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.