Wednesday, January 30, 2008

LA River has water in it!

Crusin' east on Sunset past Union Station I saw that the bottom of the river was no longer just concrete with a stream down the center, but completely covered in water flowing down to Long Beach, so I stuck the camera out of the top of the mini and snapped this going over the river bridge. Then I saw a link on LA Observed that led me to naturetrumps that many better shots and movies of water actually flowing around here. Much better than the dry concrete flood control channels that we have been use to since the great flood of 1933 or something like that...

Friday, January 25, 2008


Wow, there is water falling from the sky! Can't even see the bottom layer of concrete of the LA River this morning. Well, the sun is not due for another hour, maybe it will shine bright enough to see, then.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pennies on the Dollar

Okay, it was not for benjamens, it was a dollar buy-in and an eight dollar prize pool, but entering, feeling nervous as others enter with their dollars, and finally winning made me feel a lot better than the previous post. There are no local live card clubs nor casinos that host HORSE games. That is, five games in one. Hold 'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz [Seven Stud lo-ball], Stud, and Stud Hi/Lo with Eight or better for low. I'm glad I can find one online now and then. Every set number of minutes the game changes from one to the next until all five are played. Then if there are still players left, we run through them all again, raising the stakes with each game change. I love this brand of poker. The best of the best play this with a fifty thousand dollar entry fee at the World Series of Poker. I am no where near that level, but am working on this 'hobby that pays for itself' to get a little closer everyday. Work my way up, take a beating, drop the stakes, and work my up again. I didn't read all those books, play hundreds of thousands of hands, and discuss this game with friends to not get better. Time for sleep, work, and more study/play later.

Twentieth of Thirty

Grrr, argh, raga-snaga, wigga-wagga.
Get 'em next time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mini Hoopala

On the way to work Wednesday a sensor appeared on my dash. I had not seen this light come on by itself before, only at start up. It has been a year since I read the manual and I have forgotten what that symbol means. Two curved dash lines inside a circle. One on the left, and one on the right. The car felt different, but it could have been the recently potholed roads from the rain the week before. I carefully make it to work and grab the car's manual out of the glove box to take with me upstairs. A coworker asked me, 'Your car manual comes in a leather case?' to which I just blinked, then answered in the affirmative. Finding the correct page took less than a couple of minutes, would have been quicker but I started reminiscing all the features of this little beauty. Apparently when this symbol lights up red, you suppose to contact the dealer immediately. Braking system. The curved dashed lines are suppose to resemble brake pads hitting inside the wheel. I'll remember that from now on. Well, it did not light up red, just yellow, so I dawdled. Eventually went to the dealerships website and filled out a service form describing that my yellow lit symbol was not in fact red, but I was contacting them, nonetheless. I exchanged a few e-mails later with the service writer and we decided to that I should bring it in Friday morning before 8:30 AM. Not a problem, it is my Friday off just glad I knew a shortcut to there around rush hour traffic. Took a paperback with a bookmark in it with me and waited around the dealership after listening to the previous customer and the service writer both using Newcastle accents. Not that I know what one is, but it sounded British and they both talked about touring around Newcastle. Seating myself in a comfy chair in the waiting area, I realize that this is the same paperback I was reading the last time I was here for the 9000 mile service. Cool, for such a great story, how did I not finish it before? No worries, after an hour and a half of waiting, and being again engrossed in a book, and ignoring the other customer's cell phone calls as much as I could, which was easy since they were in chinese, farsi, and spanish, and I was not feeling up to interpreting today, the service writer came by to let me know that the brake pads had been replaced, the car vacuumed and washed, and ready to go parked out front, all they needed was a signature since it was a no-charge call. Cool. Have I told you that I really enjoy motoring? Well, I do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Twenty First of Thirty Plus

Not a great showing last night. Loosened up my game when the table started playing tight. Raked in a few extra pots and had an above average chip stack after the first break. After the second break I didn't re-adjust correctly and as new people from broken tables started to arrive at our table, I re-raised a short stack all-in to isolate and got called. Uh-oh. New guy busted me and I was out somewhere about twentieth place. Did get lucky earlier in the evening with a number of good hands. Even the first hand I was dealt AK of diamonds and it help up against three callers who had to re-buy. We'll try again soon.

Friday, January 11, 2008


FBI doesn't pay their phone bill on time, and gets some of their wiretap lines disconnected! You can read about it here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Everything but the Smell

Peggy Archer of Totally Unauthorized and Abandoned Couches posted this stream of shots of the Rose Parade floats that were on display last weekend.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Five Way Tie for Second

I was tired, and hungry, but found my way after work driving to the local card club for their Monday night tournament. I was an hour early, which is unusual for LA but easy to do when you avoid the freeways at rush hour, or at least know which ones to use, and recognize bottleneck patterns forming ahead of you. GPS devices and radio reports only tell you what has already happened, and when it will be clear. Experience tells you what to look for, and wisdom tells you how to avoid the pitfalls and maneuver quietly through the maze. Found a nice parking place, entered and saw a small crowd at a couple of tables, grabbed a free magazine and ordered a meal at their restaurant. Waitress just nods and says 'yes, your usual'. Okay, must have tipped better than I thought last year. Flipping through the pages another player walks by and says 'too late for reading, we will start playing soon'. I thank him and remind myself that the most interesting things in these pages are the ads for more tournaments, and the entertainment value, not for tips on how to actually play poker. You can learn what to play, how to play, when to play, who to play, where to play, in individual articles, but no article can put it all together for you. Books come closer, but even then, to understand what you have read in a dozen books is to actually play a few thousand, if not hundreds of thousands, hands of poker and then review the books and put it all together in your own head for a foundation to pick what may work in the future. How, When, Who, Where, do not all fit together all the time. It's almost like grasping at straws, even if you get them, the end result is that you still fall. You have to be a bit odd to take up a hobby like this, and that sounds almost like there is a certain pride in being odd. Well there is. Don't we all cherry pick a bit of what we like out of the environments we see everyday? That odd bit there, and this odd bit here ought to combine into a unique style, don't you think? When a few hundred folk think the same way, it lends itself to being called common sense. At least for that group of folk. This group of ten at the final table whittled down from the thirty that started is such an odd mix of characters. Two across the table from me who have only seen me play a tight game until this day. Three on my left who play well, if inexperienced. Three on my right who mostly play elsewhere and just popped in to this place tonight. And a dealer from another club also across from me. She is the one that scares me the most. We both started at table one together and watching each other play. She knows the rules, but not table etiquette. Slamming down winning cards, defining what everyone else may be doing at the table, etc. She does put the chips neatly in front of her when betting though, that is a nice move considering how many other players waste the dealers time by tossing them anywhere and then having to pick up the rolling ones from down the table, somewhere. She plays the best hands well, and the not so good ones, not so well. My kind of opponent, if scary. The guy from table three on her right has more chips than the other nine of us combined, this does not look good. We all vote that instead of paying just the top four players with the prize pool, we pay down to ten places after taking ten percent of the pool for the dealers. During the next hour, the two that thought they knew my style, get eliminated by me when I called their raise and re-raise all-in with Ace-King that held up over their Ace-Rag holdings when the case Ace hit on the flop. They didn't think I'd call a pre-flop raise and a re-raise with a drawing hand, even if it was the best drawing hand, to race against a possible pocket pair of theirs. I really didn't think that they had a pair by their reactions after they looked at their cards. A couple more short stacks went away over the next half hour and the final hand went something like this. I'm in the big blind for four thousand, chip leader, now to my left, raises to ten thousand. Woman to his left goes all in for eight thousand, a couple of folds to the small blind to my right who goes all in for six thousand. I look down and see an Ace-Ten of spades and think for about a minute. Two folk are all-in, so it would be the chip leader and me for the second side pot, or check it down and try to eliminate the other two players with what we have. I call the ten thousand and see the flop. A red Ace and two little clubs. No sweat, I check. Chip leader checks. Okay, I guess we are going to check it down. Turn comes with a ten of clubs. Great two pair. I could have bet, but check and so does he. River comes another small club and I check. He repeats his check and I show my two pair. He mucks his cards and I win the second side pot. Woman across from me shows the ace of spades for a flush for the first side pot and tries to take the main pot but the small blind shows his two little clubs for a straight flush! He didn't even know until I pointed it out to him. OMG. Instead of being eliminated, he collects all the blind and antes and whatever else was in the main pot to get back into the game. At that time the words 'Six Way Chop?' came out of my mouth and the woman across me opened her eyes wide and started to sell the idea to the rest of the table. The mighty chip leader wanted to be compensated for being the chip leader and she and I understood that he should get a little extra after dividing the cash into six neat piles by the director, she took the odd amount that did not divide by six easily and put it on one stack for the chip leader, he agreed as the rest of us agreed and was declared the winner as the rest of us chopped up the prize pool. In effect, there was a five way tie for second place. Not bad for a little three and a half hour tournament. I did not really want to play for five hours, having a job to go to the next day and all. I'm glad I played and that we chopped. Looking forward to the next tournament.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fine, Some Rain Came

Saw many drops on Friday and Sunday, and the mountains have a nice dusting of snow on them. Still many inches short of what will need before being taxed millions for recycled sewer water plants, or desalination plants. Come on rain!

Friday, January 4, 2008

So? Where is it?

I've heard nothing but predictions for rain all week on the TV and radio in this town, northern storm descending mixing with warm tropical flow from the southwest. Even Google Weather got into the act as this little graphic shows. We live in a desert, got only three inches of rain last year [June 2006 to June2007] and with the state cutting our water flow from the north because of a endangered fish near our pumping plants called the smelt, and mussels growing in the pipeline from the colorado river, we really need this rain. So I popped out onto the balcony an took a shot of the clouds, wires, rooftops, and a nearby hill, but no rain. Come on already, I'm waiting...


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year

How did I spend New Year's Eve 2007? Doing nine weeks of Laundry, baby! Walked the first half dozen loads down in a hamper held about me knees but piled up to my chin downstairs to the laundry area and had full run of the machines for the next six hours or so. Pop in the light loads first, dry the towels last. What a day. Went ten for sixteen on my NFL picks the weekend before, and with the regular season over, there was not much to do, that I wanted to do. Sure, I could have made something up like re-mopping the kitchen, but that can wait until the next weekend, while listening to NFL playoff games coming from the next room or something. So fired up the dual-core system played some user made railroad maps. Wow, there are some creative folk out there to take a simple game and turn it into a journey down the river Styx past the seven deadly sins. Basin and Range custom map has double decked train cars for merchandise hauling and a port to haul them to. The Mexico map was re-worked and doesn't look as good, it needs help, maybe I'll touch it up for the community one day. The USA transcontinental custom map was pretty sharp, when all the commodities were available for all the industries. Needs more planning there. The updated Holiday Scenario making toys, cookies, and egg-nog for the north pole station was a lot of work, and a lot of fun. And the special santa trains played random carols as they left their stations. After finishing all that, I got the bright idea to read up on how to make a custom map for this game. These guys are taking USGS satellite data and using it to build height maps for the mountains and rivers. OMG. This would be a second job in itself, then adding tint layers, blending layers etc for eight layers of fun all to move trains to stations with familiar names. It's one way to learn a little about geography, but I'm not sure I have the time to put off mopping another weekend. Look how long it takes me to do laundry! Happy New Year.