Saturday, December 29, 2007

Poker Braggin'

(Recycled stories from when blogs did not exist. THAT tells you how long is has been since I've won in poker, and how my luck truly is.)

I have a friend that has an all night poker game at his house, in his garage twice a month. It is a friendly game, which might translate into only losing pride instead of pride and money. I am not sure, because out of the five or six sessions that I have participated in, I have not come away a "winner" per se. Not that I do not have a great time. It is more like a meeting of The Knights of the Bullshiting Table, which, wherever a table like that exists, always has my name on it. Actually, "friendly" game means the pot limit is five dollars. Even so, I once had to hand someone $8.50 in chips. This is the pride vs. pride and money thing. The amount is not that significant, but the competitor that spend some time amassing that fine stack of .50 chips had just been gutting. Not only was I gutted in the hand, I was gutted for the game. At that point, we only had about 90 min. left to play. Time only for partial damage control at best. Oh, and let me tell you, getting spanked like that ... your next three hands are a haze, because you're still duct taping the wounds from the hand that made you feel you brought a knife to a gun fight.

Personally, I take my ten dollars in chips, and make them last around six hours. Granted, before I leave the house, I have to make sure I have my original ten for chips, and an extra ten in "I can't believe it's only been 90 minutes" money. In addition, I leave the table with six to eight dollars of my original ten, even when I have had to take back extra money I've put in. That basically means that when one of those bastards takes a wrecking ball to my winnings, I can tighten up and do some recouping. (see above)

For the majority of my games, I have noticed a winnings pattern. I lose and lose and lose for the first 90 minutes. Then, I come back. Not big, but steady. Then, the wrecking ball comes late in the night. (And no, I will not do a study on amount of beer vs. amount of winnings. Some secrets of the universe are best left ... blurry.)
We always play on Saturday nights, unless it cannot be helped. I, myself have never attended a Friday night game. Thankfully, my schedule has prevented this. I wake up at 4:30 AM, and going until 2 AM the next day is just tugging too hard on both ends of the day. Still, cards wait for no man, and everyone could make it on Friday. Also, if you want a regular poker game, you honor the host by attending reliably. It would not be right to ask him to organize games, only to have to save his night only to cancel again and again.

I tried to nap that day, but it wasn't happening. Probably because I kept thinking about how tired I would be if I did not get a good nap in. I did not want to do coffee, because I did not want to rush my game, either. Guess I'll have to have the caffeinated beer.

I did not really pay attention to what I had with me, because it had somebody else's name on it. The only thing I really do for myself is make sure my second ten comes in five's, so I can let go of my money in smaller pieces. I did get a glance, and I think I had $24 in my pocket.

I started the game off strong. I lost the first two hands with really good cards, and won the third with great cards, getting my money back plus extra. There was no 90 minute dip this time. My middle game was better, just because I made a small improvement on when to move with medium cards. I was being handed bills, along with chips. (and snacks... mmm snaaacksss... And beer. mmmm beeerrr...)

Well, the wrecking ball awaits no man. In just a few hands, the fat wad of ones and fives in my pocket was gouged clean through, as well as a good portion of my chips. Without going into game detail, we have games with a "guts" rule, meaning that if everybody bails out, and you are caught with the best of the crappy hands, you match the pot. (Should be changed to "Mike's Guts Across The Table.") Five of those hands in a row got me.

There were no more big wins for me that night. I held steady, took some small pots, and in the name of self-entertainment, challenged someone so they could not go out. (When you go out, you get the pot, blah blah blah.)

End of the night, we are cleaning up. For the last hour, I was proped up by my elbows, and people kept having to ask me to continue. We ask each other how the other person did. I did a quick flip of my money, and saw only ones. I was handed $11 at the end of the game, so I assumed that I made a buck. So many bills came and *sniff* went that I did not even want to look. (There is a moment between eleven and midnight every game when I quickly get to a point where it would have been best to leave. The rest of my nights are usually me defending my pile those vultures slowly pick at.)

I usually stay up there, and sleep off my beer gains and wage losses. After getting ready for bed, I took my money out, and counted it. It seems that behind those ones were THE TENS that I could not see. I came in with $24. I left with FIFTY FRICKIN TWO DOLLARS!!! I could not believe it. That would mean that I more than doubled my money even after taking my slow beating. I did not even think about how much I would have had if I kept everything, because in this game, there is no keeping everything. Up until this point, there was only losing by less. I mentally backtracked just to be sure. Competition wise, if I took my winnings from this night, and divied them up between all my other nights, instead of being down a few bucks each game, I am now up a few bucks each game.

At the moment, I like this way better ...

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Friday, December 28, 2007


Today, I received the report:

My Car Is Terminal

I bought my car in 1992, but it is a 1989 model. A Suzuki Swift to be exact. What that translates to is a Geo Metro with a 4th cylinder to be exact. I call it a “Geo Metro with issues.” Before I discuss my current car, I have to discuss my past cars, so that you understand both me and my car better.

When I graduated high school, I was given $2,000 to buy a car. I had no idea that this money was coming. We grew up in an apartment, and not only were we poor, but my single mother was shady. I had no reason to price any car other than “on it’s last year.” When I saw the account with $2,000 in it, it was beyond me. I knew I could get something small and reliable, but I had no idea the difference between one car and the next. I tried to shop, to compare, but I would go to people’s houses I found in ads, and just go through the motions. The car I ended up purchasing I bought because I was forced. A job for which I had been training for two months had its final exam coming up the next night. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was to buy the car we were on our way to buy, or I would not have a way to my final exam. The guy told me, “It’ll be okay, as long as you don’t drive it rough.” (This means, “Sign this release form, in case you accelerate.”) It was a Datsun B210. It was crap. It started costing me in repairs at the end of the first month. I had a car.

While it put me into adult debt, when I sold that car, it was getting five miles more per gallon than when I had bought it. My next car was a 79’ Camaro. As bitchin’ as a Bitchin’ Camero may sound, after only a few years, this car gave me a bill once every six months that was always over $500. I was going to college at the time, so I was not making much, so this put me much further into debt. People liked to look at it, but it was very reliable… for that $500+ bill every six months. Now, I got this car repaired across the street at The Pep Boys because of convenience. After a time of doing this, I heard rumor that they took people’s cars for joyrides. I quit going there after they once changed my battery, cause Haus was told that my battery was weak. When they found out that my alternator was not charging my working battery properly, they tried to dodge their responsibility by saying, “It’s too late. We’ve sent the batteries away.” After going over their heads, we walked 30 feet to a side room in the garage, where I was actually able to pick out my battery from this liar’s line up.

Each of my cars did not last 100,000 miles. Not even close. To shop for my latest car, I went to used car lots. This was an experience in itself, but I wanted something close to the present year, and something with an ounce of warranty. I found an economy car, three years old, 39,000 miles on it. It was a stick, and I had never driven stick. I literally had to finish buying the car, then drive it to my second job. Leaving my second job, I had to shake off the tired at 2 AM, and figure out how to operate the world’s most sensitive 1st gear. (I got a ticket for running a red light, because one night, I was too tired to get stuck at a red light trying to learn how to get this car into 1st gear.)

Now, in a car that used to get 35 mph, now getting 25 mph, after getting 210,000 miles out of this car for which I paid $5,500, it is time to get a new car. Almost twenty years later, I still don’t know shit about cars, other than I LOVE air conditioning, and I am tired of unfolding my huge frame out of a tiny, metal box. Not only have I gotten my money’s worth out of my current car, this car made up for the lack of money’s worth on my other two cars. I’ve outlasted the SUV period, and got myself to the border of the fuel economy period. I got myself out of debt, and was able to save up at least 75% of the money I will need to get a car that I get to choose, instead of letting my budget choose. I would purchase another Suzuki if they all weren’t so boxy on the inside. (I’m a jacket size 54, so I need shoulder room.) Now cars are coming with Bluetooth technology (when cars used to only have longtooth technology), and many of what used to be perks are now standards. Now, they have auto dealerships that do not force you to haggle (which is almost always a losing deal for the customer, because those sharks do that for a living).

Helpful tip: When you are with a car salesman, you can, at any time, request to see their list price on documentation, and they have to show you. It is law. This means that you get to see what the company paid for the car. Then, offer them that price, and see where they go.

Some financial bullets that I dodged in my last couple of years of owning my current car are: "If you haven't replaced the struts by now, you need to replace them." First of all, anytime someone says, "Well, you probably needed to replace them anyway," they are full of shit. Either they are trying to sell you a repair that you do not need, or they do not know how to fix cars, and just take guesses. I have dealt with both situations. Once, some mechanic thought he could just keep "repairing" stuff, and see how my car does. Even if I did own a $$$ Tree, it was NOT for him. The later happened with the struts on my car. The struts on an economy car are like the shocks on a normal car. I had gone to an alignment place, a smaller name, to just get my alignment done. Seemed like a real nice place. At the bottom of my bill was some repair suggestions. Now, any other suggestion on that invoice came with two things. One, an explanation as to why the repair was actually needed and two, the cost of the repair. When I looked below that, and it said, "Replace struts." there was no explanation and there was no price. When I looked up to ask, the guy was gone. The secretary had to call him back to inform me that this mysterious repair "that I should get" would cost $800. On a fifteen year old car? On something that wasn't necessarily breaking? BS! Then there was the front axle. Okay, that actually is making a racket, but only when I do a sharp u-turn. That might actually go. And the final straw, the head gasket is letting gunk into my whatever. Even my trusted mechanic said, "Engine too old. Cost too much. $700." Before I end up by the side of the road, I am going to start doing my research.

I will keep you updated, as long as I cannot get somebody that knows what they are doing to do this for me. Then again, considering how much I huffed walking up that hill, that car's heart might be medically tied to my own.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Goats Are Pretty

*This is a review I posted at TheFullPint.Com*

I am here to write the first review of a homebrew. Now, you might be wondering, “How can you write about a beer that nobody but a select few has ever tried.” My answer to that? I have complete faith that one day, despite the brewer, it will be available for mass consumption. More to the point, I have complete… who am I kidding, I have complete faith that this is a Hail Mary thrown to get the brewer off of his ass, and back to the still.

A few months ago, my nephew came to visit me from Alaska. My nephew is a woodsy, hippie, with white-boy dreads put into whatever you call one of those caps. He’s tall, has facial hair, long, lanky limbs and wide eyes. When he walks, he reminds me of an Ent form Lord of the Rings. He had recently opened an Ethiopian restaurant in Fairbanks, (seriously) and used his first month’s profits to take a road trip. (He drove… A CAR… from FAIRBANKS… to SAN DIEGO… based upon his profits from… an ETHIOPIAN restaurant he OPENED …in Fairbanks, Alaska. Just want to make sure that nobody thinks that I am writing two different stories at once.)

So, he brings me this jumbo-sized bottle that holds about 36 ounces. There is a good amount of sediment in the bottom, which is tells me is good to use to cook steak. He pours me a pint of this, and I taste… and, I hold. I swallow. I blame my day for being so impressed, so I do it again. I taste… and I hold. This time, I look at him, because I have talking eyebrows that can say, “What the fuck…” while I am drinking.

You see, I had just had the best beer I had ever tasted. THEE best beer. No, no. Beyond the best “beer.” The best DRINK I had ever had. Even if someone hated beer, they would love this, and immediately upon tasting it, find six separate ways to express it. This beer is like drinking a filet mignon. You sip it, and you hold it, because like a woman with a strong and willing throat, you do not want to let go. Not ever.

Skipping ahead in time, I call both his brother and his mother. I ask them if they had ever tried his beer. Both of them had the same answer. “I’m afraid to.” Remember above, when I said “he’s always like this”? Well, I really REALLY meant that. He does wacky things, and always takes the wacky route to do them. Only recently, have they been paying off. His family had assumed that he would add wacky things to his beer, like mint, or diapers. (Not used. Don’t be sick!) Discretion being the better part of valor, as well as avoiding nausea, they had opted for, well… anything else.

Back to the beer at hand. As well as being the most incredible thing I had ever tasted, it was also incredibly strong. I have to tell you, I am over 300 pounds, but one pint of this beer made me loopy. More than buzzed, less than drunk. I am convinced that nobody needs more than 1 ½ of these beers.

After my second beer, I was officially drunk. Not sloppy, not messy, but sure as hell in the “wow zone.” I was chatty. I was happy to have family again. Two of these beers were more than enough for anybody. Nobody in their right mind would have a third.

Had I been in my right mind, I would have never poured that third and final pint. But, I wasn’t, and my nephew might as well been wearing a red hemp suit and sitting on my shoulder. BOTH of my shoulders. (Despite my state of mind, this drink was STILL the best damn drink I had ever had.) I was still chatty, but my voice sounded like two voices. I could see, but if I did not flex my ocular muscles, then I saw in two voices, too. (Don’t ask.) It was the last of that beer I have had to this date. I miss it like a phantom limb. It felt like so much a part of me, that sometimes I can feel it there. Then, I get in the car and drive just fine. I weep.

Back up again, to the phone call to my sister, his mother. I tell her, “This beer is so good, so DAMN good. There are not enough words to explain how good this beer is. Why did he open a restaurant when he could just open a bottle? Also, this is the strongest beer I have ever tasted. It’s strong, but unlike other strong beers, it doesn’t have that rough, whiskey kick. It’s so smooth, the alcohol sneaks right passed you. One moment, you are a normal person. Next, you’re thinking ‘Gee, goats are pretty.’ You drink this beer, you date a goat, and you even brag about it”

And THAT is where I got the name of this beer, “Goats Are Pretty.” It is so good, so smooth, so strong, it will make you think that goats are pretty.

I hope that he reads this, and hope that it inspires him to make more, and mass produce it. ZACH? YOU HEAR ME? YOU COME BACK HOME! DO WHAT YOU DO BEST. YOU QUIT MIXING RICE WITH STUFF, AND MAKE UNCLE SOME BEER. MY LOVE IS READY TO BE BOUGHT.

Wait, wait. I forgot to make this TheFullPint.Com friendly.

Appearance: Love at first sight.

Aroma: I forgot. My nose had a black out.


Mouthfeel: WHAT? C’mon… this isn’t even a real question.

Drinkability: You could put this in a baby bottle.

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