At 991 posts with drafts included... does 1000 warrant something special?
I'm a touch lobsteresque today after 4 hours on a boat chasing dolphins and turtles without sunscreen. One might call me a moron... one might be right.
You know a trip is winding down when you're exhausted at 4pm and decide it's a good night to order pizza and finish off the booze you have back at the ranch.
I have a small dilemma. The BBT4 is kicking off Sunday. I'm heading home Sunday.
The Brit game starts at 4pm. I'll be touching down in Fort Meyers around then with a 2.5 hour wait for my connection. I could fire it up, but being the BBT kickoff, I doubt I'd be able to finish before I had to get on my flight. That's even assuming there's free WiFi available.
The Big Game, which has long been one of my favourites, starts at 9:30, which is when I'll be landing in Toronto. My friend lands an 1.5-2 hours later though, and I'll be picking her up. I could preregister, play for a bit, and then hope I'm still alive when I get home around midnight... but that seems terrible.
So barring a bout of awfuckits, I doubt I'll be in either of the BBT4 kickoff events which sucks, because I LOVE the BBTs, and generally kick ass in The Big Game during them. Guess that means I'll just have to take down the RC game, Skillz, and Mookie next week to make up for it.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
At 991 posts with drafts included... does 1000 warrant something special?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
In the door at midnight. Strange contrast when you see a packed street on Tusday, and dead one on Wednesday. Also annoying? When the Brazilian Steakhouse is having their opening party and won't actually be OPEN until Friday. Upside? Good food up the road. Fantastic rare bluefin tuna, although the noodles were unnecessary.
Touristy stuff for the day - Aquarium. Better pictures than last time.
I'd love a few days with city council to fix the transit system in this town.
This place used to be the richest city in the US per capita (1800's due to shipwrecking business)... the tour guide told us so... 3 times. Today? Businesses closing all over, entire blocks of homes up for sale, and cabbies talking about how they're glad they have ANY passengers. It's odd, because other than tonight, the place has SEEMED busy. I should note that the bars are still open and going strong.
Spring break hits this weekend we're told. The locals are running for the hills.
Still, we've met talked to some great bartenders, cabbies, and tourists. Truly, there's no place for the bitter and disenfranchised here. In many ways, I envy Al.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Happiness. That is what infuses this place. Except for our cabbie tonight, who was disillusioned, having moved to Austin from Key West in November (back for spring break) because this little island had become excess to the extreme.
Whatever. He has a point, but it's still awesome here.
Late day, fresh clothes, touristy thing #1 - conch train to introduce someone to the area. Then some buskers (two of us as volunteers... yay?), food (cuban... yum), drinks, more drinks. Neither Irene nor Irish Kevin could be found in their respective joints, but we may try again. 5 bars, 1 day... good pace.
Free hugs from strippers... she didn't look like someone I'd want to make physical contact with.
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy). I'm pretty sure Buddy just sent his songlist to the local "musicians". Nobody seems to do anything original. Two days, 3 covers of Margaritaville... I think I'm behind.
Now if only we could keep the ants out of the bread...
Monday, February 23, 2009
The beauty of a vacation where there aren't any set plans and where you're familiar with the locale already is that you can take it easy on day 1. We checked in, walked to the grocery store, stocked up, and walked back. Still no bag. We hung out, planned our method of getting to old town (we're in new town), and left to catch the bus. Missed it by about a minute, as it drove by us on our way to the stop. Next bus? Over an hour later. Whoops. We walked the 4 miles to old town, seeing parts of the city we'd never gone near before.
We made it, bit leg sore, to Square One for dinner. Excellent food, fantastic drinks, incredible service. My one complaint was that my steak was a bit dry on the outside. Hard to explain, but I think it was pan-seared instead of done over a grill. Which is fine, since the place isn't a steakhouse.
After that, we wandered down Duval to show the only member of our group who hadn't been here before what Key West was about. At Sloppy Joe's, we turned left to go to Captain Tony's, the original Sloppy Joe's. You know what? I like the place. We all did. The guy playing the hits of the 90's all night on his guitar helped, but so did the fact the place wasn't a scene. It was an old dive with a small crowd having a good time. The other Sloppy Joe's was a packed mess of noise, and nowhere near as appealing. You could see Hemingway sitting where we were... not so much the other.
When the musician started playing Crazy Game of Poker, I realized he was just the live version of BDR, and I was in good place.
Being effectively up for 36 hours, I didn't complain much on calling it a night relatively early, and not exactly sober. We grabbed a cab and had a great talk with the driver. We bashed Michigan, and then found out he was from there, but good-natured about the whole thing. He came to the Keys 12 years ago for a couple weeks, had car trouble, was told it would take a while to fix, and decided to stay. I told him he had a terrible mechanic if it's taken this long. He's a carpenter by trade, but has now taken to driving full time and hammering part time with no regrets. I see a similar story in Al's future - "I came for a few months... 15 years ago."
Speaking of Al, I got a couple names texted to me check out. We'll be sure to find Irene in the upcoming nights, especially since we were next door to her last night.
I still love this place. Oh, and my suitcase is waiting in the lobby for me.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Nothing overly coherent to say today, so it's all in bits.
- First and foremost - BBT4 is coming! Brit game, new Monday Riverchasers $26 game, Skillz, Mookie, and maybe some Big Games? Kickoff is March 1st, when I'll be in the middle of heading back home from the Keys. It ends May 31st... so much for Spring.
- Second and foremore - Eh-Vegas is just THREE WEEKS AWAY. Get your asses up here! Not that Kat, me, VinNay, and some Tuckfards can't have fun in the city by ourselves, but you'll cry yourself to sleep at night over missing it.
- Like the new Mac. Now that I'm getting used to the trackpad gestures and just accepting that my Applications folder is going to be a mess, it's becoming quite easy on the brain. Hey, as long as Full Tilt and Stars have clients for it, I'm happy. No, I'm not a Mac preacher, nor will I be. But Delicious Library is awesome.
- The desktop issue is slowly being revealed. After upgrading the Intel Matrix Storage Manager, it was able to verify that one of the disks in my RAID 1 setup was fracked. Sadly, it wasn't specific to what the problem was, but suggested reconnecting the drive so it could be rebuilt. Last time I disconnected a RAID drive, I accidentally disconnected my RAID 0 array, which resulted in a complete computer overhaul. This time though, it's all backed up. Let's see what happens tonight when I start it up.
- I'm off to do some advance scouting on Al's new home in two days. Well, not his actual residence specifically, but the bars, boats, and restaurants around it. Also, I won't really be reporting to Al necessarily, unless drunken text-a-shots saying "How hot is this bartender??" count. The downside? Al won't be there. Stupid timing.
- Dow is under 7300, S%P 500 is under 760... good times. Still not near the bottom.
- Some black dude who claims he's the President of the United States was in my country yesterday. People were crying, hugging strangers, cheering, and generally being orgasmic over Obama's 7 hour visit. People are pathetic. Still, a warmer reception than Bushy got. But one of the best lines of W's career was uttered here - "I'd like to thank everyone who waved to me... with all five fingers." I wish we had a likeable leader. Or even one with a personality.
- So much stuff to do before leaving. Place needs to be cleaned, batteries charged, groceries bought. My brother (not the one in Whistler) is house/catsitting while I'm away, which means the place has to be liveable for company. Yes, my place will be in better shape for someone ELSE to live there. At least I got my laundry done yesterday.
- Dell is willing to arrange a pickup for the laptop sleeve they sent me. Dell also called me to talk about setting up a high speed Internet connection with Bell since I bought a new computer (I'm already WITH Bell and I cancelled the computer... bravo Dell, proving once again your integration of departments is top notch).
- Donkament tonight? Maybe. Lots of stuff to get done first though.
- Logitech VX Nano? Looks like the route I'll be going for a mouse. Stupid RF.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
So as I was playing my way to a mighty 20th place finish in The Mookie last night, I was also busy setting up my new MacBook.
Yah, despite my protestations to the contrary, I bought a Mac.
First impressions? I did the right thing.
After Dell's masterstroke of keeping me from ever making a major purchase with them, I was resolved to find an alternative. After examining and dismissing the other retail options (Toshiba/HP/Sony - bad enter key, Lenovo - boring black box, Asus - battery life of a dollar-store flashlight, Acer/Gateway/other - I prefer my computers to last), I loaded up Ye Ole Apple website.
My company has an employee purchase program with Apple, so I save a few percent when I mention the powerhouse who signs my cheques. The MacBook pros? Too big. The MacBook Air? Too overpriced. MacBook? Well... 0.19" thicker than the Air, and 1.5 lbs heavier. Also, aluminum and "green". Pretty asthetics aside, it matched every feature I was looking for, with the exception of a solid state drive (which was a $400 add-on... too pricey for what it is). It did, however, have incredibly easy drive access, so i can replace that puppy when SSD's drop to a price level I like. Oh, and with the EPP in place, it cost the same as I was willing to spend on the Dell (which had the SSD in it, but that's $200 I'm willing to spend as my own personal "fuck you" to Dell).
So, LED backlit screen, Bluetooth, Wireless n, enter key in a place that makes some damned sense, lightweight, portable, and in the price range? Done.
I strolled over to the local Apple store to get some hands-on time with the machine. The trackpad took some getting used to, but the keyboard is great. The OS may take some time to familiarize myself with, but I can always dump it for Linux or XP if I really want.
I was surprised at how busy the place was, and it took me a good 5-10 minutes to flag someone down. Once I did though, I had a computer, extra battery, and sleeve in about 4 minutes. Talk about a night and day experience compared to Dell. Friendly staff, a well-oiled retail machine (order placed from any computer on the floor, checkout done from anywhere on the floor, receipt e-mailed), and zero pressure.
No wonder their market share is growing. It's not just about iPhones and iPods.
I got home, went to the Raptors-Cavs game (yay! tickets replaced! boo - Raps got creamed). Came home, fired up The Mookie, and plugged in the MacBook.
Use is simple enough, but installation is a bit odd. Drag this icon to that icon of a folder? Now find that folder in Finder? Drag to the Dock or create an alias and move the alias to the desktop? Downloads get mounted on the desktop and have to be ejected? I'd probably have been more confused if not for my Linux days.
This could be the major thing that bugs me - access. I've always been someone who dives for the hardware manager, registry, etc., to fiddle with things. When I used Linux, it wasn't a proper install unless I'd recompiled the kernel a dozen times. But now, there's this underlying assumption that I don't WANT to know where anything is or how it works. I'm not so sure I like that. But hey, I have X11 on there and a terminal window is easy to open for me to explore the fairly standard *nix directory structure.
But I think I'll keep it. Now I need a bluetooth mouse.
Oh, and my night ended with my desktop going BSOD while I continued my attempt at C: backup. Methinks I know which drive is having the problem.
One other thing - when I got home, there was a message letting me know a package was downstairs for me. I picked up the box from Dell and laughed. The laptop sleeve I'd ordered with my laptop from them had arrived! Despite the fact they put in a cancellation request. Oy.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I was sent this piece today and shook my head in amazement at the attempt at spin.
The author calls out Obama for fear-mongering about the economy and says the comparisons to the Great Depression are unfounded and nothing but a political scare-tactic. He makes the argument that the recession of 1981-82 is a more apt comparison.
I have a couple issues with this.
1.- Obama isn't comparing this directly to the Great Depression yet, he's called it the worst economic crisis SINCE the Great Depression. He's right.
2.- The author's dates are fucked up. This is the bulk of my problem.
It is bad history because our current economic woes don't come close to those of the 1930s. At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate. Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. In the last year, the U.S. economy shed 3.4 million jobs. That's a grim statistic for sure, but represents just 2.2% of the labor force. From November 1981 to October 1982, 2.4 million jobs were lost -- fewer in number than today, but the labor force was smaller. So 1981-82 job losses totaled 2.2% of the labor force, the same as now.
Job losses in the Great Depression were of an entirely different magnitude. In 1930, the economy shed 4.8% of the labor force. In 1931, 6.5%. And then in 1932, another 7.1%. Jobs were being lost at double or triple the rate of 2008-09 or 1981-82.
Let's make this a fair comparison of time frames here. The Great Depression is generally acknowledged to have started shortly after the stock market crash of October 29th, 1929. So a fair comparison would be from that date to October 1930. But Schiller is comparing all of 2008 to 1930 as opposed to starting in September 2008 and extrapolating to September 2009. Job losses were small in early 2008. It's been acknowledged we've been in a recession since November 2007, but the real brunt didn't hit until the last quarter of 2008.
And the bulk of those 3.4 million lost jobs have been in the last 4 months. Over 2 million jobs lost since September.
So if 3.4 million = 2.2%, that means 154.5 million jobs total exist. If the current rate of job losses stays CONSTANT (and it will, in fact, grow) at 600,000 per month until September, and we assume 2 million lost jobs since Oct 1st 2008, then that's 6.8 million jobs lost by October 1st 2009. That happens to be 4.4% of the total jobs, which is just shy of the 4.8$ 1930 total. Hell, if we just take 600,000 per month for all of 2009, then we're looking at 7.2 million for 2009 alone, or 4.7%. And like I said, those are conservative estimates.
Sounds a lot more like the Great Depression now.
This was reflected in unemployment rates. The latest survey pegs U.S. unemployment at 7.6%. That's more than three percentage points below the 1982 peak (10.8%) and not even a third of the peak in 1932 (25.2%). You simply can't equate 7.6% unemployment with the Great Depression.
He's comparing the rate of the 1st month of the 1st full year of this crisis to the PEAKS of his comparisons. Let's look back when this is done at the PEAK unemployment rate and see how that equates. If anyone doubts we'll be close to 10% by 2010, then they're dreaming. That will bring us in line with his 1981-1982 comparison. If the situation continues to worsen until 2012, then who knows where it that rate will be?
Also, the official unemployment rate doesn't take into account people who have stopped looking for jobs, those who have taken part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work, or those who have fallen off the employment insurance radar. That number is available in the reports too, and it was 13.9% for January. But I don't know if the same metrics were used in 1932 or not. Regardless, when that number is taken into consideration, 25.2% if this continues for a couple years isn't out of reach.
Other economic statistics also dispel any analogy between today's economic woes and the Great Depression. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose in 2008, despite a bad fourth quarter. The Congressional Budget Office projects a GDP decline of 2% in 2009. That's comparable to 1982, when GDP contracted by 1.9%. It is nothing like 1930, when GDP fell by 9%, or 1931, when GDP contracted by another 8%, or 1932, when it fell yet another 13%.
Auto production last year declined by roughly 25%. That looks good compared to 1932, when production shriveled by 90%. The failure of a couple of dozen banks in 2008 just doesn't compare to over 10,000 bank failures in 1933, or even the 3,000-plus bank (Savings & Loan) failures in 1987-88. Stockholders can take some solace from the fact that the recent stock market debacle doesn't come close to the 90% devaluation of the early 1930s.
Once again, comparing the GDP in 2008 to anything is pointless. A 2% decline is a ridiculous estimate considering the collapse of manufacturing around the world. People are losing jobs, stores are closing, business are collapsing, and everybody's counting their pennies. 9%? Probably not, but anybody looking at the reality of the world right now isn't going to believe 2% either.
As for auto production. When did the car companies collapse? Oh yah, Q4 2008! Why the hell would use the overproducing first 3 quarters to compare to 1932?? Again - 1932, not 1929! What the fuck is the crap? There are also at least 3 more major auto players on the market, and sales are through the floor for everyone. Shipping yards have football-fields of cars sitting in them because not even the dealers want delivery. Let's look what the decline in production is like for 2009, and 2010, and 2011. The companies are still overproducing and the American ones are all bankrupt but don't want to admit it.
As for banks - at least 100 will be closed by year end. Citi and BoA should have died already, but were once deemed "too big to fail". Now they're tiny in comparison. Obama's talking nationalization of banks (the "Swedish model") to save all of them from going under. There also aren't nearly as many banks in the US as there were in the times he's comparing them to. Where are your percentages now math boy?
As for stock market devaluation - baby, we ain't hit bottom yet. Once again, his comparison is to the "early 1930's". That would equate to 2009-2011. Let's see where we end up.
This is one of the most transparently terrible attempts at positive spin I've seen in a long time. Anybody who compares the start of a crisis to the peak of past crises is a moron in my books. Let's look back at this period in a few years and then compare notes. There isn't an ounce of water that could be held by his arguments.
Work finishes. I buy tea. I get a hair cut. All is well. I decide to swing by a couple retail places to see if I can find a laptop. Nothing impresses. I head to the pet store to get treats for the cats, they're out of the ones I want. I look at the only laptops that have the enter key where it doesn't drive me nuts - they're boring as hell. Lenovo Thinkpads = black rectangles. No big deal. I get home.
I turn on the computer. Dell responded - token weak apology that reads more like, "fuck you, we don't need your business." Start Heroes downloading, and go to get dinner ready. I blow a fuse. Here's the problem, the fuse I blew is the other half of the plugs I blew a couple months ago... still unfixed. No microwave, no toaster, no router, no cordless phone, no modem, no easy way to move them. I go to the fuse box. I check the fuses. As last time, the ones I can actually access are fine. Somewhere in there, I kill the juice to the computer. It resets and BSODs. It's rare to see a blue screen of death in XP. I reset. I go back to the fuses. I fashion a wire coat hanger into a handle to yank out one of the cartridge fuses that I couldn't get to before. The fuses are fine. Sigh. I try yanking out the larger ones, even though I assume they're for the fridge, stove, washer, etc.. They don't budge. I remove the entire fuse box case out of frustration. I pry out the last small cartridge that was inaccessible before due to broken plastic. DEAD FUSES! YAY! I replace them, jam the cartridge back in, and go test the plugs. THEY'RE ALIVE!! I screw the fuse box panel back on and get to making dinner. Turn on stove... do other stuff... butter isn't melting. Stove isn't on. WHAT THE FUCK! Clock on the stove is fine, elements and oven don't work. FUCKFUCKFUCK. I go back to the computer to look up the model. BSOD! FUCK ME WITH RUSTY FUCKING PIPE!
I reboot to safe mode. BSOD! IN SAFE MODE! I ask friend to look up BSOD error. Confirms my suspicions about Intel RAID volume verification causing the issue. I go back to the fuse box, perform some percussive maintenance on the big cartridges. Stove works now.
Make dinner. Pasta becomes clumps instead of unraveling into individual noodles. Sigh. Bring dinner to computer. After half a dozen resets and boot options, I get XP going. I cancel the volume verification... no crash? I hook up the external 500 gigger and start the backup. Damned if I lose all that porn a second time.
I go out of the 50-50 in the 500's on a move that I didn't need to make against a LAG who I had caught earlier. He wasn't bluffing the boat this time.
One hour left in the backup. I guess I could backup the C drive too. Or I could sleep for a change. Still no Heroes.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that my tickets to the Raptors-Cavs game on Tuesday magically disappeared from my desk at work over the weekend. Let's see if that gets fixed in time too. Part of me really wants whoever the fuck stole them to be in my seat when I get there.
Monday, February 16, 2009
So far, I've lost to quads 3 times this weekend. Two of those happened with the same pocket pair (9's) hitting the other two within minutes of one another.
Toss in Dell messing up my laptop order and then being unable to fix it without canceling and having me resubmit it, and not even offering so much as an apology, and there have been moments of aggravation the past few days. Likelihood of a laptop being in my possession before departure for a week of relaxation? Pretty damned slim.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Have a great long weekend. Except those of you who don't have one. It sucks to be you.
I'll probably just drive myself nuts looking over laptops. If I don't just buy one on my way home today... along with a camera bag... and whatever else I may grab in an attempt to fill holes in my life.
Like a new mop and a dish sponge.
Then I'll fill the remaining spaces with gooooooood beer.
Chances of me making the Donkament... about 0.1%. Good luck to the drunken donkeys that WILL be there.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Looking for some adivce...
I've been peripherally "in the market" for a laptop for awhile. I keep putting it off because I really don't need one. I have my Archos for travelling (movies, web access), although it's a pain in the ass for typing. My place isn't exactly big enough that it necessitates a laptop in another room. I don't work from home, or have any need for a laptop in that capacity.
But there are occasionally times when I wish I had one.
I'd like something in the kitchen for checking recipes, substitutions, and the like. I'd like to have an actual keyboard when travelling to write e-mails and blog posts. Hell, something that could do some photo editing would be nice too. And there's of course, times when I'd rather play poker in my living room than in the office. I wonder if anybody would be upset about me running 80ft of cable up the side of my building so I could surf from the roof...
The netbook craze got me thinking that was the way to go. Small, light, ultra-portable and with just enough power to cover the basics. But then I played around with a couple yesterday... bit of a fail in my book.
I tried out a Vaio P (Sony's don't-call-it-a-netbook offering). It's a pretty thing, with LOADS of features, but the nipple-control-thingee is slow and awkward, and the wide but short 10" screen means a lot of scrolling. I'm also not a fan the vertical viewing angle. Also, $999 for something about the size of a coat wallet. Accessories haven't arrived in-store yet either. All that said, if they'd made it a portable tablet with orientation detection, instead of a regular clamshell, it would be a winner I think.
Then I played with the Dell Mini 9, and the Acer Inspire. A more useable form factor for each for sure, but lacking some of the features I liked in the Vaio.
But overall - the keyboards! Ugh. After 22 years using full-sized keyboards, the drop to the 82-key mini versions is ugly. I was mistyping all over the place, and with the tiny screens and tinier fonts at a bad viewing angle, I couldn't figure this out until after a web page loaded or if I zoomed in, crouched low, and squinted. So that kills the mini experiment I think.
Which means a look to the slightly larger small laptops. the 12-14" screens with a fuller keyboard and better resolution.
What am I looking for? Portable, lightweight, good resolution, wireless N, Bluetooth, enough power to do some multitasking without bringing everything to a crawl, and a useable default interface (ie.- trackpad vs nipple).
Anybody have something they like? Dell's the obvious choice, especially since they've started making decent laptops again. What about Toshiba? Is HP actually making anything that isn't just pretty garbage? If I could find a cheap Vaio, would it be worthwhile?
Oh, and don't bother suggesting a Mac. Chances are good I'll just install Linux on whatever I get.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
We're enjoying record high temperatures in Toronto right now. 8 degrees today, or around 46F. In February. In Toronto. It's raining.
In Key West? 24... or 75F.
Average highs fluctuate all year from 24 to 32. Lows? 18 to 27. That's consistency.
I'll be there in a little over 2 weeks, but will be back here before Al arrives. Poor timing. I doubt I'll complain much though.
And it looks like there may be a second trip to Israel in my future too... people and their getting married... who does that? Crazy people, that's who.
Could be a warm year.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I'm generally down to playing one multi-table SnG a night these days. I was far more interested in watching Heroes and catching up on BSG (good ep, but why bother with the arc at all?) than rushing to the keyboard.
But I did play a medium-sized multi-table SnG. At one of the early tables, two players got all-in on the flop, one with TP, the other with pocket aces. The aces held up and the other guy went down. I wasn't paying attention, but caught the followup comment in the chat from one of the other players. "You'd better have the goods when you go against that guy. He only plays top 10 hands."
I checked the hand history to review that hand, and saw that the guy in question hadn't played much at all. The comment was duly noted.
At the final table I was in 2nd with a healthy supply of chips. The nut-peddler was alive with one of the shorter stacks. In the BB, I found pocket aces (only my 2nd or 3rd of the game of course). Considering that I usually get a walk when I have big pocket pairs in the big blind, I wasn't expecting much. But nuts-boy pushed his chips in the middle and I insta-called. He flipped over KQo, and while the board got a wee bit scary on the turn, he didn't improve enough to beat me.
Granted, with pocket aces, I'm calling anybody, any time in this position, so the advice seems moot. However, I'd folded hands to this guy pre-flop once or twice earlier in the game that I might have considered seeing a flop with against someone else. In fact, I'd kept the earlier comment in mind the entire game, waiting for a chance to catch this guy with either premium pockets or a hidden draw if he let me in cheap.
In short, he was pushed into my sights by someone else. In fact, by being a smart ass and pointing out his observation to the entire table, the chatter took away HIS advantage as well as the other guy's. Before this, he may have been the only one with notes that labelled the nut-peddler. By talking, he spread this information to everyone and might have screwed himself as well. It's these brief moments in a game that can turn the tide dramatically. Poker is a game of connections, where a small thread can change the entire tapestry.
Consider this line your spoiler warning.
Okay, another not terrible episode of Heroes. They cleared up Peter's power situation. Does him telling Tracy cause problems in the future? Will she sell out his secret? Probably not... the writers aren't that bright. That said, Peter's alteration makes him more interesting I suppose. At least until Ando touches him I'd guess.
Mohinder gives Hiro the best advice yet - run. Hiro of course, refuses, because that's not what a hero does. Of course, he's dead weight for the time being.
Parkman can not only see the future, but has the African dude leading him to art supplies when necessary. That's some gift. Parkman will be the wild card this season, looking for revenge.
Benett is doing what he's doing to protect Claire and his family. Well, that's the opposite of novel. Naturally, he'll turn against Nathan and the government at some point. Probably shortly after Claire gets in trouble... again.
Nathan is realizing that maybe this whole sticking-people-in-camps thing wasn't such a good idea. Especially when those people have a variety of super powers that kick his air-Nathan ability's ass. Nice of his conscience to start coming forward after setting up the season.
And Mama Peterelli isn't too pleased with him. Well, maybe she should have thought about that before helping him out.
Peter is showing some surprising smarts again. That little "grab Nathan so he can fly away" bit at the end was clever. He's also become a bit of a rebel expert it seems, what with his estimation of cell phone tracking time, elimination of traceable assets, etc..
Speedy served her purpose. Does shot=dead? Who knows. Depends if they want Matt to go permanently nuts or not I suppose.
Sylar is still awesome. Now he has microwave-boy as his sidekick, which will likely result in a dead microwave-boy at some point. "And I let you live. Which is kind of a big deal for me." was the line of the show.
But Hiro... he sees a picture of himself protecting a girl in India and assumes that (a) she has a sword (huh?) and (b) this will get him his powers back (wha?). Man, I need one of those swords. Guess we're going to India! Which of course means that Mohinder is king shit for that part of the arc. I wonder if he's just as stupid in Hindi?
All-in-all, a decent episode 2 for moving things forward. The "look" continues to be better, especially the night scenes. It definitely had the feeling of all the pieces being moved to their appropriate places in this chess match. Now if the writers can show themselves to be more competent chess players than a drunken monkey, this could work for them.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Spent the weekend in Montreal with most of my coworkers. We've been looking to do some sort of group gathering for a few years now and it finally came together with box seats to the Leafs-Habs game.
- Bolt from work a couple hours earlier than usual to catch the flight from Toronto City Centre airport to Montreal. I now firmly love Porter Air for the convenience factor alone. Shuttle next door to work, world's shortest ferry ride to the island, and no-hassle security into the waiting lounge with complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. They even feed you on a 1-hour flight. If I'm going anywhere they fly, I'll be flying them.
- Land, stroll over to the taxi line, laugh at the number of people, continue to the limo line where nobody but limo drivers are waiting. Easy decision.
- Check-in to the Fairmont. Well, try to check-in. "We don't have a reservation under that name." Oookay then. "Oh, but your colleague here has 2 rooms. Maybe one of them was yours?" So it turns out okay, except the only one they have is a smoking room. I realize it won't matter that much when I come back at 3am.
- Drinks across the road. Beer... Ten martini... Ketel One martini... and off to dinner.
- Queue De Cheval. Gorgeous building, big steaks. Ahi tuna tartare to start. 24-day aged Delmonico cut with a veal and white truffle reduction. Sides split among the table. One gripe - I ordered medium-rare, it was leaning towards the medium side. If a steakhouse where my slab of meat BY ITSELF costs $50 overcooks, it loses some serious points. But hunger, and the fact it wasn't QUITE medium yet won out. A small table full of a California Cabernet Sauvignon bottles was left in our wake. I didn't partake in the 40 year-old port that some did, opting instead for caffeine.
- Off to a bar with what we'll refer to as "good hiring practices" for a couple more martinis before last call... at that bar.
- Then off to Club Wanda's... the worst strip club I've been to in a long time. When you fall asleep during the table dance, you know it's lacking something.
- Find my way back to my hotel and call it a night.
- Up at 10:30am. I first woke up fully at 9:45, but fell back asleep. Get ready, and head downstairs to find breakfast with a couple other hungry and hungover coworkers.
- Find a deli with brunch, and decide what I really want is a smoked meat reuben skillet with two eggs on top and homefries on the bottom, with smoked meat, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese in between.
- Fed and ready, I grab me a cab to the Casino Montreal. It's been years since I've been there, and it blew serious chunks back then. Then again, I didn't actually know how to play anything back then. It's still a horrible layout, with multiple floors and gaming split up all over them. They converted an old Expo '67 building I believe. I find the poker room... and it's closed. "Due to circumstances beyond our control, the poker room doesn't open until 3pm daily." Ugh. So I have an hour and a half to kill. I wander, play some blazing 7's and win $275. I take this and find me a craps table. $10 tables, en Français. I find a spot and start playing... gambling being a universal language, this isn't a problem. Just before 3 I colour up... up $65. So up $340 in about 1.5 hours.
- Get to the poker room and it's... VIDEO POKER TABLES! Ugh. There's a line at the registration desk, and a bigger line at the cashier. Why? Well, to play, you have to get a poker card, sign in at one of the kiosks for your game of choice, and then deposit money on the card. Once you get to the table, you slide in your card and choose how much of your credit you want to play at the table.
- I sat at $1/2 and bought in for the max $200 at the new table. I also neglected to hit the word "english" on the login screen, forcing me to get a French interface with no way to change once you started.
- These video tables work fine, and have their benefits. With the hour I had left, I wouldn't have seen nearly as many hands with a live dealer. That said, they kind of suck. The interface is a bit dodgy (everyone uses the corner of their cards, since some spots have to be touched just right), and the conversation is non-existent (it did start to pick up about 45 min in). The fact sign-up took 30 minutes didn't help either. I ended up giving back $113.50 over my hour of play. Between the horrible players who couldn't find the "abandonner" button (pocket 2's unimproved on a board with an Ace and face? gotta be good!), the video game interface, and the absolute card death, I can't say I had a good time with this one. But they're proudly advertising live dealers starting March 30th. So much for the video game experiment.
- From here, it was back to a cab and off to Crescent for dinner at Wienstein & Gavino's. Big plates of food. Antipasto platters for the table (good calimari and merguez sausage), and more red wine being poured freely. Glad I finished my rum and cokes before that started. I had a pretty solid pizza with more merguez sausage, grilled vegetables, and other stuff.
- And then a stroll to the game. Great seats (a box, so that's a given) just above the lower bowl. Drinks flowing freely again. Great game too, with the Leafs blowing out the Habs 5-2, and leaving a city in tears, except for a bunch of drunken guys heading to the next bar.
- Back to Gravino's for free beer with our ticket stubs. More drinking. The bachelorette party showing up was a nice touch, even if they were as typical as you would expect. A few more drinks, and then off to a place called Dieu du Ciel for artisnal beer. I had a nice Russian Rauchbiere and partook in the privately imported Swiss Absinthe that was already waiting. We all started to hit a wall that was conveniently located at last call. Cab back to the hotel, and another 3:30 am visit to my pillow.
- Up, ready, and out to get to the airport. Easy flight back, and home in the afternoon, where a nap awaited. Once again, my house/cat-sitting best friend had somehow turned the mess I left behind into organization and cleanliness. I actually had an entire couch available, and could see the end table! Yah, she rocks.
- Up from nap, grab some food, and take it easy for the rest of the night. Good weekend.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
You have $20.
I have $10.
You buy item X for $20.
I still have $10.
Item X drops in value to $10.
I want to buy item X.
I buy it for $10 from you.
You now have $10.
During the whole time after you bought item X, there was $10 in the "sidelines". Once I used my "sideline cash" to buy item X, there was STILL only $10 in the sidelines, but the total value of what was out there was now $20.
Think about this the next time someone talks about "sideline cash" saving the markets. They're fucking morons... or trying to sound optimistic to drive prices higher.
For every $1 spent in the market, someone takes out $1. Sideline cash doesn't enter the market, it passes through it to the other side, resulting in nothing.
I didn't set any poker goals for this year. I often find that if I set a goal in this game, I come within inches of reaching it before crashing down hard. But so far, it's been going okay.
At the beginning of the year, I reloaded my Full Tilt account from effectively $0. I'd grown tired of feeding them after a couple months of terrible results. I also reloaded at Stars, but haven't played there nearly as much.
As of last night, my ROI is at 108%, pretty much exclusively on 45 and 90-man SnGs. Obviously, this isn't sustainable, but it's a good start. Maybe this year I can be a break-even player.
I probably won't be playing again until maybe Sunday night as I'm off to Montreal tomorrow for a bit of a work retreat. It involves expensive food, lots of booze, the Leafs-Habs game from a box, and whatever else one does in Montreal. Go team-building!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Pot odds are easy enough to figure out these days. There are a bunch of tools online that will simulate every possible outcome or just do the math for you. In the middle of a game, some odds are stamped in your memory. Then there's the monkey math method of outs x 2 x cards left to come to get a rough estimate. Some people actually realize that this is just based on the assumption that 50, 47, 46, and 45 aren't that different in terms of denominators.
But where's the line? If you're getting 1:1, do you call when you're only 45%? Is 2:1 worth it at 30%? Does 23% cut it at 3:1?
And I'm not talking about implied odds, even though they come into play in the beginning of this hand.
That royal flush the other day went something like this:
I've got QTd in position with 3 to act behind me and an M around 15. There's a raise to a total of 3x the BB, and I decide to call. I like my chances of getting more money in the pot if I hit a draw, and might even get this multi-way with the call. Nobody else calls.
The flop brings me the 2nd nut flush draw with an inside royal redraw. Essentially 12 outs twice.
The aggressor bets the pot, and I call, figuring him for the ace. I'm getting 2:1, this is a no-brainer. In hindsight, I think I should have pushed here.
The turn bricks and my opponent goes all-in. He's got exactly twice my remaining stack, so I'm looking at 1,985 to win 4,685 chips, or 2.36:1, or 29.76%.
But the chances of hitting one of my winning draws are only 27.27%. There are no more implied odds in this situation as he's all-in. Does his 2.49% edge really make a difference here?
I didn't think so. Especially given that it was the middle stages of a 45-man game and this was a good-sized pot that could give me a lot of power as long as I avoided the bigger stack 3 to my left. I called.
My royal hit on the river, but any diamond or king would have done. Naturally, my opponent typed "nice chase" followed by "wtf were you even doing in that hand?"
I chose not to answer him, but I did answer the question to myself. The only borderline decision made in that hand as far as I'm concerned was the call on the turn. I was thinking of pushing if he checked anyway, but his push confirmed that he was ahead. Is 2.49% enough to make you fold?
Mom makes meatloaf. I make meatloaf. The difference is mine tends to involve three types of meat and a counter full of pastes, sauces, and spices.
Mom makes chili. I make chili. The difference is I use six or seven chili powders, hot sauce, smoked salt, and vegetables I wouldn't touch growing up.
And the other night I decided that a tuna salad was the right call. I grew up eating these. They fell under the category of "really? you like that?" Not because it was gross, but because I generally wasn't a fan of tuna being added to things (outside of tuna sandwhiches), and my salads often ended up swimming in either Catalina or Thousand Islands dressing. But there was lettuce, tuna, and Miracle Whip.
But of course, why make it easy on myself?
Out came the can of tuna, it was drained to the sing-song meowling of the cats at my feet. If you ever question a cat's sense of smell, crack open a can of tuna from 3 rooms away.
After giving the cats their share, gathered the ingredients.
Mayo, dijon mustard, horseradish, hot sauce, sundried tomatoes, capers, olive oil, 10 year aged balsamic, soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne.
And dump it all into the food processor.
Cut up a tomato, chop a green onion, break up some romaine, grab the dark rye croutons I made a couple weeks ago, and mix it all with the tuna and processor dressing.
One tasty tuna salad, if a bit more complicated than mom makes.
I also decided to experiment with my ice cream last night. Good 'ol Alton Brown made an quick comment on one of his shows in season 1 of Good Eats about adding gelatin to homemade ice cream to help it keep its shape. A friend needs some ice cream for an upcoming event and I was making up a second batch for them. It's a situation where a bit more stability may come in handy, so out came the gelatin. Tonight I'll see how it turns out once frozen. This could become a regular addition if it turns out the way I think it will.
Mom doesn't make ice cream.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Just opened this guy's Heroes recap, but figured I'd write up my thoughts before I read his.
So they've once again started a new chapter. When we last left our intrepid simpletons and morons, Nathan was talking to Worf about rounding up all the Mutants because they were dangerous, but Magneto remembered the Nazi camps and Jean Grey made an impassioned plea to congress in Roy Thomson Hall. Wait... I'm confusing things.
Okay, the first part about Nathan and Worf was right.
Hiro lost his powers to Arthur Petrelli, but Ando got powers from a magic needle, which allowed him to make Speedygirl go so fast she travelled through time because Parkman has an understanding of Relativity commensurate to the knowledge gleaned from a Hostess Cupcake comic book. This meant they could rescue Hiro, but he still ain't not got no powers. Peter can fly because he needled himself and was near Nathan at the time. He saved Nathan, and Nathan disowned him and made friends with President Worf. Mohinder was beat up in a fire, Arthur was shot by Sylar, Sylar was knocked out by Noah and Mama P and Claire before Claire's mom blowed up Primatech. I think I've covered most of it...
Here be spoilers. By spoilers, I mean a complete description and breakdown of the episode. Highlight to read.
Nikki, or whatever her name is now (Tracy? Yah, that sounds right) gets naked after talking to Tron (we assume) on the phone all sultry-like. Nathan is talking on TV (he's head of Homeland Security now) as she gets tagged and bagged by some black-clothed solider guys. Ali Larter getting naked isn't really a bad thing, but it is pointless here... so we'll call it even.
Peter is a paramedic, which I'm not sure where that places him in the medical hierarchy compared to nurse. He wants to help people, but can't help everyone as his Iranian partner tells him. Oh, his partner is Iranian so he can subtly point out that Nathan talking about a "clear and present" danger (the hero-types) is a parallel to the real-world fear of people of Middle-East ancestry.
Peter gets in a cab, and of all the cabs in New York City, it happens to be Mohinder's. Well, it's good to know that in these trying economic times, a brilliant Indian geneticist who has worked for two shadow corporations, and has the knowledge of how to create superheroes can stil get a job as a taxi driver. It turns out everyone is staying under the radar since that whole super-soldier business a couple months back. Especially since they all know what Nathan's talking about (it isn't sex).
Oh, Peter was in the cab because Claire warned him that Nathan and his mom were going to "take down" Parkman... and him too, but she didn't really mention that even though she knew it. Peter decided to talk to his mom about it... because Peter still gets stupid when the plot requires it.
Yes, so far, Claire and Mohinder have been the smart ones.
Mohinder gets carjacked by the dude who took Tracy, and is told to drive up to a black SUV. He escapes with his super strength and general enhanced abilities (no spidery stuff though), and gets rescued by Noah... but not really.
Here's the part where my brain stops screaming. Noah's a "bad" guy again? Sweet. Ma Petrelli's still on the bad side, and Nathan leads them all. Common link? They all want to keep Claire safe and let her have a normal life. This will undoubtedly come into play.
Oh, and Claire was all worried that Sylar was still alive earlier. Nobody believes her, but she can "feel it". She was right.
The attempted takedown of Sylar was possibly the show's high point. He's so badass, they don't even know. Sylar is once again searching for answers, but he's not conflicted. His god-complex is in full effect, and he demands your respect bitches. Also, he's looking for his real family. The scene with him and the watchmaker was also great.
Parkman is upset Speedy is using her powers to be a courier. Parkman is a whiny bitch who is a mall cop. Mall cops are huge, just ask Paul Blartt. Parkman is also seeing the African guy... complete with head.
Why? Because Parkman's the prophet now. Yes, it's apparently not a normal power, but one that is bestowed upon someone. So the African dude got it after Mendes died? I mean, we know Peter, Sylar, and Arthur all had it too, but that was part of their thing. Just as Parkman figures this out, Claire shows up and he gets tasered.
Then there's the Hiro storyline. The ONLY way to telegraph this more would be to put up captions that said "in 2 minutes, this is going to happen." We get it, they don't know Ando has powers, and they also don't know Hiro doesn't. Good thing Hiro tagged both Ando AND himself with GPS tags! Also good that Hiro gave Ando the most obvious clue in the world to the password to track him. Of course Hiro gets kidnapped and Ando doesn't. What a fucking second.. Hiro was in Japan! How the hell can Homeland Security take down someone in the middle of fucking Tokyo?
Whatever... everyone gets herded into a plane, Claire stows away (because Nathan let her go and she's too bad ass and cares too much to let that shit fly).
Now here's where they take a left turn. Peter's ability has been adjusted. Now, to get the powers of someone else, he has to TOUCH them. No more just absorbing through induction. Luckily, he was seated next to Mohinder and they could pinky-swear or something. He breaks free, then accidentally touches Tracy, which causes him great surprise when he freezes a hole into the plane wall! People start getting sucked out, including some random powered person whose face we don't see, so therefore they aren't important. Peter looks very scared about getting sucked out, even though he can fly. Mohinder grabs him just as he's about to be sucked out of the plane
Or can he? Maybe his powers have changed so that not only does he have to have physical contact, but that he can only have one ability at a time. Who knows? The writers are morons and will either not explain this or forget about it.
Meanwhile, Claire goes to the cockpit to tell them to land, but daddy Noah is the co-pilot (suprisingly, not Jesus), and he's surprised to see Claire. Then the plane crashes.
Next week - the Heroes learn about teamwork. Gag.
Okay, despite the sarcasm, I didn't mind this episode. A reboot was needed. Sylar as a bad-ass is the only way Sylar should be. Mohinder as not evil is better, since he was shitty bad guy. If they can keep Mohinder and Claire from being morons, then there may be hope for them. If they can stop people from getting temporary stupiditis, there's hope. If they make Hiro a liability since he has no powers, that could be cool, especially if they somehow need Ando and his help comes with the condition of Hiro staying around (Ando is still free, but tracking Hiro). Where's Speedy? She'll show up I'm sure. Kinda weak how they decided we still need a prophet to draw the future.
I would have LOVED for the plan crash to be fatal to 90% of the characters. I'd be happy with Noah and Sylar being the only major holdovers, everyone else is disposable. That's not going to happen though, but maybe having the heroes as fugitives, and all together finally could be good. The episode was fairly straightforward, had some strong performances, and was generally likeable. I'll give them some leeway on character changes and new directions for the sake of saving the show.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Every time I go to Vegas, I'm fascinated by the social engineering aspect of the town. I noticed it immediately when I touched down for the very first time. At terminal 2, the walk to baggage claim is ridiculously short, and there is NOTHING to keep you in the airport. The limos are right outside the door, but you have to walk to get to a regular cab or shuttle. The ride to The Strip takes you through the main terminal, around the airport, and down a couple more streets... when you could hit the MGM from the end of the runway with a well-placed loogie.
The casinos are easy to walk into, but hard to find your way out of. Hotel elevators are tucked into corners and hallways, and sometimes the walk to your room takes longer than the cab ride from the airport (New York New York, I'm looking at you). Taking a cab anywhere is at least a $10 fare, and every casino is easy to drive away from, but a maze to get into, which I'm convinced is to jack up cab fares.
And of course, the games are set to lure you in and keep you around. How many times can a slot machine JUST miss the jackpot? Sure, you and I know it's programmed in, but it still elicits gasps and groans from onlookers and players alike. Why wouldn't you play craps? There are 11 numbers that either win you money or do no harm, and only 1 that hurts you. If nothing else, flashing lights and bright colours are pretty.
If you DO win big, there are a plethora of ways to reinvest your winnings into the city of lost wages. Boutique stores, 5-star restaurants, high-class peelers, sports car rentals, top-shelf entertainment and top-shelf booze.
Last night, as I clicked "sign me up for another super turbo luckfest" for the 2nd time, I started thinking about the online poker equivalents.
I know some of compared the big MTT structures between online rooms, and SnG structure, and even luckbox structures. But has anyone looked at them from the other side, outside of rake? I know I haven't... yet.
When Full Tilt added the "sign me up for another ..." pop-up a couple updates ago, I was amazed it had taken so long. You get knocked out of a game on the 3rd hand by some donkey who runner-runnered an inside straight draw over your flopped set after refusing to fold bottom pair, and you've got a bit of tilt. Damn straight you're going to play another when presented that automatic option.
But what about the games? Only a portion of the decision-making when offering these games was "what kind of structure will attract the most people?" It was far more likely, "what kind of structure will suck up the most money without anyone noticing?"
We consider 12 minute blind levels online to be generous. 15 minutes might as well be 2 hours of live play! But is it really? Or have we just been led to believe that 10 minutes is a perfectly acceptable amount of time for a level on a screen?
Tilt also only recently added simultaneous SnG registration at the same level. Before, one wouldn't open until the current one filled. So multi-tabling just got easier.
Those red broadcasts about when the big MTTs are starting, or when the satellites for the really big ones are starting also serve their purpose of luring people over.
Double, or even triple, player points during certain times. Promotions that encourage multiple ring games.
But back to the games themselves. What makes a 9-man super turbo remotely attractive? It's a coin flip followed by a coin flip followed by praying people go out long enough for your "stack" to last. Rationally, we should stay away from them, but they fill up in seconds and are over in 15 minutes. That's right, an entire game started and finished in the length of time a "really generous" blind level takes in an MTT.
Some games have antes, others don't. Some allow a lot of play early on, while others seem to start 3 levels later.
Say what you will about setup hands and bad beats encouraging the donkeys to play more, but these sites are making a killing on their own analyses and marketing. They give people what they want, or at least a close enough facsimile that it goes unnoticed that the juice % is up a bit, or the bulk of the oustings happen in the second hour, when the blind structures goes a bit wonky for a bit, so people feel like they got their money's worth and play again tomorrow.
In the end, it always seems much easier to log in to the online rooms than it is to log out of them.
People were asking in Hoy's Friday post how the Wall Street bonus structure came to be. I caught myself writing a long, boring post about it (how novel). I scrapped it and here's the reduced version.
Bonuses used to be directly tied to commissions and/or percentage of profits, depending on what your role was. If you had clients, you got a cut of the commissions. If you played with the firm's money, you got a cut of profits. Hedge funds exploded in popularity largely because the traders at the fund tended to get paid well regardless of the fund's performance, with a combination of commissions and profits.
But firms began consolidating as they got bigger. Keeping track of which individual was responsible for which commissions or profits became onerous. So the methods were combined into a bonus pool which was split according to the more macro views of group profits. If group A made 60% of the profits and group B made 40%, then the pool is split accordingly (after the manager takes his cut). Then the individual managers of those groups take their cut, and determine who in the group deserves how much. From an accounting, and accountability, perspective, this makes more sense in a large firm. It also helps makes sure that the junior guy doesn't get completely shafted by a greedy head trader who refuses to acknowledge their contribution.
So, since commissions can be in the tens of millions of dollars per year for a single book, and profits can be in the hundreds of millions for a group, bonus pools can easily be in the millions or tens of millions. When split multiple ways, often based on seniority or the desire to keep someone from jumping ship, it makes a strange kind of sense for one person to make millions in bonuses.
The problem is the sense of entitlement that comes along with it. "I made $10 million last year, why shouldn't I make it again this year?" People forget what the definition of "bonus" is.
I called the Steelers, as did 50% of the rest of the world. I said 8 points though, based on the highly scientific "who has the longer last name" method. Whoops.
I also said it would be the crappiest Superbowl of all time. Seems I was wrong.
Helluva game, tons of grit shown on both sides.
It's a godo thing Pittsburgh and Philly don't like each other... otherwise Pennsylvania would be insufferable.