Thursday, November 17, 2005

On Turning 40

Happy birthday to me,
happy birthday to me,
happy birthday dear....

Oh. Hello. Yes, it's true. Today IS my birthday. And not just any birthday, today is the big 4-Oh for me. Not that that really means anything to me. I don't feel 40. I'm told I don't look 40. And I wouldn't have a clue what "acting 40" even means. The truth of the matter is, that increase by 1 in my age doesn't really phase me much. Well, actually, I have to admit, 35 was tough. But that's because of my bizarre "math teacher" brain. I just couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I was half way to 70! Somehow half way to 80 just doesn't have the same impact. But "half way to 70" really threw me for some reason.

Birthday's are strange occasions for me. I was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and as you may or may not know, Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. Well they don't celebrate anything really. No Christmas, no Easter, no Thanksgiving or Halloween. Nada. It's not that Witnesses are against celebration on principle. They are, believe it or not, generally fun loving people. No, for each holiday, there is some specific reason why observing a holiday on that day is unscriptural or why a celebration is inappropriate. I won't bore you with the explanations for all the holidays, but since this is my birthday and I did bring the subject up, I'll tell you why Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays.

You see, there are only 2 birthday celebrations mentioned in the Bible. In the old testament we read of the birthday of Pharaoh. At that birthday party, Pharaoh's baker was beheaded (either that or his cup bearer, but I really think it was his baker). In the new testament we read of the birthday of King Herod. At that birthday party, John the Baptist was beheaded. Clearly the lesson to be learned here is that birthday celebrations are bad because people always end up being beheaded. And therefore, Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays. O.K., O.K., I admit that is a rather blithe over simplification of their reasoning, but hey, it's my birthday so I can explain it how I want to. And you need to realize that to a child's way of understanding things, that truly is the explanation. When I was little and my friends asked me why I didn't celebrate my birthday (or more importantly theirs) that was the reason I gave because that was how I understood it.

So anyway, now birthdays just feel strange to me. Though I walked away from the Witnesses in my early 20's, I still, to this day, have never had a birthday party. I wouldn't know what to do if someone threw me a birthday party. When people wish me a happy birthday I always feel awkward and slightly guilty.

What happens in reverse is even worse. I can NEVER remember other people's birthdays. I never had to when I was young, and I'm just not used to it. I've been with my partner Ron for 11 years. I always forget his birthday. I remember our anniversary no problem. But birthdays? I've just got this mental block. My best friend Betsy - same thing. I forget her birthday every year! Now when I say I forget their birthdays, I don't mean the dates themselves. Ron's birthday is March 19, and Betsy's is February 15 (well I'm pretty sure about that one - I'm nearly positive it's the day after Valentine's day. Either that or it IS Valentine's Day. But no, I think it's the day after. Oh man, she's gonna kill me when she reads this). It isn't the date I forget, it's the event itself. There is nothing in my past experience or upbringing to cue me in to the thought, "oh, today is March 19th, that means it is Ron's birthday today." Because birthdays never held any significance for me. My mom, my dad, my sisters, my friends who were Jehovah's Witnesses, their birthdays would come and go without notice or comment. We just didn't pay any attention because, to us, it wasn't anything special.

So where was I going with all of this? I don't know. I think I'm rambling. But you know, that can start to happen to a person when he gets to be my age! No, the truth of the matter is, I'm glad my birthday only rolls around once every 365 days. I'll be happy when tomorrow comes, and the strange, guilty discomfort I've been feeling today is gone.

Oh, and to my good friend Ro, the one person whose birthday I always remember, I would just like to say, Happy Birthday Ro!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Bad Beat

The rise and fall of a poker hand:

So I'm sitting at a $2/$4 limit table in Vegas. I'm on the button (dealer) and I am dealt the Ace and Queen of diamonds. That's a pretty good starting hand. Four people around to me call the big blind ($4), and I raise it up to $8. The little blind ($2) folds, the big blind calls and 2 of the remaining players call. For those who know the game and are paying attention, there is now $42 in the pot. The flop comes Queen of hearts, 9 of diamonds, 3 of diamonds.
That's a pretty fantastic flop for me. I have top pair, a great kicker, and the nut flush draw (since I have the Ace of diamonds, if another diamond falls on the board, my flush will be the highest possible flush). The big blind checks, a player bets $4, the next player calls, and I raise to $8. The big blind folds, the remaining 2 players call the bet. The pot is now at $66. The turn card is the 6 of diamonds. I hit my flush. Since there are no pairs on the board, I have the nuts, the very best possible hand. First player bets $8. I'm guessing she has hit a flush as well, but guess what, mine is better than hers. The next player folds, so now we are heads up. I raise the bet to $16. She re-raises to $24! I thought about re-raising to the limit, but decided that might scare her away. I'm guessing now that she is probably holding the King and Jack of diamonds. A good flush, but not the best flush. If I re-raise, she will know I have the Ace for sure. Best to keep her wondering. There is now $114 in the pot. Here comes the river. The card is the 5 of Diamonds. Bet, raise, re-raise, re-raise to the limit - $32. We've added a total of $64 to the pot which now stands at $178. $80 of it is mine. But that's o.k. I'm going to win this hand.

Now again, I have to say, those of you who know poker and have been paying attention to my tale know from the title of this piece what happened next. You have already guessed what my opponent - stupid bitch that she was - was holding. Yes indeed, we both turn over our cards, and there in front of my face are the 2 and 4 of diamonds. She has pulled out a straight flush on the river, in a hand she never should have been playing.

Now those readers out there who aren't as familiar with the game are thinking, gosh, he's being hard on her. He's just sore from being beaten, and he's being a bad loser. No. I've had my share of bad beats. I understand that they are part of this game. Because as much as skill definitely does play a role in Hold 'Em poker, luck also plays a role. But this wasn't just a matter of me being unlucky. Even a moderately informed novice to the game knows that you DO NOT PLAY 2-4, even if it is suited. It is a terrible starting hand. You CERTAINLY don't play it from early position (which she was in), and you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT continue to play it if you are raised pre-flop! 99.999% of the time you are going to be beaten on this starting hand under these conditions. You are throwing away your money, if you play the way this woman played. This was a person who did not know how to play poker, siting down at a poker table in Vegas and treating it like it was Black Jack or Craps. Like playing poker is about random cards or random rolls of the dice. I wasn't so upset about losing to her as I was about the fact that I WASN'T losing my money to her, because she was simply going to give it all away. And sure enough, an hour and a half later she left the table with no chips. She played every hand pre-flop and continued to play most of them right to the end. Just putting chips into the pot, one bet after another, whether she had anything or not. Sure I won some of my own money back from her, but a lot of it went to other players at the table.

Damn it, it still pisses me off thinking about it. I have no patience for morons like that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Hint at What's to Come

Comments from an anonymous reader have got me thinking. Many people (gay and straight alike) are ignorant about the leather community (gay and straight). In the days to come, I'm going to make some posts in an attempt to remedy that situation. But not now. Tomorrow afternoon I am leaving for a 4-day weekend in Las Vegas where I plan on spending most of the trip playing Texas Hold 'Em poker. I love the game, I find it relaxing, and I'm reasonably good at it. I can honestly say that I have never left a poker table in Vegas with less money than I started with (not counting tournaments - but if I total up all of my tournament winnings and loses in Vegas, I still come out ahead). After my last trip to Vegas it finally occured to me to ask myself why I was bothering to play anything else. Oh I'm sure I'll still wander over to the roulette tables from time to time, just because I absolutely love roulette, but the vast majority of my time will be spent in poker rooms.

Anyway, upon my return from that trip, I'll get back to work on my blog. So wish me luck

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Word From the 2nd Runner Up

This weekend I competed (for the second year in a row) in the annual Mr. Pittsburgh Eagle Leather contest. Last year, in a field of 5 contestants, I came in as the first runner up. This year the field included 7 contestants and I came in as the second runner up. Seeing the trend, I think I'll cut my losses and I will NOT compete in the contest next year. I simply couldn't bear not placing at all. So there I am in the picture at the right standing by the 1st runner-up, Chad (I'm the one on the right). Hot man, isn't he? He really probably should have won the contest.

The contest consists of four rounds. The first round of the contest was "Casual" leather. I wore leather chaps and a harness. I looked good, but unfortunately none of the pictures came out - they were all blurry. The second round was the jock strap competition. Yes I have pictures, no I will not be posting any! Trust me, you don't want to see them. The third round was "Formal" leather, and that is what you see me in in the picture. The fourth round is the question and answer round - I have to say, I really kicked ass in that round. I picked a good question and I had the attention of the audience for the entire length of my answer. I had them in the palm of my hand! I'm sure that is the round that won me a 3rd place finish rather than my finishing further back in the pack.

So that's it. My career as a contestant in leather contests comes to an end. Hell, I'm turning 40 next week. I'm too old for this shit anyway.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Great News!

Did you hear the news? Probably not, unless you are as much of a geek as me. But it turns out that Pluto (the celestial object, not Mickey's dog) may have 3 moons. I've always loved astronomy since I was a little kid, and how can you not love Pluto? It's the underdog of the 9 planets. The poor thing. Numerous attempts have been made to down grade its status to planetoid, or something else equally humiliating and demeaning. But Pluto keeps right on fighting for its right to be called a planet, and so far all the efforts of its detractors have failed. Now, with the possibility of additional moons, Pluto's status as a planet should be even more secure. And I for one am very happy. Go Pluto!

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