Monday, December 31, 2007
Personally, I couldn't stomach another top ten list, but I still find myself looking back quite a bit- The first Phillies playoff game in 14 years was a blast. I've reconnected with a few old friends I haven't been in touch with for a while. I quit smoking. Gabe can ride a bike and started 1st grade. Jonathan continues to amaze me with his artistic skills and his empathetic demeanor. I had a great year at the poker table. The refinished basement that my wife put together almost by herself is awesome and we have new floors.
If I had to look ahead, I can see that there are things to look forward to experiencing. The best thing is that my lovely wife and I will have our 10th anniversary this May. While I'll save the ooey gooey love stuff for later, I am excited as we are taking a trip to San Francisco and the Napa Valley for the celebration- and NO KIDS!! I'm excited for another year of the Phillies, despite the fact that it's been somewhat of a disappointing off-season so far. I have upgraded my Sunday plan seats and have better seats and now I can take the whole family instead of just 2 of us. Dan Harrington's new book on cash game poker is coming out soon. The scariest part is that my 20 year reunion for high school is this year. Yup, Ive been out of school longer than I've been in school- yikes!
I guess that's why I'm a rubber-necker- the new year is just another reminder that I'm an old fart and I'm another year closer to being even more unhip than I previously was.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I shouldn't paint all older folks as having technophobia . My 63-year old father is further ahead the learning curve on the internet than I am. Then again, the internet is a place where you can find things for cheap or free, so for him to miss out on such things would be uncharacteristic. I'm constantly getting links on where I can get services or stuff for free from him. He really should be the one with a blog as he's an expert on finding the best deals on the web. I bet he would have thousands of hits a day if he were to put something like that together.
I guess part of my reluctance on some technologies is wondering whether they'll become obsolete or better after a few scant years. I'm still waiting for the dust of the high-def DVD player war to settle before I take a plunge on buying either Blue-ray or HD DVD. Not only that, but part of me wants to wait to see if bugs can get worked out and costs drop. (hoping for a cheaper and better iphone in 2 years...) When I was younger I had the gotta get it now impulse. Nowadays, I am much more patient.
Maybe, the older we get, the more we get used to doing things a certain way. I know my father-in-law loves to read maps, so I'm sure a little computer telling him to make a turn in 1 mile seems foreign to him. I guess if they could change the GPS voice to sound like my mother-in-law nagging him that he's going the wrong way he'd feel a little more at home with it.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I make the hotel reservations and then went to look for flight info.
There are no flights leaving Nashville after 5pm that get to Philadelphia in a reasonable time or isn't super-expensive!!
So now I'm stuck in Nashville an extra night and won't be able to fly out until the next morning. Nothing personal against Nashville, but it's a boring place if you don't like country music. They have a mall on the hotel property and some restaurants and bars but nothing else and nothing worth traveling to see. No poker either! (I know, I know- how do people even survive living in the middle of the south?)
Hopefully the strip bar scene is good.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The good news for me is after the last 12 years of making resolutions to quit smoking and never having any success is that I finally quit. I have not had a cigarette for 6 months and have no real desire to smoke again. Thank you, Pfizer for creating Chantix. (strangely enough it was a blue pill just like Viagra, I guess Pfizer likes that color?) It was a true miracle drug for me and after years and years of trying to quit through all sorts of means, Chantix made quitting easy.
The bad news is that I'm still a fatty and need to lose some weight. I was exercising and dieting right after quitting smoking but fell off the healthy wagon when vacation came. Maybe I took on too much at once in the self improvement department. But much more likely it's the fact that I like ice cream, cookies, cake and potato chips way too much. I've lost weight in the past and I know it's just a matter of sticking to a regimen. It's just that I need some sort of motivation to get going again....
Hey Look! The calendar is starting over again- maybe I should lose some weight!!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The scary follow-up questions that could have come from my 9 year old did not and I dodged the bullet for now. Not that I want to avoid answering questions about sex, serious answers about teen pregnancy is just a facet that I'm not sure that my son can grasp at this age. I suppose I would have given a true but dumbed down version if he had.
Given the akwardness of the moment I experienced I suppose I can start to understand the outrage that some people feel about the announcement. However, there aren't many of us who can claim that we never made a mistake at that age or didn't narrowly escape one as a teen ourselves. The teen-aged brain is designed to take risks and having unprotected sex at age 16 is a walk in the park. Heck, even Jonathan himself is a result of not pulling out in time, and I was 27 and should have known better.
So while I may scoff at the Spears family for being bat-shit nutso and trailer trash, I can't judge Jamie Lynn for getting knocked up as I know I sweated the arrival of my then 16 year old girlfriend's period a few times myself.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Where does Frosty the Snowman keep his money?
In a snow bank.
What happened when Santa's cat swallowed a ball of yarn?
She had mittens.
What nationality is Santa Claus?
What does Santa Claus say to Mrs. Claus when he looks out the window?
Looks like "rain deer"
Why does Santa always go down the chimney?
Because it soots him.
Why does Santa like to work in his garden?
Because he likes to Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!!
Why was Santa driving around slowly in the inner city?
Because he likes the ho's, ho's, ho's.
What is invisible but smells like milk and cookies?
Santa Claus farts
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Let's face it- people are much more eloquent and funny in fiction than they are in reality. I know I can come up with the occasional zinger or make the rare impassioned speech, but the fictional people on TV can deliver one liners with ease and make their points of view terse and full of importance. People in real life aren't as interesting all the time as people who are fictional. If reality TV wasn't edited, it would be even more boring and insipid. Life is full of the banal and even the most famous and richest people in the world still have to sit on the toilet and take a 5 minute dump like the rest of us.
We watch TV, movies, play video games and read books largely for escapism from our own ennui. Even if it's a heavy laden drama full of depressing events, it's still cathartic to experience such emotions through a fictional character. Writing allows the writer to edit the world into his vision and point of view. It takes away all of the unimportant things and brings forth what we truly want to know, see, or experience. I know most writers aren't exactly Shakespeare, especially TV writers, but even the average writer can spin a decent yarn and take me to a different place for a little while. That all by itself is worth whatever the writers are asking for in their strike.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This is my son Jonathan's current favorite show to watch, which is why I'm reviewing it first. I certainly can see the appeal for a 9 year old boy. A kid his own age gets to change into alien monsters with nifty powers like blasts of heat, diamond projectiles, awesome brain power and super farts. My son even has a copy of the watch like device called an omni-matrix that he pretends to do the same as what he sees on the show.
The show itself, while full of cliches, isn't terrible for a kids action show. The violence content is much more milder than you'd think and Ben tends to use problem solving more often than say the Power Rangers do. There are some silly moments that kids find funny that we adults may find juvenile, but it doesn't dwell on the gross or rude like many kid shows. I personally couldn't sit through more than one half hour show without reaching boredom, so this show doesn't hit that magical fun for the whole family status that so much entertainment tries to be but rarely is.
But, nonetheless, it is what it is and for a kids action show aimed at 7-12 year old boys it does a good job. While some good "themes" and "educational values" exist in Ben 10, it isn't exclusively designed to be that way. It's a decent spin on your standard superhero fare.
I'll give Ben 10 a 7 out of 10.
While I harbor no ill will towards Pete and his family, it just amazes me how much money a borderline major leaguer can make. I know $390,000 is the current major league minimum, so it's not like the Phillies could pay him any less if they wanted to do so.
Yet, I have to think that even a borderline major league player is still more talented and athletic than 99.99% of the population. I also suppose that I'd rather see a hard working scrub get some scratch than an overpaid has-been.
I know my trash man works just as hard as Pete and probably gets more dirty (depending on how gritty Pete is). But the big difference between the two, is that my trash man is easily replaced. If he accidentally gets smooshed in the truck compacter, many will apply for his job the next day and get trained for a week and I won't notice any difference in how my trash is disposed.
Now, while Pete is what you'd call replacement-level (ie. not very good) and there are other guys in the league that could be signed to do the exact same job and at the same level of performance, there are but a small handful of guys who can. So I suppose that counts for something.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Admittedly, when I go back and re-watch the programming that I loved as a child I realize that I must have been an idiot. Do it yourself and you'll see what I'm talking about. You'll have to forgo the initial nostalgic feelings and watch with a critical eye. The Dukes of Hazzard is a show about hillbilly red-necks that think teasing local law enforcement is righteous. The Banana Splits were 4 women in horrible Disney World-like costumes that fell down alot and played inferior cartoons. After the first 5 initial episodes of Scooby Doo, originality was thrown out the window and the formula to this day has been used ad nauseum. For that matter, Hanna/Barbera was an industry that thrived on copying itself over and over. There were at least 2 Scooby Doo rip offs, including Clue Club. Jabber Jaw even went into outer space and it resembled Josie and the Pussy Cats.
I will forgive my past self as I did watch some quality programming in there somewhere. The Muppets were always a blast and good fun. School House Rock shorts may have been cheaply animated but the songs were catchy and educational and to this day I still know the preamble to the constitution as a result of the song. Despite the violence, Looney Tunes reruns are still top quality animation and some of the funniest stuff ever put on film. Chuck Jones and Jim Henson are 2 big childhood heroes of mine.
So as I watch my son's programs and critique them I will try to keep an open mind and hopefully remember what it was like to get riled up when Bruce Banner was getting angry and hulked up. I know most of what my kids watch is truly terrible, but as long as it isn't too rude, obnoxious or violent then I'll let them make their own choices and hope that as they get older, their tastes will be a bit more refined.
Monday, December 17, 2007
That makes it the 4th time out of 12 tourneys this year that I've won. I believe I also finished once in 2nd and once in 3rd. In other words, half the time I'm winning a decent chunk of change. (I also won the points race this year for our TOC, which meant I won an extra 80 bucks) Not too shabby.
But 12 times is hardly a big enough sample size to prove my superior poker skills amongst my peers. Especially considering the fact that tourneys have escalating blinds that bring even more luck into the equation. Looking back, I've had my share of winning key races. With my chips on the line just this past Saturday my AJo hit an ace against pocket 9's to stay alive. My friend Dan can also attest to the fact that my baby pairs seem to hold up against his big slick every time. I can also recall that I've had my share of being sucked out on as well, but I will readily admit I've run quite good this past year, so I can't attribute my large amount of success to skill.
However, I can attribute some of my success to skill. Having finally read Harrington on Hold 'Em vol. 2 and getting some valuable free coaching from my friend Dan (an online MTT/STT specialist) really has helped my tournament game immensely. So while I know better to let my recent wins inflate my ego, I also know well enough to thank the people and sources for helping me put myself in a better odds position to get lucky. I look forward to this coming year's tourneys and even if I don't get quite so lucky, I do hope I play as well and improve.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Last night my son Gabriel had stuck his tooth under his pillow and awaited the Tooth Fairy. He informed me earlier that he was going to wait up late, so he could see the Fairy. Just great- it's bad enough that I feel tired at 9pm these days. I've turned into such a lame ass in my 30's. Gone are the days of staying up late and waking up at noon. It's a good thing 6 year olds get tired easily when there's no TV stimulus and he did fall asleep early enough. Problem was, that I had forgotten and was just about to fall asleep myself. Just as I was drifting off to sleep I remembered that I had to be a Fairy. (insert joke here) So, I stumbled down the steps in the dark and fetched quarters from the change bucket.
Santa has it easy- the kids go up in their rooms and eventually fall asleep, so it's not so difficult being quiet enough to place some presents under the tree. Sure, it can be a little challenging if you've had a few glasses of wine, but nonetheless, it's easy as pie and the payoff is glorious. Santa's name is exalted in the halls of schools, playgrounds and homes of many children. In contrast, the Tooth Fairy has to sneak into the bedroom (which my kids share, so I have double the chance of waking one), reach under a sleeping child's head, root around for a small tooth that's the size of a unpopped kernel of popcorn, and then replace it with a jangling, noisy sack of quarters. It gets your heart racing to say the least. I haven't been so nervous about getting caught since I had semi-public sex with my future wife outside and around the side of her parent's house one night before we lived in our own apartment. So, not only is the act of fooling your kids into believing in a magical tooth collecting elf a hard thing to do the gratitude isn't really all that much either. Gabe had a brief moment of excitement, he then placed his 2 bucks of coins in his piggy bank and proceeded to ask what was for breakfast.
Aside from almost forgetting to do my Fairy duties, last night wasn't so bad and things went smoothly. A year ago, my older son, Jonathan, had his hand under his pillow clutching the tooth. I was amazed that I didn't wake him up prying his incisor out of his closed fist. Jump ahead to last week-Gabe informed Jonathan of his loose tooth and they started to talk about the Tooth Fairy- Jonathan informed him that "sometimes the Tooth Fairy is disguised as someone you love."
Guess I wasn't as furtive as I had previously thought. Thank goodness for self-denial!
Friday, December 14, 2007
DISCLAIMER: I can't promise that the joke will be funny nor tasteful.
If you want to submit a joke for consideration, please email me at Brianklaus@comcast.net
(please note: while claiming that I can get lost money from a Ugandan prince is funny- it is not a joke.)
So, without further ado- this week's joke:
t got crowded in heaven, so, for one day it was decided only to accept people who had really had a bad day on the day they died. St. Peter was standing at the Pearly Gates and said to the first man, "Tell me about the day you died." The man said, "Oh, it was awful. I was sure my wife was having an affair, so I came home early to catch her with him. I searched all over the apartment but couldn't find him anywhere. I went out onto the balcony, we live on the 25th floor, and found this man hanging over the edge by his fingertips. I went inside, got a hammer, and started hitting his hands. He fell, but landed in some bushes. So, I got the refrigerator and pushed it over the balcony and it crushed him. The strain of the act gave me a heart attack, and I died." St. Peter couldn't deny that this was a pretty bad day, and since it was a crime of passion, he let the man in.
He then asked the next man in line about the day he died. "Well, sir, it was awful," said the second man. "I was doing aerobics on the balcony of my 26th floor apartment when I twisted my ankle and slipped over the edge. I managed to grab the balcony of the apartment below, but some maniac came out and started pounding on my fingers with a hammer. Luckily I landed in some bushes. But, then the guy dropped a refrigerator on me!" St. Peter chuckled, let him into heaven and decided he could really start to enjoy this job.
"Tell me about the day you died," he said to the third man in line.
"Okay, picture this, I'm naked, hiding inside a refrigerator...."
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Reports are coming in that Rowand signed a 5 year 80 million dollar contract with the San Francisco Giants. Yup, 80 million smackers, almost as much as Torii Hunter! Crazy contracts by the Giants- last year was Zito and combined they'll be paying both 33 million dollars a year until 2013!! (one year before my 9 year old can drive!) I'll miss Aaron, but he costs too much and I'm glad that the Phils aren't making foolish decisions this year. It hurts to miss out on some players that we need, especially pitching and 3rd base but there's no need to screw yourself for years to come.
In a related story, Miss Alba (whom has an open invitation to sit on my face) is officially with child. Pregnant women are hot- they're usually horny when they're not puking and the best part is there's no such thing as more pregnant. Post partum, different story- but we still have a few more months to not worry about such things. What a slick move by her nobody boyfriend (he's just an assistant director)! He's got her wrapped up for a few years now. "I promise I'll pull out, honey." Score!
UPDATE: 60 million not 80 million is the amount- I should never believe it until the official source confirms it. Even still, 12 million a year is too much.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
My lovely bride, Lynn, usually doesn't go near the computer all that much. So, when I told her proudly the other day that I am now a blogger, I had no idea that she'd actually read it. I mean, she puts up with my crazy almost 24/7 as it is, why add more Brian into her life? Of course, the first thing she noticed is that when I described my interests, I listed her last and after the dogs. While my wife doesn't wag her butt when I come home (well most days anyways), I do prefer her over the dogs. If I was forced to choose and had to take either Sammy or her to the vet to be put down, I can claim with complete confidence that I'd take my faithful cocker spaniel to the vet instead of her. Now if that isn't love, then what is?
But alas, fun's over guys. No stories of my all night benders with hookers, sluts and strippers. No talking about how I'd give away my kid's college tuition fund to have Jessica Alba sit on my face. (she still hasn't answered my emails) No naked pictures of my many girlfriends. No erotic tales of my days in the porn industry. Only blog after blog about how lovely my wife is and how I adore her so.
I wonder if I can be honest about my mother-in-law?
There, I said it.
Not a wishy-washy agnostic nor a non-practicing Christian, I'm full out non-believer in God, Jesus, the devil, Allah, Buddha, Shinto, Vishnu and Zues. (I hope the Boy Scout council doesn't read this and take my Eagle badge away.)
Yet I celebrate Christmas.
I would even say that I revel in it.
Can't say I have any nativity scenes in my front yard, but I will admit I like Josh Groban's version of O' Holy Night. It doesn't move me spiritually, I just think he can hit those high notes well. The commercialism of Christmas is a wonderful thing, I love Santa, presents, lights, wrapping paper, ham and turkey dinners, candy canes, cookies, and cheesy clay-mation. I love watching the kids get excited over their Ben Ten, Pokemon, and Nintendo DS toys that I worked hard to buy and give credit to a magical fat man. I eat it all up. Christmas without the Christ is fine with me.
So, thank you corporate America for taking a holiday away from the church! You can let them have back Easter- the chocolate is bad for my diet and really, what does a bunny have to do with eggs anyways?
Monday, December 10, 2007
Some of you may wonder- why poker? Why the obsession over random card combinations?
Well, I do have an addictive personality to say the least- and it's a good thing I never snorted blow or shot up smack, cause I'd probably be dead now. But there's lots of other fun things to obsess over, and lots of other fun card games too. So why poker?
I'll man up and admit that poker on TV created the spark, seeing hole cards really made poker more watchable and understandable. Even someone with a rudimentary knowledge of poker could watch and scream at the TV set- "You idiot, why are you bluffing with 8 high, he's got a full house!!!" And anytime you have the chance to feel superior to someone who knows what they're doing is always a fun time. Even still, that's being a spectator and not a participant.
Eventually I got sucked in when the husband of my wife's co-worker overheard me talking to my buddy while at my kid's birthday party about maybe getting a poker game started up. He had already started a small league of people who played once a month in a hold 'em tourney and invited me to come to the next game. I almost didn't go, as I didn't really know anyone, but the wife twisted my arm and I went. (I wonder if she regrets that action now?) The result? I was knocked out first and lost 50 bucks- but I was hooked.
At first- the fact that random cards can come out and create chaos to someone's strategy is what lured me in, what kept me coming back was the mental challenge of besting someone. Sure poker is luck in the short term but in the long term, poker is skill. I finally found something to satisfy my competitive soul. Having been either hopelessly uncoordinated and/or woefully out of shape most of my life, I found something that allowed me to compete and not look foolish in gym shorts and striped socks. Yeah, I was okay at chess, checkers, and backgammon- but no one wants to get together and play on a regular basis, and if they do, then they were way beyond my skill set. So far, I've won more money than I've lost, so until I become a leaky sieve or a tilting donkey I'll keep playing and obsessing over poker.
I suppose it could have been worse- I could be playing Magic: the Gathering or bridge instead- at least poker is somewhat "cool" right now.