With the recent economic downturn, the social issues I hate the Conservative government here for have been shoved to the back. Since the election, the financial aspects have started coming to the fore. We've been lucky in that Canada's economy is relatively very strong compared to the US, UK, etc..
But the finance minister unveiled his "economic update", not quite a budget, the other day. In it, he proposed some deep spending cuts in order to avoid running a deficit, and said there'd be no economic stimulus from the government with the current conditions. I was shocked... someone did the right thing! I wasn't a fan of cutting the political party subsidies (they're part of a campaign finance reform idea that allows smaller parties to compete without becoming beholden to special interests), but the general idea was good.
I disagree with the idea that the government HAS to spend and bailout (obviously) to save us all. I'm not against investment in infrastructure, education, and health care, as these are things that build a stronger future and are forward-thinking. But handing money out is idiotic, and running a deficit does nothing in this climate. The argument of "it worked in the past" is complete crap as far as I'm concerned. We might as well resurrect trepanning for the mentally ill, because it "worked" in the past. That argument is a short-sighted view that ignores the larger global picture and doesn't look past its nose in either direction.
Regardless, the problem I have is that the other parties have picked NOW as the time to join together and stand against the Conservatives. The reason - the cut in public funding to the parties. This is odd, because I actually agree with their stance against this (again, I think it cuts back special interest money), but the result could be ugly.
What this means is that if the opposition parties vote against the update, the government could fail and we go back to the polls less than month after the last election. Plan B is a coalition government forms between the Liberals and NDP with the support of the Bloc to overtake the Conservatives. This avoids another election but creates an even more unstable leadership. Plus, it gives the NDP FAR too much power, and the Liberals have a leadership hole themselves at the moment. We'd be looking at deficits and overspending almost immediately. Of course, the Conservatives would oppose their budgets and we'd back to square one. Unless the Liberals can contain the NDP and stick to a center-right budgetary ideal that the Conservatives can live with.
So by Monday, the Conservatives have to find a way to make this update more palatable. If the major stumbling block is the cut to public funding of the parties, then that could be removed relatively painlessly (about $25-30 million). The $2.3 Billion in sales of public assets however, that could be a trickier stumbling block as it stands a rather large one-time windfall, and the assets have yet to be identified. But if history is any indicator, when the Conservatives sell something, they sell the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time with horrible long-term results for the public good.
So I'm between a rock and a hard place. Avoid a deficit and bailout or possibly regret the fallout from cuts to party funding and asset sales?
Friday, November 28, 2008
With the recent economic downturn, the social issues I hate the Conservative government here for have been shoved to the back. Since the election, the financial aspects have started coming to the fore. We've been lucky in that Canada's economy is relatively very strong compared to the US, UK, etc..
I find a recurring theme in the news these days both disturbing and encouraging.
It seems that business after business is failing due to lack of cheap credit. Small business owners claiming they can't continue without cheap money to borrow. Large businesses (thing automakers and natural gas producers) desperately seeking money from the government or stock or debt issues.
Let them fail.
ANY business that RELIES on loaned money to survive is a horribly run business.
A startup often needs loans, venture capital, or investors to get going. In the past, this meant these businesses were seriously vetted and examined for commercial viability and investment potential. But with low rates, some of the dumbest ideas could get loans. It's very reminiscent of the dot-com days, where moronic plans like "a site where you can manage your little league roster" would get millions in financing without actually having any sort of real business plan.
These loans are supposed to pay for things like real estate, product development, marketing, and other high-cost expenses that are necessary for growth. The idea being that once those were taken care of, the business would make a profit and the loans would be paid off, allowing the business to sustain itself and grow organically until the next big expansion was necessary.
But over the last few years, companies of all sizes stopped using credit to expand, but to run day-to-day operations. You should never be paying your staff with borrowed money. Rent should be coming out of revenue, not loans. At the end of the day, you should be able to say "if this loan dries up tomorrow, I can survive by making cuts to expansion plans."
So when a company like GM, or Chesapeake Energy (largest Nat Gas producer in the US) suddenly finds itself broke because credit has dried up, I feel no pity for them.
The root problem lies with the constant drums of growth and expansion being beat. Contraction is a bad word apparently. Keeping steady profits is as bad as losing money it seems. Because of this, companies lose sight of what it is they're supposed to be doing.
So it's disturbing that so many businesses exist only because they could borrow money to stay afloat, but encouraging that they'll either have to become more efficient or go away.
Unless the government bails them out of course... then nothing gets fixed.
So I went to a regularly great restaurant in Toronto last night - Southern Accent. Tasty cajun/creole place that I've been to a few times without ever being disappointed.
Last night's special? Turducken with 3 stuffings (cornbread, oyster, andouille), boubon and Grand Marnier yam gravy, gruyère brussel sprouts gratinée, cranberry citrus compote, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
Add some red lentil soup as an appetizer and crème brûlée for dessert and I was stuffed afterwards. The bourbon sours were good too.
Hope your Thanksgiving dinner was just as tasty.
In other news, my connection at home is still wonky. I borrowed a friend's laptop and that works just fine, so there has to be some interference between my router and PC. Moving the router a couple feet closer helped a bit, but it totally throws off my kitchen. I guess I'll just have to go warwalking and find out who the hell set up a wireless network to interfere with mine and kill them... or wrap their place foil.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Here's where I babble about various technological gripes I have at the moment. Feel free to skip.
A few days ago I noticed some seriously dodgy signal quality from my new router (I still weep over the loss of my A1 revision with its green lights). I first attributed it to the numerous torrents I had going at the time and thought little of it. But then the torrents were done and the crappy connection continued. I checked the router connection and discovered it was there. Then I checked the logs. Lots of these gems:
Blocking incoming TCP request from xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:xxxxx to xxx.xxx.xxx.xxxx:xxxxx
Odd. Was someone trying to connect? Those were weird addresses. Hmm. Plus, with MAC filtering on, and my vertical placement (ie.- 7 storeys up), I figured it was unlikely a hack. After fiddling with various settings, and annoying a table at Stars with my constant disconnects, I gave up for the night. I returned last night with further research (difficult to do with a shitty connection) and found it was likely old torrent connections still trying to access my now closed downloads. I tuned on WPA2 along with the MAC filtering and the problem seemed to lessen. The log entries were still coming in, but now weren't able to fuck with my connection as much. I expect these will lessen over the coming days (especially with my router currently unplugged while I'm not home) and reliability will be restored.
I think I mentioned my desire to pick up a PS3. This is pretty much 99% for use as a Blu-Ray player. I'd much rather a 60GB original, with hardware PS2 compatibility, 4 USB ports, and a memory card reader, but those are hard to come by... and I don't have any PS2 games anyway. There are better players out there for the same price, but they don't have games, WiFi, 80+ gigs of storage, or lots of the other fun aspects of a PS3.
But the PS3 lacks discrete analog outputs, which my current receiver takes for 7.1 surround. This is a problem. Why? Because it means I need to hook up an HDMI 1.3a connection to my receiver to get full PCM 7.1. Sadly, my current receiver lacks an HDMI port of any kind, let alone 1.3a. So this means I either get a different player or buy a new receiver. I'm leaning towards a new receiver.
Now that's a fucking rabbit hole to go down. Receivers run everywhere from $300 to, well, some stratospheric high end. I think I paid $700 for my current Yamaha + 5.1 Athena speakers. I'll probably end up in the $500-700 range for a new receiver. The problem is, I have no idea which one. Looking for info is like walking through a funhouse maze of mirrors with thrash metal blaring during a laser show while on acid. Too much fucking information to process.
I've decided to keep my current TV though. 720p/1080i is good enough at 37" and 6' of distance I think. I still drool at 50" Kuro Elites, but it would be a waste of money for the amount I use my TV.
All this will require a dismantling of the current entertainment setup. Let's say 400lbs of TV, wood, components, and DVDs, and a terrible tangle of wires. While I'm at it, I'll grab more speaker wire and redo that as well. Maybe I'll get around to buying more DVD storage too... I can only stack the piles so high.
I guess all these concerns go away if I win the Megabucks in Vegas...
Two weeks from now, I'll be an hour away from wondering once again why the ride from McCarran is so far to the strip, when I could walk to the MGM from the runway.
Then I'll roll these.
And toss some of these around.
But I'll probably go hurtling over a canyon at 60mph before any of that. Which reminds me, I need to call them.
Up here in the Great White North (koo roo kookoo...) we call today Thursday, November 27th. I understand it's called something different south of the 49th.
Happy Thanksgiving/turkey day/football day/stuff-your-face-until-your-belt-explodes day Americans!
Save me a piece of Turkducken.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
A day with low market volatility? I'm confused. Ohhhhh right, it's Thanksgiving eve for you Yankees.
Which is good, it means work is dead tomorrow, and that our annual charity drive kicks off NOW. This means free beer, wine, and food in exchange to listening to people talk.
Beer after work is good.
Free beer after work is better.
Free beer after work without having to move is great.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I think I'll consider it an interesting experiment.
I think I've got around 1100 Full Tilt Points left, and $0.75 in cash in my Tilt account. Between some bad moves on my part and bad beats (the larger component) on Tilt's part, I'm effectively busto there. I'll play around with my remaining pittance of points until they're gone, and then likely spend December playing in freerolls for shits and giggles. Come Jan 1st though, I'll reload, if for nothing else than to play in Julius_Goat's Bad Bankroll management Tourney (BBT), which will have no celebrity guests and might not even have BDR going. But hey, I'm a supporter of terrible BR management, and also a fan of JG's, so why not?
In the meantime, I'm playing far less poker and playing it on Poker Stars. You know what? The reasons I left are moot now, and what issues I may still have are outweighed by the benefits.
They've got a good hand replay functionality now. They have themes. Their chat window is still too small and non-detacheable, but that's okay. I wish they had a pot-bet button though.
But they have multiple SnGs at the same time. The Double-or-nothings are easy fun. And most surprisingly, the beats aren't nearly as bad. It's odd, but even at the $6 turbo SnG range, I'm finding far less bad beats coming my way. Sure, there are still some, but I don't KNOW that getting in ahead will result in my losing on the river. Where'd River Stars go? I'm actually playing winning poker (albeit very small wins) there recently. It's very odd. If only I could redeposit easily there, it would likely be my home site again.
If Hoy reads this, expect a post from him.
Anyone want to guess the total amount the government has pledged to bailouts and insuring bad assets? Anyone? Bueller?
$700 Billion? Nope.
$1 Trillion? Nope.
Try.... $7.7 TRILLION.
Here's the Bloomberg chart, which doesn't include the $249 for Citi assets.
I also don't think it includes the $100 Billion in direct purchases of housing-related securities from Fannie, Freddie, and other GSEs. I doubt the $500 Billion in indirect purchases (outside the guv, but likely backed by) as well. Say hello to TALF, which adds another $200 Billion. That's ANOTHER $800 Billion on top, bringing it to $8.5 Trillion in YOUR MONEY. Put another way - Brother can you spare $28,000?
This administration can't be kicked to the curb fast enough. Not that Obama's "dream team" will do much better with this mess. They're going to keep slinging money at this until the country is entirely broke. The entire plan is predicated on the assets being bought with this money (preferreds) being good - ie. - the companies stay solvent. It's also betting on the bad assets being generally okay, which is what got us into this mess in the first place.
In the end, NOTHING is being fixed, but a lot of bullshit is being slung. I'm buying a cabin in the woods and a shotgun, anyone want to come along?
It looks like the government is getting $27 Billion in preferred shares in Citi, not $7 as I'd seen earlier. That's mildly better.
Citi's books are a mess of course, and they're nowhere near as "well-capitalized" as they claimed. Of course, when your press releases mirror those of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers before their collapse, this isn't unexpected.
The $249 Billion (after Citi's deductible and the 10% they're responisble for) is broad-spectrum. This was done so Citi couldn't just dump the toxic crap. So if it's mortgage-backed securities, it's ALL the mortgage-backed securities, not just the risky ones.
But it doesn't cover credit card debt or overseas lending. These will be big areas of loss for various reasons. Credit card debt is obvious, as its often the first thing to stop being paid by people. Of the holiday shopping that WILL be done (those discounts will be hard to resist), a very large portion will be done on credit cards that won't be paid off.
Oh, and more numbers, for ALL banks:
Bank deposits: $7.141 TRILLION. Cash assets? $871.3 BILLION.
So for every dollar deposited, the banks only have 12 CENTS on hand. Almost enough to make a guy want to deposit into the 1st national bank of strong box buried in the ground.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Bye-bye Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen.
Hello Lee Stempniak.
An interesting trade by the Leafs. Two underperforming young guys who had(have?) loads of potential for a young guy who is showing lots of potential, and is producing this season. Mixed feelings abound on the trade. In the end, it looks good to me.
Plus, it frees up just under $500k in cap space for the team, pushing their cap cushion over $10 million.
Which would be enough to bring Mats Sundin back without it looking bad to Vancouver or anyone else. Just starting rumours.
Brian Burke will likely be GM by the end of the week, if not sooner.
Interesting times here in Leafs land. Team still sucks, but that's okay.
It was a weekend of continuing down neverending paths. This will be of no interest to anyone - you've been warned.
Saturday - My friend came over and we went camera shopping. Her Nikon D40x succumbed to gravitational persuasion and no longer worked quite right. Underexposed images do not a happy photographer make. So needing a new camera, we spent most of Friday night researching technology and determining what other accoutrements might be desired. Lower prices printed out and in hand, we ventured to our "regular" camera store. I'll pimp it here - Downtown Camera. It's a block west of the much more popular and well-known Henry's here in Toronto, and I like it more.
We strolled in, wandered to the Nikon section, and started the retail conversation that ensues when one is looking to drop several hundred dollars on a purchase. First, the broken camera came out for a repair estimate. Rough guess? "Very expensive to fix." Alright, I'll keep an eye out for a busted D40x and scavenge parts in the future. Next came the old film SLR out, with the purpose of seeing if the cheap lens on it was worth anything. Verdict - token value only for the camera and lens - $50. Sold. Of course, that token value came with a caveat - we must buy something. Well of course!
"I want the D80." Okay. D80 comes out, one of their last 3 (and possibly the last 3 in the city - discontinued lines are fun). It's $10 cheaper than anywhere else, which is a bit of a surprise, considering their site lists it at $40 more than the store. Well then, how about a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens too? "This is a GREAT lens" says the other salesman behind the counter, who then goes on to extol its virtues and pull out poster-sized sample photos. Yes, we know it's great, that's why it's being bought. Ah, but your price is ridiculous! Why, Camera Canada has it for $83 less than you! "Wow, I don't know how they can sell it so low. What's the shipping?" "$12." "Give me a moment." He returns, willing to do $60 lower than their sticker price. Done.
Then came the flash. SB600 for the Nikon. Nice flash. I'm jealous now.
But we aren't done yet. No, I didn't come solely to offer moral and technical support or bargaining skills, I came to buy! I had them pull me down a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro for my camera. No discount is offered. I ask about comparisons to the Tamron, he suggests the Canon still. I'd already decided on the Canon from research and paid the $70 premium over the now-discounted Tamron. Perhaps not the wisest economic decision I've made, but I regret nothing.
The following hours were spent taking dozens of pictures of cats and tiny things around my condo. I love my new lens. I'll undoubtedly post pictures soon.
Next lens on the list - Canon 50mm f/1.4 so I can get some decent night shots and really blur that background. That will be a Christmas request.
Photography can be expensive. I'm so glad it's a digital age now, as film increases that cost tremendously.
Soon enough though, we had to leave for the Food & Wine expo. A stop for dinner first. Osso Bucco, where have you been all my life? Oh, over there? I just wasn't paying attention? I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I'll never ignore you again. Then we cabbed it through Leafs traffic, expo traffic, and made it to the show. Skip the line to pick up preordered tickets and then wait for the doors to open for our Tutored Tasting. The Szabos introduced us to some "cutting edge" wines. Spain, Prince Edward Country, France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, and Israel? Well, not necessarily the most cutting edge countries, but the wines were intriguing. An Israeli Pinot Noir that was FULL of flavours you don't find in a Pinot. An Ontario wine that smelled like dirt and tasted like limestone (but not necessarily in a bad way). Wine that smelled like daisies; a white that felt like a red; the 8 we had were all unique. A worthwhile 2 hours for sure.
But that left us but an hour to hit the floor. We rushed through, stopping to taste the most expensive options we could find. Nothing really stood out until we hit the high-end section (think the high rollers lounge). $24 in sample tickets gone on 4 glasses - two Barolos (which should have cost $16, but instead got two half-samples for $8), a Senit, and a 100% Chardonnay sparkling white. All quite good... I think.
The problem with the rush was that I don't actually recall which wines were which, and didn't have time to take notes. Kind of a shame. Not as much as the Kobe burgers being turned into Kobe hot dogs this year. That's a bad beat.
But the spicy antipasto was fantastic.
That was Saturday. Hundreds on camera stuff, dozens on wine tastings which will doubtlessly turn into hundreds on wine.
Sunday - Up and out for a walk. Brunch with a crappy waitress, and then food shopping. Well.. tea, spice, and cheese shopping. The best Matcha tea I've ever had (admittedly, I have only had about 3 or 4) is now in my posession at the low price of $18 for 35g. Yah, that might be a bit extravagant. Now in the drawer of a thousand teas.
Spices - Marash pepper (I MEANT to get aleppo, but forgot), cumin, and ground orange peel. Plus a replacement pepper mill for my recently busted Trudeau. I expect great things from my tiny $25 Fountainebleu Peugeot mill. My spice collection continues to grow unabated.
Cheese - Really, I was just going to top off my supply of English Applewood smoked cheddar. I did. Oh, and got some melt-in-your-mouth German buttercheese, and some hot chili jack.
I made it home from there without spending any more money on stuff, despite walking past a liquor store.
See? I start down these paths - cameras, teas, spices, cheeses... and keep on going endlessly. Wait until I start talking about my A/V setup changes. PS3 for Blu-ray, new receiver/amp, and probably a new TV down the line as well. Just doing what I can to stimulate the economy.
Oh, and broke even on poker last night.
So the gubmint is bailing out Citi. Or should I say, continuing to bail out Citi.
$20 Billion on top of the $25 Billion already pledged. $45 Billion to bail out the once largest financial organization in the world. They're also guaranteeing $306 Billion worth of poisonous loans and mortgage-backed securities held by the company (well, $(306-29)*.9)B. Further socialization of debt... sigh.
In return, the Guv gets $7 Billion in preferred shares paying 8%. Oh, and Citi cuts their dividend from 16 cents to 1 cent and restricts executive compensation. So the government gets about 1/3 of what they're giving, and forces Citi to do something it should have done months ago.
Now, these are preferred shares, which means they won't increase in value over time. The price of a pref changes in order to adjust the yield so it remains attractive versus the corporate bonds. The government is getting interest paid, and not much else out of this. There should be some sort of rights or warrants with this deal too, but it doesn't look that way.
What a fucking joke. Citi has been one of the worst-managed companies during its entire existence. It was on the verge of collapse in the 80's, saved by a prince, and grew through acquisition and diversification of businesses. It got so big that it SHOULD have collapsed under its own weight. Everyone knew it was a mess internally, and that management didn't have a clue. Now it faces a day of reckoning, and Unca Sam steps in with a big chunk of change to keep it afloat.
Should Citi be allowed to fail? I don't know. It's huge, backing tons of other businesses and people, and its failure would have been disasterous. But this is a terrible method of saving it. Token restrictions from the government will not fix what's wrong with the company. Plus, where's the $200-some Billion in guaranteed backing coming from? You of course. Granted, that's IF all the assets go bad... some have got to be good, right?
Same ol' crap.
On a related topic, take a look at this post for a great video of Peter Schiff (Ron Paul's economic advisor and President of Euro Pacific Capital) predicting this collapse and the reasons for it over 2 years ago. He kept repeating himself every time he was brought on TV, but nobody listened. In fact, the other "experts" literally laughed at him on camera and said he was full of shit. They offered wagers with him on his opinion. They said the exact opposite he was saying, and he was 100% right. Alright, 99% right, his call on GLD would still be down, but far, FAR less than the market is.
I love this video. You've got a guy sticking to his guns, with a reason behind it, while all these other smug bastards are giving bullshit reasoning as to why they're right. It's substance vs smoke and mirrors. I particularly like Ben Stein (once he had my respect, but after his pro-creationism movie and now this, he's lost it) pushing Merrill Lynch as a bargain over a year ago). I wonder if anybody's called out the other tools in this video on their horrible advice.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The Wall Street Journal has a pretty good article on the current automotive mess. It should at least show you a few hallways to look down in how back-asswards the Detroit Three are.
One of my favourite annual traditions is this weekend. The Gourment Food & Wine Expo here in the T-Dot. A convention hall filled with wineries, tasty foodstuffs, and a few useless booths for hard liquor and bad coolers (generally surrounded by 20-somethings). It will undoubtedly be packed, cramped, and annoying... but I always come away amazed by a few of the samples I have.
This year, the spotlight country is France - I imagine a good wine or two will be found. I'm also doing a blind tasting of "cutting edge wines", which should be fun AND educational.
And of course, it has to start with a Kobe Beef burger with teriyaki glaze from the Edo booth.
So to those (now 3 or 4 people) who asked me to come to something this weekend, I again apologize, but I don't miss the Food & Wine show.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Just for fun.
Adjusted high (CAD) : $1245.00 (July 2000)
Current price Today's low : $0.57 $0.52
That's a loss of
99.954% 99.958% of its value.
High (USD): $57 (Dec 2006)
Current price Today's low: $5.36 $4.39
High (USD) : $94.62 (April 2000)
Current Today's Low : $3.09 $1.70
All were mighty and unsinkable. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of employees. Proven companies. Now? Barely keeping their nose above water. Poor management and lies hiding lies only last so long... and when your house of cards falls, it falls fast.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
High : 14198.10 (Oct 2007)
Today's low :
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Books. I need to read books more.
I like reading. No, I LOVE reading. I just never do it. Sure, I read pages upon pages of blogs every day. I go through article after article about a variety of things. I also have a library full of unread tomes.
I need to read more.
I probably won't. But I should.
1,800 Full Tilt Points easily turned into a Level 1 token.
Level 1 token buys a seat in the $24+2 KO 90-man SnG.
Top 9 pay.
I go out 10th, after riding the short stack for the last 3 tables worth of players and doubling and tripling up when needed. KJo < A9o. M < 3, what you gonna do?
It's not like the A9 call was bad - I was no threat to his stack, and worth $47 as the bubble boy ($2 KO + $45 for 9th place).
So, still only $0.75 in the account. No Mookie for me tonight.
Of course, I'm going out for drinks after work anyway, so hitting The Mookie would have been a bad idea regardless.
I bought my hospital lottery tickets today though. Maybe I'll win a $1 million cottage in Muskoka. If that's the case, then there will be a new location for Eh-Vegas next year. :)
The chief executives of GM and Chrysler said they could run out of funds without the government's support. GM CEO Rick Wagoner said the package is needed to "save the U.S. economy from a catastrophic collapse."
Bullshit. It's needed to save some face for those CEOs. GM, Chrysler, and Ford aren't disappearing. They're going bankrupt, and will eventually need to file Chapter 11 and RESTRUCTURE. But Chapter 7 isn't really on their radar (yet). These doom-and-gloom scenarios are ridiculous. I still expect a merger somewhere down the line.
That's from this article on the hearings yesterday.
Senate Banking Chairman Mr. Dodd denounced the companies for failing to move more aggressively to reverse their sharp declines in market share. "They're seeking treatment for wounds that, I believe, are largely self-inflicted," Mr. Dodd said, adding the industry has failed to adapt and "we're all paying the price for it."
Chris Dodd stops saying stupid shit? I'm amazed. Of course, he still backs bailout of the big 3.
The companies said they would use the money to pay employees, cover current operating costs and develop new products.
The auto makers and the union sketched their companies' far-reaching impact. They also argued that Chrysler, Ford and GM are on the right track to compete with foreign-based auto makers, but that turmoil in the broader economy foiled their good planning.
GM has put new vehicle development "on the back burner", and Chrysler as just about completely stopped development in order to save costs. So how are they possibly on the right track to compete? Creative advertising campaigns? New paint on the Ram? An extra racing stripe? They are so full of shit.
Of course, if they'd kept up the green vehicle development they'd done so well with under the Clinton administration, they might not be in this fix now. But instead of continuing development on a practical electric car, they repossessed them and trashed them all as soon as Bush repealed the Clinton policies that forced them to do this R&D in the first place. Ah, short-term greed.
Nardelli (Chrysler's CEO) was also the only one of the 3 willing to get paid virtually nothing ($1/year salary) in order to get the bailout money. I'm sure he's already quite rich and has an extensive stock portfolio though, so it's not like he's hurting.
Oh, and the UAW has admitted they might have to make some tough decisions on labour concessions. FUCK YOU. If the UAW wants its members to keep their jobs, they'll take it up the ass and realize they've been abusing their power for years.
Anyway, they're back in the senate, still begging for money and hoping that the government buys their bullshit enough to give them money. My prediction? They'll eventually get it. Maybe not until the Obama administration is in, but they'll get it. Then they'll STILL go bankrupt and have confused looks on their faces... oh, and jobs will still be lost in the US and Canada, but maybe gained in Mexico, Brazil, and Russia. $25B down the drain.
I found it interesting that GM and Chrysler both admitted they won't surivive long without the bailout, but Ford said it could make it through if need be. I thought Ford was in the worst shape. I guess all the belt-tightening over there the past few years, as they've been killed by everyone else, has paid off.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Some of you have been to my place. I think it's a nice place. Great size, lots of windows. I was even impressed by the number of power outlets when I moved in. 4 pairs in the kitchen alone, plus two on the stove.
But from early on, I knew something was screwy.
Pretty much the entire time I've lived there, it's been with 2 plugs gone. One on the stove, and one (but not both) of a wall socket. They used to work, then one day, didn't. I assumed blown fuse, but couldn't find one. I lived with the minor inconvenience.
Then last night, after some rearrangement of small appliances, had the toaster oven and microwave going at the same time. Now, they are plugged into completely different outlets, on opposite sides of the doorway. There are other things plugged into the same outlets as well.
They turned off. Just the microwave and toaster oven. The other half of their respective plugs kept pumping out juice to my phone, router, modem, and cat fountain. So I went to the fuse box, flicked on the light in that closet... and nada. No light.
Huh? The light in the storage closet across the hall is on the same circuit as the bottom plug on one socket and the top plug on another? WTF?
I mean, I kind of understand separating circuits between dual sockets, since people tend to group appliances together. So you wouldn't want the mixer and the toaster on the same circuit... so you share two sockets on two circuits, minimizing the chance of a break.
But the storage closet light too? Maybe the bulb burnt out concurrently and I didn't realize... who knows?
So I go about checking the fuses. None of the usual screw-in ones were burnt or had a broken filament, but I took them out anyway in an attempt to figure out which went where (nobody labelled the diagaram properly, and the place is 26 years old). Some seemed to have no effect on anything. I wonder if my upstairs neighbour wondered why his lights were turning on and off. In the end... no change.
So then I moved to the cartridge fuses in the box. Pull out the first, pull the fuses and check them with a multimeter. They're fine. Repeat with the next. Fine.
Next cartridge... wait.. there's no handle on it. The plastic is broken. How the hell do I get this out now? Oh, there's a slot. Screwdriver in slot to pry out... plastic breaks. Well, I'm fucked now. Next cartridge.. no handle, but plastic is in one piece. Not going to try prying it out too. Next two have handles, but are the BIG cartridges, with double the ampage. I assume they're for the oven and fridge, and possibly the heating/cooling, and likely not my problem.
So I've got two (4) cartridge fuses that I can't get at. Anybody have a tip on how to pry those fuckers out without a handle? Alternately, anybody know a good electrician? It's high time I switched to breakers.
It's being covered in a few places. here, here, and Hoy.
A little over a month ago, I'm pretty sure I said the auto industry was a mess and would be looking for a bailout. I'm too lazy to check, but really, it's not like it was an original thought. I just agreed with others out there.
Here comes that bailout. It WILL happen, and it WILL be a disaster. Barney Frank continues to prove he's a grade-A moron who deserves a trip to Bovine University with lines like "there's no harm in trying." $25 billion is now "no harm". And my grandparents told me *I* didn't know the value of a dollar.
GM, Ford, Chrysler... all broken systems. You can point to too many brands, mediocre cars, the lack of a legitimate luxury line (Cadillac is about it now... maybe Lincoln), poor customer service, too many dealerships, high repair costs, or any other number of gripes. But the BIG money is spent on the unions.
Auto workers are paid EXTREMELY well in North America for work that can, for the most part, be done by a robot. Ford's plant in Brasil is amazing, but it would never happen here. Why? Well, the employees would gripe about losing jobs to automation and strike. The different plants spread out over the country that make individual parts would bitch about losing a job as the supply got vertically integrated into single plants (nothing like waiting for a new car to show up because the axle plant is on strike).
There are millions of employees receiving pensions from the automakers, and only hundreds of thousands currently employed. With the pay these guys get, they should have saved enough to retire comfortably on their own.
Throw in that GM is worth less than zero, and how does a bailout help? These companies NEED to go bankrupt. They need to file Chapter 11 and reorganize and tell the unions to shut the fuck up and do what they're told or nobody has a job. They need to cut lines, be more efficient, and stop fucking begging and bitching themselves. Oh, and think a bit more into the future than 6 minutes. Anybody could have seen that SUVs were dying as oil was climbing. But nope, now Hummers are sitting on lots taking up space.
Of course, this was long-delayed because numbers were artificial. GMAC provided sub-prime loans to anyone who wanted to buy a car but couldn't afford it. GM gets to say "We sold a car for $50,000!" GMAC gets to say "We have $49,000 + interest over the next 10 years coming our way!" Someone who was tired of taking the bus but couldn't afford a car got to say "I have a $50,000 car!" And then the credit market collapsed and everyone got fucked. No more free money. No more free ride. Now reality comes up and bites them on the ass right quick.
The Big 3 will be the Big 2 soon, I have no doubt. Then possibly the Big 1, and it will still be falling behind the Toyotas of the world.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I believe the 'Mericuns out there are celebrating Thanksgiving in a little over a week. Since it should be -350 degrees Kelvin (physical impossibilities be damned!) up here by then, we have ours in October. But hey, any excuse to talk about food, right?
Go take a look over here. For some Thanksgiving ideas and tips. I was reading through it earlier, and can't argue.
Brine is sooo key. Until last year I'd never had a brined turkey, and I had no idea what I was missing. I don't use the brine in this article, but a variation of another Alton Brown recipe. Brine is salt, water, and whatever flavours you want to infuse, be it allspice and ginger or parsely, sage, rosemary and thyme.
I use Alton's roasting method, which makes a perfect bird (after 2 years of under-cooking, I couldn't have been happier to find this one).
That stuffing is fantastic. Meat and meat, so gooooood. Just be sure to get a good sausage, although mediocre sausage is still tasty in that one.
I haven't done a rub, but that will change. Next turkey? Butter rub!
I've also never made my own cranberry sauce, but that recipe sounds gooooood, although I'd be tempted to add some orange to it.
But most importantly - there's STUFFING IN THE BIRD. Everyone cautions against this these days, yet come up with other methods of stuffing it anyway (stuffing bags? please). I've always stuffed, and never had a problem. It's not STUFFING if you don't STUFF it. Just stuff lightly, don't cram it in. You can put the rest in a pan, just make sure there's enough liquid with the stuff not in the bird.
Oh, and I did a variation of those potatoes this past weekend, and they were pretty damned tasty.
One thing I don't get is why people see Thanksgiving as such a huge chore. Actual time spent DOING anything isn't much more than an average dinner, and the bulk of the time is waiting for the bird. I've found that, more than most meals, having everything prepped before hand, and knowing what ingredients you need and where they are really eases the whole process.
But then, cleanup is a bitch.
Anyway, if you're making a dinner for Thanksgiving, that seemed a pretty good compendium of the necessities.
Oh, and I already had this written up days ago, funny that Alan would request such a post. :)
Have you ever tried taking candy from a baby? I mean, babies have incredibly strong grips, and would probably attract a fair bit of attention with their crying. I imagine it's not so easy as they claim.
Maybe the saying should be "as easy as taking chips in a home game." Oh yah, this is a brag post. Leave now if don't like insufferability over small stakes.
My regular home game has been running as an organized event for two years now. I missed the entire first year (never worked with my schedule), but made it out more for this season. It's a $20 rebuy tournament, and I've won over $1000 in it, while probably spending around $180. Not terrible at all.
Today marked my 3rd win this season out of 7 games (2 of which I missed, and the other two I made being 2nd and 6th finishes), making me the only 3-time champ. There's a ToC leaderboard. I have over 1200 points for 1st, and 2nd has around 550.
This of course means that I'll be first out in the ToC game.
Oh and this last game? Best starting hand was KK, which got creamed on a runner-runner straight by KQ (taking me from chip lead early on to... um... less of a chip lead). No AA. Man, I must be saving those up for Vegas.
Best suckout of the night for me? HU, pocket eights. I raise, button goes all-in, I call. I'm covered by a few thousand chips at least. He flips over AQo.
Me: "I won the last game with this hand. But I needed a 3rd eight to do it."
So dirty. I just had to wait for the right hand from there, and won with flopped 2 pair beating a busted flush draw.
Best hand of the night though?
I have KJo and raise in MP to 3x BB total (trust me when I say this qualifies as a premium hand in this game). The guy I'd been HU with the last two games (and who I really didn't want to face again because his game aggravates the hell out of me with the calling and the minraises) minraises (shock!), everyone folds but me, and I call.
Guy checks, I check for the free card.
Turn: A - BINGO!
At this point, one of the more vocal players starts writhing in agony, saying how he's going to regret his fold. Always helpful to the guys still in the hand.
Guy reaches for his chips, stops, and checks instead. I catch this and debate how I want to play this. I decide to put out "you absolutely have to call this" bet, and he obliges me by calling.
Vocal not-in-this-hand groans, doubles over and bangs the empty chair next to him and swears. It's obvious to everyone and their sister that this guy had an ace, and probably the T or x on the flop. The host comes as close as I've ever seen him to snapping at the guy to shut up when the hand is still going on. Too late. I know my opponent doesn't have an ace, and he knows the same about me. He totally doesn't see the straight either.
Guy puts out a rather dumb-sized bet (small, but big enough to put him near the border of commitment), and I stop, think, and push. He debates, and calls.
I have the straight, he has pocket Jacks (QTAAx board, JJ is good of course), and I've got all his chips, and the knowledge that he's done. Vocal guy lets us know he folded AT, which we already knew of course.
I loved this hand for a few reasons.
1) I played this guy perfectly. I knew exactly how we was going to react after so many confrontations. I KNEW if I hit, he was all mine. I played the part I needed him to believe in, and he fell for it.
2) I adjusted to take advantage of the extra information that came my way during the hand. The moaning of the folded AT and the chip-reach-changed-my-mind move. The hand could only have been easier if the table was tilted towards me so his chips just moved due to gravity.
3) I won.
It also reminds me why I prefer live poker. None of #2 would have been possible online, and the hand would be played differently, possibly without me stacking the guy.
Oh, and one more, although I was only mildly involved in this hand:
Nearly family pot preflop just before the rebuy period ends. I'm among the leaders (and possible chipleader), with decent stacks on either side of me. I look down at 5s6h in the SB and limp. BB minraises and it goes around again with everyone calling. I do the same.
Betting is unimportant until the turn.
I check with the inside straight-flush draw. BB (LAG, but in a good way) overbets the pot, everyone folds to my right. He tanks, folds, and it comes to me. I don't put the BB on the flush, but there's no way a call makes sense with my hand. What am I hoping for other than the 4s? Nothing. I fold.
BB shows J4s (whew) for the flush (and my out), and the guy on my right flips over his mucked... KQs! ????? WHAT? We all ask him what he was thinking and he says "I figured he had the A and something weird". To which we all reply "which somehow beats your NUT flush?" He looks again and slams his head on the table, only now realizing he'd miscounted the spades, never realizing what he had. We went on break, made fun of him some more, and that became the hand of the night.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Time to defend my championship this weekend. The usual home game is once again occurring. This time it's the final game of the "season" before the TOC. I won the last one, making me the second 2-time champion, and guaranteeing my 1st place finish on the leaderboard. I plan to be the first 3-timer this week.
And it'll happen. Know why? Because I got my Full Tilt jersey yesterday from the BBT3. That will be SO intimidating to the other players. Maybe I should wear my Bodog hat too... and sunglasses. Yah. Nothing says "pro" like a guy covered in online poker swag and sunglasses. They'll probably just hand me their chips, stand up, and leave. Now if only I'd ordered a Full Contact Poker spinner card cover when that site existed.
Also, it'll happen because most of these guys kinda suck. There's a few that have some game, but they tend to overthink situations and talk themselves out of hands quite frequently. I've seen one guy go about 4 levels deep aloud...
"I don't see how that turn could have helped you. Unless you flopped the straight and were bluffing. But there's no way you called my raise with 97. Or are you suited and betting your draw? I think you figure you can just scare me off with that bet, since there's no way I bet with 97. You did check the flop, and really thought out that re-raise just now, and since I know you're a good player, you have to have something. Hmm.. a set? Either you're bluffing me, or you have the nuts and bet like that to make me think you were bluffing because you knew I'd think you were bluffing since you put me on a medium pocket pair or two high cards. Man, I'm just not strong enough to call here."
It's fucking HARD to hold a straight face with that much jibber-jabber.
The fact it's a rebuy for the first 5 levels and there are some loose motherfuckers who bring a stack of $20s helps too.
Yah, I love that game.
Oh, and I'll of course have the jersey on in Vegas so I can be found easily. Not that it's hard to find a white guy of average height, weight, and hair colour with no distinguishing marks in Vegas.
Think it counts as appropriate attire for Delmonico?
skirttedkilted boy Falstaff has once again thrown himself to the wolves and set up a blogger tourney at the Venetian in December.
Saturday, 3pm, $135. E-mail Fallsie (or is The 'Staff a better moniker? Yah, I'm nicknaming a nickname bitches, you wanna fight about it?) if you're in.
I'm there of course. I also happen to have a choice of bounties to bring. Not that anyone will get them... because I'm going to WIN! Okay, we all know who will knock me out. That is, unless I get sneaky and get knocked out before she gets to my table again.
So my FT account was down to 40 cents, which is, for all intents and purposes, zero. I'd been playing the retarded 600 FTP token games, and after losing a redonkulous HU against a donkey I should have busted about 3 times before he beat me (how many rivers can one guy hit HU?), I opted for the 1,800 FTP token games that pay top 3 instead of winner-take-all. Good call me.
So then I used my token to play a $24+2 KO SnG. I was cruising along nicely before a couple reasonable beats killed me.
But I managed to knock a couple people out, giving me a whopping $4.40 in my account... or 11x my original BR. Not a bad return. I used most of that to play a $3 KO 90-man, which I knocked one guy out of for $0.50 before succumbing to something terrible no doubt.
So, with $1.60 left, I had enough for a 90-man $1+0.25 SnG.
The problem? It was 11:30pm and I grossly underestimated how much people care about $1. I went and finished 6th or something, a little over 2 1/2 hours later. That was dumb. But... I won over $4!! Wooohoo!
Okay, you don't care. I don't really care either. I mean, we're talking less than the cost of a quarter pounder combo here. But with my self-imposed reload moratorium, I'm actually finding I DO care about these games. I think... THINK, I'm actually learning something here.
See, I've never played with much regard to the money. To me, gambling is entertainment, and the amount I spend is what I'm willing to pay as a price of admission. Because of this, my play is often focused on the short-term. I want to win the tournament I'm in. I want to walk away from the cash game with a profit. I want to bust Waffles. Whatever. This has changed slowly over time, as I started playing things like The Mookie for fun, and the bigger MTTs for experience and experimentation in style. I walk into a home game determined to win it, to prove I'm the best there. But never have I had the thought "If I lose, then I'm going to miss that money."
But now, with a bankroll of zero until December, I have a motivation I haven't had before. I can't play The Mookie, The Skill Game, Riverchasers, 50-50, or even a $20 SnG without money. I have no money. Therefore, I must get money. So I'm playing donkish little nearly-free games to win instead of to detilt or annoy the minnows. I actually cared enough about a $1 SnG at 1:30am to stay up and keep playing instead of pushing all-in and walking away. I paid more attention to my opponents than I had in months. I played better poker than I had in months.
And today, I woke up wondering if maybe I shouldn't continue the reload ban until the new year. Yup. No reloads until Jan 1st OR if I run out of points, whichever comes first. Of course, I might just turn this $4 into something more substantial... who knows? At the very least, it means more capital free for Vegas and Christmas.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
So I missed The Mookie and The Bad Beat on Kidney Failure last night. I couldn't have played in either anyway since I have 40 cents on Tilt at the moment (holding fast to the no reload until December promise... instead pissing away points on token attempts).
No, instead I was in the town of Oshawa to catch some old guy play the keyboard and mushmouth his way through some songs. What was his name? Oh yah...
Now I like Dylan. I'm not a super-fan, I recognize a handful of his songs that aren't the popular fare. That said, until the encore, I probably couldn't tell you WHAT he played. Between different arrangements and his usual mumble-sing method, even some of the big fans around me were often guessing what they'd just heard. Luckily, these sort of things show up on the Internets.
The stadium show also didn't seem to suit him. I'm not saying he needs to be in a bar, but a concert hall would be better I think. Something like the Sony Centre, where I saw Leonard Cohen a few months ago, would be ideal. The loud, echo-y nature of a hockey arena just doesn't work for the intimacy of his songs, especially as he's slowed them down.
On top of that, I felt like I was watching Bob Dylan doing his best impression of Mark Knopfler. He sounded like him, but enunciated like Dylan. His band had a very Dire Straits tone to it as well. It was kind of odd.
That said, there's something special about watching a muscial icon perform live. In many ways, the 67-year old's show reminded me of Cohen's. Moving slowly and minimally, when he did "dance", the crowd went nuts. Pulling out the harmonica garnered cheers - every time. When he came out for the encore and started Like A Rolling Stone, with a decidedly different arrangement than you're used to, even those of us who had been somewhat lost for the previous 90 minutes got swept up. His arrangement of All Along the Watchtower was a brilliant combination of the original, the Hendrix remake (which Dylan told Jimi was how he should have done it originally), and the modern "I'm 67, gimme a break" Dylan method. The encores were the highest energy moments of the night for Bob.
But what struck me the most was one particular lighting choice they kept returning to. The stage was simple - instruments, amps, and a black backdrop that had different light patterns throughout the show. But there were songs where all the lights were down except for a sepia-toned glow surrounding the band. It invoked images of sitting on a porch during a prairie sunset... and couldn't have been more perfect for the performer we were watching.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'd be remiss if I didn't share this with the Bloggers still deciding on accomodations in December.
MGM Grand promo - Grand Tower Room for $69 a night on the weekend. West Wing King for $75. Bungalow King Suite for $75. Bungalow Queen for $75 on Thursday, $85 on Friday and $179 on Saturday (now I feel like a tool.. I got it for $85 both Friday and Saturday, and $75 on Thursday). The Celebrity Spa and Hollywood Suites were super cheap too, but they've gone up today.
Promo ends on the 14th (Friday), but it looks like they're filling up.
Oh, and you get a $300 Flyback voucher as well - good from anywhere in the Continental US as long as you stay 2 nights at MGM on your return and use their designated travel agent.
Sounds like a good deal to me, which is probably why I booked it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
- Flights were booked over a month ago.
- We've got two bungalow suites at the MGM
- Rental car is reserved
- Dinner at Delmonico on Thursday night is reserved
I'd say Vegas is pretty much set.
The last debate between my friends and I is... what to do. We saw Blue Man Group last year and it was... okay.
Stomp was suggested this year, but at least 2 of us have seen some variation of it before. So I suggested this. Check out the video. 3/5 are in, 2/5 are chickenshit pussies who would rather go see Wayne Brady. I may do both. Anyone else want to come along?
That leaves plenty of time for poker, craps, drinking, and debauchery.
You ARE coming, right?
The floor I work on is never quiet. People shouting, talking, phones ringing, at its quietest, there's always a buzz.
Except at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Then, it goes absolutely silent for 2 minutes, with dozens of people standing silently above their banks of monitors. No phone calls, no orders over the intercom... just silence.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Stolen from Pauly of course:
9:00pm... Darus Suharto Eliminated in 6th Place
Players Remaining: 5
Chipleader: Peter Eastgate 37.5m
Breaking news.... Canuck on Canuck crime. Darhus Suharto was busted by his fellow countryman in 6th place. Suharto was shortstacked and shoved with A-8. Scott Montgomery called with A-Q. Suharto could not come from behind and he went out in 6th. The accountant from Toronto won $2,418,562.
Down to five. Updates chip counts... Peter Eastgate 37.5M, Scott Montgomery 32.7M, Ivan the Russian Demidov 26.3M, Dennis Phillips 20.27M, Ylon Schwartz 19.3M
* * * * *
9:40pm... Scott Montgomery Eliminated in 5th Place
Players Remaining: 4
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian 50m
When action became five-handed, Scott Montgomery made a run. He ran his stack past the 30m mark and took over second place in chips behind Peter Eastgate. Ylon won a small pot to climb out of the cellar, while Dennis Phillips found himself as the shortest stack remaining with 18.7m. However, if he doubled up, he would jump into second place in chips.
Ivan the Russian had been quiet ever since the break ended. He hovered around the same stack while Eastgate and Montgomery started to pull away from the pack.
At this point in the tournament, there is no longer a massive line to get in. There are plenty of seats. Dennis Phillips clones are not as vocal as they once were. It's the fatigue and the fact that he's the short stack.
Just when I thought it was slowing down, Ivan the Russian woke up with a monster and Montgomery got caught speeding. Ivan had the Ks-Kd. Montgomery had Ad-9d. Ivan had around 24m and Montgomery had him covered. The Russians in the crowd began chanting and rooting on Ivan. The flop was 6c-6d-4d and the crowd unleashed a collectibe, "Oooooooooooooo!" Montgomery flopped a nut flush draw. The turn and the river were blanks. Ivan the Russian faded the Ace and the flush draw to win the pot. He doubled up to almost 50 million and regained the chiplead. Montgomery slipped to 7m and was the shortstack.
On the last hand before the break, Scott Montgomery was all in with A-3 against Peter Eastgate's pocket sixes. In true luckbox fashion, Montgomery flopped an Ace and turned and Ace. Eastgate was down to one out since Phillips mentioned that he folded a six. The river was the case six and the entire crowd erupted in dismay and disbelief when Eastgate spiked his one outer. Eastgate won the hand and Montgomery busted out. The Danes started singing as Montgomery headed to the rail in 5th place. The last Canadian in the WSOP has left the building. He won $3,096,768.
Down to 4.
Congrats to the two Canadians at the final table. $5.5 million combined ain't a bad haul for a couple guys from Ontario.
Circuit City has applied for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Can't say this is a surprise. Actually, it is mildly surprising since they were closing and cutting to stay avoid this through the Christmas in the sleaziest effort to fool customers I've seen in a while from a retail outlet.
Speaking of those closings, apparently the 155 stores they're liquidating have absolutely shitty deals. 10% off "retail" prices that have been raised, or 20% of some floor models. Final sale, as-is of course, so if it's fucked when you get home, tough shit. Looks great as they run ads that say "same price online and in-store" and the "retail" price listed is higher than the one online. Not CC's fault though, as theses stores are more than likely being handled by a liquidator, and those guys are angle-shooters.
Anyway, the real surprise is that it was chapter 11, which means they plan to reorganize and stay in business. Expect them to close even more stores, fire any veteran employees, cut management, and all those other things stores do when they're flopping on the beach gasping for air.
The thing is, that it's Christmas season, and that's THE time for retailers. With consumer spending already expected to be at a low, who the hell is going to shop at a bankrupt store that's NOT offering going-out-of-business sales? The stock is trading at $0.10. Expect Chapter 7 early in the new year and wave bye.
I'd feel bad for the employees, but CC canned all the good ones a year or so ago and replaced them with minimum-wage slaves. I imagine they keep the turnover high. Management deserves no pity, because they're obviously blind and brain-damaged lemmings.
They cite competition from Best Buy and Walmart as a big cause. Okay, so you can't compete with Walmart's prices... nobody can. But you know why Best Buy is kicking your ass? Because they're constantly evolving from an electronics retailer to a service provider. Best Buy set up Geek Squad how long ago? They push it heavily, and as such, the average Joe who doesn't know how to open his case (or perhaps doesn't know which part to open) uses them, or calls them up to come over, even if his computer, or TV, or whatever, is from Walmart. They charge a ridiculous rate, and his computer works again. I'd guess that 80%+ of the problems are easily fixed. Apple stores work similarly. Circuit City? Nothing close. Take a look at the cell phone section of your local Best Buy some time as well, they have dedicated employees for that section, and I imagine they'll expand that service area as well. Circuit City? Fires employees that know anything to hire cheaper, dumber labour.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
There's an unfinished Obama post sitting in my drafts, but it keeps getting long and meandering.
I've written a couple posts worth comments on Hoy's blog today, and maybe somewhere else too.
Nobody really wants to hear about my completely typical frustrating call with D-Link re: my router. Or do they? Whatever... tech support is staffed by morons until level 3... who I'm waiting for a callback from.
Poker? 3rd again in yet another 18-man $2 NLHE SnG. Man, my BR is building stupid-fast!
Weekend? Birthday party tomorrow. That's about it. Yay!
Economy? Still a mess.
Life? Same ol'.
Food? Been eating out all week. Well, made my world famous chicken fajitas last night at my folks' palce. (I made them for someone who lives in Switzerland now, so that make 'em world famous).
Just be glad I don't blog about my cats much.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
I'm heading to the folks' place tonight to bid adieu to my youngest brother (8 years my junior) as he heads off to Whistler for the winter to work. It's his first time moving away, and of course he makes it just about as far as possible while staying in the country. Now, he's in his early 20's, so it's not like I'm worried he won't be able to take care of himself, but it will still be weird knowing he's on the far coast.
I imagine my mom will miss him... I hear it's tough when the baby moves away. That said, it's not like it's difficult to make it out that way. I imagine this will result in an increase in phone calls from mom. It does give me one hell of an excuse to plan a ski trip this winter. I've never been to Whistler in the winter, I think I'm missing out.
Why I bought that new router way back in February of 07 (still can't find the receipt, but I found my credit card statement) - the old on drops like an 80-year old with a life alert button.
Why I fired up bittorrent I may never know, but it was all running fine... then the 1st break in The Mookie came. I get up, come back, and my connection has dropped. 20 minutes and 3 resets later, I'm back on and riding the short stack. FUCK. Out I go when 66 doesn't hold up to 99.
I played a $2 18-man SnG after, and again, it dropped, this time when I raised UTG. By the time I was back on, a couple hands had passed. I managed to hold on for 3rd in that one. Sigh.
I'm picking up the new one today, AND putting a call into D-Link for the old one (the recommended course of action from e-mail support? Call our tech line. Thanks.) Since it's 3 months short of 2 years, there's no way they'll do anything once they tell me it's bricked. I could TRY and go through Visa, but that requires a receipt, proof of damage, and a bunch of hoops. The big stumbling block here is the receipt.
I dislike technology tilt a great deal.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Heading to the Raptors game tonight vs some team from Detroit named after a car part. I'm hoping Iverson gets the go-ahead to play, otherwise it's what, the Kwame Brown show? See, I like the Raps, but I'm not really a basketball fan (despite going to more Raps games than Jays or Leafs games every year... go figure). I enjoy the live game though. Two 3-0 teams facing off, and without Iverson playing for the Pistons, the Raps are by far the better team. With the Answer? A much more entertaining game.
Wolfed down a delicious dinner at a great nearby restaurant last night (The Fat Belgian), as my friend and I rushed to catch Zack and Miri Make a Porno. This folks, is what we call a rental. It had some really funny parts, some generally amusing parts, and in between all that was a whole bunch of boring parts. It was far more restrained than Clerks II, but nowhere near the levels of early Kevin Smith. The guy can still write some interesting dialogue, but I think he's too intimidated by his actors who aren't his friends, and still tries waaaay too hard to be a visual director. He's improved on the latter, but the slow-mo walk-and-stare between Zack and Miri was almost funny... but it wasn't overdone enough that it was SUPPOSED to be funny. As for the intimidation, I say that because he gets great performances out of his regulars. Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson were the best of the main cast. The cameos from Brandon Routh and Justin Long were over-the-top and funny, but they were small parts and the actors were obviously having fun. But when it came to Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogan? They were good, but it felt like Smith was afraid to tell them to be raunchier in their delivery. I mean, this is a guy who gets some great stuff out of Ben Affleck, and Rogan and Banks felt like... well, like they were trying too hard, and considering the other work they've done, that amazes me. At the end, I turned to my friend and said, "this movie NEEDED Jason Lee" and she agreed instantly.
So, worth seeing? Sure, but save it for your home theatre.
Then we wandered to a bar and had shitty drinks (I'm pretty sure that wasn't Grey Goose in my martini, and her mojito blew) as we watched the election. It was on at the restaurant earlier too. I found it amazing that we were sitting in Toronto, and every bar had the election on. Once McCain conceded, we went outside and watched the crowd gather at Yonge & Dundas for the post-election party. We skipped that and found a TV with sound to catch Obama's speech. My friend's an American and was in disbelief that Obama won. A black president was huge. I was happy for the win, but not as dumbfounded or awed by the event. Perhaps its because I've grown up here, where racial lines aren't as rigid... but then, we haven't had a non-white Prime Minister yet (but one female for a few months).
Oh, over 64% voter turnout? Way to go! That's the best in over 100 years.
Soon, all will be right with the world, for last night something momentous happened. Last night, a decision was made that will change the world for the better. Dark days will soon be behind us and we can embrace a better future. For now, the old is still in place, but the change to the new will be upon us sooner than we realize.
That's right, I bought a replacement for my router! For the time being, I've got my old SMC 802.11b set back up (which was painless), but I'm pretty sure my beautiful D-Link Xtreme N is a brick. Luckily, it was on sale at Best Buy, so I've purchased it. If it turns out my existing one can be saved, then a return is trivial.
I'm probably still covered on warranty (at the very least the credit card extended one), but I'll be damned if I know where the receipt is to prove when I bought the thing. Then again, if it only came out last year, how could I have had it longer than that? Hmmm... I may have to explore this further.
Oh, and there was an election in some minor, unimportant country last night. I think it's new, as the name is kind of slipshod. United States of America? Sounds like an insurance company. The old dude lost. Congratulations on democracy!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
So there's a bunch of articles out there about how the worst is over. People are bullish again! The markets are recovering! The economy is a-ok!
A few up days does not a recovery make. The underlying problems still exist. At BEST, we're looking at a short-term bubble before another collapse. But I guess that doesn't make good TV or reading anymore. I'm staying away. In fact, I think I'll wait until the real estate correction that's bound to happen in these parts and look into buying a place or two to rent out. When people can't afford their homes, they rent. If I can afford their homes, I can rent to them.
Historically low rates, and fears of a market retreat means a good time to buy if you've got the means.
What blows my mind is how solid economic thinking is right out the window. Just because you can trade faster than ever before, and get the information faster than ever before, doesn't mean that the fundamentals have changed such that market recoveries happen overnight.
Hey, you, the American reading this. GO VOTE.
I honestly don't care WHO you vote for, but just go do it. Bring a book, stand in line, and vote. If for no other reason than to tell your grandkids about how you voted in the most groundbreaking US election in possibly ever. Either the first non-white President gets in, or the first woman VP. Either way, the Bush regime ends, and that's a good thing.
Oh, and if you're in California - vote NO to Prop 8. Florida? Vote NO to Prop 2. Arizona? Vote NO to Prop 102. These are bigotted, discriminatory abuses of human rights supported by small-minded fearmongers. The same people that support these would have opposed emancipation of the slaves, desegregation, and mixed-race marriages. They're pathetic.
Wil's got a post re: Prop 8 up that includes a video that shows how truly repugnant these ideas are.
The little voice in my head says, "hey, don't upgrade the firmware on your router tonight, you'll just fuck it up somehow." But NOOOOOOOOO, I just had to update it.
And now my router is a large white paperweight. E-mail into D-Link support, but I imagine the response will be "yah, it's a brick, tough shit." Even after all the pain of disconnecting the thing and hardwiring it to my box, because updating over wireless could cause bad things... like BRICKING MY FUCKING ROUTER.
Sigh... guess I'll pull out the old SMC and make do with its constant drops until I buy a new D-Link.... or maybe a technological miracle will happen and a support team will actually have a useful answer. Ha! I kill me.
And yes, I've reset to factory defaults.
Monday, November 03, 2008
I have a need to cook something. Steak last night, burger & fries for lunch today, KFC Spicy Big Crunch for lunch yesterday... no dinner on Saturday.
But I'm lazy, and my fridge is bare.
Two mushroom sausages (which means meat sausages with mushroom in them), onions, hash browns, maybe some sort of veggie. Nothing special, but I think I'll make a roasted apple gravy for the sausages and taters. Some lemon juice and brown sugar, roasted apple slices, and a beer gravy with the sausage fat.
The only question left is... Oatmeal Stout or Guinness or Innis & Gunn? Which goes better with sweet roasted apples? Much will depend on what is actually in my fridge, since I'll obviously have to drink the remainder of the beer.
Was not the "American Dream" once the ability to work hard, and through your abilities and skills be able to rise through society and be able to afford the things you wanted? The white picket fenced house, the 2.5 kids, the nice car, etc..
At what point did it subtly change to skipping all that working stuff and just being handed the things you want? Because that's where this economic mess started. Which is why these attempts to "get credit flowing" and lending happening again annoy the piss out of me.
Chapter 6 of The Art of War is "Weak Points and Strong", and is, strangely enough, an apt description of the chapter.
It starts by using a simple example. By being the first to the field of battle, you will be rested and unhurried. The army that arrives second will be tired from the march to the field, and be immediately faced with battle. In short, fight on your own terms.
By dictating terms, you can dictate your enemy. Bait them in, or attack areas that they will be forced to defend to stall their advance. If you are well-provisioned, you can simply starve out your enemy.
Attack the vunerable spots unexpectedly and swiftly to keep the enemy off-balance and defending instead of advancing.
If you march through undefended territory, you will march without distress. If you only attack undefended targets, you will be assured of success. If you defend unassailable places, you will be guaranteed success in defending them. A skilled general will keep his enemy in the dark about where he will attack, and likewise keep his enemy unknowing of where the enemy should attack.
Subtlety and secrecy are the keys to controlling your enemy.
If you attack a well-defended enemy, you can still defeat them by attacking places they must hurry to defend. For instance - a supply line, or instead of attacking the fort, attack the palace. If you are being attacked, you can halt the advance by simply doing the unexpected and unthinkable. An example in my readings is given of the city, which being attacked, threw open its gates. Revealed behind those gates were some men simply sweeping and watering the ground. The attacking army feared an ambush and retreated without attacking. Truly a brilliant strategem.
If we know the enemy's moves and positions, we can attack him with full force. If we keep our own information hidden, he must split his forces to defend from all sides. By forcing this division of forces, we in effect cause their numbers to be few (being divided into smaller groups) to our many (being unified). But of course, our intended target must be kept secret.
And opportunities will always present themselves - if the enemy increases their force in one area, than another becomes weaker, and if he balances all fronts, then all will be equally weak.
As well, precise timing can allow you to prepare from a great distance, having your armies meet at a designated time and place, becoming one great force at the most opportune location. Without this timing, you splinter your own forces and they can be picked off one by one without the bolstering of their allies.
If your enemy isn't giving much information, anger and annoy him to force him from his position and reveal himself. Compare the opposing army with your own to determine where you are strong, and where you are weak. Keep your plans as secretive as possible, for then even the best spies won't discover anything.
Anyone can see how a battle was fought, but few see the long planning that went into the battle beforehand.
Don't use the same method twice, but bend to the infinite circumstances and changes in each battle to create an infinite number of tactics. Much like water flows downhill, so should an army follow the conditions of battle, and adjust according the foe. Water has no constant shape, nor does warfare have constant conditions. Each element and season takes turns at dominance with the others
I wonder if the repetitiveness of some of these chapters is done to underly that the key is variation of basic elements to create infinite combinations. Regardless, the first piece is easily connected to a basic poker concept - aggressive poker is winning poker, and perhaps more specifically, the gap concept. If you are first to make a move, you increase your chances, for when it is your opponent's turn to act, he now has to face a battle. Get your chips in and now he has to ask, "are my cards good enough to call?" or, "can I force him off his hand with a raise?" In other words, you're dictating the action and controlling the hand.
A strong hand can benefit from baiting an opponent in, while opponents can be held off from attacking by striking first at key points. Again, the gap concept comes into play.
And secrecy is key. Showing hands, talking about your play, and criticizing others gives away clues to your strategies and tactics. By revealing nothing, you keep your opponents off-balance.
If you attack weak players, you'll win. If you defend with the nuts, you'll win. And by choosing your targets wisely, you can defeat even seemingly strong foes. For instance, say there's a chipleader who is attacking the weak players. Every time you play at him, he bullies you. Bluffing him isn't possible, because he's not at risk. But if you can attack the other players at the table, you cut off his ability to take their chips, because they go to you. If he ramps up his attacks on them, and becomes looser, you can then take advantage of him, as his position weakens as he fights multiple battles. Drawing attention to his bullying, aggressive ways can also cause others to widen their ranges against him as they realize what his strategy is. As he defends from multiple opponents, he weakens.
Likewise, when facing an advanced player, an uncharacteristic, unexplainable, unexpected move can work wonders. If the board makes no sense, and he's attacking, making a move that confuses him (ie.- an all-in on an uncoordinated board of low cards) will often stop him in his tracks as he attempts to figure out what just happened. Many times your opponents will talk out the hand aloud, revealing tons of information about themselves, and will often talk themselves out of a call. Then they'll ask that always fun question - "You flop a set? Two pair? Pocket aces?" which tells YOU how weak they really were.
Knowing as much as you can about your opponent can let you plan a move far in advance. An orbit early you can think "the next time I've got position on him and he raises 4x the BB, I'm coming over the top", because you've seen that he always does this in MP or when the pot is unopened. You can float him with plans to take it down on a later street as he c-bets, but has bowed to pressure from others. You can plan and time your attack to do the most damage based on your observations and preparation.
And if your opponent is a rock, then don't underestimate the value of tabletalk or annoying betting. Do what you can to provoke a reaction, because if you can get a stone-faced killer to break, chances are you've permanently cracked the dam. Rocks tilt harder than anyone else when they tilt.
And always mix up your game. If your turn bluff worked one time, don't use it again and again, because people will see through it. Next time, adjust the size, the timing, or use it when you HAVE a hand. Keep 'em guessing. For anyone can see how a hand played out, but so very few pay attention to the dozens of hands that went into building to that move. Been a LAG all game? Then getting your aces paid off makes a lot more sense than if you were super-tight.
So, how does this all boil down? Don't blab about your plays or anything else that will give you away. Realize that every time your opponent focuses on one thing, it means another area of their game has weakened. Attack where they are weak, and defend where you are strong. Keep 'em guessing, and annoy them if necessary. Plan ahead, but be creative and mutable. Don't be afraid to be unorthodox in order to confuse them into losing. Take the path of least resistance, and victory will come naturally.
A weekend without an adequate amount of sleep, but a surplus of fun means that when your 4th alarm goes off on Monday morning, you have no desire to rise up from the übercomfortable pillows.
Friday - Year end at work! Our fiscal year just ended, and there was much rejoicing. Why? Because everything starts at zero now. It's been an interesting October to say the least. So what better way to end off than going to a Halloween party? I dressed as myself from 10 years ago, which entailed buying a Jesus wig (which was just about a perfect match to my long hair of yore), tossing on my Engineering coveralls and F!rosh shirt, and a pair of sneakers. I walked in the door and was greeted with "AWESOME!" from all who have known me for the past decade or so. A good time was had by all, and I was home and asleep around... 5:30am.
Saturday - Alarm goes off at 11am, because I have a chair arriving somewhere between noon and 3. The condo doesn't like deliveries on Saturdays, but fuck 'em, it's just a chair. Up, ready, and the phone rings. Chair arrives at 1, and all is well. I throw together a hearty breakfast (bacon/tomato/pepper hash, scrambled eggs loaded with yellow pepper and extra EXTRA old white cheddar and a couple spices, a toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese, and a pot of berry tea with honey), and pass out on the couch for an hour. Up, tidy, and phone rings. 'Tis Kat informing me I have 20 minutes to get to the subway station for Keith to pick me up. I throw myself together and head out the door, only 10 minutes late, costume in tow (same Jesus wig + psychotic clown mask). Off to Tuckfardia for low-stakes poker! The tourney went less stellarly than expected, getting taken out when I pushed with K7s into a BB who announced that his call was, in fact, a donk call before flipping up K9o. Dammit.
But I stacked him in the cash game later on when my AQo beat his 56d in one of the two memorable hands of the night. Live straddles can mean... straddles all the way to the button (me). I obviously had to put 7x the BB down to complete the circle. The SB looks at his cards and declares all-in immediately. A good move on his part. Everyone folds to me, I look down at AQo and call. 5 and A on the flop and that's it.
The game was a riot. Nutzfirth was in fine form on my right. Strangely, he was unable to get me to respond to be called "douchebag". Hand of the night for me was when we were heads-up, and I had flopped a pair of aces with a J kicker. I bet $1, it folds around to him, and he shows me his 9Th that hasn't hit a thing on the board. "If I promise to put $1 in the pot, can I see the turn first?" No, if you put $1, THEN you can see the turn. Back and forth it went, "Can I have 4 if I call you?" No, if you push all-in, you can have whatever card you want. Finally, he calls, checks the brick turn, I check behind. River pairs the board and he flips over his cards for all to see and then bets 35 cents (yes, very high stakes here) with nothing. I raise to $2, and he tanks. He gets convinced that 55AK with his T playing MIGHT be good and he calls. I win. Laughs all around. Home late, in bed around 5am, and that's AFTER the time change. Thanks for hosting Carson, and happy birthday again.
Sunday - Up at 10:15 for a trip to Niagara for craps. Amazingly, we were actually on time this time. Perhaps we should stop that as everyone lost everything they were willing to lose. I'm still up in the 3 trips this group has made, and will view this as getting the losses out of the way so Vegas is pure profit. We decided to go for steak dinners anyway because SOMETHING had to be done right. Steaks were delicious and I was home at a reasonable hour (9pm). Odd occurence on the way home though. We dropped off one of our group at the carpool lot and hit the Tim Horton's across the road for some hot chocolate. "Sorry, we're cleaning the machine, no hot chocolate." Damn... we drive off and find another Tim's - "Sorry, we're cleaning the machine." WTF?? Luckily, I knew of another one down the road from there and we head off. It's DARK. We drive around back and there's a giant Tim Horton's tractor trailer there... and a makeshift drive-thru? They were running the shop out of the truck! We pull up, ask about hot chocolate and... they have it! Amazed, we pay, crack a joke about it to the drive-thru guy, who totally doesn't care, and head off.
Of course, I then stayed up until 2 because End of Days was on, and I couldn't turn away from this generic actioner about Satan coming to New York. The Hellboy animated movie that was also on was better.
Oh, and squeezed some poker in Sunday night too. Actually walked away from a ring game with more cash than I sat down with, and cashed in an 18-man $2 SnG. Amazing.
And that leads to this morning... damn am I tired.