Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Nice to be Home!

Finally--I made it! I left Hendertucky for the last time at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, and rolled into Mamasan's place deep in the woods outside of Nashville at 3:45 on Tuesday afternoon. That's a lot of driving.

And it's a hard drive when you're making it by yourself, too. No Eddie B or Amy with me to help pass the time--just me singing along with my iPod for 1800 miles.

Ok, so you already know about Sunday--I stopped in Winslow for the night. But I was kicking myself all day on Monday for not pressing on to Gallup, NM. I guess it didn't make much difference at the end--I'm here now. Anyhow, Monday was just a ridiculously long day behind the wheel. I drove for 14-and-a-half hours, finally pulling into Henryetta, Oklahoma (home of Troy Aikmann!) around 10:30 local time.

I'm telling you, eastern Arizona, most of New Mexico, and pretty much all of the Texas panhandle are just boring as hell. Nothing at all to look at. On my way thru Albuquerque on Monday morning, I gave my gal 'Sin' a call and waved to her office as I drove by on the freeway. And I realized I was getting closer to home when I got into Texas and saw a hillbilly-style rebel flag hanging in front of a gas station.

My people!

But that's not all--I had another only-in-Texas moment a little while later. I saw a dude pushing a 10-speed bike down the side of the road, wearing cowboy boots and a huge black ten-gallon Stetson hat, and he had a hunting rifle strapped across the handlebars of the bike.

Texas. F*ck yeah!

I was hoping to make it to Fort Smith Arkansas on Monday, but Henryetta was as far as I got. I ended up staying at a Norman Bates-style Super 8 on the side of the freeway (sketchy doesn't even begin to describe it), and I was too tired to bother with the computer, so I took a hot shower and went straight to bed. Hell, I don't know if they even had wi-fi there, much less the internet in general. The place was a complete time warp.

Anyhow, I got up early on Tuesday and hauled ass the rest of the way. I crossed the Mississippi River into Memphis at exactly 12:00 noon, and I even got choked up a little as I did, thinking to myself, Oh hell yeah, I'm finally home! It was another three and a half hours of driving beyond there to get to Mamasan's, and man, it felt like I'd never get here.

Of course, as I passed by the spot at the Tennessee River where the Ghetto Sled blew apart (for the first time) five years ago, I offered my own silent single-finger salute...

As far as the truck goes, it ran like an absolute champ. Once I quit babying it and got the RPMs up, it easily cruised at 70-75 the entire way. Of course, dragging over a ton of shiat behind me earned me 13 miles per gallon from the ol' girl. That's ok, Dodge trucks have never had a reputation of being gas sippers. I usually get about 13 mpg around town, so towing a heavy-ass trailer all the way across country for the same amount of juice works for me.

Once I found my way to Mamasan's new place, I grabbed my road-trip bags and headed inside for a nice cold drink and some relaxation. I showered and washed all the funk off of me, and tossed all my dirty clothes in the wash.

We had a nice home-made meal for dinner and I made a bunch of phone calls letting folks know that I'd arrived safely. After dinner, we just visited some more and played cards for a bit, while I told stories from the road. I'm off to bed shortly, where I know I'm going to collapse like I've been on a 48-hour bender.

In the morning, I've got a guy coming over to help me unload most of the stuff in the trailer into the storage shed (ironically, it's the same guy who helped me pack the other trailer that killed the Ghetto Sled five years ago!) Once that chore is done, I'm dropping off the trailer and then it's back down the hill to Nashville proper, and dinner with Amy & Scottie. I'll spend the night there, then head south for the weekend.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to update again, maybe tomorrow, maybe not until next week, but until then, let me say thanks to everyone who sent positive vibes my way over the past two days--I really appreciate all the kind wishes and good thoughts. It was a helluva drive, and I'm damn glad it's over.

A new chapter starts tomorrow.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Such A Fine Site to See

Free WiFi, baby--I has it!

After getting up much too early, and working much too hard, I'm taking a much-needed rest in lovely Winslow Arizona tonight. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mikey has left the building! I managed to get 319 miles away from Henderson on this first day of traveling--I thought I'd get much more, but damn, I'm just beat like a drum in a circle of hippies.

Once I unplugged on Saturday, I had a rather productive day. I got the couch sold early on in the day, and then I spent several hours trying to get the rest of the house packed up. I had a rule--if I hadn't worn or used something since I'd moved into the Batch Pad, it went in the trash. Oh dear god, I threw away a TON of stuff. I wore my ass out just hiking back and forth to the dumpster. Early in the afternoon, I bagged it for awhile, and after I dropped off the cable box, I motored down to The Strip to meet up with Ed W and Michelle.

As I drove into the Bally's/Paris parking garage, a wave of thank god I don't have to do this anymore washed over me. Seriously, I made the right decision--I'm so over Vegas right now, I can't even believe it.

Anyhow, once we found a place we could get some service, we had a nice enjoyable visit for a few hours. We smoked cigars and drank martinis, just like in the old days, and it was great to be able to see them once more before I headed back east.

While I was there, I got a call from a guy willing to buy the rest of that ammo I had on hand, which turned out to be a great thing. I wanted $450 for everything, but selling it all separately, I got $500 for it. Very nice...

Anyhow, I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning, sorting junk in the closets, packing more storage totes, and generally cleaning up (don't know why, they're keeping my deposit...) I gave up and got about five hours of sleep before starting up again. I had to run a few last minute errands, and then picked up the trailer at 9:00 am. I didn't do too badly negotiating the obstacle course at the apartment complex, and actually had the thing backed in straight on my second try (I haven't backed a trailer in eight years).

I had a couple of movers come over--got an awesome deal on it, too--two guys for two hours for $80--and they loaded my entire apartment in an hour and a half. Nothing left behind but cleaning supplies. But man, my truck is loaded down. It's rated to tow and haul 3500 lbs, and I think, with my phat ass in the cab, it's tipping the scales at like 3498 lbs. It's FULL.

Once I paid them off and got the paperwork all done, I went inside and collapsed on the floor for an hour. The lack of sleep and all the exercise I wasn't used to damn near wore me out. I finally motivated myself into the shower (damn, just remembered, I left my shower curtain), and then got dressed, grabbed my backpack and carry-on bag, and got on the road. I stopped at the Sinclair station on the corner to get some Gatorade, bottled water, and a Snickers (hadn't eaten anything all day), and then tried to send out a mass text message to everyone in my phone. Unfortunately, my phone wouldn't allow me to do it, so I gave up and just said the hell with it, I got to go!

I left Vegas in the rear-view mirror at 2:30 in the afternoon, and headed south. I was worried sick about the truck because I'm carrying a heavy load (all them damn books, plus enough canned goods from the pantry that it feels like I've got your average-sized Packer fan stuffed in a Rubbermaid tote), and I didn't want a replay of my trip out to Vegas five years ago when I killed the transmission on the Ghetto Sled just sixty miles outside of Nashville.

Driving down 93/95, I felt like, damn, I'm never gonna make it, this load is too heavy, so I was babying it along. Also, I didn't want to climb that ridiculous maze out of Black Canyon once I crossed Hoover Dam, so I took the long way around and went through Laughlin. Stupid idea. The hills are much worse coming in and out of Laughlin. All it did was add an extra 40 miles to the trip.

Turns out, the truck is much happier hauling freight at 65-70 mph than it is at 55. But I was scared shiatless that I was gonna blow the engine apart until I got past the 60 mile mark, and then just mildly nervous until I hit that sign right outside Flagstaff that said 'Arizona Divide - Elevation 7305 ft'. Yep, it was all uphill for the first 275 miles or so. I hated that. But now I'm on the downhill run.

My truck has a towing gear on it, and I also left the air conditioner off whenever the road was something less than level, so it didn't strain too much. It's running like a champ, although, I only got 12 miles a gallon on the leg to Kingman, and I got 13 and change on the second leg to Winslow. It should improve tomorrow. Most of the hilliest driving is behind me.

Anyhow, I'm just beat. I've had a very long weekend, and my quads feel like I've been doing leg presses all day, and I'm just flat out tired. I wandered across the parking lot to the KFC and grabbed a chicken sandie, since all I've eaten today was half a Snickers bar, and now I'm ready for bed, once I take a quick shower.

So that's the news from the Motel 6. I've got a long day ahead of me on Monday, so I'm off to get some rest.

Peace out, y'all...


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pulling the Plug

I know that I don't get much traffic here on weekends, but I wanted to make a quick post before I go off the grid for the next several days.

It's crunch time, and although I've got most of the house packed up and ready to go, there's still a bunch of little stuff that needs to be done that's going to take up most of my day today. For instance, I still need to disassemble the surround sound system and take the cable box back to the Cox office. Plus I still have about three loads of laundry to do, along with taking my bed apart. The couch has to get moved out at some point, and oh yeah, Ed W is in town and wants to meet up for a cigar and a drink or two this afternoon.

Besides all that, I still have to clean out the fridge and pack up the pots and pans, too. But other than that, it's mostly cleaning and vacuuming, and then it's highway time. I'm picking up the trailer at 8:30 tomorrow morning, and then the movers are coming at 10:30. I should be done by noon, and after a quick vacuum and walk-thru and a shower, I'm gonna go ahead and hit the road. No need to wait around until Monday morning. I mean, hell, I won't have anyplace to sit, no tv to watch, no internet to browse, and it's not like I'm gonna be cruising around town in my fully-loaded truck with a trailer on the back of it, so I'll just go ahead and pull the ripcord on this place.

I hope to make it to somewhere on the other side of Albuquerque by the time I stop for the night, but we'll see. If I make it out of Arizona by midnight, I'll consider myself far ahead of schedule.

So as dull as this update is, it's my last post from Vegas. I guess I wanted to have a nice long essay with my thoughts on the past five years out here, but I'll have plenty of time for that kind of navel-gazing and introspection once I get settled out in Tennessee.

Unfortunately for you re-clickers out there, you probably won't see another post until after the Labor Day weekend--well, at least not one of much substance. I'll try and let everyone know that I made it across country ok, but then once I get to TN, it's gonna be a whirlwind week and I won't get plugged in at my new place until I get back from our camping trip in Alabama.

So until then, kiddies, y'all have a lovely weekend, a good week, and a great holiday weekend. I am outta here!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Empty

Although my bedroom still looks majorly lived-in, the rest of the house, not so much. The liquor cabinet is gone, and the booze that I'm taking with me is all packed. The coffee table is gone, as is a nightstand and the tall bookshelf. The dining room table gets disassembled later tonight after the poker game, and the sectional goes to a new home on Saturday. The Batch Pad is starting to look a lot more like a storage unit and a lot less like a home.

Yep, things are happening pretty quickly. My time in Vegas is winding down, and I should be back in Tennessee by this time next week. For those of you who are bummed out that I'm leaving America's Playground, you can blame it all on my sister Cyndi. After I parted ways with Bankrupt Station back in March, she was the one who immediately bought me a plane ticket and insisted that I bring my ass to Nashville and visit. Two weeks there with family and friends pretty much sealed the deal that I'd be leaving Vegas sooner or later.

My secret plan was to leave in July of 2011, but y'all already know the story of the accelerated timetable. I had a lot of fun when I was there, and decided that my days of missing out on all the holidays were numbered. Same with working nights and weekends. It's hard to believe that I put up with that nonsense for so long.

Besides, I miss doing normal stuff--like going camping. None of my buddies out here could ever go because everyone's work schedules were so effed up. And even back in the day when I was hanging out with Kimmy, Tuesday nights were the only time we could go out unless I bailed out of work three hours early. Basically, until we put together our weekly poker night (again, on the only night of the week that four of my friends can get together), my social life for the past couple of years consisted of going out drinking after work and hooking up with friends at the occasional casino. Enough is enough.

Hell, once I get back to Nashville and get the truck unloaded, I've got two quick days to see people, and then I'm off to Sweet Home Alabama next Thursday night to crash at Reverend Dave's place. Then we're getting up bright and early and reserving two first-come first-serve campsites at Joe Wheeler State Park about a half-hour away from where he lives. I'll spend the day setting up the camp, lounging, and reading a paperback (since he has to go in to work that day), and then that afternoon he'll come back, and Amy and Scottie will join us too.

We're gonna stay there for three nights, camping, drinking beer, playing games, and singing around the campfire, swimming in the lake like when we were kids, and we may even rent a pontoon boat one day. We're already talking it up, everyone's excited to cook out on the fire and make smores and such, and just being able to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world will be a great time. And oh yeah, I plan on taking LOTS of pictures. I haven't seen trees and water in so long, I'll probably be wandering around in the woods sounding more stoned than the double rainbow guy.

I can't wait. But first, I have to get the rest of this apartment packed up. It's coming along, but my bedroom still needs to be taken apart, and the kitchen needs to get packed up, too. But last night I pocketed a much-needed $200--I found a buyer for half of my surplus ammunition. I put an ad up on Backpage and within a half hour I got a call. So I drove over to the Fry's Electronics at Town Square and the deal went down in the parking lot. He got a bunch of 7.62 Russian AK-47 ammunition and three Kimber 8-round magazines, and I got two hundred bucks in traveling money.

It'll be put to good use, because not only do I have to change the oil before I go, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be needing a brake job, too. That kinda sucks, but better safe than sorry, especially when towing a trailer. Oh, and speaking of trailers, I booked some movers to come over on Saturday to load it for me. $80 and I get two guys for two hours. That'll help a lot. I remember moving all this shiat the first time, in the heat, and it sucked. Luckily, the forecast high on Sunday is only gonna be 93 degrees, the lowest temp we've had in almost three months. But by the time they get here on Sunday, everything should be stacked and ready to go, the apartment being nothing but an empty shell.

I'm still lookin' to sell another thousand rounds of .45 ACP before I go, but if I have to haul it to Tennessee, I'm sure I can find some gun-totin' redneck out there to buy it.

Anyhow, that's the news from here. Time for me to get crackin' on the rest of my day. All this shiat ain't gonna pack itself.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Rewarding Myself

Yeah, it's not like I worked really hard today, but I actually did get a lot done. And I tell you what, nothing motivates like knowing that a complete stranger is coming over to your house in less than an hour--I got all the piles of trash bagged up and taken out before the gal showed up and bought my old Sharp 27" TV.

Yep, it's gone now.

I have to admit, I got more than my money's worth out of it. I think I paid around $300 for it back in 1998, and twelve years later it still works like the day I brought it home from the Best Buy across the street from Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Arizona (the Tempe one hadn't been built yet, and Chandler was still nothing but dairy farms at the time, and Ahwatukee was just the first unpronounceable exit once you got past civilization on your way to Tucson). It traveled with me from Arizona to Tennessee seven-odd years ago, and then back out here to Vegas in 2005. I kept it in my bedroom for the most part, and then used it as the spare TV in the Man Cave when Rob first brought home his HDTV. I did the same thing with it here at the Batch Pad last year during football season--Gotta be able to watch two games at a time, you know. After the bowl games and the playoffs ended, it sat next to my desk in the bedroom tuned to CNBC for the last several months.

Anyhow, I got fifty bucks for it and my spare DVD player, and that's one less heavy item to move next weekend. The ironic thing is, I sold it to a gal who just moved here from Nashville--so we had plenty to talk about.

Now that another item is crossed off the to-do list, I'm rewarding myself with another Smirnoff Blueberry Lemonade. I'm on my fifth one now, but then again, I've gotten a lot done in the past few hours. I still have five more left in the mini-fridge, and since one of the items on the list is 'clear out the mini-fridge', I think I'm gonna get a two-fer before the night is up!

Some more stuff is going late tonight, and then tomorrow afternoon I've got a big load of furniture leaving this place. Then it'll look like I'm really making progress.

More later. Maybe I'll take some photos tomorrow and post 'em up...


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Slowly Making Progress

Yeah, although there are a few small clues scattered about the house (storage totes stacked in the dining room, empty bookcases in the living room), it still doesn't look like I'm moving just yet. All the pictures are still hanging on the walls, there is still a basket of laundry in the hallway, and there are still empty pizza boxes on the kitchen counter from four days ago when the guys were over playing cards. But I'm getting there, ever so slowly.

I was making a bit of progress yesterday when the phone rang early in the afternoon. Dave and Bobbi wanted to grill out, play some cards, and hang out in the pool for the rest of the day, and asked in I was interested. Oh hell yeah I was. So I grabbed my trunks and headed to their place.

Our first order of business was to hit Costco. They don't have a membership yet, so I took 'em down there to do some shopping. Dave won a few hundred bucks the night before playing poker (late that night after we hung out), so he said dinner was courtesy of all the donkeys in the Sunset Station poker room. Nice!

So we bought a big package of inch-thick ribeye steaks and a bunch of other stuff--to the tune of $170. And since I got him hooked on that Mexican Coke in the glass bottles, he picked up two cases of that, too.

Anyhow, we got back to their place and did a bit of prep-work for dinner, then just chilled for a bit, enjoying cocktails and channel surfing between the World Poker Tour, the Nascar race in Bristol, and the Cowboys/Chargers pre-season game.

Once the afternoon sun got behind the pine trees, we fired up the grill. Ribeyes like the ones we had don't need a lot of prep, so we just brushed them with olive oil and seasoned them with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper, then let them rest at room temp for a bit. But we roasted fresh corn on the grill, while Bobbi sauteed a big pan full of mushrooms and onions.

Dinner was absolutely fantastic--besides the steaks and corn, we had baked potatoes which I swear were the size of my shoe (nobody could finish 'em) with all the fixin's , plus warm French bread with honey butter, and some killer cilantro-lime marinated shrimp cocktail. Oh, and dessert was pineapple upside-down cake with vanilla ice cream. Instead of beer with dinner, we put a bunch of those Mexican Cokes in the freezer, and they were icy-cold by the time we sat down to eat.

The four of us dined like royalty (that guy Steve who's buying my couch was there, also), and then once we waved the white flag on dinner, we played cards for a few hours. After our 'golf' game wrapped up, we all cannon-balled into the pool like it was caddy day at Bushwood.

It was nice to lounge around in the water after dark with a cold beer in hand. The water was just cool enough that it was perfect--these 112 degree days haven't succeeded into turning the swimming pool into bathwater, so after about an hour, we all had the chills, believe it or not.

We sat outside drip-drying for awhile, and then somebody suggested that we all head over to Sunset Station and play dice. Steve and Dave saw a dude playing a new 'system' that they wanted to try, so I agreed to go with them. Basically, what they were doing was placing the six and the eight, and keeping a field bet going the entire time (but not playing the pass line). Basically what that meant was that they had every number except the 5 and the 7 covered.

It worked for awhile, but it was a grind, and not very fun at all. I mean, just playing 'single-unit' style on a $5 game, if you hit the 6 or the 8, you only made $2 each time because of the field bet. (And this 'system' is only workable on a table that pays 2x on the two and 3x on the twelve). But just like any other dice 'system', it has it's flaws--namely, if you roll a five or a seven. Even so, it was interesting to watch, but then the table hit a spot of five people in a row going Point-Seven-Out, so that pretty much killed all the action.

While that was going on, I wandered a bit saying goodbye to all of my old friends and co-workers, and while I was doing that, I remembered one of the dealers there is a certified gun-nut, (we used to call him 'Tackleberry'), and told him about my ammunition stash. He was very interested in getting his hands on it, so I'll be calling him later today. If that deal falls through, well, I've got some other folks interested, too, so hopefully I'll be able to unload the stuff and get some road-trip money in my hands.

I also saw Kimmy and talked to her for quite awhile, and we said our goodbyes. She told me that she's also planning on leaving Vegas next summer. She too is sick of the grind (and she makes a damn good living out here!), and is heading back home to Ohio once she gets things squared away out here and sells her house. (I think she's gonna take a bath on it, but still, she'd rather be free of it). It seems that everyone is leaving this town in droves. Back a few years ago when it was booming, everyone was concerned about the unchecked growth, but now that the economy is so bad out here and people are realizing that Vegas doesn't have much to offer outside of the casino and resort business, and if that's in the shiatter, why stick around?

Anyhow, while I was having that conversation, my buddy James got out of work and tracked us down. It turns out that not only does he want my tall bookcase, but he also wants a bunch of my kitchen stuff. So as I'm typing this, I'm enjoying my last pot of coffee in my coffeemaker--he's taking it. He's also taking my blender and toaster oven (two things I won't be able to use at my new place, anyways, so they'd just go in storage), and also my old butcher-block knife set. Ever since I got that cool Japanese knife, that's all I ever used anyways, so my cutlery set just sat on the counter gathering dust. It'll be good for it to find a new home.

So I guess all the empty real-estate on my counter will provide a few more clues to my impending departure. Some of the other big stuff will be gone on Tuesday, and the couch is getting picked up on Saturday. By Saturday night, I'm hoping that my living room looks like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, just a big stack of boxes and such, staged and ready to go. By Sunday night, this place will be empty of everything except a mattress, my laptop, and a duffelbag full of traveling clothes and toiletries.

By Monday morning, Vegas will be just a memory.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday, T - Minus 9

Wow--it feels so great to be able to sleep regular hours again. Seriously, it's been over five years since I had the sleep patterns of a normal person, and I'm amazed at how you can take something so simple for granted. For the first time in years, I don't wake up exhausted or bummed out that the sun is up. What a concept!

So, I've definitely decided to bail out of here first thing next Monday morning, which is the 30th. That'll give me plenty of time to make it to Nashville, only 1600 miles away, in time for the festivities of Labor Day weekend. (Another bonus--first holiday weekend in over five years I don't have to work!) That means I have a little less than nine full days to get this place packed up, cleaned up, and emptied out. I can do it.

I started on it last night, trying to be diligent, but the phone rang and my buddy Dave and his wife Bobbi were lurking about and wanted to stop by--she wanted to take a look at the pop-up coffee table. So I told them to come on by. We ended up playing cards and socializing for a few hours, but by the time they left, they decided that they wanted the liquor cabinet, the coffee table, and the nightstand, too. Of course, AC already has dibs on the liquor cabinet, but then again, he's gotta get permission from Mama Bear first. So if that deal falls through, then I've got a backup. I also found out that one of Dave's friends definitely wants the couch, so that will get moved to a new home later this week.

Now I have to find somebody who wants to take my old TV, and oh yeah, 900 or so rounds of .45 ACP and a thousand rounds of Russian made 7.62 x 39 FMJ (can't advertise ammunition on Craigslist). I'd like to get rid of some bookcases, too. After that, that's pretty much it--just gotta get rid of some junk and some old clothes, and then I'm headin' on down the road.

Also--I found out that I have a whole mess of readers in the Oklahoma City area. Who knew? In the past couple of days, I've gotten no less than three separate offers for a place to crash within spitting distance of I-40 in OKC. Thank you all very much! I'm gonna do some calculatin', and it looks like it'll take about 19 hours to get that far. If I leave here at 4:00 in the morning, that'll put me in town around 10:00 pm. I'll have to think about it, but yeah, I'll probably stop there for the night and save the expense of staying at the Motel 6. (Although, putting a few quarters into the 'Magic Fingers' machine on the bed at the end of a long day of driving has an appeal all it's own, doesn't it?)

Speaking of expense, a generous soul in Australia hit the ol' tip jar last night for a little bit of gas money, which I appreciate. Not that I've got the tin cup out and the 'Will work for food' sign in hand, but if anyone has any couch change they wanna toss in there, well, it'll be put to good use, stimulating the economy all along the I-40 corridor at the end of the month. The ol' Dodge gets about 13 miles a gallon around town, and I shudder to think what the mileage is gonna be like hauling a fully-laden trailer, so I'm guessing I'll be no stranger to the gas pumps on this trip. (Thx again, E5!)

As far as today goes, I've got a pot of coffee on, and I've promised myself that I'd tackle the laundry monster and start working my way through all the stuff in my closet. But the first thing I'm going to do is empty out and pack up every single bookcase in this apartment. I'm also committed to filling up two storage totes with things other than books. If I get all that done today, I'll feel like I've accomplished a lot.

Later this afternoon, Dave and I are making a trip to Costco to get a case of Mexican Coke and a pack of thick ribeye steaks. Tonight it's lounge-by-the-pool time, then we'll grill a bunch of good grub, and then a few of us will probably play cards until the wee hours.

As a reward for all my hard work, it's not a bad way to spend a Saturday...


Friday, August 20, 2010

Wired Before Noon

Man, it's only 12:00 and I've gotten a ton of stuff done today! I can't believe how productive I've been. (And those of you who know me really well would truly be amazed). I can probably attribute it to the fact that I finally got some sleep. Like I said yesterday, the stress has evaporated from my body.

Out of 24 hours on Thursday, I slept 19 of them. And last night, I went back to bed at 8:30 at night, and didn't move until 6:30 this morning. It's incredible how much it affected me, and now it's like my system is totally catching up. No more worries for me--I feel like a million bucks!

Since I didn't really do a damn thing yesterday except mess up my house--yeah, I was actually doing stuff, but it looks like all I did was trash the place--I got up early this morning and got moving right away. Since it was still relatively cool outside, the first thing I did was take the truck down to the local Terrible Herbst outpost and gave it a good scrub down and vacuum, in anticipation of the upcoming road trip. It's funny how your vehicle runs so much better when it's clean. I also cleaned out the interior and took a few measurements, trying to figure out what's gonna fit in the cab next week.

After that little chore was done, I headed over to WalMart and bought about $50 worth of Rubbermaid storage totes (the kind with the clip-lock tops), and a few other doo-dads. I brought all that home and then did a bit of address changing and such on the computer. Then I got hold of Southwest Airlines and changed my plane tickets for the cruise. Luckily, on the first leg of my journey back to Vegas at the end of the trip, I was changing planes in Nashville anyways, so the cancellation/rebooking process wasn't as complicated as it could've been. And, good news, once all that was done, I have about a hundred bucks in flight credit on account with them. Hmmm.... March Madness, maybe?

As it turned out, I was able to get on the same plane as the rest of the gang when we head down to the Sunshine State, so that will be a rather enjoyable flight. Well, maybe not for everyone else on the plane, but I'm sure my crew will have a good time.

Once I took care of everything on the computer that I could, I put my shoes back on and headed across the freeway to the huge U-Haul depot here in Henderson (seriously, it's not even a mile from my house). I've been sweating the expense of renting a trailer--their online system was quoting me ridiculous prices--but I thought it would be better to go and talk to somebody face-to-face.

I'm glad I did. It turns out that my truck has a 2,000 lb. capacity bumper, so I don't need to get an expensive frame-mounted hitch put on. So that means I don't have to haul one of those huge 6 x 12 dual-axle trailers that costs about $750 bucks, either. Basically, all I had to do was get a ball hitch attached to my bumper and get a wiring harness installed. And Dodge, being smarter than GM, had a snap-in junction box already built in to the rear-end of my truck, so I saved the expense and time of a complicated wiring harness.

It turns out that my truck can easily pull a single-axle 5 x 8 trailer, no oil cooler needed, no fancy hitch needed to be bolted on the frame. And my transmission has a towing setting, too. There will be no Ghetto Sled-style mechanical drama this time around. So I had them install a ball hitch and do the wiring, and while I was there I bought a new road atlas and a padlock for the trailer. With labor, everything cost me a hundred bucks this morning. And I have a reservation to pick up the trailer next Sunday morning--instead of damn near $800, I'm gonna get away with paying just south of $500. Not too bad. And I've got a week to get from here to Nashville and drop it off.

So my plan is to spend Sunday loading the truck, then I'll catch a few hours of sleep, and then I'll take off at oh-dark-thirty on Monday morning. There will be no traffic on Hoover Dam at that hour (and they'll let me cross with a U-Haul trailer), and my plan is to make it as far as Oklahoma the first day. Of course, it'll be a whole lot less fun this time around--no Eddie B and no Amy, my usual road-trip compadres. This time, I'm making the drive all by myself, with nothing but the iPod and CD player to keep me company. At least this time there will be no blinding snowstorms, and hopefully I won't see any tornadoes, either.

So that takes care of today's to-do list, although I'm going to spend the balance of the afternoon filling up those storage totes. At some point I'll have to make a few treks out to the dumpster to get rid of all the trash I'm creating as I pare down the contents of my nest, too.

Oh, and since I've gotten so good at it, I might also take a nap!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Heat of the Day

It's still awfully hot outside, and even though I've got a to-do list a mile long, I'm gonna spend the next few hours chillin' out under the ceiling fan with a nice icy-cold cocktail in my hand...

So, what else is new?

Oh yeah, almost forgot--I dropped a small bomb yesterday. Yep, I'm leaving Vegas, maybe in about ten days or so. I was gonna wait until Wednesday, September 1st, but as it turns out, some of my people back in Tennessee want to go camping over Labor Day weekend, so if I adjust my timetable, then yeah, I'll be able to get there, unpack, and get settled for a couple of days before heading out to Lake Barkley with the hippies and hillbillies.

Of course, the big question on everyone's mind is--What brought this on?

Well, I've been thinking about it for a long time. A very long time. After visiting Tennessee for two weeks back in April, I really didn't want to leave. I love it there, but I like living in Vegas. It's been home for over five years. I have a lot of friends here, a good social scene, and plenty of things to keep me entertained. But the shine is off the diamond, and it has been for quite some time.

First and foremost, working for a casino, bottom line, in comparison, sucks worse than any job I've ever had. And I've had some bad ones in the past. Seriously, as a front-line casino employee, you're nothing better than an easily replaceable piece of meat. Back when times were good, when I first moved here, casinos had to compete to get quality employees--that's why I found a damn good job right off the bat and got off of the extra-board in less than a year. But now, the economy sucks so bad that there are a hundred people competing for each and every job. That means minimum wage, no benefits, and maybe three days a week on the schedule--if you're lucky. And if you don't like it, well, there are dozens of people fresh out of dealer school who barely speak English who will be happy to have the scraps the casinos are handing out.

I know that sounds bitter, but it's not. It's just reality. I learned back in my 'pit' days just how little a casino cares about the people working there. Believe me, if Vegas could get rid of every table game and convert the entire city to nothing but penny slots and video poker, they would do it in a heartbeat. Working as a poker dealer was great, money-wise, but unless you got hired on full-time in a room that was just opening, you never had a shot of ever getting full time, much less ever seeing any benefits.

For a relatively healthy single guy with no dependents, it was a damn good gig. At Sunset Station, I could count on making an easy $150 or more every night in tips, tax-free. But if I worked a full shift, than that number would go up to $200 or more, and I had more $300+ nights than I can count right off the top of my head. Working at Bally's--previously known as 'Job #2'--it was always more than $200 a night. That's right--in the entire time I worked there, almost three months, I never made less than $200 a night unless I took an early out. That's a gold mine right there, folks. If you're working at least thirty two hours a week, that's over 50K a year tax-free! (We kept the IRS happy by signing a tip-compliance agreement--the Evil Empire would pay us minimum wage, but we'd get taxed at a significantly higher amount, but it would all come out of our bi-weekly hourly paycheck. Everything that went in the pocket at night was ours to keep). Imagine what a single person has to make out in the real world to net $52,000 a year, and you can see why I really wanted to get that job.

But alas, it was not meant to be. Harrah's after all, is still a huge corporation, and even if I made it through the other dozens of applicants and got down to the last group of candidates for the final two spots, the white guy ain't gonna get the job when the other people are women and/or minorities. Just ain't gonna happen, no matter how much experience I had, how qualified I was, or how damn good of I dealer I am. (And I know, as does everyone else I worked with, that I was the best damn dealer they brought on for the summer). That's just the way life works. We're in the age where diversity trumps ability, so it's not surprising. My only hope is that the people that end up getting the job have more experience than me, that's all.

But here's the thing. I'm not disappointed. And let me tell you all something that I never told anyone; I had decided a few weeks ago that even if I got the job, I'd only work it for another year--just through the 2011 World Series, and then I would quit and leave Vegas anyways. There was no shot of ever getting to be full-time or getting any benefits or insurance, and being in the casino business, no chance whatsoever of stability (Seriously, everyone I know out here who works in the casino business has been laid off or fired at least once or twice in their Vegas tenure. Everyone. No exceptions). I had grown disaffected with Las Vegas some time ago, as far as employment goes, and was already laying the groundwork for my escape. But the sucky economy (15% unemployment in southern Nevada) and the fact that there are only six companies to work for in this business only served to accelerate my plans.

I came out here five-and-a-half years ago looking for a fresh start and hoping to do something interesting. I was bored shiatless in Nashville at the time. I had the most boring job in the world--good money, but dear god it was a long eight hours every day--not too many friends outside my family, no brother-in-laws to hang out with, Reverend Dave was married and too far away to goof off with, none of my nieces were 21 yet, so they couldn't go out and have fun, and I was renting the back room at Mamasan's place, which really curtailed the ol' social life.

This time around, I've got a much wider social network, leads on some good jobs, I'll be living down in Spring Hill, and all of my sisters now have cool husbands, so I've got three brothers-in-law to hang out with, and Reverend Dave is single again and only a hundred miles away. Plus all my nieces are old enough to drink and they're much more fun to hang out with nowadays.

I'm really looking forward to getting back, and I'm not stressed in the least.

This past month or so, I've had the worst insomnia, and I attributed it directly to the stress of not knowing about my job situation. Once I got the rejection call from Bally's yesterday afternoon, it's like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. Surprisingly, it put me in a great mood!

We had poker night again last night, and after it was over, instead of staying up all night like I usually did, I went straight to bed and slept like a baby for seven hours. Then I got up this morning, puttered for about two hours, decided to lie down again, and immediately went to sleep for another six hours. I didn't move--I was like a rock. I swear, it's like the stress evaporated from my system and I feel like a whole new person.

So now I've got about ten days to take about the Batch Pad and prepare to pack it all up and move. Tonight, once it cools off, I'm gonna go wash the truck and clean out the interior, then head over to Walmart and get a bunch of storage totes and start packing up the books, CDs, and DVDs. Tomorrow I start on my 'office', shredding stuff I know longer need and packing up all but the bare essentials associated with my desk and computer. Oh, and laundry and the closet will need to be addressed. I've also got to get a towing frame hitch put on the truck and arrange for a U-haul trailer.

As much as I'd like to keep all the furniture, I've already got a few offers. My buddy Dave love love loves my coffee table and is gonna buy it. AC wants the liquor cabinet if he can convince mama into coughing up the cash. And another guy wants the couch. Plus I think James wants my tall bookcase.

I'm keeping my dining room table, my headboard and bed frame (the mattress and box spring are going to the dumpster), and my TV stand. Everything else is for sale. Reverend Dave wants my old secondary 27" TV, but if I can find a buyer out here, I'm gonna get rid of it--one less heavy thing to pack. Oh, and I had a big pile of books I was gonna take down and donate to the library, and one of my buddies already laid claim to them and took 'em last night.

Mamasan has a big, empty, and most importantly dry storage shed at her place, and has kindly offered me the use of it for as long as I need, so I can bring back as much stuff as I want. My only limit is the amount of stuff I can fit in a trailer and drag behind the truck.

As far as the future of this blog goes, for a minute or so I'd considered shutting it down, but that ain't gonna happen. Of course, once I pull the plug on the cable and such, I'll be incommunicado for a week or so, but once I get settled, I'm back in business. One of the main reasons that I didn't post much lately was because of the job situation and the need for discretion. Now that time has passed, so I can spill every bean I've been sitting on for the past several years--no bridges to burn, but then again, no need to keep secrets anymore, either. I've got a feeling that this here website is about to get a lot more interesting.

Anyhow, that's the news. I'll post more tidbits as I can when I take a break from tearing down the batch pad and packing up my stuff. But my time in Vegas is short, and I've got to make the most of it.

Talk again soon--


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Now It Can Be Told

It's official. Earlier today I gave Las Vegas my two-week notice. More details tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can't Find A Date!

Do you mind if we dance with yo dates?

Ok, so as far as stuffed dates go, we won't be having them at poker night tomorrow night. I've gone out searching for Medjool dates, and I can't find them anywhere. Well, I'll admit that I haven't been over to Whole Foods yet, but by the time I hit three different grocery stores, I'd given up. Oh, you can buy dates alright, but all of the ones I found are chopped. That doesn't do me much good if I want to stuff 'em.

So scratch that off the list. Maybe next week. I've got some free time later in the week, so maybe I'll head over to the District and visit Whole Foods. Not only did I come up empty on the dates, but this morning when I was at Smith's, I couldn't find toothpicks anywhere, and they didn't have any plain roasted almonds in stock, either. All they had were doctored up flavored ones--not what I was looking for. So I gave up on the stuffed dates idea at that point. I'll still do the sausage balls for some finger food/appetizers, but I think I'm gonna take the easy way out and just order a couple of pies from Villa Pizza for our main grub. Besides, I've got about a million things to do on Wednesday, starting fairly early in the morning, so I can't tie myself up all day in the kitchen making all kinds of tasty treats.

Hey, remember how I said I don't want to be one of those internet toads on Full Tilt who play multiple tournaments at the same time and slow the game down for everyone? Well, last night I got into another 27-player sit-n-go, and when we got down to seven players at the final table, the little announcement thingy scrolled through talking about the $20,000 guaranteed tourney coming up in a few minutes with only an $11 buy-in. So I was all over that--besides, they paid 306 places and only about 1500 people had signed up.

I figured the final table wouldn't last much longer anyways, so there I was, playing in two tourneys at the same time. Well, as it turned out, I don't think I'll be doing that very often. Maybe I need a bigger display, but the old 15" monitor here on the laptop isn't conducive to running two screens at the same time. Well, maybe my eyes aren't. Actually, I don't think I prepared for it, with the off-screen bouncing in at the exact wrong moment several times, farking with my concentration.

So I screwed up a few times with the 'big' tournament, because once I got into the money in the sit-n-go, I devoted all of my attention to it. I guess it worked out for the best, because I took down that tournament, winning it outright. And of course I busted out of the big one even before I won the initial tournament. After that, I shut it down for the night. I still sorta have to treat it like a part-time job, but I don't want to get burnt out on it. My game is very good right now, so I don't want to overdo it.

Once I got home from the store this morning, I logged on and found another 18-player SNG, and of course I got to the cash. Once we were five-handed, I had a huge stack and figured that I'd cruise to a win. I called a small raise with Ace-Queen suited, and the flop was Nine-Queen-Queen. Then the dumbass with the second highest chip stack went all-in. I had to call, and they showed pocket Jacks. No problem there, except then the board turned a 10, and rivered a King, giving my opponent a perfect-perfect straight.

I was crippled then, but managed to survive and make my way to third place, losing with two pair against a rivered set. I can't feel too bad about that--I was still pissed off about the pocket Jacks beating me. Oh well, ya can't win 'em all, and I still turned a decent profit. I might play in another one later tonight, but right now, I think I'm just gonna relax and take some time away from the computer.

I still have plenty of housework to do in preparation for tomorrow, and I haven't eaten a damn thing today, so maybe lunch is in order...


Monday, August 09, 2010

Coffee Weather!

Yeah, so here I am, wide awake at 4:30 in the damn morning on a Monday. That's just wrong! But the first thing I did once I got out of bed was hit the ol' homepage on the laptop, and I saw that it was a wonderful 72 degrees here in Hendertucky. Digging a little further, I saw that it was only 70.4 degrees here in my neighborhood!

Oh hell yeah--after a summer of blazing heat where it was at least 110 every afternoon, and the truck was too hot to touch, it felt like heaven. The first thing I did once I saw how nice it was outside was open up a few windows and the patio door, and then shut down the air conditioner for the first time in months.


I still have a couple of fans going, just to circulate the air here in the apartment, but I'm going to enjoy a few hours worth of free cool air, sipping my morning coffee again (I swear, due to the heat and the fact that I haven't been able to sleep for the past month or so, I haven't made but one pot since the first of July). Oh, it'll warm back up once the sun rises, but today's high is only supposed to be 99 degrees, the first non-triple digit day that I can remember in a very long time. I'll have to close the joint back up and turn the AC back on in a few hours, but right now, it feels pretty damn good. Almost good enough to have a cigar on the patio for breakfast...

So what else is new around here? Not too much, I've got to tell you. My last 'official' day of work was on Thursday night, so I've had plenty of time to relax and wind down from my whirlwind of summer jobs, but do not despair, dear readers, for there are good things on the horizon. I'll share more when the time is appropriate.

With all this newly found free-time on my hands, I have to do something to fill the days, right? Well, I'm not going to go out and spend any money--there are just too many diversions in this town and right now I'm in conservation mode. So I prefer to fall back on my favorite activities. I still have a stack of paperbacks to read, plus a couple more books on the nightstand that I need to digest.

Over the past several days, I tackled Ludlum's The Bourne Identity, which I thought would be pretty good. I remember enjoying the first movie back when it came out, although the second one sucked like crap on a stick--too much of that shakey-cam thing going on in the fight scenes, where it ended up looking like the only person getting their ass kicked was the cameraman. I swear, I've never gotten seasick in a movie, but that was a close one. Anyhow, I figured that the book had to be really good.

Boy, was I wrong.

Oh dear god what a piece of shiat. Anybody who's spent any time on this site knows that I read a lot--probably about ten times more than your average person--so I know when I've got a good book in my hands. Well, as far as I'm concerned, Ludlum sucks. Seriously, the entire book was just one big steaming fly-covered pile of dog poo. Oh, it started out well enough--a dude fished out of the Mediterranean, barely alive, with enough bullet holes in him to turn him into Swiss cheese, and no memory. But from there, it went completely downhill. I plodded through all 500+ pages of the dreck, but believe me when I tell you that it sucked.

First of all, I get that it was originally set in the 1970's--and I'm totally down with a good cold-war era spy thriller--but the amount of 'suspension of disbelief' required on the reader's part was just too much to swallow. And not only that, the plot was thinner than a Brazilian supermodel on a coke bender (nothing at all like the film, but then, they couldn't make this book into a current film without bowing to the age of the internet and instant communications). Oh, and there must've been about a dozen or more extraneous characters that added nothing to the already ridiculously unbelievable premise.

So yeah, the bottom line, it sucked. And now I'm completely bummed out because I bought the entire trilogy in paperback. I really doubt that I'll get around to even cracking open Supremecy and Ultimatum.

On the other hand, currently I'm in the middle of reading Seized: A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters by Max Hardberger. Well worth the effort--the man has some great stories, and some of them are downright scary. My only gripe is that I wish it were longer--I'm almost completely through it, and I can tell that I want more.

Some of you may have thought that I've lost the sailing bug, but it's not true. It's just that the day-to-day stress of my life these past few months have gotten in the way of daydreaming about the good life of palm trees, sandy beaches, steel drums, and salt air. Well, I still have plenty of options to fuel my escapism. One such website is Cruising with Prudence, about a couple who suddenly one day decided to drop everything and go cruising, and within a couple of years they went from inexperienced landlubbers to full-on living the dream. I've been reading every single one of their entries from the very beginning (still only about halfway through), and I've enjoyed the hell out of it. I think with a few tweaks here and there to convert the content from blog entries to more of a daily journal, it would make one hell of a fine coffee-table book. (There are hundreds of pictures to look at, too).

While I'm sitting at the computer reading that, sometimes I multi-task, too. About a week ago I downloaded Full-Tilt onto the laptop and opened a new account. A couple of years back, I used to play on PokerStars quite a bit, but gave it up after cashing big in a couple of tournaments. First of all, I remember reading somewhere how they programmed the site for 'action' boards--lots of possible straights and flushes and paired boards--instead of dealing out truly random hands. I don't know if that's true or not, but damn, it sure seemed like there were a lot of ridiculous suckouts every day, so once I built my bankroll up to a respectable four digits, I cashed out and eventually deleted the site from my hard drive.

And part of it had to do with the fact that once I cashed out most of the money, I actually left a few hundred in my account, but that got ground into dust by suffering bad beat after bad beat for a couple of weeks. That kept me from wanting to go back, too. Besides, I figured, who needs to play online when there are dozens of live poker rooms just a few minutes from my driveway.

But I kept pretty good records while I was on there, and those last few months I was with PokerStars, I was a winning player. Not big stakes, that's for sure, but enough that I didn't have to reload my account, and collecting the occasional check was a nice feeling, too.

Well, when I went jobless back at the end of March, I pretty much supported myself for the following two months by playing poker. I guess you could've technically call me a 'pro' because that was my only source of income, but believe me, I'm not that good--I'm no pro like you see on TV. I'm more of a low-stakes grinder. And I remember the elated feeling I had when I hit the day (about three weeks into the calendar month both times) when I'd finally made enough from playing poker to cover all of my regular monthly expenses. I wasn't getting rich, that's for sure, but it was a minor cause for celebration to hit that target number when there was still over a week left until the rent was due again--especially when you're working without a net!

So now I'm temporarily without an income again, and since the job market out here is still in the litter box, and I had to do something. On the other hand, I know I'll never make it as a poker pro because 1) I'm impatient as hell, and 2) lately, I've been bored stiff by playing cards. Seriously, the last couple of trips to the poker room have been boring as hell for me as a player. I couldn't concentrate, I wasn't having any fun, and I just wasn't feeling it. That's a recipe for bankroll disaster. So I've stopped, at least for now, going out to the casinos to play cards, and that's why I joined up on Full-Tilt. I can do other things while I'm playing.

So far, it's been good. I've not made a fortune, but my account is still in the black and I'm heading in the right direction. I remember the first day after I funded my account, I got into a 27-player sit-n-go tournament. In the first round, a couple of people limped in for the minimum bet, and the player right in front of me went all-in. With my Six-Deuce offsuit, it was an easy fold, but not being used to the setup and not quite paying attention, I accidentally hit the 'Call' button.


I'm sure the entire table thought I was the world's worst donkey when my shiatty cards were exposed, while I was screaming NO! NO! NO! at the computer as soon as I realized what I'd done. So in my first tournament, I went out in 27th place. After taking a few minutes to calm myself down, I got into another sit-n-go, this time with only 18 players. I did much better that time--I won the whole damn thing.

Since then, I've been off to the races. I hit a couple of obstacles a few days ago when I played in 45-player tournaments. I went from being chip leader at the final table to being Bubble Boy about ten minutes later. (Bubble Boy, for those of you not versed in the language of poker, is the unfortunate soul who busts out one spot away from the prize money--truly the worst feeling in the world, playing all that time and then falling just short). I was so pissed off about that one that I logged out and refused to play again for the rest of the day. (It was a ridiculous suck out--I had Ace-Queen [of course], flopped two pair, and some jackass with pocket jacks went all-in in front of me. He was drawing to a two-outer and of course caught his miracle card on the river, sending me to the proverbial rail)

The next morning, I swore that I wouldn't bubble out again, and got into another 45-player tourney. This time, I went out in 8th place--Bubble Boy plus one (they only pay the top six). Grrr!

After that, I scaled it back to playing single-table and either 18- or 27-player tourneys, and I've done well--cashing every time and winning a couple outright. And last night, while I was reading that sailing website, I played in another 45-player tourney. On the very first hand of the tournament, I doubled up and knocked somebody out, taking a huge commanding chip lead. I almost went wire-to-wire, but when the blinds got huge at the final table, I fell as far as fifth-highest stack. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we got down to six players, knowing that I'd cashed. When we got down to five players, I caught a huge hand with Ace-King, tripling up and knocking out two players. I think I had about $34,000 while my two opponents had less than $14,000 each.

But I took a couple of beats (three-way and heads-up play is tricky, and much less predictable), and relinquished the lead. Then I outsmarted myself and went out in third place, overvaluing my top pair to the chip leader. Oh well, at least I didn't bubble out, and I got a nice chunk of change for winning the bronze medal.

A few things I've noticed, now that I've gotten back into the online game. Full-Tilt seems to be catering to the Red Bull swilling backwards-hat crowd. It seems like there is too much time for a player to act, giving the people that play a half dozen games at a time plenty of room to maneuver. That annoys me to no end, as I've never been one to play multiple games at the same time. Oh, I may succumb at some point, but right now, I prefer to concentrate on one tournament at a time. It's worked so far--I've made the final table every time I've played in a tourney that had 27 players or more.

Also, I'm surprised by the complete lack of limit Omaha cash games. There are none. Zero. Nada. Everything is pot-limit. Also, I can tell that the economy still sucks because every time I sign up for a tournament, I have to wait several minutes before enough players register. A few years ago, when times were good, it was instant-on when you got into a sit-n-go. Now, after I register, I have to sit-n-wait or other players to join, even in the cheaper games.

Anyhow, that's what I've been doing with my free time--lots of reading, a little bit of online poker (I'm not hitting it nearly as hard as I used to). In the meantime, I'm still planning a menu for poker night at Casa de Mikey on Wednesday. (BTW Josie--my schedule is completely full on Wednesday, so I will be unable to play in the Very Josie tournament--sorry!)

Of course, the fellas want me to make BBQ pork again, but hey, you want to keep 'em beggin' for more, so I think I'm not gonna make that two weeks in a row. I've pretty much decided to do Bisquick sausage balls (a party staple down South), and Firefly-style bacon-wrapped dates. Not quite sure what else to go with, but I'm open to suggestions. I was thinking about a veggie tray, but since none of the gals will be joining us this week, it won't fly at all with this crowd. I have to come up with something that the beer-drinking dudes are gonna want.

I think that's about all from here. It's time to refill the coffee cup and make a shopping list. Once I get moving, I'm gonna head to the gas station, the bank, and the grocery store, then spend the afternoon reading and maybe playing a little online poker.

Until next time, kiddies...


Friday, August 06, 2010

Leftovers? Not So Much

Again, I apologize for the lack of interesting posts right now, but the stress of the unknown has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and it just saps the creativity right out of me. However, all is not lost--there is a glimmer of hope and the wheels of progress are turning ever so slowly. I'll say no more until I know more, but right now, I'm cautiously optimistic.

But enough about that. Let's talk about what really brings in the crowds--food!

Yep, even though I have no creativity at the keyboard right now, I still have mad skillz in the kitchen, and man oh man, did they ever shine on Wednesday night.

It was our usual poker night, and lately, I've felt like we've been in a rut as far as munchies go. It seems that we always have either pizza, wings, little smokies, queso dip, or some combination thereof. Nobody complains, that's for sure, but I felt like we needed some variety.

Not only that, but we didn't even play poker this time around. After I taught the fellas how to play 'golf' last Wednesday, that's all they wanted to play this week. New game, new menu--it had to be done.

So I thought that I'd make something special this time around, and eventually I decided to make pulled pork bbq. Now, I don't have a smoker, but that's an easy fix. So here's what I did:

First of all, I had bacon for breakfast. This is a very important step. I cook my bacon in a huge cast-iron skillet that weighs about as much as a TV set--it's the most useful implement in the ol' kitchen toolbox as far as I'm concerned. So anyhow, after I had my bacon, I got rid of most--but not all--of the drippings, and I didn't wash the pan, either. I heated it back up, and tossed in a nice hefty $9.00 pork roast that I picked up at the grocery store. I gave it a good sear on all sides, letting some of that bacon goodness seep into the meat. Once it had a nice bacony caramelized outer shell on it, I transferred the whole thing into the crock pot.

I set it on low, at first, and doctored the meat up a bit. Into the pot went an envelope of Lipton onion soup mix, a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a little fresh cracked black pepper (no salt needed--there's plenty in the onion soup mix), about a quarter cup of water, and a quarter cup of Coca Cola.

I let that slow-cook for a couple of hours, then turned it up to 'high' for two more hours after that. That's when the house really started to smell good. After four hours, I turned the crockpot down to 'low' again, this time for another hour. After five hours in the meat sauna, it was just about ready. So I carefully transferred the pork roast to a huge Pyrex mixing bowl, and attacked it with two forks, shredding the meat. It was extremely tender, and very easy to work with--it basically fell apart with very little effort.

Once the meat was all shredded, I poured off all but about a quarter cup of the drippings in the crockpot, and whatever was left, I poured over the meat in the mixing bowl to keep it moist. Then I added an entire bottle of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce, a generous squeeze of Sriracha hot Thai chili sauce, a few drops of liquid smoke, and another quarter cup of Coca Cola. I mixed it all up an put it back in the crockpot. Then I took the empty bottle of BBQ sauce, added a splash of water to it, put the lid back on, shook it up, and emptied the dregs into the crockpot also--a little extra moisture doesn't hurt at all, and you want all that bbq sauce goodness.

I left the crockpot on low for about another hour, when my guests started arriving, but I stirred it around every ten or fifteen minutes or so (you don't want the bbq sauce to scorch, so you kind of have to babysit it, and also, when you take the lid off, the smell is just amazing...) After about an hour, I turned it down to the 'Keep Warm' setting.

Anyhow, once people started showing up, their reaction was the same--Holy shiat it smells good in here! I had some good onion buns to make the sandies with, and they were a hit, too. And of course, one can't have good bbq without coleslaw, so earlier in the day I ran down to the KFC on East Tropicana and picked up two large containers of the good stuff. I think we also had kettle-cooked Maui Onion tater chips, plus an assortment of beer and other drinks.

Let me tell you--everyone raved about the food this time around, and they tore through my kitchen like a biblical horde of locusts. And oh by the way, they want me to make the same thing again next week. (Everyone went back for seconds and thirds until there was nothing left but an empty crockpot and a garbage can full of dirty paper plates)

I didn't think about taking any pictures at the time, but then, I wasn't thinking about writing about it, either. Hell, I had no idea that it would turn out to be such a hit, so y'all will just have to use your imagination (or Google Image Search, like I did).

Anyhow, poker night went well, and we stayed up goofing off until almost 2:00 in the morning. Once the food was gone and the game was over, we lounged about smoking cigars (well, AC and I smoked the pipes). Overall, it was a very enjoyable and fun evening, highlighted by some damn good food.

And I know what you're thinking--Why Coca Cola? I don't know, but it's one of those magical ingredients that makes pork taste better. Some hillbilly discovered it years and years ago, and now it's a staple of southern cooking. Baste a baked ham with it sometime, and you'll know what I mean.

So that's what went down on Wednesday night here at Casa de Mikey--lots of good food, plenty of beer and cocktails to drink, a great game of cards, and lots of fine tobacco was smoked. Yep, it was a pretty good Hump Day, one that I can't wait to do all over again next week.


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I Got Nuthin'

Seriously. Nothing interesting to write about. I wish I did, but the ol' brainpan is a blank slate. As far as the job goes, I think that they're quietly easing me out the door. I'm not on the schedule again after Thursday, and there hasn't been a peep about the paperwork I submitted for sticking around.

Oh well. I knew it was a temp job going in.

So I'm back to pounding the pavement. Kinda sucks that there are basically only six places to apply for jobs in this town, iffin' you want to work in a casino.

I'll be back in a couple of days.