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Archive for January, 2008

Before starting off this blog post – star sighting of the week – Tim Allen – Starbucks in Toluca Lake this morning.  Dressed in all black and driving an nice looking Audi twas in-n-out quickly.  Interesting bio on the guy and great quote on his IMDB site – “Men are pigs.  Too bad we own everything.”.  Did you know he earned only $50K for Toy Story and then 100x that for Toy Story 2 – $5M?  Here’s a neat blurb from his web site: “Ask Tim Allen to tell you something about himself that you might not yet know and he’ll tell you with utter honesty and a lowered voice, “Okay—I’m a Dick. Yes. I am a Dick. My closest friends know I’m a Dick. In fact, my brothers are Dicks, my cousins are Dicks, and my sister—before she was married—a Dick. My dad? One incredible Dick, and the Dick responsible for me being a Dick. Timothy Alan Dick. Some of us are just born lucky.”

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This holiday season, I got my wife a gift (for our upcoming 10-year anniversary) that she’s been wanting for about 20 years now – a Disney Cruise!  The look on her face was astoundment and worth every penny (there were many pennies involved).  We’re confirmed for an April 2008 cruise for 3-nights.  I and Shane have never been on one and Mindy only on one of those silly marketing cruises which tie you down and lock you out of your rooms for all but six hours to sleep.  So we’re going to try a 3-day to see how we like it.  If it works well, which I’m thinking it will, we may turn this into an annual trip.

To make it more fun, my sister and her family and two kids (celebrating their 12-year anniversary that weekend) – Nick and Kayla – are going to be joining us in adjoining rooms – a blessing or a curse (I’m hoping for the former).  The cousins are going to have a blast together!  The brother and his family and Cyan and Tyler will be joining us as will my father and Joan.  Woo-hoo!  We were able to get Mindy’s Disney discount since she’s a ‘cast-member’ so that helps a little too.  Should be fun.

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By now it’s old news the NY Mets have traded for Johan Santana, one of the top pitchers in this era and maybe the best.  The Mets trumped the Yanks and BoSox offers and there’s some pretty clear winners and losers in this trade.  The effect on baseball is profound as what could have been is only a memory now.  Here’s a quick analysis of winners and losers of this trade.  Note – heard a rumor that the Twins came back to the Yanks and only wanted Kennedy and Cabrera.  The Yanks turned down that offer which I then think was ludicrous, to the point where I cannot believe the report.

Winners:

Yankees – ensures the Red Sox don’t get him and that now Boston has to decide what to do with Crisp.  If the Sox got him, the Yanks would be playing for the wild card for the next 3-4 years until the young guns of Kennedy, Chamberlin and Hughes were formidable.  Also NY retains their three top prospects.  Would NY have been better off with Santana, yes, but they’d have shelled out over $125M over the next five years although they’ve spent a lot on very little – see Igawa and Pavano.  If they truly only had to give up Kennedy and Cabrera and another prospect, it’d have been a no-brainer however to obtain a shoo-in Hall of Famer and an ARod type impact player.

Red Sox – ensures the Yankees don’t get him and they remain (along with Detroit) the team(s) to beat in the American League.  They keep Elsbury who’s shown his value as he did in the post season last year.  Sure they’d have benefited by having Santana (who wouldn’t) but it’d have been diminishing returns adding him and having to shell out the big bucks it’d have taken to sign him.  As long as the Yanks didn’t get him, I don’t think the Sox really cared where he went.

Santana – $.  Enough said.

Mets – had to do something after their collapse last year and have been upstaged by the other NY team for all but one year since 1969.  They give up some good prospects but I think their farm system was fairly weak.  They stole him from Minnesota and the only negative is that they will now have to shell out some big bucks!

The National League – let’s face it the NL pales in comparison to the Junior circuit when it comes to talent.  Not that this balances things out – not even ARod could do as such, but the great NL players find their way to the high paying AL teams eventually.  Just look at the All-Star game results the last decade.

Losers:

Twins – Another middle market team selling off their players (see Oakland).  Played a game of chicken with NY and Boston and lost.  Obtained decent talent but either of the NY or Boston deals would have been better.  Could have had Phillip Hughes or Jacob Ellsbury.  Oh my.

26 Other MLB teams – they miss out on one of the game’s best pitchers.

santanahand2.jpg

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Quick, where’s my ark?  Noah where are you?  All it did was pour this weekend…actually for the last week.  It’s finally sunny today and about 62 degrees.  But sorry JP.  Your visit included about 4 inches of the wet stuff!  In spite of that, it was a fun weekend. 

We hit two establishments including two historic Los Angeles landmarks…The Roosevelt Hotel and The Edison.  Both smelled of history and were more our pace than the ‘club’ scene in other areas of the city.  Very relaxing and sophisticated in nature.  They were great places for us to catch up.  We ended up at the Commerce Casino after Saturday night out and played some cards for four hours or so.  We were each up 300 at the low 2-3NL tables (100 min/max buy-in) after about 2 hours and swore we’d leave if either of us dropped below being up only 200.  Well, I left up 140 and he down 100 on the night.  Woops.  Just a 560 mistake between us.  Still fun.  Went to Universal City Walk and lounged around, shopped and caught The Bucket List which I practically fell asleep in, although moreso because I was exhausted.  Good movie though.  Took a hike up to the Bat Caves and viewed the Hollywood sign.  Drove around to some of the celebs (TomKat, Madonna, Clooney, Teri Hatcher’s) pads.  Fun trip.  Hope you had fun JP.

Played in event 1 of the NL335 LA Poker Classic last week and it was swarmed!  Nearly 1200 people.  I got in as an alternate after an hour of play.  Won’t likely do that again as it just gets you psychologically down right away.  Got in during the 25-50 round which is fine with 1900 chips left, so I only lost 100 while away, but what didn’t help was the ultra-tight table I was at.  I had AA 4x within 60 minutes and only won the blinds.  I raised in late position with AQ suited only to be raised all-in by the tightest guy at the table.  There was only a couple of hands I could beat (KQ, AJ) and would be racing at best against JJ or another smaller pair and VERY likely dominated by QQ, KK, AA, or AK.  I turned’em up and mucked.  No reaction from him, but knew I was beat.  Mid-round four (75-150) I made a move (with only 1,500) and pushed with my A9 after one limper in mid-position.  He called with 10,10 and I was done after not improving.  No patience in this tournament and will hope to make up for it on Friday when I play in a NL545.

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After playing ball all day, I met up with Min and Shane at the hotel and we went for bite to eat.  Afterwards I put Mr. Shane to bed – Min was long out by 9:30pm, my little party animal girl!  I left at around 11 the 0.3 miles to the Spa Resort & Casino where I had to wait about an hour to get onto the $2/5NL table.  I got onto the $1/3NL after about 30 minutes and that in and of itself was like watching paint dry.  Before I got onto the table (they gave me a buzzer), I played some double deck black-jack with pretty good rules – doubles after splits, splits after splits, dealer stands on all 17s, 3-2 on a black jack (that 6-5 on black jacks in Vegas is crap).  I also played for an hour after I got done with poker and won about $400 overall.  I don’t wager enough for my card-counting abilities to really mean all that much – $15-30/hand, but it doesn’t hurt and it’s kind of nice when you lower your bets and you lose yet when you up your bets you win.  Worked out ‘ok’.

Got called over to the $2/5NL finally and assessed the table as such – 2 tight/conservative players with deep stacks (+$1K), 4-5 mid-level players that had a decent idea of what they were doing but no true threat and $200-400 in front, and another 1-2 players who were sheer targets and that would in no way keep their money.  Two hands defined the night.

Hand 1 – I’d been playing 90 minutes with a solid tight aggressive image and raise UTG with KK.  ‘Only’ four other callers.  Flop K,10,6, two clubs.  No reason to slow play really as I’ve defined my hand likely and don’t want the clubs to come.  I bet out $50 into the $125 pot.  Maybe a little too low, but I want ‘some’ action.  Two callers (including the BB on my right).  Turn, a club.  Crap.  BB bets out $150 into the $275 pot (and he only has $75 left).  I think and call – hoping the guy on my left – the button – does not go over the top – as he has $500 more.  He ponders and folds – he was one of the donks I’d mentioned earlier.  River pairs the board and my opponent goes all in for the $75 more.  I wasn’t folding at this point anyway.  He ‘thanks’ the dealer and storms off and I drag my over $700 pot. 

Hand 2 – KK again, but I’m in the SB with 3 limpers.  Only one caller, probably the best player at the table.  I immediately feel he’s calling me to try to win a big pot if he hits, otherwise he can just muck after the flop.  Flop 6,8,10, with two hearts.  Honestly, not a flop I want to see.  He checks as do I.  And I say to him when I check – “you probably hit your set”.  Turn, another 8.  He bets just $30 and I call.  River, a Q and he bets $45.  I know I’m beat but it’s not that much – I call and he turns over 8,8 for quad 8’s.  I only lost $100, so I was happy actually. 

Hand 3 – I limp with 10,10 UTG, and five to the flop of K,10,8 with two diamonds.  SB bets out $30 and I smoothe call.  Guy on my left goes all in for $65 more.  SB thinks and calls, and I push for another $250 on top.  SB thinks and mucks finally.  He stated later he threw away a straight draw.  Turn and ‘8’ and the guy on my left says ‘he has me’ turning over his K8 for 8’s full of Kings, and I turn over my 10’s for a better full house.  Much to my dismay, the river is another King.  Doh!!!  Ah, gotta love this game.

Anyway, wound up $250 in poker and $400 in black-jack.  Not bad for a four hour session.

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The cutest thing happened yesterday as Min, Shane and I were headed out to take Shane to a local crafts/arts place for him to paint-away.  We were leaving and usually when we go out in the morning, Shane and I have a ritual where we go to our front door, and he grabs the ‘newspaper’ for dad.  So we head to the front door and there are these three 10-11 year old girls on their scooters.  They came to the front door and immediately, I knew.  They had heard a rumor that Zac lives in our building.  Not sure where from, but they were scouring the address listing outside our condo complex.  They were rather disappointed they didn’t see his name.  Even the comment, “…see, I told you he doesn’t live here” came out.  It was cute and of course, I’d have liked to have made it a great day for them, but certainly not the right thing to do.

We went about our Monday holiday and had a good day. 

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Every year since 2000 I’ve gone to the MSBL Disney Tournament in Orlando.  But since I was on the west coast, I opted to play in the Palm Springs tournament this year instead.  It was an 18+ tournament and I think this was the first time I played in an 18+ tourney in about 2-3 years actually.  It’s kind of a mind-set maybe but I think I was the ‘oldest’ on my squad,…not that I was going to let that bother me.  But just bringing up the point.

I started off alright but got into trouble after two were out in the first.  I gave up back to back home runs.  I had thought they were going to be just fly balls, but the light desert air…the ball travels!  I wound up going five and giving up four runs.  Not ideal, but also not horrendous.  I walked two, and K’d three.  For not throwing in months, I felt ok.  Couldn’t really locate the fastball, but the change and curves were pretty good.  Definitely helped being in better shape, but I’m sore as heck the day (and second day) after and realize that as age creeps up on me, I’ll have to give that much more effort in staying in shape.

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Well, the wager was between Mr. MacGregor and I over who could reach their goal.  I – to lose 20lbs, he to gain 20lbs.  I believe he’s reached his goal as of this final day, while I on the other hand have come up just short!  Final result for me weighing in this morning – 180.6 lbs. 

I started this wager at 198.8 lbs. about 2 months ago and probably lagged a little.  I did work out, I did eat better, I did diet, but did not put in that extra ‘umph’ that one needs when having a competitive bet.  I probably missed 4-5 work outs, probably ate a little too many snacks or extra calories and at times did not drink enough water.  The holidays killed me, but overall though, I’m pleased.  I did lose 18.2 lbs. during the wager, and really 21.8 lbs. since my 202.6 weigh-in when I declared I wanted to lose 20lbs.  Although I still think that gaining weight is easier than losing, I give Jim a great deal of prompts for being so dedicated and meeting his goal.  Love the competitive spirit.

I still plan on losing the extra 1.8 lbs. that I did not lose (kind of like a racer finishing the race regardless of place he/she finishes in).  Then maintenance will be important.  Although kind of ticked….the jeans Min bought for me for Xmas don’t fit!  They were 36’s and many of my 36’s were tight a few months back.  Now they just hang on me.  Not a bad problem.  I head into the spring time feeling better, and can now do a maintenance diet, eating regular portions, and continuing to workout. 

Jim – great job again.  Your two bennies will be delivered on Friday February 7th, say…7pm?

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