Monday, May 25, 2015

In Which We Put the Band Back Together

This is my first post in an unsettlingly long period of time, for which I suppose an apology is due. The fact of the matter is that working takes up more of my time, and my energy, than I would wish, and after a long day and a long commute I find myself wanting to do nothing but sleep. Plus - let's be honest here - under the best of circumstances I lead a somewhat dull existence, and adding work to the mix just means that there's just nothing to write about. So the blog goes dormant, and I lurk from time to time on the blogs of my comrades, until something happens.

Well ladies and gentlemen, that something has happened: I have played poker for the first time in perhaps two years. Forthwith, then,


TRIP REPORT: FOXWOODS, 5-24-2015

I emailed Very Josie and asked her if she had any inkling to hit the tables over the holiday weekend. Enthusiastic agreement; arrangements made; we met at the Dunk's near the poker room; phase one is officially carried off without a hitch. And she took the bus down so I was off the hook for that (thank dog - it's Punch Buggy season).

I must say, as is the hallmark of friends who have not seen each other in a while, it was like no time had passed since our last contact. It was lots of laughs and people-watching to our great amusement. We even invented a game: Spot the Whore. When a scantily-clad trollop would walk by, I would affect my "Ugly American Tourist Abroad" voice and say to Josie, "Look honey - a whore!" It was an endless source of mirth. But it would only get funnier.

Because behind a woman who was wearing a dress so short that I knew the color of her pubic hair, was another woman who was dressed perhaps a bit suggestively but who was not (misogynistic comment ahead) good looking enough to pass the whore test. But Josie elbows me and says, "See her? The one in the white top?"

"Yeah," says I.

"No front teeth," she says to me.

"And how did you find that out?" 

"She comes up to me and asks me if her bra is showing. Not only is it showing but all the hooks are undone but one! So I tell her that and hook her back up. She turns around and tells me that her boyfriend did it, and smiled. No front teeth! 0 for 4."

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have a fair amount of artificial dentition in my mouth. And there is a period of time after getting a tooth (or teeth) pulled where the gums have to heal before you set about replacing that tooth. 

But if you're going to have that done, for the love of Benji, lay low for a bit! Spend a few weeks in solitary pursuits, like building a ship in a bottle, or giving your boyfriend what must be the best fellatio he will have ever had. Something, for Chrissakes, that doesn't entail you walking your raggedy ass around Foxwoods getting hitched back together from strangers and smiling at them! 

Aaanyway...

We make it down to the poker room, sign up, and before too long we are both assigned to the same table. Josie, unlike Your Obediant Servant, has been playing a good deal of poker of late and her skills have not diminished over time - to the contrary, she has become an even better poker player than I remember. And the luck for which she has become legendary in certain circles, I'm pleased to report, has not deserted her. Case in point: She was holding JJ and she caught a flop of J-10-4. Of course that's not luck - it happens one time in (about) 8. THIS is the luck:

One of the participants in the hand was holding 44, and had filled his set, and raised the bet all-in.

Another one of those players, nestled cozily between Jo in seat 3 and me in seat 1, was none other than no-tooth not-whore (who a propos of nothing was drinking milk from a straw). She was holding 1010 and had filled her set, and also went all in.

A third poor sap was holding KQ, and either figured he had the odds to chase his straight with all the money in the middle, or was just a bad poker player, and went in too.

Josie smiled and called, and won a pot of perhaps $600, within 20 minutes of us sitting down.  Aaaand we're off!

So shortly after that, the clarion call of a WSOP qualifier tournament started being heard. The $360 entry fee was now a free-roll, so the call started becoming too loud to resist. She ambles over to tournament land with a total profit of over $700 for perhaps an hour's effort at the cash table, registers and starts playing.

Now you may ask, how was I doing during this time? Actually not that bad, for a fella who hadn't played poker in a couple of change-filled years. I knew I had to play super-tight because my judgement would be off, and you kind of need good cards to do that. I had them during the first part of the day (basking, as it were, in the reflected luck of you-know-who), but after that the cards dried up and I went on a long, slow, boring descent into loss. After a while the table pegged me as a risk-averse nit, and started taking advantage. I was just thinking about walking away when I woke up with QQ, but lost with them. I was, at the least, self-aware enough to know my game would not get that much better this session, so for a change I respected my stoploss and stopped playing. So I wandered over to the tournament section, weaving through a veritable dragnet of security guards both in uniform and in suits, speaking into their thumbs, and sweated Josie for a time.

She was playing a turbo, was our girl, and the blinds were going up and up at a dizzying pace. I must say that Josie's style of play, who some might uncharitably call "recklessly aggressive" but which I just call "unbelievably, recklessly aggressive," is particularly suited to turbo play, where you have to chip up right now or feel the bite of the headman's axe. And Jos has been doing a good amount of winning with this strategy: you combine that strategy with a Sicilian's ability to read people, and stick the knife in at just the right time, you win a lot. Make no mistake: I have nothing but big respect for her game.

Not everyone at the table felt that way.

When I got to the table, the bald dude in seat 9 was chirping at her already, calling her a luckbox and a number of other, less savory terms, looking at her and shaking his head, whispering to his friend and scowling, the whole bit. And when Josie is in someone's head like that, she starts taking advantage, and it's only a matter of time before the gods of tilt take over and, well, tilt the table towards Josie. The final hand, Josie out-sucked Baldy's suckout on the turn, and it was GG Mr. Bitter. He walked away, no joke, yelling at the top of his voice that Josie "...should play the lottery tonight. Bet the goddamn house!" as he faded away into a sea of Asians smoking and playing Pai Gow.

To her credit, Josie said nothing - didn't even crack a smile.

And the chips mounted and they mounted. I wandered off to have a bowl of noodles (not really on the standard Diabetic menu, but I was already shaking a little bit and who can resist shredded duck lo mein, I ask you), and watch the last two innings of the Red Sox game, which for twin miracles they both won and played well. When the next break was called I met up with Jos and got a debrief.

She had been playing well, but lost about half her stack in one hand right before the break, which  seemed to deflate her. They were close to the money - I think there were 32 people left at the break and they paid 18 - and she came back from the break with perhaps less confidence than she had before. She got blinded out in a half-hour and finished in 22nd place. Five hours of poker to finish four away from the money! Ugh.

Usually, when the poker is done for the day, Jo likes to play a little 21, but this time, she says to me "I want to head to the slots."

"The SLOTS?" I ask in disbelief. "You're kidding me."

"I have $25 in free slots play," she says to me, restoring for a brief time my faith in the universe. 

So OK, to the slots we go. We walk to the slots. And walk. And walk. Now walking for me isn't exactly painful, but since the stroke my left hip is not as cooperative as it was before, even when I was carrying the extra weight. So it's not listed among my favorite activities. But walk we did. You think I was gonna let a five-foot-tall chick with no cartilege in her knees outwalk me? Lead on, girly girl. I'll be right behind you, limping slightly and secretly gasping for air.

So the first place we get to has a million billion slot machines, but not the one she likes. She wants to play the "Sex and the City" slots. Why, I ask? Because it's the only one she knows how to play.

How to play? HOW TO PLAY? You press the fucking button, that's how you play! What happens next is usually a giant toilet flushes your money away. And that's the slot machine experience. But I digress.

So we walk some more. And we walk. And we walk. Until finally we find ourselves at Mohegan Sun, or perhaps Windsor, Ontario. Not sure. But we walked a looong way. But we finally sit down at a Sex and the City slot machine, she puts in her card, receives $25 credit, and starts to play.

Does anyone not know how this ends? She pressed buttons for a few minutes, sometimes she got to press a glittering bonus button where the desired outcome is, I shit you not, a pair of shoes, and after about ten minutes she cashed out a slip for 47 cents - which she gave to the lady next to her, who would press the glittering bonus button with her entire hand for luck.

Anyway, after that funfest was at an end, we hied it over to a fish joint nearby and Josie treated her Uncle Crafty to a lobster roll and a diet Pepsi, then drove back to casa molto Giuseppina.

Got a chance to see FDD Spuds, who was thinking about going but bagged in the end, and Ursa Sucrosum, who is by now a strapping lad of 17 and who was hosting a bunch of his friends in the back yard around a fire pit. There were a liberal helping of young ladies around the fire.

I've never been prouder of the lad.

But a few minutes later, he comes in and asks for the Wi-Fi password for the home network. Why, asks I. Because they don't want to use data on their phones, replies Youth.

This was too much to bear. I come striding out and address the group. Ursa Sucrosum had just enough time to apologize in advance for what was coming next.

"I bring a message from the adult contingent of the house," I boomed, grabbing their attention. I waited a beat of silence and continued. "PUT THE FUCKING PHONE DOWN! You're sitting around a fire, enjoying the  company of your friends on a beautiful holiday weekend! Put the phone down!"

Laughs all around. One little number pipes up, "But we need to Instagram..."

"No, you don't," I say. "No, you really really don't." Pause. "I have spoken. Stay in school. Don't do drugs. Or do them, I don't really give a shit."

I go back in the house and start wrapping up to leave. He comes back in and says goodbye to me, adding "all my friends think you're a funny dude."

They have no idea.

Anyway, that was my trip report. To sum up: Josie won and lost, I lost, we ate lobster rolls, no front teeth, security guard, Sex and the City, teenagers around the fire, I endear myself to the next generation.

Thanks for your attention. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.


You're mooshing my glasses, Josie.

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's Morning in New England...

...and all throughout the region the only sound that can be heard is the ripping up of football cards and the motherfucking of the Patriots for ruining their parlay.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Well, She's Good, She's Lucky, and She's Sicilian - What Did You THINK Was Gonna Happen

Just a quick word to say that our own Very Josephine entered a WSOP satellite tourney, a $250 buy-in Ladies tournament, and finished third, for a payday of over 2500 squeeds. Then she sucked another grand or so out of the house at 21. Congratulations Jo!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Good News From Every Front

Nobody wants to hear someone else's good news. I get it. It's not compelling. If it were, the evening news would be overstuffed with rainbows and unicorn farts. But the thing is,  I got good news coming out of every pore of my body and I have to share it with someone. And I thought, I spent four solid years crying to you all when the good news was in short supply, and all you did was express quiet sympathy and tell me what I couldn't possibly see at the time - that things would get better.

And they did. And with all the blackness that I exposed to you, you deserve a little bit of the light.

So, medical stuff first. As of Friday I'm down to 223.8 pounds, precisely 10 pounds from my last weigh-in in April. As near as I can figure I weighed around 305 at my heaviest (I figure around 280-285 at the time of the stroke but I can't be sure) so that would put my total weight loss at just over 80 pounds.

This has finally started paying some real dividends. My A1c, a long-term marker of blood sugar, was at 9.0 in January. It was down to 6.6 in April, which is great for a diabetic. Friday it was 5.9, which is almost normal for a non-diabetic person and not even in the range of what diabetics usually have.

As a result my daily insulin requirement has been reduced from 25 units of Lantus (the long-acting once-a-day type) down to 20. Woo-hoo! That's a 20% reduction!

Diabetes is funny. What ends up killing you if you're diabetic is the long-term impact of high blood sugar on your body. It frays and destroys capillaries, which causes circulation problems, which in turn is what makes your feet fall off. It can cut off alternate routes to get oxygenated blood to the heart, or the brain, and make it orders of magnitude more likely that you have a heart attack or a stroke. It causes nerve pain, or perhaps numbness. It can destroy your vision - literally render you blind. It's not a good thing to have.

Which is why I'm so stoked that my A1c is so low. It's like a rolling 90-day average of your blood sugar, and 5.9 means that my diabetes is not causing any damage to my body. And that is a big part of the plan to have a healthy old age.

So that's the diabetes end.  On the blood pressure side of it, my doc took my blood pressure and it was about 90/70, which is at the very bottom of the normal scale. I had been getting light-headed upon standing recently (orthostatic hypotension, for the medical professionals among you) in fact. So the doctor discontinued one of my meds entirely and now I'm "only" taking two different pills for my bp.  I'll call that progress too.

So - less insulin, fewer meds, more weight loss. A VERY good day medically. But no! Wait! There's more!

Because while I was at the doctor's office, I received a phone call that notified me that after four years, six months, one day, one hour and about 20 minutes, my standing as unemployed American is officially over. I got a job - the one I wanted - and couldn't be happier.

These people are basically going to train me to become what they need me to be. I'll start off working the help-desk but will eventually become either of a network architect or network engineer, depending on what I'm good at and what they need more.

They interviewed me basically as a favor to a mutual friend, and apparently I did so well in the interview that they thought it would be better long-term for the company to have me on the payroll, even though my current skill set wasn't a fit for them.

They think they're getting a good man for below market value, and I suppose that's true, but I think what they're doing is taking a chance on a guy who could use a break, and I won't forget that. They're also going to pay me to learn a whole new set of skills - and the accompanying certifications - and I would be a fool to not take advantage of that.

So I will work like a man possessed for them, and show them that they made the right decision, and learn all I can on their nickel, and in a year we'll have another conversation about money, and it will either be made right or it won't - but let's not borrow trouble.

It's an unusual feeling. Everything is breaking my way. Everything! I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never does. Things just keep getting better and better. It's a good feeling to have.

And with that I will close this already-overlong post. Because, as my pal Rob would tell you, there is value in brevity.

Thanks for listening. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Very Josie Guestie Postie

Words fall from Josie's mouth, 'tis said, like flower petals alighting gently on the surface of a pond. As much as I know better, it is still my pleasure to bring those words to you. I will pass along every message, no matter how off-topic, off-color, or off-its-rocker. Please to enjoy. 
--- 

Hello All,

I’m in the midst of one of life’s frustrations and since nothing else seems to motivate me, I thought why not the interwebz?

But let me back up and get you up to speed.  Let’s go back to last summer.  I was doing my thang, exercising, eating right and though I’ll never be skinny, I was feeling good and looking hot (what else is new?).  Winter came and so did the pounds.  They started creeping back up, and me?  I avoided the scale.  Until March, that is.  Lo and behold, I’d gained 20 lbs.  Yes TWENTY pounds.  I had to do SOMETHING, but what?

I was looking for something to motivate me, and I thought I’d found the answer.  If you know me at all, you know I am incredibly competitive and I never made a bet  that I didn’t use all my resources to win.  Soooooo…..  I placed a bet at www.healthywage.com They’re motto is “Get paid to lose weight!”

I had to give them entirely too much information about me, like my habits, how I was planning to lose the weight, if I was using a tracking device like a fitbit, or weight watchers, my height, weight, age, etc etc etc.  You give them all this information, then you tell them how many pounds you are betting you will lose.  In my case I am betting that I will lose 25 lbs.  Based on all that, they offered me a couple of bets.  They’re obviously betting I WON’T lose the weight.  The bet I chose is that I would lose $25 lbs by September 9th.  I am betting $300 that I will do this.  If I actually do it, they will pay me $1,000.  That’s a net of $700 for all you math geniuses out there.  The time frame was 6 months, March to September, which is entirely too long.

So thinking I had plenty of time, I started, then stopped then started again.  Thus far I have lost a whopping 2 lbs and now I’m starting to panic.  I’ve never in my life felt less motivated to lose weight.  WTF?  I have no idea why but the bottom line is, I pay them $50 a month for 6 months and in September they either will or will not send me a check for $1,000.  It’s all up to me.  And you. 

I need your help.  I need accountability, cuz shit, September 9 is TWO FREAKING MONTHS AWAY. 

FAWK. 

It’s like I’ve just awakened from a daze.  But the thing is, I can soooooo do this.  I mean it’s a thousand fucking dollars!

So I’m going to post my weight loss here every week and hopefully that number will hit 25 lbs by September 9th.  Ugh.

And not for nothing but my hirsute buddy Gary here has lost like 500 lbs which is very inspiring so why cannot I get out of my funk and do this?  One excuse, erm reason,  is the extreme pain from my knees when I do anything that involves bending them.  (insert dirty joke) I have zero cartilage in both knees but I can still do yoga, walk, do the stationary bike, free weights, etc, so it’s no excuse really.  Plus Gary lost all this weight without exercising. At. All.  Fucking men!  He’s on the “I have diabetes” diet and I’m starting to think I may have to follow suit and just pretend I have diabetes.  (Not really – there will be no insulin shootings to be sure)

So there you have it.  Help Very Josie win her weight loss bet –or- Watch as Very Josie loses her bet and goes postal at healthwage.com.  Either way it should be entertaining.  Any tips, thoughts, insight and inspiration would be gladly accepted.

July 10, 2014:  2 lbs lost, 23 to go.

Diet smart.

Josie

Something's Coming...

...something you're not going to want to miss. I don't want to give too much away, but the phrase "Sweetheart of the Internets" may safely be invoked here.

Go see a doctor if you haven't lately.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Calling All Cat People

For those of you who don't know, I have a web site called Conversations with Rusty. Rusty is an orange Persian who isn't precisely affectionate, but is kind of like a sometimes-indifferent buddy. I always thought there might be more going on behind those orange eyes of his. One day after trying to con me into feeding him twice in a day, I started writing these down. I enjoy doing them a great deal. I find it easy to write in a conversational style - where the topic can bounce from one subject to the next in seconds, with asides and digressions, a return to a previous topic or two, a definite flow.

This is a super-secret sneak preview of a conversation that is set to run July 1st, I think. If you like it, there's more where that came from. Click the above link and tell all your crazy cat-people friends!


ME: What was all that destruction a few minutes ago? What the hell were you two up to?
RUSTY: That was all Other Cat's fault.
ME: Her name is Maya.
RUSTY: Whatever.
ME: What did she do?
RUSTY: She gave me that look that says, roughly, "chase me through the house until we break a lamp," and off we went.
ME: And one time you can't just go back to sleep?
RUSTY: The blood of my Cheetah ancestors runs hot within me.
ME: You're not related to the cheetah, you idiot.
RUSTY: Look it up. They're in Persia.
ME: That means they're your neighbors, not your freakin' grandparents.
RUSTY: Yeah, well, whoever my ancestors were, YOUR ancestors were scared to death of them.
ME: And oh, how the mighty have fallen.
RUSTY: Superior eye-paw coordination.
ME: Walk on two legs.
RUSTY: See six times better than you at night.
ME: Problem-solving skills.
RUSTY: Over 100 million olfactory nerves.
ME: Opposable thumbs. Game, set, match.
RUSTY: (Pauses) Yeah, that's a good one.
ME: Thumbs rule, man.
RUSTY: I could accomplish great things with thumbs.
ME: What's the first thing you do with them?
RUSTY: You mean, after I choke the shit out of you?
ME: Yes, Rusty, after that.
RUSTY: I'd learn to use the doorknob.
ME: And here I was hoping you'd learn to flush the toilet.
RUSTY: Then I'd get in that drawer you keep the catnip in, and I would never leave.
ME: You degenerate.
RUSTY: Ohh man. Do you have any idea what it's like, to breathe in the vapors of a plant and get high?
ME: Let's go with no.
RUSTY: That's too bad, because it's freakin' awesome.
ME: I can only imagine.
RUSTY: After that, I guess, the sky's the limit. Learn to drive, speaking engagements, develop a following, get elected, and run things my way.
ME: Then annex Austria, I'm guessing?
RUSTY: Hitler jokes are NEVER funny.
ME: Sorry, man, but you were heading off the rails a little bit there. Besides, you'd never be elected, what with your catnip problem and everything...
RUSTY: My reputation would be ruined.
ME: Shamed before the world.
RUSTY: CURSE YOU, THUMBS!!!