Monday, January 31, 2011

The gift that keeps giving

When I finally looked up there was a 30 foot floodlight post with chipped brown paint standing tall hovering over me.  The sounds of the skating rink were a little different than I remembered growing up even if the little warming house still remained the same.  Sure the vending machine changed a bit from a quarter to $.75 with one of those new fangled dollar acceptors connected to it.  But the wood benches, puke spackled rubber floor and multi-colored brick interior with a lingering smell only hockey players could enjoy (or tolerate) still made up the hexagon shaped building.

I laid back for several minutes listening.  To the wind which brought a sharpness to an otherwise tame Minnesota early evening.  To the skaters which I could hear every c-cut and snowplow stop in the ice and could tell if they should be running down to Dave's Sport Shop on the other side of I-94 for the best skate sharping in town.  My kids were directly ahead of me but half of a football field length ahead of me on the "practice rink" on which if a hockey stick appeared the husky lady would don her Maple Grove Park and Rec jacket and give a few shouts until the heathens put away their warrior spears made by Reebok instead of Christian Brothers now.  The slap of the puck sounded differently as well, the wobbly mis-fires much different from the shots that rattled the back of the make-shift red pipe and fence goals.

My hearing aids have brought new sounds and experiences into my life since dropping a third of a Honda Civic on the Paparella  Ear, Head, and Neck Institute in exchange for those noises heard above.  Some people stuff a pipe and smoke its contents to feel, hear, and smell different things, I have molded plastic in my ears so I can do the same.  The crunch of the snow while extracting my body from the snow bank to join my kids on the pleasure rink and pick one up to hear "go faster daddy!" as I go a little slow than I did as a lanky 130 pound center who spend plenty of time avoiding goons who were, well my size now but probably didn't have the 10 years of bar fly experience in high school.

We would visit the double-sided hockey rink twice last weekend and both times the new music of the place gave me the pause to sit back and let the sounds come in.  That and I found out quickly my 36 year old body can't take more than three rushes up and down the opposing red lines without being completely wiped any longer.  Even nearly two years after shedding a tear inside my car after receiving this wonderful gift, the present still gives and will continue to do so. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Change starts with getting out of bed

Thundercats, thundercats, thundercats, HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Let's see we brought back Transformers and "found" Megan Fox, who will profit and become the lust of males once Cheetara makes it to the big screen?

The WBCOOP kicked off with a PLO on Monday afternoon which like most hard working cubical-bound workers I was not able to attend.  Last night, I was bound to my headless chicken schedule that had me going from a 10 hour day at the office and exiting the new Maple Grove library at closing time with a fictional tax return done for Bob and Amy Booth who will be receiving $1,337 Sklansky Bucks in the mail from the IRS or Mason Malmuth thanks to me finding an extra deduction for washing Amy's nursing uniform.  Tax deductions?  I jump on it.  Still hoping to play the PLO8 tourney tonight (nope, skating classes for the kids), and definitely the Thursday night round when my textbooks are shoved aside to let my inner degen before my body gets crippled into something resembling responsibility *shudder*

I see Michelle Bachman once again spouts the evils of ObamaCare (see third or fourth video) last night and continues her waffling ways of demeaning BIG government while continuing to tell gamblers they should not be allowed to spend their money the way they want to while fighting the repel of the UIGEA.  America is not Burger King Ms. Bachman, you can't have it your way and expect the country to run.  As I learned yesterday as I spoke with a co-worker about religion (I know, shouldn't do that) that according to her Muslims will be continuing their blood-thirsty war until all other's are wiped from the earth.  And using my face reading skills, she was dead serious.  The uninformed people of the US, and there are many, are the greatest threat to this country.  Even I regret to know nor understand the inner-workings of our government and politics in general but I do understand that neither "party" is working for that middle ground and that goes for the State of the Union speaker last night as well.

To expect everyone to wake up educated on what is going on is a practice in futilely.  Much like trying to teach Waffles tilt-control or bankroll management, the majority of this country is lower-middle income God-fearing people who believe what they see on the TV, and do not research the vast amount to information available on the internet to see if a story is true.  If their pastor, rabbi, other person-of-the-cloth says its true and dangummit it MUST BE!  The hypocrisy of things like holding a state lottery and not allowing gambling, or politicians like Michelle Bachman who slam big government (rightfully so) but offer no solutions (maybe she does but in all the videos I have seen of her its nothing but finger-pointing versus a platform). 

Nothing will change here until someone steps up to solve the problem.  My wheels have been spinning career wise much like Ferris Bueller's Ferrari when him and Cam tried reversing the mileage so I did something about it.  The bachelor's degree doesn't guarantee me a job, far from it, but at least there is no glass ceiling from the position I want "Supreme Overlord Galxicia King of the Spreadsheet" if you must know or "Staff Accountant".  Instead of sitting in my current position waiting for a hand out, waiting for divine intervention, I got active.  Most people in this country think a higher title, more money, is being "active" or "winning".  Absolutely wrong.  It's feeling good about where you are, and where you are going.  Two years ago I probably would break down from my schedule, weeping how bad I have it.  Instead, I look at how lucky I am to have a house that stands and keeps people warm, I have two kids who are disease-free, I have a wife who is trying to fit into a bikini again because she wants to feel better about herself (she still has a great ass), and me, finally breaking free of the martyr mindset and enjoying my long nights stiffing thru Latin names for the muscles of the body and seeing just how lucky I am to be learning, advancing, and best of all working towards being a better person.

Ok, sappy shit aside, people are not going to change much like my co-workers who are set in their ways, but that doesn't mean you have to blindly follow their road into perpetual apathy.  As a long-lost blogger who recently came back to pen some feelings about his journey and I feel exactly the same:

"So here I am, 7 years after I wrote the above lines, ready to start again. I have changed. My voice has changed, my style has changed. I still think about poker a lot, although I am not as immersed in it as I once was. I will be writing about life here. Hopefully you’ll join me for the ride."  - HDouble

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Earning my yearly poker blog cred

With an added $325 from Full Tilt and PokerStars all thanks to the WPBT Luckbox last longer and added money by Poker From the Rail.  I hear some extremely talented writers drop by that site and write about poker, I think you should check out this post:  Aftermath of Winning for such an example of awesomeness.

Or lameness.

Because Al is downing hurricanes and stripper's g-strings while I'm hoping my car doesn't break down in the ass cold sub-human temps we are set to receive with zero lube for the next few days.  Actually the lube would turn into an icicle with painful results, so keep the Astroglide indoors for safe use with your 16 gear rabbit vibrator.

Many semi-busy bloggers *points at self* have the fancy graphic of PokerStars' World Blogger Championship of Online Poker blinking on their dusty online journals ready for the battle to see who's got game behind the swirl of horrible puns and barely readable metaphors.  Maybe a few of you can write, and some knock it out of the park with the funny (see:  Wolves by Hyperbole and a half and always tip your babysitter even they managed to not steal anything).

Pot Limit Omaha January 24     14:00 ET     Tournament ID 339187689 

No Limit Hold’em  January 25     19:00 ET    Tournament ID 339187690

PL Omaha H/L    January 26     22:00 ET    Tournament ID 339187691

No Limit Hold’em    January 27     14:00 ET    Tournament ID 339187692

8-Game Mix         January 28     17:00 ET    Tournament ID 339187695

No Limit Hold’em     January 29     15:00 ET    Tournament ID 339187696

There's your line up kids, fear not as I have zero chance of playing the first tourney because I am the lame and responsible type who will be pecking away at spreadsheets instead of winning a free trip to SCOOP.

It will be tempting to stay up for the Wednesday tourney of course because who needs sleep when a split game tourney is guaranteed to go at least 6 hours which is exactly when my alarm would ring my ass up for work. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lucky for a reason

There are reminders that surround me daily of who I am, and what I wish to become.  Sure, the tedious studying of the human anatomy is better left to those like Dr. Chako who I'm certain could rattle off the names of the 8 cranial bones and 14 facial bones with no issue and his patients are better off with such expertise.  Sitting across the desk from myself however, I doubt once I gather up my bachelor's degree and hope to continue on to a CPA certification that you would care if I know the three layers of skin and their function beyond recommending a lotion with the cold weather turning your hide into something found at a leather store.

Well-rounded student I GET IT.  Trust me, yes I enjoy learning about the human body (ya'll got some gross stuff going on in there) but is it necessary that a 36 year old married guy with two kids to spend time on electives.  Its not like I'm looking to change majors, rush a different frat house, or have a change in heart about what I want to do in life.  Accounting is where I want to be, spreadsheets and databases get the blood flowing in the right places.  I need to move positions and quickly as currently the walls are closing in on me, feeling like wasted talent that could be doing more but instead forced to listen my career dying like my co-worker's persistent cough.

Phil Mackey, a local sports radio show host, co-creator of the Minnesota State Poker Tour (MSPT) and Minnesota Poker Magazine (where I was left off the recent top online players in the state list despite owning the 91st best player the state ranking by PocketFives HUZZAH!), and someone I had the pleasure of helping out on their poker blog for a bit (until I decided to return to school, still hope to cover an event the right way online) gets a lot of guff for having strong opinions and "getting lucky" to be in the position he is in at such a young age (read his recent post on the matter).  What these rubes don't see is how hard the man worked to get there and gave himself a chance to "get lucky".  Working in sports, getting to travel to the different venues on the company dime, seems like a great gig and it probably is but Mackey had a vision on getting there and went for it. 

Much like the very popular MSPT which is now going online at Bodog for qualifers (see the Minnesota Poker Magazine link above for details) it started with hard work and not much reward.  Look at Otis or Pauly, think they started their poker blogs with grandeur visions of cross-country tripping around the world being paid to watch and record millions of dollars sliding verticial along a poker table?  It's possible.  But it started with a love for the game, the they went out and made the connections to various people and sites and their given talents did the rest.

I was fortunate enough to meet Otis early on at the WPBT tournaments, chat on Yahoo, and share the experience of becoming a newly branded father and continue with parenting stories for years to come.  With some luck, I am able to call the final stretch for the Sunday Warm-up at the PokerStarsBlog and get tapped for SCOOP and the World Championship of Online Poker along side real writers like Shamus, defending PCA Women's Event Champ Change100 (hoping to peek at the screenplay before Universal snaps it up), Otis himself, Dr. Pauly, Writer Jen, F-Train.

Lucky?  Like a (insert worn out poker cliche involving river card here).

My co-worker constantly bitches about her life and her health but does nothing but stare at the retirement clock sitting on top of her PC while browsing thru homes online that she'll never buy.  Think I would be in this position if I'd stayed on the couch after my head injury?  Happy with a revived married life, two kids who can't wait to see their dad, and a side job that I love?  People like Phil Mackey, Otis, Pauly, successful writer John Hartness who despite working a full-time job is cranking out some kick ass novels, and even myself on a much lesser scale get there because they took extra shot, got out of bed when the floor was ice cold and fired up the laptop instead of giving up.

There's saying you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and you may miss nine out of ten times, but live to hit that tenth attempt.  And if the tenth shot is fouled off your shin, you walk it off and get back in the box for number eleven.  Because no one is going to hand you the career/life you're looking for.  Maybe this is why learning the functions of cilia and endoplasmic reticulum are worth a few hours at night. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

WBCOOP at PokerStars

Online PokerI have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.
Registration code: XXXXXX 640181

Home blogger team gotta defend their turf yo!  See you at the PLO8 tourney at least.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011: The Search for Perry

Fresh year, fresh quarter of school, and fresh snow for all!  Including our friends in G-Vegas who unfortunately lack the snow removal tools to deal with the white, slippery stuff.  It's a sliding scale of course as people in the northern states and Canada-land are used to the delays, hourly shovelling, and the bitter cold of the winter months whereas those south of the Mason-Dixon line may not have city wide plows, salting trucks, and a general tolerance for such weather.

Dead birds, mass flooding, and the Packers somehow winning a playoff game have the conspiracy/Armageddon nut cases in a frenzy as 2012 approaches.  If the world is ending prior to my 2013 graduation from college (current GPA a double flex worthy 3.98, ladies form the line to the right, I've been told there's plenty for everyone) why not party it up?

This year will be busy if not more than last year when I stretched myself to the limits by returning to school on top my daily routine which tires most people out just reading it.  The plan is to stay the course, continue to find pockets of fun underneath the wave of swimming lessons and Income Tax code books that outweighs a pan of lasagna for 10.

Last year took me to G-Vegas for Mastodon Weekend which was the perfect kick off for returning to school.  A weekend without my fingers being frozen while waking up, bars that don't force their employees to wear flare and served awesome beers, and most of all like-minded friends who shared themselves and dropped their professional suits in the garbage bin full of empty Yuengling bottles and strapped on the degeneracy wear to tear up downtown Greenville. 

There was making sure I had the funds for such hijinks as I helped out the PokerStarsBlog for the PokerStars SCOOP and WCOOP tournaments, trading regular sleep patterns for final table wraps about people winning six, even seven figures online.  My love for cards and watching the action got me thru the wee-hours of the morning and kissing the wife go to work at six a.m. and finishing up while dishing out Fruit Loops and bacon for the kids.  Reporting on poker is something that gives me a little extra spark as my regular job lacks forward thinking and being able to shove a few puns and use active thinking while writing helps bring some energy to a rather drab cubical life. 

Then the circus came into town for a Twins game, golf, and gallons of Surly Furious as Gentle Summit invaded downtown Minneapolis where we got Speaker and his newly minted lovely wife Emet addicted to the local brew.  StB sailed in from Milwaukee and DonkeyPuncher found the ability to board a plane semi-sober and stumble down Hennepin avenue with us.  I was lucky enough not kill everyone with my "sunglasses at night" trip from Canterbury Park and even walked away with enough money to cover the weekend's lap dances and Drizz drooling over 2am beers and wings expenses.  This summer however I vow to best Speaker on the golf course despite having the inability to swing a club for the next five months and will remember not to partake in that seventh NewCastle on the back 9.

After our usual kick-ass summer at the cabin/trailer, the fall months quickly brought December and my month to unwind from a stressful year.  Birthday, WPBT, four day weekends, New Year's parties, two weeks off of school, basically an off-loading of every deadline, every six page double spaced paper with appropriate APA formatting and reference page, every "I DONT WANT TO EAT THAT!!!!1!!!", every argument with my better half who I lean on more than I should but she stands tall despite being a foot shorter than I.  Every inch of stress gone, ready to reload for 2011 as the only memory still not on paper is the kick ass Black Crowes concert that may be Truckin' worthy once I finish it.

2011 brings something to look forward to versus something to be endured.  I've already hit the ground running with a spring break trip in the works, and a long time friend dropping in from Philly to make sure I get my alcohol and poker quotient in for the month year.  If I survive the AlCantHang experience again, you'll read it here.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Mrs. Gayle Homestead's Lottery Numbers Do Not Win

(AP) Limpson, MS ---  January, 5th 2011

The homemaker of six sits quietly on her wrangled porch.  White paint peels from cracks within the wood as screening hangs in certain places that show years of neglect.  "I've been meanin' to fix that up, and was already to have Hank down at Ace hardware do so but... but..." says the defeated Mrs. Homestead who couldn't bear to finish the sentence.

She will spend the next days of her life wondering what went wrong, was it punishment from God for tossing her fourth child in front of a Ford 150 that dodged  the little boy at the last moment to "knock some sense into him" after she found her cookie jar depleted of $1.56, today was supposed to be a day of redemption as her as her husband Bobby Joe who lays prone on the couch watching informerials smelling like a mix of raw eggs and Jack Daniels mumbling something about needing a sandwich and a Slap Chop.

"This was supposed to be the best day of my life, but those fancy folks on the TV FAILED TO PICK MY NUMBERS!" Gayle exclaimed

Yes, millions of sad stories like Mrs. Homestead will start pouring out today from the far reaches of the Catskill Mountains, to Tijuana, Mexico where you can find cheap ornaments like severed heads while entering the city, to the celebrations of THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY's silented victory party once the coaches, players, and fans found out they too had losing lottery tickets while winning a useless college football bowl game.  All saddened by the fact they will not be able to dance the dougie wearing ass-less chaps on their boss' desk this morning.

The $355 Million from the Mega Millions went to two tickets in Idaho and Washington when we told Mrs. Homestead about this she could utter a "fuck that shit" and headed back to porch swing with a pack of Newports and a fifth of Mad Dog 20/20 awaiting her to help cope with this solemn day.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sappy with a side of hash browns

Perseverance with bursts of joy.

If someone were to ask me what being a parent or a spouse was about I would answer with the sentence above.  It's about work, but it's a job in which no clock is punched, no annual reviews with scary upper management types who merely see you as a piece of paper with long winded self-empowerment words learned at another seminar.  There are no chances for promotion, no one trying to leap over your rung on the corporate ladder, just people who you choose to spend your life protecting and thinking about ways to improve their lives.

Even as I watched my stillborn son's pictures with pats on the back of condolence, our lives crumbling beneath a blackness of bad luck and apathy, we pushed on. 

Before the wonderful people who I call my dearest of friends scattered across the US, and soon-to-be invading the UK and Australia came into my life there was a void that they filled.  They gave hope, they gave themselves up, naked on a computer screen with stories of divorce, heartbreak, and also laughter, joy, and triumph.  They could gather together and out smart the monthly meeting of MENSA folks at the Holiday Inn off 494 and Plymouth Dr. or form a business with an army of lawyers, doctors, accountants, writers, marketing reps, and slimmed down news anchors. 

And they still continue to do so up to and beyond today.  As I have told many times in this space, my not-so-invisible "internet" friends inspired me to get off the couch and do something about my life.  Change is the most difficult of human emotions to force oneself into, as it means breaking outside of that warm Snuggie and getting up to face the cold floor.  It means pain, not a Brock Lesner right cross to the mid-section jolt of hurt, but perhaps trading a comfortable eight hours of sleep for four when a paper is due and the kids need help with their weekly spelling tests or enduring the blandness of financial statements. 

Last night many of those folks stood virtually behind me as I won a bit of cash playing poker (ok, it was the most I've ever won online).  This being a poker blog I should regal you with grand stories of check-raises and screenshots.  But, instead I'd rather talk about someone who was checking in during the tourney while doing squats and arm curls, a guy who gave someone a chance to write and it changed his life even beyond the job itself, to friends who gave a cheer for that King to fall with four players left, and that in 11 more months (or sooner if there's hope) I'll be able to shake their hands and buy them a beer or a double SoCo with a water back.  

Perseverance with burst of joy, you could say a poker player's biggest need is to push thru the bad days for one like last night, sometimes waiting years for a decent score.  Since I had lived thru bad days, weeks, months, or even a yearrrrrrrrr (ok I'll stop the Friends theme song before you folks develop an earworm), coming out stronger on the other side has given me the drive to start school, start being a better parent, being a better spouse, and maybe someday I'll get around to shaping up again to run a 5K.  I'm sure there are those reading this right now looking for a prop bet but it will have to wait a bit as learning tax codes and proper ledger entries comes first.

2011 has started off as 2010 left. 

With hope.