Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What was that?

Looked like my poker downswing had started again. Couldn't catch cards, good cards and bad flops, no one respects raises, it was just all coming at once. Then one hand hits and maybe turns it around for me. Have hardly played a hand and blinds are eating me up. Get JJ in middle position and raise 4x to 1000. Big stack to my left calls, everyone else folds. Flop is JJ6 with 2 clubs. What was that? Flopped Quads?? I check and he bets a small amount which I call. Next card is a 9 of diamonds. I check and so does he. Last card is a 2 of clubs. Hoping he is on a club draw I check again. He pushes all in and I laugh as I call and show quad Jacks. That surprised him a bit.

I get moved to a new table and call preflop with 55. Flop is 664 which I kinda like. Checked to a really big stack who bets 2400 into a 1400 pot. At first I was gonna muck then I thought about it. He didn't raise so I doubt he's sitting on a mid to big pair. He wouldn't raise with a 6, not that much anyway. So I put him either on a 4, a draw, or complete air. I punched all in for 10k. He thought a minute and let it go. Later on I took out a couple of short stacks and was on my way. Made it to the money but unfortunately couldn't finish high enough to make it big. Still it was a nice change. Rest of the night was pretty mundane, didn't play much else, just watched some tube.

Tonight I got home early so I decided to make chicken piccata for dinner. I got home early because I had to go to the doctor this afternoon. I went to see my new doctor last month after not seeing one for a good while because my regular doc moved to Atlanta. She wanted me to see a specialist today and get set up for a colonoscopy. YUCK. Well I see the specialist today. We talk, he checks out a couple of things, doesn't like this, better look at that and next thing I know I'm signed up for an EKG and a CAT scan to boot. So I'm looking at a pretty full month this July. Happy 50th birthday to me lol.

After that it was a bit late to go back to work so I went home. I found a decent recipe for chicken piccata a little while ago. It's not completely homemade as I use bottled alfredo sauce as a base to make the sauce. Kind of semi homemade like that chick on the food network, Sandra Lee maybe? I made it a few weeks ago and it turned out pretty good. Today I think it turned out even better. Kinda like the picture without the yucky olives. And I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow, yes!!

Played some more poker after dinner. Started out badly, could not get a decent hand. Played 2 tourneys at the same time and sucked in both of them, one an Omaha Hi/Lo tourney and the other a No Limit Holdem tourney. Then both tourneys changed at once. I started catching some cards, hitting flops and abusing people. Got all the way to the final table in both tourneys at the same time. Unfortunately I bubbled out of the Omaha tourney when my AAK3 double suited lost all in to KJ34. Amazing what some yahoos call with. But the Holdem tourney went very well and I ended up winning it. Not really big money but it didn't suck.

So thats all the news fit to print on my end. Hope everyone is doing well. I'm going to relax with my full tummy and watch a little TV as my favorite show Burn Notice is on tonight. Stay lucky you nuts.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

AT&T is the bane of my existence

Now just from the title of my post one might think I am another I phone user whose call keeps getting dropped. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don't have an I phone. Hell, I don't even use AT&T for my cell carrier.

No, what AT&T does to piss me off happened in the past, some of it very long in the past. What do the companies NCR, Teradata, Alcatel-Lucent, Qwest, Comcast, and Verizon have in common? All came either wholly or partly from a spin off of AT&T. Back in 1984, AT&T was forced to divest itself of it's local phone subsidiaries causing it to spin off 7 Baby Bells like Southwestern Bell, Bell South, Bell Atlantic, etc. Later on they spun off Lucent, NCR, and their ownership stake in Comcast as they only owned part of Comcast. In an ironic twist, number of the Baby Bells have merged back into AT&T in one form or another since 2005. In fact one of the Baby Bells, SBC Communications, (originally Southwestern Bell) actually bought out AT&T but kept the AT&T name for the company. So a portion of AT&T that was spun off from the main company, bought out the main company about 20 years later.
What this means for me is about once or twice a month someone sends in paperwork from a client who has held AT&T forever and still holds shares of AT&T but has no idea of the original cost of the shares. And I have to figure out which shares of AT&T came from the original company or came from shares that spun off from AT&T and merged back into the main company. Tomorrow that is what I'll be spending a lot of time on. Don't get me wrong, I like this kind of research, it appeals to my meticulous side and I'm pretty good at it and have a lot of experience in dealing with AT&T and all of the corporate actions surrounding it. But it is a major pain to take a pile of paperwork and turn it into a legible and accurate cost basis for the client. But enough of boring you all to tears.

On a side note, I want to let you know I start my total with a 3 now. I was running really bad for so long I thought I might never get my balance up in my poker account. I was down to $40 or so in my account before I finally started putting some cashes together. Had a nice score to get me over $150 and have since been slowly building my pot up until I broke 3 last night. Whew, it was a tough go but I'm fairly satisfied and have played decently lately. Hopefully I get it over 4 and 5 and not down to 2 or 1 or worse. Anyway, it's about time for bed. As the wife always tells the kids before they leave the house, Make Good Choices.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a ho hum kind of week

Not much going on in the world for me this week. I worked a lot and played some poker online but nothing much else going on. Online poker has been going much better than lately thankfully and my balance has grown a bit. It was pretty far down for awhile and now I feel a bit more comfortable.

I was happy to see the stock market have some good days this week. I had been looking to sell some stocks in my IRA to raise some cash as I had just about everything invested at this time. Plus I had over 20% of my value in one stock called Cal Maine Foods and I wanted to even out my portfolio a bit. I normally carry 8-10 stocks and don't like to have more than 15% or so in any one stock in case my picks aren't as good as I thought they were. Now the reason I had so much of my stake in CALM was because my investment had done so well for me since I bought it over 2 years ago. Plus they usually pay a good dividend. They have a different dividend policy than most companies in the US. Instead of trying to maintain a set dividend every quarter, they pay 1/3 of their quarterly profit as a dividend every quarter. A bad quarter = no dividend but a very good quarter = a nice fat dividend which I reinvest in more stock.
Wow Australia just got HOSED in this World Cup game against Ghana. Up 1-0 and they just got a guy tossed from the game for a handball. It was a handball at the goal mouth that saved a goal so Ghana was getting a penalty kick but the dude didn't reach out for the ball, in fact he tried to get it on his chest but it was a little to his right and struck his arm and instead. Very harsh to red card the guy (ejection) and force his team to play 10 vs 11 for 65 minutes. Almost as bad as how the USA got hosed yesterday by the Phantom Penalty. Give the guy a yellow card (2 yellows = 1 red) if you must but a red card there is HORRIBLE. And the Socceroos had done so well to get a 1-0 lead early.
Back to the stock market. I have been half and half lately. About half my money in good dividend paying stocks that pay me to wait for the economy to decide if it's going to get better or not. The rest in some more higher growth picks that could make me some great returns but don't pay me much of a dividend. And I made a couple of speculative plays in biotech and solar type stocks that could pay very well. Or I could lose much of my investment (solar not doing well right now) but it's not a big total of my investment dollars. Anyway, if we have another downturn in the market, I now have the cash to pick up some real deals on a couple of stocks I think. I was really regretting not selling some stuff earlier in March or April when my stocks were doing well so I figured not to make the same mistake this time.
In other news, today we are celebrating my daughter's graduation with a party for a number of her friends. I gotta make some food here soon so I better finish this up. I was hoping to go practice some more gunnery today but I don't think I will have time. I'll just play a little online poker, watch a little World Cup and read some of my favorite blogs from Massachusetts like..........Very Josie and Marooned (stuckinMassachusetts). They make me laugh all weekend. Stay lucky you nuts.
Update - Australia ties with Ghana 1-1. Good second half. All credit to the Socceroos for playing 2/3 of the game with 10 on 11. Almost scored twice in the second half and dominated portions of the half. Good saves by both goalies to keep the game even.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Does This Make Me a Bitter Gun Nut?

I forgot to mention I exercised one of the rights guaranteed me in the Bill of Rights this past weekend. I met a couple of friends at a local gun range to try out a few guns. I don't own any weapons as my wife has always been very anti gun. Not her fault, she has seen the dark side of gun ownership and almost got to see a couple of tragedies enacted right in front of her. I have not had the same experiences she has AND I have always thought that a person is responsible for taking care of themselves. For most people, the easiest way to equal things up is to carry a weapon. Personally, if I am armed and feel threatened, I want to have the type of arm that allows me to engage someone from a distance he may not be able to engage me from.

So at the range I started out shooting a .38 revolver. I have been considering buying a gun and for a while and since I am a neophyte when it comes to weapons, a revolver is simpler to use and simpler to care for than an automatic. Anyway, the first 4 shots I took from about 25 feet were about where I aimed them, dead solid in the middle of the torso. If I was actually shooting at someone, they were in serious trouble then. Next shot I tried to hit the head. Not so good. I had a problem hitting the head. I tried again later and kept shooting to the right of the head. I'm sure it has something to do with changing my view on the gun to shoot for the head but I just had problems actually hitting the middle of the head. I put some more rounds through the .38 and had no problem putting shots about where I wanted to when aiming at the chest.

Next I tried a Glock 9mm automatic. Wow, what a sweet gun. The trigger was very light, almost no pressure at all to squeeze off a shot. I had no problem putting shots on the target again when aiming at the torso. Not so good at the head but because this gun held a lot more rounds, I got a few shots into the head. Still I was a lot more comfortable just aiming for the middle of the chest and putting bullets where I aimed.

I finished up by shooting a Glock .45 automatic. Another easy gun to shoot. And since it's a Glock, very light for a .45. A 45 caliber bullet makes a rather large hole in a target and I assume a body if you shot one. It was fun to shoot and didn't kick as much as I thought it might. I really enjoyed myself. After the shooting was over, Chad asked me if I wanted to hold onto the .38 for awhile and practice more with it to see how I liked it so I now have possession of a weapon. Watch out everyone!! I'll probably go by the range one night after work this week or on Saturday.

One last thing I wish to say about guns and then I will leave this subject alone, at least for a while. Take a look at the states and cities that have the strictest gun control laws in this country. Look at Chicago, Washington DC, California, etc. Most of these places have a lot of gun crime and murders. Why? Mainly because the criminals who are armed know their law abiding victims won't be armed. Places that allow easier access to guns suffer less gun crime than places with stricter laws. Seems odd doesn't it? The laws that are passed to protect us from gun violence actually increase our odds of being a victim of gun violence. As long as the gun sellers follow the laws and perform background checks etc on the buyers of guns, criminals won't be buying guns that way. They will do it the way they do it in places with strict gun laws, they will obtain them illegally. So remember people, we are guaranteed certain rights under the Constitution of the United States. Freedom of speech, assembly, religion, etc. Also freedom to arm yourself for your own protection too. Without that freedom, a person could lose a lot of his other freedoms.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weekend Update

Since I took Thursday off for my daughter's graduation I decided to make it a 4 day weekend and take Friday off too. As the girl was wrapped up in parties and the like on Friday, her mother and I were free to take on other pursuits, namely poker. During the day I had a successful run in an MTT taking 4th. I'm half kicking myself because I could have slowed down and placed second in the tourney without much effort. I had really become aggressive when we got down to 5 handed and moved myself up from 4th to 2nd in chips. The chip leader had me by a 2-1 margin and I was ahead of 3rd and 4th by about 3 -1 by then when my knockout hand occurred.

I raised in the big blind with 9-9 and got called by the chip leader next to me. Flop was a pretty 9-10-Q. I check because the big stack had been very aggressive after the flop and sure enough he put in a good sized bet. I put him on top pair, maybe KQ or AQ and hopefully not KJ. I pushed all in for about 5X his bet and he called and flipped over QJ for top pair and a straight draw to my set. Turn was the 8 and I don't pair up. Sucks for me as 2nd place paid twice what I earned but I was well ahead at that point and if I win that hand, I have a 2-1 lead over my closest competitor and can waltz into the final two. I had a good tourney, made good reads and really was pretty happy with my play when we got down to the last 7. I stayed more aggressive than I sometimes do and really pushed people around, even the chip leader, after I showed down a couple of good hands.

So last night the wife and I head up to the local horse track to play rather than the dog track where we usually play. A number of dealers and some players from the dog track were also playing. We got into a 4 table tourney. I start off pretty good and get myself a couple of grand up from my starting stack. The wife can't get anything going. Guy to my right is being very aggressive and I make him pay on a couple of hands. He tangles with an old lady across the table when he reraises her from the small blind with KQ. I'm sitting on AQ suited in the big blind and call to come along as does the old lady. Flop is K-Q-10. He bets and I'm putting him on a K so I fold my AQ. Lady reraises him and he pushes all in. She flips over AJ for the flopped straight and takes out his top 2 pair. And I'm glad I folded even though it cost me a bit.

I get card dead for awhile and the blinds and antes go up. Eventually I'm down to about my 6K starting stack with AQ in the 2nd to act position. UTG is a new aggressive player raises to 2200 when I push all in over the top of him. Everyone else folds and he calls and flips over A9. Flop is an ace, river is a 9 and I'm done. Ace rag takes me out again. And I lose again with AQ. When it's the best preflop hand again. I HATE ACE QUEEN!!!

The wife has doubled up at a new table and is doing ok though still a little short so I go to sweat her. She keeps hangingin in there and gets to the final table. Even though she is 8th out of 10 she keeps playing smart and making good moves. It gets down to 7 people and she is 5th in chips. Tourney only pays top 3. She calls in early position and the small blind raises all in. She has him covered by a little and foolishly calls. I say foolishly because the guy had to have an ace and maybe a big ace. She had KJ suited. He flops an ace and she is down to 1500 with blinds at 400-800. A few hands later she is all in with JJ and beats Ace rag to get a little breathing space. She gets JJ again and triples up as the guy to her right gets short stacked. She later takes him out. Then a couple of other guys at the table decide to get stupid. One guy with a decent stack takes on the big stack on a bluff and gets picked off by top two pair and is gone. The table gets down to four handed after my wife whacks another guy. There are 2 big stacks and her and one other guy with about equal stacks. The other guy makes some chips then gives them back with some questionable plays. Eventually he pushes all in against a flopped flush by the big stack and its sayonara to him. The wife takes 3rd for a $300 payoff and is very happy. So between the 2 of us, me online and her live, we have a pretty good day. So good we are going to do it again in a couple of hours.


Update - the wife did not have a good night at the tables. She played some low limit holdem and got crushed then played in a tourney and did not do well. I was playing Omaha Hi/Lo during most of this and actually had some success. She came by after getting knocked out of the tourney and I gave her some of my profits to play some more holdem. I had taken my original $60 and turned it into 120 so I could afford giving her some cash. I played Omaha for a while longer until the table broke. Didn't do anything else and so I cashed out up about $25 even after giving the wife 25 as well. I went by her table and she was up to about $65 so I sat at the bar while she played.

I was looking at betting on the dogs a little while waiting. I looked at the race about to go off and thought, "I should bet on the 1-8 quinella (picking the top two dogs in any order)." But I didn't and just watched the race. Of course 8 wins as a big underdog and 1 takes second. The quinella paid $87 for a $2 ticket. Oh was I pissed at myself. The wife can see me sitting there from her table and she texts me "what are you so mad about?" I send her back one telling her I just blew $85 and she then understood. Well maybe you should bet some while you're waiting.

I didn't want to blow my profits so I kept it to a minimum but did some betting on Derby Lane and Jacksonville dog track races. Just missed about a $40 quinella on the next Jax race when the 4 dog nosed out the 1 dog at the wire. That didn't improve my attitude. So I decided I would bet $10 on the last couple of races and if that didn't hit, at least I still leave with a little profit. At Derby Lane there wasn't much there I liked so I just bet $2 on a quinella on the 1-8 dogs. If that hits I make about $50. At Jax there was a Class A race to finish the night. Class A races are for the best dogs. Often there is one dog who is a big favorite and some of the other dogs are at pretty high odds. Because these dogs are so good, one slip by the favorite or if he is bumped on a turn can make him not hit the money. So in class A races I have found it is often profitable to take the long shot dogs and hope one wins. This time I put the other $8 on the four longest shots. Wouldn't you know the longest of them all, the #2 dog jumps right out to the lead and holds it all the way through the race. Took $38 bucks on the $2 wager. It was a decent night for me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

To My Daughter

You graduated from high school yesterday. I watched you walk to the podium. Heard them call your name, your whole name not just first and last names, and watched you get your diploma. I watched this beautiful young woman, so confident and polished, and felt my eyes get wet. So many memories collided inside my mind.

I remembered your birth and when you were placed in my arms for the first time. How you were called the little girl with the name that was longer than she was. I remembered taking you to breakfast with me when you were but a few months old. Just sitting you on the table at the Sunrise in your little carrier while I ate. How the waitresses made a fuss about you. As you got older you graduated to a high chair and ate along with me. And the fussing continued, especially when those golden curls came in.

I recalled all the laughter you brought to our house. How your brother was like Martin Luther King and where Yo Land was. How much we spoiled you (and though I blame your mother and aunts, I am as much to blame as anyone) and how protective your older brothers were of you. All of those blond curls that made almost every woman who saw you jealous. Your sweet smile and disposition made you the darling of the family.

And now as you approach adult hood and prepare to go off to college, there is so much I want to say to you. I admire your maturity, so much greater than mine at this age. Hell you're probably more mature than me now when you come right down to it (after all I've never heard you yell at the computer). Your mother always told the boys "Make good choices." You have always done that. I worried about the boys getting into trouble as teens but my only worry about you was that someone would hurt you. And I will always worry about that.

I wish you all the joy and happiness you have brought to your mother and I. I wish your college years to be fun, rewarding, interesting, and educational. I trust that your good sense will guide you and your willingness to work hard will make you the successful woman I'm sure you will be. Your mother and I are so very proud of you and your achievements in high school. We were so glad to see how you blossomed this past year. And we so look forward to seeing what you will become in the future.

You think you want to become a pastry chef and if you do I'm sure you will be a fine one. But you have choices and if you decide this is something you don't want, the world is full of things you can do. Remember 2 things as your life continues to develop and you will be fine. One is that change is inevitable. Just when you get most comfortable with your life, some change will occur to turn it upside down. Accept and embrace the changes and you will find more opportunities in your life. The second thing to remember is to never stop learning. College won't teach you all you need to know, it will prepare you to learn what you need to know. As long as you continue to learn and apply what you learn, you will succeed in whatever you do. Enjoy your time in college. Your mother and I will really miss you, I think it's just sinking into me now how much I will miss you. But you will learn so much about yourself and will meet so many different people there. If it is anything like my college years, it will be the best time of your life. Good luck Sarah and never forget, no matter what happens, you will always have a place here. I love you.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nice ends at Midnight

The above title refers to a line from one of my favorite comics Bill Engvall. He was talking about some guy dating his daughter and calling for her late at night. His wife said "Now Bill, be nice." and that was his response. I'll tell you where this links up in a moment.
I'm tired this morning. It was a hard week at work, systems were down at times and made it hard to do all I had to do. Luckily it was a 4 day work week as I don't think I would have made it another day. So last night, actually early this morning, I've nodded off in my Triptophan recliner when the phone rings. Now it's after 2 am. I look at the caller ID and it says Private. My wife's grandmother has her phone set up to say Private so I'm afraid this might be a call from her. She is 93 and has spent some time in the hospital lately so this could be an emergency. I answer. Hello. Helloooo. Now I'm getting miffed. No answer at all. So I hang up. Of course the call has woken my wife. I told her about the (non) call and we wonder if it was her grandmother or not. And we head up to bed.
A couple of hours later the same thing happens. Now I was really out that time. I was not Mr Sweetness and Light when I answered. And absolutely nothing on the phone. I was too tired to be too pissed off to sleep. Of course the dog gets me up about 8:15 to take her out. A zombie walking a dog, nice picture there. So I'm sitting like a zombie in my chair again and about 9 the phone rings. Private again. This time I'm thinking it probably is my wife's grandmother. So I answer. After a pause some guy asks "Is Christina there?" Like an IDIOT I say "There's no one named Christina here". I'm sure it was due to sleep deprivation or something. What I should have done was tell this moron that she was out for the day and to get his number so she could call him at 7am. Then while he was sleeping tonight, call him every 2 hours. Then call at 7 and ask him how he feels. But I'm not vindictive or anything.
Anyway I'm up and about after a fashion. Watching the French Open Women's Finals now. Two gals I don't really know playing. I do know the Aussie chick Stosur has bigger shoulders than me. She is strong looking. Maybe a little bigger than Venus Williams. I don't think she is gonna win though as the other chick, Schiavone, who is from Italy? is making a few more plays. And Shiavone won. First Italian women in the open era which is the last 40 years. My question is, why did a bunch of her supporters have shirts that read "Shiavone A reason to believe" or something like that IN ENGLISH. Why not in Italian or even French since this is in Paris? Why English? Weird
So I hope y'all have big plans for this weekend. Mine aren't big but will include visiting the local dog track/poker room to lay a bet or 5 down on the Belmont. Gotta do a bit of research on that. Also play a little poker I hope. Have a great weekend all. Stay lucky you nuts.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hooray for Hollywood

We were talking a bit at work today about movies that surprised us with how good they were. Most of these were movies I had seen though not in the movie theater. One movie that all of us really liked was a Michael Myers (pre Austin Powers) flick called So I Married an Axe Murderer. We all agreed this was a surprisingly good and funny movie. Had some really funny moments. Co-starred Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia and Amanda Plummer. Terrific cameos by Alan Arkin, Steven Wright and Phil Hartman. Anyway this got me thinking about other not so well known movies that turned out to be so much better than I expected and now are movies I will always watch if they show up on tv.

First and foremost is a funny shoot em up called Snatch. Written and directed by Guy Ritchie while he was married to Madonna (but I won't hold it against him) and it stars Jason Statham. Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro and Brad Pitt also have smaller parts in it. Very funny if you can get by the English accents. If you get the DVD I recommend using the subtitle function the first time you see it. Ritchie likes to use the same actors on his movies so if you get a chance you'll want to see Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels which is also a pretty good movie.

Another movie I truly enjoy is a small movie called Nobody's Fool. Actually there were 2 movies with that title that came out in the late 80s and early 90s. The first starred Rosanna Arquette and Eric Roberts. Bleh. The good Nobody's Fool starred Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith. Also in it were Josef Sommer, Phillip Bosco and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Terrific movie, funny, sweet, sentimental and reminds me a lot about growing up in the Northeast. The guy who wrote that also wrote Empire Falls which HBO did as a miniseries. Paul Newman had a big part in that one too along with Ed Harris.

Kelly's Heroes - Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, your Love Boat Captain Gavin McLeod and a young Harry Dean Stanton. A number of other guys you'll recognize but not know their names like Stuart Margolin (Angel on The Rockford Files) and a cameo by Carroll O'Connor. A funny war movie that is just enjoyable to watch.

I believe I talked about In Harms Way before so I won't go back into that one. My last movie is the remake of The Italian Job. Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham, Seth Green and Edward Norton. Great double cross movie. Fun and just very watchable.

Those are the lesser known movies I love to watch over and over again. Just ask my wife. What movies do you make sure you watch if you see it's on the tube?