Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"That's Poker"

I was playing a no-limit hold 'em tournament the other day. I had made the final table and there were 9 players remaining. I was "on the button" (dealer) and I was dealt a pair of kings, clubs and hearts. Pocket Kings - a damn good hand! Two or three players before me called the big blind so when the betting got around to me, I raised. The standard raise of 3 times the big blind. The small blind folded, but the player in the big blind called. One of the original callers called, but everyone else folded. Three players.

The flop comes 8 of spades, King of diamonds, 4 of diamonds. Woohoo! I've flopped a set of kings, this is certainly the best hand at the table. The player in the big blind checks, the player to my right makes a moderate sized bet. What does he have? Does he have the 4th king? That would be great for me. Maybe he has 2 diamonds. Well, I've got to at least call. Should I raise? If he's got two diamonds, and he's on a flush draw, I should raise. A flush would kill my hand, so I want to get him off the draw. So I raised a significant amount. The big blind folded, but my main opponent called my raise. Hmmmm....I'm thinking now it's more likely he's got that king. Maybe he was dealt Ace-King, Big Slick. Here comes the turn card - 4 of hearts. Now I've got a full house! And here comes my opponent - he bets enough so that if I call, I'm gonna be all in. But how can I lose? I've got a full house! So of course I call.

And anyone who knows anything about poker knows exactly what my grinning opponent turned over.

I won $279 for 9th place and the buy in was only $40. Not bad. Of course first place was around $1400.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Did You Know?

Did you know that Olivia Newton-John's boy friend has been missing since June 30th? Why didn't I know this? How did I go the entire month of July and half the month of August not knowing that Olivia's boy friend is lost at sea? My heart goes out to her.... But in the back of my mind, I have to admit a hint of doubt. I have to admit that little voice in my head asked the question, "is it possible he had had enough, and staged his own disappearance to escape her world?" We would all understand if he had, wouldn't we?

What am I saying?!?!? I had such a huge crush on Olivia when Grease came out when I was in junior-high school. I'm sure I saw the movie at least 10 times that year, and it's still one of those movies that I guiltily watch every time I see it's on the television. So I suppose I'm still carrying a torch for her after all these years. I love you, Olivia, and I hope that your boyfriend realizes the errors of his ways and returns to you quickly.....ooooops, I mean I hope they find him safe and sound.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Camping and the Long Silence

I know, I know, I've been back from camping for a week now, and no posts. Well wait, I can explain (here come the lame excuses I can hear you mutter under your breath). O.K. so here's the thing. First of all I got back from camping late Sunday night and I was way too tired to do any posting then. On Monday, two things happened. First I checked my e-mail and discovered an urgent request from ETS to come to New Jersey on Wednesday to work on a national committee reviewing the Praxis exam (a test pre-service teachers in the US have to take in order to get their teaching credentials), so I actually ended up on a plane Wednesday morning bound for New Jersey. More on that later. I got back from New Jersey late Friday night. Yesterday I was at a pool party all day, so that brings us to today, and this very late post. So why didn't I post on Monday or Tuesday last week? Well on Monday as I began catching up on various blogs, I found an irresistible invitation from my fellow blogger Herge at Angry Chimp inviting other bloggers to create an "angrychimpesque" blog entry. And so I spent the next two days working on a submission which I am pleased and humbled to say that Herge posted on his blog. That left me no time for posting here, and I had to put it off until I returned from New Jersey.

Now I can tell you all about my adventures of the last week and a half. First the camping trip. I had a wonderful time communing with nature for 4 days, but most of the communing I did was from the pool as it was in the mid-90's the entire trip! I'm just not a big fan of taking long hikes in humid, 94 degree weather. In fact I'm not a big fan of humid, 94 degree weather period, and the pool was the only place to find relief. Not to worry though, at my campsite alone I saw 2 snakes, 3 toads, numerous chipmunks, and 3 deer. So that was plenty of nature for me. Now Herge wanted to know if I was mauled by any bears. I am a dedicated bear lover, and I can happily report that indeed, I encountered numerous bears and was mauled or perhaps more accurately molested by several of them in wonderful, hot, sweaty encounters in the woods, and in the "barn" that the campground owners have refurbished, to facilitate exactly those types of encounters. All in all, despite the muggy weather, I had a great time camping. I'm going back in September for their annual "bear weekend" and I am really looking forward to it. Even Ron is considering joining me for this weekend.

The trip to New Jersey wasn't nearly as exciting. ETS (Educational Testing Services) is the giant of testing companies in the United States. In comparison, the company I used to work for (and still consult with), Measure Progress, is about 1/20th the size of ETS. ETS is a not-for-profit company that makes a huge amount of money. All they money they make must be sunk right back into the company, and it shows. They have this 200 acre compound outside of Princeton, NJ (home of that world famous Ivy League University of the same name) which is absolutely beautiful, but also in the middle of no where. Fortunately the work was intense, and I was exhausted at the end of each day, so I didn't miss the lack of night life or other leisure activities. They do have a pool, and I just relaxed by the pool and read the newest Harry Potter cover to cover.

So now I'm back home for good. School starts in a week for me. I'm not ready to go back! Summer went way too fast. But that means I'll be around, and regular posts should be hitting this blog for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Going Camping

Well I leave tomorrow morning for a long weekend camping trip. I love camping. Unfortunately for me, Ron (my partner) does not, so I haven't been camping in a long time. But some friends of ours said they were going on this trip and invited us along, and Ron was kind enough to say, "go, have fun, but please understand - I'm staying home." So I am leaving tomorrow for Roseland. It is a campground in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, set on over 200 isolated acres of wooded land on one of the highest peaks in the area. Although there are about a dozen cabins on the land available for rental, I'm going rustic and pitching a tent and the whole 9 yards. At the center of land the owners have built up a very nice recreation area complete with heated pool, 2 hot tubs, a recreation hall with pool tables, darts and dance floor, a convenience store and a small luncheonette where you can get sandwiches and soda and snacks and beer. Now there are three things that set this campground apart from your run-of-the-mill campground. First, it is gay owned and operated. Second, it is exclusively male. And third, it is clothing optional. Woo hoo!! I'm gonna have some fun! And my wonderful partner who I love more than I could ever say, has given me his complete blessing. He told me, "go let loose and blow off some steam!" I think he was actually a little relieved to be getting some time away from me, to be honest. I've been a little wound up lately.

Anyway, I'll let you know how the weekend goes when I get back on Monday.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Future Headlines - Part 10

Massive Conspiracy Uncovered

Nation in Shock, GOP Rocked

(AP) Washington, DC – April 28, 2008

Three days after her husband’s death, the wife of a Senior Aide for the Vice President received a small package in the mail whose contents seemed like something right out of a spy novel. Inside the package was a letter from the dead man suggesting that his death was not a suicide and hinting at a conspiracy at the highest level of national government. Included in the package was a key to a safe deposit box the woman had no idea existed, and instructions urging her to contact a reporter and open the box with him. Following her husband’s instructions from the grave, the woman and a reporter from the Washington Post, opened the box and unlocked the biggest conspiracy in this nation’s history. The box contained several memos, some digital recordings, and disks containing computer records that would ultimately implicate some of the highest-level government officials in a conspiracy of horrific proportions.

After making numerous copies of the materials from the safe deposit box, the materials were turned over to two Senators, a Supreme Court Justice and two FBI agents all chosen by the Post reporter. An ensuing investigation provided enough evidence for warrants to be issued for searches of the offices of the Vice President, Karl Rove - Senior advisor to the President, and the majority leader of the Senate. The materials revealed that the 9/11 bombing of New York City in 2006 was masterminded by an extreme right wing organization as a way to ensure a conservative victory in the election of 2006. Further evidence suggested that a number of high level Republicans including the Vice President and other ranking advisors to the President had learned of the plot and actively worked to cover up evidence of the conspiracy in order to benefit from the political fallout from an apparent terrorist attach. In addition, other papers and records discovered during the searches revealed direct involvement by several high-level officials in planning the assassinations of two Supreme Court Justices in order to shift the ideology of the court to a more conservative state. Today, indictments were handed down and arrests were made of the Vice President, Karl Rove, two Republican Senators, six Republican Congressmen, and numerous officials from several departments of the Executive Branch of the government. Investigations by Congress, the FBI and the Justice Department continue and more indictments and arrests are expected. Although there was no evidence directly linking the President to the conspiracy, Democratic leaders immediately called upon the President to resign and take responsibility for the actions of members of his administration. The White House remained silent on the matter today refusing to comment on the scandal.

Across the country today, reaction among Americans continues to be shock and disbelief. Conservative groups and organizations scrambled to distance themselves from conspiracy and the politicians implicated while leftist groups called for more intensive investigation of the Republican Party and some of the very organizations that are denying knowledge of or involvement in the conspiracy.

See also:
Part 1 Part 2
Part 3 Part 4
Part 5 Part 6
Part 7 Part 8
Part 9

The 14 Traits of a Fascist Nation

In 2004, a political scientist by the name of Dr. Laurence Britt published a paper now commonly referred to as "The 14 Points" which described the 14 traits of a Fascist regime. He studied the regimes of Hitler, Moussolini, Franco, Suharto and Pinochet and found strong commonalities in all of them. The 14 common traits are listed below:

  • 1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

  • 2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

  • 3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

  • 4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

  • 5. Rampant sexism

  • 6. A controlled mass media

  • 7. Obsession with national security

  • 8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

  • 9. Power of corporations protected

  • 10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

  • 11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

  • 12. Obsession with crime and punishment

  • 13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

  • 14. Fraudulent elections

    Of course the really scary thing that immediately came to my mind when I first read the 14 points was how well they describe the current political climate in this country. Then I found the Old American Century site and an article detailing the parallels. This is really frightening stuff. The thing about fascism is that it generally begins as a populist movement and is ushered in through legitimate political means. It is insidious, and develops slowly enough that "the people" often aren't aware of how their own political system is changing until it is too late. This hits way too close to home.

  • Saturday, August 06, 2005

    Pro Gay Rights Supreme Court Nominee

    Here's an amusing little development. It turns out that John G. Roberts Jr., Bush's nominee to be the next Supreme Court Justice, did pro-bono work for a group in Colorado that was trying to overturn a Colorado ballot initiative that made it legal for employers and landlords to discriminate against gays and lesbians in housing and the workplace. The group won by the way. Now religious conservative groups are actually calling on Bush to withdraw Roberts's nomination. Apparently there is real concern that Roberts could turn out to be another David Souter who was appointed by Bush Sr. and has since drifted significantly to the left. I seriously doubt this - the guy's record in most matters is very solidly conservative. Still this whole "controversy" is really pretty amusing - it's always fun to see the religious right in panic mode. Stay tuned for further details.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    And the latest polls show...

    A new AP-Ipsos poll reveals that the majority of Americans disapprove of how Bush is handling the war in Iraq (only 38% approve). For the first time since the question was included in public opinion polls, less than half of the American public (48%) still feels that Bush is honest. The overall approval rating for Bush's job performance? A tepid 42%. Six in ten respondents feel that this country is headed in the wrong direction. But when asked the question, "Do you feel that President Bush is a strong and likeable leader?" Over 60% of the poll takers said YES!!! Almost 2/3 of the poll takers think that Bush is a strong and likeable leader. They hate what he is doing in Iraq, they don't trust him, they aren't real impressed with his overall job performance, but strong and likeable? Oh yeah! What the hell?!?!

    I've come to the conclusion that the problem is, many Americans don't understand poll questions and so they simply respond randomly.

    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Sorry (And a digression regarding my nose)

    I have to apologize for the erratic nature of my postings lately. I have been in the grips of a summer cold for the past 10 days, and just haven't been feeling up to posting regularly. I think it is finally loosening up, and I hope I will be back to my old self soon. I have chronic sinus problems and a simple cold can make me absolutely miserable - I got a nasty little ear infection from this one. Fortunately, a few doses of antibiotics take quick care of my ear infections, so that has completely cleared up. I just wish the head and chest congestion were completely gone as well. Just a day or two more should do it.

    When I was 13 or 14 I had nasal surgery to correct the sinus problem. I had been suffering from sinus infections, and sore throats and congestion and severe colds since I was a child, and I had high hopes for relief. The surgery and subsequent recovery was one of the most miserable experiences of my life, and what's more, it didn't work. In fact, I'm pretty sure it made my sinuses even more screwed up. But I'll live with it. There is no way I am going through surgery on my nose again!

    Anyway....keep checking in. Things should be back to normal (yeah, right!) soon.

    Future Headlines - Part 9

    VP’s Aide Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

    (AP) Washington, DC – April 14, 2008

    ____________________________, a Senior Aide working for Vice President Dick Cheney was found dead in his Georgetown home, late last night. According to the police report, __________’s wife came home last night after attending an evening business meeting and found her husband dead in his study, from a gun shot to his head. The police report went on to say that a gun was found on the floor next to the man, and a brief note was found on the man’s desk. The contents of the note, however, were not disclosed.

    Commenting at an early morning press conference, the Vice President expressed his great sorrow over the death of a man he referred to as a friend and valued advisor. ______________ had begun working for the Vice President during the 2000 Presidential campaign. The Vice President did comment that he knew the man was undergoing considerable personal difficulty, and that in the past few weeks he had exhibited some behaviors at work that lead the Vice President to believe he might be suffering from depression. “I urged _______________ to seek counseling or professional help of some kind. But I had no idea the depression had grown so severe.” Vice President Cheney said. Cheney implied that the man’s mood change may have stemmed from difficulties in his marriage. _______________’s wife was unavailable for comment….

    Supreme Court Assassinations Linked to NYC Bombing?

    (AP) Washington, DC – April 14, 2008

    Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a former investigator in the case of the 2006 assassinations of two Supreme Court justices revealed today that the panel investigating the crimes had concluded that the methods employed in the assassinations were strikingly similar to methods developed by the CIA. The anonymous source said he was coming forth with this information after reading a report by the team investigating the 9/11 bombing in New York City which revealed that the bomb design appeared to be based on designs developed by the CIA during the late 90’s. “It seemed to be too close to be a coincidence,” the anonymous investigator told a reporter from the Washington Post, “and it scared me. If these two crimes are linked some how, if the same the group planned both acts, well, the implications are deeply disturbing.”

    A Whitehouse spokesperson quickly dismissed the connection saying, “to date the President has seen no reports, no evidence, linking these two acts of terrorism. He has complete confidence in the bipartisan commission assembled by Congress to investigate the current state of domestic terrorism in this country, and sort out all the unanswered questions in these cases….”

    See also:
    Part 1 Part 2
    Part 3 Part 4
    Part 5 Part 6
    Part 7 Part 8

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    I'm a Sucker for These Things

    They are basically stupid and certainly meaningless, but for some reason I find them entertaining. They are these goofy internet quizzes. You answer random questions, and then you get a "score" which is usually some kind of personality profile. Here are some recent results:

    I just had to know, what kind of animal I was....

    You're a Dragon!

    Noble, regal, and highly misunderstood, you're a bit of a loner at
    heart. You like caves, the sky, and other vast expanses of air where you can blow
    off steam. You and people like you got a lot more respect in the past. As long as you believe in yourself, and don't breathe directly at anyone, you'll be okay. You have a strange liking for string and sealing-wax.

    Take the Animal Quiz
    at the Blue Pyramid.

    And the world's shortest personality quiz....I don't think it is 100% me, but a lot of this fits me well.

    You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
    Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
    You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.

    For you, comfort and calm are very important.
    You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
    You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.

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