Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dealing With The Suicide of a Friend

It was difficult when my father passed away eight years ago. My best friend at work lost a health battle and passed away shortly thereafter. I remember thinking that I had been pretty lucky, living as long as I did without having to feel the agony of one of these “firsts” that many people had experienced so much earlier in life. Today, however, was a shocker. It is the first time that one of my friends has committed suicide. I am just numb.

I had actually first met Cindy’s daughter and husband when I assisted them in planning out academic schedules in their college years. Cindy and her husband, Keith, became part of my family’s circle of friends through the Italian dinner club – a group of locals who had taken a cooking class offered by a local Italian chef. The group meets once a month to share dinner -- always great food – drinks, and friendship. Keith played in a couple of my home poker games and was an easy guy to get along with. He was in a motorcycle accident that resulted in having one of his legs amputated, but he seemed to weather it pretty well.

Cindy was funny – almost always caustic, which is why I liked her. She intimated that I was, shall we say, shorted in the manhood department, so we had a good natured love/hate relationship. Cindy was a very caring woman, however, and quickly became one of my wife’s best friends. She and Keith moved away to North Carolina a couple of years ago to chase a dream of owning and operating an Original Pancake House franchise. Unfortunately, that never panned out. Both Keith and Cindy were working in the real estate field.

My wife visited Cindy a year ago and had a great time. Cindy made a trip back to the Chicago area and of course my wife drove up for the weekend to spend some time with her. In fact, Mrs. Lightning was planning to visit Cindy later in October but Cindy had not been feeling well and asked that the visit be postponed for a time when she would be able to fully enjoy the visit.

My wife has a lead role in a local production of Steel Magnolias and had posted on facebook Friday night that the cast had received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the play. Cindy responded on Saturday afternoon, “Way to go! So many talents … so little time! : ) .” Sometime shortly thereafter, Cindy walked outside her house into a field and shot herself.

Of course, my wife is totally devastated. We have heard that Cindy left a note, but we don’t know much more right now. Her daughter said that no one saw this coming. We knew that there had been some things that Cindy had been unhappy about. However, those of us who knew Cindy knew that she was a fighter. She helped her husband through his medical predicament and his rehab. She fought for several years against a work situation that she felt had been unfair. She was not the type to give up.

So tonight many of Cindy’s friends in central Illinois are mourning the death of a friend and wondering why. Tonight will be a long night.

Looking For Some Great Handmade Jewelry at an Affordable Price?

You might remember that a short time ago Very Josie posted some pictures of a necklace that I gave her for a birthday present. It had been made by my wife, who now includes making jewelry as one of her many hobbies. Just for Rob, I am reposting the pictures VJ had on her blog.

Uh ... you are supposed to be looking at the necklace ...

Anyway, my wife has on online jewelry store that you might wish to check out. The jewelry is all handmade -- beaded, wire-wrapped, fine silver and copper clays, sterling silver and copper wire. Prices begin at $10. Heck, even an el cheapo guy like me could afford to buy from this store!

A few other examples of her handiwork which are available at the store:

The name of the shop is Chairen -- Jewelry to bring you joy. I can tell you that women who have seen her samples have gobbled them up. Check it out -- good stuff!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Online Poker in The US

Many US citizens play online poker and their reasons for playing the game they love are wide and varied. Many play to pass a few hours in the evening, some to try and win a few bucks and a few to try and hit the big time. Whatever the reason, there is no escaping the fact that poker is one of Americas' favorite pastimes, it has been for many years and will be for many years to come. The fact that many hundreds of thousands of players now choose to play online rather than in a buddy’s kitchen is irrelevant -- it's still the same game where the same skills are required and the same amount of enjoyment can be had. The growth in the online game has been incredible. Even though the legal landscape is changing fast in favor of online poker, many players still prefer their evenings playing against their pals while drinking a few beers. Nothing at all wrong with that -- it's a great end to the day. If you are interested in online poker, keep reading and find out a few things you need to know.

Where to Get Your Game Online

Finding the right poker room for you is essential and to do that you need to know what you want from the room. Is it a big welcome bonus to get your bankroll off to a good start? Then fine, there are plenty of rooms that offer that. Maybe you want innovative promotions and a good loyalty scheme that recognizes how often you play. There are plenty of those too. Many players choose a room because of the amount of action they get at higher stakes games, and if this is what you want then some of the larger rooms offer constant action in the top tiers. If you are new to the game then there's a good chance you will want to learn a little more before you play for real cash, so possibly a room with plenty of freerolls would suit you better. The main point here is that not every poker room is the same as the next one and they will all differ in some way. It's always best to do a little research before you dive in and check out what's offered and where your type of players are heading.

Sunshine Poker Rooms

Sunshine Poker Rooms keeps players of all levels up to date on the current goings on in the world of online poker, whether it be the latest legal news, the biggest and best current promotions or simply where to go to find a tournament that suits you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Screwed by The Grump, Saved by The Very Josie

No, this is not a revelation of secret goings-on from my last Las Vegas trip. Rather. it is a quick report of what happened in my poker home game Tuesday night.

I had already made it in the money (top three got paid) and was one of two short stacks in the tournament. The other player had a huge, but not insurmountable, stack. The other short stack tried to broker a chop, but I was not interested since I was confident that I could win the tournament. The chip leader won most of his chips by being aggressive and frequently sucking out on the river. I thought that if I got at least a decent hand I could double up and be in excellent position to win.

I was rewarded on the very next hand when I was dealt 9-9. The chip leader acted first and pushed out a raise. The other shorty folded and I, of course, insta-shoved. The chip leader called and tabled ... 4-2os! Yikes -- I couldn't believe that he was willing to double me up with that. Mind you, I had been playing smart poker and never showed a hand that was marginal or a bluff. I was, however, leery of the power of The Grump.

The flop was 2-rag-2 ... Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

However, I got my chance for revenge in the cash game that followed the tournament. I had not gotten any decent cards for several orbits, but then looked down to see J-10 sooted (spades) -- The Very Josie! Now, J-10 spades in a pretty little hand and I had a really good feeling about it and raised. The villain was the dealer and raised. I called and it was heads up. I then did something I like to do on occasion -- I checked in the dark. The flop came rag-Jack-10. Bingo! The villain raised and I pushed all in. He called. We decided to run it twice. He flipped over Q-Q. The turn and river were blank on both runs and I doubled up.

And everything was right in the poker world -- at least for that moment ...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Not Indestructible

Sometimes we think we are indestructible, particularly when we are young.

The first time I remember having the crap scared out of me was during the college years. I was driving on a hilly two lane state highway and had the world's slowest driver in front of me. Well -- at least he wasn't going nearly as fast as I wanted to go. I had a chance to pass him in a no passing zone and thought I was okay -- except for this one little blind spot. The only trouble I would be in was if a car coming toward me was in the precise wrong spot. I thought I'd risk it. As I tried to pass the car in front of me, I found myself heading straight toward a head-on collision. There was a car in the exact wrong spot. I was able to swerve out of the way, but felt like that was the first time I had ever stared right in the face of death.

Then there was the time I fell asleep heading north to see my mom. I had been working too much and dozed off while driving. I woke up driving off the road and into a ditch. God was looking out for me that afternoon and thankfully nothing had been in my way.

There had been a few other instances where fast driving had put me at risk, but when we are young -- what the hell -- we are indestructible, right?

It changes when we get older.

One year ago I had a mild heart attack. It was all my own fault -- lack of exercise, eating and drinking way too much of things that were bad for me, ignoring all the signs that I was putting myself at risk. I got the message. Loud and clear.

Tonight I celebrated by going to the fitness center. Thankfully life has gone on and I have gotten at least a little bit smarter. Older and wiser, I guess ...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NFL Week Two: Bears vs Packers

One of the more intriguing match ups for the second week of the NFL season takes place tonight as the 1-0 Chicago Bears take on the 0-1 Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. If you are interested in NFL Betting, what do you need to know?

The Packers have been one of the elite teams in the league for the past several years, including a Super Bowl win in 2011. Sporting one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers and a power-packed offense, the Packers do have a glaring weak spot -- the defense! Whereas last year's offense ranked #1 in points scored, the defense ranked #32 in yards/game allowed. Ouch! The Packers lost their opening game this season -- a home game -- to San Francisco 30-22. Are they ripe for the picking in week two?

Last year's Bears were on a 7-3 roll and looking toward the playoffs when quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a season-ending injury in week 11. After that, the team went in the tank, losing five of its final six games, ending the season with an 8-8 record. The Bears had a convincing win last week at home vs the Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.  Their passing game is much improved with the addition of Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery. The defense will be missing Peanut Tillman and Brian Urlacher's status is uncertain.

Who to pick? The Bears defense should be able to cause problems for the Green Bay offense, but the Packer defense will not be able to contain the Bears' running and passing game. I will show my home bias here by going against conventional wisdom. The Packers are favored by 5 1/2 points, so I will take the Bears and the points. Despite the potential for lots of scoring, I am guessing that if the Bears get a lead they will burn time with their tandem running game of Matt Forte and Michael Bush. The over/under is 51 1/2. Take the under.

This is being published while there is still 18 hours of betting time left. Get your bets down and win big -- and tell your friends that lightning36 tipped you off!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tropicana Poker Room Closing, Latest in the Full Tilt Poker Saga Top Twitter Poker News

If you are a Las Vegas nit, you obviously are sitting in the Tropicana poker room right now. The room has become a mecca for any locals looking to score some of the jackpot money being distributed today as the Tropicana poker room gets ready to close. According to Poker Grump, $16,000+ is being given away in random drawings -- $2000/hour. Wish I were there.

If you have the stomach for it, WriterJen tweeted about the latest Full Tilt Poker news as posted at Diamond Flush Poker. The United States Attorney's Office wants a little money back from Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafe Furst -- $137,000,000! And you thought you had problems getting your bankroll back from Full Tilt!

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Game Day!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

It's Wednesday? Really? Where did the past four days go?

I am finally beginning to feel like I am reentering the human race. A shave and shower have brought me back toward the real world. Before that, I was looking so fugly that even Very Josie might have passed on getting funky with me. Naw -- I couldn't look that fugly.

August is always the most difficult month of work in my job. Working long hours combined with dealing with some real idiots while being exposed to so many germs from so many people is a recipe for disaster. It is not unusual for people in my office to get sick toward the end of the month. I thought I had almost made it to September and my trip to Las Vegas, but I came up just short.

I started feeling a little ill toward the end of last week. My hope was that I could fight it off and get out of town. My brother and I were scheduled to leave for Las Vegas Sunday afternoon. By Saturday night I was in bad shape. Strangely enough, my brother called Saturday night and said that he had been feeling really bad. Our plan was to see how we felt Sunday morning.

Sunday morning came and I felt like total garbage. I called my brother, who expressed a desire to make the trip. I hopped in the shower and, upon getting out, found out he had called. We talked and decided to cancel the trip. I am so glad we did. I won't go into gory details, but let me tell you that these past days have really sucked. I am hoping to go back to work tomorrow, but I might just stay home Thursday and maybe Friday. No use pushing it.

We take our health for granted when we feel well. I hope to return to that place soon.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Trip to Las Vegas Derailed

Drats -- sometimes life sucks. For only the second time that I can remember, I have cancelled a trip to Las Vegas. Both my brother and I are sick. Our one other cancellation was several years ago when my mom had some medical problems the day of departure.

This cancellation is unfortunate in that we were to celebrate a milestone birthday for my older brother (that was just for you, VJ!) and see Gotye in concert again. It looks like Gordon Ramsey Steak will have to wait also.

The trip will likely be rescheduled to the first week in December or perhaps the end of January/beginning of February. I had not planned to attend the WPBT gathering in Las Vegas in December, but now I may consider it.

And Rob -- sorry. Sometimes things just can't be helped.