so of course I called.

He turned over his cards and said Two pair, Jacks and Nines!

I turned mine over and replied, Not bad, but I think I have the nut straight. A huge groan came up from his end of the table, and I was lickin' my chops, anticipating several minutes of stacking somebody else's chips, which at that very moment sounded better to me than a ten-minute lapdance where the groping lantern was lit.

The rest of the players at the table instinctively rose out of their seats, ready to see a knockout that would put each of them one step closer to the prize money. The dealer tapped the felt, burned a card, and slowly flipped over a nine, pairing the board and giving my opponent a full house while kicking me directly in the figurative nuts.

Immediately, there was sheer pandemonium at the table when he realized that he sucked out on me, and the rest of the players realized that they'd just witnessed an epic bad beat. I couldn't do anything but sit there and gasp at my bad fortune, spitting out a barely audible No f*cking way...

I had the same look on my face that Mike McD had when he realized he'd just lost his entire $30,000 bankroll on one hand. Of course, it wasn't that serious, but I was crippled. I had the guy covered, barely, but I was left to fight off the bullies and blinds with less than fifteen hundred dollars.

A few minutes later, just before the blinds came, I looked down and saw an Ace/Queen of diamonds looking back up at me, so I went all in. Everybody folded. Everybody, that is, except the guy who had all my chips. He looked at his cards once, twice, then shrugged and said What the hell, I call.

He had Ace/Five offsuit, and suddenly I really liked my chances of doubling up and getting back in the game.

Maverick's re-engaging, sir!

But the same dealer who paired the board on me a few minutes earlier couldn't keep the board all raggy for me this time, and he tossed out a five on the river, giving my opponent a pair and knocking me out of the tournament in 17th place. Ugh.

The big pisser of the whole thing was that I got my money in the pot with the biggest hand both times, and both times came up empty. Some novices would say that I should've went all in after the flop to protect against suck-outs, but that has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the hand in question. Even if I *had* gone all-in after the flop, the guy with two pair sure as hell wasn't going to lay it down. All the same money would've gone into the pot, just in a different order.

And I'm a firm believer in *never* going all-in first when you have The Nuts. I see people doing it all the time in tournaments--scooping up a tiny pot when they get quads on the turn and they go all-in, scaring away the action--then they show their cards like a complete dumbass, wanting to show off a big hand, while basically letting the rest of us know that they are exceptionally beatable. They take that old maxim "Better to win a small pot than to lose a large one" all the way to it's ridiculous extreme. I'd rather take my chances and build a pot. Or better yet, let somebody else do the building for me...

But the difference between quads and a straight is that a straight can be The Nuts right up until the turn. The river, as we saw, can crush you. Quads usually hold up (and if they don't, you're generally gonna score a bad-beat jackpot in a cash game, anyways).

So as much as I've been obsessing about that hand, there is just no other way around it--I just got spectacularly unlucky that day, and it just wasn't my turn to win the tournament.

The funny thing is, I have finally learned to fold a monster hand--pocket Aces, pocket Kings, etc. But I have yet to fold a big-blind hand that lets me see the flop for free. God knows how many of those hands have gotten me into trouble.


A Case of the Mondays

For the rest of the world, it's Monday morning, but in my world, it's still Sunday night. I just got home from work, took a shower, and poured myself and nice tall Captain Silver and DC w/lime. And I'm feeling much better than I was an hour ago, when I was stuck on the damn $5 pai gow game until the bitter end, again. Ugh.

But at least I learned that I could deal some big hands--early on, while on one of the $10 pai gow tables, I dealt a guy five Aces for a cool $2000 payoff. That brought the game to a screeching halt while the floorpeople scurried around trying to come up with a W2-G for the guy (Any jackpot on a table game that pays off at 300-1 or greater gets a W2-G, and five aces is 400-1). I earned myself a $125 tip and both him and his girlfriend kept me up on the bonus every hand for the rest of the hour I was there, earning me a few extra bucks. Couple that with the hundy or so I dropped at the Deuces Wild table, it was a pretty lucrative night in Chinatown. (On top of all that, I managed to deal out three more four-of-a-kinds last night, too. I figured the bosses were gonna stick me on five-dollar blackjack for the rest of the month because of my dumping the racks last night, but when I checked the roadmap before I left, I'm still on pai gow again tonight!)

Other than that, not much else happened, except for a couple of 70-year old men got into a brawl in the blackjack pit. That was fun to watch but it was over just as quickly as it began--more bluster than brawn, but still funny to watch a couple of old codgers square off. Oh, and old guys know all the best insults and old-school swear words, too. It was great comedy.

And straight from the Working In A Casino Is Not As Glamorous As You Think Department, around 11 or so, I was in the men's room washing my hands and cleaning my glasses, when I saw one of our biggest nastiest fleas come out of one of the stalls, with the sound of an industrial flush providing the ambient music. And he walked right past all of the sinks and headed back out to the casino. Before he hit the door, I called out to him and asked, "Hey, aren't you gonna wash your hands, you nasty motherf*cker?", but he just kept on walking like he was oblivious. He's in the casino pretty much every night, playing Deuces Wild and Let It Ride all the time, and the prick never tips, either. So I'm totally gonna call him out next time he's at my table--I'm just going to ask the floorperson (loud enough for everyone to hear it) to bring over some hand sanitizer because the player in seat five doesn't wash his hands after using the restroom... Heh.

Anyhow, that's the news from the casino world. Tonight is my Friday night, so I'll be hard-pressed to make it the entire shift, especially if it's slow. I'm guessing that I'll roll out around 1:30 or so. Not that I have big plans for my weekend, but I'd just rather be somewhere else than at work. Once I get out of there, I'm going to spend my day working on my puzzle and then maybe I'll play some poker on Tuesday night, trying to pad my bankroll.

Cooking will consist of tossing a bunch of chicken breasts into the crockpot with some olive oil and spices, then turning the whole thing into chicken salad. So I need to get down to the store to get some cashews and some miniature pineapple chunks.

That's all for now--y'all have a great day!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Morning, Can't Sleep

And it seems like at this very moment when I'm sitting down at the keyboard, I don't have much to write about, either. But I'm hoping I can crank something out if I just keep typing.

Sorry, again, for not posting these past couple of days, but I just haven't had anything to write about. All I've done is work and sleep since Thursday--I have absolutely no tales of Vegas-style adventure to share.

Frankly, I'm surprised that I'm still up this morning. The casino just kicked my ass last night and I thought I'd get home and collapse in a heap. I was stuck doing hour-twenties on the worst string of tables in the joint ($5 flea-gow, Superfun 21, and the only $5 shoe game in the main pit. Ugh.) And I was the last man standing on my shift again, payback for all those 'teachers pet' nights where I'm always the first one to get the half-hour push. But when I finally made my way out the door, I realized that I was out of 'mixables', so I had to stop at the store to get some Diet Coke with Lime and some more coffee creamer before heading home.

And when I drove up, I saw that our living room lights were on and Rob's car parked in front of our apartment. That was surprising, since I figured he'd be staying with his lady-friend last night. He gave me some sort of nice-sounding excuse about being on swing shift and having opposite sleep schedules or some such nonsense, but I'm guessing that he just took care of bidness and snuck out. Like guys are supposed to do.

So I fixed myself an ultra-strong martini, kicked my shoes off, and we watched three episodes of Jeopardy and about a half-hour of hockey highlights before I tried to call it a night. But it's Sunday morning, and that's when I make my calls back to Tennessee to talk to the family. So I chatted with Mamasan for a bit, then after that I talked to Amy for a little while longer. Today is her 33rd birthday, and there is some sort of soiree going on this afternoon to celebrate. Word around the campfire is that there will be plenty of chicken enchiladas and booze to go around.

Once the calls back to the redneck version of the Kennedy compound were concluded, I took a nice long hot shower, getting the casino funk off of me for a few hours and feeling like a new man. I thought about going down to the jacuzzi to relax for an hour or so, but the sun was coming up and I didn't want to subject any of the neighbor-ladies with seeing me and tempting themselves into some sort of reverse David/Bathsheba thing, so I thought better of it.

So that brings us to to now.

At some point I'm going to have to force myself to go to bed and get a few hours of sleep. I checked the roadmap before leaving work last night, and tonight is going to be much easier--I'm back on my favorite string of tables, and we're back to only doing hours, too. So tonight should be a cakewalk--but only if I get some sleep. Right now, unfortunately, I'm wide awake--without anything interesting to say.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Grind

There's a chill in the house this morning, so I'm sitting here at the kitchen table enjoying a hot cup of hazelnut coffee and making my way through the first round of my daily internet rotation. This may be my last pot of coffee for awhile, though. My coffeemaker is about eight years old, slow to brew a pot, and is sitting on the counter hissing like an angry cobra. It's never done that before...

I keep thinking that summer is on the way, and it'll be here in spades before I know it, but damn, does it have to be 43 degrees outside? And yeah, my bedroom window hasn't been closed in weeks. I've paid off my sleep deficit these past few days, but having my big bare feet sticking out from the end of the covers on the bed was enough to wake me up early this morning, and I'm either too stubborn or too lazy to go put some socks on, so I'm up and about.

I'm also kind of hungry, but being too lazy to put socks on means that I'm feeling too lazy to cook right now, too. The good thing about coffee is that it takes away the hunger, so if I drink the whole pot, I probably won't eat until I get to work tonight. Although... I have English muffins, eggs, cheese, and ham in the fridge. A home-made egg mcmuffin sounds good. Hell, I even have hash-brown patties in the freezer.

Why do I even bother talking about it? We all know that I'm going to sit here drinking my coffee and surfing the internet, avoiding the kitchen altogether, except for refilling my coffee cup a time or two.

While I'm here, I want to apologize for my lack of interesting posts lately. I went back and read some of the stuff I've been writing, and it seems extremely dull. Sorry about that. But I have an excuse--my mind has been elsewhere all week and I'm trying to keep this blog from sounding like the diary of a 13-year old girl with a wall full of N-Sync posters.

But enough about that.

I don't know what it is, maybe the fact that it's been so windy the past couple of days, but lately I'm all about daydreaming about sailboats, sunsets, and the Caribbean. And remembering why I'm here in Vegas in the first place--to get out of debt, to save some money, and to eventually buy a sailboat. At times I find myself really missing the ocean, and the sensory overload that comes with it--the sound, the smells, the way the sunshine on my face feels different out on the ocean than it does in the middle of the desert. I don't think I'll ever get over the thrill I get whenever I'm driving out in California and come over a hill and see the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean for the first time in months (or years). I'm amazed at my ability to remain in control of my vehicle and keep driving, because I just want to stop and stand there in awe.

But luckily, in this day and age, the internet is available to feed my addiction and help me remember my only-recently discovered purpose in life. I can find things like this, or this, or even this, which to these forty-year-old eyes is even better than p0rn.

On a sad note, I also got word this morning that Captain Jim, the first person who ever took me sailing so many years ago, (on his beautiful old-school 60-foot schooner), passed away on Tuesday. Truthfully, I had been sailing before, but as a passenger, not crew. Captain Jim not only let me 'drive' the boat, but insisted on me spending as much time as possible at the helm. When I wasn't attending to those duties, he taught me all that he could about sailing in general, and life aboard a schooner in particular. It was a very eventful weekend, and not only was it a wonderful trip to Catalina, but somebody out there was foolish enough to pay me to write about it. (It starts on page 120 if you feel so inclined to read. I cringe when I read it, thinking my writing was so bad back then. But I've had lots more practice since then).

Anyhow, between the sailboat pictures that keep me motivated, a great lady to daydream about, finally extricating myself from the quicksand of debt from the past years, job satisfaction, and my new-found abilities at the poker table, it seems that I've got much to be happy about these days.

My complaints are small in the grand scheme of things. If only I could keep that in mind on a constant basis...


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Setting New Standards of Laziness

Howdy everyone!

I see that my traffic has been pretty good today, and I was a lazy jackass and gave everyone nothing new to read all day. Sorry about that, but now that everyone is home from the office and away from the computer, it's now that I decide to make an update.

I really wanted to get up early and do some writing this morning, but I slept until way past noon and that plan went out the same window as did my plan to win the Silverton poker tournament last night. But more about that later...

The problem is that I got absolutely no sleep on Tuesday after I got out of work. I got home, puttered around for a bit, and went to sleep around 3:30 in the morning. I woke up at 6:30, having to pee and hearing Rob lurking around in the living room before heading off to his daily indoctrination orientation down at the Evil Empire.

I went back to bed, but couldn't sleep. So I was up all day long. I finally dozed into a quick catnap around 4:00 pm, but as soon as I fell asleep, my phone was ringing--Amy was calling me from Nashville, and kept me laughing for about 20 minutes while she made her evening commute. After that, I was up again, killing time watching the new episodes of Deadliest Catch and clearing space on the DVR until it was time to head out and try to repeat my domination of the poor schleps at the Silverton.

But I knew I was in trouble as soon as I got there--I couldn't quit yawning, and I was dozing off while just sitting there at the table waiting for the tourney to start. Three hours off sleep in the previous thirty was starting to catch up to me.

I thought I'd be fine once the tourney got started--I folded the first hand, which would've won the first pot with a full house, but won the next three without exposing my cards. A few minutes later I got pocket eights, made trips on the flop and was lucky enough to have a calling station in early position with a raggy board. Finally, after the turn I went all in, and he thought about it for maybe thirty seconds and called with absolutely f*cking nothing--King/Queen suited. The river brought no help for him and I dang near doubled up.

Everyone at the table was saying stuff like "Nice call, dude..." and he seemed to get pissed about it, saying Hey, it's my money!

So I said, No, actually, it's *my* money when you play like that. Thanks!


After that, I got absolutely nothing for the rest of the tournament--the blinds were eating me alive, and our table was down to seven players, while the other two tables were still full--and the tourney director refused to re-seat anyone until a table was down to six players. I was so card-dead that I tried to gamble with weak Aces a couple of times, but both times somebody went all-in behind me, and I had to fold, costing me valuable chips each time.

I made it to just past the end of the re-buy period and the re-seating, but found myself short stacked with Ace-King. I went all-in and got two callers. One guy also had Ace-King, the other had a pair of sixes. Mr. Pocket Pair had us both covered, and my night ended at the river.

I was back home by 11:30, with no winnings or poker glory to bask in. I stayed up for about an hour or so watching tv and talking to Rob, but found myself dozing on the loveseat, so I headed to bed. And I crashed for 12 straight hours.

It was nice, but I'm feeling a little sluggish today. A brisk walk down to the clubhouse to fetch the mail helped a bit, but even though it's sunny outside, the wind is howling and it's a bit too chilly to hang out by the pool. So I've made myself a cocktail, turned the tv on to the 'Arena Rock' channel, and I'm about to go to work on that big damn palm tree in the upper left side of my puzzle.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Day

Don't know why, but I just felt like running that pic out again... I hope everyone has fun finishing off their taxes today. I did mine in February, sending them in the same day I realized that I was due a $700 refund. Of course, I never saw a dime of that money, as it went to pay down my current debt with the IRS. I should see a bit of that 'stimulus package' money they're sending out starting next month, though. I won't get the entire amount, but whatever is left after clearing the slate with those jackals in DC will be ok with me.

Since this is the first time since around 1999 that I've actually gotten a refund, and I won't be spending the day like the guy in the above picture, this is the first April 15th in almost a decade that doesn't fill me with a sense of dread.

Hell, tax time in 2000 (actually April 14th, a Friday) was the beginning of the end of the tech bubble. I remember having lunch at Houston's on Camelback Road in Phoenix with my buddy Devin and a group of folks in an options class that I was teaching, and we were sitting in the bar watching the bloodbath on CNBC. It was a huge selloff day that eventually started the turn of events that caused me to end up here in Vegas, working as a casino dealer.

Right now I'm ok with how things turned out, but damn, it sure was a rocky road there for awhile. Had I only known then what I know now... Well, I'd short-sell everything I could've gotten my hands on!

And it seems that the cycle is starting to repeat itself. There are no casino jobs available in this town right now, and just yesterday, the big boys--MGM/Mirage-- started their round of layoffs. This next recession, however, doesn't seem like it's going to be as bad as the one in 2001 (Well, I still have a job for instance...), so I'm hoping to emerge unscathed.

Anyhow, for those of you who have to write a big check to the gub-mint today, you have my sincere condolences. I have felt your pain for far too long. But just imagine how much good all that money could do for the economy if it didn't have to go to that giant sucking hole in Washington and was spent on things like, oh, I dunno, expanding your businesses, buying consumer goods, or god forbid, getting invested...


Quote of the Week

This made me laugh out loud, from a player at my Pai Gow table last night:

Is there nothing more pleasing to the ear than the sound of an angry Chinese woman?

It gave me the giggles for an hour.


Bits & Pieces

Finally--my weekend is here!

Well, it's not like I worked very hard this week--hell, I spent most of last night sitting on my ass doing not a damn thing but waiting for a certain someone to make her rounds. Yep, most of my games were just plain dead. I didn't drop a single toke after 11:20 pm, and I was there until almost 2:00, staring off into space. Players were few and far between last night.

Speaking of 'a certain someone', I've decided that in the interests of privacy and discretion, I'm imposing a moratorium on posting about her, us, or anything we do together. I don't know how long it'll be needed, or if it'll even be needed at all, but she gets enough weirdos talking to her on a nightly basis, and she doesn't need any more of 'em showing up and saying "Hey, you must be the 'future Mrs.' that Mikey's always talking about...." So that subject is closed.

And if any of you lurking retards are out there who like to show up and just start talking about stuff you read on here to try and shock me (you know who you are), and pull that shiat with her, well, there's this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, etc. etc. etc....

I'm just sayin'...

Also, thanks for all the suggestions about where to find trail mix with cashews. I appreciate them. But the truth is, Member's Mark brand from Sam's Club is a mix of peanuts, M&M's, raisins, almonds, and whole cashews! Problem solved. In fact, I'm munching on some as I type this. Now I just have to find some Chex mix without so many damn pretzels in it...

I think I'm in for a fairly dull and uneventful weekend. Since I was so diligent about paying bills and debt last week, I pretty much spent all my extra cash. Yeah, I've got enough to play in a poker tournament or two, but otherwise, I'm going to be living frugally again for the next couple of weeks (tokes were down about $200 last week compared to the week before, so April is shaping up to be a lean month income-wise unless I win a couple of poker tournaments....) But on the plus side, I'm all caught up, I retired some debt, I have a full tank of gas, a pantry and freezer full of so many groceries that I can't fit any more in, and a whole shiatload of new clothes. If I bust out of the poker tourney and have no money for the next week, well, I still have that huge jigsaw puzzle out in the dining room, a whole shelf full of premium booze, and the greatest free-p0rn delivery service ever invented--the internet.


Monday, April 14, 2008

This Pretty Much Sums It Up


Good Karma--I Has It.

Let me try this again. I made a post yesterday morning, but when I went back and re-read it an hour later, I didn't like it at all. So I tried to edit it, and I farked it all up, so I just said the hell with it and deleted the entire thing.

My mind is much more clear today.

The point that I was trying to make is that I must be livin' right, because everything is going my way this week. It all started off with a surprisingly nice night of tokes last Monday, followed up by taking second place cash in the Silverton poker tournament, but there were a myriad of other little things falling into place for me this past week, too.

But the best thing was that after several months of daydreaming about it, I finally got to go out with the future Mrs my favorite cocktail waitress on Saturday night. Not only that, but she was the one who did the asking, telling me to take off early from work to go out with her. So I gave up a few hours of tokes and bailed on work, but it was so worth it...

We stayed out all night drinking, dancing, and laughing, and ended the night having breakfast in the coffee shop of a nearby casino. Yes, we had a most excellent time together, and we've made plans to do it again soon.

(That last paragraph should be a five-page single-spaced Word document, but in the interest of discretion, I'm going to keep it to myself and savor it like a glass of fine wine)

Of course, once I finally got home, I couldn't sleep, so by the time I got back to work last night, I was exhausted and yawning every five minutes. She was in pretty much the same shape, and made it most of the night before taking off an hour early and went to bed. But I had to stay and grind it out until the bitter end--no more Early Outs for the rest of the week.

Tonight is the last night of my workweek, so I'm going to try and get as much sleep as I can today and hope that the night goes by fairly fast. I've got no plans for my weekend except to work on my puzzle, do some chores, and maybe play in a poker tournament one night.


Sunday, April 13, 2008



I'm having some issues with Blogger today. I made a post this morning, but trying to edit it after-the-fact didn't seem to work--it got all jacked up. So I deleted the whole thing and will start over tomorrow.

Let's just say, it's been the Best. Week. Ever.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wasting Time in the Man Cave

So, what does one do in Vegas if one is not inclined to go out drinking and playing video poker during one's free time?

Well, there is always real poker, which I find myself doing more and more (hey, as long as I'm winning, I'm gonna keep riding this train!). But playing poker is kind of a grind, and I guess if I didn't have to work five nights a week, it would be a little easier. And since I harbor no delusions of becoming a poker pro, well, I'll keep working and finding other ways to occupy my free time.

One thing I've always enjoyed, which is a total stress-reliever, is doing jigsaw puzzles. I don't know why I enjoy it so much, but I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that it allows me to clear my mind, focus on the task at hand, and use both the creative and analytical sides my brain at the same time. It's relaxing and fun at the same time. I've mentioned it before, but I haven't done a puzzle in probably close to five years or more--it's been that long. The problem was, since I sold my condo back in Mesa six years ago, I haven't had a frickin' dining room table. Hard to believe, but it's true.

When I lived with Derek and the 'frat house', my dining room table got moved outside and we used it as a catch-all out on the covered patio. It was generally covered in dust and empty beer bottles until poker night each month, when we'd clean it off and use it as a buffet table for all the pizza and wings. I left it behind when I moved to Tennessee.

And when I got to Vegas, I brought very little in the way of furniture with me, opting for a fresh start in more ways than one. So just the other night when I was at Sam's Club, my main motivation for getting that utility table was so that I'd have a place to do my puzzles. I've had a couple of them sitting unopened for the past year or so, so the first thing I did on Wednesday night was go dig one out of the closet and set the box out on the table.

Of course, Falcon Rob saw it and was unable to resist, so he cracked the seal and we started putting it together around 4:00 am on Thursday morning. Rob had the honor of finding the first two pieces that actually fit together.

While he worked on finding all of the edge pieces, I went to work on the sailboat. It only took me about two hours, but this is the progress that we made before calling it a night. (Clicky for full-sized goodness)

It's a 1500 piece puzzle, and when it's finished, it'll be just short of three feet wide and two feet high. I figured we'd be done inside of a week, but since we both have worked every night since then, we haven't really touched it. Oh, I spent about twenty more minutes on it yesterday, digging through the box and finding a few more edge pieces, and getting the sailboat portion finished all the way down to the lower edge, but that's it so far.

So it looks like it'll probably take more than a week, but in the meantime, it keeps us off the streets, away from the casino, and out of trouble. Of course I'll post a photo once we finish. And then it's on to the next one.


Lazy Saturday

Hey Gang--

Just checkin' in with my homies. There's not a whole lot going on around Casa de Mikey, but I wanted to let everyone know that I haven't fallen off the planet. My email box and cellphone start blowing up if I go more than 36 hours without an update.

Nice to know that people care!

First of all, there has been nothing interesting happening for the past couple of days, so that has contributed to my laziness. And The Masters has got me anchored in front of the TV, too. Augusta National is a nice course, but especially so in HD. And the fact that Phil is playing well keeps me paying attention. If Tiger were running away with it, I probably wouldn't be watching. But every time they show him lining up for a putt, I find myself doing the Beavis-and-Butthead hex-hex-hex thing, trying to get him to shank it. It's worked a few times this weekend...

I've also got an idea for what could be a decent post rolling around in my head. The outline is about halfway formed up, but the devil is in the details. I'm not sure I can make it work just yet, but I'm trying to be creative.

Otherwise, it's just a lazy Saturday. It's nice because when I woke up today, I realized that this is the first time in several days that I didn't have an errand to run, I had no place to go, I had no checks to write, and I had nothing on my mental to-do list. If it weren't for work lurking on the horizon, today would be totally free.

So I'm gonna enjoy the rest of this pot of coffee and maybe think about doing a little cooking. I know it's 1:30 in the afternoon, but when you don't get to bed until almost 6:00 am, it's still breakfast time.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Tradition Like No Other...

Yep, the first major sporting event since the Super Bowl kicks off today, The Masters. (Oh wait, I almost forgot about the hillbillies drivin' around in circles down in Daytona. My bad! And baseball, with it's three different opening days doesn't count as a major event, either). But The Masters is my favorite golf tournament to watch, regardless of Jim Nance sounding like he's delivering a four-day long eulogy, and it gets me paying attention to the PGA tour for the rest of the summer.

I'm rooting for Lefty (ASU!), Jose Maria Olazabal, Fred Couples, and Fuzzy, of course. Oh, and I'm firmly rooted in the Anybody But Tiger camp, too. I think I'm growing weary of him, his over-reacting to photographs (brothaman ain't playin' golf in a vacuum), and his banana-in-the-tailpipe voice. He just seems like he's overdue for a good beat-down. Oh, and if Rocco Mediate was in the field, I'd be rooting for him too, but he's having a tough year and didn't qualify.

My plan for the day is to get this last post up, turn off the lamp on the nightstand, and get a few hours of sleep before catching the afternoon coverage on ESPN. I'll be munchin' on my own pimento and cheese Masters sandwich, and watching golf right up until heading back to work later tonight, kicking off a brand new workweek. Yay.

So, Go Phil! And Fred! And here's to hoping that Tiger spends most of his afternoon wading around in Ray's creek looking for his ball. I hope he goes Tin Cup on the back nine and misses the cut, just so we won't have to listen to those preening schmoes on ESPN and CBS sing his praises all weekend. Because you know if he wins this thing, all we're gonna hear about all summer long, until he loses one, is "Can he get the Grand Slam???"

Seriously, I'm almost to the point where it wouldn't bother me if somebody went Tonya Harding on him right there at the practice range and he went down in a heap, crying Why...Why? Not that I'm advocating violence against anyone, but I'd rather see it happen to a smug bastard that never loses instead of a hot chick in tights. I'm just sayin'...


Shopping Trip

I've had a good couple of weeks, financially. Tokes are up, so the paychecks are much better than they were at pretty much any point in 2007. I actually made a few hundred bucks gambling during the Madness, working my mojo at the poker table, and getting about four or five really good dice rolls also, so when the dust settled, I actually had quite a bit more money than I started with. I also made $300 in the poker tourney at the Silverton on Tuesday night, and a couple of anonymous--and very generous--souls hit my tip jar this week, too. So for the first time in several weeks, I don't feel cash-strapped.

Of course, before the Madness even ended, I did a bunch of shopping on that following Monday once I got home from the hotel. I needed new work clothes, badly, so I used my casino winnings to stock up on black pants, black undershirts, and black socks. I also hit up Target and loaded up on stuff like razor blades, body wash, toothpaste, etc. Angy, being the motherly type, told me she was proud of me for not pissing it all away and giving it back to the casino before everyone left town when I saw her later that night. Yep, while all the rest of those buffoons were lounging around in the cabana at the Mirage pool, drinking pina coladas and catching some rays, I was out restocking my cabinets and closet.

Figuring out the middle-of-the-month bills earlier today, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have almost enough in the bank to retire two old higher-interest debts leftover from the bad old days and the aftermath of the tech bubble bursting. If not paid off this Friday, they will certainly be no longer hanging over my head at the end of the month. Oh hell yeah. The relief I feel is amazing. Seriously--it's gonna put almost $200 per month back in my pocket.

And since I have been somewhat diligent in getting myself out from under these shackles of debt, I wanted to reward myself. I must've spent an hour or more yesterday afternoon on the internet shopping for a new cellphone, trying to find the best deal without having to get a new contract--I've been out from under the clutches of the wireless companies for almost three years now, and I'm not about to go back and sign my life away for two more years just to save the cost of a new phone.

But in the end, I decided not to buy a new phone. I need one, my Sony Ericson phone is a complete piece of shiat that has annoyed me since the day I brought it home, and now it's starting to gasp when I use it. I can tell the end is near. But even after putting a new Motorola in my virtual cart, I decided to wait until these latest debts are wiped from the slate once and for all. Then I'll feel like I can truly afford to reward myself with a new electronic gadget.

However, that didn't stop me from spending money last night. I still needed a few things, and I ended up at Sam's Club instead of pressing my luck with the 7:00 pm poker tournament at Planet Hollywood. My plan was to just get the toiletries and household items I missed the first time around--more shaving cream, hand soap, and dishwasher soap. But one can't walk into a warehouse club and stay within their budget. It just doesn't happen.

In addition to the stuff I actually needed, I ended up with a four-pound bag of trail mix, an assortment of Tostitos salsa (I just recently discovered the pineapple-peach salsa on accident, and oh-my-gawd is it ever good!), a six-foot long utility table, and a few padded stack chairs.

Yep, the Man Cave has had no dining room table since we've been here. Our dining area is just a big empty spot with a ceiling fan. So instead of spending the cash on some nice oak furniture, I did the bachelor thing and got the folding church-social table. Actually, it's very handy--I can take it camping if I want, and if I put a table cloth on it, nobody is the wiser while it sits in the dining room. But the main thing is that I wanted a place to spread out and do stuff in view of the TV. My desk is kinda small, and during football season, the laptop is out in the living room all the time anyways. I also like to do jigsaw puzzles, and I've got a few that have just been sitting in the closet, unopened, because I had no place to put them together.

Oh, and I guess we can actually sit there and use it to eat, too, instead of carrying our plates to the living room and using the ottoman as a dining room table. So that trip to Sam's was quite productive, and it only ended up costing me about half of my poker winnings. The rest of it goes into the bank tomorrow--it's earmarked for my truck insurance that's due on Tuesday.

I felt like I did the right thing by paying bills and buying essentials last night instead of paying my way into another poker tourney. Sure, I have confidence in my game, but man, it's a grind sitting there for three hours or more with no guarantees of cashing. But part of me wishes I'd still gone down to Planet Ho, worked my mad skillz in the tournament, and brought home enough to get the IRS off my ass once and for all.

I'll deal with them next month.


A Request For the Nerds

I'm always amazed at the technology that humans can come up with when they're properly motivated. I still stare at my iPod in wide-eyed wonder. And the fact that I can write this and post it instantaneously for hundreds of readers around the world--from the comfort of my bed--is an amazing feat. Back in the 80's, a cell phone, wireless technology, and the internet were stuff of fantasy. Hell, as late as 1996, it seemed like the trendiest must-have gadget was a beeper. Does anyone still use those?

But in our technology evolution, we seemed to have missed a few things. Yes, there are some inventions that haven't made it to Best Buy yet, and I'm patiently waiting to spend my hard-earned dollars on them.

The first one, it seems, should be pretty straight-forward. The obvious name for it would be the 'micro-chill'. Reverend Dave and I have been talking about it for years, yet it's never been invented yet. Basically, we're looking for the opposite of a microwave oven. I want an appliance that you can put a bottle of room-temperature beer in, press a button, and thirty seconds later it comes out frosty cold. Seriously--it would be a gold mine. Not only would it be good for beverages, but for blanching vegetables, cooling leftovers, and making ice or ice cream. Who wouldn't want that? It would be in every kitchen in America, just like a toaster or a blender.

I actually emailed the smartest person I know, Steven den Beste, a couple of years ago, and asked him why it hasn't been invented yet. Basically, he said it was impossible because there is no such thing as hot and cold. There is only heat and less heat. You cannot radiate 'less heat' from one object to another.

I do remember, however, from high school science class, that the cooling process is a slowing down of molecules. So if there was some way to slow down molecules in a chamber (without using the obvious salt and ice, or cold air), it could be invented, one would think. I dunno, I'm just brainstormin' here.

The next moneymaker yet to be invented would rank right up there with Tivo and other DVR devices. How about a de-pixellating chip for your TV that unscrambles the pixellated nudity that is shown on 'E' and those late-night Girls Gone Wild infomercials? I mean, who wouldn't pay for a device that shows the naughty bits? Every dude in America would buy it. Hell, before long, it would be a standard feature on TV sets, straight from the factory. Anything that gives easier access to p0rn is going to sell like hotcakes--it's a fact of life.

And the third invention, I remember discussing over ten years ago--scientists are supposedly on the cusp of doing amazing things with molecular re-alignment. Of course, like the apple hitting Newton on the head, the thing that triggered my thought process was a ridiculously simple application of molecular re-alignment. I want all those small busted chip fragments at the bottom on the Tostitos bag to be put back together into regular-sized chips so that I can dip them in my salsa. Otherwise, they get thrown out. But that was the first use that my simple mind came up with. If one could re-align matter at the molecular level, well, you'd never have to worry about breaking anything ever again--you could just put it back together again, (of course, I'm guessing you'd have to have an 'original map' on file of everything on earth). But still, the mind boggles at the possibilities.

Those are about the only inventions I can think of right off the top of my head that would make the world a much better place. On the other hand, maybe we should start small. I'm looking for somebody to invent some trail mix that uses cashews in place of almonds. That can't be too hard, can it?


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No Points For Second Place!

... but I'm pretty sure there is some decent money involved.

Sorry for not posting anything on Tuesday, but the day pretty much escaped me without much effort on my part. After enduring all but my last hour of work on Monday night, I kicked off my weekend a bit early. No, I didn't go out drinking and playing video poker with one of my favorite ladies--Why? I have no idea--but instead of taking a chance on living the dream, I made the safe play and opted to expend less effort and money to come home alone than would be involved with coming home alone after a few hours of hormonal aggravation at the bar.

A man's gotta know his limitations...

So instead of lookin' for love in all the right places, I went to the grocery store and purchased a few essentials before heading home. Still wide awake, I got a couple of chores done before settling down in front of the DVR and catching up on a few shows. Rob made his way home shortly thereafter, and since I hadn't seen him in several days, we spent some time catching up. I can tell that he's *really* looking forward to quitting his current flea-bag gig next weekend, and I don't blame him one bit. I know the guy has been working twice as hard as I do for half as much money. And his new job will be dealing dice to 99% tourists, instead of 99% human debris.

Anyhow, after catching up on all the news and watching three episodes of Jeopardy, it was almost 7:00 am and the sun was high in the morning sky--time for bed. I was clever enough to turn my phone off before hitting the sack, because I invariably get a wrong number at least twice a week whenever I'm trying to sleep. And with no disturbances coming from inside the house, and no leaf-blowers or garbage trucks making noise outside my window, I slept all the way till 3:30 in the afternoon, waking up feeling like a million bucks.

The balance of the afternoon was kind of blurry--I remember drinking a pot of coffee and toasting a couple of English muffins, and then the next few hours were lost to the Deadliest Catch marathon on Discovery HD. Man, I can't get enough of that show--I don't know why I enjoy it so much, but it's the best thing on TV as far as I'm concerned. I'm really looking forward to the new season starting next Tuesday. Just like Sex and the City at the sorority house, it is appointment TV in the Man Cave.

Finally, around 9:00 pm, it hit me that it was Tuesday night, and that meant the $1500 guaranteed prize-pool poker tournament over at the Silverton for casino employees. I played in it a couple of weeks ago, and I actually played pretty well, but got unlucky a couple of times and busted out without even sniffing the money. And I feel like my poker game has gotten much better these past few weeks (a secret I've been sitting on is that I made about $400 during March Madness playing limit poker), so I wanted to go give it another shot.

I checked my wallet to see if I could go, but I only had $42 left in disposable cash to last me until Friday. The tournament buy-in is $40, with a $20 re-buy, so my immediate thought was Screw it--I'll scrub the bathroom tonight. I just didn't feel like I could afford to go.

Ten minutes later, overwhelmed by the bleach fumes and having absolutely no fun at all, I said to myself Man, fark this. If I'm afraid to lose forty bucks, I shouldn't even play poker in the first place. Then doing my best Mike McDermott impression for nobody at all, I said out loud, F*ck it--let's go play some cards!

I had to hustle to get there in time. I did a quick change of clothes, put on some sandals, and lead-footed it down the 215, hoping to get there under the wire. I shouldn't have worried, the tourney never gets started on time, and I found myself at the desk with five minutes to spare, anyways.

First loss of the night--a couple of guys were wandering away muttering under their breath, pissed off. It turns out that the poker room management suddenly decided to stop guaranteeing the prize pool, and that all payouts would come from buy-ins and re-buys only--no house money.

Damn. That was the only reason for going down there.

On the other hand, they lowered the buy-in to $33 with one $20 re-buy in the first hour. And since I was already there, I found myself signing up, realizing a few seconds later that I still didn't have enough for a re-buy. Oh well, gotta fold my way to the first break and worry about it then, I thought.

Even after the pissed-off crowd left the building, there were still 30 players. And since it was all dealers, bartenders, and waitresses, it was a fun, easygoing crowd, not the usual assortment of sunglass-wearing jerkoffs one normally finds at the nightly tournaments around town. Since we all had much in common, the conversation was pleasant and the asshattery factor was relatively low.

I raked three pots without going to a showdown, and soon found myself in second-best chip lead at my table. That's about the time I was feeling pretty confident about my game and I looked down to see an Ace-Queen, the MOTHER of all death hands, staring up at me. I raised to about four times the big blind, thinking that Ace-Queen has got to win eventually, and of course the chip leader came over the top of me and went all-in, forcing me to retreat like a scared Chihuahua hearing fireworks for the first time.

Damn. Not wanting to visit an ATM again this week, I figured that folding was my best move.

I was right--some other genius made the call and found himself pulling out another twenty-spot just a few minutes later, having been run over by pocket Aces.

I was playing pretty well, I had to admit, catching myself making only two mistakes in the first hour--raising with a weak Ace out of position, and getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar on a semi-bluff, but otherwise I was doing well and raking a lot of smaller pots, accumulating chips at a pretty good pace.

Just before the break, I was on the big blind and was dealt pocket threes. I was able to check in for free and luckily caught trips on the flop. I checked, one guy with a big stack went all-in, and I started doing the naked happy dance in my head when the other two players folded. I had the all-in guy covered, and I called. He managed to pair his Ace on the flop, but I had him drawing dead on the turn. The fact that the case three that came out on the river was just basically a kick to the nuts on his way out the door, and I had a huge stack when we got down to two tables a few minutes later.

Even better, I didn't need the re-buy!

I tightened up a bit, letting the short stacks chop each other up, which was about all I could do because I went completely card-dead for about an hour. The best hand I got was a jack-ten suited that ended up costing me about $2000 in chips, so I went in the tank, content to let the increasing blinds do my dirty work.

When we got down to six-and-five at two tables, and a guy who had only had $500 less than I did went all-in. I had pocket tens against Big Slick, he didn't pair up, and I basically doubled up--knocking him out and arriving at the final table with the third-highest stack of chips.

The blinds went up to $2000/$4000, and there were six short stacks, three big stacks (of which I was one), and one HUGE stack. All the short stacks were trying to fold their way to the money, but unfortunately, they couldn't do it. The blinds were forcing them to gamble, and after about 20 minutes, we were down to five players--one away from the money. Of course, I was still card-dead, and in fourth chip position, so when somebody suggested that we chop, I was ok with it. But the chip leader was against it, and the discussion ended right then.

The low stack took to folding like it was his job, hoping that a couple of the bigger stacks would tangle and he'd slide into the money. But it was not to be. He got a big Ace, went all-in, and the guy with the monster chip lead took him out with a pocket pair that held up.

Money, baby--I was in it!

By then, there was still a monster stack, myself and another guy with about 20K each, and one poor schlep with eight grand in shrapnel. The big blind was $6000 by that time, and the short stack immediately got knocked out--pot committed with a decent second-place hand.

I felt like I had a chance of winning the thing outright at that point--I usually play really well short-handed. The other guy with a stack relatively the same size as mine had been stealing my blinds for a couple of rounds, so I figured it was just a matter of time before I caught him and made him pay. There was a lot of folding to the monster stack, who was going all-in on damn near every hand, stealing *both* of our blinds. But I finally caught pocket kings on the big blind. The big stack limped in on the button, the small blind went all-in, obviously trying to double up or at least steal the blinds, so I went all-in also.

The chip leader folded and got out of the way, and it turned out that my pocket Kings were facing a Queen-Jack offsuit. Heh--I liked my chances.

My cowboys held up, and we were down to two players. I was still pretty far behind--the guy had about a five-to-one chip lead on me, but I nibbled away at it for a few minutes before he started going all-in every hand, eating away at my stack. Unfortunately, I was getting crappy cards and couldn't do a damn thing about it. I knew he was stealing about half the time, so as soon as I got a King-rag I went all-in.

He called, showing the Ace-Queen of hearts.

Damn, this was a pretty shitty time for Ace-Queen to finally win a pot, I thought to myself, and I was right. The board brought no improvement for either one of us, and just like that, the tournament was over.

I got $306 for my silver-medal efforts, and I left a generous toke behind for the dealers before happily skipping directly to my truck, not even tempted to take a house-money run at the dice table. Not a bad night's entertainment for thirty-three bucks! And now that my mad poker skillz have been validated, I'm thinking of finding another tournament for Wednesday night.

I hear they have a pretty good game at Planet Hollywood...