Friday, August 29, 2008

Shedding some light on the situation

I couldn't help but notice that the days are getting shorter yet again. It's not like we live in Panama or Sri Lanka where the sun sets and rises every day at 6pm and 6am every day of the year. The amount of light we receive changes over the course of the year. Speaking as a person with a mood disorder, it's something that effects us more than you'd think to ever give it credit for.

It hasn't hit me yet but when I start losing light exposure I tend to hit more down emotional phases. The bleakness of winter is not just about the cold but very much has to do with natural light. The same could be said for when the days start getting longer as I have my most manic moments on the long days of midsummer.

Sometimes knowing what affects your mood is half the battle. Being aware that you could be extra cranky since it's a short day could assist you in self-awareness and patience. Perhaps, even avoiding certain stressful situations during these times altogether. The sun is worshiped in some fashion or another in every culture and religion. While it's not so obvious as having a sun god like Ra or Apollo, the allegory is in our current religions. Our ancestors had much more of their direct livelihood attached to the sun. Since we look at the sun more as a good or bad weather day we don't take in consideration at how much its light effects our moods and our bodies.

Like plants we actually convert sunlight into nutrients. It's just not our main source of energy like photosynthesis but we get vitamin D from sunlight. Since we live longer lives, skin cancer has become something we get frightened about. We smear goop on our bodies, use shade umbrellas and stay indoors to prevent getting burned and get too many future moles or leathery skin. Altho, some of us do still seek out to get a good tan. If you think about it, those people tend to have a sunnier disposition. After all, I can't ever recall a surfer flipping out with rage except for maybe Point Break, but that was a movie and not real life.

If I had my druthers, I'd just move to the opposite hemisphere after each equinox. That way I'd be a manic fool but at least I'd appear to be happy. I'd even give up winter lagers and ales if I had to as a condition. However, I'm not sure if I could deal with my toilet swirling in a clockwise direction.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When will I learn my lesson?

It's not the 1st time I've done this to myself, nor will it be the last. It seems that it has happened more lately against the Mets as well, which makes it sting a little more. I gave up on a game and stopped watching only to miss a great comeback.

Last night the Phightin' Phils quickly went to a 7-0 deficit against the Mets. The game is especially important as only a 1/2 game separates the 2 teams for 1st place currently. Well, somehow they climbed back into the game again and tied it up and then finally won in the 13th inning 8-7. Altho I missed the heroics (did I actually tune in purposely to watch Hillary Clinton's speech?!?!), it was fun to read Mets fan message boards this morning. The last 2 years they have lost some pretty big games against us, so it's always a pleasure to revel in your enemy's misfortune.

Their suicidal posts make me giggle with glee as they throw their best players under the bus and look for scapegoats. Despite Philly's rep for having tough fans, I think that it's the same no matter where you go. Fans are fans and mindless mobs are mindless mobs. Whether they root for Manchester United, the Eagles, or the Cleveland Indians, you're going to have some colorful happenings.

But, alas, who am I to talk? I can't even stick with a game when they start to fall far behind. Will someone please remind me of this post the next time this happens?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Fun fact for the day-

Latex is just about the same density of water.

So, when you have a 550 package shipment come in and you haven't had a chance to put the 300 package shipment away that arrived last week, you're gonna end up with some tired arms. Imagine lugging around boxes of water all day long. That's what most of my day has been like. I'm exhausted and cranky. Which brings us to fun fact number 2-

If you dare page me and tell me that I need to come back to the office to correct a mistake on a credit card slip when you've been sitting in air conditioned office most of the day probably surfing the web and playing computer games and you can damn well get off your fucking fat ass and do it your fucking self then I might might get a bit perturbed and scream a bit, you piece of lazy shit.

That concludes today's public service announcements.

Thank you for your time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Competing with the internet

As technology offers us more and more entertainment the more watered down it becomes. Just like when baseball expanded back in the early 90's, there weren't enough good pitchers to go around (and still aren't). Thus the level of talent wasn't as consistent from bottom to top. It's hard to compare Mike Schmidt to Chase Utley using traditional numbers alone since they played in different eras. The baseball math nerds (aka sabremetricians) have all sorts of fun numbers to gauge this, like ERA+, OPS+ and VORP. Even without the numbers it's not hard to see that the cream always rises to the top. The same could be said of good media and entertainment.

It's strange to see what traditional forms of the media do in order to compete with the ever growing outlets of entertainment. TV networks have shifted to inexpensive reality programming and also go the opposite route with movie-like production on shows like Pushing Daisies and Lost. Popular music has become extremely manufactured but at the same time independent groups now can be lucrative as they no longer have to cater to the big labels and cheaply release their music privately or thru small companies. Movies makers always look for new material, the new flavor being the graphic novel industry. Again there is a contrast in the way the conduct business; there exists now the biggest budgets yet at close to 200 million to also seeing indie films costing under a million getting attention at small festivals and cable channels.

The theater, certainly the oldest form of the entertainment media, also seems to be making changes to compete with the internet and other new media forms (like watching stuff on your phone!!). Lately, the big trend is adapting plays and musicals from popular movies, tv shows and classic rock groups like ABBA. Disney has produced its classic animated features into theater like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. The Producers was such a big hit that not only did spawn a musical but that musical then became a film adaptation! There are more examples, of course, and I can't speak to the quality of all of them. I have seen both The Lion King and now as of last weekend, Spam-a-lot (adapted from Monty Python films, mostly Holy Grail).

Spam-a-lot was a very fun show. Like The Producers, the script was closely written with some of the original members. The show was loosely related enough for me to enjoy fresh material but also relaugh at some old but good Monty Python humor. I went with my old college roommate and his wife (and old high school friend) to the play, we also enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant near Rittenhouse Square called, Parc. Aside from the valet parking fucking up what they did with Jeff's keys, the evening was a perfect one.

Does the theater doing more recognizable entertainment work for them? Well, sure. It got me there. I'll freely admit I wanted to see this play because of the familiarity. I'm not a theater going kind of guy, so the old material was enough to bring a guy like me and mainstream middle class America into a theater. That's good thing, especially for theater. I'm now more apt to try a play that is completely original and new.

Now are all adaptations going to be as good? Not a chance. The more that the theater goes to the well, so to speak, the more of a chance that it will be a bomb. Thus we see the watering down effect as mass appeal doesn't always mean quality. Sure there will be good plays just as there are good ball players like Chase, but overall the theater will suffer from mediocrity just as baseball has to some degree.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Race walking is the curling of the Summer Olympics

Last night I decided to watch the Olympics on TV. Upon changing the channel I saw a group of women in the rain sashaying their hips side to side at a furious pace. It was the 20km race walking event. Like most train wrecks, I couldn't peel my eyes away from the TV screen. I was fascinated, bewildered, confused, addled, sexually excited and full of awe all at the same time. I haven't felt this way for at least 2 years- when I watched the curling event at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Curling is the "sport" where a group of men push a giant puck on a shuffleboard like court made of ice as they maddeningly sweep their little brooms in front of the puck until it goes to where they want it to land. I never quite understood the exact goal and rules of the competition. I can only assume that they are similar to shuffleboard and horseshoes. The very existence of the competition proves that "cold plus boredom" will lead to some pretty fucked up things.

Why race walking ever became a competition is just as big a mystery. Stupid me, I always thought that if you were walking really fast that you were in fact running. Somehow, somewhere exists rules on what constitutes a walk and not a jog or run. The competitors even get yellow and red cards (are they penalties? I have no clue!) if it appears that they are not walking. My wife made me giggle when she remarked that the herd of women looked like they were being yelled at by a teacher in the school hallway, "Walk don't run!!" as they headed off to recess. My guess is that at least one foot has to be touching the ground and the walker's ass has to shimmy side to side like your typical trampish barfly.

Like curling, the more I watched the race walkers the more impressed I was with how hard it was to do and how they could keep a straight face. I know that it must be difficult to see the first place walker pull ahead of you and not be able to start sprinting after her. "Fuckin' bitch! I'll show you!", I would say as I would start to run after her. Of course, the judges would then pull out a red card and maybe I'd have to start crawling or doing the crab walk for a 1/2 kilometer.

Hmmm...that's a thought. Maybe I should start a petition for Simon Says, sack racing, three legged racing, and the Hokey Pokey to be official Olympic sports! More domination by the American athletes! USA!! USA!! USA!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Wheel of Misfortune

We travel through the bulk of our lives blissfully thinking that we are in control of our destiny. To some extent that feeling is true. Most hard work gets rewarded and most bad deeds get punished. However, the system of karma may not be quite as balanced as we perceive it to be. There are forces beyond our control that can radically or subtly (or somewhere in between) alter our destiny. Despite our best subconscious feeling that we can control our surroundings, the fickle finger of fate may strike at any moment and remind us that we are not in control. Most call this force God, as a poker player I call it variance.

Everyday, before we start out to run our lives, we have to give the wheel of misfortune a spin. Most things are unlikely to occur when you look at your chances on a one on one basis. It's extremely unlikely that I'll have a brain aneurysm today and it may be a better chance that I'll have a bad car crash but that's still very unlikely. It's even unlikely on any particular day for me get a flat tire. Let's say the odds are about 500 to 1 of that happening on any particular day. Any good gambler would love those odds. The problem is that we have to spin that wheel for all sorts of unlikely happenings often enough that it becomes likely for something unlikely to occur sometime in your life. We suffer small accidents that are more likely like that flat tire all the time. We have our stubbed toes and spilled milk to prove that variance effects our destiny, even if in a minor way. But we don't cry over them due to their relative insignificance.

It's big freak accidents or horrible diseases and disorders like MS and cancer that really change the path of our destinies. That flat tire can suddenly happen while you're driving 70 mph on the highway and cause your car to jump the median and straight onto an opposing car. A tornado can hit your house. You might wake up and spin the wheel and have a cell mutate into cancerous cell and you won't even know about it until 2 years later until you have 5 tumors in your colon. (That is if you don't get struck by lightning first.)

A good poker player does two things about variance- First, he does his best to reduce variance and put himself in situations to have the odds be more in his favor. He'll play better starting hands or use position or tells for when a bluff would be better utilized. The second thing is that he accepts that variance happens and understand it is a part of the game. If the poker player receives a bad beat from the lucky donk, he understands that such things will happen and stays emotionally calm and avoid "tilt" to get back in the game. (or he at least tries) Of course this should also apply in your view of variance as well. We try to attain more favorable odds by doing things like eating better, creating better medicines, not smoking, checking to make sure our tire pressure is within the proper psi range, and getting express written consent from major league baseball. The wiser of us also accepts variance and knows it is a part of life. If we survive what bad luck comes our way, it's best to get back in the game with emotional calm. It's best to do now what you want to do because you never know what the wheel will land on.

I suppose this is just thinly veiled carpe diem advice. As an athiest I know that no matter what we do that in the grand scheme of things it all means naught. But you can either sit around and wait for death with doom and gloom or at least have some fun while you're waiting. There's a reason the small phrase "carpe diem" survived in latin. It's old and it's true. That truth will survive as long as there is self awareness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Which asshole doesn't stink so much?

With the conventions looming upon us in the next few weeks, the vice president nominee being announced any day, and the ad campaigns starting to heat up a bit you know it's that time again. Like the Olympics (which also comes the same every 4 years), you can't avoid the hype of the presidential race.

Unlike the Olympics, which at least offers up some positive storylines (ie. MICHAEL PHELPS IS THE GREATEST OLYMPIAN EVER....EVER.....EVER...EVER!!!), the presidential race tends to get a bit nasty. Political messages and advertisements tend to be why you shouldn't vote for the other guy and never too often about why you should vote for that candidate. The American public is ultimately left to vote for the lesser of two evils or for whomever they dislike less.

Having watched most of the John Adams miniseries on dvd (yeah, I'm a bit late on that..), I found it funny (funny strange, not funny haha) that the candidates did not campaign for themselves in the early years of our country under the new constitution. Perhaps it's because the eligible voters back then were just the land owners and campaigning was done more behind closed doors and by proxy. Strangely enough our system today has become eerily similar is some vein as the candidates often have "others" do the dirty work for them.

If you notice at the end of most positive ads (ie. "boring ads"), there is a message that sounds something like this- "I'm Mike Hunt and I approve this message." Not too often is there a really negative ad (like the outright lies of the swiftboat ads that helped bring down Kerry) that comes directly from the candidate himself. Those are the ads that stem from 527's. In a nutshell, the 527's are political non-profit groups that can avoid all of that fun legal mumbo jumbo on campaign financing when it comes to a what a candidate can and cannot do to get money or do with that money. What ends up happening are groups that support certain candidates and make all sorts of nasty ads about how their opponent would be horrible for their cause.

So, essentially, a candidate can turn a blind eye to these ads and have his hands be clean. The public meanwhile gets to see the smearing, slandering, and mud throwing that any WWE fan could ever want and more.

After all this name calling and negative campaigning the public is left the choice between a giant douche bag and a turd sandwich. (as South Park so brilliantly put it 4 years ago)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rumor: Boldin to the Eagles?

Anquan Boldin, the premium wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals isn't happy with where he is. He went on the Michael Irvin show today to say as much. He went on to say that our Philadelphia Eagles are currently in trade discussions with Arizona to aquire him.

Who knows if Anquan is just stirring up trouble or if there is truth to what he just said. I am agog with delight if there's any chance of that happening. The last time McNabb had a premium wide out like Boldin to work with the Eagles went to the Superbowl. Sure, TO was a pain the next year but we got there!! (note the number Boldin wears is the same-gasp!)

Cross your fingers, rub your rabbit's foot, pray to your God, do whatever makes you feel lucky, this is a guy that would be awesome to see in an Eagles Jersey.

Wildlife Kingdom

I'm no stranger to wildlife. While I'm no Lewis and Clark I have seen some neat animals in my time. Most of it when I was in Boy Scouts. I've seen hawks at Hawk Mountain. I canoed right next to a beaver dam. A rattle snake crossed my path on a hiking trail in New Mexico. I peed down a hill where a baby brown bear was walking its way up on (I don't think I even took the time to zip up before getting out of there!). I snorkled next to a dolphin in the Florida Keys. I stood in the water with a school of sharks. (okay, okay, they were 2ft. long nurse sharks) A good chunk of mammals located in North America I have had the privilege of seeing in its natural habitat. (fortunately, no wolverines or grizzlies)

Since that time, I've pretty much settled into suburbia and see the occasional squirrel, rabbit and deer along with the usual gang of birds. I'm starting to think that the animals miss me and this past year the wildlife must have found me and have gotten the word out.

It started last winter when I grazed a deer with the car. It didn't do much damage and the deer seemed to have survived as it ran away into the small forest of trees 2 miles from my house. Then I had the ciggie bird build a nest and hatch a baby in my trash can. (see previous post) I also had another nest in my front door light box. I couldn't get rid of a wasp's nest as they came back twice after copious amount of poisons were applied to its nest. I have a grounhog that tresspasses in my backyard time to time, much to my dog's chagrin. Of course, I recently posted about the baby bunny massacre that said dog had committed. That brings us up to today-

Wednesday morning before I even get to work the garbage truck comes and empties our dumpster at my work. That means on Tuesday I make sure I empty all the boxes, straps, trash and such into the dumpster to get it filled in time for Wednesday morning. (the vice-president puts out the trash? HARRRUMPHH!!) We have our dumpster right up against the back wall underneath a bay door to make it easy to empty. I opened the door this morning and saw what appeared to be a dead raccoon curled up in a ball in the corner of the dumpster. Flies were swirling all about the dumpster.

"Ugh, gross!" I thought to myself, "I'd better share this with my employee Rocco."

I went up to the office to cajole Rocco out of the office to see the dead raccoon. Rocco is from South Philly, used to body build, his last name ends in a vowel, and stands under 5 foot 8 inches- I'm sure you've met the type if you've lived in this area before. Rocco is a city boy and is used to pigeons and squirrels, the prospect of seeing a raccoon wasn't very appealing to him. I had to use my executive powers of boss-dom to get him to have a look-see. I told him to look at the back corner of the dumpster and he slowly inched up towards the edge of bay door and looked back at me and said,

"Are you fuckin with me?"

I glanced at the back corner and there was no raccoon!!

"Holy shit!! It must've still been alive!" I exclaimed as Rocco gave me a look of disbelief, "I swear it was there!!" He got closer and looked down into the dumpster and saw the raccoon standing on its hind legs looking up back at him. Rocco quickly jumped back with some fear, "OMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD!!" He skipped away from the door.

We surmised that the raccoon had climbed its way into the dumpster but couldn't get out since it the walls were slanted inwards and too sheer. I decided to help it on its way by carefully piling the trash in the dumpster so it could use the trash to climb its way out. Rocco did help with putting in the trash but you could see how uncomfortable he was being near a live raccoon. I informed Rocco that I was naming the raccoon after him and Beatles's song, Rocky Raccoon.

After we piled the trash in, we closed the door and started to sweep around the warehouse for a few minutes. After the sweeping was done we needed to sweep the rest into the dumpster. I told Rocco to open the door, figuring that Rocky hadn't climbed its way out of the dumpster yet, and I would sweep the remaining trash out. As soon as Rocco opened the door he started to scream like a girl as Rocky was standing looking at both of us out of the dumpster and on the ledge of the bay door. He slammed the door shut.

At that point I was full of uncontrolable laughter. Watching my macho employee get scared like that was too much. Anyways- here's a pic of Rocky after he jumped down and took residence near a pile of pallets-

The poor thing was more scared than Rocco was. I just wish these animals would give a call or email before they show up at my home or work. Sheesh, who ever thought that wild animals could be so rude?!

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to

My son Jonathan is a very sensitive soul. He is very attentive to other people's need and wants. He is very loving and huggable. He is artistic and relies alot on his emotional side. All very good good traits for a boy to have and not something you necessarily can teach as much as they just seem to be born with. The unfortunate downfall is that he cries more than other boys his age. He takes teasing and name calling rather harshly. If things don't go his way he tends to break down quickly and start sobbing.

You'd think by the way I'm a cold fish nowadays when it comes to tenderness that Jonathan has picked up this trait from his mother. While his mother does have her crying fits (like any of you women- sheesh), he really does get it from me. As a boy, I was just like Jonathan when it came to crying. I would well up with tears at the drop of a hat. I'd even wallow in my own pity and hide in my room or in our closet. The darkness would make me feel secure as I'd felt sorry for myself. Perhaps this was some early manifestation of my mood disorder or perhaps you can chalk it up to being a kid and a tweener.

Somewhere around age 14 I found the control to stop crying altogether. Even if I was in pain I wouldn't tear up- I'd scream alot instead. I don't know if it's a healthy thing but for the most part even if I want to let it all out and cry I can't. In the past 24 years I think I've only had one instance of a flat out bawling.

It was when my mother was towards the end of her battle with cancer. I was working at home at the time (and living away, go figure) and there wasn't much to do. I came down for a break and sat next to my mother who was watching TV (I think it was the OJ trial!). Her liver at that point had grown so distended that it was bulging out of her stomach area and was hard as a rock. You could hear her smacking her lips audibly as she would experience dry mouth often during this time. When I sat down I reached over and held her hand as she seemed to be in a bit of distress and pain. Her hand felt so bony and she clasped my hand solidly and somehow we seemed to speak to each to other without saying anything. A flood of emotions fell over me and for once I think the grave reality of her dying hit me hard.

I always logically knew that when she got cancer that she would likely die within that year of diagnosis. For some strange reason I emotionally denied or ignored that fact. Perhaps being in my early twenties I felt somewhat invincible and untouchable. I hadn't experienced any real loss up to that point. Needless to say when I suddenly came to my senses and acknowledged her dying I was awash with grief. Holding her hand and feeling her die was the most surreal experience I've had. I pretended to go for a smoke in the garage and I lit my cigarette and didn't even get a puff beyond that point. I wept and sobbed uncontrollably. The only control I could exert was the noise level as to not alert my mother to the fact I was crying. All the cliches were present. I fell to my knees and the dam of tears burst. It was like having a seizure of uncontrollable tics and I was barely able to draw my breath in.

I haven't done that since. Even 2 weeks later at her funeral. Mind you, I was visibly upset but I think I was more disturbed at the open casket and I was fighting a 105 degree fever that day. I will also admit to getting misty eyed on occasion, but I just haven't felt the urge to cry like that again. I don't know if the loss of control that I don't like or perhaps that I've gained some perspective as I've aged. Life is good. There hasn't been too much for me to get upset about. Sure, there have been some minor bumps along the way, but nothing so far has hit me like that day has. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, a decent job that pays alright and lots of good friends. I'm happy and I don't need to cry right now. If one of those things gets taken away, then all bets are off. But until then, I'm fine with my stoic face.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cleaning out the Mp3 player and the cobwebs in my head.

You'd think 8 gigabytes of songs would be enough to satisfy a person for at least a year. Yet, here I am again removing songs I've found myself skipping lately over so I can fit some live music or songs I haven't heard in a long time or brand new songs onto the MP3 player. I find myself doing this about once every 6 weeks or so. It's like spring cleaning but without the dust bunnies or screaming from your wife that you missed a spot.

I'm also finding that studio recordings tend to wear on me quicker. I'm more apt to get bored with 3-4 minute ditties than a live performance with improvisation. Soon my MP3 player will be strictly filled with Phish and Umphrey's McGee shows. Perhaps as I age I've become more accustomed to the jazzier and freer side of music. No more repetitive drum beats and song refrains over and over. Just trippy guitar riffs and piano scales with funky percussion and even bass solos for me now.

My dislike of pop music has to be partially my fault because if I ever do like a song's melody, I tend to overplay the damn thing until I almost hate the song. Maybe, we all like to replay things we like but as we get older we tend to dislike recurring or predictable things. I know my kids love to watch reruns as did I as a kid. Their tastes aren't mature enough to be more varied or they're afraid to try new things. Like music, formulaic movies and TV shows have also started to bore me.

What it comes down to for me that if entertainment becomes too predictable then I'd rather find something else to do. The underlying problem is that as I see more and more things as I age there is less and less that is original or fresh enough for me to like. Thankfully, the wife and kids have been eclectic enough to hold my attention so far.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Confessions of a Facebook addict.

It starts out with the best of intentions. Heck, you don't even think you'll like Facebook as it sounds like a dressed up version of Myspace. You're no teeny-bopper, after all. Still, you figure to pop on and have a look-see as you might find that old friend of yours that you haven't seen in 15 years and it'll be good to drop him a line.

You sign up and find a few friends. You take a look at their pictures and their cute children. "Aww, look! Steve has his little boy wrapped around his head." "I see Marie hasn't changed much." "Wow, Josh actually is wearing matching outfits with his 1 year old..." A fun jaunt, yes, but nothing too distracting. You leave a message on the wall of an old friend as you log off.

The next thing you know is that you get a notification in your email box from facebook. It's letting you know someone has "poked" you. "Hmmph... I wonder what that's all about", you think to yourself. So you log back on and end up giving a poke back to Andy. Then all of the sudden someone has superpoked you and sent you a hug! Well, I'll teach her and I'll send back a superpoke myself and issue a restraining order. While you're there Facebook is recommending other people to be your friends. You scan and see a bunch of old friends you haven't talked to in a long time. You start sending out your own requests to people to become your friends.

You start getting excited at the prospect of reconnecting with old pals and think that Facebook isn't all that bad. How can it be? Besides, you're in control and you can quit Facebook anytime you want.

The next 2 months are whirlwind of activity as you join groups on Facebook and even find some fun and silly groups like People Who Never Have Seen Gary Busey and Nick Notle in the Same Room at the Same Time. You find that you can leave comments on your status and make remarks on people's pictures. You start using the chat feature with all your friends and also become fans of your favorite TV shows and muscicians. It's all good, right? Meanwhile, your superpoke war has escalated with Cindy and after she threw an octopus, you've raised the stakes to giving Monty Python gifts like a Spanish Inquisition. You've also started playing games on Facebook like poker and word puzzles and also started comparing which movies you like best among your friends and issue IQ contests.

Still, you can stop whenever you want to, right? It's fine, you're just on there for some fun and to waste some time. It's not like you have a problem like some other people do. Now they're the ones that go overboard.

Your friend count has ballooned as of late. After all, you are a social person and they do require friends for interactioning. You've even started to request to be friends with old acquaintances that you maybe have spoken to about 5 times in your life and which was nothing of too much importance. Friends are good, though, so you don't mind. You've also found some internet buddies from a message board that you haven't even met in real life that you befriend. You flutter around Facebook like the social butterfly that you are, feeling good that you have finally cracked the 50 friend mark. But then you start to feel jealous when you see that some friends have 200 or more. "Harrummphh!! What does he have that I don't have?!", you think to yourself as you plot your next move. Perhaps a superpoke to that person or even better you issue out event invitations to your upcoming party to all your new Facebook friends.

It's not a problem, however, I just log onto Facebook only about 25 times a day. It's okay, I can get my work done if I'm careful. I don't need to see what Jeff is doing that night or write all over Karen's wall. I am in complete control. I don't have a problem. No, not me. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! I'm fine, promise. Heehehehhehehehehe. No sweat. Hohohohhohoo!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rating the Kids shows part IV- Chowder

I haven't reviewed the kids' shows as often as I originally said I would back in December, so my apologies. Let's see if we can get back on track with the surprisingly delightful show, Chowder.

Chowder is probably the first children's oriented show to feature trippy drug-inspired landscapes and surreal characters and plot since Sid and Marty Krofft did their shows like H.R. Puffnstuff & The Bugaloos back in the late 60's and early 70's. The show focuses on the self-titled character, Chowder, and his apprenticeship at a bakery/catering place located in the exotic town of Marzipan. That's about the most straightforward part of the show.

Chowder himself seems to be an amalgam of different animals. He has an insatiable appetite, likes to scream alot and seems to suffer from ADDHD. He basically reminds me of my two sons. I suppose Chowder is the symbol for the all-American kid. He works for the doddering master chef Mung Daal. Mung's creations in the kitchen would give Willy Wonka a run for his money but instead of delighting children's sweet teeth they would perhaps chomp the children back. Mung's wife, Truffles is the boss (as are all wives if you think about it) and seems to be an evil fairy with the voice of Carol Kane. (I was actually surprised to learn it wasn't her in the credits at They also have a souschef that goes by the name of Schnitzel. Schnitzel is a tall imposing creature that only can seem to say, "radda radda radda radda" in different emotive syntax. There are also some side characters that fill out the Marzipan community, my favorite being the Devil-like bunny, Paninni, who claims to be Chowder's girlfriend despite his protests.

Aside from the occasional gross joke, Chowder is a funny, clever and wild show. It just debuted last spring but I have to rank it right up there with SpongeBob Squarepants in fun to watch kids' shows. Aside from the fun brightly colored animation, the show mixes in some puppetry just as SpongeBob throws in the ocassional live action shot. There is some dissociative cognosence whenever there is a clothing pattern like a plaid on a character's clothing or skin as the pattern seems to move in the same way that the lips do on Clutch Cargo.

Minor complaints aside, I find myself chuckling to outright laughing at times to this show. If I was still into the bong, I'd pack myself a big old bowl the next time they run a marathon on Cartoon Network. There is definitely some heady and creative stuff for the kids to watch. I'll cite the episode where they had two 15 minute segments of the same action but viewed from 2 different characters' point of view as a perfect example of this. They also break up the cliches of standard storytelling and common mythos with some unexpected twists along the way. How my soon to be 10 year old follows along is anyone's guess. I bet when he gets older he'll appreciate the show for different reasons than he does now, much like how I look back at shows like The Muppets.

Wow, I just compared this show to a Jim Henson attached project- high praise indeed. I give Chowder a 8.768914 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Animal Planet

This past weekend we took the plunge and decided to give it another go with raising goldfish. I guess the empty tank was too depressing for me to look at and fish are cheap anyways if you already have the hardware. We were in even bigger luck as the pet store was having a 75% off fish sale. I let my 2 kids pick their fish and I picked out a white and orange fish that I named Whitey. I guess I'm either still missing Richie Ashburn or I'm a closet racist. The kids named their fish Kingdra (named after a Pokemon) and Leo Jr. (in honor of Leo Sr. RIP).

The fish took to their new tank like a duck to water. Hopefully whatever killed the first fish isn't present any more. They have survived 4 days, so far, so good. The rabbits in my yard, however, aren't as lucky...

This morning my wife called in a tizzy as our youngest cocker spaniel, Brutus, had brought in a present from outside- a dead mutilated baby bunny. Not only did he kill a baby bunny but he also killed its 2 siblings and destroyed a nest underneath our porch. While my wife found it disturbing, I merely view it as "pest control". Hopefully Momma Rabbit gets the hint. My older cocker, Sammy, in her younger days has caught at least 6 mice outside. Cockers have a hunting/retreival instinct bred into them. I guess Brutus has a taste more akin to french food. His pallete is much more refined I suppose. In either case, I say "good riddance" to small rodents and mammals living in my back yard.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Played okay, lost anyways

Last Saturday I set some goals for myself and I think I did a good job of following those goals. Nonetheless my luck didn't hold out for me towards the end and I missed the money and came in 4th place. The night was interesting to say the least as there was a blow up between two players and for whatever reasons everyone except one guy had the worst gas. It was akin to the beans scene in Blazing Saddles. Duane- crack a window next time!!

So, despite the chemical warfare and unfriendly argument I managed to play decently. Let's take a look at my goals and review-

Goal #1: Fold trouble hands like Ace Ten and lower, King Queen, and Queen Jack from any position except the button and blinds while my stack to blinds ratio (aka "M") is 20:1 or better.

I did really well at this. The exception was one hand where I played KJ suited and lost a decent pot for just the same reasons I shouldn't come in out of position with trouble hands like that. Aside from that I folded alot of hands that I usually donk around with largely because I'm bored. I was happy with my discipline. I ultimately lost with a QJ but it was only 4 handed and my M was about 6 so with one limper and a caller and me in the big blind I took an all in shove stab. Got called by KT and was on my way.

Goal#2: Use my position to take a pot from one of the LAG players.

Well I did this, kinda. The player was more of a LAP than a LAG (loose passive vs loose aggressive) but the big LAG at the game was directly to my left so there wasn't much opportunity to use my position on him. Not to mention the fact that he's really been playing tighter lately and may not even be as Laggy as before. In the hand, I stole using solely position and "air" (aka a bad hand that wasn't going to improve.) The board was perfectly set to make him believe I had a hand better than his. I got a big pot out of that steal and I may even had gotten a bad call out of him later on in the game as he figured me for bluffing again.

Goal #3: Play to win, not to cash. This may sound weird to some of you, but it means to play aggressively enough to amass chips to get a better chance of taking 1st place money and not play passively to just make the money.

Hard to say- for a while there we were all playing cautiously. when we got 5 and 4 handed. I started to bluff a bit more with some limited success but Ican't say I was as aggressive as I wanted to be. Part of the problems, in my opinion was that the blinds were capped too early. Part of my game is use the escalating blinds to my advantage and steal, steal, steal. I was in that range of 10-20 M (blinds to stack ratio) which is frustrating as you're too deep stacked for all in steals but pot committed rather quickly after coming into a pot. I will have to analyze this goal further later.

Goal#4: Don't try to trap unless I have a dominated board in which case most bets will scare others away from the pot. In other words I may even bet out if I flop trips if the board is right. Obviously, if I flop a full house or nut flush, I'm better off letting people "catch up" a little to get more money.

I did get an unexpected full house (sevens full of fives) out of the big blind and tried to trap on the river to a usually aggressive bettor. He unfortunately missed completely and checked behind without a bluff. Aside from that, I got pocket Kings 4 or 5 times that night and played all but one straight forward and won some decent sized pots as a result. It pays to get your money in loose games when you have the goods, don't screw around if you don't have to. Goal accomplished here.

Goal#5: Act slower and be more patient in order to think more methodically about what hands people have and what bets would be best to make or not make.

I think I did this with the exception of one or two times. I am getting more patient and analytical and I was happy with my improvement last game.

In summary my concentration was up and despite some unfortunate side stuff, the game was enjoyable and I was happy with the way I played despite my lack of reward for doing so. Better luck in my cash game coming up at the end of the month!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tourney goals for tomorrow

It's been a mediocre year for me in playing tournaments. I'm slightly under break even for the year. I'd be ahead if I didn't have the heads up meltdowns. I need to refocus and start setting some goals. Setting goals for the short term in poker isn't necessarily attainable. Luck and variance plays more of a factor in just one or two tournaments than skill does. However, I wish to set some goals for tomorrow's tournament because it will at least give me something to focus on. Obviously, I play better when I concentrate more and right now I need any edge I can get.

Goal #1: Fold trouble hands like Ace Ten and lower, King Queen, and Queen Jack from any position except the button and blinds while my stack to blinds ratio (aka "M") is 20:1 or better.

Goal#2: Use my position to take a pot from one of the LAG players.

Goal #3: Play to win, not to cash. This may sound weird to some of you, but it means to play aggressively enough to amass chips to get a better chance of taking 1st place money and not play passively to just make the money.

Goal#4: Don't try to trap unless I have a dominated board in which case most bets will scare others away from the pot. In other words I may even bet out if I flop trips if the board is right. Obviously, if I flop a full house or nut flush, I'm better off letting people "catch up" a little to get more money.

Goal#5: Act slower and be more patient in order to think more methodically about what hands people have and what bets would be best to make or not make.

Easier said than done, but Sunday I'll go over this list and see how I did.

Shuffle up and deal.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thought of the day

The cast of thirtysomething are all in their 50's.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sick of the Slowskys

They're hard to miss. Those Comcast high speed cable internet commercials with the turtle family named the Slowskys. The turtles are slow and want their world to be slow including their internet service, so of course, they have DSL. Why the Slowskys don't use AOL dial up is beyond me. It's even slower than DSL. Hell, they can have my old 2600 baud rate modem if they like it really slow. I guess Comcast feels that they compete more with Verizon more than anyone else.

The problem with the Slowskys, aside from the fact that I see the commercials 3 times in a half hour program, is that they're quite cranky- even for reptiles. I like the anti-hero as much as the next fellow but the Slowskys' antics are quite unbecoming. Carol is a passive aggressive and Bill is flat out nasty at times. He even berated the postal service worker who delivered his mail. You'd think Bill would have an affinity for the mailman since he likes things slow.

I'm also amazed that the anti-defamation league hasn't gotten involved. Considering that the turtles name end in "sky" it's not a far fetched leap to think they are Polish. Calling Pollacks "slow" is quite offensive to many Americans of eastern European decent as they have battled this notion ever since the it's been said it takes three of them to change a light bulb. The ink on the patent from Edison was hardly dry when that joke came about and yet here we are in 2008 still battling prejudices and stereotypes in the media. Next thing you know Comcast will have a Kangaroo family named the Goldbergs who will be putting all their loose change in their pouches because they saved money by using the Comcast triple play deal.

Well Bill and Carol Slowsky, I hope you are fast when it comes to leaving my TV screen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Okay, seriously, it's totally,, annoying or something

I drive my kids to camp every morning during the summer and I've been eavesdropping in on their conversations. The one thing I've noticed aside from the fact that my kids really, really, love Pokemon is that their language is now becoming more influenced by their peers and friends than by me and my wife.

For starters my sons are using the following words at an increased rate-




or something

These are words that I'll use their proper context and not too often to color up my descriptions. So their increased usage is certainly not coming from me. I have noticed that when their friends come over that they are also using the same speech patterns, so it's likely that they are feeding each other the words. Usually their conversations sound something like this-

Gabriel: Okay, okay, Chimcharr is, totally evolving or something.

Jonathan: Chimcharr is like totally evolving or something, seriously?

Somehow they understand their each other as the conversation does have a nice flow to it. It's like my kids have learned to find a way to annoy me without overtly defying my orders. I fear it's just going to get worse as they age and become aliens (aka teenagers). The texting will make matters worse as they will have yet another language to fool me.

Okay, so umm like seriously I need to totally start learning their language or something.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Morgan Freeman is balla yo!!

Apparently the ubiquitous actor, Morgan Freeman, got into a really nasty accident last night as his car overturned several times on a Mississippi highway. They even had to use the jaws of life to get him out of the wreckage and be airlifted to the nearest hospital. It appears he's mostly okay, he definitely needs some casts and surgery for multiple broken bones, but he'll live. After reading this article I realized how super cool Morgan really is and it's not just an act.

"Freeman's 1997 Nissan Maxima was heading eastbound on Mississippi Highway 32 when the car went off the edge of the road and overturned several times before coming to a stop."

Easy Reader's ride is a 1997 Maxima- oh yeah! Dude has all the money he'll ever want and he drives a 12 year old car. Good for him, environmentally conscious and ubercool to boot!

I'm gonna party like it's 1994

I know I blog too much about feeling old when I haven't even reached my 40's yet. But I've experienced the strange phenomena of thinking I'm in 1994 way too often lately. I'm not specifically thinking I'm 24 but whenever someone mentions to me that such and such happened in 1992 I think to myself that it was a recent occurrence when in fact it was SIXTEEN YEARS ago.

Hell, even things that have happened in the early 2000's are over 5-7 years ago. That's a lifetime for my youngest son Gabriel. I guess the 80's have a strong enough nostalgia following that I don't view much of what happened in the 80's as something recent. Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson who was black and wore one gem studded glove, the space shuttle blowing up and Max Headroom are all things that seem like ancient history to me. But Kurt Cobain's death, the grunge look, Bill Clinton getting a BJ, and 911 are all things that feel like they've happened in the past year.

I guess it's a 20-25 year trend for actual nostalgia to set in. Happy Days and American Graffiti came out in the 70's when nostalgia for the 50's was at it's peak. I certainly recall a feel good movement over the hippies and Woodstock in the late 80's as well.

What's even stranger is that while I feel like things in the 90's aren't all that long ago the reverse seems to be true for gadgets and inventions. Technology is progressing so fast that it makes you feel like things are outdated before they even turn 3 years old. I looked at my cell phone from 2002 and it looks like a bulky and clumsy punch card fed computer. You ever look at pictures of iPods when they first came out? While they aren't exactly dowdy the look and feel is entirely different just a few years later. Heck, it wasn't a long time when you owned a Pentium I and felt out of sorts because the Pentium 2's just came out.

So, technology goes faster than actual history and nostalgia does. The back and forth is causing me great stress lately as I am afraid that next year the iPhone will be obsolete and I'll try to go see The Mask at the theater. Chalk it up to cognitive dissonance or just my crazy brain but I can't seem to have a grasp on what year it is. Please, someone tell me this isn't 2008 and I've been dreaming.