Friday, April 30, 2010

A Rewind and a Fast Forward
The Mookie
In Wednesday's Mookie I roached to 14th place out of 87 runners. No TOC seat, of course, and I even came up a little short of getting my buy-in back as the tournament only paid the top nine.

I got off to a great start as I hit a set of 8's on the flop and took a bunch of chips from lucko21, my former Mookie tormentor. After that, however -- not much to speak of. Premium hands were few and far between and I stayed around the middle of the pack for most of the tournament. As we got below 30 runners, I was always just a few spots away from "Dank Position" -- still in but smallest stack. However, I have always been pretty good at playing the short stack (waaay too much practice) and roached .... and roached ... until I was finally busted by LJ, who had raised in early position. Being a short stack and knowing LJ's aggro style, I knew my shove with 6-6 would get at least one caller. I was right as she called with a whopper -- A-2os! I was fine on the flop and the turn, but as we all know when playing at Full Tilt, the Ace ALWAYS comes on the river.

Knowing that my family was still up, I felt free to scream when the ace hit. I knew it was coming, so why did I really expect anything different? I typed some gibberish in the FT chat and then pronounced "I'm having a stroke." I guess I was unconvincing or no one cared about my whining or potential death. Poker bastards!

Well, at least I played better than I have the previous BBT5 tournaments. Time to step it up or the TOC will pass me by again.

Canucks vs Blackhawks
Oh, this is going to be great! Last year's series between these two teams was epic. There is a growing hate between the teams, making for some tough play and hard hits. The bad blood still lingers and snarky comments by both sides during the regular season make this a highly anticipated war.

I, of course, line up on the side of the Hawks. Some other clueless bloggers (Schaubs, Fuel55, Pirate Lawyer, and dbcooper, among others) will be rooting for the evil Canucks. I am sure the Canucks will try what was unsuccessful last year -- play a tough, physical game, hoping to halt the speed and finesse of the Blackhawks.

I'll be watching game one from the comfort of my home, but will be at the United Center for game two. It has been years since I have been to a Hawks playoff game (they were so bad for so many years) so this should be fun.

The betting window is open for any of you Canookie fans. Any brave souls out there looking to make a small wager?

Have a great weekend!
Badugi Anyone?
Okay -- so if you are one of those poker players who seems to always get cards that do not match when you need to complete a full house, flush, or straight, maybe you should consider playing the game designed for cards that are low and do not match -- Badugi!

Badugi is a draw game where the object is to get the four lowest cards (no pairs, sets, or quads) that you can while only having one card from each suit. If you have never played Badugi before, you can quickly learn the game by watching How to Play Badugi, a video provided by PokerStars. Perhaps you might even want to try playing in the PokerStars SCOOP (Spring Championship Of Online Poker) Badugi tournament scheduled for May 4.

Of course, if you are one of those players who seems to run bad in any tournament, you could be interested to see what kind of cards you will get in Badugi. Will you get that nice low spread -- or maybe, just maybe, will the deck slap you with paint, paint, and more paint?

Give Badugi a try and find out!
SCOOP 2010: Almost Showtime!
Fire up those computers and get ready to hit up PokerStars for SCOOP 2010 -- the Spring Championship Of Online Poker. The first SCOOP tournaments are just over two days away.

Some quick SCOOP 2010 stats:
• Total Guaranteed Prize Pool: $45,000,000
• Number of Events: 38
• Lowest Buy-In: $11
• Highest Buy-In: $10,300

Now, with 38 events, you know that there is something for everyone. Aside from traditional tournament events like NL Hold'em and Omaha, SCOOP also features some tournaments with a different twist -- like 8-Game, 2-7 Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Not sure what to do in these games? PokerStars has made it easy by offering some instructional videos such as How to Play 8 Game Mix .

So ... get ready for some of the best online poker action at PokerStars and SCOOP up some big time cash!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just Because

Monday, April 26, 2010

Okay, I just have to post about this. The times when I get to post about athletic exploits are usually few and far between.
Like a lot of guys who grew up in the USA, I played lots of sports -- baseball, basketball, football, track, etc. Once you start getting older, it is tough to see your athletic skills diminish -- even if they weren't that great to begin with. When the knees start hurting and you see the legs go, you have to get used to a new reality. You envy the guys you are playing against when they are less than half your age and still have the speed and the skills that you used to have years ago.
I still play softball although I was tempted to retire after last season. I hate to be the team bumbler. Anyway, I told myself that I would play at least one more season, but I would have to be in better shape.
I missed the first two games of this season due to my trips to the Cubs home opener and to the Mayo Clinic. I was using today as a transition day from the Minnesota trip and slept several hours in the afternoon. I felt totally like crap. I thought I'd go to the game tonight and just be there as a back-up in case we were short guys or someone got hurt.
As luck would have it, several guys could not play and I was the last-minute replacement to pitch. Well, what the hell, I'd give it a shot. I used to be the regular pitcher but stopped a few seasons ago when I felt like my reflexes were no longer good enough to snatch balls coming up the middle. I had only pitched a few innings in the past couple of years.
Well ... I only walked one guy and was the winning pitcher in a game that was halted by the 15-run rule after four innings. Better yet, I was three for three at bat, including a bases loaded double (got to third on the throw to the plate), a hard shot to left, and a bloop hit. I mean really -- when was the last time I hit one over the center fielder's head?
So ... after two weeks of inactivity, I go to the game, pitch well, and kick ass at the plate against a team that was comprised of guys much younger and in better shape than me. Best game I have had in some time. Sometimes things just work out.
Last night I had my first opportunity to play in a BBT5 invitational freeroll. I was a virtual card rack for the first 40 minutes, catching cards and taking advantage of some sloppy play. In no time I had my 3,000 opening stack built up to over 13,000. However, the poker gods decided to turn the tables on me, sending me packing much earlier than I thought possible.

Three key hands got me a big stack: A-A vs K-K, floping trips with top kicker in the small blind, and felting a blogger who shall remain nameless when I had two pair on the flop. However, I lost about one third of my stack when I raised with K-K and had one caller. The flop was Js-Qs-6d. There was a raise and I shoved because of the flush and straight possibilities. Unfortunately, my opponent had J-J and I lost over 4,200 on the hand.

I lost a lot of chips several hands later when I hit a set on the turn. Unfortunately, the same card that gave me the set completed a gutshot straight for Kat. She had me the whole way since she had an overpair, but having us both hit the same card really screwed me. After this hand, my stack was down to 5,157. I spewed some chips on draws that never came. Then I had the misfortune of running my top two pair after the turn into change100's flopped set of deuces. I was down to almost nothing and was out one hand later -- 69/108. It was a very poor showing considering that I had a tremendous chip lead early on. Yuk.

I have several things going on tonight but hope to play in the BBT5 tournament this evening. I hope to see you at the tables!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Sweet Home
After a week away from our girls and after dealing with Rick's surgery, the trip, and everything associated with it, we are happy to be back home and are ready to start with our regular routine again. A little boredom for a few weeks would not be bad.

Sheesh -- good thing I looked online. The BBT5 2nd Sunday freeroll is about to start in 15 minutes. I was invited to this one, so thank you, AlCantHang!

I'll post a little more once I have gotten settled at home. However, we are happy that Rick seems to be rapidly recovering. It will take some time for him to get back his stamina and to get the right side of his face functioning properly again, but he is off to a good start. I am sure that being back home will be a big help.

BBT5 -- yesssss!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trip to Mayo: Days 3 & 4: Healing Up Ready to Start the Transition Toward Home
The past two days have been sort of a big blur as I have spent most of my waking hours at the hospital. The operation was pretty hard on my son and he was needing his parents to be around. In fact, in the past three days I have spent almost 40 hours inside Rochester Methodist Hospital. However, there were a few other items of note the past couple of days:

1) The Mookie! I had a decent walk in front of me in order to get to my room and register in the Mookie. I entered a little bit late, but that was no big deal. Very nice showing for the blogger "home event." I guess a little (a lot, actually) WSOP money can do that.

I finished a nondescript 25th out of 122 entrants. Play was tough as for a long time in the tournament I had ck on my immediate right. Toward the end MiamiDon, the biggest stack, was on my left. There was little room for error. I finally crashed and burned when my A-9 went down to Don's K-K.

2) Lunch with OhCaptain. Sonny and Cher once sang "It's the little things that mean a lot." Having a connection here in town and someone to shoot the crap with about poker, blogger gatherings, etc gave me a little time away from the medical grind. Thanks a lot, bro -- you're the greatest!

3) I connected with a physician at Mayo with whom I lived many moons ago in college. "Pots," as we called him, was a senior when I was a junior. We lived in a suite with four other guys and had one hell of a time. Nerf basketball battles, late night "dog runs" (heading out to the 24-hour grocery store to buy hot dogs), and just other goofy stuff you do in college to pass the time -- those are some of my best college memories. It is always nice to see that some of your old friends have been successful after you have lost touch with them. I was at Pots's wedding almost 30 years ago. I think this is the first time I've seen him since.

And finally ... we are hoping that my son will be discharged Friday morning. He'll probably need at least a day to recover before we make the long trip home. I am really ready to end this horrific chapter of our lives. I'll be putting some other thoughts down regarding this whole event, but right now a few hours of sleep sounds sooooo good ...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trip to Mayo: Day 2 -- Playing Heads Up with the Big C
We found out that we needed to report to the hospital surgical unit at 9:30 Tuesday morning. We were hoping that Rick could get in during the morning so that everything would be done by the end of the afternoon. Unfortunately, we found out later that Rick was the healthiest person on the doctor's surgery list that day, so they made him the last one. We waited five hours before he was taken to pre-op. After 90 minutes in pre-op he was finally ready to go -- at 4:00 p.m.!

After 2 hours we were told that the initial surgery had been done and that the doctors were waiting on some new pathology reports. Unfortunately, the initial pathology reports were correct -- the mass was cancerous. They had to do some additional surgery and remove additional tissue. It appears that the cancer spread to only one lymph node. We are hopeful that the final pathology reports will show that that was the extent of the spreading.

So ... he was in surgery for quite some time, and even closing him up took more time. After what seemed an eternity, we finally got to see our boy after midnight. He actually did not look that bad. He was tired, so we left, got a few hours of sleep, and went back to the hospital early this morning. He seems to be doing okay. He'll need to spend an additional night in the hospital.

We were hoping to catch a Royal Flush, but that eluded us. However, it looks like we won the pot and are certainly thankful for that. If the rest of the pathology report comes back clean, I think we will have gotten away as best we could considering everything.

There will be some things Rick will have to cope with -- some temporary paralysis and some cosmetic issues. He will have to be vigilant the rest of his life. However, we think that we caught this early enough so that cancer has been felted.

I'll hopefully update some more this evening. It looks like the worst is over. We are hopeful. We are thankful.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trip to Mayo: Day 1
Today was a very long one at the Mayo Clinic, but an encouraging one. My son had an early morning appointment with a specialist, so that meant that I had to wake up much earlier than I would normally like to. Ahh -- the sacrifices we parents make!

Although nothing is ever certain, it seems likely at this point that we won't find out the most terrible news -- that the cancer has spread far. This type of cancer, unfortunately, tends to spread to the lungs if it spreads. His chest x-ray came out clean. Yea! This is a very good sign. It does not mean cancer has not spread -- but it is great news.

We were surprised to hear that even though the pathology reports identified cancer as the likely diagnosis, our specialist said that the biopsies of this type of cancer are often wrong. We will only find out for sure when they take out the mass.

My son is scheduled for surgery sometime tomorrow. We will find out what time later tonight. The best case scenario is that they will find out that the mass is indeed benign, the surrounding nerve is not damaged, and he will be okay. We are certainly hoping for this. He would need to be in the hospital for only one night and we would be on our way home within 48 hours. If cancer is found, there will need to be additional tissue removed and at least an additional night in the hospital.

Thanks to all you great bloggers for your care, concern, prayers, good karma, and good vibes. We are optimistic tonight and hope to be able to give you a great report tomorrow.

A special thanks to OhCaptain, who served as our unofficial tour guide for the clinic and surrounding area. We had lunch together and were able to even discuss the next December blogger gathering!

I plan on playing in tonight's BBT5 match. Cya on the virtual felt.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Serious Request for Prayers, Good Karma, Whatever ...
Have you ever been sailing along smoothly in a poker tournament -- catching cards, hitting your draws, winning with your bluffs -- and then suddenly things change: no more good cards, you get rivered, your opponent hits a two-outer? That is how I feel right now.

Life suddenly became more challenging for my family at the end of last week when we found out that my 15 year old son was diagnosed with what appears to be an extremely rare form of cancer. There is a slight possibility that it could not be cancer, but we will probably not find that out until after the mass has been removed.

The good news (good is a relative term of course) is that this type of cancer tends to not be as aggressive as other forms. If treated promptly and properly, the prognosis should be very good. We are taking my son to be treated by an expert in this type of cancer at the Mayo Clinic.

We are thankful that my son came to us about his bump and that we immediately sought medical help. He had a biopsy at the local clinic, and then a second one was requested. Slides of both tissue samples were sent to Mayo. I started to have a bad feeling about this, so at least the surprise was lessoned. Still, this has been quite a shock to the family. The initial shock has been wearing off, so at least we're beginning to work through this.

If all goes well, the mass will be totally removed, we will find out that the cancer has not spread, and there will not be any damage to a surrounding nerve. That is a likely scenario , but as we all know, nothing in life is guaranteed. We are hopeful that this will just be a small setback in what we hope will be a long, healthy life for my son.

So, as the title of this post suggests, we are asking for your prayers, good karma, healing vibes ... whatever seems to work for you -- we'll take it! We're shooting every angle we can on this orbit.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cubs Opener -- Yesssss!!

Today was the day for home opener number two: the Chicago Cubs vs. the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. The Cubbies cooperated with a 9-5 victory.

The day started very early as I made my trek from central Illinois to the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I met my nephew at my mom's house, and then we hiked about a mile to the train station to catch the commuter train into Chicago. Nasty construction traffic made us decide to take public transportation -- Metra train to the city, then the Red Line north to the Friendly Confines.

After a beer at Harry Caray's Tavern in Wrigleyville and a quick stop in 7-Eleven for el cheapo food (compared to the ballpark), we were ready to enter Wrigley Field. I jinxed myself by saying "Wow -- I can't believe everything has gone so well this morning. No crowd problems or anything."

Dolt. I should have known better. My nephew entered at the turnstile, but I was stopped since, for some reason, the hand-held scanner would not scan the bar code of my ticket. I was directed to the ticket window where I received a substitute ticket. Next time I'll keep my mouth shut.

After roaring renditions of God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner by Chicago favorite Wayne Messmer , we were ready to see Ryan Dempster lead the Cubs to victory. Dempster was sluggish, but did stick around for 100+ pitches and earned the victory.

The temperature was around 58 degrees at game time. Sitting in the upper deck, however, made the day just a little bit cool -- but great for an April opener in Chicago.

Cubs fans ofttimes take heat for the atmosphere at Wrigley -- that people are more interested in being seen and getting drunk than actually watching the game. Today was no exception. Although there were many serious fans in our section, there were soooo many people just guzzling down beer after beer without regard to any action on the field and people obviously there just to be there. I also saw what I believe to be the most creepy, pathetic old guy at a ballgame -- even creepier than me! The entire game (I guess he was soused off his ass) he kept calling young, attractive women over and asking them to pose for pictures for him. If he saw boobage, he sprang into action. Go to a freaking strip club, loser!

The Cubs showed some power with three home runs -- and yes, they were sweet. Even the Cubs have a pretty good chance of a win when they jump out to an 8-1 lead. Pitcher Jeff Samardzija even reduced his ERA from 108 (yes -- it was 108.00 based on 1/3 inning pitched prior to the game!) to a lowly 27.00. wtg Jeff!

The train rides back to the 'burbs were uneventful except for this Red Line exchange between a drunk girl going home after the game and a young commuter going home after work.

The scene: Crowded train after the Cubs game has ended. Young guy stands up to get off at the next stop, then thinks about returning to his seat, only to see that it has now been taken by the drunk girl.

Girl: Weren't you just sitting here?
Guy: Yes.
Girl: Well, you can sit on my lap.
Guy: No thanks. You said you had to pee really badly ...

Just one of those things you had to hear in person to appreciate, I guess ...

As Harry Caray used to say: "You can't beat fun at the old ballpark."

Friday, April 09, 2010

Lucid? and Profound? Thoughts on a Friday
Tournament poker play reminds me of horse racing. Some players -- the aggro types -- remind me of the speed horses. They break out of the gates quickly and get to the front of the pack. The downfall of the aggro style, however, is that ofttimes the quick leads burns out and the player fades ... and finishes out of the money. When the strategy works, however, the horse -- or player -- accumulates wins and purses (cashes).

My style has been more of that horse who travels with the pack, then hopes to break out at the end with a big kick to win the race. The tournament featured in my last post was exactly like that. I lost chips early and was in danger of going out, then built my stack back up, hung around in the pack, then had a huge burst at the end. The downfall of this style, however, is that you do not accumulate the chips to absorb the bad beats or the loss of coin flips. This style is probably geared more toward placing rather than winning. Ahhh ... there is always more work to do on your game.

Tournament poker can be soooo frustrating because even hours of great play can be undone in one or two crucial spots. I always refer to it as the thin line between winning and losing. Granted, some players have games that need much work and really are rarely threats to finish near the top in any tournaments. Some, however, have the game and the skills -- but do not win because the poker gods handed their opponent a bad beat gift, or because they don't win the coin flips when they need them most.

A prime example of this happened to me last night in the Wicked Chops Poker 5 Year Anniversary Tourney. After some dumb early play on my part eroded my chip stack, I got back in the pack and had the final table in sight. The karma felt right. There were 78 runners with the tournament paying the top nine. Finishing as high as 8th or 9th would only get me a few bucks. The nice payoffs, of course, were for the top three places, as additionally there were added prizes for these finishers.

So ... with 12 runners left in the game, I was in about 8th place. Several of us were clustered with a similar number of chips. The blinds had been getting steeper and we all knew that we needed to make a move. Few flops were seen. Then came, for me, the crucial play in the tournament.

Full Tilt Poker Game #19931974103: WCP 5 Year Anniversary Tourney (149500716), Table 6 - 250/500 Ante 50 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:21:12 ET - 2010/04/08
Seat 2: Three G (7,023)
Seat 3: lightning36 (5,104)
Seat 4: mtpettyp (6,744)
Seat 5: IHOPEALOT (4,030)
Seat 8: samdawg13 (3,284)
Seat 9: Hatchet Warrior (16,800)
Three G antes 50
lightning36 antes 50
mtpettyp antes 50
IHOPEALOT antes 50
samdawg13 antes 50
Hatchet Warrior antes 50
samdawg13 posts the small blind of 250
Hatchet Warrior posts the big blind of 500
The button is in seat #7
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to lightning36 [Kh As]
Three G folds
lightning36 raises to 5,054, and is all in
mtpettyp raises to 6,694, and is all in
IHOPEALOT has 15 seconds left to act
samdawg13 folds
Hatchet Warrior folds
mtpettyp shows [Th Ts]
lightning36 shows [Kh As]
Uncalled bet of 1,640 returned to mtpettyp
*** FLOP *** [Qc 7h 6s]
*** TURN *** [Qc 7h 6s] [Jc]
*** RIVER *** [Qc 7h 6s Jc] [6c]
mtpettyp shows two pair, Tens and Sixes
lightning36 shows a pair of Sixes
mtpettyp wins the pot (11,158) with two pair, Tens and Sixes
lightning36 stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 11,158 Rake 0
Board: [Qc 7h 6s Jc 6c]
Seat 2: Three G folded before the Flop
Seat 3: lightning36 showed [Kh As] and lost with a pair of Sixes
Seat 4: mtpettyp showed [Th Ts] and won (11,158) with two pair, Tens and Sixes
Seat 5: IHOPEALOT folded before the Flop
Seat 8: samdawg13 (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 9: Hatchet Warrior (big blind) folded before the Flop

I lost the coin flip and was out in 12th place. Had I won the flip I'd have had 11,158 chips, jumping me into about third place and in position for a run at the top spot. Instead, I was out just short of the bubble.

As for mtpettyp, the player who won the coin flip:

Now, I am not saying that I would have won, but I certainly think I could have won. The thin line ...

"Sometimes the poker gods pour you a beer. Sometimes they just piss in it."


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Long Wednesday of Work and Poker
Warning: Some Actual Poker Content to Follow

Ahhh ... what a day. It has been a looooooong one.

I decided to drive up to the Chicago area for a professional workshop today. Now, I am not exactly a morning type of guy. Never have been. Never will be. I start to come alive long after the sun has gone down. That is one of the reasons that I have always loved Las Vegas.

The problem: the conference began at 8:00 a.m. Shit. That meant waking up at 5:00 a.m. and driving almost two hours just to start my day. As I got ready to head out at 6:00 a.m., I wanted to get some caffeine in my system. I looked on the refrigerator to see ... nothing. My kids had grabbed the last cold Cokes and didn't replace them. Grrrr. Bad start.

The weather, of course, did not cooperate. I drove in rain almost the entire trip, causing me to go a little slower than I anticipated. However, I did get to the workshop with time to spare. I was putting the over/under for my dozing off at 9:15 a.m.

Much to my delight, the presenter was one kick-ass psychiatrist and addiction specialist. The program, The DSM-IV-TR for Clinicians: Accurate Diagnosis & Effective Treatment Planning, was excellent. The presenter, Leslie Lundt, M.D., peppered her seminar with humor, music, pop culture, and best of all, music trivia! While the program was great, I couldn't help but think how some of my fellow bloggers fit into some of the diagnostic criteria we went over.

The ride home: rain the whole way! I got home by 6:00 p.m. and got ready for an evening of online poker. I figured that I'd better get in my play now before DSM-5 comes out (an inside joke for any mental health professionals who read this!).

The Mookie was the Mookie -- our favorite blogger home game donkfest. I finished out of the money -- 11/38. However, today marked the beginning of a new tourney hosted by a relatively new poker blogger, Very Josie . The Very Josie Poker tournament started an hour before the Mookie and featured some familiar bloggers -- NewinNov, MiamiDon, CEMFredMD, Rakewell, and MemphisMojo.

New and Mojo mixed it up in the first hand, both all in pre-flop -- New's Q-Q vs. Mojo's K-K. This was at Full Tilt Poker. You know what happened next -- gg Mojo!

I wasn't catching anything but bad luck for a long time. Was that the karmic payback for telling the host, in table chat, to DIE DIE DIE? Just kidding, of course.

I was a short stack and was patient in building it back up. I later got in a big hand with MiamiDon and caught a lucky card to take most of his chips. At the final table I was catching cards and using my stack to melt away the competition. However, my big hands couldn't hold up and the game seemed to drag on ... and on ... and on ... The final three decided on a chop to end the tournament. I got just short of first place money, which was okay since I think that everyone was ready for the tournament to be over. NewinNov finished in third and got the best benefit from the chop. I guess he earned it by cracking my aces at the final three -- with K-Qos, I believe! GoBurn1 finished in second and played great at the final table.

Thanks for hosting, Josie. You picked a good horse early on!

Monday, April 05, 2010

White Sox Opener -- Yesssss!!
I decided to go to a couple of home openers this season -- the first in a long time for me. My main team, the Chicago White Sox, won a nice 6-0 game against the Cleveland Indians. Game time temperature: 74 degrees. Yowsa! What a great day to go to a game.
I drove in from the southwest suburbs and ran into some traffic snarls on I-55. However, the worst was when I got near US Cellular Field. The parking and traffic situation was one huge mess. So many main lots are reserved for people with pre-paid parking coupons. Finding a cash lot -- muhaha!
I drove around (and sat in traffic) and finally found what seemed to be a relatively decent place to park -- 38th Street and Wabash. I planned on parking in a lot ($23), but couldn't even find one in which to park. I had a little bit of a hike to the field, but heck -- free parking!
Have you ever been to a White Sox game? The crowd is unique. The fans are really hardcore. The Sox have always been the blue collar team in the city while the Cubs seem to appeal to a more affluent crowd. Gross generalizations, I know, but as a veteran of mega games over the last 40 years, I think I have the experience and history.
While waiting to enter The Cell, I saw a guy I would never screw with in a million years. Gawd -- in my entire life I have never seen someone so ripped! The vascularity on his arms was amazing. He was making sure that the morons who tried to circumvent the line got in the back. He tended to be successful!
A first inning home run by Paul Konerko put the Sox up 2-0. They never looked back.
As for baqllpark entertainment ... one section over, a girl passed out. The medical team came up and eventually carted her out. I was a little worried at first that she might have had something really wrong with her, but the lack of concern of her friends told a story of perhaps a little too much beer on opening day.
While the medics were attending to this girl, pitcher Mark Buehrle made an unbelievable defensive play -- the best I have ever witnessed in person:

With my nice street parking spot, I felt like I was freerolling with my food. Nothing like a ballpark polish with grilled onions washed down with a little Leinie! Why does this stuff always taste so much better at a ballgame?

With the Sox safely up 6-0, I started for the exits at the end of the eighth inning. I was ready to face the snarl of the Dan Ryan. When I got a good look at the bumber-to-bumper traffic, I decided to just head south on State Street and figured that I would eventually find my way to I-57 south. After an interesting scenic tour through the south side of Chicago, I easily found my way at about 121st St. I avoided the major rush hour traffic jam. Sweet. The almost perfect opening day.

Next week: Cubs home opener report.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Hey Asshole: You're Fired -- Again!

While randomly cruising through the television channels tonight I happened to see that Celebrity Apprentice was on. I thought that I might watch a few minutes to see how my ex-governor, Rod Blagojevich was doing. What a mistake.

I found myself being very angry just seeing this idiot on television playing this stupid game. Everything seems to be a game to this disgraced politician. He helped run the Illinois economy into the ground (oh yeah -- he had plenty of help) and showed that Illinois politicians can not only be blatantly corrupt but also just plain stupid. If you know the feds are looking into you and tapping your phone, you don't use the same phone to solicit kickbacks for a U.S. Senate appointment. I mean really -- is this guy just the ultimate marriage of corruption and stupidity or what?

I sometimes wonder if he suffers from O.J. Simpson syndrome -- you know, tell yourself you didn't do something and pretty soon you will convince yourself that you are innocent. This guy has huge balls. Or maybe this all goes back to his most famous quote: "This is the kind of thing that I think, frankly, separates the men from the boys in leadership. Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that, knowing what's coming your way?' I say I do."

There is no doubt in my mind that he will be the second consecutive ex-governor of Illinois to go to prison. I hope he gets to test his testicular virility there -- preferably with a guy named Bubba.

Happy Easter!

Yeah -- we could be playing in a High Stakes Poker Tournament today, but we thought we'd take a day off to celebrate Easter. Of course, there is plenty of time to get into a SCOOP satellite tournament later on at PokerStars in case we get a little antsy to get back to the virtual tables.

And oh yeah -- watch the little lady on the far left. She may look innocent but she'll rip your heart out by rivering a gutshot at the final table!

Friday, April 02, 2010

World Autism Awareness Day -- A Personal Story

Today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that an average of 1 in 110 children in the U.S have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
There seemed to be something "different" about my son. One of our first hints was when he told us at a very early age, "I feel like a ghost." Although he now states that he meant he felt that he was not getting enough attention paid to him at the time, I saw it as his verbalization of the disconnect within himself.
My wife seems to remember that there was a change -- that her "smiley boy" suddenly did not smile anymore. We were concerned that he had a hearing problem because of his inattention to anything we said. He had some speech issues which were due to the shape of his palate. He seemed to lack an ability to organize anything. He had quirks. He was resistant to any change. Behaviorly, he was a lot to handle. His meltdowns were legendary.
We had his hearing tested and found there there were no problems with his hearing. We took him to a pediatrition, who discussed the possibility of my son having ADHD or Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Yes, this was a scary and difficult time for the family.
A few years later, we took him to a psychologist, who proffered a diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder. Yes -- that seemed to be the most accurate description of my son -- who he was, how he behaved, how he appeared to experience the world.
I bristle when I hear people who think they know it all proclaim that some of these autism spectrum disorders do not exist -- that they are made-up catagories in which educators throw students who don't seem to fit the norm. Try having a child who has a spectrum disorder and then see what you think. There were many challenges for my son, his siblings, and of course, good old mom and dad. The effort that was sometimes required was enormous.
Well, those were the early years -- the ones of discovery. Once we knew what we were dealing with, we then had to actually deal with it. I won't go into any details here, but believe me when I say that raising my son was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.
Skip forward to today. How has my son turned out? Well, he will turn 16 in just over two months. Although he still has a different "style" to the way he does things, he actually seems to largely be a typical teenager. He has socialized a lot more as the years have gone on, at first through his online friends, and more recently through regular friends at school. He is a member of the scholastic bowl team at school. In fact, several weeks ago he came home from a competition and said he needed to catch a quick dinner so that he could go out to a movie with some friends.
Whaa -- "friends" -- movie? I nearly bawled my eyes out on the spot. For so long he would say that he had online friends, yet he did not see any need to have friends at school. He used to have friends when he was younger, and it was a long time before he seemed to have any real life friends again.
He is extremely bright -- probably around genius level IQ. He is passionate about what he believes in -- but maybe someday he'll get a little more conservative in his views! He eats us out of house and home like any other 15 year old boy. His room is a total mess. He lives for the computer and internet games. Yeah -- he seems to be a typical teenager. I feel so fortunate considering how far he has come. We love him to death and have high hopes for his future.
Today is Good Friday -- two days until Easter Sunday. Don't tell me He doesn't exist.
Challenges exist in every family. We seemed to have weathered this major one. Best wishes to you and your family as you navigate through this ofttimes difficult yet rewarding life.