Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bending Over and Grabbing My Ankles
I hate to report this, but my housing woes continue, much like a nasty cold that one can not just shake. But this time, it is more like the cold has turned into pneumonia.

My closing date was set for last Friday. Unfortunately, the out-of-town appraiser who came to appraise my house reported that three windows were screwed shut. Does she really get paid to do her job? The windows in question were in our former dining room. The windows opened both on top and on the bottom, but there was never any need to open the bottom windows. They had probably only been opened a few times over the past 14 years. Anyway, since the buyer had applied for a VA loan, this is the usual kind of crap that happens. Thanks for importing this incompetent out-of-town appraiser.

The new closing date was then set to this coming Wednesday, September 3. On Friday, I went to my bank to take care of paperwork, including revising a second mortgage and getting a check for the closing. I was busy at work on Friday, and got back to my desk late in the afternoon, only to receive a copy of this email message from my real estate agent, who is serving as a dual agent, to my attorney: "I received a phone call from (buyer) on Friday August 29th at about 11:30am. He expressed his desire to not complete the purchase of the home at ..."

So, this motherfaucker somehow thinks that he can just walk away at the last minute? Believe it or not, he is in Las Vegas this weekend. The real estate agent said that nothing had ever been said about a possible desire to get out of the contract, and the buyer had done all the usual things buyers do (home inspection, changed over utilities, etc). What the hell is this guy thinking?

My attorney immediately sent him a Notice of Default, advising him that he had ten days to correct the situation. The appraiser will be back Tuesday morning to reexamine and clear the window situation, the loan should be approved, and the real estate agent will inform the buyer that we are still scheduled for closing on Wednesday. He plans on letting the buyer know of damages that will be sought if he pulls out. The buyer, to the best of my knowledge, does not have an attorney nor has he consulted one.

So ... either the buyer will come to his senses and close on Wednesday, will decide to close within the ten-day correction period, or will default. Should he default, I'll be forced to put the house back on the market, sell it to someone else, and seek damages from the original buyer.

Of course, all this is happening right at the time I planned to vacation in Las Vegas. I originally decided to cancel the trip when all this came down, but what would I do -- go into work on my vacation week when I had been looking forward to this trip for so long, or stay at home and fret all day? I decided to still go to Las Vegas since all this is beyond my control anyway. It appears that by Wednesday my nightmare will be over, or just starting another chapter.

Catch y'all on the flip side. I hope that when I return I am able to report that my house has been sold and that I cleaned up at MGM, Ballys, and other favorite rooms. I will also give my impressions of the electronic tables at Excalibur, and hope to report on the new concept Hard Rock poker lounge.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Goombye to Jay the Rat
If you're not from Chicago or don't follow Chicago sports, you might not realize that the big news in town is the resignation of Sun Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti. Mariotti can be seen nationally on ESPN's Around the Horn.
For a number of years, Mariotti has been a thorn in the side of most Chicago sports teams and many individuals, most recently White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen. While his columns have ofttimes been entertaining, they also tended to get old as he took shot after shot after shot ... and was even accused of some flip-flopping.
Mariotti was known as a big prima donna, and the many nasty goodbye tributes from his fellow journalists tell you how disliked and disrespected he was. I can't ever remember seeing anyone as insignificant as a columnist excoriated as publically, quickly and gleefully as he was after the Sun Times accepted his resignation.
Mariotti was quick to quote athletes, managers, coaches, and owners, but he apparently never had the balls to actually get the quotes himself and go face to face with the people he ripped. It reminds me of how people will talk all kinds of shit at the virtual felt -- stuff they would never have the stones to say in person.
Surprisingly, I will miss reading Mariotti's column online. It was sort of like passing by an accident scene. You don't really want to look, but the scene just compels you.
Does anything ever go right ???

My closing is now delayed until next week -- when I will be in Las Vegas. Yes, this is causing many adaptations, not to mention a churning stomach.

I got the news from my attorney late this afternoon that the title company had rescheduled closing from Friday to next Wednesday. There had been a delay in the appraisal, and apparently this factored in in some way through the government-sponsored loan my buyer is getting.

So ... I have to fill out a Power of Attorney form, leave my wife to sign at the closing, have a decision to make about paying real estate taxes since they are due on Tuesday ... bah.

The funny thing was, I called my real estate agent (dual agent in this sale) to ask him what happened. He was shocked to hear it! wtf!!!

So ... I hope that nothing derails this sale. It sucks when I did everything I needed, yet something beyond my control gets screwed up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Only 40 hours until closing. After waiting for this moment for over a year, I feel like some giddy teenager getting ready for the prom. Bring it on, baby!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Little Rambling on a Tough Day ...
Today has just been a day of many emotions. Some of the stuff going on and through my life today ...

Gary812: You Da Man!
Congrats to Gary812 for taking down the Online Forum Challenge buy-in event at Absolute Poker today. Gary was proudly representing the Shark Poker Tour. He is one tough hombre on the virtual felt. He already had a big rep at Shark when I started playing poker a few years ago. The first time I ever bounced him from a tournament, I knew that I was on the right track. Gary is one hell of a poker player and, although I've never met him in person, every interaction I have had with him tells me that he is probably also one hell of a guy. Congrats Gar!

As For My Poker Game ...
As for me ... I sucked today. In the first hand of a CardsChat loyaler freeroll, I ran QQ into KK. Just when it looked like I would double up and bring myself out of a huge hole, my 10-10 was conterfeited when beardyian, who called with 9-9, hit a two outer on the river. Ouch.

I never got untracked in the Online Forum Challenge game. Everytime I had a hand, I was put to the test by someone who most likely had me beat. It was just one of those tournaments when nothing seemed to work. Funny thing -- I was playing for CardsChat, but wearing a shirt. Such is life when you are part of more than one online poker community.

Making It Through the Grind at Work
School starts tomorrow, so one of the worst times of the year for my job is almost at an end. Handling student after student used to be a lot more fun when I was younger. Now, I seem lucky to make it to the end of a difficult day. However ... Las Vegas is only two weeks away, and I sure need the break.

And About That House ...
Two weeks from now, I will FINALLY be out from under my old house. About the only things left before closing are a termite inspection and some things we need to clear out of the house. I can't believe that the nightmare is almost over. Life can finally return to normal, I hope.

My Dad's Been Gone For Four Years
It is now four years since my father passed away. It still seems like just a few months ago that he was around. Although I don't like to dwell on the negative things from the past, I am still haunted, to some degree, by being there when the life support systems were turned off and watching him die. It is such an unbelievably horrible feeling and an experience I can't possibly describe. God knows how people are able to handle situations ten times worse, like watching a loved one be the victim of a violent crime. Dad, the White Sox pasted the A's today, so I know you are happy.

What About That New Pet?
Finally, I decided that we would expand the family by one today. My oldest daughter got the chinchilla she wanted. I really didn't want her to get it, but it was the kind of decision you make when you are a father. Something I learned from my old man years ago ...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Close, but No Banana
The blinds were 3,000 and 1,500, so there was a lot of pushing at the end. I pushed with a pair of Jacks, but unfortunately, GoIrish89 had Queens. No suckout for me, but at least I went out in an honorable way.
Thanks to Dr Pauly for hosting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just Another Tricky Day at the Virtual Felt ... and in Life

So ... how was your Tuesday? Mine was just peachy. For starters, my pregnant sister-in-law who is visiting had some medical problems and had to go to the emergency room of a local hospital. She is okay, thank goodness.

Work was busy from the first to the last minute. I then had to do some quick grocery shopping before dinner, then barbecued. There's twelve hours shot to hell. When I went off to play in my first tourney, you'd have thought I had been sitting on my butt all day by the look I got from my wife. Hey -- I didn't invite her family over on a good poker night, did I?

1) CardsChat Freeroll -- Missed some of it (see above), then chased a flush draw to double up or bust out. Dong -- see ya later.

2) NYRambler's Series -- Missed the beginning of this rebuy, then went all in with a decent hand (for a cheap rebuy). Lost the hand, and then had a problem with my wireless mouse, lost my internet connection, and subsequently was timed out on my rebuy attempt. That sucked. Out in about four minutes.

3) All Vegas Poker (AVP) Tournament -- Had a strong hand and completely missed the stronger one my opponent had. Careless mistake that cost me my tournament life.

4) Blogger Skillz Game -- Ding ... we have a wiener! I kept hitting virtually every flop early, then stayed aggressive when the cards went south, then hit some flops hard at the end to get the victory in this Limit Hold Em donkathon. That's me -- head donkey tonight!

Oh ... and a special shout out toUSA Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone, who made two heartbreaking errors in team competition tonight. Alicia is one of the few gymnasts who actually has breasts and doesn't look like she is ten years old. It must be tough screwing up on a national stage, cameras following your every move after your mistakes, and still trying to hold your head high. Props to this tough young lady.

And finally ... my oldest daughter wants a pet - a chinchilla. It's always something ... right, Mom?

I Run Goot Lately, No? NO !!!
Ahh ... just a short little post to whine about my latest gifts from the poker gods.

Saturdays with Dr. Pauly at PokerStars: I was getting no cards and saw my stack dwindling as the blinds were increasing. I stayed in a pot with the best hand I had gotten in some time: x-x-10-10. The flop came x-10-9, and I was guessing that at least one person had a good possibility of a straight draw. But, being a shortie, I pushed all in. There were two callers. The turn was a beauty -- a 9! So ... with top boat of 10s over 9s, I was feeling pretty good. My stack would go back over 3,000, and I could make a good run. I was a bit worried, however, when one of the two remaining players raised. The river was a blank, and I was ready to collect all my chippies ... except that the guy who raised after the turn had -- you guessed it -- x-x-9-9. My boat was sunk by the quads, and I was left wondering why I even attempted to play on PokerStars again. PokerStars has been the absolutely worst place for me to play.

CardsChat $200 added at Full Tilt: I chipped up early and was feeling like I would take the sucka down. I was catching cards and playing a good, aggressive game. Then it happened. I got A-A in middle position, and a shortie went all in in front of me. I went all in to isolate, and it was just my A-A vs his Q-J sooted. Yep -- he hit his flush.

I did eek out a small triumph when I called a very short stack all in with A-8. The shortie had me dominated with somethink like A-Q, but a paired my 8 and sent her to the rail.

Next baddie: A shortie goes all in and I call with A-J. I am up against J-rag, and of couse, the rag pairs on the flop, and I lose the hand.

Finally, with my stack decimated and the blinds increasing, I go all in in middle position with 6-6. I am called by a chip leader, who has A-Q. The flop brings a Q and the turn is a Q ... Nope, I am not winning this coin flip.

I am reminded once again of how, in order to win a tournament, your good hands have to hold up, you win some coin flips, and you suck out one or more times. Bah!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cruizin with the Oldies Station on a Sunday Night -- Lyrics, Lyrics, and More Lyrics
We've got some relatives coming to visit on Monday, so it was necessary for me to make a late-night shopping run to the grocery store and the drug store tonight. I decided to crank up the oldies station and check out the song selection for the evening. A tale of four songs tells you all you would want to know about rock and roll lyrics.

Song 1: Shake Your Booty - KC and the Sunshine Band. Talk about a great song from the 1970's, right at the start of the disco era. The song just wouldn't be the same if the lyrics were:

"Shake shake shake
Shake shake shake
Shake your butt
Shake your butt"

The song was on as I was passing through the McDonald's drive thru. I was able to tell the cashier, "Yeah, old KC sure doesn't have all that hair anymore, does he?"

Song 2: Take the Money and Run - Steve Miller Band. Talk about shitty lyrics - my vote for the WORST rock lyrics of all time. Nothing like making an innane story just to reach for badly rhyming words:

"This here's a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose
They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run"

"Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes
Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today
Singin' go on take the money and run "

El Paso/hassle/castle? Texas/facts is/taxes? Do you really think Billy Joe and Bobby Sue are really singing "Go on, take the moneyand run?"

Song 3: Crocodile Rock - Elton John. Now ... Mr. Miller could learn something about writing lyrics from Bernie Taupin:

"I remember when rock was young
Me and suzie had so much fun
Holding hands and skimming stones
Had an old gold chevy and a place of my own
But the biggest kick I ever got
Was doing a thing called the crocodile rock
While the other kids were rocking round the clock
We were hopping and bopping to the crocodile rock"

"Well crocodile rocking is something shocking
When your feet just cant keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh lawdy mama those friday nights
When suzie wore her dresses tight
And the crocodile rocking was out of sight"

Effortless and fun lyrics written by a master ...

Song 4: Blinded by the Light - Manfred Mann. Bruce Springsteen wrote the esoteric lyrics to this classic:

"Madman drummers bummers,
Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin' kinda older,
I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasin', sneezin' and wheezin,
The calliope crashed to the ground"

And if Steve Miller wants to see how real first class rhyming is done:

"And go-cart Mozart was checkin' out the weather chart to see if it was safe outside
And little Early-Pearly came by in his curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride"

And of course, the Manfred Mann version of this song originally had everyone thinking that someone had the stones to say "douche" in a song, right? Even when we knew the word was "deuce," we still sang it like ... ah, you know ...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Next Las Vegas Trip Less Than A Month Away

With my last visit to Las Vegas becoming more of a distant memory (my non-gambling trip this past June), I am ready for a little Las Vegas poker action. I'll going to Sin City September 1-5. I had originally planned to stay at the Imperial Palace (hard to turn down $25/night at a center strip location), but, since my brother, the King of Komps is going, I'll be staying somewhere else. I'll be at MGM for two nights and then Ballys for two nights. The rooms will be comped, and the cost for my flight, after using my frequent flier miles, will be ... $10. Not bad, huh -- $10 for round-trip airfare and four nights on the Las Vegas strip?

When my brother gets comped rooms, we try to stay at places we've never stayed before. I hear that the MGM rooms are okay, but the biggest hassle is the enormity of the place -- a 25-minute walk to get anywhere, so people have said. And although Ballys is one of my poker home bases in Las Vegas, I have never stayed there. It will be nice to be able to stay at the tables late and then just take an elevator to get to my room. My brother-in-law will also be going, so that will add a twist to the trip.

What About That Roof?

FINALLY ... my roof is fixed. I called my roofer this morning to check on the repair status, and he said that he was able to get out before the rain yesterday and got it repaired.

I can not believe how difficult it was just to get someone to fix my damn roof. With roofers who would not even return a phone call or failed to show up to do the repairs, with handymen (who were recommended to me by friends) who would not return calls, with a roofer who said he could get to it this fall or this winter ... Argggggggghhhhhhh.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Finally, after spending one year on the market, my house will now have a new owner. A bad mix of terrible timing (I listed it just as the bottom fell out of the market) and a real estate agent who talked a good story, but was not astute enough to really understand the market and was not a "closer," contributed to this year-long headache. Of course, this past year I have seen thousands of dollars fly out the window, never to be recovered. However, I am thankful that, barring any unforseen problems, this will all be over by the end of August.
The toll this has taken on me has been unbelievable. Having grown up in a middle class household in suburban Chicago, I never had a lot of money while young. Then, tack on four years of college, two years of grad school, working in the social services field, and beginning my professional career at a small, financially strapped college, I never really saw any kind of decent money until I turned 30.
Getting married was a good financial blessing, adding another paycheck to the financial coffers. However, as children numbers one, two, and three were born and got older, expenses increased dramatically.
I actually have it pretty good right now. I have job security and a good salary, and my wife is professionally employed and is making decent money. It killed me, though, to see all this money floating away this past year when I had spent most of my life being somewhat frugal and always making careful, well-researched financial decisions. Yep -- I was one of those guys who bought many items based on the recommendations of Consumer Report.
The funny thing is, I actually sold the house before resolving my roof problem. I did get someone to check out my roof again, and he is supposed to repair it on Tuesday, a good three days before my scheduled housing inspection. So ... barring any major problems, the house will be sold by the end of the month, and I will then have to settle up with my bank. Since the house took so long to sell and sold for much less than I originally imagined, I will probably have to take out a second mortgage to make up the difference. But ... at least my life will be back to normal.
Although I was under tremendous stress this past year, I kept a good attitude since I was able to see first-hand someone who had it much worse than me. A young, bright, attractive woman with whom I work is recovering from breast cancer, had her husband lose his job when his business was sold, and had a mother-in-law with serious medical concerns. Yet, this woman, Jennifer, is tough as nails, and certainly showed me that I had no room to feel sorry for myself. As I came to accept, my situation, when you came right down to it, was really only about money.
So ... going on the assumption that nothing gets screwed up with this sale, things will be back to normal just in time for my next trip to Las Vegas at the beginning of September. Thanks to all my poker buddies who empathized with me, and a special shout out to PokahDave, who had gone through this same type of nasty situation, and encouraged me several times over the past year.