Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 troubles with twins

I made this as a part of my annual movie of my kids. Enjoy. Or not.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I need a vacation from this vacation

Vacations are supposed to be times to relax, to chill, to let the stress of the year seep through your pores.
I'm not sure why, then, most vacations are spent on visiting family.
When, you know, you bring the kids.
This vacation was anything but relaxing. The kids have taken whine steroids and are now overdosing on Linda Blair-like behavoir after being shuttled to strange places for the last week. If I escape with any semblance of my sanity, and my hearing, after we get home on Friday it will be a minor miracle, not walking on water, but definitely on par with a three-pointer to tie the title game with no time left.
I came down with a bug or got food poisoning from Taco Tico - not sure which, though I am blaming Taco Tico for now - and suffered the seat blows for several days. The good news is I really didn't eat nearly as much as I planned. The bad news is I didn't run nearly as much either, and when I tried running today, well, it sucked. I felt like I'd never laced up my shoes.
No doubt, this was a fun trip, and there's still a couple more days to go. It's always nice to see the rents, even in separate places, and they all were a big help with the kids. Kate and I got some time to ourselves, though we were, ahem, interrupted today in the morning by the toddler.
But vacations, I think I'm learning, are not designed to relax. They are there to remind you that life at home, though it may seem like a grind, is really pretty good.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday's session from hell

Poker on the Kansas City boats on Saturday night was one of the worst sessions I've ever endured. It was the kind of session that makes you wonder about the future of poker, your style of play and even why you play at all.
The first hour, at the Ameristar, started out great, despite the fact that the best player at the table was directly on my left. I flopped two sets and bet them aggressively, and I was $100 up when I listened a little too much about how Harrah's was taking over the poker scene and decided to give it a shot. The players at my table were all tight, solid slingers, and I wanted easy money.
Just my luck, then, that at Harrah's, I was seated at a screw-tight table, where I didn't get paid for a flush, most of my rare pre-flop raises gathered the blinds and nothing else and no one else was doing any better. I doubt the dealer made more than a few bucks in tips during their half-hour shifts.
When a few young, cocky but cool kids (you know the type, if you don't, you haven't sat at a poker table for very long) sat down, it helped loosen things up, but by then I had endured a series of coolers that left me a little beaten down.
I flopped trips with A-10, only to lose to A-J. My pair of Aces with A-Q got bumped by a straight with crap cards on the turn. TPgreatK, with a J on the board, gave another guy two pair. I had A-Q three times and A-K twice and not once did it hit, and neither did my straight and flush draw with J-10 sooted (15 outs twice my ass). I dumped A-K once when a guy re-raised and showed me K-K. I was through flopping sets despite seeing at least 20 small pocket pairs and calling some raises with them.
I finally lost the rest, not much, when I flopped top two pair and lost to a flopped flush when the guy played 8-3 of hearts.
I bought in for another $200 and raised with A-J and got two pair on the flop, with A-J-5. The youngest, cockiest guy looked very interested, so I checked and let him bet it for me. He obliged. There were no flush draws out there, so I just called. I did the same on the turn, only when he bet $30, I raised to $80. He instantly pushed and instantly called. I knew I was ahead. Sure enough, he showed A-5, I flipped over A-J, and I didn't notice he was on a spade draw until the last one fell and the dealer pushed the pot his way. Runner, runner flush.
I wasn't pissed at him. He had a hand. But I was a bit whiny inside at that point. Really? I managed to escape all those other beats with the minimum lost. I had endured a shitload of coolers, and I played the last hand well, trapping him despite my extremely tight image. It was my chance to be rewarded for my patient, observant, egoless play.
Poker, at times, is a very cruel game.
I considered my options after I lost my stack again. I finally decided to buy in again, looking at the session as an opportunity to build my mental strength, the way the last three miles of a 15-mile run prepares me for a half marathon. I was determined not to tilt.
I managed to do just that, mainly because you can't really play 10-5 (well, I can't, anyway) and 8-4, and I slunk away at midnight. not really sure what to think.
My tight style was the same style that I saw in Vegas, and the same style I'm seeing now, even at the 1-2 NL tables. I'm wondering if that's all we might see for a long time, with the economy the way it is. You're just aren't going to see people who don't mind blowing $200 for entertainment because they saw poker on TV.
And I can't battle the aggressive style exhibited by those cocky young kids without cards, and those only come so often (or not at all), and even when you do outplay them when you (finally) get a hand, your hand won't always hold up.
It makes me wonder if I'm going to have to change the way I play.
But I'm not worried about that now. I don't know if I ever will. Poker is a recreational hobby for me. it's a profitable one, to be sure. I made more money this year than even two years ago, when the tables were much easier to beat, both live and online.
But it is a hobby, and with my never-ending duties as a parent, and my responsibility to myself to run and climb mountains, I can't take the time to truly study the game to put me at an elite level and dominate tables without cards.
That's OK. Sessions like Saturday's don't come very often. Or if they do, I might have to take up video games again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An avatar I wish I had

Can you name the video game this is from? You probably can if you were any kind of a gamer.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review of

There are probably 786,639 Web sites that analyze poker Web sites in the hopes that you'll click on one and give them a piece of the referral pie, but there's one big reason why I liked
It analyzes the tools you use to play poker, not just the sites you play on.
There's plenty of that, too, if that's what you're actually looking for. You can find reviews of many of the top poker Web sites in the world. One thing I liked about that is the rating is a "community rating," not just one hack's thoughts, so you'll get a truer picture of what all poker players think about the site.
But the soft goes way beyond that. There are ratings of poker tracking software, some with reviews of programs I've never even heard of. I actually learned a lot from reviewing this site, and I can honestly say that doesn't happen very often when I'm asked to write a post about a new poker site. Again, these are listed by community ratings, so you'll get a truer picture of what the users are saying about it.
The site lists the tracking software by an initial description, then bullets some of the highlights of the program, and finally gives a more detailed review below. And those reviews appear to be honest as well, as some of the community reviews were pretty harsh and probably won't be included on anyone's marketing report for that company.
You'll also find video reviews of products and Web sites, and that's also another feature I've never seen on any other site.
But there are reviews and product descriptions of table selection software and tools, odds calculators, buddy lists and SnG tools. You can even find some descriptions of bankroll managers and lots of other software that I've honestly never heard of for poker tournaments and tools to make you a better player.
The reviews aren't as detailed as they could be, but the sheer volume of information on the site means you'll learn a lot even after you've spent hours looking at all the descriptions.
If I'm ever in the market to improve my game, and lord knows I need that, I'm going to head back to I've got a lot to learn, apparently, and the site will help me find the tools I need. I'm glad I was asked to write a review of this site, as I actually got a lot more than a little extra green to blow at the tables.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And to all, a good night (maybe)

Before a car trip to California to see our grandparents, Mom used to take us to Toys 'R' Us and instructed us to pick out something that would keep us busy in the car for 12 hours a day for two days.
Our choices were, shall we say, limited.
They were, as far as I can remember:
1. An Etch-A-Sketch
2. A Mad Libs book.
3. Another riddle book where you'd run a magic highlighter over the phrase and it would give you the answer, presumably after you'd give it the kind of thought you'd give the million-dollar question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with your only lifeline being a phone call to that dorky girl in high school who always had carmel corn in her braces but would let you copy her chemistry homework.
4. A game where you'd push a button that would make a colored piece of plastic floating in water land in a basket.
5. Dozens of books like "Charlotte's Web," "The Great Brain" or one of Stephen King's early offerings (I read him at a pretty young age, which explains a few things).
Or there was the alphabet game, the license plate game or 20 questions.
Eventually, the games deteroriated into "Will you stop touching me", "Stay on your side" and "Punch the brother in the arm."
Good times.
Today, on our car trip across Colorado to Kansas and home, where I'll spend my next week or so playing a bit of poker (report to come later), spending time with Mom and Dad (in separate houses, alas), seeing old friends, enjoying a night or two out away from the kids with Kate and wolfing down as much barbecue as I possibly can, we had more entertainment in the car than I had in the house when I was their age.
We have a built-in DVD that plays a constant stream of "The Backyardigins." They do not have a Game Boy but probably will soon. I had my laptop, which played Season 4 of 'The Wire.' (And this show really is fantastic, if you haven't seen it you must right now. Seriously, stop wrapping last-minute presents and watch it. Your family will understand).
In the end, it wasn't enough, and the twins went into nuclear meltdown in the last half hour. They're still only 19 months, and Pablo and a Moose who only wears a sweater but no pants can only take you so far. Even Jayden seemed to wear down after the 7th hour, asking Kate, "Mom, can you go faster?"
On a side note, don't you wonder what Mary and Joseph did with baby Jesus on those long trips on the donkey? Or did Jesus just wave his hand and they were there? Did you ever wonder what Jesus was like as a baby? Was he fussy? You would think the son of God would be a good baby. Or maybe God was testing Mary, like he did Job, and made Jesus get up at all hours all the time.
Anyway, I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of my kids. I wish we had that entertainment. Those hours just seemed to drag on.
Then again, I don't think I'm as jealous as my parents, who admit that they wished like hell they had something to shut us up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two bits gets you three holy tosses


That's how my toddler pronounced Chuck-E-Cheese at his first-ever visit today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kansas City Here I Come

I used to look at Christmas as Rankin-Bass specials, lights on people's home and the latest cartridge for my Atari 2600.
I still enjoy the specials, though I think I might be the last generation to do so. And I like the lights, too, though I don't put them on my house, not yet, not until the kids don't require 24-hour surveillance. But Christmas means a lot more now.
It's a chance to get away, get some help with the kids and, most of all, go home.
Vegas was a wonderful getaway, a desperately needed getaway, but even tonight, I found myself having a tough time with the kids around 6:30 p.m. tonight, just before their bedtime. I need a long, extended break. Grandparents are wonderful for their extra set of hands and the chance to get out of the house, and I need that. Kate and I both need that.
It's a chance to run at sea level, too, and eat great food (and that French restaurant sounded awesome, but I don't think there's anything better than a plate full of Kansas City barbecue).
We leave on Christmas Eve.
The anticipation grows. There are some memories to be had, sleep to be won and some space to be enjoyed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunset to Sunrise

I, like many, approach a trip to Las Vegas as an opportunity.
I use it to practice being someone else.
There's a reason for the slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Quite frankly, there aren't many things you can take away from a Vegas vacation and have it be a positive influence on your life.
Then again, most don't attend a get-together with bloggers.
There were two questions people asked me when I told them I was going to spend four days in Vegas. They're pretty standard. What will you be doing, and who are you going with? The first was easy. I don't know, but I'm sure I'll play poker. This year I also told them I was going to see Steel Panther. You'll hear about them a bit later.
The second is a little tougher, so I just told them they were other bloggers. That's a no-no in Vegas, but outside in the normal world I think it's OK. Pauly may disagree.
I stayed up late - or early, depending on your definition, as one day sunset crept into sunrise and I went to bed as the sky turned pink and Mandalay Bay glittered in the first light. Usually I'm getting up to face a girl (or two) bouncing like popcorn in her crib and a toddler who wants to wear his Wall-E underwear today.
I ate poorly.
I ignored my running after Friday, when I snuck in a cool jaunt with KuroKitty/Pokercat Friday morning.
I drank quite a bit more.
I didn't worry when I slept little.
Mostly, though, I let myself go.
I didn't worry about what angle someone might be working on me.
I didn't care what anyone thought of me.
I didn't fret about melting into a group of people I've only met one other time in person, and I allowed myself the space to fit comfortably inside.
I chilled the fuck out.
Many of these trip reports contain blow-by-blow accounts of their weekend. Those are fun to read because of the fractured nature of the gatherings. People you know splinter and find one of the millions of possible adventures these get-togethers offer, only to come back to together and share it with us.
But that's not what you'll find here. That's not who I am. Sometimes my adventures are on display, as my half marathons and trips up Colorado's highest peaks, when I believe others will benefit from that. Other times my journey is my own, shared with a select few, and that's enough.
The memories have already been thrown in the crock pot and are simmering. I'll pull them out when I need a smile, like when a two-outer hits, when a run hurts or when one of the kids is throwing an especially impressive fit.
Thursday night at the Geisha Bar with some of the people whose talents I respect about as much as anyone's, meals and poker with some of my favorite invisible Internet compatriots, my skilled (lucky) run to 6th place in the blogger tournament (when I cashed all my suckout chips for the year by hitting two-outers three times, including two times when I hit quads on the river) NFL Sunday, and, of course, Steel Panther with Blood and Dr. Chako and The Wife and Stb and Otis' brother, will stay in storage with me for a long time. If you have any space in your heart for hair metal at all -and Def Leppard sold 10 million copies of two albums so I know you do, even if you don't want to admit it - you have to see this band at the Green Valley Ranch. As a bonus, you can play poker at easily some of the most profitable tables I've ever enjoyed after the show.
Those memories are nice, but that's not all I want to take away from this trip.
As I've said before, I am a loner in many ways. I am a private person who is generally uncomfortable around people. I rarely trust anyone. I rarely let them beyond my barriers. I see little value in small talk. I prefer to take time getting things accomplished rather than spend it "chatting" with someone.
Resolutions are about improving yourself, and rarely do we stick with them. Some do stick though. I'm a runner now. A close friend finally kicked cigarettes last year. But, like anyone, I need to improve myself.
So now I have two New Year's Resolutions.
The first is to be more patient with my kids. They're my little ones, and they're supposed to try my patience every day. If they don't, they're not exploring or asserting themselves, and they will need both those traits all through their lives. I don't want to squelch them. I want them to thrive. I will try to let them thrive more often, even if it costs me another gray hair that day.
The second is the golden nugget I will take from this trip. I will try to let more people in.
I will talk to strangers. I will call my sources far more than I do. I will try to be more of a family member when we're at Kate's parents.
I will enjoy people's company.
This is easy to say now. I'm coming off a high I get few times in my life. When I can now say that I'm not going to say bloggers, I'm going to see friends, and not just a few.
I know I will not completely change because I don't want to completely change. I love the fact that I can spend hours by myself without the need to text or yahoo or IM or call someone on the phone. I did spend some time in my room during this trip, and it was wonderful.
I know I will also relapse. That's part of the process. I'll shutter people away. But rather than just accept it because "that's just who I am," I will fight against that, for maybe the first time in my life.
Because when I fight that urge, and I let myself be free among friends, good things happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I missed my first flight to Vegas.
This will shock friends of mine who see me, correctly, as an anal planner.
It doesn't shock me as much as I thought.
I'm still conflicted about leaving my wife and three little ones for four days of mindless fun. Part of me really, really wants to go, was dying to go, but the other part will miss everyone dearly.
Still, I've been raising my voice a bit too much with them lately. The grind has hit bone. As much as I love them, it has.
It will cost me an hour of Vegas to miss a flight. I consider that penance.
I'm already missing everyone.
Maybe that's the point.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Goals for Vegas

I do have some goals cause that's just how I roll, God forbid anything just flows in my world. These can, of course, change at a moment's notice.

1. Get in Thursday at 11 a.m., head straight to the MGM and play 1-2 NL all day, possibly with Blood and StB.
2. Thursday night, Geisha Bar at the IP to meet Joanada, welcome Kat late, drink, hang out, listen to CK do her funny Asian accent. Try to get to bed before 4 a.m. Possibly fail.
3. Friday morning/late morning run with PokerKat. I ran 8 miles today and my body is really feeling the punishment (see below) I'm putting on myself for Vegas. Despite this, one Friday run with PokerKat can't hurt. If anyone else wants to join us, please comment. We'd love to have IG or anyone else along.
4. Friday afternoon, greet Jordan, play poker I hope at a place I have not played before. That includes Caesars, Bellagio (probably out of my league), Palms, Rio, Hard Rock.
5. Friday night, MGM Mixed games, then Steel Panther with Blood and StB. Woot!
6. Can I has some PaiGow with Drizz for a bit late that night? Me hopes so.
7. Saturday watch Jayhawks (maybe), then Saturday tournament. Bust out in first hour.
8. Saturday night go to German place to eat with Biggestron and others. Then probably play poker.
9. Sunday NFL day? I have no idea how this works. I'm sure I'll be filled in.
10. Leave that night. Kiss kids and wife hundreds of thousands of times Monday morning.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Thursday, when I fly out to Vegas (less than 48 hours away whooooooooooo), will be the first day in almost two weeks that I'll take a day off from a hard workout.
Most of those days were filled with running, through snow, up hills and at sweat-inducing speeds, even in the bitter cold that's blanketed my state.
Today was one of the toughest workouts. I took part in a running analysis at the University of Northern Colorado. It's a biomechanical running study at UNC, and I volunteered because I'm only in my fourth year of running, like, ever, and as a result I've never had much coaching beyond what my friends tell me and whatever advice our leader can give me in between watching 40 other runners during our track workouts.
So I'm pretty excited to get some tips on my form.
I think that's where I am right now. I can't really train much harder than I am, given my three little kids. I could watch my diet more, but I'm fairly lean as it is. I could sleep more, but that's up to my girls, not me (and no, after 18 months, they are not sleeping through the night yet).
The trial was 10 three-minute intervals ran at a speed a little faster than a tempo run. He wanted me to run at a "6" on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest. For me that was eight miles an hour, or about a 7:30-per-mile pace (I think; I hate math). On the third minute, he would put the treadmill at an incline, and either I was supposed to run through it or tell the guy to back off until I was running at the same effort when the treadmill was flat.
My light shirt was soaked at the end of the trial, especially after the last two, when he bumped the treadmill up to 15 degrees. That may not sound like much, but it was brutal, trust me. It was all I could do not to fall off it.
My reward for the hard work will be an hour (!) of analysis about my form and other tips on how to improve as a runner.
I'm all for it. Anything I can do to avoid feeling like I do right now will be welcome.
Really the only thing that will help with that is rest, and I'll get plenty of that in Vegas.
Well, rest from running, anyway.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A girl after my own heart

The girls have talked a lot lately, far ahead of Jayden's schedule (though you wouldn't know that now; quiet moments are rare in our house). They can say book and Daddy and doggie and lots of other words.
Yesterday I was showing Allie seven inches of powder falling outside the house.
Today as we were getting her ready for day care, she looked out the window.
"Snooooooooooooooo," she said.
My heart melted.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hey hey have you read the news?

Today my newspaper laid off three people. I'm relieved to have dodged the bloodletting, but I'm sad for the loss. We lost some good people today.
I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I wrote a speech for my fifth-grade English class, and though it only got me a B+ (making me feel a bit like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story"), I remembered my mother saying, "You know, you're lucky because you can write."
Writing was always easy, even when math was hard, Chemistry was granite-hard and Geometry was downright impossible (I squeaked out a D in that class, probably because I didn't talk in class so the teacher felt sorry for me). I really actually should not say "easy" because writing is never easy, but it was something I could do.
I couldn't really do anything else. I was a horrible athlete, so I'd have to set aside hopes of multi-million-dollar contracts. I hated (hate) gladhanding, so my political career would have to be limited civil disobedience like not paying the meters in protest of all the bad parking on my college campus. I couldn't make it in the military, so I had to settle for saving the world by killing billions of aliens in "Halo."
But I remember taking journalism I in high school and thinking, "Hey. Writing. I can do THAT." And though I wasn't very good at first - maybe, if you read my stories or this blog, you might wonder if I've ever improved - I got better and decided that newspapers were something I could do for a job. I didn't want to write a novel. I wanted to make money writing. And so, when I was a junior in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a career.
All my friends went through 15 majors by the time they were sophomores, but I stayed with journalism. It was what I wanted to do.
After 15 years in the business, I still can't imagine doing anything else. The pay is still bad, and the hours can be tough, but the job, meeting people and writing great stories and occasionally covering breaking news is still damn fun. I wouldn't want to spend an election night anywhere else but a newsroom or out that night working on an assignment.
Yeah, journalism has many problems, and this business is filled with assholes, but I still believe in this profession.
I love my job. How many can really say that?
Now I'm left pondering if there won't be a job for us any longer in 10 years. Maybe five. I can't imagine newspapers just dying. But then again, I can't imagine doing anything else.
I'll be 40 in three years. Starting over at that age seems pretty tough to me. But I may not have a choice.

Free is the new half-price

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

All bloggers can play in this exclusive online poker tournament.

Registration code: 187996

I don't know how many of these I'll make, but I hope I can make some.