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Archive for December, 2007

So here we are on New Year’s Eve, it’s a great time to reflect upon all that was this year.  Personally it was a gratifying year overall.  I have  my health and a great family.  That’s a great start.  After that, truly everything is gravy.  Tangible or not, there seemed to be a lot of gravy.

Mrs. S. was a superstar at work as she always has been.  Her work ethic is amazing and inspiring.  She continues to be a great leader and example of what you can do with hard work and dedication.  She is very well liked and respected at The Walt Disney Company.  She’s made her mark there culminating in her participation in an elite mentoring program which only ‘tomorrow’s leaders’ are hand selected to participate in.  In addition to her success in her professional career, she’s really been a great mother to her son.  The bond between the two is amazing and she’s flat out a great mom.  To balance the two takes a special person and personally, I’m fortunate and lucky enough to get to call her my own!

Shane continues to grow like a weed.  During his first year, his mother was concerned because he was in the 15-25th percentile in all of the statistical categories (head size, weight, height, etc.) yet by his 3rd birthday, he was in the 75th percentile for most categories.  For a while, we had concerns about his language and development, but we feel fortunate we’ve been able to catch much of these deficiencies and continue to get him the speech and social development assistance he needs.  After literally five assessments, all five determined ‘this child does not have the “A” word.  Our pediatrician seemed to be the only one that thought he had a high functioning case.  Regardless, we’ll do whatever we need to ensure he grows up the best kid he can.  We upped his time in pre-school to five half days and he is well liked and gets along well with others.  He is always smiling and the vocabulary continues to grow.  He seems to have a knack for music and art, so I guess we’ll see if the athetlic side of him develops as well.  I don’t care honestly, as long as he continues to grow and stay healthy.

Personally, it was one of the most interesting years of my life.  On the poker front, I was fortunate enough to play in 32 tournaments of $200 or more and cashed in seven of them making two final tables.  I continue to learn the game and feel confident that one of these days I’m going to win one of them.  I don’t ever see myself on TV or shelling out $10K honestly…not for a ‘hobby’, unless maybe the Main Event at the WSOP.  Even though I keep a separate bankroll, it’s not really the best use of $10,000.  Maybe one day. 

Professionally though, I’ve learned a great deal.  I started my own business again, and could not be happier.  The lessons learned over the past four year and in-fact over my full 14 years in my career have given me the knowledge and ability to run a business successfull and responsibly.  For those that know me, I need say no more on this subject.  And for those that don’t…well, really it’s not all that important anymore.  I’ve moved on but will never forget the lessons learn and from now on will succeed or fail solely on my own.

There’s a few life lessons though I’ve learned this year.  In different ways, I’ve learned about Karma.  Karma can be thought of as a sort of vengeance or retribution of sorts, but really it’s about taking responsibility for one’s own life and the pain and joy it brings to others as well as one’s self.  It’s kind of a ’cause & effect’ end-game.  I’ve incorporated a loose definition of the term into who I am and have taken the high road on several occassions.  I’m fortunate that I have a wonderful family, immediate and extended and several great friends to rely on – you know who you are.

I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions, but if I were to have one, it’d be very much like one of my friends who mentioned something similar on his blog, that friends — good friends are tough to find.  I find that many individuals live their lives looking out for themselves and themselves only.  I used to think I was one of these individuals.  But in reality, I’m not.  Yes, I look out for myself and my family…there is zero doubt about that.  You have to.  But in living your life, you should look out for your friends and figure out what and who are important.  There have been many over the years that I used to think important.  I’ve been failed by many over the years.  And you know…it’s ok.  I continue to learn and have faith that everything does happen for a reason.  Maybe this is Karma.  I believe it is.

Looking forward to an amazing 2008.  Everyone please have a safe and prosperous holiday and new year.

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Am in the NY/CT area for the holidays and as come tradition the last couple of years I’ve trekked to both Foxwoods and Atlantic City.  Foxwoods was a non-event which produced a whopping $100 win, but it was after being down $700.  Went with Lou R and John B to AC and stayed at the Borgata which is the ‘nicest’ hotel in AC.  For those that have not been, it’s nice relative to the other dumps in AC, and if it were in Vegas it’d be a mid-tier hotel – maybe a Monte Carlo type.  Nice but not the upper echelons of hotels. 

I’d been scouting out this particular tourney for a few days and got myself psychologically ready for this one.  Wound up with 233 entries.  8,000 in chips and 20 minute rounds.  Wasn’t a big fan of the structure as I’d rather more play per round and less chips, but the perception is that the more chips the merrier.  I think it forces you to play more hands early….I think.  After two rounds, I already donked off about 3,000.  I found myself after five rounds still at about 5,000.  With the blinds about to go up to 300-600 (100 ante), and now short-stacked, in late position with no one in but 1,900 in the pot already, I three in my 5,000 with just K5 suited.  Sure not a good hand but I was one before the button.  Unfortunately both the SB and BB had ‘ok’ hands (A,10 and 6,6).  Got a little…lot lucky and hit a K on the turn to virtually triple up and now back in the tournament.  I made it worthwhile. 

I got moved shortly after this hand and next thing you know, I went on a run!  I knocked someone out when a short-stack pushed with a weak Ace (I called with AJ)….I doubled up when I raised with that same AJ and had four callers only to flop a J on the flop for ‘top-top’.  I then went from short stack to aggressor…starting to steal pot after pot.

A few notable hands:

Three all ins in front of me and I’m on the button and look down at AQ.  Pot odds and only 1/5 my stack.  I call.  Other hands – 6,6, KK, A5.  Flop, A,X,X….Turn Q and nothing on the river for me to crack Kings and add about 80% to my stack! 

Paying 27 spots, we’re down to 40 players or so.  I go for a steal on the button with only 7,9 raising the SB/BB 2000/4000 (500) to 12,500.  SB goes all in (I’ve got his bet covered) and the BB thinks and shoves for 7,000 more (ugh) and of course I call.  AQ and KJ vs my 7,9.  Not bad.  Flop – J52.  Turn a 10….and I yell out eight, eight, eight….schwack!!!  An 8 on the river!  Five players I knocked out within 10 minutes.

We’re at 27 players (and in the money now) when I have QQ on the button.  I don’t want to slow play, especially w/ the blinds so big.  I shove and fortunately A10 suited calls me.  No help and I double up to pretty much go up to top 3-4 in chips.  Had my AK held up vs KQ (he hit a straight) I’d have been a huge tourney chip leader.

Got down to 10 players, final table when there was a proposal for an equal 10 player chop of the $40,216 prize pool for the top 10 spots.  We all agreed for a nice $4,021 payday.  Tip plus 10% for Lou (he had 10% of me) and I still netted $3,300 after my entry fee.  Not too shabby.  I do feel I’d have won or at minimum finished top three.  Third netted $4K, second $7K and first $14K while 10th, only $600.  Yes, take the money and run. 

All in all, I upped my (updated) final results to cashing in 7 of 22 tourneys for a cash rate of 32% now.  Next month – LA Poker Classic starts at Commerce plus a deep stack event at The Bike, and Hollywood Park’s Poker Derby.  Estimated number of events I’ll play in January – 3-4.

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I’m bracing for the cold weather.  Living in LA affords me the luxury of mostly immaculate weather (the last few days are more exceptions – rainy).  I’d say that out of 365 days – 340 are mostly sunny.  It’s kind of boring but certainly one of the reasons people live here – I guess.

So am headed back for another Christmas visit on Friday for eight days.  I’ll be going to Foxwoods Sunday and Monday then Atlantic City on Wednesday Thursday.  Foxwoods and The Borgota.  Maybe I’ll play some poker for a change.  We’ll be jam packed with seeing family and friends over the several days, but we’re definitely looking forward to it.  Shane is going to have fun with his cousins and aunts and uncles.  I look forward to giving Mindy her presents too – she did well.

We’re not spending New Year’s up there simply because it’s too long of a time back in the northeast and we’ll want to spend a few days together relaxing before the start of another very busy year.  I have a feeling 2008 will have a lot in store for us.

We’re taking a day-flight on Friday so I know Shane will like that more than the red-eyes we normally take.  Here’s hoping for good weather.  Probably the toughest part of the trip will be the ‘staying on the diet’.  Updates to come.

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Living in LA and ‘having some time on my hands’, I’ve taken up the addictive quality of coupon clipping.  It’s funny, because I’ve always used coupons, but it’s interesting how much more into I’ve been lately.  I’ve always been a saver and investor.  I’ve always been shrewd with money.  We’re a rarity in America having little to no debt (just the house).  I don’t like owing money to anyone.  I’ve actually loaned money to friends and most have paid me back – notice I said ‘most’ – actually this could be a post in and of itself.  I should actually just give the money to people – there’s less guilt involved.  I mean…are you really going to ask for your money back?  If you do, you’re an ass right – without compassion?  But what do you do when your friend asks you?  I’m just glad I’ve never had to put myself in this situation.  So I no longer lend…I give.

We’ve always tried to be repsonsible.  We invest in our retirement plans (Mindy a 401K, me a SEP IRA – finally now that I own my own company again – I had not invested in my retirement since ’03), Shane’s education (Educational IRA), etc.  We live below our means for the most part.  This doesn’t mean we don’t splurge or live life (my wife has a ‘sweet-tooth’ for the finer establishments in life – ie. Four Seasons), but I find most people don’t live,…well…smart.  I just find that too many people are irresponsible with money…they buy houses they cannot afford, they’ve gotten their interest only loans/adjustable rate mortgages – one of the reasons this country is where it is today, they have debt up to their eyeballs, home equity loans, credit card bills paying 10-15-20 percent or higher and are not investing in their or their kids’ future…praying for that athletic or academic scholorship.  But they do drive nice cars (see Jim’s comment below), buy nice things, travel tons, and do live the high life.  Welcome to America!  When the recession hits in 2008….woops!

Coupons! Anyway, so I’m finding that those Sunday coupons and some other online sites produce some nifty coupons that really add up.  50 cents here, a buck there…then add that to Ralph’s (a Kroger owned company) doubling coupons and you get some solid savings.  Our weekly grocery bill probably averages $180 and I pay about $120, saving about 60 bucks a week using coupons.

Probably one of my favorite places to shop recently is CVS, believe it or not.  They have weekly fliers that have ‘extra bucks’ earned by buying certain items.  If you plan it accordingly and you use manufacturers coupons in addition, you can get $75 worth of items for $22 like I did today.  Some of the stuff may not be stuff I use everyday, but if it’s free….why not?  The key of course is not to get too caught up with it.  Of which admittedly I kind of am.  Today I’m headed back to CVS to buy $16.49 worth of items (yes, I’ve calculated it) and have coupons for $12.00 off those items, plus I’ll be getting $9.49 back in ‘extra bucks’ which are as good as cash…so I’ll be spending net $4.49 of which I’ll use some previous cash back coupons I have and then get another $9.49 in cash back…so in reality, they’re paying me $5.00 to take $16.49 of product off their hands.  Silly but true! 

And the funny part is I’ll save the money shopping then go get a massage.  Nothing wrong with enjoying life…as long as you’re responsible about it!

But overall I have fun with it.  If you can save money weekly, why not do it!?

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So last night was the end of my second trip through the 11-day diet.  The results were about the same as the first go around, a loss of 6.0 pounds, net 4lbs after the last day of the diet’s first go around (gained 2 lbs during the 3-day recovery period).  This time I ensured I drank the required 12-glasses of water daily, which in and of itself made certain aspects of my day uncomfortable and inconvenient, but ‘it is what it is’.

I found I had a little more energy this go-around although there were periods of sluggishness probably just as much caused by insufficient sleep as insufficient carbs in the diet.  I stayed a little more strict this go-around but there were the occassional small snacks – pretzels or carrots to tide me through the tough times.  I also didn’t have Thanksgiving getting in the way.

All told, here’s where we’re at through about 4-5 weeks of this bet and my original quest. 

Original weigh-in – 202.6 (total loss =  13.4lbs.)

Wager weigh-in – 198.8 (wager loss =  9.6lbs.)

Today’s weigh-in – 189.2

No doubt I’ll gain a pound or two in the next 72 hours before doing the 11-day diet one more time before year’s end.  I’m finding this getting tougher and tougher.  Diminishing returns, if you will, but at this pace I may reach my desired goal of 178.8.  Honestly though, not sure how my body will take losing another 10.4lbs.  The pants are already loose.  Guess I can lose the weight and put healthy weight back on.  They key is to KEEP IT OFF for a long period of time.  I think if I do reach my goal, I’ll wind up putting back in 5-6 and be comfortable in the 186-188 range.   A lot more working out to do.  But for today, tomorrow and Thursday, pizza and steak here I come!

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Holiday Giving

Tis the season.  It’s unfortunate, but most individuals wait until December to make their charitable contributions.  In following the lead of another blogger who listed Childs Play as his charity of choice, I’m listing and petitioning one of our favorite charities – Make-A-Wish.  First beyond being just an amazing charity – Mindy’s been a wish granter for Make-A-Wish when we were in Atlanta – at least 80% of donations go directly to the wishes granted, versus many times less than 10%!  In fact, if you ever get a phone call from ANY charity on the phone – fire fighters, police benevolent society, this one, that one….after their pitch – just ask them one question – “What percentage of my donation goes directly to the actual charity – to support the activities – the kids, etc.”.  Sadly, most are below 10-20%.  Most of your money goes to pay the telemarketers!  Very sad. 

Mindy and I have supported FRAXA and Make-A-Wish in the past and so I’m lobbying for those, but you do get a warm-n-fuzzy by donating to any worthy cause.  On behalf of my clients and candidates this year, I made a holiday donation to The Make-A-Wish Foundation – the Georgia/Alabama chapter and it’s nice, they send a cute e-card I can send to those with whom I made the donation on behalf of.  Everyone appreciates it and let’s face it….the kids are the ones that win here!

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For anyone interested, I’ll be out in Las Vegas from Thursday February 28th through Sunday March 2nd for the 2nd annual Wynn Classic.  I played in last year’s event in the very first event and it was fun.  I didn’t cash, but it was fun.  It was a $500NL with 4,000 in chips and I believe 30 minute rounds.

Here’s the event schedule for the weekend and the ones I anticipate playing in:

Thursday February 28 – $500+40NL (flight two) – 3-day event

Friday February 29 – $1000+60NL (just in case)

Poker room rates are $129 midweek and $199 weekends for frequent players playing six hours/day or entering one of these events.  If interested in coming or joining along, let me know, we can get a couple of rooms or feel free to crash w/ me.

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