Wednesday, August 29, 2007


All of a sudden, Jayden is obsessed with books.
He seemed to enjoy us reading to him, especially a big animal book that had colorful pictures of all kinds of critters, but many times reading was more of a chore than a pleasure. He was (is) addicted to "Little Einsteins" the way certain Minnesota bloggers are addicted to cheese curds, and when we asked him if he wanted to read, he would say, "no."
And, to be honest, by the end of the day, we were so tired, we were fine with him watching his cartoon.
Bad parent. This despite my love for words and writing and reading. Bad parent. This despite the fact that I could read at a high level when I was in Kindergarten, and I think that was because I had a knack for it, "Sesamee Street" and my parents willing to read me a book all the time.
Jayden still lags a bit on talking. He's a couple months past two and still does not use more than one word at a time despite knowing plenty of words. I'm guilty over that, wondering if we had read to him more if he'd be talking more at this pont.
Bad, bad, naughty parent.
So I'm relieved he's suddenly so into books. When I come in his room to get him in the morning, sometimes I find 5-6 books on his bed, something he was obviously doing instead of sleeping (that kid does not know how lucky he is to be offered at least 10 hours a sleep a night). He wants me to read to him all the time. He even wants to read, occasionally, when those little smart, musical, crack fiends are on.
As a society TV, video games, texting on the phone and surfing the Web are valued more than reading. I'm sensitive to this, perhaps more than I should be, because newspapers have taken a severe hit in the last year, and I wonder if I'll have a job in 10. Maybe even five. We don't read enough. I wonder if it wasn't for blogs, we would read at all anymore.
I'm just as guilty. After spending all day at work writing, I don't want to read when I get home. I'd rather play online poker or video games or watch a movie, if I have any free time at all after appeasing Jayden and the twins.
But Jayden has inspired me. I am reading again. I'm reading my magazines, I'm staying in touch with your blogs, and I'm even reading books again, this time "Bigger Deal," a freebee a lot of you got and already read months ago. I devoured Harry Potter. I have a stack of books that I'm going to attack, not all of them poker books. I need to be an example for my son.
I want my bed to be covered in books when I wake up, something I should have been doing years ago instead of sleeping.

Edit: I went downstairs this morning and caught him reading this. Cool! This is not a pose.

TGIF now has different meaning for Daddy

Here's a column I wrote for the Greeley Tribune, my newspaper. See the link to the right. I occasionally write personal columns for the paper. This ran Tuesday.

Jayden, my 2-year-old toddler, was getting far too good at telling me goodbye.

"Bye, Daddy," Jayden would say, giving me a hug while grinning through his white teeth.

I wasn't surprised by it, given that I went to work every day and spent a couple weekends away guiding peaks while Kate, a teacher, stayed home all summer. I'll never win a popularity contest with Mom, and I'm OK with that. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me just a little.

And I began to wonder if it wasn't just the fact that I was gone far more often than Kate.

I wondered if Jayden was adjusting to the twins a little too well.

Adding twin girls to the mix, as you might guess, added a bit of frazzle to our lives. Actually frazzle WAS our lives since they were born three months ago.

Of course, a lot of things had to go. Mostly that meant cutting time climbing mountains, watching movies or, of course, sleeping. Those things hurt. But the thing that was truly heartbreaking was it also meant cutting time with Jayden.

We've been lucky. Rather than dealing with this new reality by, say, pulling the girls' hair at every opportunity, he hugs them and whispers "hi baby." He doesn't know his own strength, so he mauls them or dogpiles them a little too hard occasionally, but I'd much rather have that out of love than jealousy.

Still, I knew the solution to the easy goodbyes, and that's why I really looked forward to Aug. 10, when Kate would go back to Northridge, the girls would go to day care and Jayden would stay home with me.

It would be our first Friday together since the twins were born, and we needed a break from all the females in the house.

All last year, Fridays were the glue that kept us together. I had the day off each week, so Friday I got up a little earlier than I would have liked and started my day with Clifford, a big red dog, on PBS. There were even times when Kate came home at the end of her day and I would, say, go get a haircut and the goodbyes weren't so easy. Jayden would get upset, like I was Mom or something. I relished those times.

The first Friday that Aug. 10 started off rough, as I knew it would. Kate left, and Jayden screamed and cried and pounded on the kitchen door to our garage. But he quickly settled down, and soon after, the arrogant side of me started to believe that he was smiling and running around because he was excited about the fact that the good ol' days with Daddy seemed to have returned. When I suggested we go swimming at the Fun Plex, he screamed with joy louder than normal, something I'm supposed to discourage, but this time I let it go. I even smiled. It had, after all, been a while since we had the chance to hit the pool.

Jayden now can go down the small slide by himself. He can operate the water toys by himself. He continually tried to pull my hands off him as we floated around the lazy river (not a good plan, as he can't swim yet).

When we got back, I fed him a snack and snuck a quick look at my computer in the next room, another luxury I didn't have last year, when he either would have washed his hair with the food or wallpapered the kitchen with it. Now he sits there and eats. Nice.

Just before I got him down for a nap, he sat on my lap and I read him a book, "What Daddy Loves." My favorite part is when the book talks about Daddy loving to go on hikes.

Before you think this is too much like an episode of "The Waltons," I was glad to put him down for the nap. I was tired and looked forward to the chance to watch a movie that had been in my Netflix queue for months. When he got up, I put him back down for another 20 minutes because he was crankier than I liked. And when Kate finally did get home, I was a little relieved because I was running out of things to do.

Still, thinking about the day made me realize how much he had changed. And how much I was missing. This summer I was so focused on surviving the twins through the first three months that I forgot to enjoy the little things.

Parents never miss the milestones, the first words, the first steps and the last diaper (you'll know when it happens to me because you'll hear a loud cheer), but it's the small steps I described above that make parenting so much fun on the way, ultimately, to graduation and the wedding.

You only get those small steps, though, by spending enough time, preferably one-on-one, with your children to recognize and enjoy those changes.

Time will go on, but I hope my time with Jayden stays a tradition, even when the twins deserve their time with me, too.

Daddy loves going on hikes, after all, and maybe one day, on a Friday, Jayden will join me, when we take a well-deserved break from all the females in the house.

Dan England covers the outdoors and entertainment and acts as the Sunday city desk editor for The Tribune. He is married and has a son and twin girls. His column runs on Tuesday. If you have an idea for a column, call 392-4418 or write

Monday, August 27, 2007


Taken at 3:51 a.m. (I overslept for the peak of it)

See how red the moon is? Do you? Do you?

(OK, it's not a great shot, but I don't have a telephoto lens, so it was the best I could do on my otherwise cool digital camera)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Life, finally, is good again

When people asked me how I was during these last three months, I'd say, "great."
How could I complain? I had a toddler who was turning into a great kid, every day, and I had a beautiful wife and a good job, and I was able to keep up my running and even some climbing. Hell, even poker wasn't too bad.
Oh, and I had two super-cute girls. We avoided a lot of rings of fire that many of parents of multiples had to go through. No NICU, they were 6 pounds each and they were really, really healthy. They were unexpected, too, which meant no fertility treatments and no spamming in a cup with a room and a magazine full of women with headlights bigger than monster truck tires.
So how could I complain? Life was great.
But it wasn't good.
I wasn't sleeping, and everything, mostly my running, suffered as a result. I just plain quit in a 5K, barely managing to finish in under 24 minutes. Kate and I, especially at first, fought quite a bit, with most of the nasty argument hovering around how one of us dared to leave the house for even just a second while the other worked out/got something at the store/played poker/squinted at the sun/got a breath of fresh air. Most of all, I just had a hard time adjusting to coming home and hitting the ground running and working even harder at home than I did at work. I got maybe an hour of free time to myself at night, and that was usually spent playing poker.
As you might guess, it affected my play, and I had the longest losing streak of my short career playing for money. It was not a bad losing streak, just a long one. I'm not sure if my play was bad or if I just ran into bad cards all the time.
In the past my summers were full of mountain climbing and chasing after the 14ers. This summer it was full of poop.
But then the three month milestone came around. If you haven't had newborns, they don't change gradually. One day, you wake up and notice that someone has swapped your lizard-like newborn with a super-cute, smiling, cooing baby; that's like ordering a cheeseburger and finding filet mingon and garlic mashed potatoes in the sack.
(The jury's still out on their supposed Identical status. Their faces look the same, but otherwise they look different, and they act different too. Allie is much more laid back, like a flower girl from the 60s - I can even see her say "hey, maaaaan" at times - while Andie is harder to please, with a stronger will, and she isn't afraid to use her lungs if we haven't responded to her cries of hunger within a minute of her sounding the alarm.)
They sleep more, almost through the night, and they respond to us now, even laughing a touch at my funny face. Sure, they still whine and cry and need to be held, but they also can stay in their swings, the Bumbo seats and the bouncy seats longer.
I"m still amazed at just how much time gets swallowed up through the day by caring for the infants and Jayden. But it seems a lot more fun now to do it.
There will always be setbacks. Just Wednesday I had to stop our final timed mile of the year with our group because I was too tired to continue. In softball the next night every pitch I threw was out of the strike zone, which is hard to do, if you really think about it. And these last two days, they've gotten up before 6 a.m. and stayed awake once we feed them. Man, that pillow sure feels sweet at 6 a.m. If only I could use it a bit longer. But no.
Still, it feels like we've turned the corner a bit.
Life, finally, is good again.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - These are a two (three?) of my favorite things

Longs Peak from Thursday's guided trip. I led 12 people up:



Saturday, August 18, 2007

What I did this weekend

Among changing the diapers of two twins (not quite as bad as you think) and a 2-year-old boy (exactly as bad as you think), leading a dozen people up Longs Peak, one of Colorado's tougher mountains, limping around the next day, getting my hair cut and seeing too much of my bald spot, I did this:

It helped.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Walking the line

When I clicked on that fat yellow chip, ready to fleece some donkeys on Ultimate Bet, I got an error message in response.
"Internal error. Please see customer service for assistance."

After I did indeed write customer service, I got a message back saying that my account on Bodog had been involved in some fradulent activity and that they were barring me from Ultimate Bet as a result.

That's interesting, given that I hadn't used my Bodog account in months and was just now thinking about finding a way to stick some money in there.
I contacted Bodog, and they cleared me. I then went back to Ultimate Bet, and the officials there (Phil Hellmuth?) cleared me after two days of waiting.

So everything's fine, right? Well, this little incident has got me thinkin' a bit, as we say in the West out here.

In the pond of online poker, I am merely a guppy. I'm probably good business in the sense that I'm a consistent winner, so I've got money in there to feed their rake instead of them begging me to reload, and I play up to four tables at a time. I also most always play cash games.
But I also play at low stakes - $50 NL is as high as I'll go for now - and I've worked my $200 deposit into a grand on UB. The reason poker sites make millions is because of customers like me, but one customer like me barely makes a dent in their business.

So what's stopping poker sites from telling me that, yeah, ya know, we don't trust you anyway, so we're gonna close your account, and, oh, by the way, take all your mobneys too? They wouldn't lose much from my business, and they know I don't have much power.

What's my recourse? My blog that's read by maybe 50 people? Yeah, right. An attorney? Doubt I could afford the fees (unless Jordan worked pro-bono). The government? Um, didn't they approve a law that gives the finger to online poker?

So we're pumping money into a business that could screw us over at any second and probably without any kind of consequences. As the market inevitably dries up, either because people will eventually be so OVER poker or the government finally wins or Barney Frank doesn't get it done, then will these smaller Web sites just quit one day and take all our money? It's happened before.

And yet I'll continue to play. I love the game too much, and online is the only way I can play for a while, until the twins get a little older and more stable.

Maybe a sucker is born every minute. Cause now I'm starting to think that sucker is me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just a hint...

We, meaning the collective we of those of us who have multiples (Hi Stacy and JJok!), would like to remind all you well-meaning folks of one thing.

"You've Got Your Hands Full" is not nearly as clever, witty or as perceptive as you think it is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cash game Crunch

Well, that got a lot of responses.
Never mind, then. :P

No, I was going to say that I've heard that people should take more risks in a cash game because you can always rebuy, but I've never quite understood that thinking. When you're in a tournament, you have to take risks to accumulate chips or else the blinds will eat you alive. The blinds really aren't a factor in cash games at the limits most of us play. I actually prefer to bluff after the flop more than try to raise pre-flop in a cash game to keep my stack level.

But bankroll management is the most important thing you can do for your poker game, and it's simply not good bankroll management to think you can rebuy whenever. In fact if I lose more than two buy-ins I'm done for the night.

When you play a tournament, you can only lose your buy-in. You should take risks because your bankroll can afford it. Calculated risks, of course, but more risks than a cash game.

I am aggressive in a cash game, but not as aggressive as I am in a tournament. And I don't see why anyone would play any differently. I rarely go all in in a cash game preflop. I even hesitate to do it with KK. I never do it with QQ or below unless I know the guy is a complete moron or he's got a really short stack.

What's your philosophy in a cash game versus a tournament? How much are you willing to risk in a cash game, and on what kinds of hands?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Keep your hands offa my stack (in a cash game)

Pot Committed has long been one of my favorite bloggers, for her great writing as well as her interesting stories about a life far different from my own.

Yesterday, she has as interesting a poker hand as I've seen in some time. Go check it out now.

And then answer me this.

If the hand is in a cash game, and don't worry about the chip counts, just the action, do you still fold, as I suggested? Does the fact that it's a cash game change your thinking?

Answer me that, and I'll discuss my theory on cash games in the next blog.

This is, after all, occasionally still a poker blog.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My, aren't we photogenic

Here they are at almost three months. They have to be the most un-alike identical twins I've seen. The jury's still out in my mind.

(That's just to prove that Andie can be pretty darn cute and not just psycho)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's on

So I'm mowing the lawn and Jayden is outside enjoying the backyard, and out of the corner of my eye I see some little yellow blips flying around, and suddenly my toddler is screaming.
Oh, shit.
I run over there.
I can't figure out what's wrong, exactly, until I'm carrying him back to the house and I see a bug on his ear.
It's a yellow jacket.
Jayden, since he's 2, tries to brush it off with his little hands, and it stings him on the ear.
It winds up, in fact, that the jackets stung him seven times. One on the thigh, three on the back of his leg, once on the ear, a couple on his arm.
He's 2.
I take one look at his stings. I then get the wasp spray and head over to the nest.
Of course, you realize, this means war.
The "nest" of course is located deep in a log, which is why I didn't see it before. I spray enough in there to make them extinct, not just wipe out a nest. I revel in them squirming around. I wait by the nest and when another comes, I shoot them down, too, Aces High style.
If you need a wasp killed, you know where to go.
I'm your Charles Bronson.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Progress, at least in one respect

Well, the girls are babies now.
They are not squirming little lizards that bleat every half-hour, and they are not tiny little creatures that eat every hour and think 3 a.m. is a great time to be awake.
They are cute little people who look at you and smile and coo and actually recognize you as Mom or Dad (or at least a person who is nice to them and gives them food and occasional cuddles).
And they sleep, for the most part, through the night.
All that helps, to put it mildly.
Things are still, well, interesting. I still rarely have time to myself. I did manage to finish the Harry Potter book (the best one, and I'm now convinced the series deserves every bit of the hype it gets). My workouts are steady again, and I'm actually getting enough shut-eye to feel like I don't have bags of sand Lasiked to my eyelids.
And unfortunately, I'm able to play poker again.
But I still struggle with the grind. Yesterday we went to a party with a lot of friends. I had a great time, and the last hour was spent running around, literally non-stop, with Jayden, the world's most active toddler, at a park across the hosts' backyard (on a side note, playground equipment is MUCH cooler than when I was a kid; the teeter-totter, for instance, is simply awesome now).
When we got home at 7:30 p.m., I was exhausted to the core (I didn't realize how much, in fact, until today's run, when I barely made it 6 miles; my little guy can RUN). All I wanted to do was play a couple SnGs and bubble thanks to a suckout (not really THAT, but let's just say my expectations are pretty dead-on these days) and watch a long overdue Headbanger's Ball, which I have not seen in ages.
And five minutes after I plopped on the couch, Andie started to cry.
I honestly don't know where I got the energy, but I kept them at bay and then fed her, after Kate took Allie, and suddenly I was in no mood to watch Headbanger's Ball and just wanted to play a little cash poker upstairs in a dark room and crash.
So I sighed and turned off the TV.
As for the state of poker, because I'm actually wondering if this really is a poker blog anymore, it's really more of the hot fudge that sprinkles this blog (mmmm, sprinkles), I'm on the coldest streak of my life.
There are different kinds of streaks in poker. There's running hot and running bad. I'm running cold. It's not all bad. I'm not really losing a bunch of money. Hardly any, in fact. But that's because I'm getting no hands to speak of.
If I have a pocket pair, it does not flop a set. EVER. I do not get AA or KK. If I get QQ or JJ, an A or K flops Every.Single.Time. Draws do not get there. I haven't even seen two pair since Snape killed Dumbledore.
Yeah, I can bluff, and that's mostly why I haven't lost a ton. Cause it sure ain't the cards.
Oh, and I think I'm finally seeing the result of the fish drying up. Every table is just stuffed with the kinds of solid rocks we all hate. I feel like I'm playing at the Senior Center sometimes.
During these streaks, you're not really pissed off or hating poker. You're just bored to tears of it. I have, for instance, seen enough of 8,2 offsuit. Heck, I've seen enough of it suited too.
Then again, maybe the poker Gods are being kind. Maybe they know that my life is pretty packed as it is right now, and maybe the one thing I need is a little less excitement in my life.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Haiku contest

I'm entering a Haiku contest for three reasons:
1. There's always a chance, however slight, of me winning something, and I like winning somethings.
2. I haven't done anything to make an Old Milwaukee beer can fall on my head in, say, the last 24 hours.
3. Haiku is fun.

Here are my three entries:

"Only Gets Better"
When you have twin baby chicks
Your faith gets shaken

Why are they called twins?
Together, they have the strength
To drive us both wild.

In between the poops
the spitting up and no sleep
comes the joy of twins

And here's my poker Haiku:

Oh, goodie, A-A.
Yet another chance for donks
To make me red-faced.