Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Tale of Three Fathers


This past Friday marked the 14th anniversary of my father's death. Although it happened so many years ago, there are still painful memories of his last days. He collapsed at his home and never regained consciousness which, in a sense, was probably a good thing. If nothing else, it allowed his children a last chance to see him before he took his last breath. Although he was 80 years old at the time, his liver was still able to be used and was transplanted into a needy person. Unfortunately, we have no information on that person and do not know if she is still alive today.

My dad's final moments were shared with his family as we all stood around him right after he was taken off life support systems. It was a moment of brutal reality.

I have told several stories about my dad over the 12+ years of this blog. Unfortunately, most of the really great stories will never appear here due to the political correctness of current times. My dad used colorful terms in describing people of different ethnicities, races and religions -- terms that were common in the middle to late 1900's. They do not translate well to today's sensibilities. However, any readers chatting with me in person -- particularly over a few frosty beverages -- might get to hear some of these really funny things.

Tomorrow marks the 37th first day of school in my long career in higher education. The only first day I missed in all those years was in 2004 when my dad passed away. One of life's harsh realities for many people is that moment when your first parent dies. Even after years pass, it stays with you. You hope that you have a treasure trove of great memories to focus on rather than the end.


As many of you probably know, I am a father to three kids -- two girls and a boy. Those of you who are parents or were ever charged with raising children know everything that goes into parenting the little ones. So much time, effort ... and money! goes into providing a life for these little ones. As they grow older, the costs increase as do, in many cases, the challenges that you face. You don't do it to receive any kind of pat on the back, but you do everything out of love. However, you do remember as special those moments that fill your heart with joy.

As I have shared much of my life through this blog -- stories, good times, bad times -- I really wish to share with my friends something that I received out of the blue the other day. Almost a month ago, I helped my oldest daughter purchase an almost new car. My help included looking for cars for her, going with her to a dealership to test drive one, and finally finding the perfect car for her and helping her arrange dirt-cheap financing. It was fun as I love to get good deals, but it was just one of those things that, as a dad, you do. I'm guessing that this, and possibly other things, caused some reflection on my daughter's part. I was surprised to get the following text while at work this past week:
I was sitting at a table in a public area and didn't want to start bawling in front of everyone, but I was certainly touched. Moments like this don't seem to come around often enough in your life, but when they do, they are spectacular. So despite having to deal with a bunch of crap this month including shelling out several thousand dollars to have some extensive outside sewer and plumbing work, I have been a pretty happy camper. So ... I just wanted to share this with you, some of my best and most dear friends.


Saturday was a busy day for me. The mother of a former co-worker passed away and I had to drive outside town to go to the visitation in the morning. Before noon, I left with my wife to go to an out-of-town wedding of a good friend of my daughter. There was a 2 1/2 hour lag between the end of the wedding and the beginning of the reception, so I was able to get in a session of poker at the riverboat casino, which was only two miles away from the place where the reception would be held.

After booking a moderate win, my wife and I headed to the reception. Seats were assigned, and we were seated at a table with several couples who were about our age. I noticed that one gentleman at the table was wearing a pin with a photo on his lapel. We found out that the photo was of his daughter, a very good friend of the bride. In a cruel twist of fate, the daughter contracted a rare disease, went into the hospital and quickly passed away about 20 months ago. I had a few minutes to myself and quickly looked up some information on my phone. I slowly began to remember the newspaper article about his daughter. He checked his daughter's Facebook account and saw that my son was one of his daughter's Facebook friends. They had gone to the same high school. On the wedding party's table, a seat was reserved for this girl and a picture of her was there so that she could be present at the wedding.

I could not believe how difficult it must have been for this father to have lost his young, lovely daughter to a rare disease at such an early age. And to lose her so quickly and unexpectedly ... And then to come to this wedding and watch his daughter's good friend get married, and to see guys like me who still had our daughters at the wedding. My heart was breaking as I thought of how crushing it must have been, and how that sometimes due purely to chance some of us have great things happen, and some have terrible things to deal with. It was certainly a reminder that life is not fair, and that we should take every opportunity to live life to its fullest, as we have no guarantees in this life and, as one distraught parent once wrote, your whole life can change in a moment.

I certainly didn't mean for this post to be a downer, but instead I hope it serves as a reminder to appreciate those you love and tell them so while you can, for you never know when that opportunity might be lost, never to be regained. Life can truly change in an instant.

Thank for reading!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Still Here Grinding Away at Poker and Life

Sometimes days and weeks seem to fly by. It's hard for me to believe that the last time I posted was before I left for Seattle and Phoenix -- a trip that seems way in the past to me.

On the Seattle part of the trip, I did have an opportunity to play poker one night at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, Washington. I wish I had great stories from the visit, but it was actually a short and rather boring session. They had high hand jackpots every 15 or 30 minutes. I didn't win one. I wasn't getting much in the way of cards to stay in any hands beyond the flop until my final hand, when I flopped a flush. Unfortunately, a new guy at the table flopped a higher one. Meh. I decided things weren't going my way and didn't rebuy.

In Phoenix, I got in several sessions at Talking Stick Resort. The Arena Poker Room is actually a great place to play poker. If you are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, playing there is a must. One session was especially memorable. I had built my $200 buy-in to almost $1,000 when two hands quickly changed everything. In the first, my table had been selected for a $100 splash pot. After the flop, I was excited to see that I had flopped Broadway! A really weak player ahead of me helped to bloat the pot, but with two hearts on the flop, I didn't want anyone chasing a flush in this $3-300 spread limit game. I raised $300 and saw everyone fold, fold, fold until the action was on a woman who had seemed to play hyper aggressively and , frankly, pretty foolishly. She went in the tank for several minutes and then decided to call with about $200 behind. It turned out that she had the nut flush draw. As luck would have it, she hit her flush on the river. Dang it!

A few hands later, I looked down to see Q-Q (the Dreaded Pocket Queens?). I raised and got two callers. The flop: a beautiful K-Q-K! I don't remember the exact sequence of betting, but I, of course, was going to get it all in versus the one opponent who stayed in the hand with me. Unfortunately, he had about $500 behind. His hand: K-Q! So pretty quickly, almost all the excellent playing that I had done to get up about $800 was wasted.

In another session, I flopped a set of 4's. A wild player next to me pushed, and I of course called. He flipped over pocket 2's for the lower flopped set and was about to double me up when the turn brought his one-outer -- the final deuce to give him quads. We all waited for the river in hopes that I would hit quad 4's and hit the bad beat jackpot, but the dealer didn't put the final one-outer down for us.

In my final session, a wild player opened UTG for $26. I looked down to see The Dreaded Pocket Kings and raised to $70. He called. The flop was Queen high so I pushed and he called with Q-Jos. Yes -- he bet $26 UTG with Q-Jos and then called my pre-flop raise to $70 with that. Of course, you know what is coming. The turn was a Queen ...

I was hoping to get in a session with old online poker opponent PhillyB, but things just didn't work out. Unfortunately, I also didn't get out to Wild Horse Pass to give that poker room another try. I did, however, go to a shooting range with my brother (a former sheriff) and my nephew to, believe it or not, shoot a real gun for the first time. It was a blast!

The time since the trip has been consumed with work and with some other time off. I've played several poker sessions at Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL, Harrah's Joliet (IL) and Horseshoe Hammond (IN). I seem to go in streaks where I win several times in a row and lose several times in a row. Last night at Harrah's Joliet, I ran a full house into rivered quads and ran a set into a bigger set. What can you do when the poker gods abuse you like that?

Looking toward the future ... I have now begun my 25th year at the school where I work. My tentative retirement now appears to be less than 21 months away.

In some exciting news, I am less than four weeks away from my first trip to Australia! I am going to visit my brother, thundering36, and should get there on his birthday. Of course, at least one session of poker at the Crown Casino in Melbourne will be on the agenda.

I hope you are enjoying your summer. This has certainly been a hot but relaxing one for me.

Thanks for stopping by!