Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Solstice








Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All posts here

I finally figured out how to import my other blogs into this one. So all the old posts are now here and the other 3 blogs have been deleted.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No...It actually IS Christmas time.

I like the holidays as much as anybody else, but it seems that every year that passes, the anticipation has grown less and less and eventually has gone away all together. I went out for a jog over the weekend, and it was sunny and warm...about 75 degrees. As I was running past the Mission Hills Nursery. I saw a truck parked out front unloading what looked like Christmas Trees. "That's odd," I thought to myself. Maybe they are planting them or something...to grow until Christmas time? It was at least another 15-20 seconds before I realized, "No, it actually IS Christmas time you idiot."

Suffice to say, with thoughts like this, I haven't done much in the way of shopping for gifts. I had better get that going.

The holiday parties have begun, and pretty much every day is booked from now until Jan. This weekend was the annual party at the Cox's. I missed it last year. I got so excited I almost...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cont'd

Oh, I forgot...

...before we went back to the hotel we drove over to the other side of town to go to Pet Kingdom USA to look for hedgehogs. Hedgies make great pets but like just about every "exotic" animal, are illegal in California. We might have bought one on this day but they only had an Albino, and we were more interested in a regular colored one.



Fast forward to where I left off. While still in the card game, I called over to the Comedy Stop at the Trop to make see if they had a show that night. Yep. So, I cashed out and then Melina and I went over to the Spa for a couple of hours before getting dressed and heading over to the show.

The comics were Jimmie Walker (yes that Jimmie Walker), Natasha Leggero and the headliner was Ron Shock. Shock is hilarious. He is also a Vegas local and a poker player. I knew I recognized him from somewhere, and when my brother mentioned that he had played with him at Mandalay Bay numerous times it rang a bell.

show was a lot of fun, and since it was still early, we decided to go see some more sights. This brought us over to the Wynn to rub elbows with the high rollers and have a look at a Ferrari or two. While there we sat down in a $10/$20 Hold Em game that quickly broke. We played 2 hands at 4/8 before deciding it was pointless, and we left.

We got back to our hotel after midnight, and after some more gambling and drinking we caught a very late dinner at the cafe where Melina got a Reuben and I got some weird Chow Mien dish that would've been fine except it seemed like they "baked" it or something because the edge of the noodles were crispy and everything was really effing hot. Completely satisfied, we retired.

We checked out the next day and then drove over to the Venetian to see a bit of the hotel and have lunch at Noodle Asia. You know a Chinese place is good when everyone sitting, and waiting in line, is Chinese. Our wait took longer than our meal, but it was worth it.

After lunch we hit the road as I preferred to drive home in the daylight. Yeah, that was probably a mistake. The traffic was pretty much wall to wall from well before the state line until we got to Barstow. Yikes. At one point I actually considered turning around and going back to wait until the middle of the night. But we gutted it out and made it home in about 6 hours.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanks

I already wrote about the poker tournament that was held last month and the expected attendance vs. the actual number that showed up to play. In the days leading up to that tournament Melina and I were talking and the subject came up about what I expected the turn-out to be like. It went something like this.

"So, how many people are coming for your tournament?"
"So far 48 people have RSVP'd," I replied.
"That's a lot. How much money will that be for first place?" she followed up.
"Well it really depends on how many re-buys there are, but a low estimate would be a prize-pool over $8,000. That would mean a first prize of over $3000...probably more like $3500," I explained.
"Wow! If you win it can we go to Vegas?" she ventured.
"Absolutely!" I replied without missing a beat.

Obviously we ended up with 30 players instead of 50, and a prize pool around $5,000. When we made a deal 2 handed I guaranteed myself $1500 (a far cry from the $3500 we were hoping for first place) but a win is still a win. My good luck charm Melina remarked, "So are we going to Vegas?" About halfway through my rationalization about the lower than expected prize-pool I stopped myself short and said "...Yes. We're going to Vegas."

The smile and excitement from her was worth every penny.

We decided to drive up there for a few reasons, cost obviously being one of them. Also, it would be more convenient to have a car so we could see some sights around town without having to cab it everywhere. We thought that driving up on Thanksgiving night would be the best bet, as we anticipated little traffic on the road. So that's what we did. I had a very nice dinner with my family and some friends, and then we hit the road at about 6:00 pm. With only 2 short rest stops we arrived at the Palms Casino at 10:15 pm.


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So I might have exceeded the speed limit at some point. It's hard not to in the middle of the desert.

One of the few benefits of driving is the pretty spectacular view you get when you drop out of the mountains into the Las Vegas Valley, especially at night. Unfortunately the only view we had turning that corner on Interstate 15 was the ground and dense fog two feet in front of us. We were totally socked in and could not even see the lights of the strip until we were well into town. Of the hundreds of trips I've taken to Las Vegas I had never seen it foggy. It gave it a very different feeling. The water particles in the air above the MGM glowed green, and even the 40 Billion Candlepower beam atop the Luxor Hotel, only lit up the sky immediately above it. It reminded me of the exteriors from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. It was very dark and sinister in the fog.



Anyhow, we got into the hotel, cleaned up and got straight to celebrating all the freedoms we have as incredibly fortunate people. Happy Thanksgiving!

The next morning the clouds had cleared and i took Melina on a short tour of the city. I drove north on Interstate 15 and went through Downtown Las Vegas, explaining some of the history and how at one time Fremont Street was the center of town. We continued south on Las Vegas Blvd. and stopped to take the trip up the 109 stories to the top of the Stratosphere Tower, where we took some pictures. After that it was brunch at the Peppermill. I guess Melina had enough to eat, drink, and see for one morning, as she became very sleepy. We went back to the hotel were she took a nap and I went off to play some poker.









The poker room at the Palms has always had some pretty decent action even for the realtively small size of the games. I waited for 5 minutes or so before they started a $2-5 blinds No-Limit Hold-Em game. It's not my favorite game in a city with so many choices, but I was only going to play for a few hours and wanted to stay in the hotel, and I was not going to subject myself to the dread of 4-8 limit. I've played in this particular game about 10 times, and had moderate success. More than 5 of the times I've played in it, the game has featured Las Vegas Pro Joe Awada. I have had consistent success vs. Joe in my limited hands with him, but that is likely because I have never played against him for a long stretch at a time. He is a very good player that I have been lucky against is all. This day was no different. The bulk of my winnings in this session came in a hand where I checked my option in the Big Blind holding the Kc2c. 6 other people had limped into the pot to see a flop of 8cKd5c. I checked and player in middle position bet $20. It was my intention to check raise, but before the action got to me Joe raised to $60 from the button. I felt like he had a very strong hand or draw, possibly to the nuts, and admittedly played it a little bit scared, just calling the $60. The original bettor called as well. The turn was a benign 2s, and I checked again. The other player checked and Joe quickly bet $95. I called him with my top pair and flush draw and the other player folded. The river was the Jc and I bet $175. Joe called me almost instantly, and I rolled over the second nut flush. He mucked.

"Was my King any good?" I asked.
"No," was his reply.

I believed him.

More later.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Escolar, Migraines and True Blood.

Melina and I went over to Stadium Golf on Friday night and swung the bat at some softballs in the batting cages. We tried both the fast pitch and slow pitch cages. The fast pitch wasn't aimed properly and we had to stand almost 6 feet in front of the plate to get a good cut at it. Melina went first and had a bunch of good hits. She said her whole body is sore though. I went next, and after 40 or so pitches without batting gloves, my left hand was getting pretty raw. I still had more pitches to go so I flipped over to the other side of the batter's box and took a few hacks at it left handed. Whack! Pitch after pitch I drove them solidly into what would be the right center-field gap. Now, its been years since I played baseball or softball, and even during that time I never once attempted to hit the ball left handed. As it turns out, I probably should have. My stride and form was much better from that side of the plate. Who knew?

Later we stooped by the liquor store and got a cheap bottle of pinot Grigio. I woke up with a head crushing pain the next morning. I figured I'd get some water and food in me and all would be better. Yeah...No. I must gone through 1000 mg of Ibuprofen and still wasn't able to get much relief. This continued on Sunday as well, forcing me to miss JBC. It wasn't until I bought some excedrin Migraine medicine later that I finally killed the pain.

Melina and I went over to Blue Water for dinner over the weekend. If you live in the area and you've never been, I highly reccomend it. All they do is fish. This night they had a sign that advertised they had a special on Escolar. I happened to already know a few things about this particular fish after reading about it in another blog that I follow.

..."oily orange diarrhea, discharge, or leakage from the rectum that may smell of mineral oil. The discharge can stain clothing and occur without warning 30 minutes to 36 hours after consuming the fish. The oil may pool in the rectum and cause frequent urges for bowel movements due to its lubricant qualities and may be accidentally discharged by the passing of gas."

Fuggetahboutit. Nothing tastes that good.

We went about ordering and consuming our meals. While we were finishing up, a gay couple came in to shop for some fish to bring home. "Hmmmmm. What is this Escolar?," he asked. The man behind the counter described the texture and taste of the fish, but left out the gastrointestinal side effects and suggested serving size. I suppose that would not be the best selling point. I was half tempted to let these poor gents know what they were in for, but I have a feeling the management wouldn't appreciate me grossing out the customers like that. So, we just let them go. Have a nice dinner boys.

The season Finale of HBO's True Bloodwas on Sunday. We've been hooked since the first episode. The finale was not dissapointing and it'll be a long winter until we get new episodes again in June.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Notes on a Weekend Indoors

An expected field of 48 players was slashed to 30 in the span of two days, for the PCC Fall Classic, a poker tournament at my home that I organize and play in. The discrepancy is attributable to the general chicanery that surrounds invitations and RSVP's. Last minute dropouts are commonplace unfortunately. One could speculate on the countless psychological reasons that some people initially respond in the affirmative when they, in fact, have zero real expectation of attending. I suppose its mostly done with the best intentions. The invitee assumes that the event planner might be personally or emotionally troubled by a negative response so they reply "yes" initially, sometimes going so far as to add a comment indicating just how excited they are to attend. A last minute "something popped up" translates to "I'd rather be somewhere else doing something else" is then offered 24 hrs prior to the actual engagement, as if to say, "I really wanted to come, but darn it, I had this emergency, and well... you know how it is." Thereby the invitee isn't "snubbing" so much as just being really popular and unable to attend multiple events. It should be noted that this excuse is often real... and explains why they make such great disguises for a lack of courage to actually tell someone you're not interested. Its such a laborious routine when a flat "No" is appreciated so much more. We had 10 of those. Having said all that, the "last minute dropout" is a transgression that I find 1000 times more acceptable than its ugly cousin..."the no-show", which translates to "I woke up and felt like doing nothing all day... including telling you that I'm not coming." We had 8 of those.

Utilizing a re-buy format that allows you to get more imaginary money in exchange for real money, we managed to achieve a respectably sized prize-pool to fight for. After 8.5 hours, I was eliminated in 2nd place earning $1500. Additional side bets and gratuities on top of that number made it a profitable, if not enjoyable way to spend a Saturday indoors.

Sunday brought wind and cold temperatures, nasty enough to cancel Jena Boot Camp...a weekly hour-long routine of drill-type exercises led by its namesake. Probably good for at least 800 burned calories, its absence is noticeable...especially if you decide to stay immobile and eat cheesecake all day.

Last night we renamed our dog Peter Eastgate...mostly because its a cool name to call a dog, and because he kind of looks like a little danish kid with a mouth full of marbles.

Friday, November 7, 2008

One blog to unite them all

Yeah, I figured having 1 blog is better than starting a new one every month. So from now on everything will be posted over at The new main blog.

Too many blogs - interesting morning.

I haven't decided whether to to delete the old blogs or just move them over here, but's its much neater to just have one place for everything. So, here it is. This will be the place for the blogging and the subject matter will be...everything.

I had a morning on Wednesday that reads like a sit-com script. I woke up a bit later than usual, because I was playing golf with the rest of the Engineering team for a "team builder" rather than going into the office that day. However, I did have to run an errand first.

The water bill now comes every two months, and I had not paid the most recent bill, mistakenly thinking that it wasn't be due for another month. Well, I got the RED ALERT notice from the city explaining that my water would be shut off on Friday if I did not come down to the office and pay the bill in person... alas it was too late to mail it. Unfortunately i had left the notice with the payment information at my office. This would prove to be a forgetful oversight that would set a whole chain of absent-minded numbness into motion.

Rather than boot up my computer to find the information online, I just called 411 to get the number of the water department. Just as the operator went to connect me, I was disconnected. I called back. Same thing...weird. On the third call I was finally connected...to the California Water Conservation Committee. Um, ok, slightly annoying. I finally got the right number. If you want to hear the most over annunciated, slow spoken, strangely accented automated recording menu EVER please call (619)515-3500. You will hear a woman that sounds like she is talking to a 3 year-old retarded refugee.
"THANK...YOU...FOR..CALLING...THEE...SAN...DEE...AYGO...WAH...TER...DE...PART...MENT"

Resisting the temptation to gouge out my eardrums with a barbeque fork, I navigated my way through the menu and spoke to a person who gave me the downtown address where I can go pay my bill. It turns out to be in a high rise and street parking wasn't readily available nearby. I opted to just pay to park in the garage. I get up to the office, and wait in a longer than expected line for about 15 minutes, only to be told at the window that this office only accepts checks...no cash...no debit...just checks. Sigh. The clerk tells that the city Treasurer's office will accept cash and credit.

So, I pay the $5 minimum parking fee, and head down to the city Treasurer's office...just a few blocks away. Apparently i was a bit distracted because the next thing I know, I have run a red light into the middle of an intersection on a one way street. An elderly woman in a slow moving Chevy Cavalier is able to hit the breaks and bring her car to a halt just inches from from T-boning me. But then her foot slips off the brakes and she does, in fact, t-bone me. CLUNK. I am now in the middle of the intersection and the other cars start honking while I try to pantomime to her to back her car up. She doesn't get it and just stares at me blankly. I roll down my window and tell her its better for her to back up so they we can avoid damaging our collided vehicles any further. She doesn't get it and just stares at me blankly. More horns...mad faces...increasing tension. Fuck it, I go ahead and back up to the ear-piercing sound of her license plate scraping through my passenger side door. Yay, a slight dent and touch up just turned into a panel replacement. Woot. We pull over and she looks at the front of her car, which is dented and torn to shit. She says there is no damage and that she is fine with just driving away. "Was this already like this?" I asked. She nodded. Cool.

I make it over to the Treasurer's office and parking is even more of a scarcity over here. I see a yellow zone and grab it, knowing that I will only be right inside on the first floor for a few minutes. I run up to the door to find a note on the door, "Be back in 10 minutes". I wait 5 or 6 minutes with a few other people before just deciding to scrap the whole idea and head to the golf course. After all, I can come back this afternoon. Gone not more than 7 minutes, I return to my car to find a parking ticket tucked neatly under my windshield wiper blade. Radical, best morning ever.

Whatever, lets go play golf and forget about this. Headed down first ave toward the 5, my car reminds me that I have a few drops of gasoline left.I stop at the Exxon near the 5 ramp. I start pumping and then head inside for a Clif bar and Energy drink... my version of breakfast. I return to my car, hop in and drive away.

Ca-Clunk. BANG.

Luckily gas hoses have a quick release coupling that snaps the hose off under enough pressure and closes a valve. This helps prevent idiots like me from incinerating the whole place. I drive back to the pump...dragging the hose, undetected by the attendant, and reattach the coupling. The guy at the other pump is just staring, mouth agape. I finish filling up, and laugh at the hysterical look on the witnesses face, and then laugh even louder as I notice I've added yet another dent to my car.

If this is what I am like now, I cringe to think about me at 65.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Monday, November 3, 2008

before we forget...



Wrap up

I will post a few pictures and a video from the last few moments of Sober October, but I can go ahead and give you the recap.

At midnight on November 1, Melina and I, along with Rees and Vlad, chugged a beer. I was asked, "Was it everything you thought it would be?" I thought about half a second and responded enthusiastically that it was far more enjoyable than I imagined it would be. It was. I felt the effects of the alcohol almost immediately. Mark arrived soon afterward wielding a funnel and a helmet. He led me outside to the courtyard where I took a gravity bong (or two) to ensure that my first night off the wagon would be a doozy. I suppose I had it coming after telling everyone in the place how much I couldn't wait to have a drink after a whole month of self-imposed sobriety.

Right as I was getting cranked up, the party was cranking down. We said our goodbyes and walked the 2 blocks home and went to bed.

At about 2:30 AM the street was filled with the sounds of a man shouting "KILL ME! YOU LEFT ME! JUST KILL ME!" over and over. This went on long enough to rouse me from bed and look out the window to see my two neighbor's having what would later be determined to be a violent lover's quarrel, fueled by...you guessed it...copious amounts of alcohol. How fitting. The two men wrestled and pushed each other around the front yard of their home, while one continued to scream and wake the entire neighborhood. The things he was shouting and the time warranted a call to the police. I sat on hold with 911 for a few minutes (likely because everyone on my street was calling in). Melina and I walked outside in time to see one man push the other down a flight of about 15 concrete steps leading from the curb up to the house. He fell into a crumpled pile on the sidewalk while I told the dispatcher they need to get someone out here quick before someone gets killed. Oblivious to the growing numbers of neighbors collecting on the street, heads pressed to their mobile phones, the attacker walked down the stairs, put his lover in a headlock, and began to pummel his face repeatedly. Somehow the guy who had fallen down a flight of stairs and taken three right hooks to the nose was still conscious. I decided it was time to try my best to break this up before someone got killed. A neighbor walked over with me and as we got closer we saw that they were bloodied and still grappling in a sort of half-hugging, half wrestling way that is hard to describe.

"You guys need to cut this out," my neighbor said. The attacker looked up, a look of surprise on his face quickly replaced by a furrowed scowl, to respond ever so lucidly and ever so gayly, "Umm excusssse me, but we not making any noise anymore so you need to go back into your house and stop invading our privacy..." I finally spoke up. "You've woken the entire neighborhood, thrown a man down a staircase and you're now beating him on a public sidewalk." There was a look of recognition on his face, but no response. I didn't want to inform him that the cops were en route (giving him a chance to bolt), but I did want to stop him from killing the other man. Just then another neighbor strolls over in her blue nightgown and lets the cat out of the bag that she called the cops. As expected, attacker gets up quickly and disappears up the stairs, leaving his battered domestic partner bleeding on the street.

After what seems like forever, the cops finally show en masse, along with an ambulance and a fire engine. I give my statement and my information and head back to bed. I doubt that I will be asked to testify in any hearing, as I think its likely the battered man will fail to press any charges against the other.

Don't forget to vote NO on 8, as "roommate beating" and "wife-beating" are altogether different crimes, with the latter carrying a much stiffer penalty.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Almost There

I'm not sure what I am looking forward to more...having a drink or opening up 3 poker tournaments at once and degenerating on a Sunday afternoon. Probably the latter. Time will tell, but I have a feeling I won't drink as often anymore. And I suppose that is really the point of all these little experiments...to take things away from it. Great things about not drinking:

1) Can drive
2) No hangover
3) Save money
4) Less beer - less belly fat
5) Increased energy
6) No drunken regret
7) Productive Weekends (not sleeping till 1)
8) Increased mental clarity
9) If you're not at a bar or party getting drunk and behaving like a moron, there is almost zero chance that someone will take a picture of you and post it on myspace so that the entire world can see you behaving like a moron...unless they are really good at photoshop...and they just don't like you.
10) Barack Obama Motherfuckaaaa!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sober at a bar

I know there are probably plenty of people that do it, but despite trying a few times I just can't seem to not feel a bit antsy and uncomfortable hanging out at a bar when I am not drinking. Such was the case this weekend as there was birthday party to attend on Friday at a restarurant/bar that we attended for maybe 1 hour at the most. Once the bass got pumping and the dancing got started, we headed for the door. The next night there was a company costume party scheduled that we did not even attend...anticipating the same scenario. We were a little bit worn out anyway having spent the entire day moving furniture and personal effects from Coronado to Golden Hill...an event that already ran long and had us missing a movie night at a friends house.

Later that evening, my brother returned home noticeably intoxicated, as indicated by his performing a choke-hold on me, kissing my girlfirend on the lips, and then building a fort out of the living room furniture. I might have been a bit more irritated than I would have been if I was drunk. Later as I attempted to sleep I was kept awake by high volume conversations emanating from the living room. The three paticipants in that conversation were withing 3 feet of each other, yet nearly screaming. I guess alcohol makes you deaf too.

Next weekend will be entirely different. The conculsion of Sober October will be celebrated on Friday October 31st, at a Halloween Party, with a 10 second countdown to November 1st, at which point I will consume alcohol. Saturday is yet another birthday party in which I will again consume alcohol. Sunday I plan to play online poker ALL DAY.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OMG, content.

The sobriety is going along with much more relative ease than anticipated. Sure I think about having a beer sometimes, but it doesn't nag at me or drive me nuts. Poker hiatus has been more difficult. My self-exclusion from online has found me visiting the card rooms every now again, something I had almost completely stopped doing because of the atrocious rake structure.

I completely quit the Protein Power diet. This is not to say that it was too difficult or that it was not working. It was actually working too well. The initial stages of the diet put your body into a state of ketosis wherein it is not unusual to lose muscle mass as your body breaks down tissues for nourishment. At the time I started the diet I weighed 163 lbs. I am 6 ft tall, so that already is a tad bit light. I had been sick almost perpetually for 3 months leading up to the start of this experiment, which had led to some malnutrition and lack of exercise. After two weeks on the diet I was down to 154, and frankly was looking and feeling a bit gaunt. I decided to halt the diet and return to a regular balance of moderate carbohydrates and fat, but just increase the exercise considerably. I feel better already, and have begun to rebuild muscle that I'd lost while being ill and on the diet. Weight this afternoon was 163.5. Again, this is not to say the diet was bad... it just wasn't good timing for me.

I'd like to say that the time I would normally spend playing poker has been replaced by something more "worthwhile" and enlightening to you my loyal readers... but to be perfectly honest I simply replaced one form of entertainment with another. I've been busy watching the Red Sox (doh!), new episodes of the new HBO series "True Blood", and reading books. Really. That's it. I know it might be more compelling to read stories of night sweats, convulsions, withdrawals and feelings of desperation...but I've only had one or two evenings where I've been ansty and pacing around the kitchen longing for something "visceral".

"It's my life, it's boring" - Ron Burgandy

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Officially freaking out


The blog has had no pictures. That would be because my camera is MIA. I know where it is, but haven't had the opportunity to travel halfway across the county to get it. I do however have a few photos from the "80's" party that we attended this weekend. I was kinda digging the cheeseball mustache, but ended up shaving it anyway. I only have a few photos.

Melina and I stayed at the party for a short time. I had two tall club sodas, we mingled a bit, but were still home long before midnight.

It started over the weekend but has really kind of hit me today, and i am feeling the first of what might be referred to as "withdrawals". I feel like I've taken on a bit too much what with the restrictive diet, the sobriety, and poker hiatus all at once. I suppose I will be almost halfway there in a day, but man... I've been fantasizing all day about ordering a pizza, tearing into a six-pack of domestic beer, and spazzing around in cyberspace.

Instead I turn to activities that just tire me out. Like the "Rusterthon." This is a 10K round trip with a stop in the middle at the Balboa Park "Dog Park". It gets its name from its main beneficiary, Rusty the dog. We run him all the way to the leash-free area and then let him go. Then we run back (or walk). Its a great way to exhaust him on the weekends so that he will calm down a bit while we are at home.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Actual cravings

Last night was a tough one. Having already gone to the gym, eaten, and caught up on some programs on my DVR, I was left alone in my living room with not much of desire to anything but drink and/or play online poker. I suppose I could've read a book or played guitar but my mind was way too spastic to be able to accompish any of those things effectively. I was defnitely uncomfortable. I made due with what I could and managed to lick the poker bug by logging on and just watching the sickest of the sickos play at $2000/$4000 stakes online. That got old fast, so I went for a run to tire myself out, and hit the sack early.

Yes, this is the most boring blog....EVER.

This weekend will be tough. Two social engagments that will both have others drinking around us. Friday won't be so bad as far as drinking atmospheres go, but Saturday will be a themed birthday party at a nightclub downtown. I suppose I;ll just drink more energy drinks... having already formed a brand new addiction.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Weekend 1 in the books

Ok, so my friend was right. Not drinking is not that hard...(for me at least). I guess the trick is just to take yourself out of situations where drinking is the main purpose of the occasion. So obviously I don't go to bars or sporting events. I do have a party to attend this coming weekend, but I don;t think it will be too difficult. See they invented this great stuff called Monster Energy Drink. Its every bit a psychoactive drug as alcohol IMO. One of these things and I'm definitely in an altered state. I like it more than red bull as it doesn't seem to leave me as shaky.

I'm drinking the Low-Carb version because of course I decided to give up pretty much everything this month. Its like Atheist Lent or something. The diet is going fine. I went costco and loaded up on the right food. Its just a little difficult for lunch since I have to prepare everything. No big deal. WE have a grill at work and I use it a lot.

Not playing online poker is well...boring.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hankerings

Friday is "Bagel Day" at Qualcomm. Its been a tradition in the company since the 80s when founder Irwin Jacobs used to stop at the bakery that was next to the original offices and bring bagels to his team of 5 or so employees. Now Qualcomm delivers 1000's to all the different offices every Friday. I generally skip breakfast on Friday's in anticipation of a Bagel. Today was no exception. I actually toasted it and everything before I realized, "Oh yeah... I don't eat bagels" DOH! I've been starving all morning.

Here comes the first sober weekend. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wow, that was harder than I thought it would be...

When telling him about my plan for a month of sobriety, a friend said to me, "Not drinking is EASY. Not playing online poker for a month...that's HARD." I laughed, but I knew he was right. So, I looked it up on the different poker sites that I play on and they do have a policy for self-exclusion. All you have to do is email them and tell them you want to be excluded for (insert time period) and it goes through. You cannot undo it. One site in particular actually has the options right there on the browser along with confirmation and everything.

Day 1

Apologies for not getting any more content up on the days leading up to October 1. I feel that photos make the stories more interesting, and I have none as my camera is MIA. I will take steps to fix that.

Last night at 11:59 I threw back a snort a 15-year Glenfiddich and savored the aftertaste. It'll be the last sensation of its type until midnight Nov 1. I will get an easy start to the sobriety month as I am sick right now and wouldn't be having a drink anyways.

Along with not drinking, I will be starting a different diet. It's very similar to the "Atkins" diet in that it focuses on no-carb and high protein. Since beer is not allowed, I figured this would be a great time to start. I hope to get over this cold so I can begin training again. I've been sick so much lately that I've not really had the energy for strength training. My muscles have atrophied and I am now under 160 lbs. Booo.

There are a few dates this month that would normally be accompanied with alcohol. There is a birthday party downtown where its certain that EVERYONE will be drinking except for Melina and I. Oh yes... my wonderful girlfriend decided that she would not let me suffer alone and is also climbing on the wagon this month. It will be a year since we met this October, but we will be toasting with water not wine. Then of course is Halloween night, which luckily for us, is on a Friday. All we have to do is hold out until midnight...and then...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Come Oct. 1...

Here's the latest in my monthly lifestyle experiments. Sober October will begin on 10/1/08. It's pretty simple. I will not drink alcohol for a month. I can still do the chicken dance, eat bratwurst, and enter a Stein holding contest...just no delicious German lagers.

"Well that's boring," you might say. And perhaps it will be. I really have no way of knowing, since I don't think I've gone 30 days without a drink...well...since I started drinking. That was likely somewhere in my mid-teens.

I'm blogging this one early, as the days leading up to the month long abstinence period will likely be intentionally filled with debauchery in a "binge and purge" effort before the long test.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 30, 2008

FAIL

Again, pure exhaustion will keep this post short.

Oppressive heat will force me to run the 10k indoors. I am going down to the gym here at the Rio to hop on the treadmill. I will just set it at 6.2 mph. I'll let you know how the knee holds up...but it feels pretty good.

$10,000 playing poker with only a $500 investment? FAILED. I am loser on the trip and have already invested more than $500. Sigh. I had been riding an up and down roller coaster throughout the trip, but yesterday was particularly cruel to me. I will waste no time or energy in detailing the specific hands. It's just variance. When you consistently fall victim to the negative side of variance...that presents a problem, because see...you need money to play poker, and if you keep losing...well...you won't have much money for too long. I will try again next year.

I have the rest of the day to think about what I would like to accomplish in July.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reeeeally quick.

In vegas. Been here since thursday night. I am down...but barely...on the trip. What a roller coaster. I will detail it more when I get back. I am just too tired right now.Another chance in a tournament tonight.

Woo. Gonna end up running the 10k here. Tomorrow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

HOKAY....SO

Here's the deal. I have not run the 10K yet. I will have to do it while I am in Vegas. Yes, it will be very hot. I leave tonight at 7:15

Monday, June 23, 2008

Redneck Hubris

I pwned that piece of clay.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pics



Frustration

After having rested the knee for over a week, I took it out for a test drive yesterday at lunchtime. I probably got about 1.5 miles at a very gentle and slow pace before I felt the knee start to flare up. Its a sort of radiating "heat" on the outside part of the knee...the side. I stopped before it really started to hurt. I walked back to the gym and got on the Precor for 15 minutes, but the irritation had already begun as a result of the jogging and I had to stop after 15 minutes. Sigh. I'm no doctor and I am reticent to self-diagnose, but after talking to a lot of people, this really sounds like an MCL strain. I'm told that if I had actually torn the ligament, I would know it, and the pain would be much more intense. In any event, I am still looking for a sports medicine guy if any of you runners or injury-prone readers know of somebody good.

Also, if anyone has a brace that I can use to knock out this 10k, I would appreciate that as well. If running it proves to be more damaging than positive, I will simply hope on the Precor and get it done that way. I know its not the same (the pain and impact involved in running was a big part of the challenge) but I'm not going to just give up and do nothing.

More bad news on the poker side of this little challenge. I lost another $220 since I last updated the total. It was at my home game on Wednesday. I was up and down all session and sailed off my stack a few times by making big hero calls truly based on my read of the situation. It proved to be correct (the read) on two occasions, unfortunately my hand was not strong enough to beat my opponent's bluff. In these situations if you are sure of yourself and want to continue, it's obviously better to raise. Unfortunately both times I was in a position where I didn't really have enough raising chips to push my opponent off just in case they had a tiny piece of the hand and felt committed to a thin call. So, what does that all equal? JUST FOLD DUMMY! You don't have to try to pick off every weak tell you pick up on! It's called "picking your spots" and its something I continually fail to do at the home game. There is a very interesting dynamic in that everyone is playing metagame...since we square off against the same opponents week in and week out.

Despite all that, I managed to get my stack back to around par but then lost with JJ vs. AQ AIPF. That makes me about 3-9435 in coinflip confrontations. And then later I flopped a set and got snapped off by a J high flush draw that had been betting the whole way and got there. Sigh.

Well, the last stand will be at the WSOP next weekend. Maybe I will cash right before the stroke of midnight on the 30th. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

MPH

Imagine one afternoon you are driving home from work, and just as you approach your house, a car smashes into you. At first glance it really appears there was nothing you could do about it. You were on a narrow street that you had to traverse to get to your destination, and even though you might have seen the car coming, there was absolutely no way to avoid it. You’re not hurt badly, just a few cuts and scrapes, but your car is all smashed up. It costs you money to get it fixed.

So, you go and get it fixed, but one week later another car smashes into you. Again, you are not badly hurt and the only real damage is monetary, but you have insurance so it’s not going to break you.

Amazingly, the very next week it happens again. You become understandably annoyed. Even with the insurance, this is starting to become expensive and troublesome. It is also unpleasant, and despite your best attempts, you begin to feel unfairly targeted by misfortune. So, despite logic…you begin to drive a different route. It takes longer and is not the best way to get home. It reduces your efficiency, but because of this string of incidents, it feels like it may be prudent to change something to try to break the cycle.

A week or two passes with and things seem to have returned to normal. But then one day you’re cruising along, it’s a beautiful day…BAM! ANOTHER CAR SMASHES INTO YOU! You can hardly believe it, but what can you do? You got get it fixed. You decide that there is no reason to be less efficient by driving a different route if you are just going to get crashed into anyways. You lament your frustration to your friends. They too have been in crashes, and offer that it is merely coincidence…but nonetheless they refuse to let you ride in their car for fear that they will get smashed into merely because of your presence.

You consider stopping driving altogether. But when you analyze the situation you can find no real reason why you should get involved in more of these accidents than anyone else. Nevertheless, you and others notice the unusually high frequency of occurrence and are perplexed by it. You become frustrated and feel put upon. As you are driving along one morning on your way to work, now completely paranoid and frazzled, concentrating all your efforts on being defensive, you watch as another car driven by a coworker goes zooming by you with the radio blasting swerving across 5 lanes of traffic at 110 mph. At one point he actually goes into a spin but somehow recovers it and gets to work 10 minutes before you. Upon arriving at work, you learn that he just got the raise and promotion hat you had been trying for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apologies for not posting

Well, its been awhile since I posted. I had been waiting for the professional pictures from the Mud Run, but the Pendleton site hasn't posted the photos from our day yet. I have some here that Scott took, and I think there a bunch from after the race that were on somebody's digital camera.

The Run was a lot of fun. I know...waking up at 6 am, so you can drive to Oceanside, and then sit in single lane traffic for over a hour after getting on base, so you can park and then take a bus to the race area...all so you can run 6.1 miles in the mud might not sound like fun...but somehow it was a blast. We will definitely be going back next year.

There was a group of us running together and because of the slower than normal pace that I took, I wasn't too affected by the side cramp. My knee however, is a completely different story. I'm not sure when or where the original injury took place (I seem to vaguely remember twisting it during a snowboarding trip either last year or further in the past) but its certainly something that has bothered me from time to time for awhile now...but nothing like this. I literally limped through the last mile or so, sometimes skipping along to try to keep as much weight off it as possible. After getting home I iced it down for hours. The pain persisted for a few days.

Suffice to say, I have not run on its since. Even light exertion makes it flare up, as I experienced at JBC on Sunday. I did get on the Precor elliptical trainer at the gym yesterday and put in a good 30 minutes with no pain at all...so that's good. I plan to get my stamina back up that way while taking all the stress off the knee. Obviously, I should get it looked at, but I need suggestions as to who to see. A Sports medicine doctor? Honestly, Ive never been to anyone for anything like this, so I don't know where to start. Input is welcome and greatly appreciated.

Will this stop me from this month's goal? No way. Unless someone tells me that I am running the risk of serious permanent damage, I will gut it out and get it done. I will just get a brace or band or whatever I need to hold everything in place.

On the poker front...well things were going along smoothly and I hit a losing streak yesterday and the day before. I had been very swingy, playing a lot of Omaha 8/b online. People play WAYYYY different online and its very spastic. There is almost no reason to ever limp/raise in Omaha preflop unless you are just a gambler and want to pump the pot. The fact is there is almost no way to really get a good assessment of where your hand is until after you see a flop. Even AAK2 double suited can get counterfeited in an instant. Oh well, it was a juicy game both days and I believe I was +EV. An unfortunate thing happened yesterday in the game where I was obviously a victim of collusion. A player actually typed into the chat box telling another player that he had a "low", after the other player hesitated to call a bet on the river. Sure enough the opponent made a super thin call with only two small pairs and took the high portion of the pot, while Mr. "Low" took the bottom end. I reported it Full Tilt as it was an obvious case of collusion where the cheater accidentally typed the information he was providing to his buddy into the poker window instead of his instant messenger. I lost $400 in that game. Who knows how many times I got squeezed out...lame. I'll be staying away.

I played some live cash last night as well. It was an 8/16 holdem game and I was running poorly. Many missed draws in a wide open game half full of fish, and then one guy that flopped set after set and hit every two pair imaginable to stack up more than half the chips in play (he eventually left with 7 racks). I eventually cut my losses after hours of grinding down and went and sat in a NLHE game. I promtly tripled up there and then added a little more to get me positive for the session. But then I flopped top pair a few times against short stacks and had to double them up. This is where game selection becomes soooo important. Two action players left the game to play at a higher stakes table and the action dried up...along with the money at the table. This is not a good scenario as you too often will have to open up your starting requirements and then get trapped/priced in when a short stack moves on you. I even texted to my buddy that the game had dried up, but yet, I continued to play in it. MISTAKE. I stopped the bleeding and got up a $175 loser for the session. At first glance it looks not so bad seeing as how I was in for over $400 at my low point. But a second examination shows that i was actually positive $150 and allowed myself to sit in a shitty game with lots of "gotcha" problems that I know enough to avoid. That's bad. There is always another poker game another day. Dont stay in a bad one just becaause its late and you're looking to make a score before bed. Bad, bad, bad.

So here is the long and short of it. I was up $2375 for the month prior to this losing streak. This knocks me down to $1655. I owed myself money (quick explanation when your poker bankroll gets to $0 you have to replenish with your own cash) and I had to pay myself back. That leaves me quite short...and honestly without enough cushion to play much live action. So...its back to the tournaments. I can still do this! It's just one or two final tables away!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Setback

Well I ran the Camp Pendleton 10K Mud Run on Saturday with Melina, Frankie, Steph, Sean, Scott, and others. It was a really fun time. They had obstacles, walls, mud pits, river crossings, serious hill climbing, etc. I definitely did not go non-stop, I walked a few times to wait for the rest of my group. So, nope, I have not achieved that goal yet. Many pictures were taken, I just haven't gotten them yet. I will edit this post and include them when that happens.

I hurt me knee again. Its one of the ligaments...ACL or MCL or something. I don't know which one. Its been bothering me off and on for over a year, but I really messed it up this time. I really have no idea when the original injury occurred...but it was probably snowboarding. Anyhow, I was laid up all day Saturday and Sunday with ice on it. It feels pretty good today, but suffice to say, its going to make my goal of a non-stop running 10k this month quite difficult if its doesn't heal quickly. I should really get an MRI and see whats the matter, but I've got to find out what kind of portion I would have to pay outside of my insurance coverage.

The poker remains as it was since my last post. I played last night and broke almost dead even. I'll likley play some more tournaments this week. I'll keep you "posted".

Cheers

For June

Let's just start a whole new blog for this month.

Click here to go to 10K June.

Early progress.

Just a quick update. I'm easily running a 5k in about 22 minutes now. That's nothing to brag about, but its an improvment. I had another nice jog around Washington DC yesterday. I am still plauged by the side stitch. The point at which it strikes me varies, but it shows up eventually. I have two friends that are distance runners, and I'll try to utilize their expertise and see if I can do something to stop it or avoid it. Some people say "you just gotta power through it." That does not work for me. When it strikes, its a matter of minutes before it becomes absolutely debilitating. I can hardly walk, much less breathe.

I've been running hot in online poker tournaments lately. I've had 3 final tables in the last week, but I will exclude any results before I set my goal...(conveniently since I lost most of it back in cash games) So, last night I invested $20 in a tournament. There were 653 entrants, and I finished 6th. That was good for $956. The blinds were huge at the final table and I had to go broke with KQ suited after I made a button raise and got put all in by the BB. At first I was very disappointed in myself for going broke with that hand, but after I ran it through a few times, I realized it was almost unavoidable in that situation. It's still very disappointing though as I was average in chips before the hand began...and first place was $4700. Ouch. That would've put me halfway to my goal really early.

Ok, more later.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reflections

Well, I will not make this too long or dramatic. $500 May was a success for the first time since I started doing it a few years back...likely because this is the only year I really took it seriously. I finished with $34 to spare. Next year it will be $466 May. I'm sure I can beat it. I missed out on a public transit subsidy that my company provides...and I definitely splurged towards the end.

So what did I learn? Well, nothing that I and you probably didn't already know.

1) Walking is good for you. The skating and nightly trek up the hill on top of my normal exercise has strengthened my legs and increased my stamina. You also see more when you have the time to look around. And apart from the chances of a random sliding SUV running you down...its probably safer too.

2) Eating out is really really expensive. Just taking my old eating habits into consideration, I saved about $800 on food this month.

3) We (most of us) eat too much. Having to ration out my servings left me hungry at first. But once I got used to eating normal portions, I realized I just don't need much food.

4) Driving is overrated. Am I giving it up completely? Of course not, unless I get another speeding ticket and the court forces the issue. Riding to and from work takes more time...sure...but if you budget it properly you're really not losing it. If anything it affords you the opportunity to more of those things you've "been meaning to get to." I read 4 books, and caught up on lots of sleep. Oh and another thing. No road rage...ever. Sit in the back and kick your feet out. You can't get annoyed by the people on the road if you can't see them.

5) Schedules aren't a bad thing. "Break free. Don't be bound by social conventions." Without discounting those ideas, I can say that having to be at a given corner, at a given time, every day, instills reliability...not to mention a courtesy that seems to be absent far too much 'round here'.

6)Documentation. Writing for all of you, helps me. It allows me to gather up my experiences and reflect upon them in a meaningful way. That's it. I promised I wouldn't get dramatic.

So its a new month and the blog gets a new name. 10k June. It's a duel goal.

1)Run a 10k without stopping. I've gotten close in last few months, but sooner or later the debilitating side cramp gets to me. There simply has got to be a way to get around that. I will have my first opportunity this weekend at the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Likelihood of a non-stop completion: a very optimistic 30%.

2)Win $10k playing poker, without investing any more than $500. I know it sounds grandiose at first, but I know its possible. I've gotten to a point where I need to acheieve a goal like this ( or get close) or seriously think about just hanging it up. I've got far too many leaks that will continue to break me if I don;t make major changes. Hopefully the same sort of dedication that I applied to my last goal will carry over to this one.

It should be noted that the first goal is the more important of the two.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Getting off track...I guess I need another day to reflect

The summary of $500 May will have to wait a bit longer and June is starting off with other interesting stuff that is occupying my mind.
I'm in Washington D.C. I flew in last night and will be here til Friday attending a course put on by the NAB. It runs from 8-30-5 everyday, so I wont get to go to many of the museums. I did take the opportunity to go running around the capital today. I haven't been here since I was a kid, but my internal compass sort of brought me the right direction. Here is the route I took.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31st

I celebrated my last workday in May with a little fiesta at lunch. We keep a grill out back by the HVAC equipment. I grilled up some chicken and had a Coors light. Yay. I grabbed a party hat out of the supply closet and sat in the breakroom eating my Sriracha Chicken and drinking a beer. Surprisingly I was given no funny looks.



I had no occasion to ride the bus today, so this tattered and torn pass has only sentimental value now. I am still debating as to whether or not to buy another pass for June. It seems to only make sense with gas prices rising through the stratosphere, but I've has reservations because I will be out of town for much of this month. I will definitely continue to shop for my meals. I had never really quantified just how much money I was flushing down the toilet by eating out every day.

I spent more money today. In fact, I spent the most money on a single meal on the last day of the month. $20 went towards my tostada salad, calamari, and dos equis at the Jolly Time restaurant in Old Town. That leaves me with $34 and 3 hours to spend it. I just might.

I'll offer my final insights on this little experiment from the road. I am leaving for Washington DC tomorrow at noon. I'll be there all week.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Amtrak Vs. Trolley


Amtrak win. It's more faster.

Well, it's day 30, I have $53 left, and one day to go. I could have driven to work today, as I still have gas in my tank from my purchase yesterday, but you know...I figured it just wouldn't be right to not ride the bus in on my last day. I don't know if more and more people are starting to ride MTS because of the gas prices, but the bus was more packed this morning than I have ever seen it. And it was hot. I suppose the weather was so agreeable for the whole month I never realized that the bus either 1) is not air conditioned 2) has a broken air conditioner.



I brought a couple pieces of chicken and some beers with me today. The plan is to have a little fiesta at lunch and toast the upcoming end of $500 May. But I will offer no eulogy or epilogue yet. We still have another day to go.

Cheers.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 29

Gasoline is $4.25 per gallon at the Shell station by my house. I know this because I bought some gas this morning. It was unavoidable. I have to pull a strange shift at work that is going to leave me here very late. There is no route that runs at 3:30 in the morning that is really practical, so...I drove into work again today. I put $20 worth of gas in the car to make it go. I also spent $7 last night at a Chinese restaurant. So, the splurging continues. $53 and 2 more days.

I is tired.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Home Stretch

To recap the weekend: Melina graduated Cum Laude from SDSU on Saturday afternoon with a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design. I attended with her family. Afterwards, we immediately hopped in my car and drove to Palm Desert/Rancho Mirage to spend the Memorial Day weekend with friends. The house we rented was massive and very accommodating. I took a video, but the file size is too large to post on blogger, so I uploaded it to youtube. It should be finished uploading by the time I'm done writing this.




All I can say is that the weekend was as relaxing and as perfect as I could have hoped for. I really can't wait to go back. There is something about the desert that instantly puts me at ease.


Gas was almost exactly $60 for one tank (thank you..come again), and bills were almost precisely $150, so the numbers posted in the previous entry are mostly accurate. That leaves me with about $80 and 5 days to go. At this point it is hard to think that I would go over. I've noticed that this has brought about some level of complacency, so I've decided to try and finish up without spending another dollar. Its seems plausible, as I have enough food to last me through the week (even after bringing a whole bag of chicken to share in palm springs) and no more planned expenses. I suppose I should plan some kind of mini-celebration for the 31st...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Very quickly











I'll make a real quick blog post here while im on vacation. Its sunny and 80 and Rancho Mirage and im anxious to get back out by the pool. I'll make a more complete post tomorrow or Tuesday. The pictures tell the story. CLick on any of them for a higher resolution.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This one is gonna be close!

As I was standing at the bus top at around 5 pm yesterday, a co-worker stopped and asked me if I wanted a lift. I kindly refused but then he mentioned that he lived near me and that it was no problem. "Besides" he said, "this way I can use the diamond lane." How can I argue with that? On the way home I mentioned that I had to go to Costco later and get a bit more food to last me through the month. He said he had to grab some stuff too, so we just went straight there. They didnt have the same awesome value for a giant bag of frozen chicken as the last time, but they had something similar. I picked up two bags of chicken and a 6-pack of egg-whites for a total of $39.89. I bought the Coca-Cola Zero (as in ZERO flavor) a bit later for $4.97 I will bring one bag to Palm Springs with me for the weekend, along with 3 cartons of egg whites (I will be the breakfast guy). The rest will easily last me through the last week of May. So, since I last posted numbers I have made a few purchases and paid bills. We were at $352.26. Since then I bought a $0.42 stamp, two $0.65 snickers, $15 on a night out, $44.86 on the food items pictured, and today I will spend approximately $150 on cable, internet, electricity, gas, and water. That leaves me at about $140.68. I will spend at least $60 on a tank of gas to get to Palm Springs and back. So its gonna be close! I drove my car today. It kind of smelled like gas for a bit when I first started it. Is that normal after its been sitting for awhile? I took it becasue I have to fill up the tank tonight before leaving for vacation tomorrow. And while I really do enjoy being able to sleep or read on the way to work...this isnt a bad way to go either.