Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quickie Week Recap

I knew our regular pitcher would be gone for our second game of the season. Shortly before the game was to begin I saw that our back-up pitcher was also gone, meaning that we would have to go to our number three starter. Ut oh -- that would be me!

With no warming up and a stiff wind blowing, I took the mound for the first time this season. I actually did pretty well -- no walks, few times when the other team knocked the crud out of the ball. We just did not play a very good game, losing 14-4. I was 1-1 at bat with a single and a walk. The weight loss and exercise regimen continue to keep me a decent softball player.

Although I do not officially become interim director of my department until May 1 , I have already had to use my best management skills to handle some issues that came up with scheduling and loss of funding for student workers. Darn good thing I had been director of the department once before. Things already seem to have calmed down since everyone knows we will have a leader for at least a year. Thank goodness we are at the end of the school year, though. The thing I dread most is going to boring meeting after meeting. The summer usually means a minimum of meetings.

My vacation time and Las Vegas trip in June can't come soon enough. I am really looking forward to having a great time this summer.

Sad Week for Chicago Professional Sports Teams

Blackhawks lose first round series to Coyotes, done for the season.
Rose tears ACL, out for the season, no way for the Bulls to win championship in 2012.
Chicago Cubs among the worst teams in baseball.
White Sox have lost five games in a row and dropped below .500.

Go Bears?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Being a Little Philosophical on a Sunday Morning : Old Las Vegas, Dr Pauly, and Life

Today actually began as the end of last night. My international home poker game, which should probably now just be called my home game, was on, off, then on again. Although I made it be known that I did not plan on playing poker into the 4:00 a.m. hour, the night was so much fun that it lasted just a couple of hours short of that. I drove home with a happy face and a wallet a tad heavier than when I began the night. The happy night ended, however, when a couple of bizarre dreams left me wondering why I was taking an unconventional path through all kinds of brush to get to my destination, and why the woman of my dreams while I was in high school suddenly became relevant to me again.

As was the case on the Sunday mornings when I do not head off to church shortly after waking, I powered up my laptop, checked e-mail and sports news, and excitedly scanned some links to see which poker blogger created a new post.

Ken P wrote a great post, wistfully looking back at the Las Vegas of old. My brother and I, while on the plane during our last trip to Las Vegas, made a lengthy list of all the Vegas hotels in which we stayed. We also created a list of hotel we stayed at that no longer exist. It is always fun to think about out early Las Vegas trips, staying at places like Westward Ho, the Circus Circus manor, Hacienda, ...

Ken also alluded to something that had passed right by me -- the apparent end, at least for now, to the gold standard of poker blogs, Dr Pauly's Tao of Poker. Normally I would be all caught up with the good doctor's latest posts, but he had not posted much in some time, as is the theme with many of my old poker friends.

Dr Pauly and I are as different as night and day. While Pauly jetted around the world in a drug and alcohol induced haze, covering poker news and life with a style that was always fascinating reading, I led this conventional lifestyle -- sober, full of responsibility, putting out boring posts that really served more as a journal for my older years than creating some sort of lasting tribute to creativity and excellence. Reading Tao of Poker was like visiting some exotic land that maybe existed, maybe didn't, but was certainly far from the reaches of a central Illinois professional educator.

However, one thing that always struck me about Pauly and his writings was his search for meaning in life and his, in my opinion, pessimistic view of a life that is filled with hypocrisy, greed, and corruption. I guess that living a life steeped in professional poker will do that to you. His most recent -- and perhaps his last -- post, states the following in his online Letter to Ndugu: "I hope you can learn from my mistakes and actually do something constructive and meaningful with your life. Don't be a selfish tosser like myself. Live a life of integrity. Try to make a positive impact in this world."

Something I have thought about more and more as I get older and creep toward a day when I will not be working the daily grind I have for the past thirty years, is what kind of mark I have left in this world? I won't have any great writings that will survive time's test and serve as inspiration for others. I won't have the satisfaction of having constructed any great buildings or structures that will astound and assist people. However, what I will have is the satisfaction of knowing that I spent a tremendous amount of my time helping people improve their lot in life: getting an education, coping with life's difficulties, creating a better world for themselves, their family, and their community. I see the world as a positive place, full of opportunity, full of good things. I hope that my outlook and my work has had a lasting effect on building our greatest resource: people.

The sun is shining. The day seems anew. Time to resume living.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Quickie, for ... It has begun ...

"lightning: Thanks for your willingness to move the department forward ..."

And with that ... it begins.

My department at work needs some major fixing and healing, and it looked like I was the best guy to do it. After much thought -- and thanks to my blogger readers who helped so very much with their comments, analyses, and suggestions -- I decided to volunteer to be the interim director for the next year. Although I officially take over on May 1, I have already found myself knee deep in some situations that will take a lot of wisdom, hard work, and communication to rectify. These next several weeks should be a real test of the skills I have built up over my professional career. Things will not be dull!

btw -- I had not mentioned softball season yet. I was thinking of retiring after last fall, but with the loss of around 30 pounds and with the exercise regimen I have undertaken, I decided to continue. Last night, my first game of the season, was interesting. For starters, I fit into my old baseball pants -- and even had a little room to spare! And since I was not carrying all the extra weight, I actually felt more coordinated and full of energy.

A strong wind blowing right in batters' faces resulted in a low scoring game. My team lost 5-0 despite playing some excellent defense. We left soooo many men on base. Yours truly went 1-3 with a single down the third base line. I also grounded out to short and was out when the third baseman made a diving catch of my grounder heading into left field and got up to throw me out. Guess I am not quite as fast as I thought.

I'll be busy, busy, busy over the next few weeks. I'll still be trying to keep up with my favorite blogs as much as possible.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

WSOP Main Event Dreams -- The Thing That Started This Blog

A story that was posted today by venerable (or venereal) poker blogger Ken P whisked me out of my dreary rain-soaked central Illinois day and took me back to 2006 -- ahhh, smack in the heyday of online poker. Looking back, I think the term "good old days" would certainly apply., one of over 30 online poker rooms that got the time and attention of this online poker player, was running a special tournament series for poker bloggers. Why not get in on it, I thought. Thus, Lightning Strikes was born on March 29, 2006. The sole motivation at that time was to qualify for the series. I have always been a practical person.

Fortunately for me, the last qualifying tournament for the grand final was changed so that instead of winning a tournament to get a seat to the final, one only had to make the top ten. I roached to the final table, hitting the rail in eighth place, securing a seat alongside 43 other players vying for a free entry into the WSOP Main Event.

I was pretty excited to actually be playing a freeroll with only 44 players with a $10,000 WSOP Main Event buy in as the top prize. A post dated July 1, 2006 tells the tale of the tournament. This is a screen shot of the results:

Needless to say, I was breathing pretty heavily -- even more heavily than Very Josie when she stands next to me -- when we got down to the final four. As my recap of the tournament alluded to, it was unfortunately a case of "close, but no banana." This was the closest I ever got to actually playing in the Main Event.

I did capture a WSOP $2000 prize package two years later in a freeroll as part of the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments (BBT) 3, however.

The funny part of this win was that it was during the WSOP and I actually had a trip to Las Vegas planned for a few days after the victory. However, that was a special NON-GAMBLING trip that I was taking with my youngest daughter. There was no way no play in a WSOP tournament. I did use the cashish to play in my first official WSOP tournament a year later.

Playing in any WSOP event is sweet. It is so much sweeter when you play there on someone else's dime.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Decision Continues

Just over two months ago I wrote the first of several posts regarding the leadership of my department at work. The majority in the department had not been pleased with our director and did not elect her for a third three-year term. Because of many reasons, no one stepped forward to take the helm. As much as we asked the administrator over the whole area to assist with starting some discussions to clear the air, it appears that little was done for almost two months. Her solution was to call in a consultant (cha-ching!), which led to a miserable meeting Wednesday morning.

It appears that the solution for now is to get an interim director for a period of one year while some resolution is made regarding the future leadership of the department. Frankly, it looks like we are back where we were several weeks ago. Unless I am reading the tea leaves incorrectly, it is pretty much up to me to decide to do it or not. If I do not do it, who knows what will happen. The part of me that is intrigued by the challenge and wants to give back to my colleagues seems to be winning the battle over the part of me that would rather pass this by since several important aspects are not exactly what I would want.

I know this probably does not make a whole lot of sense since I am hesitant to put too much detail on a public blog post dealing with work. However, suffice it to say that what I decide in the next few days will largely determine what my life will be like for at least the next year.

It is kind of funny that I rarely spend much time debating moves in poker -- maybe to my detriment sometimes. When it comes to major life issues, it seems like I always need to have the clock called on me.

Thanks for the listen. If nothing else, writing about this seems to be helpful to me.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Las Vegas Trip Set For Summer

It looks like I have finally nailed down the details to my upcoming trip to Las Vegas this summer. I hemmed and hawed for quite some time, weighing flight options and hotel deals. I finally decided upon the dates I did so that I could catch femme fatale Very Josie while she was in Las Vegas and also take part in one of the TBC Poker Meets being set up for friends of Tony Bigcharles by one of Tony's friends, Koala. The last I heard, Poker Grump was working on setting up the private tourney for one of the nights that I will be in town.

With this as the lead in ... I plan on arriving on Wednesday, June 20 and returning home on Tuesday, June 26. I have mostly an open agenda so far. I tentatively plan on having dinner on Friday, June 22 at the Rio with two great poker bloggers, cmitch and Shabazz Jenkins. Anyone else wanting to get in on this dinner?

The TBC Poker Meet is tentatively set for the evening of Sunday, June 24. I have invited Josie to be my partner in a tag team poker tournament earlier that day at the Golden Nugget, but have yet to find out if  I am worthy of her aggressive, winning persona.

I do not have many specific agenda items for this trip. I would like to hit the Wicked Spoon buffet once while in town, and maybe even take TBC to Ellis Island for the steak special -- with plenty of dem mashed potatoes, of course! This trip is being made without my frequent Las Vegas companion -- my brother, the King of Komps. We usually try to get to Ellis Island if time permits -- one of our traditions that morphed from our old standby of getting the prime rib special at the San Remo, which is now Hooters. At least one trip to the Hash House A Go Go in the Imperial Palace should also be in order.

As for poker ... I will have to carefully weigh my options. I tend to spend most of my time playing cash games at my Las Vegas poker home, Ballys. Last trip I did have fun playing at Harrahs, Planet Hollywood, and the Golden Nugget. I keep saying that I will return to play a bit at Bellagio, so maybe I really need to do it this trip. The Rio cash games during the WSOP are supposed to be donktastic, so that is also a possibility.

I have tended to forgo tournaments for the cash games, but I plan to force myself to play at least one deep stack tournament while in Las Vegas. There are certainly many from which to choose during the WSOP weeks. How can a poker player not love being in Las Vegas during that time?

I am certainly up for playing some cards with other friends who live in Las Vegas or who will be visiting during that same time. Hit me up if you want to set up anything in advance. Otherwise, I will just let things happen as they may, which is how most of my Las Vegas trips end up anyway.

Let the countdown begin -- 73 days and counting ...

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sunday/News Day -- Updates on Boring Stuff

Sadly, no great poker wisdom to share today. I played a long session at Harrah's Horseshoe Hammond yesterday. The table dynamics were interesting. For the first few hours, the table was tight, tight, tight. Of course, most of the premium hands I received therefore got little action. Later on the play got much looser, and I went from being down part of a buy-in to being up one. I lost a huge hand when I ran my K-K into A-A, but got others to pay off, like flopping the second nut flush and getting great value out of a set or two. Eventually I ran into a bad streak including some chasers who were rewarded despite having terrible odds to chase. Such is life.

While I like playing at The Shoe -- arguably the best poker room in the Midwest -- the two-hour plus drive there and back is a killer, particularly when the drive back takes place in the wee hours of the morning. Looks like I might have to think twice when I plan on going the next time.

With the poor economy, jobs have been really difficult to come by. However, my daughter got hired for a job she thinks she will really like -- part time at American Eagle. She had been searching for some time. I am sure that the clothing discount she will receive will be used more than a few times!

As for my work situation ... nothing. Everything has been too quiet. No news about what we are going to do for a supervisor. Either the big cheese has a secret plan she is getting ready to spring on us or she has done nothing. Either way, morale has continued to slip. Fortunately, work will pick up this week and for the next six weeks we will be too busy to worry much about it.

Wishing you a great week!