Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two Sides to Every Coin

For about two or so years there has been an active debate, kept active mostly by me, amongst the people I routinely converse. Much of it, and this is unfortunate, has centered around public employees and their role in our lives. As you can imagine, many if not a majority of my friends and acquaintances have worked their entire adult life as a public employee. A near equal amount have never been employed in any government department or agency. This has caused a definite rift. I've been thinking long and hard about the subject for a while now in an attempt to see things from the other side and hopefully temper my own thinking.

At one point I had stated I did not think a married couple, both employed by the public school system, should be better off than their private sector peers. I have changed my thinking on that subject completely.

I now believe that a married couple in these United States should most definitely have the ability and the belief that they can achieve the American dream. An educated and successful couple, whether from the private or public workforce, with proper care and planning of their investments, should be able to have the retirement homes, boat on the river, and the freedom to enjoy all of it whenever they choose.

No one would be willing to argue that the folks who teach our children, fix our roads, save our homes from fire, and protect us from evil are not worth every penny they earn, and probably more. I think that is where the misunderstanding is taking place. Please believe me when I say that I appreciate your hard work and the sacrifices you have made in dedicating your life to your chosen career. I swear to God I do.

I could not imagine walking up the stairs of the World Trade Center knowing you may never come back down. I could not imagine having to deal with parents who are assholes when all you want their kid to do is learn math. I could not imagine seeing and dealing with crime, and the conditions that surround it, on a daily basis. I could not imagine what it must be like to be thousand of miles from home, sitting on a rocky hill while others are trying to kill you, specifically you.

The jobs you have are extremely important to this country. When the economy is steaming along, and everyone is getting richer, no one mentions that any of you are getting too much. Your unions bargained well and earned you guaranteed pensions and top notch benefits. Of course, nothing last forever.

What would happen if public sector jobs were privatized?

It is a bold, and most likely foolhardy thought. Would you do well or be passed by if your profession was run by a private corporation? I'm thinking that the best of you would earn more money than you currently do, and the worst of you would be let go to make way for new employees who want to make more money. So, what would be the result if that were the case?

Keep in mind that when I say "the best of you" I'm referring to the one's who put in the extra hours, take minimal time off, and produce above average results in quantifiable ways. Why are those the best? Because they save the company, or the boss, a lot of money. You get a company, or a school, or a firehouse, or a police precinct, or a road crew to have a lot of "The best of you's" than you end up with one helluva team. Guess who the boss is when you are a public employee. Guess. Yup, it's me, and you. We all pay taxes.

Any boss in the private sector compensates the best and tries to get rid of the worst. There is no other way to guarantee a quality product or service and do it in the most efficient way possible.

This is the basic theory for the founding of America. It is the principle that has made us a great and powerful country. There must be incentives in any business. The greatest incentive is the knowledge that everyone is replaceable, and at any time.

This country, based on the results of the last election, is stating loud and clear that changes are necessary. We must improve efficiency in all areas. If we simply take more money from the wealthy to fund our current operations we will ultimately cause a drag on the economy that may actually cause the failure of some governments and/or their agencies.

The public sector jobs are vital to the country. That is why we all agree to pay for them. I don't think we wish to lose any of them. Raise taxes and continue down the current path, or lower taxes and reform all of it. It's tough choice, how hard do any of us want to work?

Codsey out

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There is a God, and He is Good part 4

Thursday was to be our final full day aboard the cruise ship. It has been a wonderful time, and my relaxation meter was full. We awoke and the first thing M said to me was "Are we moving?"

She was right, we were not. The ship was now anchored off the coast of Coco Cay, which is Norwegian's personal island in the Bahamas. Their was another ship anchored off our port bow, and both ships were now running shuttles back and forth from the island.

M and I ate breakfast and dutifully waited in line to jump ship for the island. The process was quite smooth and the shuttle boats they used seated about 300 people.

It was a beautiful day. The temperature was about 78, and there was barely a cloud in the sky. As the boat was docked on the island, and the front ramp lowered down, we unloaded as though we were storming the beaches at Normandy.

Of course, we knew not where we were going. Our first mistake was renting a locker to hold what few valuables we had brought with us. One caveat to the rented locker that I found to be strange and mildly disappointing... we could only shut and reopen said locker one time before we had to pay another four dollars. I found that odd. So odd, in fact, that we ended up not even using the locker and instead just hung on to our stuff.

We found what looked to be a nice spot on the beach. There are about four or five different little coves where you can sit and enjoy the seashore. The water was clear, and every once in a while one could see a small fish swim past. Of course, M did not appreciate the nature she had to share her water time with, and she vowed to not get off her floaty mat while she was in the ocean.

While sitting next to the ocean waiters would stroll by with various alcoholic drinks, on ice. If you tipped them well enough they would give you extra rum in your drink. The waiters were able to remotely swipe your card, right in front of you, and hand you a receipt, while both of you stood on remote Caribbean island in the middle of the Atlantic. Innovation will never cease to amaze me.

While M and I sat, enjoyed the sun, and watched various people venture into the cove, we noticed one man and his floaty mat gingerly walking into the sea. He was in his mid twenties, had black hair, olive colored skin, and very skinny physique. He also was wearing a white speedo swimsuit.

This swimsuit left nothing to the imagination unless you like to imagine whether he is circumcised or not. When he got into the cove, and was positioned on his mat while laying on his back, it looked like he had a small triangular sail propped up to catch any wind that might move him across the cove. I was embarrassed for him, M thought it was natural.

Yes, she did. She may have been partaking in the maui wowie too, I'm not sure.

While we both chuckled at this man and his glaring, barely covered penis, M decided it was time to get back on her floaty. She floated out into the cove, and then allowed the waves to slowly bring her back towards the shore.

M was going on about something to me. I was seated about 5 feet from the edge of the water, and as she floated towards me she was talking on and on about sails. Actually, I have no idea what she was talking about because I wasn't really listening.

Now, I'm not sure if the decisions and actions that I have taken over my lifetime were meant to bring me to that very moment, at that very time, to experience what was forthcoming. But, if so, then I can now die in peace knowing that my life is complete.

As M floated closer to the shore, and she was about to touch land, I noticed something out of the corner of my left eye. I turned my head and could plainly see a small school of about ten or so fish swimming along the shore line, heading straight for M and her floaty mat.

I began to chuckle out loud because I could see what was about to transpire. M looked at me quizzically because apparently whatever she was talking about was not meant to be funny and I was now laughing out loud.

The school got to where her floaty was beached. The school of fish could go no further. Each fish was about 4 or 5 inches in length, and when they ran into M's floaty they began to turn and roll and jump violently in an attempt to get away from this land loving intruder.

The school of fish appeared to be acting like a school of piranha, in a feeding frenzy, except there was no biting and no blood. M had now realized what was happening and began to try to get up out of her floaty. It was at this very moment that I came to fully believe that there is a God, and he is indeed more good than any of us could ever imagine.

One of those fish jumped up and out of the water, and landed squarely on M's beautiful chest. The fish bounced off from her, and harmlessly fell into the water. M jumped up and, here is how I know God and Jesus are real, she walked on water to get away from those fish!!!!

I have never laughed so hard, and for so long, in my entire life. I'm still laughing about it today. I catch myself laughing out loud when I randomly think back to the fish hitting her chest. Nothing that could happen- not me winning the WSOP, or my kids graduating, or seeing my grandchildren, or watching Tiger plummet to 197 in the world rankings- could ever rank higher than seeing M being tormented by a school of small fish.

My life is now complete. I cannot wait to go on another cruise. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Codsey out.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

There is a God, and He is Good part 3

Our walk back to the ship was uneventful. The rest of that day was quite uneventful. I think we hung out by the pool. The poker room had to be closed while we were at port, in Nassau. I guess they didn't want anyone missing out on a chance to spend money in their fine town by spending time gambling. It makes sense, I suppose. Maybe the cruise ships shouldn't stop here at all. I don't much care for Nassau.

The pool deck on The Monarch was another story completely. Although, there are a couple of things I did notice. Americans are a large people, and the modern swimsuit does not cover enough skin.

It was a beautiful day, and we sat by the pool for a couple of hours before we went to dinner. At dinner I had a steak. After a day of walking through the masses, almost getting involved in a shootout, and seeing a half naked woman, I needed protein. We made a mistake that night, however. Our waiter straightened us out though.

He immediately brought us our menus, and wanted to immediately take our order. Of course, in an attempt to avoid all decisions until absolutely necessary, I needed to review the menu. Our waiter left and didn't come near us for about twenty minutes. Ok, message received.

He was busy and was squeezing us in. I don't even think we were seated where we were supposed to be. They assign seats, and approximate dinner times. It is probably necessary. Since we were on the low end of the pay spectrum we at at 5:45, or were supposed to as close to that time as we could. We paid attention to it, for the most part.

The poker that night was not good, at least not for me. I barely won a hand and lost all that I had won the night before plus a fair amount. I never completed a draw, never flopped a monster, never had a good hand hold up. My buddy, Hinderance, was in full bloom and sticking the hot pokers in my jaw again. I am an idiot. Why did I not take better care of my teeth?

I quit the game a loser that night. I went to sleep thinking about the bills that were due once we got back to Jacksonville. It was a fitful night. I love having M watch me play cards. It makes me play better, I believe. I hate it when she is there for the bad nights. She doesn't seem to show that it bothers her, but it must. I often find doubt in all of this.

Of course, there is always another hand.

Codsey out.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

There is a God, and He is Good part 2

I awoke to a dull pain in the side of my face caused by none other than my arch enemy, Hinderance. Hinderance had been digging at me for a couple of days now, and he was seriously cramping my style. Today was to be a day of adventure and discovery, but Hinderance was trying to be difficult. M and I were to leave the safety of our cruise ship and tour downtown Nassau, Bahamas. We were looking forward to getting to know life in a tropical city.

Breakfast, specifically the scrambled eggs, was sublime. Did I mention how good the food was on this cruise? Let me reiterate. It was top-notch. I'm fairly certain the chef added either crack cocaine or possibly some secret ingredient they purchased from MacDonald's to make you crave nearly anything they served.

We ate and departed The Monarch. As our ship had pulled into the port of Nassau we could see the local shops and restaurants along the shore. That would be our destination. Plus, M and I needed to find the children something as a gift.

Before I left the boat I popped a couple more tylenol, and put some in my pocket for later. I would not let Hinderance get the best of me. This was a vacation, and damnit, I was going to have fun.

As you depart the ship you are guided past numerous locals trying to sell you a variety of objects and services. There were taxi drivers, bottled water salesman, trinket peddlers, and of course the braiders. Apparently one of the more popular things to do in the bahamas is get your hair braided by a local island woman. I'm not sure of the fascination, but who am I to judge.

They guide you through a building, with signs promising an exit out into the streets of Nassau. Of course, one is first hounded by shop owners as your path snakes throughout this building.

They almost had me talked into renting a scooter and just riding. I could picture M and I flying down the narrow city streets, trying to remember to stay on the left side of the road, while cars zig-zagged in and out of traffic. M persuaded me that it may not be the safest of activities. Hinderance was pounding on my face. I was disappointed, but as we got onto the street I immediately could see the hazards involved with negotiating a scooter in this town.

There were few traffic lights. I can't remember seeing a traffic cop. Drivers, bicyclist, and pedestrians were left to fend for themselves, each battling for rule of the roads. We stayed on the sidewalk.

Bay street is nice. It's mostly jewelry stores, banks, and discount clothing stores. There are some restaurants, but all food and drink is overpriced as they cater to the tourists. I suppose it is their only export, tourism, but the prices they charged were as expensive, and sometimes more so, than what our Monarch charged us. Plus, our Monarch provided the highest quality food prepared by the finest chefs. Hinderance was annoyed by all of this and made sure the left side of my face could feel it.

M and I next stumbled on what is referred to as The Famous Straw Market. It is basically a giant tent, very close to the cruise ship's docks, that has hundreds of individual shop owners peddling their goods. It is the Bahamian answer to a flea market, but with extra fleas. The shops are packed one on top of the other, separated by about a three foot aisle for customers to walk through.

It was all very claustrophobic, and Hinderance did not like the situation at all. He banged away at my face as M and I struggled to make our way through the labyrinth of beads, braiders, and Bahamian bottle pickers. We got to the back of the building, looking for the exit out of this mass of sweat and tears, when we realized there was no back. Well, there was a back, but no back exit. Do these people have fire codes?

Hinderance was pissed. Hinderance was sticking sharp, fire hot steel rods into my jawbone. I looked at M and said "Let's get the flock out of here".

We were almost out of the straw market/overcrowded flea market/uncomfortably closed quartered human sweat box when I spotted a woman selling bowls. Well, I had to have a handcrafted Bahamian peace pipe. So, I got one. It cost ten dollars and I didn't even try to talk the woman down. She probably deserved twenty dollars noting she had to sit in this tent all day, every day, trying to make a buck.

We managed to make it to the street. Ahhh, the fresh smell of the ocean, fish, and there was one other smell that I could not immediately pinpoint. It took me a while to figure it out, and at first I thought the sweet pungency was somehow related to the people, but that is not right. It's the auto emissions.

While there is no cloud, there is a definite smell present. See, the leading industry appears to be taxi driver. Here's how you break into the market. Go buy a car costing the equivalent of 2k here in the US. Then, be sure it has four nearly round wheels. Finally, slap a sign on it that says "Taxi", and you are now an entrepreneur.

I get it though, they cannot do it any other way. They don't produce much. They have their beaches, people, and warm weather. Is America going in that direction? Michigan doesn't have warm weather.

Hinderance needs to stop. Hinderance wants this tooth pulled from my head. I gobble the last two tylenol. M wants to look at a beach we saw from the ship. I think it's like three or four blocks. We pass more liquor stores, jewelry shops, about three banks, and then slowly walk out of downtown, and into the hotel district.

Hotels in Nassau have large fences, with barbed wire on top, surrounding the parking lots. See, to me that is not very comforting.

As we continue down the sidewalk, towards the beach, we pass middle aged woman sweeping the sidewalk with one of those things they use at movie theaters to clean between pictures. She has an orange and yellow vest on, I believe so the cars speeding past her will see her and hopefully slow down. There is also a younger man, on a bicycle, also wearing the same vest, but he's just talking to the woman, sitting on his bike.

M and I don't think much of it accept for how clean the sidewalk is on that one block. She was doing an excellent job. The other blocks? Well, let's just say they were not as tip-top as this one. I'm not sure who was cleaning those sidewalks, or better yet when, but the guy on the bike peeked my interest.

We walked on. We got to the beach. It had minimal garbage and only a few dead fish. We walked down the the water. We decided to head along the water, back towards the ship, and see what they wanted for a lawn chair rental. The place that was renting beach chairs was a yellow shack that also had a DJ, I guess. There was Bob Marley playing, and quite loudly.

We walked long the warm water as it gently lapped against our bare feet. The tylenol was working, and Hinderance was sleeping quietly. The steel rods had been set aside as I smiled at the thought of modern medicine. Up ahead we approached a man and a woman lying on their stomachs, their feet only a couple of yards from the waters edge.

As we neared it became obvious it was two women. The reason I had erred from afar was because the one on the left didn't have a top on. They were both under the age of thirty, and shaped rather nicely, at least their backs, butts, and legs. For, at the moment, that was all we could see.

M was talking about something, as my sunglassed eyes (yes!) wandered to the right to make sure this woman didn't do anything crazy like roll over or something. Well, she didn't roll over, but she did get up on her elbows to talk to her friend. She was shaped quite well up there, too.

I looked away. I only just caught a glimpse. I knew prolonged exposure, in that setting, was going to mean blindness either by the rays of the sun or M's own fingernails. As we passed I decided I had to steal one more peak. I could not help it. I am human and have faults. M did not scratch my eyes out so I am sure she accepts this fault as minor in the grand scheme of things.

My next phrase was not well thought out.

"So, you want to rent some chairs and go sit over there?" My hand pointed back, sort of towards the spot where the two women were sunbathing.

When I saw her look I realized I may have erred, slightly. She gave me a quick "not here, this beach is gross."

I mumbled something about dead fish and garbage and we quietly walked back to the street.

Back on the street we decided to look for a drink and maybe lunch. We had to walk past the woman and the young man on the bike. It had been about twenty minutes since we had last seen them. She was sweeping, he was sitting on his bike talking, and nothing had changed. Just odd, I think. I'm not sure if he was supervising her and everything is so corrupt he doesn't have to actually do anything, or what, but it was just odd.

Even more odd was both of their refusals to clear the sidewalk so we could pass. We had to almost walk into the street to get around them. It had an odd feeling to it, that whole situation. I wanted to go back to the beach, but wisely kept my mouth shut.

Hinderance twinged a bit. Easy there, big boy. There is no more tylenol in my pocket. I'll get you some alcohol if you just don't bring out the metal rods for a little bit longer. Deal? Good.

M and I found a small, open air bar that had appetizers an sandwiches for lunch. We sat down at a table and asked for a menu. We never saw her again. What can I say? We looked at the menu for about 3 minutes, decided on beer and conch something or another, and we never saw the waitress again. She may have been kidnapped, or maybe had medical issues, but she did not return, nor did any replacement.

After about ten minutes of talking, and with Hinderance beginning to poke and prod again, I said "let's go, We'll eat and drink by the pool, on the Monarch."

M thought that was a great idea. Her demeanor would lead me to believe she had seen enough of Nassau, and was ready to be pampered again. I can't say that I blame her. Five star dining, superb service, anything you desire at the swipe of a sea-pass... why would you want to leave that?

We were walking on Bay street again, the stores and banks on our left side. The streets were packed with cars going past. I was thinking we should have crossed the street because there might be something we want to see over there when a man running from around the bank caught my eye.

He was about forty yards away, in full military garb. His camouflaged uniform was the black and grey color I've always associated with military police. He had on a black beret, He was not black, but rather looked almost Cuban. He was at least 6'3". He was also carrying an M-16 and was moving up the sidewalk, stooping slightly as he passed the large front windows of the bank.

M and I froze. People walked past us oblivious to what was happening. At the end of the block, from where the soldier had just come from, two women ran across the street. When I say ran, I mean they were sprinting.

Uh-oh. I looked to my right. We could duck between two parked cars. I looked left. We could run into that jewelry store. We took a step back.

Two men, hands on their holstered pistols, walked briskly from where the girls ran, and walked up to the doorway where the soldier was crouching. The senior man, a tall older white man, walked into the front door of the bank. The soldier stood by. The third man spoke quietly into the handset on his shoulder.

Nothing happened. People began to walk past again. We just went also. We looked into the bank as we walked by and saw people talking. We rounded the corner and there were two bank employees, black older women, standing at a side door looking out into the street. There was an official looking car, with a man sitting ion the passenger seat talking into a cb radio. I didn't see any police cars.

We quickly walked away with our mouths hanging open.

Just another day in downtown Nassau. I'm assuming those men were probably part of a privately hired security team. Maybe they were the police. I don't know. There were no sirens, there was no commotion. There was no attempt to keep pedestrians clear of the situation.

What a strange land.

I'll continue this later. I'm tired and need to go vote.

Codsey out.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

There is a God, and He is Good part 1

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to experience something truly eventful, well eventful to me at least. Every once in a while the planets align, global warming calms, and the world seems to take on a new look of love and peacefulness that I am sure one experiences only a few times during his or her life. This past week may very well have been one of those periods of "Zen" for yours truly.

It began hectically enough, as life seems to be in this day and age. The wife, M, was actually on time getting home from her half day at work. That was the good news. She had told me to be packed, and be ready. Well, I was. Unfortunately, the US Postal Service was a bit tardy on this Monday morning.

M packed and insisted we give the mail person more time. She had ordered three outfits the moment she learned of my winning an Ante Up Poker cruise at our local card room, and only one had arrived. She was expecting the other two this very day. She even went so far as to drive around the neighborhood to see if she could spot said mail person.

No luck.

We loaded the car and headed out for our two hour drive to Port Canaveral to board the Monarch of the Sea. This was to be our first cruise, and all week long I had been eagerly anticipating it. That had all changed when I learned that my grandmother had been hospitalized. She is 83 and had suffered a stroke about 3 or 4 years ago that left her unable to communicate as clearly as she would like. This hasn't really prevented her from trying to let you know what she is thinking however, and that is how I know my grandmother is still the same ole gram who used to paddle my ass when I was a youngster. I love her dearly, and the news of her hospitalization made my guilt meter rise.

What right do I have to attempt to enjoy myself with my grandma going into the hospital? My mother had told me gram was fine. She may have had a minor stroke, but they would know more once they ran more tests. It made sense to go on the cruise. There was not much I could do for her, in Florida, while she was in the hospital in New York. My logical side took over and the decision was made to put our heads down and have a good time.

M was not happy about not having her new outfits. To her defense the outfits were at our doorstep when we returned, and they were really nice looking. She looks good, in anything, anyway. I still can't believe she hangs around with my overweight ass, but I am happy about it.

I thought the drive down was under two hours. I did not press M as we waited for the mailman. As we got closer to Port Canaveral I realized I may have been a bit passive in guaranteeing our on time arrival. The ship leaves at 4:30. They said we have to be boarded by 3 PM. It was 2:45 and we were not yet close enough to even be sure we knew where we were going.

We could see two ships. One of them was ours, this much I was sure of. There were two exits, one for piers 1-10, and tho other for 11-18, or something. We did not know which exit to take. I drove past the first exit and almost immediately wished I had not. As I went by I could see how the road wound around and went on right towards the ships.


U-turn off next exit.

Driving too fast now. I slow down and tell M to relax. M is thinking they won't let us on the boat. I am secretly thinking "good because I don't even know if this is a good idea or not". Of course, I keep this to myself.

I instead calm her by saying there is no way they won't let us on the ship. It doesn't even leave for another hour and a half. Be cool, sweetie.

We follow the signs and proceed through the parking lot arriving at the baggage drop at almost exactly 3 PM. Michelle flies out of the car and the baggage man, a portly, older, black man smiled at her and said "relax, slow down, you have plenty of time. You are here to relax ma'am."

I slip him a couple dollars and ask him where I should park. He points out an open spot quite close to where we are. Everything is fine. Crisis averted.

We go through customs. They don't check anything. There are no lines as I believe we were one of the last few to get on the boat. I think I like this.

We wander around, luggage in tow, and spot a place to buy a week long "soda pass". It cost six dollars per day. My cousin had told me to get one because it allows you to have all the juice and soda you want at meals as well as anywhere on the boat including the private island we would be spending one day at later on the trip. We got two, one for each of us.

They make it very easy for you to pay as you go. You are given a "sea pass" card. This allows you to charge anything you wish to purchase to a credit card allowing you to not carry your wallet or even any cash. It's also your room key and the key piece of identification when disembarking or getting back on the boat. This allows you to be as frugal as you wish to be. It is quite convenient.

When you purchase the soda passes you also receive two large refillable cups. You don't need these cups to get the unlimited soda but they are nice to have out by the pool. The only reason I mention these cups is because we lost one of them the very first evening. We were sure it was gone forever. Nice investment, that was.

We found our room, and boy was it small. You know what though? It had everything one would need. You spend almost NO time in your room other than to sleep, or do other intimate things, usually right before or right after sleep, a least for me. So, there you go. The room was small, but the bed was comfortable, and it was a very cozy experience. The bathroom may have been big enough for only one, but there were plenty of mirrors.

The next thing we needed to do was "muster" on the 7th deck. Everything is in decks, because it's a ship, and if you say "floors" they sort of look at you like you are a bit slow. It ended up taking me two solid days and nights to finally figure out the quickest way to get around the ship. I mean, stuff like this is how I know I'm not very smart.

After mustering, and everyone being accounted for, they pushed off from the dock. We made our way out of Port Canaveral, and out into the Atlantic. We were bound for Nassau, Bahamas and would arrive there in the morning for our first port of call.

Eventually M and I stumbled upon the Ante Up Poker magazine's Welcome Party. There were appetizers and free drinks. I decided to partake in both, as did the wife. We listened to Scott Long, publisher of the magazine, talk about some things. He introduced some gentleman who had won a World Series of Poker bracelet. He introduced the poker dealers that were on the trip. He talked about some other things, but I don't remember. I was drinking, and eating, and still taking it all in.

I heard him mention the hours the poker room would be open, and it was more than adequate. Lately I had been running bad. I had a few losing sessions. I had also played badly the last time I had sat down in a game. I really wasn't in the mood to grind out any kind of long ass poker sessions. I was looking way more forward to having fun.

I believe, but do not quote me, that there were like a thousand people on the cruise. 200 or so were here because of Ante Up. Ante Up had reserved two conference rooms to act as poker rooms. They brought very competent dealers to deal their cash and tournament games. They ran the games well, and stayed on top of things like good room managers should do.

The only criticism I would have was the proximity of the tables to each other in the cash game room. The second day an older gentleman went down when a woman tried to move in her chair so he could get by. Instead she picked up the back legs of the chair and put one of them down square on his big toe. He went down and gave a yell that sounded like he had been shot. As he went down he also scraped his arm on something. He was bleeding a little bit. I think they removed a table after that incident. They may have just rearranged them, I don't know, it seemed like there was more room after that man went down.

I won a little bit that first night playing 2-5 nl hold em. I didn't play for very long as the game was not that great. A couple of winners had changed games, and a couple of losers had gone to lick their wounds. I was winning, but I was card dead. I had an intense toothache that had been building throughout the day. So, I quit and went to bed. M was tired anyhow, it worked out nicely.

Another troubling thing was the only reason I made any money that night was because I put $300 in the pot, on the flop, with a flush draw. I was called by two pair and top pair, top kicker. It was a good gambling situation, and I hit it. I was not getting the good starting hands to really gamble very much, however. That, and the month to this point had not been very good. This was still not quite a vacation for me even though I wanted one desperately. It's like this ongoing battle I have with myself, and quite often. Sometimes card playing becomes work, and everyone knows work is not play.

M and I went to bed, a very cozy bed. I was liquored up, body numb, and very exhausted. Did I mention the bed was cozy?

I'm going to stop for now because I am sick of writing. I'll continue tomorrow, or sometime soon, with our arriving in Nassau, and our stroll down Bay Street. Never a dull moment as there was actual gun play, or near gun play, I suppose.

Codsey out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Think They Mean Well

Hey everyone, or no one, whatever it may be. Norton here, your self appointed Emperor of these, The United States of America. Congress did not listen. I asked them, politely, to please return home so we could install a more people oriented government. Of course they would not go.

You know how they are. They believe the bills they pass and the policies they enact are for the good of the people. I hope no one has any more sinister ideas. So, if they are doing what they believe to be best, and we elected them, then why all the hub-bub, bub?

Well, it may be that a large number of people did not exactly realize the route that was going to be taken to make things better for all of us. The economy seemed to be working along like a mirage that seems to never get nearer. It was chugging feverishly while interest rates came down, and people spent like never before. George Bush was the new president, elected among "questionable" supreme court decisions. So many people felt like the election was stolen. Polarization was strong.

But, one September morning everything changed. Islamic radicals slammed two jets into the twin towers, and another into the pentagon. Except for the suicidal bravery of the passengers aboard a fifth, the White House may have been the final target.

Everyone wanted answers. Nearly all wanted action. We wanted revenge upon those who blatantly attacked and murdered our friends, wives, children, and relatives. These enemies of America were unlike others in the past. They kill the innocent. They kill Everyday Joe just trying to make a buck, feed his family and make his way on this planet.

We went to war. People cheered. I was at a Nascar race when it was announced we had begun bombing Al Queda in Afghanistan. I cheered.

We went to War in Iraq. Fewer cheered. Barrack voted against the Iraq war. The evidence suggested Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It was accepted.

And so began our 9 year, two front war, costing thousands of American lives, thousands of Arabic lives, and billions and billions of dollars. The economy started to slag, a bit. The spending was slowing.

President Bush sent everyone a $600 check. It had the desired effect because people spent that money. Some used it to stay afloat, and some used it for recreation. Either way, it was spent, the economy gasped, put it's head down, and chugged onward.

Interest rates were lowered again, reaching record lows. People had to be encouraged to borrow and spend. The economy grabbed at it's chest, but continued onward. Always forward, always growing.

We found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We deposed, and eventually put to death one Sadam Hussein. His people rejoiced. Our reason for the war were unfounded, but we had done what needed to be done. Now, we had to rebuild Iraq. We had to let them vote, let them stand for themselves. We had to make them realize freedom is worth fighting for, and to be free meant struggle. The economic costs to the US increased.

The people began to become restless. How could you lie to us, Mr. President? How could you say there were weapons of mass destruction when clearly there were not? How can you spend this money on a war we did not want? How is it the Vice President shot a man while quail hunting? How is it someone threw a shoe at you? You have become a laughing stock on the late night shows Mr. President. We will find a replacement.

And we did. We elected a man who promised Hope and Change. Well, it had to be better than the last 8 years, right? George Bush was made out to be a bumbling fool who could no more make a dinner decision than a decision on the handling of the North Korean nuclear crisis.

We elected the first man of color as the President of the United States of America. A monumental occasion to say the least. At the time I was proud to be an American. While I did not agree with all of Obama's ideologies, I believe him to be a man of honor. Something else happened as well, however. Here is where things begin to get dicey.

Along with Mr. Obama, we also elected the Democrats to control of BOTH the House and the Senate. One step of the checks and balances set forth by our constitution had been derailed. The Presidents policies, as long as he had the backing of the members of congress in his own party, were unstoppable.

Before they got a chance to roll forward something else happened. The bottom fell out of the real estate market. Values of homes began to plummet. Record numbers of people were being foreclosed upon. We were entering into an economic epidemic that has not been seen since the 1930's.

The banks were in trouble. Fannie May and Freddie Mac were on the verge of bankruptcy. Our head economic czars explained to our outgoing and incoming Presidents that we had to save the banks. Both Presidents were explained the situation in detail, I would assume. Both agreed it must be done. TARP was passed, and another 780 billion went into the debt side of the ledger.

The stock market tumbled. People's retirement funds were drying up before their very eyes. They got out of the market, it continued to slide.

The banks were saved. The market leveled and began to climb. We had averted destruction, but were not out of the woods just yet.

The wars continued, the spending went on.

The economy faltered. It could not sustain the weight of it's own lust. People still could not pay their mortgages. No one was buying anything. We were scared. The automobile industry was in serious trouble. We took them under our wings. We, as a people, invested in their businesses. Congress passed Cash for Clunkers. The auto industry leveled. Crisis averted. We were still not yet out of the woods.

The economy did not pick up steam. Businesses were failing. Firings and layoffs were happening to the tune of 800,000 jobs per month. We need jobs!! was the cry of the masses.

Enter the stimulus. Another 800 billion was pumped into the economy. We were convinced by the promise of "shovel ready" projects only needing the funding to put people to work. Well, we've got the funding alright.

The economists in the president's ear said don't worry about deficit spending and the ever increasing debt. Eventually, it will be paid off, we are fine. This 800 billion dollars will save jobs and keep people spending.

Well, there has been some argument as to how many jobs were saved. Mr. Obama recently stated that there weren't any "shovel ready" projects, and in fact there is no such thing. Huh?

The people were becoming extremely restless. How can this spending continue? What future are we leaving to our children?

As though this were not all bad enough the democratic congress and executive branch were feverishly passing their laws and bills in an effort to make things better for all of us. They had a social agenda they were in the process of enacting. First up, Health care.

I can't even talk about it. My favorite quote from the "debates" about health care was Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house, stating "let's pass the bill first, and then we can find out what is in it." Maybe I'm paraphrasing, I don't know. I was floored.

They passed it. They told us it would save money in the long run. They told us the reforms were necessary and people need to be covered. The people grew more restless.

Most people do not understand how people already paying for health insurance coverage will somehow pay less if we add 20 million non payers to the system. The tea party was created.

Now, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year. The top earners will pay an additional 10% in income taxes. This new number was used to help pay for the new Health care bill. If those tax cuts do not expire, then the revenue to pay for health care is not there.

The tea party went bonkers. They marched on Washington. It was brushed aside and the tea partiers were labeled as extremist and less than intelligent right wing radio listeners. Which brings us to where we are today.

The political races are fun. I have ever heard so many politicians side step the issues on peoples minds. How are you going to put Ray Ray to work so he is not sitting his ass on the sofa playing Call of Duty all day?

You have to ask yourself one basic question.

Do you believe the economy would be better off, that more people would be working, that more money would be moving around, if we tax the rich and have the government redistribute it to the lower classes, OR, if we let the rich keep more of their money and let them choose to either invest it or save it.

If we tax the rich, and the government redistributes it, it does not get invested by the rich. It does not go to research and development. It does not go towards expanding businesses. It does not go towards higher wages for employees. It does not go towards additional benefits. It goes to the government to be spent on what they see as fit.

Don't get me wrong. I am sure the national government has good intentions on how to use that money. But the middle class does not get any of it. It skips us.

If we don't get any of it, and it skips us to go directly to whatever plan the government has for it, then how are we going to pay the fines, fees, and taxes lumped on us by our local and state governments because they too are in a financial disaster? $200 per car registration in the state of Florida? Who would have thought?

How are we going to spend money on goods and services so this country climbs out of this damned recession if we don't have it to spend? How are we going to continue to support the current social programs if we, meaning the middle class, do not get to at least hold the money even if just for a little while?

It's Reaganomics v. Obamanomics. What do you believe?

I would honestly like to see the entire system overhauled. I think it is an inefficient and non cost productive way to provide for a nation's needy. How is it this great country can continue to slide south in the area of education? Could it be the system, with the current sociological set up of our inner cities, does not achieve the desired results?

What about feeding the poor? Our current system is not cost effective. There are better ways than food stamps and soup kitchens. Would it cost more to simply have the government make basic necessities FREE FOR ALL? Of course, it is not free. Taxpayers pay for everything.

How about the IRS and the current tax system? Is there not a more cost effective, more efficient way to collect and distribute tax revenue? There MUST be. What about a progressive national sales tax? Let the businesses collect it for the government, and cut out a large part of a very fat middle man.

I was at the car wash the other day. There was a police car in front of me. His wash cycle was taking a long time. He had purchased "the works" to clean his mean machine. "The works" cost 10 dollars. That is an average price for our area of Florida, and it took him about 15 minutes to complete it. Well, what if we paid a guy 15$ per hour to wash TWO police cars ever hour? I know it is probably not that easy, but it might be. Multiply that savings by a thousand counties, and multiply it again by 52 weeks, and that is quite a savings, and quite a large group of new employees.

I am sure there are brilliant people out there, in our public sector, that have many ideas. As long as saving money and creating jobs is the goal than how can it be wrong?

This election cycle, as your sitting there thinking about things, and as your mind turns to the state of things to come, concentrate on the issues. Concentrate on how each candidate plans to help make things better. Understand the how and why of what they want to accomplish.

It's easy to talk about who is a witch, and who called who a whore. Focusing on the important issues becomes almost impossible some times. Try. Really try.

Think about how you believe things work, and what overall strategies seem better than others, and then find the candidates in your area that think as you do. There may not be many.

Right now we need people collecting a paycheck. Just vote. Do it.

Norton out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's All Levels (and ballbearings)

Yesterday was one of those days. It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right, and hand after hand was lost through mistimed bluffs and river cards that made me go "hmm". It was shaping up to be a total bust, and directly after a day I had just lost a fair chunk of change due to a bout of mini-tilt for about 2 hours. Sometimes, the universe seems to actually have a plan. Just when my mood feels like it can get no darker, the second hand on some far away clock clicks another second away, lost forever, and taking with it all past events. Seemingly, everything changes and the sun begins to shine a bit brighter as the dark clouds of demise disperse.

So it was to be as I looked down at pocket eights.

An aggressive player who had been running me over all day long raised the pot. I and a few others took a flop of 8-7-7 with two spades.


Four spades ended up coming on the board, and he had pocket kings with the king of spades and paid me off all of $225 after the third spade hit the board. He knew I was capable of a bluff, and he paid me off. It's like my bluffing him earlier, and never showing my cards win or lose, made him believe there was enough of a chance I was bluffing here. Plus, my stack was short, but only because I bluffed earlier... shit was aligning.

Now I had almost $500 in front of me. I was still down for the day, but a lot closer to getting out of the trap. Some days you just have to gnaw your own leg off, and accept a moderate loss, to get away from the bear trap. Men, nearly ALL men, and also many women, hate to accept defeat. From my personal observations I believe this crosses all racial, regional, national, spiritual, and religious boundaries. It is the will to win that makes us excel. When the will to win overrides the will to survive, we become reckless. We may win, but we may also perish.

Anyway, back to yesterday. My mind was wandering for a minute, there.

About 5 minutes later, and I now have twice as many chips, I get dealt pocket deuces right in front of the big blind. After winning that last hand, my internal reaction has changed to "alright, let's see a flop, knock out a deuce, and put it right in someone's ass." Mr aggressive AGAIN raised the pot. Funny thing is I believe he has a good hand here. If he had been out of line earlier in his preflop raises, I don't remember it. It's more likely he is getting more of his fair share of powerful starting hands. Either way, I hope I can hit a deuce.

I tossed in what I owed and watched the flop roll off 2-6-9 with two of them diamonds.

I think my end of the table raised imperceptibly as my excitement mounted. I had flopped a set, and now I had to try to double this bad boy up, I just need Mr. Aggressive to have an over-pair to the board and I believe he will go for my plan. If he has nothing I'm going to win a small pot.

I decide to lead into him for 3/4 of the pot. I look down at my chips. We had been playing this game with each other all afternoon, and he had admittedly gotten the better of me on multiple occasions, but this time was different.

I watch him reach for chips, and now it looks like the hook is set. See, I could have a flush draw, one pair, two pair, a set, a straights draw, two overcards, any over pair, and if he takes this bait, and raises in this spot, he will have to double me up or get lucky as hell and bust me, because it's all going in right now.

He raises to $170. Everyone else folds. I move all-in for $450 or so.

Now, I get to watch him squirm a bit. I must admit, I started this pseudo war when I would not show him my winning hand earlier in the day. I told him I couldn't give out that kind of information. I had raised with QJ, and the flop came QJJ. Well, I bet all the way and he folded when I bet $75 on the river, but before he folded he asked if I'd show. Bump that. I never told him, and he felt he had been bluffed. Just like I felt he was bluffing me on more than one occasion. Tit for tat, I suppose.

He is still squirming. I know what he is thinking. I could have any of the hands that I had listed earlier. Only a few of the hands beat his overpair. He probably has aces or kings, maybe queens. He already would have called if he had AdKd, two over with a flush draw, so he doesn't have that. He doesn't have a set or he'd have already called. He has an overpair, and I know you can't fold it here, in this spot, with our history. Hurry up and do it.

I know he cannot fold, here.

I heard him mention something about a set, but I have my headphones on so I'm not sure what he is saying. I look down at the table and grin inside. This is the game, and I'm very happy to be on this side of it. If he folds I will not show him. This side of it is waaaaaaay better.

He calls. I immediately flip over my set of deuces, he slams down a pair of Kings, and I win a thousand dollar pot.

Poker is alright.

I'm stacking chips, slowly. He is saying something about "is that how you're going to get me, flop sets?"

I nod my head and mumble "yup".

I don't want to tell him he was working me hard earlier. I don't want him to know he had me on my heels. I don't want to give away too much because there are some very, very smart people out there. I certainly don't want to gloat.

There is no fist raising. There is no standing up and showing my ass. I've been in his boots and I didn't like it. Why do anything that might be viewed as rubbing it in? Also, it's nice to act like you've been there before. ESPN didn't help everything.

Mr. Aggressive is racking up to leave. He's mumbling as he goes. A half hour later I get up and go, too. The adrenaline was pumping today. I'm glad I came out on top.

Wild day. Last night was good too. I'm even for the week. Stress levels are still fine, though.

Codsey out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just another Sunday

Yesterday was a Sunday. Family off to church, and dad mows the lawn. Our lawn looks bad. Last winter killed off a bunch of our grass, and while much of it recovered over the summer, much had not. I, of course, blame my lawn care company. We pay them $50 each time they visit. We agree to pay them, they agree to keep my lawn looking healthy and green. One of us is not upholding our end of the bargain. Scratch that, now there are two of us not upholding our end of the bargain, but my action is a direct result of their lack of action.

Anyway, the lawn got mowed. Family came home from church. Kids were screaming at each other about something. Wife was acting rather odd. It was at that point I decided the poker room would be a good spot to hide for a couple of hours.

When I arrived at the poker room my usual no limit game was full, but there was a seat available in the limit omaha 8 or better game. I decided to sit and pass some time. Besides, this poker room has a great promotion for their omaha game. If you start with 4 wheel cards, and don't win any of the pot, they give you $200. It's a good promotion, and seems to be helping promote the game because there were two tables running, which is an oddity.

Two hands in I bring up the promotion. I am told by the dealer the promotion is no more. I'm guessing their goal was to get two tables and then say "no mas". It's kind of funny because the money they use for promotions actually comes from the players in the form of a percentage of the dollar taken from each hand for the bad beat jackpot.

It seems the number of players have decreased across the board in this city, and the promotion money has dried up. God forbid the poker room use any of the PROFIT they've made over the past ten years to promote their own business. It's like anything else. Big business gets into bed with politicians, and the law gets written so business makes money, government makes money, and the people pay through the nose, but just a little bit at a time so it doesn't really hurt too much.

The promotion conversation led into a conversation about the poker room reducing the pay of the Dealers and raising the pay of the Chip Runners. This is quite a change.

Dealers deal the game. They make sure things are run smoothly and most importantly by the rules. A good dealer is worth his or her weight in gold. A good dealer is hardly even noticed at the table because things run smoothly and quickly.

One reason the game does not run quickly is because people go broke and must buy more chips. If the dealer changes them in the game stops. Ideally, there would be a chip runner, a person to get chips for the players, on hand for any game.

Clearly, this would be impossible, but additional chip runners would make games move along faster, thereby allowing more hands to be played, and the money made to increase.

I am assuming, because of the slow down in the number of players for each game, that fewer dealers are needed. It looks like the dealers who are slow, who continually make mistakes, and who slow the game down because of their incompetence, may be asked to become chip runners in the near future. It makes perfect sense.

The good dealers should be glad because they will have more chip runners available to them to assist in making their game run faster, and actually make them more money. The bad dealers, the one's who get asked to become chip runners, will not like it much. At least the poker room will be paying the chip runner a bit more money. The chip runners who hustle, who make a positive difference, may again become dealers. The few who choose to be slow, and not make a positive difference, will probably be phased out.

Capitalism works.

I lost 10 dollars in an hour and a half in that stupid Omaha game. But I was just killing time because I and the family were going to M's sister's house to watch the Jags play the Chargers. Tim and Sheryl were making a low country boil for dinner, as well.

If you've never had a low country boil, then you have not lived. It's Corn on the cob, potatoes, broccoli, onions, and seafood all put into a big pot and boiled in Old Bay seasoning until it smells good enough to fight over. Let me tell you, it tastes even better.

The seafood was shrimp and crablegs, and there was more of it then the filler foods I mentioned earlier. Damn, it was good. Best meal I've had in months, hands down.

The Jags got killed. Oh well. Pro football may have a strike or a lockout next year. It should be fun. I hope they do, maybe ticket prices will come down. If not, dig your own grave NFL.

After football last night, and after the kids were in bed, and the wife was winding down, I decided to go back and play some poker. It hasn't been a great week, and more hours are required.

I sat in a 2-5 NL game. Won the first three hands I played. Played for about three hours and walked out $300 the richer for it. The games are getting tougher. The player pool is dwindling. people are going broke.

People do not understand the concept of bankroll management. The only reason I get it is because I have lived it. They will live it too. Some will never return to poker. Others will realize they could beat the game, but staying in action is the most important thing. They will come back wiser and stronger, as I did.

My cousin is coming into town this week. We will be playing golf and poker and drinking about twenty beers a night. I am looking very forward to it. Hopefully we will have enough fun that there will be a good story in there somewhere.

I am feeling like a road trip is in order. The gulf coast of Florida may be the next destination. We shall see.

Codsey out.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

That Thing We Do

I awake around 7, hearing my wife trying to yell softly to my son, who is upstairs but does not hear his alarm clock. My son reminds me of my wife's brother, which is not a bad thing noting her brother's success as an architect. Jeff, my brother-in-law was the heaviest sleeper I have ever encountered. He is such a heavy sleeper that I was convinced it was an act for the first ten years after meeting him. I'm not such a heavy sleeper.

I awake, and smile, because even though I have just been removed from my peaceful slumber I can be sure a fresh brewed latte would be either awaiting me or arriving shortly. I also smile because being awoken at this time affords me the possibility of seeing my wife during various points of her getting ready for work.

I like how she looks. She is beautiful. I will save you from any graphic descriptions lest I risk offending my beauty. Suffice it to say that I am very attracted to her and experience a sort of teen aged glee each time her morning ritual takes her from the bathroom through the bedroom.

So, there I sit, latte in hand, news on the tv, and a beautiful woman occasionally strolling in front of me at various points of partial dress. My wife will leave for work, and take my son to be dropped off at his middle school. I will eventually drag myself out of bed to brush my teeth, at least.

At 8:20 I will dutifully take my daughter and her friend to high school. I have been told, and my being a man of the Northern NY precludes my ever being able to know this without explanation from many different women, that humidity is particularly tough on long hair. So, I take her to school in an air conditioned car each day.

I don't mind, however. In fact I like it, at least right now. I have been quite happy to take on each and every day for the last three weeks or so. I have been just absolutely nailing it at the card room. I take the girl to school, come home, get showered and shaved, maybe grab a bite to eat, and roll down to the card room around 10 am, give or take.

So, I wake up each day, have an awesome latte waiting for me, get to see a half naked, totally hot woman stroll by me every few minutes, spend time with my daughter, and get to work when I want to. If I want to watch some stupid show on tv until 11 am, then I do it. If I want to sit on facebook for an hour, then I do it. Life is pretty darned good. For now, at least.

The poker gods will not allow such joy to go unpunished. I have been running so well, and playing in such a zone, that I cannot remember the last day that I lost money. I know it will turn soon, it always does. But, for right now, for today, I am on top of the world!

Back to the story.

I usually arrive at the poker room sometime before noon. I know many people there. I am friends with most of the regular players as well as many of the staff. I approach the front desk, and happily tell Frannie to put me on the 2-2 and 2-5 no limit games. I check out the tournament schedule for the day. I walk back to the cage to get my chips. Along the way I am greeted by the Floor people. I smile, they are good folks.

At the cage I see Guy, or Elsie, or Edie. Edie will undoubtedly be happy if I am wearing green clothing. She is convinced that the color green has some mystical power which will aide me in my efforts to win money. She almost has me convinced. I must admit, I think about it as I'm looking for a shirt each day.

The cage person dutifully counts out my money, runs one of those pens they use to see if the bill is legite across each hundred I've laid out, and gives me the appropriate amount in poker chips. I always ask for the type of chips I want.

"Three red, Guy". Guy knows that I want three hundred in red, or $5 chips. If I' going to a 2-2 game I might say "Three red, but make twenty of it white". The white, one dollar chips are used more often in a 2-2 game and it is good to have some in front of you so the dealer is not CONTINUOUSLY making change for every player in the pot.

If I'm lucky I have a seat awaiting me at the limit I wish to play. If not I generally roll up to the bar, order a coffee or soft drink, and talk to the bartender. If I don't wish to talk I just go towards the back of the room to a very comfortable chair that is in front of an entire wall of tv's. It's nice, particularly on Saturday and Sunday when there are multiple football games, all available to watch.

Eventually my name will be called. I'll walk to the table. I have my IPOD and headphones, for when the poker talk becomes poker drivel. I'll take my seat, look around, recognize nearly everyone, and begin.

A few hours later I hopefully rack up my chips, put my headphones away, wish everyone good luck, and walk away a few hundred richer than when I arrived.

I try to get home in time to start dinner. I'm making marinated skirt steak for the grill for dinner tonight. Last night was catfish nuggets. Real catfish, hand breaded, and it was very good.

Later, after the kids have slowed down, and M is in her pajamas (another bonus), then I may go back to the card room and play for a few more hours.

I usually get home sometime after midnight and go to sleep to do it all over again the next day.

I like it. It's fun. It's allows me to have choices. That's all we all want, right? We want to be able to choose what we do. We want to be able to choose when we do things. We want to be able to choose what we say, and how we act.

Of course, if it goes badly, then none of it matters. Or does it? What would you be willing to give up for five, or ten, or twenty years of happiness?

Maybe it won't go terribly wrong. I know I will have losing periods, periods when it will be grim. But what if I don't go broke? Then, I will have won. A comfortably moderate lifestyle, a gorgeous wife who I actually like to talk to, two great kids, and a job that gives me multiple choices each and every day. Life is good.

Codsey out.

Friday, September 03, 2010

School is In

Real, honest to goodness, big bet poker has arrived in the sunshine state. I have numerous friends who have been around the poker scene in Jax for a number of years who have been absolutely killing it. I also have friends who, since July 1, have not been killing it.

I had a rough July, and had I been a bit more fortunate in just a few key hands I would have won much more than I did. As it was, for all of July and the first half of August, I won. But, it was not nearly at the numbers that some did.

I tried my hand at the 5-10 game. Now, I believe, and I have heard larger numbers and I have heard smaller numbers, but I believe you need to have 40-80k sitting somewhere at your disposal.

I do not have even nearly that much. But, I gave it a shot, trying to hit a big score and pad my bankroll. What happened is I quickly realized it was not a tightrope I wanted to be walking. The possibility of a moderate losing streak busting me was all too real for my aging heart to handle.

Seriously, it was more stress than any man should have to endure. See, the backing of a bankroll, and the realization that a huge mistake was not going to cripple you, allows a poker player to free up his or her game.

You can make the occasional bluff without fear of being busted. In fact, in order to play correctly you MUST make the occasional bluff. If you never bluff then you will never get paid off when you actually have a hand. Your opponents, even though they make some of the strangest bets, calls, and raises, are not idiots.

Also, the fearless poker player is one to actually be feared. These guys can have any two cards at any time. Calling these guys with one pair, for $2000, on the river, is pure hell on earth.

So, I dropped back down to my regular 2-5 limit and got to work. I had a great two weeks at the end of August, and September has started off with a bang. I'm running good, and things are cruising along as planned.

It's sort of interesting to see how people handle their losing streaks. Many players, particularly those playing for too high of stakes, simply go broke and disappear for a while until they are able to rebuild their bankroll and get back to it. The players playing in the correct game for their bankrolls are usually still there, grinding away, but they are much more solemn.

During a losing streak you just know the next card is going to be ugly. You just know a guy is going to make his flush. You know the board will pair when you have the nut straight. Observant opponents will notice your fear, and like sharks to blood in the water, will swoop in and make a huge bet on any scare card. They will put you to the test again and again.

When you've lost the last nine hands, when someone has caught a card on the river, you begin to suspect they always have it. The players who can deal with the pressure of the situation, and the bad things that happen to all of us, are the players who make the most money. The one's who can't handle it go on 'tilt'.

When a poker player is on tilt he chases cards, spews chips, and basically plays way off balance. People wait in line to get on a table with someone on tilt. The strong will survive in this game.

The thing is, we've all been there. If a poker player tells you he has never gone on tilt, make sure you never lend him money because he is telling you a stone cold lie. Therefore, since we've all been there, there are no sorry feelings for the tilting player. He is on his own, just like we were.

It's stressful, but it's not dismal. Not anymore. A good safeguard, and one I will always use, is something called "going on lockdown".

Lockdown is sitting there, and folding, and folding, and folding until you get a premium starting hand. If you think you have the best hand you need to take down the pot ASAP. Win the hand, don't give people a chance to catch the death card.

To me, the psychology and sociology of poker is a much more interesting topic than the math of poker. There are so many pitfalls, so many wrong paths. The only thing that actually teaches a person about the game is experience.

Many people have written, and I have read most of it, about the dangers of tilt, and the effects of a prolonged losing streak. I read it all years ago, but I didn't learn much. It was only through real world experience that I could truly begin to understand what the magazines were telling me.

Poker is rough. It's a lot of hours, and sometimes a lot of travel. There are late nights, and time away from family and friends. The pressure and stress are, at times, mind numbing and back breaking. Relationships suffer, attitudes change, and one's outlook on life becomes cynical.

Thank God they always deal another hand. We all know you're only one hand away from being on a rush, and who would want to miss that?

Codsey out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Perfect Beginning

I'm not really sure why it always happens. It may be my state of mind during the activity. It is something I enjoy thoroughly. Possibly, and this may be closer to the truth, and I know some of them are going to read this, but, well, all hairdressers and people who cut hair are most likely insane.

I've written about my haircut experience before. Today, I had another. It's my belief the perfect haircut is two weeks prior to the function you are attending. After two weeks time the imperfections of any haircut will be diminished and you'll pretty much have your hair back to looking the crappy way it always does, but your comfort level will be supreme.

My yearly trip back to my hometown of Lowville NY takes place in two weeks. We will be attending a family reunion, one that I have missed for about the last twenty years. I am not proud of this fact. I have not put the effort in to attend the reunion in past years. We've always tried to plan our vacations home around fair week. I should have made time for this long ago.

Back to the hair cutterer. Yes, I received a coupon from Hair Cuttery. I used to go there because it was so close. Then, I started doing that Sportsclip thing because I like the head massages. Sportsclip has changed into something else, and the last time I was there they made it clear they were going to concentrate on women's hair, but that there male clients were still welcome. I then had the worst haircut, head massage, and neck rub that could ever be given. I didn't write about it because it would have been just bitching. They made their point though, so I am on the lookout for a hair person.

So, off I go to Hair Cuttery, and I sit right down. I nice, probably 48? year old woman puts the giant bib around my neck. Her fingers caress my neckline and I instantaneously take to this treatment like a tick to a dog.

She asks how I want my hair cut and I reply "shorter, everywhere." I don't wish to speak, and I could care less what my hair looks like when I leave this place, remember, I've got two weeks.

"Scissor cut all over?" She asks as she runs her fingers through my hair.

"yes, please, over the ears" is all I can muster.

She begins to comb my hair. It feels good too. She goes on and on combing over and over as I sit there, eyes closed, completely enjoying myself. She runs her fingers through my hair again, caressing the tops of my ears this time.

This is exactly what a haircut should be. The sexual overtones are rampant, but as long as no line is crossed it is more like star treatment. That line was far off as I settled in for a nice, slow, haircut.

I like haircuts, alright?

She began clipping. Even the sound of the scissors criss-crossing their way across my head has an almost primeval ease to it. The relaxation process is on full blast (80's reference) and I couldn't be more comfortable.

But, and you know she would, she began to speak.

"What do you do?" She asked with a smile.

"I work at the Poker room" was my dry reply.

"What do you do there?"

I knew she'd ask that. Everyone always wants to know everything about you. As if in knowing more about you they can somehow connect with you on some great level. Either that, or she's just nosy. Either way. I suppose she could been trying just to be nice, but I'm not buying it. (That is sarcasm, by the way. I'm not completely insane)

"I play poker". I may as well just tell her, although I am sure this is going to spark an entirely new direction in the conversation.

It's possible I told her because I am having a narcissistic moment. I want her to be intrigued. I want her to be interested. Wait, no. I want a silent, goddamn haircut.

Her response and following questions were NOT what I was expecting. You see, most people want to know what famous people you've met, where you travel to, what exciting things have you done, what's the most money you've ever won. Never what's the most you've ever lost (I assume because that is too personal).

"OOOhh! My brother plays poker at the poker room!!" But her face was not one of joy. She was sounding excited while not really feeling excited. I knew that look. It was one of displeasure.

"I bet there are a lot of regulars at the poker room" She queried.

"There are, but there is also a poker room in Orange Park, so you get a lot of diversity. It's a lot of fun."

I don't want to know her brother's name. I just don't want to know. I know I should ask her, but what if he loses the family farm or something due to poker? You must understand, most people lose at poker. I, personally, get very little of what any individual actually loses in total. But, I get some of it, none the less. Even if a person doesn't lose money directly to me, he loses money to someone else who will eventually lose money to me. That is the hope, anyways.

Her caresses have gone, and she roughly pulls at my hair to cut it. It's at this point she goes into some long description of some old man who goes into the quick stop to buy a hundred dollars in lottery tickets each day. The old man doesn't care what it cost and is happy and feels great if he wins just a free ticket.

I don't know what this story had to do with anything. Unless her brother is the old man and the lottery tickets are synonymous with playing poker, I can't see the connection.

"He should just bring that hundred to the poker room. He'd have a better chance."

I sincerely meant this. Playing the lottery is a futile attempt to strike it rich. The odds are stacked against you completely. You have a better chance of being struck by lighting, while pissing at the sky during a thunderstorm, than you have of hitting the lottery.

She then made some comment about old men and dementia. Now I really don't want to know her brother's name. If I had to worry about the state of minds of all of my opponents it would be very difficult to continue.

This haircut was sucking.

She finished up shortly after that. Not much more was said. She dusted off my neck, and powdered me up a bit, and took of my giant bib. As I was rising to go pay she said one last thing.

"There's still an hour left before you head off to prison". It came out like have a nice day. But, what a strange goodbye. Why does she think I would think the poker room is a prison?

I wish this lady played poker. Part of playing well is knowing what the other person thinks you have in your hand. I don't think she knows my hand at all. She has no idea I'm about to turn over pocket aces, again, and scoop a nice pot.

"yeah, but I like the color orange". I said with a smile. She had a quizzical look on her face. I paid my $5.99 for the haircut, and gave a $2 tip. Prison is calling. In one day the electric chair is powered up. A lot of people have no idea they are on the list for their date with the hot seat. I hope I'm not on that damn list.

To my hairdresser friends. As I wrote this I realized she was not crazy. But, I can't help but wonder what would have happened had she not began the twenty question thing. She probably had no idea of the mind she had in front of her. It is a fragile mass of protein that continuously wants to crawl in a dark hole and avoid the danger of the outside world. I think my distant ancestors were cave dwellers or something.

The search continues...

Codsey out.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You VC!!

I'm sitting here listening to the pundits discuss whether President Obama's firing of one general, and immediate hire of another, was brilliant or not. Well, I suppose it had to be done. I get it. This General Petreus sounds competent. Ok, I can see it all. But, something else occurred to me this evening as I daydreamed about AJ beating my AK for a hundred dollars about 20 minutes ago.

See, I listened for about 20 minutes to a joint news conference Obama and the russian president were having. Obama was asked about the war in Afghanistan, and he gave our strategy of getting things calmed down, making the gov't we support able to fight for itself, and hopefully begin pulling troops out about a year from now. He also said he and his team would be reviewing things as this year goes on to determine the probability of some troops being sent home.

The President metioned Pakistan needed to get in the game and start hunting some of the bad guys inside of their country. That makes perfect sense. But, what if they don't? Are we going into their country, in force, to try and pin the enemy down? Are we going to attack Pakistan? These are big problem questions, not little problems at all.

This all sounds like another war, in my lifetime, that I have actually read quite a bit about. Viet Nam was nearly the same. The Ho Chi Min trail wound down from North Vietnam and into Laos and Cambodia before it came back into South Viet Nam. It was the supply route for the insurgents and viet cong.

Routinely, the Viet Cong and NVA (North Vietnamese Army) would resupply, building up strength in Cambodia and Laos and then launch attacks in South Viet Nam. Once The US arrived on scene and in force we would naturally triumph in battle. Th enemy was no match, but the enemy would slip back across the border to resupply and do it all again.

Does this sound familiar? Afghanistan, Pakistan, insurgents, slipping across the border? Huh, no, are you living on the moon?

Ok, let's step back a second. Let's try to imagine how our current strategy for Afghanistan might play out, assuming each step actually goes as planned.

-Keep pressure on the enemy reducing their ability to cause trouble
-Pakistan aids us and attacks enemy camps inside of Pakistan
-Arm and train the current Afghan government so they can defend themselves
-Begin to pull our troops out as fewer attacks take place.
-Continue to support the Afghan people and government, always strengthening their armed forces.
-Hope the current Afghan government can hang on.
-When the current Afghan government loses power to the taliban, impose economic sanctions.
-When those don't work, go back in???

It is, to say the least, a tall order. I'm afraid this will end up being another "win every battle, and lose the damn war" scenario. Unless we occupy Pakistan I cannot envision the enemies arrayed against us stopping their efforts to make us leave. They will not give up and we cannot kill them all.

How much money are we spending on this war? I'm afraid to google it. I did though and the total money appropriated for both Iraq and Afghanistan is 160 B for 2011. That is a lot of creased stripper dollar bills.

So, we're also going to pay for Afghanistan to have a good, well equipped, highly trained military. How much is that going to cost? I don't want to know. I think there may still be hope. I think there is only one course of logic.

We have to pull out. It's not defeat. The Taliban may take power again, well, they probably will. They will probably aide Al Queda in trying to figure out how to destroy us. They may even launch another terrorist attack inside of US soil. But you know what? That may very well happen anyway.

Homeland Security is important. Troops on our own borders is important too. American families spending holidays and birthdays together is possibly the most important.

I still want us to kick ass though, when the time is needed. I just think there are better, certainly less expensive, and certainly more world friendly ways to do it. What I'm talking about has been made to almost sound taboo in the art of 21st century warfare. Covert operations.

Have men on the ground in all of the countries in the middle east. Clendestine operations. Seek out the training centers. Seek out the enemy. Then, bomb the shit out of them.

I know there are going to be civilian casualties. That is something that no one ever desires, but it's called collateral damage for a reason. We do not need to get anyone's permission, just get the planes airborne and bomb the enemy hard and fast.

If bombing them won't work then put small teams on the ground to take out those tough to clean stains. It's time to possibly be a little sloppier. We won't be able to save the true innocents, the people of Afghanistan, because they will still be living in turmoil ruled by the Taliban. Can you imagine being female and living under that rule?

I cannot be optimistic enough to picture that region of the world being safe and secure for decades to come, and that is whether our military remains in that country or not. Therefore, bring the troops home. Train them hard. Resupply OUR forces. Prepare for the next war, because it may be a doosie. This is turning into Viet Nam and I wish it to end.

Codsey out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Soccer's a Good Sport

I'm siting here as the USA v. Algeria World Cup game is beginning. It occurred to me that soccer is a definitely different sport than the American favorites of Football, Baseball, and Basketball.

Ours has always been a nation of "we are the best" and I think overall that has served us well. We have gone from a fledgling nation along the east coast, winning two wars against arguably the strongest nation in the world, to a global powerhouse in right about 170 years when we were instrumental in ending world war II. Plus, we had the bomb. Nobody was going to mess with us.

So, it's understandable that we would consider "our" sports better. We love the quick action and mind numbing hits of the NFL. I can think of nothing better, when I was a youngster, than seeing the NFL Today starting up and watching the slo-mo replay of a receiver just getting laid out by a defensive back. The NFL is king in America.

We love the strategy, the almost military like procedure to it all. We love how after each play the teams huddle to plan their next tactical approach to moving the ball ten yards forward. We cling to the hope of the sudden BIG play in which the ball is thrown with such precision, with that perfect spiral, as to make us all wonder what it would be like to be that good at something. We even love the punt. For although it admits losing a battle, it gives hope to the underdog that just maybe putting them back in their own end may allow something good to happen for our team, for a change.

Baseball used to be our nation's passion. Talk about strategy! Strategy and pushing minute edges of probability to be one of few teams to have even the chance of winning the whole thing. How many times do you think a manager has to decide, over the course of an entire MLB season, whether or not to bunt the runner over? Given the situation in the game, the batters and base runners, the other teams infield, the ability of the pitcher to cover first base, the manager must put that into some sort of algorithm that gives him an answer. Even if the immediate result turns out wrong the manager can feel safe in knowing, if his math is almost right, he has made the right decision.

It's no wonder so many people love poker. Poker is exactly like that. I never thought of baseball and poker being similar, but damned if it isn't. Back to the point, if there ever becomes one.

The NBA is quite arguably our second most popular sport. We have fallen in love with the speed and absolute raw power of a monstrous, thundering dunk. Traveling? No big deal as long as the payoff is something akin to watching a cirque de soleil show, with defense.

The USA just had two wonderful scoring opportunities in this soccer game. They had a goal taken away as well, the result of an erroneous off-sides call. This is a truly wonderful game. I can't believe more people don't like this sport.

This game is particularly good because both teams are playing a clean game. The whistle isn't blowing every minute. The teams are playing solid defense when a man gets the ball. There isn't a lot of kicking at the back of the heels, and arms up around the faces of opponents. It is what soccer is supposed to be.

The Algerians just played a flag ball to the left corner. The Algerian forward and American defender ran stride for stride towards the ball. Control of this ball, in this spot on the field, was vital. As the two of them, both still stride for stride, neared the ball they instinctively put their shoulders down and delivered a shoulder to shoulder blow that sounded like two sides of beef being slammed together in a slaughter house.

That is just about the most contact you are supposed to have in the game of soccer. You can't hit someone like that from behind, or from the front. This game today is very clean, and very good.

Soccer has the strategy of a war game, and the tactics of a realistic battlefield situation. The game continually changes. the pieces are in constant motion. Gain the ball in an area of the field where you have more men than the other team and you are probably going to b able to put together some sort of opportunity. That is why teams play four defenders and four midfielders while only usually starting two forwards, or strikers. They give up numerical superiority in their opponents end of the field in order to have it in their own.

Attacking the corner flags of the opponents half of the field stretches out the defense forcing them to cover more space. It also keeps the ball out of the hands of the only person who can pick it up with his/her hands, the keeper.

Three good things can happen when you get the ball to the flags, as they say. You can gain possession, earn a cross or go around a defender and create an immediate scoring opportunity. You could gain a corner kick. You can gain a throw in from deep in enemy territory. Wait make it four. You could gain a free kick if the defender fouls your striker while fighting for the ball.

There are probably more benefits, but any one of these can produce an IMMEDIATE scoring opportunity. Wait, there are more benefits. The ball that deep in your opponents territory keeps them from having a scoring chance. That is, they cannot counter-attack from that spot on the field very easily. The opponents will also have their faces to their own goal which is a rough spot to defend from.

Wait, more.. the ball, if gained in the corner, is crossed from a point where your team would have a harder time being off-sides. It is similar to a corner kick because it is near the end-line. A corner kick has to be one of the best scoring chances in soccer. Your team is facing the others goal while the ball approaches from the corner kick...HUGE advantage.

Bad things that can happen on a flag ball are few and far between. The other team can gain a throw in deep in their own end (not really a bad thing). Or, they clear the ball back out (not all that bad noting your team is facing their goal, and their defenders are doing the same). Or, they get a goal kick, which against a good team is giving them possession. But it's not horrible.

Anyway, I babbled there for a bit. Soccer is awesome. This game is incredible. The skill level of some of these players is astounding, but a good team will normally beat a one person show. Employing the correct strategy, winning the small battles, and getting more opportunities than your opponent, is usually the key to winning.

I know what American HATE with a passion that makes me cringe that it is even involved in sport at all. Faking injury to draw attention and hopefully a call from the referee. It happens far too much watching international play, and I wish it would go away.

Dempsey just hit the post for the US on a fairly wide-open shot. Jesus man, finish it one time, will you? OH MY GOD, I just saw the first dive taken in this game. And the US player charged with the foul was given a yellow card. Now that player has to play tentatively for the rest of the game, and he has been dominating that defender creating many scoring opportunities.

Use the replays for yellow cards, please. Jesus, he barely touched the guy, and you would have thought the defender broke his leg or something on the play. The defender should have been the guy getting the yellow card for faking injury. The replay makes it look obvious.

See, Americans are never gonna put up with crap like that. Your average football fan is going to call that guy a pussy and probably some other politically incorrect names. It's too bad too, because this is one helluva a great game.

Maybe the rest of the world doesn't want the US to be interested in soccer... if we were more of our best athletes would play soccer and eventually we would dominate the mother. Maybe that's why the refs appear to be biased. I hope they are not, biased I mean, but I can understand in a way. If we were to give soccer our full attention, just like most things, the United States of America would DOMINATE!

US just missed two more scoring chances... good lord. Come on! great game though.

Codsey out.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Implosion Imminent?

My head is about to explode, or rather implode, due to the extreme outside pressure I am currently experiencing. I feel like if I were to spring a leak in my noggin it would resemble the bottom of the gulf as robots arms raced in to place the Top kill, and my brains slowly gushed to the floor. Thankfully, it would be a quick end noting the lack of cerebral matter in the grey goo.

It's funny how quickly you forget about the oil in the gulf when you realize you are losing touch with the two most important people in your life. My kids are growing, and along with that growth comes the realization for me that I am not go to agree with many of their decisions.

Some are cut and dry, like my son egging a person vehicle because the man told him to stay off from a trampoline. Obviously, no matter what your reasoning, egging someone's property is tantamount to vandalism. Some reactions to a situation are just not okay no matter the wrong you feel was done to you.

Take terrorism, for instance. I have a friend who believes the terrorists are justified in killing innocent people because they have no other way to fight back against the grave injustices currently being thrust upon them by the west. I say that is bullshit.

I think a lot of people in this country feel guilty about America being so very powerful, as though this power we have would somehow be put to better use if Middle Eastern countries possessed it. Could you imagine a world in which Iran and Iraq had the nuclear weapons and the rest of us had to succumb to their will?

Do you honestly believe those countries would ensure we had food and medicine? Do you think they'd ensure our individual rights were preserved if they had all of the guns? Jesus, this world is on full blown, chip spewing, pocket digging TILT!

Don't forget this basic truth. We are ambivalent, they are tyrannical.

I can't believe I got off on that tangent. Wow, how the mid wanders when you don't want to face facts.

My son, yes, my son. My son, the egg thrower. I wanted to beat him so badly, I was very angry with him, but thankfully I did not. I am still angry with him, but I'm trying to understand. I'm petrified that I am failing as a parent, that my son does not understand the difference between right and wrong. That very thought woke me up in the middle of the night.

He's grounded right now, no computer, no friends, up in his room hopefully thinking about his actions. I've done a lot of yelling since last night, and I'm sure it is ineffectual as a deterrent to anti social behavior. SO, I'll let him stew for a while in his room, essentially locking him in. I hope he hates it up there.

Being a parent is difficult, at best. I can see why people just check out. Parents give in, and the kids very often fall into a pattern of bad behavior often times ending in prison or death. Am I sounding a tad dramatic? Well, this is serious drama to me.

I'm scared I am failing, once again, at an undertaking that seemed easily attainable when I began it. Professional golfer, failed. Life insurance underwriter, unhappy, quit, failed. Mortgage salesman, failed. Professional poker player, slowly failing. Father, as of today, failing.

My daughter wants nothing to do with sports in school. She is a talented soccer player. I have no clue of how to get her to understand how much fun playing on a sports team can be. I've told her many times, but she cares more about friends and her ability to text them at any time, from any place.

I suppose I have to threaten to take her phone away and force her to play soccer? I have told her if she doesn't play soccer she has to do something else. She must be doing some sort of extra-curricular while in high school. I know, from experience, that extra-curricular activities were the only thing that kept me out of trouble during my high school years.

I'm clueless here. Seriously. I have no answers that I can say are absolute. This is not math. If this were math we'd be able to come to an exact conclusion on how to handle the situation. Or, at least be able to realize the best course of action given any situation. It's not math.

I can see why some parents just give up. They allow their kids to do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want. All control is lost. It is the easiest path. That is failure in my book.

I'm not giving up. There is no way I'm quitting on these two kids. I think they are basically good, and that is at least something.

"I want, I want, I want" had better start to sound like "May I please" pretty damn quick. I ain't raising no terrorists.

I'm out.