Monday, June 29, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
"Don't know what you got 'till it's gone."
Aside from being an absolutely great hair metal song, it's a tired cliché. But it's tired and true, and perhaps it's no truer when you're talking about food.
Kansas City is my hometown, and it's where we spent last week. My parents still live there, and so we visit once a year. I tell myself it's to give my kids the chance to see their grandparents, and that's true.
I also need to see home once a year.
However, home's changed. My parents live in separate houses now. My Dad's with his family in Overland Park, Kan. and my mother's in Belton, Mo. Neither one are within a half hour of our old house. Nostalgia, therefore, is hard to come by. I won't even see the old neighborhood this year. I won't see my high school, the steep hills, the lake where we used to fish, the pizza joint where we'd wolf down $1 slices during lunch or our old sledding hill.
But the food's still there.
Most importantly, so's the barbecue.
Nothing gives me the hometown smiles and shivers like a plate of Kansas City barbecue. I still like the humid nights, the wild storms and the lightning bugs, things we just don't get in Colorado. But oh, how I love the barbecue.
I wasn't a fan nearly as much when I lived here. Now I can't get enough of it. I miss it that much.
Kansas City isn't known for much. Jazz, sure, but more for its history, not its current club scene. The Royals? They ruled the 80s but have sucked since. The Chiefs? They ruled the 90s - sorta - but have sucked since. My Jayhawks are more of a statewide passion. So our barbecue is almost it. But it's good. It's really good.
It's so good, we're loyal to it, almost in the way the British love the Queen. People go nose to nose over what joint's better - and there are at least five that warrant consideration - and as much as I love barbecue, I won't eat it much the rest of the year. It just isn't the same in Colorado. I'm always disappointed when I do have it. Imagine going to a concert thinking you're going to see Metallica and Danger Danger walks out instead.
Vacations for parents of young children aren't what they used to be. They don't really feel like vacations anymore. They're certainly not relaxing. We took the kids to a huge farm-like amusement park, shot photos in a park, took them to a pool twice, went to the Kansas City zoo, brought them to a city park and generally did many other things to keep them entertained and energy-free by the end of the day. The only thing we've done for ourselves is go to a movie in an actual movie theater for an afternoon.
(On a side note, I saw "Up" while Kate saw "Angels and Demons." Pixar is, without a doubt, is the best moviemaker in the industry. Every movie the company makes is not only good, it's GREAT. As great as almost any movie I've seen. "Up" was no exception. Whenever I get a little tired of Pixar tempting my son with yet licensed product - I saw Lightning McQueen shaped bars of soap the other day - I remind myself that I'm supporting brilliant, talented storytellers in a world that badly needs them).
So food is really the only carrot - ha, good pun - that you get as an adult when your vacations are so stuffed with things you're doing for your kids. I think every adult thinks this way. When I once visited Sterling with one of my best friends for his annual return to where he grew up in the small town about an hour east of Greeley (my home now) the first thing we did was visit a trashy taco stand. It was nothing special, but he said he HAS to go there every time he visits Sterling. The place, of course, was packed. I understood why right away.
Sterling means Taco Shack. Kansas City means barbecue.
Barbecue is not healthy, of course, but I've already had it twice. I've run practically every day I've been out there. Short runs, of course, even if one of them was five miles, with the first two under 14 minutes (sea level is wonderful). But there's a chance the gluttony I've already displayed will ruin my 5K on the Fourth of July.
I don't care. At least, not right now. My sated mind is savoring the aroma of smoked meat, the spice of hot sauce and, of course, the slightly bittersweet, happy taste of home.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I haven't posted much about poker here lately. Mostly that's because I don't have much to add to the field that hasn't already been written. I save my best hands for Pokerworks, I'm still learning Omaha and with the World Series of Poker going on, it's a little insignificant for me to write about $50 NLHE.
But I do need to write what I'm about to say. It's time.
Hi, my name is Pokerpeaker. And I'm a losing player for 2009.
I'm on an extended, painful and frustrating losing streak, the first one of my four-year career in poker. I've had three winning months, but the take was small, and the losses in the bad months, like this one, have been much larger.
I'm hardly in danger of losing my bankroll, but it's taken a significant dent.
What's worse - or maybe better, depending on how you look at it - is it's almost killed my love of poker. I have no desire to play it right now. Losing, I suppose, will do that to you.
I feel like a big wuss about that. I've approached many other challenges in life with fortitude and determination, but in this case, taking a pretty significant break seems like the right thing to do, and I can't muster up the urge to fight. I've been fighting. It's not working.
I'll spare many bad beats before this post turns really whiny, but I will tell you a story about last Friday, and you might see why my passion for the game has dwindled. It's a bit of a tale so be patient.
All right, we all know how I play, and that's tight. Really tight, in fact. In the past, it's always won me money, as so many others just could not resist making stupid plays against me, plays that I easily picked off or called down.
Poker's tougher now, as so many know how to play NLHE with at least some competency, and whether that's because the fish aren't online any longer or the game's just been too popular for too long I'm not sure. Live games are looser but aren't what they once were either. Maybe this economy's killing the action.
Whatever it is, I realized this year I needed to change things up a bit. Tight was not always right any longer. And as I did that, I began to feel like a golf pro who suddenly changes his swing and can't find his old groove.
Playing tight was not an incredibly effective style, but it WAS a style. It was a game plan. And switching that up meant I had no game plan any longer. I would play tight, then suddenly make a stupid move that cost me half my chips.
I was, in a sense, one of the donks.
So Friday I decided to take what I've learned about playing aggressively and use it but only very sparingly. For the most part, I would play like I always have and see if it's effective at all anymore.
And you know what, it was. For one night, it was incredibly effective. I got all-in at least seven times as a huge favorite, at least 70/30. Three times I had my opponent down to a two-outer - twice it was my Aces versus my opponent's Kings.
And I dropped six buy-ins.
That's an all-time record.
I didn't win one of those hands.
In fact, the only pot of any significance I actually won was when I sucked out against a short stack with my Queens versus his Kings. I chuckled darkly at his chat box rant.
So I played well, with my old style, and lost a shit ton of money.
That will dampen your enthusiasm for the game.
So when I could think again, that night I came up with a three-part game plan.
I withdrew a huge chunk of my money off online. That leaves me with a small amount to play cash games with at my comfort zone, .25/.50 NL. That will force me to play carefully, within my game, and if I just can't win anymore, then it's gone and that's it.
I broke out my Nintendo 64. Yep. That's right. I'm going Old School baby. It still works beautifully, and it's been a trip to play games I hadn't touched in eight years. My life was just a tad different back then. Right now I'm tackling "Perfect Dark." Remember that one? Sure you do. I gotta tell you, it's still hard.
Finally, I will continue to play The Mookie, but I may not join many other games right now. I took a break from The Mookie for the BBT and also dropped Mondays and Tuesdays, and to be honest I enjoyed the break. My Netflix queue is now whittled. I've also written more and read a few books. Poker's no longer a major chunk of my life. It's merely a pastime.
More and more, I'm thinking that's where it belongs.