Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I got this Christmas card last year, I think the person that gave it to me really knows me...ya think :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Remind me

Why did I leave Las Vegas? A view from slow going (mostly stopped) drive home.

Trip Report Part 1: From the tundra to the desert #WPBT

There's nothing more challenging then waiting to leave for the blogger winter gathering. Well, except for maybe returning from one and merging back into normal society.

I had high hopes of starting these recaps right away when I got home, but mother nature and global climate change had bigger plans for me.

Besides the rapid decompression of going back to work on Tuesday, I've spent most of the week digging out my home. God bless my wife and neighbors, they did an excellent job of keeping things moving while I was away, but we've had almost 3 feet of snow this month, I needed to finish where they left off and finish cleaning up the butt load of snow still piled up where it shouldn't be. I think I've got things pretty much caught up. The fresh snow in forecast tomorrow is really not all that welcome. Sigh.

So...where were we? Oh, ya! The recap!

I had planned on heading to Las Vegas on Thursday. This USED to be the day that most of the bloggers headed to Sin City. For the love of Pete, how many of you were there on Wednesday or earlier this year?

For the first time in my trips to the Winter Gathering, I was flying solo from MSP. My first year, OhCountess joined me (for those that are curious, her interview went well). Last year, Drizz and I were cabin mates in coach.

Most of these photos were all shot from inside my plane. I've done enough travelling in my life to know how to stay comfy and relaxed on the three hour flight to McCarran airport. Note the bottle of Diet Pepsi purchased for some stupid price in MSP's terminal. The two ounces of diet Coke Delta serves is usually not enough. I mean, we are drying to get hydrated for the weekend. I also thought this was a perfect time to do a little reading of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker. You bought your copy yet? I bought several. They make great Christmas presents.

Moving on.

I have to share some love of the new ePass concept moving through some of the larger airlines. Delta has this app for the iPhone. I normally assume that major companies make apps for my phone with the misguided believe that slapping something together that's basically an ad will magically make me fall in love with their company. Delta's app on the other was actually quite useful. The first thing that totally rocked was it alerted me that I could check-in to my the earliest possible moment. Cha-ching! No worries about checking in too late and missing my flight! Next thing, the boarding pass is now in my phone. I can't begin to tell you how much this rocks. TSA has scanners now for smart phones that allows you to scan your phone when you hit their desk. You should have heard all the people when they saw me do this. "Hey! What's he doing?" TSA guy, "He's scanning his boarding pass off his phone." Dude behind me, "You can do that?"


If you know me, it's not like I go more the 5 feet in any direction without my phone.

As for TSA, this part of my trip always gets me nervous. The "Patriat Pat Downs" could be interesting, if the TSA agent was female, hot and the PA system suddenly started playing porn music, but since that's like me winning a hand of live limit hold 'em, I'm not holding my breath. MSP didn't seem to have the scanners everyone was complaining about. And the line? From the moment I entered the rope maze to me having everything back in place and my hoodie back on and zipped...4 minutes. Now some of that comes from the fact that I pack with speed in mind, but damn. I've never made it through a line that fast.

I didn't have a lot of time to mill about the terminals. I had taken a paid shuttle up to the Twin Cities and the freezing rain we hit on the way up were enough to shave almost hour of my wait. Thank goodness for the 4 minutes in TSA, huh?

I found my gate with enough time to take a leak and get the aforementioned Diet Pepsi. I boarded early since I was in lovely Zone 3, the 4th row from the back of the plane. First slot machine lemon. I got my window seat. I know, lots of people hate window seats...I'm curious, I like to look out. I was joined by two, very large Ukrainian gentleman that reeked of smoke. Oh boi. I looked across the aisle, and the guys on that side were as big as these two. I was, by far, the smallest guy in my row. I'm not huge, I'm not small, but it's rare that I'm the smallest guy. Second lemon. I spent the entire flight with my shoulder, cocked forward.

This next part made it all better though. Delta and Google teamed up to provide free wifi on the trip. I'll admit it. I'm a connected junkie.Tweeting from the plane while in flight was pretty cool. I was able to stay connected with other WPBTers, send some emails, read some blogs, all from the comfort (hehe) of my seat on my phone. Hell, I even checked into 4square up there. Don't ask me how it knows where I was. The one thing that did seem a bit odd, Netflix streaming didn't work. Either Netflix was down or Gogo is blocking it. Bummer.

Landing in McCarran airport in some strange way, always feels like home. While MSP is the airport closest to my house and the one I'm always flying in and out of, I land at McCarran most of the times I'm flying. Degenerate, I know.

I made through the aiirport to MGM Grand's check-in room. Seriously folks, find this place. More on that later. When I got there, there was no line. I walked in, checked-in to my room, got my key and headed to the shuttle. The shuttle was full of cowboys, most on their first Vegas get away. I was kind of cute watching the get all starry eyed about the city. Talking about what they want to see and do. I'm thinking, let's go. Enough talking, let's start doing.

At the MGM, the line to check in was enormous. Seriously folks, try the airport check in. Oh wait. On second thought, you stay in that line. The airport check in is for suckers. I headed straight to my room. Exchanging text messages with StB and Kat. They beat me to town and were "laying down a base" with Iggy at Outback Steakhouse. Man was I hungry. I had originally planned on eating at the airport, but he shuttle delay 86ed that idea. I slipped into something more comfortable and headed down the strip to join them.

#ATTSUCKS was full effect. Text messages were taking forever. By the time I got to the Imperial Palace (IP from here on out) Iggy was already back with the rest not far behind. Iggy's advice to lay down a good base on Thursday night is something everyone should head. We are about to embark on some serious drinking folks. You'll want the absorbing qualities of food to get you through it.

Since I missed eating with other humans, I figured Outback sounded good and I'd head there by myself. Nope. Didn't make it. The burger I planned for Outback was replaced by a burger from KGB's at Harrah's. This will be the first restaurant review from my trip. I had high hopes for this place. KGB...could it be a reference to the movie Rounders? Well, no. It's short for Kerry's Gourmet Burgers, but the theme of the interior is vintage communist Russia. I love me a gourmet burger. I order mine medium with egg, bacon and cheese. The cheese didn't make it to my table, but everything else did, even though I asked for it served with no vegetables (I'm a strict carnivore). The order came with root beer served in a mason jar and french fries. These were ordinary fries served in one of those stupid cone shaped wire things. Gawd I hate those. Maybe there's some aesthetic thing that's supposed to be cool, but I can't get the damn food out of them. Ugh. The fries were rather meh. They were just ordinary. The burger was cooked to a perfect medium, excellent, but the egg was cooked hard. I like a little run in my yolk. The bacon was extra crispy, good bacon on a burger should have a little chew to it and just crumble in my mouth to gritty bits. All in all, it was edible, but hardly worth the $22 they charged for it. Same meal here, cooked to perfection, will run me $10. I know that's here, but at least here it's cooked right.

I made my way back to the IP. Bloggers were starting to show up. I found Drizz, CK and Numbbono playing Pai Gow. I'd never played Pai Gow before so when Numb got up, I just had to sit between CK and Drizz. Who better to teach me?

We played, we drank, we played. I made $35 and moved on to more drinking and preparing for dinner. Peacecorn had invited me to join her, SSPablo, Garth, Kat, Drizz and AlCantHang for dinner at Picasso at Bellagio. Somewhere in here, I also lost $100 playing poker at the IP. Crap.

More on all of this later. It's late and I have work and more friggin' snow to clean up tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home #WPBT

I was greeted by warm hugs from the kids and Mrs last night. Good thing too! The low last night was -20°. That's a bit of a change from hanging out on the strip.

Much more to come!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Last night of #WPBT

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In flight, heading to Las Vegas & #WPBT

In flight and heading to Las Vegas for the 2010 gathering of the World Poker Bloggers Tour (WPBT). Traveling always gets me tired but when this plane sets down in the desert, I know I'll find that inner energy source that will fuel one crazy fun weekend.

I just can't wait to see old friends, meet new ones, hug some, laugh, drink, raise, fold, check and move all-in. With everything, we will be missing those who can't make it.

In flight wifi is the greatest thing ever. Just wish I wasn't the smallest guy in my row. If you've met me, you know I'm not really small. Eat Pray Love is the in flight movie. Thank god for the wifi. The final season of The Rockford Files streaming from Netflix should keep me occupied while I squish myself into the window.

Should be landing around 1 pm pacific time. Weeeeeeeeeee!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Glumack Dr,Fort Snelling,United States

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Balvenie, Whiskey Club and the physics of time travel #WPBT

8 sleeps. I have to go to bed 8 more times before the Winter Gathering in Las Vegas. I think we all know that the last night before I fly out of this state, I probably won't sleep much. Like an 10 year old the night before Disney World..."I'M TOO EXCITED!" (Not to say I'm not already excited, I've started organizing my suitcase already...geez, I'm pathetic)

So, before I tell you about the bottle of Balvenie DoubleWood single malt scotch whisky we tried at the last whiskey club, there something I need to get out there before December 9th, when for all practical purposes, I'll be too giddy to think.

First off, the Pinball Hall of Fame. When do people want to go? I'm going to The Neon Museum at 2 PM on Friday, that's like an hour or two with travel. The museum tour is booked and can't be changed. The other thing we will need is transportation. Cabs and buses can get you there, but, well, they cost cash money. We can do it but if there are other options. @CaityCaity lives in Vegas, has a car and you said you want to go...interested in carpooling?

Bourbonators: Las Vegas edition. Wolfshead has bought a bottle of Elijah Craig 18 single barrel. I believe that is officially a bourbon. Astin has also offered to hit up the Duty Free on his way there. I've asked F-Train if he could pick us up something at local hooch store that's not on the strip. He's willing to help. I had originally that a nice bottle of Glenlevit NĂ durra might be fun. Several people are interested in joining us. My thoughts go like this. We will be drinking most heavily on Thursday night. It's the only night I have written in ink in my planner, "Drink heavily" as an action item. I have no idea where we can drink our bottle(s) of tasty goodness, but I think Thursday night, some stolen lowballs at the IP? Thoughts?

A this time next week, we will be at the Imperial Palace. Drinking, laughing, drinking, laughing, watching Dealertainers. I can't wait.

This past month, our host chose a bottle of 12 year old, single malt scotch whisky. The Balvenie, a double casked scotch, they call DoubleWood.

I think I'm really finding my stride with these double casked scotches. Double casked whisky are aged in two different barrels. The first, a traditional new oak cask. The tube this bottle comes in describes this cask the one the mellows the spirit, "imparting gentle warming layers of vanilla spiciness."

The second cask is a used European sherry cask. The provides the fruitiness you would expect from would that aged squished grapes. As you can see from the picture, It has a deep amber color with a nice shift to red.

The tasting notes (shamelessly copied from their website without permission):
Sweet fruit and Oloroso sherry notes, layered with honey and vanilla.
Smooth and mellow with beautifully combined flavours ~ nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of sherry.
Long and warming.
I enjoyed the aroma of this one. It was smooth and sweet, I'm not good enough to pick out the vanilla or the honey. The rest of their description is spot on. It was perfectly sweet without overwhelming and made for an excellent sip.

Our host buys this one regularly. It runs about $45 in these parts and can be found at discount retailers like Sams Club. That normally isn't an inspiration for me to think outstanding whisky, but I won't hold it against it. Heck, probably my favorite whiskey for daily use is Jim Beam Rye. Ummmm....rye.

The pokering at Bourbonators continues to impress me with everyone improvements. I'm either just sucking from lack of practice or everyone else seems to be getting better. While I'll never doubt the first, I believe most of these guys are just getting better. We did have a new guy this month. He was an enigma to me. I'm not sure he's really played all that much before, he seemed really new and had the luck of a newbie. He took me out in about 3 hands. I had him dominated in 2 of the 3 and the other was me hold an over pair to his underpair. Oh well, that's poker.

Now, my last request. How do we make this next week just zoom by quickly and the slow to a crawl for 4 fun days in Las Vegas? Inquiring minds want to know!

8 sleeps.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When a raise out of turn sets off the alarms

Tonight, I was playing a little Minnesota Poker League bar poker, tuning up for the WPBT gathering in Vegas. I was in a hand tonight that I thought I would share to see what you think.

Blinds are 200/400. I have 3800 in chips and am sitting in the cutoff. When I looked down, I found 99, not a completely crappy hand at all. I figure if it folds to me, I raise it up to 1200ish.

When the action folded to me, the player on my left shoves for a 1000. Now, it wasn't a huge shove, just 2.5 big blinds, but the big stack on the button, moves like he wants to insta-call but suddenly realizes that I haven't acted yet.

I sat there for a little bit and thought this through. Everyone at the table was going to let me act first, but my plan to raise just doesn't sound like a good plan any more. With 600 chips in the pot from the blinds, this shove of 1000 after me, a 1200 chip raise is out of the question. Why don't I just beg everyone to call? I'm positive the button was going to  put chips in the middle as soon as it was his turn. He's definitely strong. I got the feeling the blinds new this too.

I figured it was either shove or fold and wait for a better spot.

I'm not a huge fan of nines. They are pretty and all, but a coin flip at best to almost all of the hands that the big blind would act so strong with. What to do, what to do...

I folded having committed not a single chip in the middle.

The player to my left turns over K6h (WTF? Couldn't wait to shove this????) and the button turns of pocket tens.

Whew! Dodge a bullet there! Of course, the flop contains a 9 and the set would have held, but since I didn't know that preflop, I think I made the right decision.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

WPBT 2010 Is Officially Booked - Now we wait

I booked the hotel MONTHS ago. That MGM special was locked in back in June, but there was still a small chance that everything might get scuttled. It's be a busy world here. I figured eating the cost of the hotel reservation was worth locking it in, but locking a airfare, that's a little different. It's the scale.

But tonight, it got locked in. I'm financially commited to attending the WPBT Gathering December 9 to 13th. I leave the frozen tundra at 11:20 AM. This is going to be a big departure from last year. As of right now, I'm travelling alone. 2008 - OhCountess was with me. 2009 - Drizz shared the journey (and it was his birthday...cheers!). Ya, this year, I'll be going through checkpoints and killing time all by myself. OhCountess has had to make a change in plans. She was looking forward to returning, but alas, it's not in the cards.

So, back to the plans...

I'll arrive at McCarran around 1 PM, shuttle over to the MGM, check in, stretch out in the suite we reserved for two, wonder why I need this much, get thirsty/hungry and head to food and then the Imperial Palace (Geisha Bar) for extended drinking hours. If you are going to be around Vegas already, let me know. I really can't wait to see everyone again. Saying I'm looking forward to it is an enormous understatement.

Friday begins the official itinerary based travel period. I've scheduled a tour of The Neon Museum with Katitude and others for 2 PM Friday, December 10. This place is awesome. Last year's tour was definitely a highlight.

Last year, Yestbay and I headed over to the Pinball Hall of Fame in the lunchish period. This was before the Neon Museum tour. Anyone interested in going this year? I think the Gamblers Book Shop is still next door, but I'm not sure. Both places are great for the history/nostalgia buffs. Leave me a comment, send me an email or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

Now, there's something new I'm interested in doing but have no idea how to pull off. Most years, the weekend of the gather also falls on the same weekend as Bourbonators. I was kinda hoping to getting the whiskey drinkers among us to get together and sample a bottle of something tasty. Again, let me know if you are interested or have ideas about how to get our hands on something tasty.

Friday night. I'll probably shuffle chips for a few hours at the [insert poker room name] and trying to grind out of a hole a little spending money on the felt. Then off to Mandalay bay for Steel Panther. They are now playing Mandalay Bay so the travel should be WAY less complicated. Here's my write up from last year.

Saturday: tournament. Team Skol (Drizz, Matt and myself) will cleaning up at the Aria card room. Hopefully I don't mean working off debt by pushing vacuums around. Can't wait!

Sunday: open. This is typically they day I wonder around wearing out the shutter on my camera. I haven't heard if the sports book gatherings are organized. Since this is still open, that's a definite possibility.

Departing Monday morning. My flight departs at 9:18 AM. Much better then the usual 7 AM flight I've taken in the past. 5 AM shuttles suck.

I really can't believe it's only a month away. I'm also old enough to know that this will be the longest friggin' month of the year. Ugh. Waiting is tough.

So, I'm in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Having fun playing live poker with Aberlour 12 year old scotch whiskey

I've spent the last few months pretty much not playing live poker. By not playing live poker I mean not more then once a month if that. Bourbonators has pretty much been my only live poker since sometime last spring. Before this hiatus, I had played at least one night a week for 4 years. Maybe I was a little burned out. Maybe.  I had reached a point though, I was getting bored playing online only. There's only so many online hours you can spend before you long to just splash some chips around.

Last Friday night, we had our monthly meeting. Our host's wife is spitting out a baby ANY day now, so it was a little dicey about whether he was gonna host or not. He had picked up a bottle of Aberlour Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky (aged 12 years). We think we've tried this one before, but we've lost the list. Nice huh? Oh well, if I keep this up and post every month. There's always a chance, we might just get the official web site going.

On with the booze!

According to the package, this single malt has been aged in traditional oak casks and finest Sherry Casks. Double casking was developed in distillers in Scotland. The British would sell them their used sherry casks and after aging the whiskey for a while in the traditional vessels, they would move the spirits into the sherry casks for a little more maturation. Interesting idea.

The tasting notes on this package described the color as a golden amber with hints of rub red. You can see that in my first picture. I have noticed that the darker/redder the liquid, the more likely it is to either be sweeter or comprised of more complex flavors. Sweeter for me in a whisky is not always a good thing. (Sorry Canadians)

The nose is described as "soft and round with fruity notes of red apple". I have no idea what round is supposed to smell like. Any clues? But it was definitely pleasant fruity. The palate was listed as "sherried character and fruity flavours balanced with a rich chocolate, toffee and cinnamon and ginger spiciness." My perception was definitely a richer flavor than many scotches I've tried. It really was a warm, deeply comforting flavor that I found quite enjoyable. So many of the scotches I've tried have either been very smoky or very peaty. This was neither. Just smooth, a tiny touch of sweet and very relaxing. The finish was also as described, "warm and lingering with some smoky notes and gentle pepperiness."

A drink well done.

It very well could have been this spirit or the fact that we had a short table of 6 runners, but I found myself in a strange place. I really wanted to play poker and had a lot of fun playing it. So incredibly weird. The host had also purchased the nummy and delicious 312 beer from the Goose Island Brewery.

The 6 guys that were there were 6 guys I've played many times. The more I think of it, the more I realize that many of them actually read this blog and I probably shouldn't go babbling on and on about what kind of tells, habits, tendencies I've noticed. Maybe just recap a hand or two that seemed fun or somehow caught my attention.

The first hand was something I've really sucked at for a while. Some people might wonder how the hell you could screw it up but I think others will definitely recognize just what a challenge it can be. In this first hand, I held AA. Yep, I suck at playing this hand, especially from very early position.

Now how the hell can you suck at playing aces, I mean really. Well, for the longest time, I've been consistently winning the smallest of pots with it. Annoying as hell. Taking the blinds is not my goal, but it seemed to be my modus operandi.

On this night, I played them different. I normally 3 BB raise everything, but I also tend to be the tightest guy at the table. My guess is, the 3 BB raise from EP would probably just look like aces when I do it. I had spent more time also playing against my usual tight image. I had been a down right bully a few times and play a bit more pots then usual.

I opened from under the gun with just a min raise. With the table short handed, I hoped this might generate a little action, if I could get a few callers, there was more the one guy here that would take a stab at a squeeze play.

Two guys did indeed limp and the button did a reraise. A nice sized one too. The blinds quickly folded and back to me. I realized this might be a really good time for a really big over bet. I had bullied this player earlier and if he's got a hand that's trying to clear out the deadwood, like a big ace, he just might defend his raise. My bet was almost all of my stack and sure enough, he moved it all in over the top. Gin!

He tables AQs, this was exactly the type of hand I thought he might have. It's also a hand that's almost a 9:1 underdog to pocket aces, all I would need to do is dodge the remaining 50 spades in the deck (that's a joke, but doesn't it seem like when this happens, every card turned over is a spade...just sayin) I dodged them all and doubled up with aces.Whew!

.Since it was 6 handed, I really did figure it was time to be very active and more aggressive. The weird thing was, the 6 of us were taking way longer to finish a sng then we ever took when there was twice this many players. It probably was the scotch.

The night did produce a fair amount of drama. In the hand pictured below, the flop was laid out from right to left. Yes, the 87 had flopped the straight and two cards later, the A2o hits the bigger straight. The sick part was the 87o was a big stack, and the A2o was a little stack we were trying to bust from the tournament. Poker can be so cruel.

I believe this was one hand later, same two players. KJ was the big stack again, and got rivered for the chop. Sigh.

I went away from the night with a smile on my face. I finished 2nd in the 2nd sng, so the whole night cost me my $5 for the booze. Well worth it. I felt good about the way I played and had a blast doing it. Hopefully, these keeps with me to December. Which is taking it's sweet ass time, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Been a loooonnnnnggggg time

Finally made it back to the bar to play some live poker. I gots some rust to shake off before the gathering in December.

Is it December yet? I'd really like it if it was.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The sum of my SNG's - god save the queen

I'm beginning to believe I'm never supposed to cash again. I played two SNG's tonight. How I busted from the first... (you'll have to click through to see them in a reader)

And from the second tournament...

Queens rock?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I guess it's time again

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's post season baseball people...

Win Twins!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

From the Isle of Mull - Aged 10 Years - The Product of Scotland

I'll bet some of you knew right from the title that this post wasn't going to be about poker sites accepting US players. No sir. My guess is some of you had an immediate Pavlovian reaction and started to salivate. Those words appear on one type of product that I know of. And I know of very few other products from Scotland. I'm sure they probably do produce things other then Scotch whisky. It's possible and probably likely. Go read their damn Wikipedia page for yourself. Look under Economy and Infrastructure.

This month, our chief Bourbonator asked me to pick us up something nice. He was coming down for the game, but as you may have heard, a hurricane that had hit hard in the Yucatan peninsular meandered it's way here, to my town, to piss upwards of 11 inches of rain in 24 hours. I live in Minnesota. While sure, 11 inches of snow, is nothin. 11 gawd damn inches of rain is a friggin' mess. Our fearless leader lives in the Twin Cities and normally has an hourish drive. With almost every single road leading into Rochester closed due to [insert something washing out cuz of a boatload of rain] he wasn't exactly sure how quick he was gonna be.

On the left there, you'll see the shelf sign that caught my eye. It was conveniently located over the price. Those clever bastards. For this months whisky (if you are wondering where the 'e' went in 'whisky' please refer to this post about Bourbonators) I chose a 10 year old bottle of Ledaig (pronounced 'Led-chig') single malt from the Tobermory Distillery.

"The Master Distiller's Tasting Notes" located on both the box and the shelf signage made note of something I didn't normally associate with a fine Scotch whisky. Let's see if you notice:

Colour: Bright lemony gold
Nose: Immediately pungent with sweet tar and creosote aromas that release wood smoked fragrances with hints of liquorice. Further intrigue develops from soft antiseptic hints and charred leather. 
Ok, there's more, but the nose part. It had me wondering why, oh why, would someone write that on the box? Creosote doesn't immediately pop in my head when I think, hm, what kind of booze should I be drinking tonight? Maybe something that tastes like charred leather?

Under that shelf signage, was the price: $35.99. My budget was $40 and since math is hard, I just assumed that with tax, I was golden. I grabbed the box headed to the counter and the nice girl said, "That'll be $54..." - um, math is hard and all, but..."The sign said $35.99..." She was pleasant and checked the shelf...she found that I wasn't crazy, cheap maybe, but not crazy. Price adjustment and I was out of there. Whew!

We cracked this bottle open. It did have a very nice cork. I like corks. They don't make you feel cheap like a screw top or a box with a spout. On first sniff, you definitely get the whiff of airplane fuel. Can't say I found that really appealing since I normally try to avoid drinking petroleum distillates, but then again, I'm no whisky expert. Sipping was a completely different experience. It was indeed a peaty spirit, like one would expect. It was fairly smooth and smoky. The finish was a bit rough with a bit of a burn. All in all, it wasn't too bad. I'm not sure I'd go back to store and pick it up again, but I probably wouldn't pass it up when offered. The box claims there should be hints of spicy pepper, but I missed that. It also said it should be salty from the malt, maybe I caught that, but it claimed liquorice and cloves in the lost me there. I didn't find either. But like I said, I'm no whisky expert.

Probably the biggest reasons I haven't been posting all that much is the fact that I haven't been playing all that much poker (I missed completely the month of September - sorry). PokerFool seems to have started playing poker again (you really need to go check him out, maybe even leave a comment or three). But for me, live poker has been a distant memory. Playing poker this summer just wasn't in the cards and since OhPrincess1 somehow turned into a middle schooler over night, (geebus gawd, someone want to slow this ride down! I could swear last week she was a baby)....I miss playing poker.

Bourbonators has pretty much been the only live poker I've played this last 4 or 5 months. And this has how that has gone...fold, fold, fold, big bluff to set up something, fold, fold, fold AK vs A8 - flow KQ8 - turn diamond, river diamond, my AK falls victim to a 4 card flush. FAWK! Sigh. Go find the loser game...

Since British Tony was hosting this month, something new happened. The loser cash game really didn't materialize but if you'll notice the picture on the left, we did play some level 3 cribbage. I haven't played cribbage that I can remember since college. George H. W. Bush was president. Oh, what is Level 3 cribbage? That's where people are playing optimally like poker and placing people on a hand and playing the cards to optimize pointing themselves while avoiding their opponents goal of getting points. A beautiful thing.

I think it's looking quite possibly I might just hit the felt at the local watering hole this Tuesday night. I don't think I've played there since May. With the Winter Gathering quickly approaching, I need to shake the rust off the live game and get ready to join Team Skol! in our victory celebration. A boy can dream right?

Saw someone I knew....

Taking the kids to the pumpkin patch today and saw someone I knew. Recognize him?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lost Vegas by Paul McGuire

I got mine in the mail today! Can't wait to read it. Did you get yours yet? It's over at - search for it - Lost Vegas - by Paul McGuire.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gentile Summit 2010 - A photo essay with word and stuff

Welcome to my fly-over state. Welcome to Minnesota!

I really am quite proud of my state. It's breathtakingly beautiful. We get to enjoy all 4 season. I really do enjoy all of them (if I had to rank them: Fall, Spring, Winter, Summer - more on that later).

RamaRama was organizing a meeting of the annual Gentile Summit. If I'm not mistaken, this usually occurs in Chicago, or there abouts. While Chicago is fun and all, Minnesota had something new to offer: Target Field. The new home of the Minnesota Twins. Did you notice over there on the right, their magic number is 33 at the time of this writing? Not that I'm counting or anything. Lightning36 will never forgive me if I highlight the Twins lead the Central division by 3.5 games over the Mighty Whites (The Chicago White Sox).

How could I not participate in a blogger gather here in the greatest state in the Union?

Honey? Can I borrow the minivan, drive to Minneapolis, get a hotel room, drink beer, go to Target Field, watch a Twins game, drink beer, drink beer, photograph the city, drink beer, sleep, go out for a so-so breakfast, think to myself "I'm never drinking beer again", fill the minivan with bloggers and a girlfriend, drive to the golf course rated in City Pages as "The Best Golf Course To Hide A Body", go golfing, fear finding a body when my drive goes deep in the woods, drink more water then there is in any one of the 10,000 lakes, drink a little more beer (I can't so no forever...), say good bye and drive home? Pleeeeaaaaassssseeeee?

I love you honey!

The memories I have from this weekend are those of great friends and great times. What a blast.

My first day of the long weekend went something like this.

  1. Get my self and the kids up like any other work day Friday. Listen to the moan and complain about not wanting to brush something. Yada yada yada. Just like every other day. Only, I didn't seem to care so much. I just wanted to get going. I need to be at the office for 4 hours and then BOOM! I'm out of there. 4 hours...
  2. Get to work. Realize I'm completely out of Give A Sh!t. Holy crap - 4 hours is a friggin' lifetime.
  3. Hate twitter cuz people are talking about Summit things. 
  4. Notice that time has stopped.
  5. Call help desk and ask why time has stopped.
  6. Clocks reset.
  7. Time is moving slower then ever. FML.
You get the idea. I killed 4 hours at the office and the like a rocket, I was out of there. Get in the car, pick up the kids. Go home cuz I'll be damned if go to Minneapolis today in a suit. I have some dignity. Drive to my home town, dodging severe thunderstorms. This time of year, we don't usually go more the a few hours without sauna level humidity or a severe thunderstorm. Did I mention, welcome to Minnesota? Anywho. Drop the kids off at Grandma's Weekend Daycare and Spa.

Did you know that most traffic laws are optional if there's cold beer waiting at your destination? I didn't either, but I convinced myself that it had to be true. That theory was working great until I ran into the worlds longest construction zone. In all honesty, Minnesota has two seasons. Winter and Construction. From Hastings to Cottage Grove was under construction. FML.

I break free from the construction zone and speed into the heart of the metro area. I'm free! I'm free! To come to a crawling pace cuz it's now 3 in the afternoon and metro drivers suck. For the love of Pete. I'm never going to drink beer. At this speed, I figure there's no reason not to send a text message to RamaRama and Drizz:
Now I remember why I hate driving in Minneapolis.

Pulling off the interstate I entered Minneapolis at around the University area. 7 corners to be exact. I remember thinking to myself, this would be a great area to meet for some beers. There's some legendary bars here. Ha.

I get to the hotel, check in and immediately text Drizz, "I'm here." "Great! We are heading over to Old Town Brewery. Meet us there. You might want to drive."

WTF? I just drove 2 hours to get here. I look up Old Town Brewery my phone cuz it really sounded familiar. Sure as shit. It's back in 7 corners.

I'm not driving. I have beers to drink, so I grab a cab. Look what was waiting on the other end of a $10 cab ride. It's a thing of absolute beauty.

I only waited a few minutes, but was joined by RamaRama, Molly, Minneapolis Tim and StB. After a few beers, a bit of food, and laughs all around as Drizz schooled Minneapolis Tim at pool. We headed back to Rama Rama's apartment. This is the view from his roof back at the city. Wow.

I think it's no secret, I love beer. Nom nom. When I saw StB tweeting about bringing a case of Yuengling, I was still at work. Crying openly in my cubicle. "There's never gonna be any left for me!" Oh, but there was. You see in the background, that's Target Field back there. I'm officially jealous of this apartment.

This is exactly how Minnesotans pass the time before a baseball game. We play cornhole for hours on end. What a great venue. Flat. Open. Lots of places to sit. Great view. Did I mention that?

This is your standard gathering group photo. To everyone reading this, I'd like to introduce you to everyone. It was wicked ass bright up there. Camera bag for a tripod, and voila! Group photo. (Back row) StB, Molly, Girl, Emet, Joe Speaker, Chad, Minneapolis Tim, Girl, Boy (Front row) DonkeyPuncher, Drizz and myself. That's everyone that attended the game.
You can't go to a Twins game without taking a picture of Joe Mauer. It's required by local code.

This is the back of the head of the lady that everyone in our group accidentally kicked in the back at least once. I may not have mentioned this but it was uncomfortably humid here that summer weekend. My beer glass is dripping from condensation. It slipped out of my hand fell straight down and splashed everyone. She was not amused. Minneapolis Tim apologized quickly for it. It really was an accident. Still, she wasn't amused. Her husband thanked us for that. My foot slipped a few minutes later and kicked her in the ass again. Oh my. She was mad. Everyone wave and say Hi! 

I love this shot. Joe Speaker is looking disgruntled as his A's can get hit at will but can't seem to touch home plate. Our token Brewer's fan, StB is just enjoying the game. Drizz is in his happy place and Molly is posing for the camera. Hi Molly!

I missed the conversation leading up to this. But I'm guessing that since it was so humid, he was taking advantage of the extra shelf space.

Ya, he's just letting it park there for a while.

You may have read in some of the recaps of the weekend, there was a priest sitting behind us with his dad. Turns out he was a big Twins fan. The father probably got that from his father. We had a great time talking with him. Outside of Drizz swearing in front of him twice in a few seconds, everyone was at their blogger best behavior. He was happy to pose for pictures with us at the end of the game.

Final score 4-3. Twins Win! Twins Win! Joe Speaker didn't take this well. It took a sanity walk and then proceeded to talk on his cell phone to everyone in the greater Oakland area telling bad beat stories about this game. Not sure if you can read it but they had 13 hits and only 3 runs. That ain't good.

I did shoot a panorama of from our seats. Great spot to watch a game!

Back at Chad's apartment after the game and more corn hole. There had been some rain making for a nicely reflecting roof.

Ah. Minneapolis at night. I'm not really sure why it is, but when I drink a lot, I figure I can hand hold night shots with my camera. I've done this for years. I crank up the ISO, take a big swig of beer and click. That brightly lit building in the foreground, that's Sex World. We didn't go, but it seems there's a geocache near there. Hm...

Drizz demonstrating his prowess at the game. I believe he won 11 straight. Ride'm cowboy!

One of my favorite shots from the weekend. Heck, I even made it my submission for the 52 week challenge I've been sucking at since January first. Check it out here.

Here are some of the guys, taking a break. Great seats.

Kind of a fun shot showing StB and Molly holding the LED lights. They worked great for the game. Also a nice effect for the shots.

I thought this was cool. Dark roof, cornhole game, big bright city in the background.

The munchies started setting in around some time after dark. I'd ceased being able or caring what time it was a long time ago. We headed over to Pizza Luce for more beer and some really fantastic pizzas.

Below is a conversation I witnessed. I believe the solved all the worlds problems. Just look at that concentration.

Much laughing. Drizz and DonkeyPuncher.

I must be thinking I can do product photos while hammered. Nice depth of field but what the hell is this supposed to mean?

Somewhere along the way, we headed over to a bar I can't remember the name. I was handed a Pabst Blue Ribbon. It looked interesting to me so I took a shot of it. I had now been drinking for almost 12 hours straight.
At some point, this next picture happened. I don't remember taking this photo. Someone else might have had my camera. I couldn't tell you. What I do know is that Drizz was not the first person to ever crush a PBR can against their head. It's what boys do in Minnesota. No one knows why.

The next day, we went back to Pizza Luce for breakfast. We were hung over hungry. Note to self: Pizza Luce's breakfast was rather meh. My sunny eggs were a bit over done and my hashbrowns had been done a while before I got them. The are, however, big on vegan breakfast food. Um, ya.

We collected ourselves, and headed over to the Theodore Wirth municipal golf course.  Chad told us that City Pages had listed it as the best golf course to hide a body. Just recently, they had found a body there. It's near North Minneapolis. That would be the not so Minnesota nice part of Minneapolis.

The course had beautiful views of the city. A tournament had been played the same day, so it really was a bit rough out there. Not a huge problem. I hadn't hit a golf ball in about 8 years. I don't think I've hit one since my youngest was born. She's 7. Didn't matter, I was out driving everyone in my 3-some. Want to know my secret? First, I was using the Great Big Bearth II driver. From what I'm told, it has a MASSIVE sweet spot. Second, each and every time I stepped up to the ball, I had to go through the mental checklist on how to hit a driver. I had forgotten all of my bad habits. I also played 3 days a week as a young man.

~6 hours of golfing and I'm guessing 6 bottles of water for me. The golfing was done. I succeeded in not humiliating myself and shooting a 118. Not too shabby for borrowed clubs and 8 years of rust. Joe Speaker, Emet and I headed over to Runyon's for some food. I had had an awesome time. I only booked the room for Friday night. Seems several of the out of town guests aren't such big fans of the burbs so we didn't head out there to Drizz's place for cards. I decided I'd head back home for some R&R in my own bed. I'd packed a lot in the previous 30 some hours. At night on a Saturday, I figured I could probably get home in a little over an hour. As luck would have it, as soon as I started hitting full speed on I94, the tunnel is under construction and I'm stuck in bumper to bumper traffic at 11 PM on a Saturday night.

Now I remember why I hate driving in Minneapolis.

I'm so ready to head back to Vegas in December. The Winter Gathering just can't get here soon enough. I'm booked at the MGM. Getting there Thursday sometime and leaving some time on Monday. I suppose I should book a flight soon. OhCountess is waffling back and forth about whether or not she's going. It's one thing to book a room and end up going solo, it's another to buy a plane ticket.

Thank you everyone! I had a great time. I could see this weekend becoming a habit for me. Until we meet again...