Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Heading to the Coast~

Whelp, no internet for the next few days (most likely), so don't expect much here until Monday. Looking forward to lots of drinking, golf, cards, and good times with great friends.

The flight up to Seattle was uneventful, and made it right on time. The guy next to me had some of those expensive BOSE noise-canceling ear-phones, and forced me to try them on. They are quite the invention, if you haven't--try those out sometime if you get a chance, I could barely hear the engines roaring with them on in the middle of the flight. The smoke from the Tahoe fires covered the sky all the way up to Reno.

Mom, Dad, Andrew and I went to the Mariners v. Red Sox baseball game this afternoon at Safeco Field. I used to like the Red Sox, and I guess I still root for them over the Yankees... but they are easily my 2nd most hated team nowadays in baseball. They have too much money, and too many fans since they won the World Series a few years back. And their fans are annoying. The Mariners won 2-1 in the bottom of the 11th inning in a really awesome game. We stayed until the bitter end, and got treated to a great show. Andrew and I each had three 24oz beers, gooood times.

Came back and had a little Salmon dinner with the Flanagans for my B-day, along with a nice and unhealthy super-rich chocolate cake. Had a few more beers, then headed down to the Montlake house to play Guitar Hero with Andrew. We rocked out for a few hours, and now the six of us (Marc,Sarah,Tyler,Renee,Andrew,Me) are all packing and getting ready for our coast trip. We're moving Marc and Sarah into their new house tomorrow morning, then leaving for the coast before rush hour hits. Expect some pictures!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Pirates v. Ninjas, Weekend and Forest Fire Updates

Well, lets start with the most recent and work backwards... haven't done that in a while, why not mix it up?

I just finished writing the intro to my new blog idea at: MHG-RPG

I decided to go with Tyler's idea of Pirates v. Ninjas, because it sounds fun. Both to write and for others to participate in. So if you've ever wanted to be a ninja or a pirate, you'd be doing yourself a dis-service by not checking out my new creative outlet and playing along! If you've never thought of being a ninja or a pirate, QUIT LYING!! If you didn't see my post a week or two ago about it, it is pretty much going to be a story that I write in the next two months, involving pirates and ninjas. You can have a character in the story, and influence what happens by commenting on the blog after every weekly installment.

Because this is my first shot at it, and I want a definite ending, this first game is going to have plenty of violence. The FINAL CHAPTER will be around the middle of August, and it will end with one character left alive, will that character be yours? Will it be a ninja? A pirate? Or will it be the not-so-innocent vixen bartender who spends most of her time "below deck?" Ho Ho! Come play!

You've got a week or two before the story starts up, so head on over there and post a comment. If you're like me, and get excited about things, then forget about them a few weeks later--no worries! I'll just kill your character sooner than later! :D

In journaling news, today was a very memorable day. The sky has been covered in smoke all day. It is almost like a dense fog has covered the entire Tahoe basin area. The fire is still under 10% controlled, and all the smoke has grounded any aerial assault on the blaze. The winds were picking up when I left work, which is never good when it comes to forest fires.

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Allison wasn't at work today. Her house burned down. In a weird and twisted way, it is actually a very good thing for her. She's the one going through the messy divorce, and her husband has been trying to take her name off the title, and sell it out from under her. Now she gets half (or more?) of the insurance money. Her husband will probably be a handful to deal with, but at least she'll finally get the money she deserves. Her kids lost everything they owned, because they were still living with their dad for the most part, but all of her stuff is in the new place she is living.

My boss Chris, and one of the doctor's stayed the night at the Fracture clinic Sunday night, because they had been evacuated from their homes. Apparently they had a little bbq and sat by the fireplace. Not a bad place to be cooped up... but if their homes get caught in the blaze too, I feel very sorry for them. Getting through it as a single mom with two teenagers is tough enough for Allison, but taking a little kid away from his home and living out of a hotel or a friend's house for who knows how long, would be incredibly difficult on both Chris and the doctor's families.

Amidst all of the craziness today at work, we also had Chris's cat and the Dr.'s animals with us in the clinic, which was one of the few uplifting moments of the day. The work day was one I'll not forget anytime soon. More than half of the patients canceled, which is to be expected on a day where a fire is raging out of control just miles from the clinic. I never really put much thought into not going to work today though. And I think working at a medical clinic had a lot to do with that. If I had my insurance Admin. Assistant job in Portland and there was a fire downtown, I'd be sleeping in! But knowing that me being there helped patients get seen quicker, influenced me heavily in trying to get to work in time today.

I had to detour around a road block and take a few back roads, but I made it, and was surprised at how many people made it in to work. Allison was being a mom to her two kids, and stayed at a friend's house. Cory was busy spraying his home and neighboring homes with water all day, so he wasn't in. Trish wasn't aloud to travel into the city from where she lives in the boonies, so she wasn't in. Debbie was on fire watch, so she couldn't make it. We had a skeleton crew, but I'm still impressed with how many of us showed up for work. I feel a bit bad about leaving for Seattle tomorrow, knowing what Allison will be going through, but I hear she is coming to work tomorrow, and hopefully she'll be able to press through the day.

Yesterday night, after coming home from taking pictures of the fire, Cody arrived home and said, "Chris, I've got a present for you." Knowing Cody, I thought he meant Ichi had left another corpse out front, and I best be cleaning it up soon. Then I remembered Gina saying Cody was going to go get a puppy. A German-Sheppard puppy. Just like in those Bounty commercials, this dog is freaking cute:

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Her name is Bella, and right now she is barking like a squeak-toy at Cody, who is in the shower. We played a bit, and Ichi swatted at her for getting a little too close. Ichi isn't pleased with the addition to the house, but he was even less pleased when I got home today and found Matt's pit bull licking me in the crotch. If Ichi and puppies don't mix, Ichi and overly-aggressive dogs definitely don't mix!

Before the fire was a lot of fun. Only two of us jumped into the lake, because it was freezing up there with those 35mph winds. But we hiked out to a rock on the far side of the lake, and the eight of us had a good time soaking up some rays, drinking PBR, and laughing a lot. We stopped beforehand for breakfast at The Red Hut, and I'll definitely be going back there before I leave Tahoe. Cheap and yummy.

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I rode up to Tahoe from Davis yesterday morning, and was having a hard time staying alert and focused on the road, so I stopped in Placerville for a quick break. I stopped at a little bagel place, to find a very attractive girl behind the counter who gave me a healthy portion of whipped cream on my hot chocolate. We talked a bit, and it turned out that I wasn't the only one in the bagel shop hungover!

The night before was a good time. We ended at Conor and Kristen's house, with Kristen whooping us at Mario Party. It was pretty close, but she won, the computer got second, I got third, and Conor finished dead last. The cpu stole one of my stars on a battle-game on the 2nd to last turn, *@#$!

Before that, we hit the pool party, and had a fun time playing bouncy-ball volleyball in the pool, followed by a 10-person flippy-cup race. Flippy-cup did me in, but it wasn't the primary doer-inner. The primary doer-inner would have to be beer-frisbee, which I played a few points of while the semi-finals were going on at the frisbee tournament. You touch the disc, you drink. Your team drops the disc, social! You D the disc, but spill your beer? No D, and you drink! Needless to say, we got hammered pretty quickly. We then played fantasy-ultimate from the sidelines during the Finals game, which made it 100x more fun.

I had no idea Conor's team won 13-4, because we were having so much fun picking players each point and rooting for them to make a D (1point), throw a score (1point), catch a score (1point), or for other people to make a turnover (-1point). We created a pretty nice ruckus, from what I can remember. Kristen ended up winning, and ran out onto the field a few times to give her players hi-fives or kisses (Conor) for getting her fantasy points. Silly Kristen.

Before the Finals game, but after beer-frisbee, I swapped massages with my teammate Jen. That hit the spot. We exchanged numbers, and she might be joining a few of us in Grass Valley for the Ani concert and rafting. She's also a rock-climber, and might be heading up to tahoe to teach me a thing or two about climbing. She also started her first day of her Teaching Credential program today--eerie similarities!

The actual frisbee play was a lot of fun, we lost our first two games by 1 point and 2 points, respectively; then won our third game by 2 points. I don't think either team was up by more than 3 points in any of the games we played. Fun times. We threw a crazy defense against Jack's team in the first game, one I sort of invented on the fly.

They only had two handlers: Jack and Kendra, but the two of them could tear up our zone. So we played a zone with one chase. 3 people in the cup, 2 wings, 1 deep, and 1 person to just play man-to-man defense on Jack. It worked tremendously well, and we ran off 4 points in a row to take the lead in the second half, before eventually losing 11-10 on "universe point" where Ed made an amazing juke cut, but unfortunately I was the one he juked, and I was the one throwing the disc to him--doh!

Conor and I had a bet going--he was playing with Kristina, and I was playing on Kristen's team--so we bet which couple would make more assists together. Assists as in Kristen throwing it to me for a score, or vice versa. Hammer or other upside-down throws counted as 2 points. Kristen and I ended up connecting twice on the day, but one was a hammer from yours truly, so we ended up winning the bet. What did we bet? Conor had to be my beer bitch for the rest of the night! Unfortunately, I forgot to take advantage of it at least five times, but finally got a good opportunity during our game of flippy-cup.

The night before the frisbee tourney, I rode down to Davis after getting off a bit early from work. I did a bit of lane-splitting once I got into Sacramento, and zoomed through the parking-lot of cars. I love my motorcycle! We chatted it up a bit--Conor and Kristen had just gotten back from Vegas in the morning--then we went out for pizza at Woodstock's. They didn't have pitchers of beer, but they did have litres! Holy Jesus those things are fun to drink! We had a half-pepperoni and sausage, half Kristen-pizza. Her pizza is sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and pineapple on pesto-sauce. It was amazing. So was the meat side, mmm, best of both worlds, mmm. We finished up at the pizza joint with $2 worth of Family Guy Pinball. Kristen whooped us, and it turns out Conor is a pretty big pinball fan, and knew of "Theater Magic" the game Stacey and I pumped a lot of money into at Ground Kontrol, up in Portland.

After Woodstock's, we played a little 5-man poker tourney over at Conor and Kristen's friends Jon and Liz's house. I started off hot, winning the first few hands and showing my big bluffs, but my supreme strategy of portraying loose-maniac then hitting them with my monsters didn't work. I got riverred twice, and next thing I knew I was playing Mario Golf against Conor for pushups. I lost, and did my 25 pushups like they were nothing *flex*.

We headed back to Conor and Kristen's place, and Kristen was ready for bed, so Conor and I played a 20-round game of Mario-Party for 10-situps every mini-game. I'm pretty sure I came out ahead. Of course, we were drinking too, and that drinking/situp combo is devastating... devastating I tell you.

We also had a big bet going on winning the game, but we both ended up getting beat by the computer. If one of us had one, the other would have had to streak at the pool party the next night. Thank god for the computer.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Here Comes Nevada..."

Amazing weekend, but that will be covered in a different post.

"Here Comes Nevada" is what Matt said when we got home from our hike to Angora Lake today. He was referring to the line of fire trucks, sirens blaring, traveling south on Hwy 50 directly behind our house. They were coming from Carson City and heading to where we just came from.

Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Tahoe Tribune will most likely be updated throughout the night. As of 9:11pm, the first is raging out of control, has destroyed 59 homes, and is threatening one of two high schools in the area. We left the trail head at about 2:30pm, apparently 20 minutes after the initial call to the fire department. We drove out along a ridge between Fallen Leaf Lake and literally a valley of fire.

As of 10:18pm, 165 homes and structures have been destroyed. The worst fire in 50 years. And it has spread to 750 acres. Still Uncontrolled, and moving closer to South Lake Tahoe. Not Good. I hope the cold mountain night slows the fire down. The ridge we drove out on has been engulfed by the fire.
*End Update*

Easily the largest fire I've ever seen up close, it is now over 500 acres, mostly due to the bone-dry conditions and 35mph winds blowing it up hillsides. Hillsides like the one leading up to the ridge we were racing away on. Kristara drove, while Jen and I took turns snapping photos and videos, depending on which side of the car the fire was on:

(if you aren't a fan of foul language, turn the sound off for the first video)

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Some of the images we either couldn't, or failed to capture on my camera. People racing up the trail to alert their loved ones, and the look on a few of the kids' faces, being forced to end their vacations early (this is the place with the week-long cabin rentals, booked a year in advance). We could see flames through the forest, but besides the one amazing video, all of the pictures we took just looked like blurry forest. We saw spotter planes flying overhead, and I thanked my stars we got out of there when we did, because with those 35mph winds, water or fire retardant could have easily been blown down onto us on the ridge.

The roads were orange in places. I might have captured this in one of the pictures above, the one with the white car turning. Ash was falling from the sky from the trail head all the way back to our house--25 miles. The ash was brittle to the touch, and would break apart just like I'd expect fireplace ash to, but the ash falling from the sky today was metallic. Each piece clinked down on the ground, and when I was walking back from taking a few pictures after arriving safely at home, hearing the ash fall to the ground reminded me of a wind chime. I still don't understand how the ash can clink to the ground, and roll around clinking in the wind, yet be brittle to the touch.

Here is the image comparison that gets me:

Last week:

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Poker! Poker! Poker!

Tonight is the first night in a while that I've played online poker against primarily non-bloggers. I've had a $26 token sitting in my Full Tilt account for a while, and I'm never around to use it on Mondays at the Hoy. I used it this afternoon to play in the $19k guaranteed tourney.

My third and fourth hands were QQ and KK. The QQ hand was brutal. Three limpers to me, I raise it 7x the BB. The BB calls, as do all three limpers. (710)

The flop comes As,Ks,Jc. Three checks to the limper to my right, who bets 220. Think about giving up on it right here, but I do have the straight draw and back door nut flush draw, as well as boat possibilities, so I call the small raise... as does the rest of the table. (1810)

Turn is the Kh, which makes the board As,Ks,Jc,Kh. No more nut flush draw for me! The action checks to me, and I think about making a play, but eventually check, realizing that someone has got to be slow-playing an Ace or King. I might get the Ace to fold, but I'm pretty dead to a king.

The River is the Kc. Which makes the board As,Ks,Jc,Kd,Kc. The BB thinks for a few seconds, then pushes with about 1k in chips, which is what all of us have left as well. We all fold. I'm pretty sure the BB had AK, but he could have made a good move on us. He slow-played a few hands in the next 30 minutes, which leads me to believe he probably did have AK. Either way, it was about as bad of a flop/board as you can see with QQ.

The very next hand I get KK. Third to act makes it 160, and I raise it up to 400. It folds around to the original raiser, who calls. (830)

Flop comes Ac,Qc,Js. Bah. He checks to me, and I think for a few seconds and push for 730 more. He folds. If he had pushed, I would have had a hard time calling off my stack with KK on that board, but probably would have grudgingly called. When he checked to me, it opened up the door, so I pushed, hoping he had a small/middle pair. So after QQ and KK, I come out even.

I fold for an orbit, then get AsQs UTG and raise it 3xBB. Both the blinds call. (270)

Flop comes 7c,Td,Jc. SB min-bets for 30 into the 270 pot. I guess he's trying to keep the pot small on a flush draw, but really have no idea, and the BB and I end up both calling. (360)

Turn comes Qh, for a board of 7c, Td, Jc, Qh. Checks to me, and I fire a pot-sized bet. The SB smooth-calls, and the BB folds. (1080)

River comes 9h, for a board of 7c, Td, Jc, Qh, 9h. SB pushes for 950 and I start to mull it over. Seems like I could have the best hand here, but I'm thinking at least half the time I'm beat here by an 8 or K, or two-pair. I end up tossing my TPTK into the muck, convincing myself he has the king. I've seen a lot of pushing with the best hand lately, and it isn't a half-bad play, because eventually people will play back at you with inferior holdings, like I've been known to do on occasion...

I'm left with just over 1k, and on the next hand I get to see a free flop with Ad8c from the BB.

Flop comes 9c,6c,Ah. SB checks, I check, and the next player min-bets. There is a caller and a folder before me, and I decide to pop it to 270, which is probably around the size of the pot by now. And it folds back to me. I could have tried to get tricky, but any pot was a good pot at this point.

A few hands later I pick up TdTh, second to act. First to act limps in, which always smells fishy to me, so I decide to limp as well and see if anyone wants to try and push us around. I like to mix it up every now and then, and liked this spot. If someone did get frisky, I would get to see UTG's action before making my decision. If UTG limp-pushes, I'm definitely able to fold the 10's. Next guy limps, then we get a few folders, and the Cut-Off pops it 3xBB, which is a kind of weird bet with 3 limpers already in the pot. None of the limpers are going to fold, most likely. Button calls the 120, then the shorty SB pushes for 775 total.

There is enough money in the pot already for the shorty's range to be quite wide here, I think. The BB folds, and the UTG limper also folds. I'm pretty sure I've got the best hand, and I am fairly short as well, so I re-shove for 1k. The two limper to my left folds, and the 3x popper folds, but the Button who called the 3xBB raise calls both of our pushes.

When I pushed, I thought I'd probably get heads up with the shorty, but after review, it makes sense that the smooth-call of the 3x BB raise could have a pretty decent hand. Probably not a higher pocket pair than 10's, but he flipped over AK and I winced a little bit. I can see playing his hand the same way. The shorty flipped over pocket 4's, which also made sense.

The board ran out Jh,6d,9h,4s,2s. The shorty more than tripled up, and I got the side pot of 680 chips. Damn booby prize.

Then a pretty weird hand happened. I'm down to 580 and there is an UTG limper, then a 3xBB raise with a call. I push with AdQc in a pretty marginal spot to push, but I'm short and willing to gamble. Folds to UTG, who calls. Doh. Original 3x raiser folds (still not understanding these 3x raises after limpers), but the 3x caller decides to play as well.

We see a hammer flop of 7c,7s,2d--but I'm not worried, cause there are no other bloggers around! Hah! UTG leads out for about half of the pot, and the other guy pushes. UTG thinks for a while and folds. Pusher flips over Jh9s and gets berated by the UTG guy who probably folded a pocket pair. Pusher picks up the 900 side pot, and I get the 2k main pot. Thanks :)

Next big hand I played very poorly.

I'm at 1.8k with blinds at 25/50. It folds around to MP, who limps. I've got the Button, and I pop it to 250 with Ah7h, under my assumption that MP limpers don't have shit. The blinds fold and the limper calls. (575)

Flop comes Qs,9d,Kh. We both check. I'm not really sure why I checked, but I thought an extra card couldn't hurt before the action picked up. And, I didn't have anything, so I guess that is always a good reason to check.

Turn is the 9c, for a board of Qs,9d,Kh,9c. He checks to me, and I try to make a strongish looking bet of 350 into the 575 pot. He min-raises to 700, with only 465 behind. I think he's a tricky player from a few previous plays, so I think he might have read my "strong" bet as weak. I decide to push for 1.5k and he of course calls with only 465 behind... with pocket rockets, and I'm dead in the water. Folding to min-raises is something I've been having trouble with lately. It is either a trap, or a fake trap, and ever folding seems like a big waste of odds, unless you know you're drawing dead. I pretty much was drawing dead to any hand at all, so this would have probably been a good spot for me to lay it down. But, this hand did disprove my "limpers from MP have sucky cards" theory. Damn.

I won a race with As6s against KsTc and got up to about 1k, then pissed it away somehow (hand history isn't there for some reason???).

I loaded up the Double-Double tournies on Full Tilt for the first time ever. Two $10+$2 tournies that have some bonuses for doing well in both tournies. Each had about 1,000 people, and I didn't notice the extra juice until after I registered. Oh well.

Both tournies started out very well. I don't think I showed a hand in either tourney, and was up to 3k in each tourney about 30 minutes in, from starting stacks of 2k. In the "A" tourney, in a four-hand stretch I had AsKs,77,99,AcQc. The AKs turned a flush, and I got a call on the turn, but he folded to my push on the river and I only picked up 730 chips. I probably could have played that hand better.

With the 7's I re-raised preflop and got a caller. The flop came Jh,4c,Tc. Guy checks to me and I bet 2/3 pot, he pushes, I fold.

With the 9's, the guy UTG raises it 3xBB and gets one caller before me, so I decide to call from the C/O, and the BB joins in the fun as well. (375)

Flop comes 7s,Ad,5s and the BB bets 240 with 460 left behind. Folds to me, and for some reason I don't recognize the strength in his bet, and feel (again) like he is making a play at the pot, because he's short and needs chips. The other two folds should have been a bit of warning, but I push hoping for a fold, and he insta-calls with ATo.

Not a huge loss, and I still have 1.7k--but this loose-goosey play against short stacks is starting to become a huge leak in my game.

Very next hand I get AhQd and it folds to me in the Hijack, so I pop it 4xBB. Only the BB calls. (255)

Flop comes Th,3c,4c. We both check.

Turn makes the board Th,3c,4c,Ts. We both check again.

River makes it Th,3c,4c,Ts,6c. He bets out 150 and I call, thinking I'm winning half the time here, so why not? He shows KdJd. I think I played the hand very poor post-flop, and let my chip-spewing mood influence my play--not wanting to lose any more chips than necessary. If a J or K hits the river, I'm probably still calling his bet and losing. Not too happy with this hand either.

In the Daily Double B tourney, I hit trip 3's on the turn after it checked around on the flop. Made a sizeable bet on the river and didn't get any action.

The junk-kicking hand for me in the B tourney was getting dealt AdQh third to act. It folds to me and I raise it up 4xBB. It folds around to the BB, who calls. (425)

Flop comes a difficult 7c,3d,Js. He checks to me, and I decide to check and see what comes on the turn.

Turn brings the beautiful Ah. He fires out 250. I just smooth call. He's a bit aggro, so I'm hoping to get a bit more out of him on the river. (925)

River comes a 6d, to make the board 7c,3d,Js,Ah,6d. He thinks for 20seconds, and pushes the rest of his 960 stack into the middle, and I call pretty quickly. He flips over 4s5d for the rivered straight. Doh. I steamed a bit after this hand. Whenever I look over a hand like this, I always make the distinction between cash and tourney poker. I don't like milking, when I don't have the nuts or near nuts in tournaments. I think tournament poker is about pushing your edges, using your stack to bully. When it comes down to it, I think it is smarter to win a smaller pot when you know you are ahead, then to risk losing your stack by being greedy and trying to milk more chips out of your opponent.

From this point on, in both tournies I pretty much bleed down over the next hour. It was a combination of things, but the first 30 minutes and the next hour were such stark contrasts, I couldn't help but notice. The first 30 minutes I was playing well, winning pots uncontested, chipping up and not showing down hands. Fun, good poker in my book. The next hour was pretty much fold, fold, fold. I got moved tables in the B tourney, and two of the top five chip stacks were seated there, raising every hand. When I usually see this, I lick my chops and try to steal some of their chips--but my stack was so small, they were pretty much committed to call anytime I raised. I didn't pick up any decent hands, and whittled away to push-fold, and lost my flips in both tournies.

The hands I got to play were also very contrasting between the first half and the second half of each tourney. In the first half, I got high suited connectors in good position, low pocket pairs to play along with limpers from late position, and that run of AK,77,99,AQ. Basically just fun hands to play. In the second half of the tourney, I got frustrating hands to play. When I got to late position, I'd have crap hands and facing a raise in front of me. When I was in early/middle position, I'd get hands like Ad2d, 22, A8o, KTo. Hands I wouldn't mind playing from late position, but with a short stack and at an aggro table, it just didn't feel good to play from EP.

Oh well, I did pick up a few things from tonight's play, so that is always a good thing. About halfway through my 19k guaranteed tourney, I realized I forgot to get Indian Fare packets at Trader Joe's today. I went right after work, because it was 80 degrees and sunny, and I needed to get food. I grabbed some lentil soup and more of those yummy enchilada packets, but I have been craving Indian Fare for the past week (and it was incredibly good camping on Tuesday), so that was the first thing on my mental list for Trader Joe's today. It is 20 miles away, and I don't really feel like going there again this weekend, so I guess I'll have to hit it on the way to or from the Reno Airport in the next two weeks.

Any comments on the hands are appreciated, I don't even mind a little bit of criticism, because I know I spewed chips in quite a few places tonight--and would like to stop those leaks!

In other news, this weekend is looking more and more fun as it gets closer. I might be heading down to Sacramento to play in the end-of-league ultimate tourney on Saturday. I'll probably ride down after work tomorrow, because there is going to be a party here tomorrow night, and I'll be hard-pressed to wake up by 7am and ride down to Sacto by 9am. After frisbee, there is the end-of-league party! Stacey and I went to one of these a few years ago, and it was awesome. They rent out a private pool, and we get to play fliers up in the pool, as well as have a limitless supply of beer from one of the breweries that sponsors the league. It is really a recipe for disaster, but it is very, very fun. I talked with DTran, and he might actually meet me in Sacto for both the frisbee and the party afterwards, so it'd be great to see him again.

Sunday, I'm riding back up to Tahoe, and we're having a going-away party for Jen at the lake I visited last Sunday, Angora Lake. The group of 18-22 year olds I saw there last week gave me a good idea for these other youngsters, and I'm hoping to have a good time floating and cliff-jumping (not diving! learned that lesson the hard way!). There has been talk of bringing a mini-keg up to the lake, hehe. Hopefully I'll get some pictures of scantly clad college girls for all you pervs out there. Yes, I'm talking to you. You know who you are. You'll be the guy at work with my pictures on a browser minimized, only to pull them up when the coast is clear.


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World Party / The Record Falls

After I churned out my last post, I was all ready for bed... then Jen popped her head into my room and said:

J: "Beer Pong tonight, you playin'?"
C: "Nah, I've got to work tomorrow at 8am."
J: "Well, I'm working at 7am, and I'm playing."
C: "Bitchnuts, well then I guess I have to play."

I decided that last night George and I would break our current record of 4 games in a row. We ended up winning 5 games in a row before we let other people play. We started off strong, but hit a wall after winning the 4th and 5th games by one cup. Our record streak would probably be around 8 games, because all of the newbies who hadn't played before were up next. George and I didn't want our record tainted for lack of good competition, so we stopped at five.

The highlight of the night would have to be the third game of the night. On our first shots, George and I both sunk our shots in the middle cup of Kristara and Matt's 10 cups. The house-rule we have is that if you both sink your shots in the same cup, they have to drink every cup touching it. The cups are setup in a bowling-pin pattern, so us sinking it in their middle cup meant they had to drink seven cups. 7 cups! In one turn! The only cups left were the 1, 7 and 10 pins. We also got the balls back, because we both sunk our shots, and instead of re-racking, we decided to play it out with the cups scattered wide. I whiffed, and George sunk his shot to make it 10-2 after our first round of shots. We ended the game by both sinking our shots, which meant no rebuttal for them. George and I each only had one cup that round, Matt and Kristara had to drink 18 cups. I think that might be a house record too.

The party last night was also an international affair! We had people from Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and I think Hungary. The ladies were smoking hot, and all of the guys were mellow and cool--not an angry drunk in the building. The world rules.

Hopefully Brandon can get up here after the Series and give us a challenge. Yes, those are fighting words.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Camping with Kristina

Plum tuckered! I am pooped! I had an amazing time with Kristina and the dogs yesterday and this morning. The hike was short and sweet, and after running into three different groups within 10 minutes at the trail head, we only saw one other group the entire hike, who were off in the distance on the other side of Island Lake.

We met up at the Carr Lake trail head, which is just northwest of the Hwy 20/Hwy 80 Junction near Donner Pass. The road from Hwy 20 to Carr Lake was amazingly fun to ride my bike on. Paved, lots of sharp turns--fun fun!

Fun until the pavement ended, and the gravel began. My bike is a street bike, not an off-road vehicle. I got nice and jarred for about 4 miles, not going faster than 15mph. A few of the potholes bounced me up off the seat--I'm not planning on riding any gravel roads again anytime soon.

I actually ended up catching up to Kristina on the gravel road about a mile from the trail head. Coming from opposite directions, we had pretty good timing!

Kristina brought a really nice, big backpack. She had a nice 2-man tent, a stove, dinner, breakfast, dog food, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, change of clothes. I had my college backpack with one shirt, two pairs of socks, a nalgene of Chardonnay, a 1.5l bottle of Syrah, water, cheese, crackers, sleeping bag, water filter. Her pack was probably twice as heavy as mine. I felt bad and offered to switch, but she thinks she's tougher than me and wouldn't allow it. Thinks.

We had a rough idea of where we wanted to hike. There are literally hundreds of lakes up near Carr Lake, and we saw camping spots 100ft from the trail head. We were thinking about heading up to Penner Lake, which is about 4 miles from the trail head. We passed by Feely Lake, which is a big man-made reservoir. The dogs decided to jump in, then we started playing a fun game of fetch with a stick:

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I don't think I've ever played fetch with a dog in water before, good times! We headed further along the trail, and the next lake we hit looked picturesque. It couldn't have been more than two miles from the trail head, but there was a great, shady camping spot where we dropped our packs off and scouted around for better possible sites. Luckily for us, we climbed the small ridge and found an even more amazing lake, which turned out to be Island Lake:

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Kristina thought she saw a good campsite across the water on a little peninsula, so we grabbed our packs and headed over that way. She was right, the site was amazing! It had large, flat spots for at least three other tents, and a big fire pit with downed logs as makeshift benches. One of the nicest camping sites I've ever been to.

We set up camp, then decided to go take a dip before doing some hiking around with the dogs. We swam out to a nice-looking rock about 30ft from shore. I'll call it an island, why not? The lake has multiple islands in it, varying in size and proximity to shore. Why it is called Island Lake, I may never know.

We got back to camp and were refreshed and ready to do some backpackless hiking around, so we headed up towards Penner Lake. We stuck to the path for a while, then saw some nice rock formations and headed over to them. I got a little bit of rock-climbing in, and the dogs had a good time hopping from rock to rock.

We hiked on and found Round Lake, which unlike Island Lake has absolutely no similarity to its name. It definitely wasn't round, so I'm not sure who named that lake, but they did a poor job. Peanut would have been much more fitting. We played more lake-stick-fetch at Round Lake:

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After a dozen or so tosses, I think all four of us were ready to head back to camp and get a little food in. We got a little lost, and ended up on some rather dangerous rocks that cliffed down into Island Lake. Kristina and I had to boost the dogs a few times to climb around the rocks and get back to camp, but the view from the rocks was amazing, and we stopped to take a few more pictures:

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We made it back to camp and I busted out the cheese and crackers, which were enjoyed by all four of us. I would have brought a chunk of salami, but Kristina is a vegematarian, so I spared her my carnivorous ways. It was still yummy, and with Kristina's trail mix, we ended up having a very good snack.

We decided to go swimming again, and we brought the nalgene of Chardonnay out to the rock with us this time. Ended up getting a bit more sun than we thought, but it felt perfect catching rays out on the rock in the middle of a mountain lake. While we were out on the rock, Kristina spied a group of four over by the cliffs we were at earlier. I couldn't see six feet from my face, but I was able to make out a little bit of movement in the distance.

I always find it neat to be able to hear so much further up in nature, with so much less ambient noise. As I'm typing this, I'm listening to some Eric Clapton in our living room. Cody and a friend of George are also in the living room playing on their laptops. The front door is open and I can hear a steady stream of cars on Hwy 50. On the island with Kristina and the dogs, we could hear bits of their conversation at least 200 feet away. Sound also carries much better over water, but I find it so cool how you can be 30 feet away from a friend and talk like they are within arm's reach.

After baking in the sun long enough, free from mosquitos out on the island, we headed back to camp and Kristina started up our Indian Fare dinner while I pumped water. It was my first use of my water filter I got for xmas, and it worked amazingly well. It took me a while to figure out how to connect all the tubes and get the lever to work right, but once I got it setup, it only took less than a minute to fill a nalgene of water! I'm used to spending 5-10 minutes slaving away over a water filter, getting drops of water every pump. I guess those days are over!

The Indian Fare was amazing, even without the usual rice. We added cheese and crackers to the mix to give it a little more character, and two packets filled both of us up. We retreated to the tent to play some cards, I got crushed at Crazy 8's, and lost the massage bet. Then we played a game of knock, and I got wasted and lost the waking up and making breakfast bet. But. But! I did finally play some Chinese Poker, and bet the all-important FOOT massage, and finally won a bet. My last hand I had not one, but TWO full houses, which has got to be near-unbeatable. I did lose my 3rd hand, which had AQ7--losing to her pocket 2's, bah!

We made good on our bets, then decided to catch the sunset from up the hill a ways. It was pretty, and made prettier by our little jug of wine :)

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We failed to drink all of the wine, but it was admittedly a very tall task. We tried valiantly, and both had hangovers in the morning. Hers was worse than mine, because I can hold my alcohol. We decided to pass on breakfast, and I offered to buy breakfast at South Pine in Nevada City in lieu of my losing the breakfast bet the night before. She quickly agreed, and even with our hangovers, we left the campsite at 6:30am, as clean as we found it the day before.

I'm not sure what it is about waking up camping, but unless I really bust my ass the previous day, as soon as that sun hits the tent, I want to get up and moving. Except for me rushing a little this morning, our entire trip was the opposite of rushed. We had so much time, it was great. We didn't have to race against the sunset to setup camp, we got to swim twice, and we had plenty of time to relax and play cards.

South Pine was amazing this morning, but the two-hour ride on a full stomach was not! I made it back to Tahoe by 11am, which left me over an hour to nap before work, which I desperately needed. Work only lasted 3.5 hours, and I got a free Jamba Juice at the end of the day.

More camping this summer!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Bob Loblaw


Jen's moving out while I'll be up in Seattle. This has its pluses and minuses. One of the big pluses is that Matt will be moving in, and Matt is a pretty cool dude. He's the type of guy you want as a friend, because if you're his enemy, he'll be liable to punch you in the face, steal your wallet, the kick you a few times. He's my friend!

He's also got a truck to tow George's jetski down to the water. So I'll be going jetskiing soon. He's also placed a few couches out on our porch, which is where I'm typing this from. I don't know where he got them from, and I don't really want to ask--because this couch I'm sitting on right now is freaking comfortable!

Matt stole a watermelon from Safeway yesterday. It was in a stand outside the store, and while we were walking away from the store with our legally purchased items, he saw the watermelons and snagged one. This wouldn't be that blog-worthy, except WE BOUGHT A WATERMELON AT THE GOD DAMN STORE. I guess the more the merrier, but I just had to question the theft.

I'm pretty glad to be heading back to Seattle just about two months from now, because I can see our house getting a little crazier than I'd like. It also is pushing me to get out and hike like I've been wanting to do. Tomorrow I'm meeting Kristina at a trail head west of Truckee for an overnight trip up towards Penner Lake. Can't wait for the trip, but I sort of wish we could hit a little pub afterwards, which probably won't happen due to me having to work at 1pm the next day, heh.

Expect a few more pictures in the next post :)


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Angora Lake and Echo Peak

Today I got in my first real hike. Mostly in preparation for both the overnight I'm doing this week, and the 4-day hike with my Dad in August. But also, because it was a gorgeous day and I would much rather spend it outside and in nature than cooped up in a coffee shop writing my screenplay.

I woke up around 10am this morning. Rolled out of bed, ate a chocolate muffin and packed up a few things for my hiking trip. I'm all out of bread, so I decided to stop at the store and grab some fruit for my trip. The only fruit that looked good were the plums and cherries, so I picked up a couple plums and a bag of cherries.

After groceries and filling up on gas, I rode over to Fallen Leaf lake. Instead of hugging the lake, I took the rode up towards Angora Lake, which is where Stacey and I hiked a few years back. It is a short mile-long walk up to Lower Angora Lake, then another 1000ft or so to the larger Angora Lake. The place is pretty unique, because it is a hike-in lodging destination. So people rent out these cabins along the two lakes for a week at a time, and get to experience nature, but they also get showers and nice beds. I prefer to just tent-camp and go without a shower for a few days, but I know some people who just won't camp unless there is a shower around--so it is a nice way to get those people outside. They are booked through Summer 2008.

Here is a picture of the first lake, Lower Angora Lake. The cabins aren't too imposing, which is nice. They probably only line 1/10th of the lake at most:

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Lower Angora Lake is a pretty small lake, and although there were a few kayaks around, nobody was swimming in the lake. I was burning up wearing the big, sun-blocking hat Ellen got me, a long-sleeve shirt, and jeans (from the motorcycle ride over). There was a nice, shady tree along the trail by the lower lake, so I took off my jeans, but decided to keep the long-sleeve shirt on for sun protection.

Made my way up to Angora Lake, and I couldn't help but feel a little snobbish in my ways. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I think of "camping" or "hiking" as a trek through the wilderness. No phones, no shelter, water filters, the only food is either food you brought, or food you caught--and lots of switchbacks. At Angora Lake, I'm pretty sure there are phones, there are lots of cabins, there is a gift shop that sells lemonade and food. The gift shop also rents out sea-kayaks for the lake. I just had to tell myself that this wasn't really hiking or camping--it is just chilling in the wilderness. I snapped a few photos at Angora Lake:

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Although I bitch about the Californication of the wilderness, I already knew Angora Lake was like this, because of my previous hike with Stacey. When we went a few years ago, I don't remember anyone else actually being at the lake. I'm not sure if we got there too early in the morning, or if we made the trip sometime other than the summer. But today, the place was absolutely packed. On our trip a few years ago, I remember seeing a sign for a longer hike, but I remember it being a bit longer than we wanted to do at the time. Today, I had all day, and after snapping those pictures at Angora Lake, I went in search of the trail.

I walked around to the south side of the cabins, where I thought I remembered seeing a sign a few years back. There weren't any signs, but I found a trail that looked a bit unkempt compared to the rest of the area, but I decided to take it anyways. It was a crazy trail. It pretty much went straight up the side of the mountain, to Echo Peak, which is the peak looking over Angora Lake. There weren't switchbacks, it was pretty much a climb from trail-marker to trail-marker. They weren't forest-service trail markers, they were hiker-made trail markers--the universal sign for "trail this way!"

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I stopped quite a few times on the hike up, and I wasn't really sure how high up I was going to go. When I was thinking about the hike, I was planning on hitting up Aloha Lakes, which is on the other side of Echo Peak--but I thought there might be a trail around the peak. From the looks of things, I either wasn't on the right trail, or the trail led up and over the peak. I was huffing and puffing climbing straight up the side of the hill, getting blasted by the sun for most of the hike.

The incentive were the amazing views back at Lake Tahoe, which I couldn't get enough of. The higher I climbed, the better the view. After my fourth stop in 30 minutes, I contemplated picking a shady spot to relax and eat my cherries. I gazed up at the peak, which looked a long, long ways away, then asked myself, "When are you going to get another chance to climb this peak?" And it was settled. The peak would be climbed today!

The closer I got to the peak, the more I had to break out my rock-climbing skills. The small, loose rocks and pine needles were replaced by larger rocks, which made for some fun climbing. About 300ft from the summit I remember thinking, "I'm pretty sure my Dad wouldn't like this hike." I had to pull myself up in a few spots, then turn around a lower myself after hitting an impassible rock face.

Here are a few shots from the climb up and the "trail"

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Eventually, I made my way up the tough part, and found an amazingly barren plateau (butte?) at the top of the mountain. Of course, I also found a nice, sandy path I could have taken--but I had lost the path a dozen times, and actually enjoyed the rock-climbing. there were little wild flowers all over the place, and I was a bit confused as to whether or not I was above the tree-line, because there was just one little path of wind-blown trees near the summit. The view from up there was just as amazing as I thought it would be. In one of the pictures below you can actually see four lakes. The closest is Angora Lake, then Lower Angora Lake, then Fallen Leaf Lake, and finally Lake Tahoe. There are even a few snow fields still around up there :)

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Million-dollar views from up there. I wasn't really looking forward to hiking back down the way I came up, so I was hoping to follow a path down the north side of the lake. I lost that trail in about two minutes, and ended up taking just as long hiking down from Echo Peak as it did hiking up. Most of the hike down was spent off-trail scampering from boulder to boulder or sliding down small, loose rocks. I found myself stuck in a weird spot, with a cliff below me, and thick foliage the only way down. That is where I decided to put back on my jeans and tromp through the bushes. There were lots of spiderwebs and ants, which made for a blitzkrieg pace. I felt bad about stomping through nature--I usually try to stay on the trails, but I couldn't FIND the trail 90% of the time! My reward for making it down alive was finding a nalgene out in the middle a big patch of foliage. My guess is that it was left by a skier in the winter, because I couldn't really figure out how it could have gotten there otherwise.

Made it back down to the lake, and was ready to take a dip! I shed my clothes (save my shorts) and walked out into the ice-cold water. Quite a few people were up on the cliffs overlooking the lake, and a few were jumping--so I decided to get my camera (and hat) to snap some photos of the crazies while getting used to the water. For the most part, the people up on the cliff were just looking over the edge, then backing away. A few did jump, and it had to be at least a 60ft drop. They'd hit the water with a THUD. After snapping a few photos and getting tired of waiting, I headed back to the picnic bench and ate the cherries I had forgotten about while up at the peak.

The chipmunks and bluejays were amazingly friendly, and they pretty much took over the picnic table next to me. In the picture below, can you find the second chipmunk??? One chipmunk got interested in the cherries I was eating, and while I was sitting down on the bench, it actually started climbing up my outstretched leg, which got a squeal of laughter from the kids next to me.

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On the way out, I stopped by the little gift shop. I was interested to see how much the sea-kayaks were to rent, for a future outing. I didn't figure that out, because I got side-tracked by some other pretty neat info. I saw a Topo map of the area, and Echo Peak was listed as 8895ft. Angora Lake is at 7400ft, and Lake Tahoe is 6200ft. 1,500ft elevation gain with no real trail is tough! Also, hundreds of people break bones cliff-jumping every summer--just hitting the water. Not touching bottom, not hitting rocks--just the momentum and hitting the water. Ouch!

Jen is leaving us in a few weeks to head back to Mount Shasta for the rest of the summer, so I think we might head over to Angora Lake next Sunday for a little going-away party. I'm bringing a floaty!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Seeking Poker Feedback (+Script Progress)

Well, I spent today being pretty darn lazy. I was hoping to get out and go write some in a little coffee shop somewhere, but I wasn't feeling great this morning. I think I might have a sinus infection or something, because there is a pretty intense pressure on the left side of my nose, way up there. I think it has been the cause of my hacking stuff up for the last week or so.

Anyways, I did get some writing in today. After a few games of starcraft, I fired up Full Tilt and played in a $5 tourney. I've been feeling really good about my tourney game since about a week before Vegas. I got 2nd in the Mookie ten days ago, then 4th at the Summer Classic, then 2nd at the donkament last night.

Last night was the first time I got deep in the Friday donkament, and I had a blast. At the break, we had the top 4 stacks of the tourney at our table--mostly thanks to Waffles inability to flip coins well. There were four of us sitting at M's of 75 or so, so we had TONS of room to play. Not being a cash-game player, this didn't really benefit me too well, but it was a fun experience. I pulled off a few bluffs along with the rest of the table, and hung on to a healthy stack into the final table.

In the last few weeks, I've been willing to gamble, and I've also been doing a much better job at realizing why people make the bets they do. Is that guy in seat 6 raising the three limpers because he hates it when people limp? Or does he have a hand? Understanding why people play the way they do makes it much easier to pick your spots and win pots without showing down your cards--or showing down winning cards.

Back to the $5 tourney today, I worked up a very healthy stack, probably in the top 20, when the wheels started to come off when we were down to the last 100 out of the initial 500. I flopped top two pair and got it all in against a shorter stack who hit his flush draw on the turn. That probably took half of my stack, but I would have a hard time playing his hand any differently if I were in his situation.

I treaded water for a bit, then got into a pretty weird hand at the 200/400a50 level (1k in the pot preflop). Action folded around to the button who had 6k behind, and min-raised it to 800. The SB is chip leader at the table with 20k, who calls. I'm in the BB with 8s6s, and think about pushing, or at least raising. I think the button might be willing to fold, but I'm not really sure what the SB has, so I just call.

We see a flop of Ts 5h 6c.

SB checks, and I quickly bet the pot (1,600). The Button min-raises to 3,200. SB folds, and I opt to call. I think the button could be making a move here, because there is 3,200 in the pot, and he's only got 5k behind, so I call.

Turn is the 5s.

This opens up some more outs for me, and I am pretty much committed to the hand. If the turn blanked, I was thinking about folding. I check/call his all-in for another 2.3k. He flips over JsTd, and I don't hit my 13 outter on the river.

After the hand, I didn't like either my preflop or flop play very much. I also think what makes this hand interesting is the chip stack sizes. We've got M's of 7, 13 and 20--fairly deep in a tourney. The short stack doesn't have much room for play, which in hindsight makes me think his non-all-in re-raise on the flop SCREAMS strength. It is conceivable that the SB had A-K thru A-7 or 99,88,77--and folded to the raise and re-raise in front of him on the flop. But I think if I pushed preflop, I probably could have taken the pot down. The short stack still has enough chips to wait for a better spot than JTo, and really, the SB had been nut-peddling with his large stack since I joined his table.

As for the flop, I don't really like my flop bet. I don't like the size of it, and I think a check might be a better idea. If the Button pushes, I'm probably making a good fold, and if he bets out, I'm seeing the turn for cheaper than if I get check-raised. Although, I'm not sure if I'm folding when I pick up the spade draw on the turn.

Any thoughts on this hand?

After that hand, I was down to about 7k in chips. The blinds went up and I eventually pushed A-x into AA about 15 players from the bubble.

I started up a $2 tourney afterwards, and only made it ten minutes past the first break. Surprisingly, I was only about 50 from the bubble in that tourney too. I tripled up really early on, then decided to have some fun. I tried raising at least twice an orbit. It worked out pretty well until I flopped a set of 4's and got it all in against an OESD on the turn, and got rivered. I was then short-stacked and chopped a hand with JJ v. JTo preflop when T987 came on the board. A few hands later I push UTG with Jc8c and double up against 9d9h when I flopped a J. I was short and was pretty live against anyone calling me, so I went for it. The very next hand I'm in the BB with 8c8s and I push over the top of the CO's stealy-looking raise. He thinks for a few, and calls with QJo and flops a Q. What goes around comes around! :)

As the tournaments were going on, I made some slow progress on my script. I'm up to about 5.4k words. There is no way I'm going to hit the 15k words by Monday goal I set, but I don't mind too much. I am about 99% sure I will finish this script, regardless of whether or not I make 20k words by the end of the month, or even 20k words total. And really, isn't that what it is all about?

The two kids in the novel have now met up with the hermit, and the story is starting to write itself. I haven't really experienced that before. The quirks I've given the characters basically write the story for me, and although most of it is scripted, there are moments where I want to go one direction, and I'll stop and say to myself, "Wait, wouldn't Mel say this? Or want to do this instead?" And it will be something I wouldn't have even thought to write until that moment.

The bulk of the story starts now. How and what I'm going to weave in, I'm not sure, but it just seems like one of those things that I know will work out. The characters are in place, and ready to interact, and the way I've molded them so far can't really lead to anything less than a good, fun time together. I might throw in a few ninja attacks to spice things up (or not), but I'm in a good spot, and it feels good!

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I just saved a chipmunk's life from Ichi's evil clutches. OK, Ichi really isn't evil, he's a pretty nice cat. But, just after I busted out of a poker tourney this afternoon, just short of the money, he brought me in a live chipmunk as a consolation prize.

Thanks, Ichi.

He batted it around a bit, before it ran behind the love-seat we have squished into a little nook in our living room. I sort of assumed the chipmunk would stay back there for a while, because it would at least be safe back there. Nope! Ichi lured it out and played around with it some more, until it somehow squeezed halfway under a little rock seating structure in front of the fireplace. Its tail was sticking out, so I put on my motorcycle gloves tried giving it a little tug to see if I could get him outside to safety.

The tip of his tail came off in my hand, which probably isn't a good thing. I don't think chipmunks are one of those sneaky species that lose their tail to avoid capture. They could be, but I don't think so? Can any animal nerds out there help me with this one?

Anyways, I finally get in there with two hands and grab its torso (gently) and pull it out from little gap it was stuck in. It chirped a few times, but didn't really seem to mind the free ride outside. It was probably petrified, but I looked at it and its eyes were squinty--which could mean one of many things:

-pissed off
-you're squeezing too tight
-you pulled off my tail and now I'm going to die

I'm rooting for "pissed off" or "tired."

I set it down on the plastic table we have setup outside, and it quickly jumped off it onto the porch... where Ichi was of course laying in wait. Here we go again! But not really, Ichi swung and missed a few times, and the chipmunk made it to the edge of the deck and contemplated a swift, painless freefall suicide, or being a feast for Ichi.

I kept Ichi away for a minute, while I tried to get closer to chip-chippity. I made it within grasping distance, when it decided to leap! "Aw crap!" I said to myself. I looked over the rail and didn't see a little chipmunk corpse on the ground, but then I saw it clinging to the side of the porch, on the 2x4 just over the edge from where I thought it jumped.

Sneaky varmit! While I contemplated reaching for it again, Ichi beat me to the punch, and leaned over the edge to inspect, and found the chipmunk just inches away. Ichi batted at it, and it flailed its way down... down... down...


Well, it was just 10 feet, if that, so the chipmunk blinked, then ran under the porch. The chipmunk is still alive, it got a free tail-trim, and Ichi is out on the prowl again.

Win, win, win!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Break Dancing

I'm pretty sure I've shown this to all my friends more than once, but just in case you haven't seen it:


Call To Arms!

Time to let the nerdy/creative side of me roam free. A few months back, maybe in November, I got the wild idea of authoring a sort of play-by-email role-playing game. I would write up a chapter that included all of the various characters my friends created, and then those friends would get to make decisions that influenced the story as I continued to write. From something as simple as: "Egdar walks into a corridor and sees a door to his right, and a door to his left." To more complex actions that involved multiple group members.

It never really got off the ground. I wrote a few chapters, but the response wasn't overwhelming. The structure was pretty flawed, and the people who were eager to participate didn't have much direction in what they should be bringing to the table, which made it hard to get into. This time around, instead of doing a play-by-email format, I'm thinking of starting a blog-version. I will update the story once every week, which should give participants plenty of time to either comment or email me direction for their character. Also, people who are interested, but don't have a persona in the story, can always toss out ideas for plot twists and other obstacles along the way.

I'm not completely sure what sort of setting I want to start the first story in, but it could really be anything from Ancient Rome to the distant future. If there is enough interest, I'll start up a post about a possible setting for the first little story. I sort of want to make the first story short and sweet, so we can all get a feel for the beginning, middle and end of a story--and to also let other people have a chance to join in, in addition to trying out a different setting.

I enjoy thinking about fantasy novels and MMO's, but there seems to be a big gap between my idealization of MMO's, and what I actually experience while playing. On the other hand, while reading fantasy (or even main-stream novels) perks my interest, I don't actually get to influence the story at all. Playing a MMO, I get to be the author of my very own, unique character--the only problems are the limitations the game world has on what I can and cannot do.

This whole idea really came about again because of a conversation Tyler and I had today while we were both at work. I was telling Tyler that I really enjoy writing and reading, but the lack of a social side is a big drawback for me. If this blog-game-story works out, it will be a social writing experience, which I think could be amazingly fun.

Ideally, the blog-game will be a limitless story that I write, but also a story that you as a reader have influence over as it progresses. I'm pretty excited about trying this out, and I think the end result could be a very cool story--one that I wouldn't have nearly as much fun writing by myself, and literally no chance of being as diverse with only my thoughts to make up the story.

I'm most excited by the limitless possibilities, and also by the idea that you can really contribute as much or as little as you want to. You can send me an entire dialog between yourself and another character, or you can just take a back seat and let the story develop without your influence. But the more interaction the better! I'm also thinking that quite a few people will be interested, but won't necessarily want to spend much time on their end--which will be perfectly fine, because there can be a lot of non-main characters in the story (think The Simpsons supporting-cast).

So, if any of you gamers or ex-gamers or just people who read and write in general (Drizz? Tyler? Marc? Tessa+Jrad? Stacey? Pokerbloggerdom??) are interested, let me know so I can test this sucker out! Love, lust, death, dismemberment, backstabbing, honor, justice--I can't wait to explore the studio space... I mean, really... explore the space.


Thursday, June 14, 2007


Today was great. Work has been dead all week, because physical therapy is out of the office. This morning I drove the explorer to work, raced Alison on the 4-star sudoku in the Tahoe Tribune, then my work day was almost over. I won the race, and she gets to bring me a present of her choosing tomorrow. I hope it isn't a lump of coal or ball of lint.

After my two hours at work, I drove back home and Cody and I played a game of starcraft. We stomped the comps, then headed down to Carson City to pick up my bike from its initial service. Cody headed on to Reno for some shopping, while I took the bike for a little joyride up to Truckee.

Like I said in my last post, I wanted to get out and get some writing done for my screenplay, so I found a little coffee shop in Truckee and settled in for an afternoon of writing. I ate lunch in Kings Beach at Jason's Saloon and Grill, and had a very yummy burger-dip and a lemonade to wash it down. The view from the grill is amazing:

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Those photos were taken from the parking lot, just between the beach and the grill. I had my laptop set up at a table and hammered out a few lines on my screenplay, but decided I needed a better spot to settle down and write. I tipped the waiter 30% because I remember Stacey saying something about when you stay longer than normal, it is nice to tip a bit larger because of the extra time you are taking up at the table. Makes sense to me, and I'll try to do so in the future as well.

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I stumbled onto Truckee Book & Bean while waiting at a railroad crossing, so I decided to check it out. It was perfect! There were two separate lounge areas, tons of books, a nice assortment of beverages, and wifi for customers. I went up to the counter and saw they served italian sodas, which I used to have all the time. There was no cherry available, so I went with raspberry, and asked him to put as much whipped cream on top as humanly possible. He took it as a challenge, and this was the result:

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Heck yeah! I love my whipped cream on italian soda combo!

Having hi-speed wireless was nice, but in reality it really cut down on my script-writing. I probably got 1k words in today, but with no internet it would have been closer to 2k or 3k. I chatted with Tyler a bit about starcraft and other stuff, and browsed the internet a bit when I could have been writing.

At one point, I went to check my phone to see if Kristina had called about joining me for ultimate in Truckee (I left her a few messages). She hadn't called, but literally a minute after checking, my phone buzzed and it was her. Good timing! We talked a bit, and she ended up having league night in Sacramento--but she didn't really want to go. I tried to turn on the Chris charm and woo her over to Truckee for some pickup fun, but she flipped the tables on me. She's got skills.

She asked about hiking next week. We had talked a bit about going hiking next Tuesday/Wednesday, because I have a 27hr chunk of time I'm off between 10am Tuesday and 1pm Wednesday. Perfect for a little mid-week overnight hike. We agreed to meet up in Truckee on Tuesday at 11am, and I'm in charge of finding a place to hike to in the mean time. Once we agreed on that, she quickly said: "Well, then I guess I don't have to come play tonight!" It was a setup! I should have known.

So, instead of writing feverishly in my screenplay, I used my surroundings to my advantage and grabbed a few "hiking in Tahoe" books to get some ideas for hikes. I'm thinking not more than 5 miles, and hiking to a lake. There are zillions of options around Tahoe that fit those parameters, but I think I found a couple worthy candidates.

By the time my search was finished, it was frisbee time, so I packed up shop and headed over to the fields. Not one frisbee player. And even worse than no frisbee players, I was ten minutes late and as I walked down to the fields, I see this:

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Field closed?! Ouch. None of the other fields were closed, just the one we used two weeks ago. I tried to call a few people to see if they could look online to see if any changes had been made to the pickup location, but I couldn't get ahold of anyone. I sat around for a few more minutes, and luckily people started showing up, and we were going to play at a few hidden fields off the back side of the main fields.

Frisbee was fun, I didn't play particularly well, but I had a good time. It is always fun to run around and toss the disc. A group of frisbeers were heading to a Mexican restaurant, but I declined and decided to get a quick start on the road home. Kings Beach might be my new favorite town on the lake. The good saloon/grill, and then I came across this gem of a sign while stuck waiting for road construction:

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The ride home was a bit brisk, but still very enjoyable. I was riding in the very last of the sunset, and couldn't resist pulling over to snap a shot:

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Tomorrow might either be a full day or a half day at work, I'm not really sure which yet. Most Fridays, physical therapy is the only thing there in the afternoon--and they aren't around for two weeks, so it might be pretty empty once noon rolls around. I think I've gotten about 8 hours in at work this week, but it is coming off Vegas, so I was happy to have a little breathing room instead of hopping right back in to a 40/hr work week.

Even though I only worked 8 hours the last three days, I am still looking forward to the weekend :)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Time Has Come

I've been putting off writing my screenplay for the last week, and who can blame me, with Vegas and whatnot. But my goal for this weekend is to write, and write a lot. I want to finish it this weekend, and I know that is possible--but I'd also like to give myself some time to breathe. So, a finished screenplay is not my goal, but around at least 10k words is my goal. So I'll be close to 15k words by Monday morning. There you go, 15k total words by Monday.

After putting the story on the shelf for a week, I have a lot better idea of HOW I'm going to get to the place I want to be, and what I'm going to do when I get there. Originally, there wasn't much conflict in the story, and that is all well and good for a boring screenplay, but I'm not really shooting for "boring." I've come up with a few scenarios that spice up the story a bit, without changing the key ingredients.

It was great to bounce ideas off of Jessica and Lindsay this weekend over in Vegas, and it turned out Lindsay is working on a screenplay herself, and she's almost completely finished with it, except for the beginning. I found it interesting that she started at the end and worked her way forward, but it makes sense now that I've written the beginning and realize that the climax seems like a distant mountain peak. I think the part Lindsay is struggling with is trying to recreate that first initial spark of the story, or in the case of climbing a mountain--that first exciting moment you realize you're actually going to climb the damn thing!

Jessica had actually already written a story, and was in the publishing stages if I'm not mistaken. She seemed to have a lot of great help in the LA area, and passed along a few writing tips to me. The one that stuck with me the most had to do with character speech. Writing a screenplay involves TONS of dialog, and it can become a bother writing so much dialog for a story. She said that one of the big critiques she encountered in her first run was that all the characters in her story sounded a little bit too much like her, and not enough like themselves, or who she WANTED them to sound like. I'm not really sure if I'll have time to go back and change all the dialog I've written, but I will make a point of giving each character their own, unique voice.

In all reality, it would be so easy for me to just let my partially written screenplay gather dust. I've done it before, and I'll do it again--but right now I think it is time to get my shit together and write this damn thing. I don't have any big plans this weekend, and I'd like to see if I have it in me to finish this screenplay. Maybe I'll go on a little hike and write in the shade of a tree, or maybe I'll find a little coffee shop or library somewhere around the lake and write a couple thousand words.

I get off work early tomorrow, have plans to go pick up my motorcycle, and then I can pretty much do what I want for the rest of the day. Heading to South Tahoe Middle School and getting some observation in would be a smart way to spend a few hours, but if I don't do that, I really think hopping on my bike and finding a good spot along the lake to write should be my one and only backup plan. If I'm not getting in observation hours, I need to be doing something productive.

I've started thinking about my job search and living situation in Seattle, but those can wait until after this weekend. I've gotten back into Starcraft and poker, but I would like to put those off until next week as well. I'm hoping to immerse myself in the story this weekend, and see where it goes.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Misheard Lyrics - Pearl Jam

Thanks for the link Stacey.

As anyone who has heard Pearl Jam, fan or not, has at one time been confused by Eddie Vedder's lyrics. This video has been made to set the record straight on "Yellow Ledbetter."

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Fun with the Housemates

Fresh off a killer trip to Vegas, I'm not about to just sit around and stew in my room until Seattle and Coast Trip #3. Oh no! I was sent home from work on Monday about 15 minutes into my shift, because of my hacking and sneezing. They didn't want to get sick, and I didn't want to be there--we had a great understanding. I left, went home, and slept from 10am to 5pm on Monday.

That hit the spot.

Today was much better. Got up and worked for a couple of hours, then got home and found that George, Cody and Kristara all had the afternoon off, and were heading to Carson City. Just the place I needed to go! I led them over to Carson on my bike, and dropped it off for its 600 mile service check--you know, the check they do to make sure everything is running smoothly on a new bike. The problem is that this 600mi check is being done on my bike with oh... 2200 miles on it. Go Vegas! Oh well, I changed the oil before the Vegas trip and it should be alright.

We made a few pitstops in Carson, including the Verizon store, Costco and Trader Joe's. My first trip to Costco in a LOOONG time. We just sort of wandered around dumping interesting stuff into the cart. If money wasn't an object, I would have gone ape-shit in that place. Super-large tents for frisbee tournaments, hammocks, xbox360s, ps3's... man, I would totally dig a shopping spree in Costco. I did, of course, get my trademark dozen chocolate muffins. The best buy of the Costco run had to be my spotting of about 300 red "kegger" cups. I probably saved the house $20 on that purchase, because we go through beer pong cups like women go through toilet paper.

Speaking of women, Jen will sadly be leaving the house. I'm not sure when, and I ended up hearing it from Matt, a guy I hardly even know--but she'll be leaving the house sooner or later. That will, for the first time, tip the scales 3 males to 2 females in the house. Once upon a time it was 3 females to me. I'm pretty sure Matt is taking Jen's spot, so it will soon be 4m:2f, which is totally unacceptable. Glad I'll be getting out soon!

We ended up heading down to the beach for a BBQ tonight, which was an absolute blast. Jen, Kristara, George, Matt, Cody and I walked down with all the necessary ingredients for a BBQ: 2BuckChuck, Charcoal, Chicken, Sausages, Corn, Beer, Frisbee, Football. We didn't have any utensils, or plates, but we made do by using the frisbee as a plate, and plastic bags as plates. We rocked it. The chicken was amazing, and it was good to finally get out and toss the football with someone other than Marc, Andrew or Tyler. First time in AGES I've tossed without one of those guys being present. I wowed the ladies with my athletic prowess. Maybe because I'm such a skinny, dorky kid who doesn't look like he could throw a football 10ft--but I was putting on a show in the art of pigskin chucking. And... I needant discuss my frisbee talents here.

We finished by drinking the rest of our beverage of choice on the beach, watching the sun set. I took a nice spot in the sand, leaning up against a post and watched the sun go down for a good 15 minutes. Such a serene feeling to watch the waves crash and have your mind race from subject to subject, trying to make sense of the links.

I get home to find Brandon in the money in the Shootout event. No updates about him yet, but 28 of the 81 to be eliminated before the final table have fallen, and Brandon is somewhere in the remaining 53. Get lucky! Good karma for being such a gracious host the last few days!

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Vegas: Recap

Pre-Trip Report
The Long Road
Vegas House
MGM Mixed Games
Blogger Tourney
WSOP and Beerpong
The Long Ride Home

I had an amazing time in Vegas. I didn't play as much poker as I would have if I had stayed downtown, but I wouldn't change anything with the awesome setup I had at Brandon's pad.

One of the only things I really didn't do that I wanted to do, was play Chinese Poker. Brandon and I brought cards to the bowling thing on Thursday night with Chinese Poker intent, but Brandon left the cards in the car. He then left his ID at the bar. The left his cell phone at the bowling alley. Nice night, Brandon, nice.

I guess another thing on the list that I didn't end up doing was place a few sports bets. I had the chance to at MGM, but it just didn't really interest me that much at the time. There were some good, exciting games going on (I think the M's won in 10 or 11 innings that night), but I was more interested in socializing and playing poker.

I'm happy with the number of bloggers I met and had conversations with. Reading the various posts slowly trickling out, I wish I had made an effort to contact a few more bloggers, but like I said, I'm happy with who I did meet on my first blogger trip, and there will be more to come.

I had an amazing time on Friday night. I got there with high expectations, then those expectations took a bit of a hit when no HORSE game opened up. I resigned myself to drinking at the bar--which isn't terrible, but usually isn't my cup of tea. Then a HORSE interest list started up and BAM 10 minutes later the cards were flying! Thanks Gadzooks for starting that up, I too, got shot down when I requested it the first time.

Mixed Games!

Found that picture on Gadzooks site, it is her, me, and Poker Gnome on our end of the mixed games table.

On Saturday, I couldn't have asked for a better result in the blogger tourney. I had a great feeling going into the tourney, and I played a very controlled-aggressive game throughout the tourney. I think I witnessed a lot of people pushing with hands they didn't really need to push, but felt like the tournament justified a push in their situation. I didn't want to blind out either, and definitely got lucky along the way to score a 4th place finish. When the tourney gets down to such a crapshoot, it seems like stack size, cards, and position are the most important factors, in that order. Grubette played her stack near-perfectly, and bullied with reckless abandon. Mrs. Spaceman played position masterfully, and realized that although she didn't have the huge stack, she had the next-biggest stack, and she rarely missed a raise or a re-raise when she had a good shot to take down the pot. Waffles and I seemed to be playing a very similar game, we had similar stack sizes, and took advantage of our patience as well as our willingness to gamble--and finished 3rd and 4th within minutes of each other.

Saturday night was good fun, and I'm glad I got to hang out with Brandon and friends for more than just an hour in passing. It was also fun to take Brandon's world-championship beer pong belt with me back home. I accept all challenges.

If I had to pick something to change about the trip, I wish I would have had more time in Vegas. Maybe see a show, play another poker tourney or two, hang out at the house a bit more. Even though I took a pretty relaxed attitude the entire trip, I did feel like I was strapped for time the whole trip--and by choosing one thing, I was giving up doing another. I wish I had had time to do everything--but in Vegas that would probably take a year!

As I was getting ready for this trip, a big motivator for me was that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wasn't sure if I'd ever have a chance to make it to a blogger gathering again. After the trip, I know I'll make time for another. I had an amazing time, and can't see having any less fun at any future blogger gatherings.

Until next time~

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Vegas: Trip-Report Part 6: The Long Ride Home

For not having an alarm clock, I woke up surprisingly early on Sunday morning. Right around 5:30am, about 3 hours of quality sleep. I had done a bit of packing the night before, so I wouldn't have to roam around the house picking up stuff and shoving it my backpack.

I was out of the door by 6am, and actually didn't feel too exhausted from the lack of sleep. Under normal circumstances, if I don't have at least 7 hours of sleep, I'm a walking zombie the next day. I only had 12 hours of sleep over the three nights I was in Vegas, and I felt fine. To be completely honest though, I was a bit sick, and hopped up on Airborne about 23 hours a day.

I bungee-corded the backpack onto my bike, and only had to carry the camera, which felt 100x better on the drive than lugging the backpack along. I planned on driving out by Red Rocks Canyon on the way back up to Tahoe, but I got a few nice shots along Rainbow Blvd, so I just decided to make a bee-line for Tahoe.

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I stormed through Indian Springs and Beatty, then stopped for lunch back in good ol' Tonopah. But, it was only 10am, and they didn't serve lunch until 11am, so I settled for some hashbrowns and eggs--which were yummy. Spent about 45 minutes there eating, relaxing and reading the newspaper before I rode on. I snapped a picture of the "Weird Beer Here" sign that I saw on the way down to Vegas. On one side weird is spelled correctly, then on this side it is spelled differently. Weird.

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Between Tonopah and Hawthorne, I had been sort of buddied up with an SUV averaging about 85mph. I did that numerous times on the trip, and I like to have someone relatively close, just in case something goes wrong. Anyways, we were driving along a remarkably straight stretch of road when we come across an army convoy. The convoy had to be at least 25 trucks long, and we passed all of them in one go. It was crazy! I was in the oncoming traffic lane for a good two minutes, riding at about 85-90mph, zipping past humvee after humvee.

Hawthorne is located at the southern edge of Walker Lake, which on google maps is almost as large as Lake Tahoe. Not quite, but it is a pretty decent-sized lake:

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At about this point is where Vegas finally started to catch up to me. I hit a wall about 15 minutes outside of Tonopah, and I felt like I could have just laid down in the grass and fallen asleep. I looked for a little cafe or library in any of the towns I went through, but didn't have any luck. The one library I stopped at was closed on Sundays. I was pretty dead, but when I got closer to Tahoe, and got to ride through the canyon to get back into Carson Valley, I was re-energized.

From now on, I hope to not ride more than 100, maybe 200 miles in any given day on the bike, but for this trip, it was definitely worth it :)

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