Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Off to Las Vegas -- WPBT

Wouldn't you know it -- as much as I worked my butt off to have everything at work completed in order for me to leave for Las Vegas with an empty desk, I didn't save some Adobe document changes properly and had to stay an extra hour to resubmit the changes. Sheesh.

I get into Las Vegas Thursday afternoon and return home next week on Tuesday. I decided to leave my laptop at home, so I will be relying on my non-smart phone.

I will be sending out occasional tweets from Las Vegas (@lightning36) and plan to make a few dial-a-shot calls.

Saturday I will be playing in the WPBT tournament at Aria. My last longer partner will be Rob.

I hope to see several blogger friends this loooong weekend. There is even a rumored trip to the laundromat with TBC. Does Las Vegas get more exciting than that?

See ya on the flip side!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Before you dedicate your life to abusing alcohol, try to remember that this ...

can turn into this ...

This message was brought to you as a public service announcement.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Success

Years ago I used to love shopping on Black Friday -- long before I ever remember it being called that. The whole routine of scouting out sales, waking up early, and buying gifts at a tremendous reduction in price was intoxicating. However, as more and more people started taking part in the Black Friday routine, it became much less fun. Bigger crowds. More anger and discontent. More corporate bullshit.

I am pleased, however, to give my Black Friday report for 2012.

Thursday, Nov 22: Ordered gift online from Amazon. Ordered items online from Sears.Went to Kohl's at midnight that night to hit their opening specials. Got stuff and got out. Total time from leaving my car to getting back in car: 21 minutes.

Friday, Nov 23: Sacked out and then woke up early. Decided that shopping at 4:30 am couldn't be too bad. Went into the Evil Kingdom (Best Buy) and back to Kohl's. Invested maybe one hour in the stores and bought several items from Best Buy, one from Kohl's. Went to Sears later that afternoon to pick up things ordered online.

That was it: little time spent shopping, little time dealing with crowds, ratio of items bought to time invested was excellent. Not bad for Black Friday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving. I am thankful for actually having a day off. In the near future I will write a post that updates my past seven months as head of my department. After five relatively normal months the past two have been brutal.

I am thankful for many things today: a wonderful wife and three great children; a mother, a sister and three brothers who are still around; friends in my regular life and many online friends; a life where most things seemed to have worked out pretty well.

Today will be spent eating a traditional turkey dinner, watching The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and football, and likely making a Black Friday midnight trip to Kohls's -- hopefully my only Black Friday shopping trip this season.

One week from today I will be in Las Vegas for the WPBT weekend and general mucking around in poker rooms. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Payback Time: An Ornery Texan (Lucki Duck) Gets His Revenge

Last month fellow blogger Lucki Duck and I had a bet on an NFL football game: My Chicago Bears vs his Dallas Cowboys. The Bears smoked the Cowboys like a cheap cigar, putting me on the good side of the bet. The winner got to make a guest post on the loser's blog. Eating high on the hog at that time (a phrase that I'm sure Lucki has heard/used before), I had a little fun taking a jab or two at Texans and their teams. But, as we all know in poker, sometimes despite best efforts, even a good hand bites the dust. Thus, when the Bears lost to the Houston Texans a week ago, it was time for Lucki to be on the winning side of the same type of bet. Being a fair-minded type of guy, I even reminded Lucki of the bet. Today he gets his revenge.

Howdy from Texsus folks. Lite’nin fergot he wuz dealin wit a professhunal footbawl picker an made tha mistake uv bettin’ ah game wit me. He took tha Bears agin’ tha Hustin Texsuns an got hiz butt whupped. If he keeps a bettin’ on footbawl, his wallet’s gonna be skinnier then one uv them Amish fone books.

Cause he lost, I git to writ a post on hiz blog. I figir it’ll be one of hiz best yet. I wouda wrote it be fer now, but a’ve been buzier then a two peckered billy goat.

Did ya read bout tha study on tha ten most annoyin sounds in tha whole wide world? Tha top ten er

1- Nife on a bottle uv Lone Star ( tha offichal beer uv Texsus)
2- Fork ona glass
3- Chalk ona blackboard
4- Ruler ona bottle uv Shiner beer
5- Nails ona blackboard
6- Female a screamin
7- Disc grinder a grindin’
8- Squealin brakes ona bisickcul
9- Baby cryin’
10- Lectric drill a drillin’

Ah think those er perty gud, but ah think they mighta fergot tha most annoyin one. . . it’s that annoyin sound ur listnin to rit now, lite’nin’s background sound uv tha firecrackers. Win ah hear it, ah start shakin lik a puppy crappin a peach seed. It’s painful.

Ah think we should start a campaign to git lite’nin to shut off tha sound. Whadda ya think?

Other thn hiz noisy blog n tha fact that he’s a yankee, lite’nin a perty good fella. We got aquainted out der in Lost Wages a couple uv years ago. We played some cards at Ballys an then ate sum vittles wit tha Neophyte n hiz main sqeeze, tha Poker Queen. We hat a good time talkin bout er youngins n I’m glad that I kin call him mah friend.

One piece uv advise lite’nin. . . don’t mess wit Texsus!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Strange, Sad Situation of TBC -- Tony Bigcharles

“It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma!” – Joe Pesci as David Ferrie in JFK.

Readers of this blog are likely familiar with Tony Bigcharles a.k.a. TBC, sevencard2003 and likely a host of profane nicknames given by denizens of poker rooms across the United States who have, at one time or another, witnessed the “TBC Experience” – the wacky talk, A-K shoves and crazy meltdowns. Comments in Tony’s blog have skyrocketed over the past few weeks as it looks like the TBC saga, as we know it, may be quickly drawing to a close.

A quick primer for those unfamiliar with Tony … Tony is in his mid-forties, single and lives in Las Vegas or other towns with casinos that feature poker rooms and most importantly, video blackjack, or VBJ, machines. Tony has told the world that he has been diagnosed as being somewhere on the autism spectrum, which is undoubtedly true. Think Asperger’s syndrome mixed with anxiety, fear, paranoia and racist and conservative political rants and you have TBC. His background and upbringing are well chronicled in cyberspace, the most significant of which are a family, including a mother and a son who live in Kansas, fundamentalist Christian and ultra-conservative viewpoints and a history of panhandling and homelessness. Tony has been surviving for several years by playing poker in Las Vegas and occasionally other cities, moving mostly from casino hotel to casino hotel using the comps he earns by his VBJ habit to absorb all or most of the costs of his housing and food.

However, things have recently taken a turn for the worse for Tony. His “roll” – or sockroll as some people call it (money purportedly hidden and carried in a sock), and in reality close to his net worth – has gone down from over $6000 to just above $1000 over the past few months, largely due to Tony’s inability to handle the frustration of losing, causing him to chase good money after bad. A losing poker session of a couple hundred dollars was likely to ignite a VBJ session where the losses were much more severe.

Now, however, Tony is trapped. His roll has gotten so low that he has virtually no money available to risk playing poker. Additionally, no money for VBJ

Those who have met Tony know that he is somewhat different than he appears through his online blog. He does not come off like a nasty person, but seems to be friendlier than one would expect. He appears to be more of a sympathetic, misplaced person than some type of egregious miscreant.

But … the big question is, what now? Many of us who know Tony would like to help, but how to do that is the question. Throwing money his way only enables him to continue his unproductive lifestyle. He rebuffs efforts to assist him in receiving psychological assistance. He comes up with excuse after excuse after excuse as to why he can’t/won’t get a job. His expectations for jobs, relationships and almost anything are not realistic. He feels trapped, and rightly so. He is his own worst enemy.

This drama is getting ready to move on to a new act. I am not sure where TBC is heading, but I can almost guarantee that once you start watching, it is difficult to turn away. Many people who have tried to assist TBC are keeping apprised of the situation, but are fearful of what might happen. If we are fearful, imagine what Tony must be thinking. The sad thing is, only he can turn things around for himself, and the gambling aficionados who follow his blog would likely see betting on his success as a –EV proposition.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Was 16 Years Ago. I Remember the Day Well.

The afternoon was going to be a somewhat emotional time. A former colleague of mine, Jim, had passed away after unsuccessfully battling ALS. The funeral was about 50 miles away. My friend and co-worker Holly had her car in the shop and I agreed to give her a ride. We had both worked with Jim in the past at a different institution. We were to leave work at 2:00 p.m. for the drive south.

On the bright side, the day was also the day that the campus Hospitality Club sponsored its annual Thanksgiving luncheon. Hand-carved turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, ... you get the picture. I had just gotten my lunch and decided to eat it in my office when the phone rang. It was my wife.

Mrs. L: It's time.
L: Time for what?
Mrs. L: Time for our baby to be born. I'm getting ready to go to the hospital.
L: (whining) But I just sat down with this great lunch ...
Mrs. L: Okay -- eat your darn lunch. Just meet me at the hospital.
L: Okay!

I mean, really ... it WAS a great lunch!

I called Holly to let her know that I couldn't drive her to the funeral. I ate the delicious lunch at a somewhat accelerated pace and headed to the hospital ...

Time certainly flies. I always enjoy telling that story in November. And now, 16 years later, my baby is old enough to drive a car.

Parents have different relationships with different kids. This daughter, Erin, actually likes to listen to the stories of my trips to Las Vegas. In fact, I once took her with me for a non-gambling trip and wrote a post about it.

When I wanted someone to go with me to Iowa to visit the Buddy Holly plane crash site, who was the person to take along?
Erin, like her mother, is highly artistic. She practically lives on the computer and enjoys creating things online. When actually dragged away from the computer, she can usually be found snuggling with a family pet.
Non-conformist that she is, doing or wearing anything creative or unusual suits her well.

So ... today is her day. She hit the magic 16. Does that mean that I am growing old????

Happy birthday, daughter of mine. Thanks for showing that the decision to have one more child was a great one indeed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Mixed Emotions: Obama Wins Re-election

The USA gets four more years. We get a president who appears to be more sympathetic with middle class and poor Americans. However, our economy is still in the crapper. What is going to change?

From a purely selfish economic standpoint, Obama's re-election is likely better for me. However, I would have liked to have seen Romney get his chance to fix the economy.

Fox News embarrassed itself (if that is still possible) by doubting its own experts regarding Ohio's vote. I can't wait to hear the election aftermath over the next few days.

Give Obama credit for being an intelligent person who inspires. To me, he is just a guy who got in over his head, did a crap job as president, and now will stall the country for four more years.

2016? Ryan vs Rubio. The future looks bright. The present is what it is. Peace out.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Things Can Change in an Instant

I had just completed my workout at the fitness center and got home right at about dinner time. There were no plans for dinner that evening and a night out to see a movie was planned, so I made a quick trip out to pick up a pizza at a local joint.

The first stoplight I came upon was red, so I turned right and took an alternate route in an effort to get to the pizza place faster. As I came upon stoplight number two I noticed that I would get to the intersection just after the light would turn green. What happened next scared the heck out of me.

As the light turned green and I began making my left turn, I saw a blur to my right out of the corner of my eye. Someone who was way too late to catch her green light decided to step on the gas and bull through the intersection. She was greatly exceeding the posted speed limit and nearly hit me. As she zipped past I layed on my horn. My heart raced as I realized how close I had come to having my car totaled and likely having major damage to my body. And it all happened in an instant.

I have had a couple life changing experiences in the past three years. My son's diagnosis of a rare form of cancer. My mild heart attack. I have a feeling that I have a new event to add to the list.

Thank goodness we are in November, for October seemed to be a cruel month, as I have posted about previously. One person I know is recovering from an accident. Another is recovering from a stroke. Another won't recover as she took her own life.

Since the near accident this weekend, more than anything, I have been fixated on the fragile nature of life. Things can go well or be trouble free for years, yet when the magic moment comes everything is up for grabs. All the more reason to live your life in a way of which you can be proud, treat people the way you would like to be treated, and make your life the way you want it to be. You just never know when the moment could come that could change everything ... in an instant.