Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Sawtooth Ridge between Mts. Evans and Bierstadt

I began guiding in 2006, and though it's proven to be a good moneymaker, it's also snapped up many of the few chances I get to get out to the peaks. That's partly my decision. I just don't want to be away from my young children for the time it takes to climb (last week, as an example, when I guided Pikes Peak, I left the house at 2 a.m. and didn't get back until 9 p.m.).
But today was special. I got to do a difficult climb with two of my hiking partners, Brant and Julie Alley, who climbed more than half of Colorado's 54 14ers with me (and were the two who were there with me on the day I finished them).
I hadn't done anything this hard in three years. That was also partly my decision. A lot more is at stake now.
I hadn't done anything with Brant and Julie either. They just moved back this year from Arizona, so that's partly why, and they're also trying to knock off all the 14ers on their own.
Bierstadt and Evans are two of the easiest 14ers on the list of 54, but when you link them together with the Sawtooth Ridge, well, that changes things. I used to do routes like the Sawtooth all the time, and this probably ranks as only my 50th hardest climb, but it was still a challenging, hard day, and I'm pooped.
Here, just check out the photos and see what I mean. I think they're worth a look.

Mts. Evans (14,264) and Bierstadt (14,060

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Power tripping

It might be most people's dream to be a leader. Watching Obama's speech last night was inspirational to anyone who hungers for power.
I do not.
I have no choice.
I have only a little power at work. I could have more, probably, eventually, maybe, but I've never wanted to be an editor.I prefer to write rather than fix the same mistakes in other reporters' copy over and over. I do that one day a week. That's enough. I went to school to write. That's where I get my buzz.
So that's OK. After all, I get my power trip at home, right? As the man of the house? As the father of twin girls and a toddler?
Accompanied by the warp speed that usually drives these things, the girls suddenly shedded their baby skins and are full-fledged toddlers now.
I'd post a picture, but they won't sit still long enough for me to snap one.
They're walking, babbling, talking a bit ("Daddy," "Doggy," but mostly "No"). Mostly they have developed attitude.
Jayden? The 3-year-old? Yeah, he developed his a long time ago.
Andie, especially, and only in the last week or so, pretty much demands anything now. She walks outside and yells until we swing her. She attacks me at night after I've put dinner on my plate, wanting bits and bites of my food.
I think it hit me today, early this morning, at 6 a.m. (when nothing really good happens), as I was in their room, searching for their clothes. Andie walked up to me as I took a short rest with my face down on the carpet. I felt a tapping on my head.
Andie was pounding on my forehead with a shoe. She wanted it on her feet.
I am the boss of no one.
But when their boyfriend comes around, I'm gonna OWN him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Take 'em when you can get 'em

My secrets for winning The Dookie:

1. Get hit with the deck
2. Outflop everybody
3. Raise a LOT

My book comes out in six months.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pikes Peak, the (sorta) beautiful

Pikes is probably Colorado's most famous mountain.
It looks like it.
Welcome to the Las Vegas of mountain climbing.
Pikes Peak, in Colorado Springs, was my last guided climb of the year, and so I took a group of eight to the top Saturday. It's not Colorado's tallest mountain (at 14,110 feet high, it's a mere 31 out of the 54 14ers. It's not the most climbed every year. But it's certainly its most commercial.
It's the most visited mountain in North America, and only Mount Fuji gets more visitors per year.
The first time I climbed it, in 2003, I was nearing the summit, by myself, when a tourist spotted me.
"You know," she said, without a hint of mirth on her face, "you can DRIVE to the top."
A train carries 250,000 a year to the summit. Tens of thousands more drive to the top. And, oh yeah, a few hikers attempt it as well. About 15,000 a year. That's a big number, but many other 14ers see more.
Yes, the 14ers are popular, and many of their trails will have at least a few on them when you climb one (I have done them all, and I was never alone, not once), but you're still climbing a mountain, not playing kickball at recess.
Many of the roads to their trailheads are rough enough to cause iPods to skip, bruise your thighs or shake shake shake the shocks out of your passenger car. The only food you eat comes out of your backpack, and the only water from your bottle or a filter (unless you want to spend too much of your time on the throne). And thunderstorms, terrain and the long trips can beat you if you let them.
Pikes Peak is downright luxurious, sort of like the Bellagio if you compare it to, say, the Imperial Palace. Halfway up, Barr Camp provides Gatorade and Skittles for sale, a sparkling bathroom and cushy camping spots, with a fire, picnic tables and a party-like atmosphere. When I found my way into Barr's main cabin, a guy was playing a guitar. It sounded folkish. So I left.
At its summit, there's a geeky gift store (but aren't all gift stores) that sells cheeseburgers, pizza and these amazing donuts. After hiking all day, they might as well be serving garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and a rare filet. When a massive thunderstorm hit 20 minutes after we made the top, we took cover in the shop rather than dash down and hope the bolts didn't hit us.
A beautiful, wide trail ushers you all the way up.
But, as I told the group at 5 a.m. before the climb, Pikes is one of the easiest 14ers, but it's also one of the hardest. It's 13 miles to the top and you gain more than 7,000 feet. On many 14ers, you'll gain around 3,500 feet, so hiking Pikes takes twice the effort of many other mountains.
I left the house at 2:30 a.m. because I had to take what I figured would be a slow group of inexperienced hikers. I am, after all, a guide, so I certainly wasn't expecting Everest climbers.
It was a tough day, harder in some ways than I expected, but everyone did make the top on a clear, hot but sunny day at 2:45 p.m. Once again, I felt proud to be a guide.
At the gift store, we got a taste of what it felt to be an Olympian, perhaps. Some looked at us with a little bit of awe and others wrinkled their nose at our stink. I"m no athlete, so I have to admit, both expressions were fun.
And, perhaps best of all, you don't have to hike down, if you don't want to.
We didn't want to.

The great Bodog debate

News that Smokkee's Bodonkey is now over might just lead me to pull my money out of what has been my favorite site for months.
Recent reports that Smokkee's site linked to have me wringing my hands. You never really know what to believe, as different sites are saying different things, but the fact that Smokkee, Bodog's champion, is now linking to sites that blast the site might be the biggest red flag of all.
Some pretty big pros are tied to the site, and if Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker can survive some pretty horrid cheating scandals, I do think Bodog can survive as well. But it seems to me that I almost lost a good amount of cash to the whole Neteller debacle, and when I finally did get my money back, I told myself I'd never put myself in that situation again.
I have about $275 in tournament credits that I plan to burn now that the Bodonkey is no more. So that's going first. I rarely play tournaments anymore but it's time to have some fun.
Bodog was my favorite site namely because the players were so bad. It was really profitable for me. Sometimes I wonder if it's confidence of the actually ability of my opponents that leads me to win money. Could one site really make that much of a difference?
And yet I also understand that these days the edges are small in poker and I possibly need to exploit any edge I can.
I have thought about pulling all but a couple hundred and continuing to play $50 NL. That's not good bankroll management but if I can't play on a struggling site any longer, oh well.
What would you do? If you're a Bodog customer, what are you doing?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Proud to be an American (seriously)

I am not sure why, but watching the Olympics brings out a national pride in me that I really can't explain.
I kinda needed it.
War will sometimes do the trick, but this war just disgusts me. 9-11 did the trick for a while, but I don't exactly want to rely on tragedy to boost my esteem for the red, white and blue. Katrina had exactly the opposite effect. It just made me feel sorry for the way our country treated our own residents.
And then it just piled on. We're getting our asses kicked by gas prices, health care, food costs, global warming threats and our energy crisis, and yet Bush just continued to suck. I really, honestly worried about the country I was leaving for my toddler and the twins. And if not them, then their children.
But hey, online poker's sort of illegal, so at least they're protecting us!
The election is coming, and that's usually enough to make me hopeful, at least, that things will get better.
But I couldn't help but think it just wouldn't matter. How much can one man do, even Obama? Not a whole lot, I didn't think.
And then Michael Phelps starting tearing up the pool.
And I watched our gymnasts take gold and silver in the all-around.
And I watched our basketball team show a lot of pride and also destroy other countries. Even Kobe, who I haven't really admired much since the whole rape thing (granted, he was acquitted), spoke well about national pride and how good it felt to wear the colors, and he backed it up by going to beach volleyball (I would to, but hey) and swimming events.
Even the failures were inspiring.
I am starting to think this week that maybe we have it pretty good here. We have problems, sure, but we can produce some amazing people.
I'll vote this November and hope for the best. I want this country to be better. I have a little hope now.
Say it with me. It's kind of catching.

Friday, August 15, 2008

From legend to God

OK, enough already.
Michael Phelps already sets six world records and wins six gold medals, including one in probably the greatest relay race of all time.
He now has the most gold medals of any other Olympian. Ever. And it's not even close.
And then, last night, Phelps wins his seventh gold medal? When he's exhausted? By tracking down his opponent in the last 25 meters? And he wins by one-hundredths of a second?
One one-hundredths?
Are you KIDDING me?

There are moments in sports when the very best not only win, they seem to do it in magical fashion, and then they become legends. Babe Ruth calling his shot. Michael Jordan's last-second shot to win the title for a sixth time or scoring 40 when he was sick with the flu. Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open on one leg.

Phelps is already legendary. He's now God of water. I would call him aquaman, but superhero status doesn't do him justice. Plus it's kinda geeky.

Snowdrift Peak

You've seen the pictures, now look at the video I did for the Greeley Tribune.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Maybe we ARE in Kansas anymore

I was about to head out the door for a short run last night when I saw a steady rain at the last second. The bright sunlight that scraped away fierce thunderstorm that hit earlier had hidden the drops.

I opened my front door, with a jacket on, and this is what I saw.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Five Golden Thoughts

The couch is my campground during these Summer Olympics. I've watched more TV in the last week than I normally do in the last month. It's like the NCAA tournament all over again.

1. So why am I so glued to watching sports like swimming and synchronized diving and beach volleyball (OK, maybe that last one is pretty obvious) when I could really care less at any other time of the year.

2. Does admiring the athletes on the men's gymnastics team mean I'm slightly gay? It's not the splits they do, it's the rings. Wow. But why do I get the idea they would still lose a bar fight?

3. Why does our gymnastics team look like 16-18-year-old girls and China's look like they're at recess?

4. How incredible is Michael Phelps, and why is he only famous every four years?

5. How much Olympics does it take to get the song to "Peep and the Big Wide World" out of my head (sadly, it's not enough yet).

Monday, August 11, 2008

You, too, can be a music star

Since everyone wants to be a rock star these days, even pretend ones (mostly pretend ones from what I can see), let's play a game
that doesn't involve punching colored buttons to Dragonforce.

You have one minute to make up the lyrics to a new song. You can pick hair metal and country because those are the easiest.

Here's my hair metal entry.

I love chicks
Yes I do
I love chicks
How about you
I love em in the morning
With coffee and toast
I love em at night
That's when I love em most
Big ones tall ones ones with a tattoo
Don't tell me not to love 'em cause it's what I gotta do

Remind you of Bang Tango and Britney Fox? I thought so. The sad thing is this isn't much better. Yet I'm still a fan.

Here's my country song:

Well I'm going down the road in my truck and my car
I got a load of gas so I'll get real far
I'm a kickin my dog and scarin' off my cat
And my wife is lippy so I smacked her with a bat
Goin' down to 'Bama with my old buddy Moe
And down in the soil is my step-brother Joe

Try it. It's fun.

P.S. Does anyone else get as geeky about the Olympics as me? I had to yell in my pillow last night after the U.S. edged out France in the relay. One of the most incredible things I've seen in my life. And normally I really don't care about swimming at all.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

When you know you're running well

I have a pair of 3s in the hole in a .25/.50 NL game on Bodog. There's a raise to $1.50, three times the big blind. I call because I'm way up for the session and I love calling with pocket pairs to see if I can hit my set. If I don't, it's easy to let go of the hand.
The flop comes 10,6,3 rainbow.
A third player in late position calls as well.
There's just about $7 in the pot.
I have about $100.
The raiser, who has $67, pauses for a long time - almost too long. His timer runs down.
He's been disconnected.
When his timer runs down again, putting him out of any action for the rest for this hand, I am disappointed. He was UTG, so I think he might have had an overpair to this board, and I might have stacked him.
I have bet more than ever lately instead of checking my monsters - one reason I'm running well, I think - but in this case I check. The third player checks behind me.
When the turn brings an Ace, I bet $4, thinking it might have hit the third player.
He folds.

Bodog flips up the third player's cards.
He had 10-10.
He won a tiny pot.
And I left the table one hand later with double my buy-in.

P.S. This is not a brag post, poker Gods, so no need to flip the doom switch on me. Nice try in that hand above though. I'd like to know which poker angel turned off his modem for a second.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 makes the A List of poker sites

At times the number of poker sites on the Internet seems to have multiplied to numbers that match only a pack of lemmings.
Fortunately, many of the sites have thrown themselves off the cliff and into the Internet trash pile, covering your copy of "Party Poker" and all those old versions of Poker Stars that you keep updating every other day.
One site that I'd like to see pausing before taking the plunge off the cliff would be PokerListings.Com.
It's a sharp-looking site with a clean design, with lead stories that are updated daily. Just glancing through it Wednesday, I found articles on identifying false tells, expensive mistakes and how to recover from them, information on the next FTOPS series and a story on the Latin American Poker Tour.
You'll find more than the warmed-over updates you could find by entering Google News. On this site you can find all the latest poker news. There are so many entry points, to be honest, it felt like a Friday night on the virtual tables, with all of them listing 55 percent flops and average pots that equaled my buy-in. I just didn't know where to start.
I also really appreciated the player interviews
. You can find player profiles of all the main event final table participants. That's pretty cool, given that the mainstream media hasn't exactly jumped all over that like the World Series of Poker apparently thought they would.
The reviews of the poker rooms offered too many too count, including some poker rooms I've never heard of. My only complaint is the same complaint I've had with other rooms: They weren't tough enough on them.
The site's review of Ultimate Bet, for instance, mentions nothing of the recent problems that should make you withdraw your money faster than Jesse James robbing a bank.
I did appreciate the reviews, but they weren't complete enough. I'd say they could expand the reviews. I did like the quick-hitting highlights tab on the side.
The site does rank the rooms from best to worst, so maybe those speak for themselves.
The poker blog section was pretty cool. Obviously my standards are pretty high (save for my own poker thoughts on this here blog), given the great poker bloggers who I read daily, but I enjoyed many of the entries, including a blog from Liz Lieu about her father. You can find blogs by Jennifer "Jennicide" Leigh, Lacey Jones or Nolan Dalla and staff writers as well.
I like this site. is probably one site that will survive the

*The following was a paid review

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I went shopping for ring tones the other day, while sitting in the office for my LASIK appointment (I get burned in the middle of September, if it doesn't work I at least hope I get red, "Terminator" eyes).
I bought "Stairway to Heaven" because I have decided that nothing is as perfect as Jimmy Page's solo, and the ringtone is the solo. This shows my creative, musical side that's never really left, even if I did give up playing because you can only do so much when you have a herd of cats in the house (actually it's my twin brood and the toddler but it's basically the same thing).
I bought "Deacon Blues" by Steely Dan for basically the same reason, although it's also because I really love Steely Dan. They're probably in my top 5, along with Metallica, Iron Maiden, early Stevie Wonder, maybe Earth, Wind and Fire and probably Motley Crue (I KNOW what you're going to say about this, and yeah, you're right. Fuck you. I don't care. He's awesome).
I bought Metallica's "Master of Puppets" because, frankly, it's a kick ass song.
But I also bought "Rocky." "Rocky" is not just a cool song - it is, one of the best "movie" soundtracks of all time for the way it fits the picture - "Rocky" is a lifestyle.
It is intense and never-give-up and maybe there's a bit of the underdog thrown in there.
That's me.
In the summer, I've got goals to fulfill, races to run and peaks to climb. It's the season when all that training over the winter, the runs through the snow and the negative degrees and the icy patches (one of which almost killed me when I slipped and flew through the air, cartoon-like, and landed on my back, vaporizing my breath for a good, long, scary minute) pay off.
I work it in with the kids to raise and the job and even the online poker and chats with friends, and somehow, because of Rocky, I find the balance and push through it all and cross the line happy with my effort and my time.
Well, usually.
I already blogged about this, but a few weeks ago I pretty much just gave up in a race when maybe it all caught up to me.
I left Rocky at home.
This Saturday I'll be running a 10K, and I think I've found a way to bring him back. I'm getting rest, not eating stupid (not perfect, I'll never manage that) and Friday I concentrated hard during my four-mile tempo run to push through the pain and stay focused and concentrate.
Man this sounds cheeseball, but then again, I think I need something, a symbol to bring out the strength in me that I know is there, that sometimes gets left with the kids. I need it back for Saturday. I need it back, period.
I've put Rocky on the iPod Shuffle during a 48-minute mix, which will be my time for this race. I've put it right smack in the middle.
You know, when I'll need it the most.

Pauly Pimpin

I'll be here tonight despite my new rule of no poker on Monday or Tuesday. I may have to sacrifice the Mookie (and a chance to be on Live Poker Radio/Buddy Dank Radio) until next week for this.

We'll see if the life crap allows me to play both.

P.S. I'd also like to pimp Truckin, but I really don't want to go through the hassle of linking all those there any easy way to plug in the Truckin template and all those links into blogger? Any ideas?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

If you give a toddler some french fries....

If you give a toddler some french fries....
He's going to want some "dippy dippy."
When you begin to pour the ranch/ketchup/mustard/bbq sauce on his plate, he's going to want to do it himself.
When he reaches for the sauce, he'll knock over his juice, spilling it all over the table.
You'll grab a washrag to clean it up.
When he sees you're not looking, he'll put his hand smack in the middle of the sauce and begin licking it off his fingers.
Then he'll rub it in his hair.
He'll ask for you to clean it off after he sees the washrag.
The washrag will bring back memories of the juice on the floor yesterday in the other room.
That will remind him of his new Hot Wheels car on the floor in the other room, getting him out of his seat at the dinner table for the 26th time that night.
When he's in the other room, he'll see the back of the TV, where he'll try to hide while he poops.
After he's done pooping, you'll need to change him. He'll stick is finger in the back of the underwear and come out with a poopy finger.
He'll want you to look at it.
When you're done washing his hands, he'll see the bathtub.
He'll want to take a bath.
When he's done, he'll climb out of the tub fired up and want to maul and wrestle his sisters.
He will, repeatidly, despite their protests.
That will get him in time out.
On his way to time out, he'll see his empty juice cup.
He'll want some juice.
The juice will bring him back to the table and the uneaten burger on his plate.
And when he sees the burger...
Chances are he'll want some french fries.

P.S. This blog post inspired by the children's classic "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond.