Friday, January 07, 2005

Little bit 'o Limit

Pretty boring today…we were supposed to see the sun, but that didn’t happen. I wonder why it always seems like weathermen are only dead on accurate when bad weather is involved? I guess just because we take it for granted when the weather is OK…there’s that damn perception thing again.

In continuing the effort to focus on the good, I got some nifty news. My deductible on my homeowners policy is only $500 vs. the $1000 that I had thought. Good thing, because it’s going to cost about $500 to get all of the limbs cleared away, and even though it’s not visible at the moment, I imagine that there is going to at least be some minor shingle damage. I’m REALLY realizing just how lucky we were, as there are approximately 70,000 folks who still have no power.

Last night I logged onto Party again, even though I didn’t really feel like it, because all work and no play makes Jack a shitty poker player. The cards were running bad from the start, but I hung in with some patience, even through all of the flashbacks from my initial nightmare that was Party Poker. Starting the night with $74, I blinded away nearly $4 before I got anything playable. I can’t believe I held on with that kind of patience, I certainly wouldn’t have before, that’s for sure. I couldn’t leave though, as I had a SUPER fishy table. Nearly every pot was at least 10 BB’s, and you wouldn’t believe the crap that was winning said pots. Well, you probably would, as most of you out there are Party vets, but I’m still in shock. Finally, I get QJs in the BB, and no one raised. Lo and behold, I flop a straight, with a rainbow board of K 10 9. There is a bet, I raise, everyone calls. Turn comes a J, so I figure I’ll be splitting this pot. Nope, I was beat by AQ. The one hand I actually play, someone has a good hand, go figure. At this point I’m down 7.5 BB’s and an hours worth of play. Getting discouraged here, folks….

I decide here to give it two more orbits, and if I can’t get anything, I’ll just call it a night. My next BB I have 35o, great. UTG raises right out of the gate and EVERYONE calls two bets cold, unbelievable. I was going to fold, but I call since I can see a flop for one SB (pot=10 BB’s). 9 8 3 rainbow. UTG fires another bet and half the table stays in, so I decide to call with bottom pair because the pot now is 15 BB’s with my call. Turn comes a 6, and now I have a straight draw. Checks all around, woohoo, I get a free card (should I have bet here? I think no, because I knew no one would lay down anyway and I would be costing myself extra money if/when I missed). River comes a 6 and now I have the low end of a straight. Good, but not so good, know what I mean? UTG fires out of course, three people drop, another call and it’s to me. I started kicking myself for getting trapped on a low-end straight, but then SSHE popped up in my head like the most natural thing in the world. When a pot reaches a certain size, call the river if you think there is ANY chance at all that you will win. The odds justified my calling the whole way, and with a 17 BB pot staring my in the face, I felt the size of the pot justified the call. I won an 18 BB pot with freaking 35o! UTG had 92s and the other caller had K8o. Good Lord. Any input on this hand from the more experienced Limit folks out there is certainly always appreciated. I think I played the hand correctly, but if I misapplied those SSHE principles, I hope someone out there tells me. Anyway, I blinded off some more money with the cold cards, and decided to quit +8 BB’s for the evening, as I believe it’s good practice to try and end the evening on a high note. Duh, as if anyone out there tries to end on a bad one....

I got home a bit early today since I have to go into work for a half day tomorrow, so I played in the Stars afternoon $3 Limit tourney and busted out 71st out of nearly 650. Not bad, as I haven’t played a Limit MTT in quite some time, but certainly not great either. I was a bit annoyed, but I’m sure I would have been just as annoyed had I made the money and then busted out with a net profit of $1.83. I feel I played well, and I have to keep in mind that that is what a good player focuses on, not the money. Damn, the road to improving as a player is hard…

BTW, thanks to all for their responses, humoring my inane questions. The insight of others is always beneficial, unless of course it is a 14 year old l33t h@x0r.

Still Thinking Big folks, head Much Bigger.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Frigid pondering.

Tomorrow it’s going to get above freezing. It should stay there for at least four minutes, but hey, oatmeal is better than no meal, right? Yesterday, I was forced to do two things I didn’t want to do. The first, I had to stay home from work. What?!!! Yes, I know. It sounds as hideous saying it as it does reading/hearing it. What reason could I possibly have for actually wanting to go to work? Well, I knew I wouldn’t be in a good frame of mind or have much of an opportunity to get in any poker play. I also knew that I would have to deal with (this is the second thing I DID NOT want to do) Enterprise.

No, fellow nerds, I speak not of the ship. I speak instead of that malignant plague of a car rental company with which so many insurance companies seem to be contracted. Of course, with only $30/day paid for by insurance, I didn’t expect too much. I was not disappointed. How is it that this huge company never seems to have any cars available? This is the third time (not because of wrecks, Hand of God/Stupid Bird situations) that I have had to deal with these twits, and they NEVER have anything available. (Did you know that just to get an entry-level position, you have to be a college graduate? What did these people graduate with? From my experiences, my best guess is they’re home economics graduates with 2.0 GPA’s or less.) After some deft maneuvering, I managed to dodge the bullet that is the Dodge Neon, and ended up with a Chevy Cavalier. Only slightly less painful. It’s very tiny and very tinny. I now truly have an idea how a sardine must feel, minus the oil bath. I’m cruising around town in the Little Engine that Could. I wish it that it Couldn’t, because then I could demand something better for the same price. I hate oatmeal.

I may not have had the opportunity to play, my friends, but I have still been thinking (some might even say Thinking Big), and have stumbled into asking myself a question that I personally feel I am too inexperienced to answer.

What if a person had, say, a 20K (just an example, feel free to insert your own number here) or more bankroll. This person is a confirmed solid player, having built said bankroll from nothing. However, through ***insert circumstances here*** they end up losing the entire thing. This person’s significant other, or perhaps they themselves, impose a poker exile of no less than one year. After the year (or perhaps longer), would it be possible to get back up to the same level of excellence they formerly played at, or would it be more akin to being a beginner again, having to relearn many lessons on the way back up? How much is poker a use it or lose it skill? Does it start out as a ‘use or lose’ skill, and once you reach a certain level of proficiency become ‘permanent’? Is this a completely retarded question that shouldn’t even be taking up space on the page, let alone in my head? In my defense, as a player with a $700-800ish bankroll, this question has been in the back of my skull a lot, as one night of really insane, batshit, fucktard tilt could do in my roll pretty quickly. Not that I would ever do that, of course…..

What say you, esteemed blogsphere residents?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Little Good, Pretty Bad, Mostly Ugly

After about three hours of total sleep last night, we seem to be pretty OK here. There are a lot of limbs laying on our roof, but the one causing the worry is still intact. We're not out of the woods yet, as temps are in the very low teens/single digits with smatterings of snow and sleet throughout today. Tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 33 so we should see a little meltoff.

Lest anyone think that I am focusing only on the bad things that have happened or might, I do have good things to say. We never lost power or internet, and for that I am eminently thankful. We lost phone, but I have my work cell, so I am not out of touch completely should something bad still happen. Another relief so far, is that at most I would say that I have a bit of shingle damage on the roof. Everything else is still intact as far as I know, but I haven't been able to be very thorough since going outside is still a bit of braving Death from Above.

Here are some pics from right around the house:

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The only other really sucky (for lack of many other, much better words) thing is the car. We have an '01 Civic which my wife gets to drive, and I toot back and forth to work in my '87 Accord. Guess which one is screwed? This presents a bit of a problem as I don't think that the defrost is powerful enough to keep up with this cold and ice. Hell, I can't even check to see,as getting in the car is at this point impossible given the fact it has 3/4 inch of ice coating it. I know VERY little about cars, does this look like a total to anyone? What the hey, I hope it is, a new car would be nice after this crap.

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Man, I sure wanted to play some poker last night, but obviously that was not going to happen. Perhaps I'll get a bit in today, but it doesn't look that good considering I'll be trying to make arrangements to get a rental car. I hate dealing with Enterprise, but USAA is contracted with them so what are ya gonna do?

I also have a better example of how I feel about now. You know when you're sweating an all-in, where you have top 2 pair against an opponents open ended straight draw? Yep, that's the one. We've dodged the turn bullet, but have yet to see the river....I hope it's kind.

Hard to believe it was almost 70 degrees three days ago.....

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Just Fear...No Loathing (that will come later)

I cannot lie, I’m a little nervous right about now. My car has been totaled, but I don’t really care about that so much right now. We have two giant, very old trees in our yard. How high they are I won’t even hazard a guess, other than to say, “REALLY FUCKING HIGH.” The tree closest to our back deck claims the prize for doing the car in, and my fear right now is that the much larger and much older tree at the other corner of the backyard might feel the need to show off to the first tree by trashing our house. One of i’s very giant limbs is hanging directly over the SW part of our house. Two large pieces have sheared off of the tree thus far, one barely missing the very SW corner of the house and back deck, and the other one that it was attached to, sheared and now resting on the ‘very giant’ limb hanging over the more substantial portion of the house. This is why I’m writing and worrying, as if that limb needed more weight added to it.

I’d say that the chances right now are about 50/50 as to whether or not our house gets punctured. I did have it at about 25/75, but with the added weight recently heaped upon it, along with the weather report that the icing will continue throughout tonight to be met tomorrow with wind and a trace to 3” of snow, things are looking a little less than promising. The thing that is making it worse (and really freaking my wife out) is the fact you can hear trees groaning and breaking all over the neighborhood. Imagine Mother Nature herself groaning with labor pains directly over your head and you’ll have an idea.

As we speak I am trying to barter any good karma and/or luck I have built up in my account with any and all higher powers in trade for nothing happening to the house. I REALLY don’t need the hassle and headache. Who does, right?

Does anyone have some higher power chits I can borrow for bartering, just to be sure? I swear I’ll pay you back. I better post this before the Internet goes out, as I feel lucky to still have it along with my power. My image hosting seems to be acting up, so I will post some pics when I can. Wish me luck…

Even in the midst of a disaster, I’m still trying to Think Big, but Dear God, that branch (not my head this time) is Much Bigger.

Did I mention........

Did I mention I hate the Midwest?

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Oh yeah, one of our cars was just crushed by a falling branch. The New Year isn't starting out so well.

I've slipped into the seventh circle of HELL. (The cold and slippery one)

More updates when I have a chance...

It's Cold, I'm...Bleh

Wowee, what a way for the ‘not starting out good’ Monday to end. I’m speaking of the biggest day ever for this tiny blog, 45 hits! While I’m sure that many others get that sort number in the first hour of their day, this was over double my largest previous hit count. I’m sure that the mention from Ftrain helped out big time, so thanks man. And while I’m busy gushing, thanks to everyone who takes the time to stop by and read, it keeps the motivation strong.

Vacations are great, but there is a small part of me that almost doesn’t like them, because it’s SUCH a pain dragging my ass back to work. It was a typical first day back, putting out small fires here and there which weren’t any big deal, but then came along the big problem of the day. One of the folks in an unnamed department needed their laptop reimaged, and now I officially hate them. The images, not the person. The last three PC’s I have tried to image don’t want to take the image on. Has anyone out there used imaging and had the beaucoup problems that I seem to be regularly running into? Last night before leaving, I started some deep tissue format therapy on the laptop in question, so hopefully it will cooperate for me today.

If you’re one of the folks who could care less about technology, you may want to skip this section. If you are one of the folks who deals with this area, you most likely have more experience than me, so perhaps you have some ideas. The reason that the reimage was necessary was that CMD.exe would not run. It kept saying that it had encountered errors, Windows needed to shut it down, and to restart it (of course, restarting made no difference). I searched around the web for about 20 mins to try and read about this problem, but couldn’t seem to find anything applicable to this situation. No one at corporate had dealt with a problem like this either. Have any geeks out there had a similar problem? If so, were you able to fix it? I suspect the problem lay somewhere in the registry, something I know VERY little about. Being in an organization that seems to shun open source is making me play catch up and learn more about Windows than I would like. What a pain.

Last night my eyes hurt and I had a headache, as the Christmas/New Years holiday un-conditioned my eyes from staring at a screen for large amounts of time, so I decided to ‘Just Say No’ to poker for the evening. Even though it was sooo tempting. **mmmm, 65,000 people on Partyyyy, auuugggghhhhhh** Instead, I just whipped up a quick meal for my wife and I, and we settled in to watch Las Vegas (which seems to become more and more mediocre every time I see it) and the new show with Patricia Arquette, Medium. Not a bad show, especially for a Monday when you don’t feel like staring at a PC anymore. I wonder how long it will take NBC to try and work Paris Hilton or Tim McGraw into the script and completely muck it up.

As poker is never too far from my thoughts, the show inspired a poker related question. If you had the powers of a medium which could be applied to poker, would you use them? (We’ll assume here that such a thing is possible and that you have control over said power) Let me be more specific. You can’t see specific hole cards, but when you are facing bets, you get only one of a few indications. Preflop Indicators would be something along the lines of Weak, Marginal, or Premium Holdings. Post Flop, your indicators would be Bluff, Semi-Bluff, or Monster. The indications you get are guaranteed to always be correct. Now the question: Would using this 100% reliable intuition in a poker game make you a thief, or just another player with a HUGE edge? Based on these indicators the possibility of losing is still present, but it drops sharply, especially over the long haul.

Now, I know with enough study and experience a person can divine such things on their own without any supernatural ability. Hell, I would swear that some of the top pros abilities DO border on supernatural, Marcel Luske being just one example. Geez that guy can read a holding, it’s uncanny. I’m speaking of having an ability in which you don’t have to actually think about it and it’s 100% dead-on. Does using it make you morally bankrupt, simply stealing from the other players? Not necessarily, right? I mean, given half the chance, most would use it on you. So, there is the gray question that will give you something to think about while your working today. I think most likely, the answer to this is the same as most other poker related questions, “It depends”.

I have to cut things short for now, as it’s 24 degrees here, and talk of freezing rain and snow abounds. It’s hard to write well when you’re sucked into the weather report. Don’t forget to stop by Mean Gene to wish him a Happy B-day, and keep a bookmark for Otis in the Caribbean.

Since it’s difficult to Think Big when it’s this cold, I’ll shut up for now.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Here comes the sun.....

Back to the regular schedule, finally. Last night I made a beautiful slow cooked garlic and cumin pot roast, which fell apart faster than Mike Tyson in front of Lennox Lewis. Gorgeous. After we ate, I pulled apart the rest of the meat and put it in a container, but left it out because it was still warm and I didn’t want to put it in the fridge right away. Then I proceeded to go to bed a few hours later while it languished on the counter the entire night, only to greet me this morning a husk of its former self, ruined. No exciting sandwich possibilities in the offing today, that’s for sure. So, to begin this ‘it’s not starting very well’ Monday, I exhort you to (literally and figuratively) Never Leave Your Meat Lying Out In the Open. It can make for some embarrassing and/or disappointing moments any way you slice it.

Oh Christ, they’ve turned Little Women into a musical. What prompts someone to take a good book and muscify it I cannot possibly fathom. Musicals, with all of their wholesome goodness, they shrivel my soul. Also, while I’m busy failing to fathom things, the TV is awash with the usual ‘How to Deal with all of the Holiday Debt’ exposes. How about dealing with it by not getting into it in the first place? And I’m not speaking of the folks who run up a credit bill and pay it off over the next couple of months. I’m speaking of those who are still paying on debt from Holidays ’03 or further back. Yes, your kids will be disappointed not getting what they want, and your desire to make them happy is more than understandable, but you’re certainly not doing anyone any favors by extending your indentured servitude to the credit overlords. Bah, what the hell was I expecting? It’s The Today Show, after all.

Oh won’t someone please think of the children.

Last night I was in a MTT mood, so I jumped into the PokerStars $2 crapshoot containing over 2600 entrants. I went out around 800, crap. What to do now? Join the $3 crapshoot that is just beginning, of course! I made it into late registration with what I imagine were seconds to spare, only to have my third hand (AA) cracked by A5s when the flop came 3 clubs. Ugh, doesn’t look like it’s going to be my night in the tourneys, so I hop onto a .50.1 table to see how the cards were running there. Not good my friends, not good. I played about three orbits and got some good preflop hands, but every single time I did, the board was diametrically opposed to my holding and I would have to let it go. MTT Tourneys + limited Limit play on PokerStars, $-9. Recognizing it’s not your night before losing more $$—Priceless.

After dinner, finding myself still in the poker mood, I fired up Party to see what I could do with the paltry $45 or so that I had left after my previous bout of Step 1 tourney idiocy. Not being in the mood for too much excitement or tense situations I decided to hit the .50/1 tables instead of the PL which originally helped me grow my initial free $15. After 2.5 hours playing, I ended up nearly 25 BB, closing down with $74. I was about to quit around +20 BB, when I got 77 and flopped my set, which went down to a rivered straight against a confirmed maniac. Crap, that nailed me for 7BB’s. I though about leaving at this point, lest more of the same unhappy shit be heaped upon me, but I resolved to simply keep playing well and wait a bit. Sure enough, on the very next orbit the maniac paid me back and then some when he called my set of Kings down to river with middle pair, even raising the turn! A little bit of reinforcement on patience and playing well has been officially added. I’m starting to think I really just might be deeply and profoundly retarded for not playing at Party more often. Nearly 70,000 people were playing last night. Good Lord, that’s a lot of fishy goodness.

Iggy pointed out something that he found in HDouble’s archives that I wish I had read earlier in my poker journey. Another lightbulb moment, check.

“Any time you play a hand without firmly believing that you have a positive expectation, you are on [subtle] tilt.”

Take this to heart, dear reader, and be enlightened.

Lastly, to give you something a little extra on the first Monday of the New Year, I will finally give my explanation as to why I have been so opposed to Party Poker in general. After all, don’t we all want a bit more length?

Let me say right now that while my reasoning may be idiotic, it is nonetheless real. Very early into my poker journey, after building up a little bit on InterPoker, I made the sojourn over to Party with $100. The interface immediately rubbed me the wrong way. The blocky avatars reminded me of a short bus art show. My first thought, “If the avatars are this freaking bad, why do they have them? Especially since they never change and cannot be personalized in any way.” Strike one. Begin card playing. In hindsight, my play was mediocre at best, but not a single good hand could win. Maldito Rio, indeed. Much like my eyelids when I’m trying to slog through something written by the venerable Mr. Hellmuth, they wouldn’t hold up. Perceived Strike.

Then, from lobby to actual table there was the clunky interface, which still has not changed. Since everyone has played on Party, details are unnecessary. If you don’t know, go sign up, bonus code: IGGY, and see for yourself. Strike two. The servers at the time were also very slow, clunky, and went down A LOT (at least during the short week I spent there). This seems to have improved, but at the time it reinforced Strike two. Lastly, the way that the cards are dealt. I know it’s horribly nitpicky, but you never actually see the cards being dealt, they simply appear. This makes it extremely difficult to suspend disbelief and imagine that you are actually playing “cards”. Strike three.

I took nearly a week, but after getting back up to even, I resolved never to play there again. Famous Last Words, and all that. After reading more and more blogs, I decided to give Party another try, and I found that simply seeing that interface again put me on tilt for some strange reason, but what the hell, I was getting a 50% deposit bonus. Same story. I played better than I did on my first foray into that sea, but still not well. I ended up taking a large-type hit, my bonus brought me back up to even, and I left, resolving once again to not set virtual foot there again.

Then, magic happened. After getting through SSHE for the second time, two days later the sun shone through the proverbial clouds. Party emailed me with a free $15 (which I could keep after 150 raked hands, whoopee) and I read Iggy’s comment telling me how deeply and profoundly retarded I was for not playing there. Ouch, that stung. However, it is exactly what I needed. Just like the fact that it sometimes takes a rude (intentional or otherwise) comment about how fat you are to jolt you into diet and exercise, this one jolted me out of my poker sticking point. The universe coalesced, SSHE finally established a permanent, unconscious cerebral residence, and I ran that $15 up with a zen I have never previously experienced. I haven’t moved any more money over to Party yet, as I am challenging myself to make something out of this free cash, but I am beginning to see the light. I can say with confidence that at least the deeply and profoundly adjectives can be stricken from my retarded-ness. I’m still VERY aesthetically opposed to Party, but am no longer so opposed to playing there. So thanks all of you bloggers, your collective wisdom is finally starting to seep through the cracks. Regardless of how annoying it may sometimes get, a steady diet of fish is good for body, mind, and without a doubt, the bankroll.

Stay with me, as I Think Big, while my head is Much Bigger. See you all tomorrow.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

First '05 Home Game

I had my New Year celebration last night, a day later than the rest of the world, and I think I like it that way. Never mind the fact that I didn’t intend to celebrate so rabidly, it just happened.

I informed everyone that poker would begin promptly at 6 PM, and spent the latter part of the afternoon making some fruit and vegetable trays, along with the newest incarnation (at least in my house) of tiny sandwiches. For this evening they would be made up of the following:

  • 1 hard baguette (cut into ¼” slices)
  • Peppered Pastrami
  • Various Cheeses
  • Some good quality mustard (take your pick)

Build up all of your little sandwiches. Don’t put too much mustard on the bread as it can make it soggy. Also, add some fresh ground pepper to the cheese you put on. Use olive oil liberally (jeez, that sounded like bad Popeye-based porn) on both sides of each sandwich, and bake (300 or so) until everything is melted and crusty. Mmmmm.

So, as seems to be the norm lately, everyone starts arriving once ‘fashionably late’ has given up for the evening, and left cursing under her figurative breath. This is kind of annoying but not as much as would normally be the case, as I was already through about 1 ½ vodka tonics. This, I think, is a prime spot for a mini-rant. What kind of blogger could I call myself if I didn’t stay true to the very thing that my VERY limited readership has come to expect? Maybe a better one. Who knows, I’m still too new at this.

I HATE, despise, detest, loathe, abhor, cannot bear, and am repulsed by lateness or tardiness in any form. If you want to further my descent into ranting madness, be late with no phone call letting me know beforehand (extenuating circumstances not included). GRRRRRR. Perhaps someone can please let me know when it became acceptable to be unapologetically late for EVERYTHING. Nearly everyone does it these days, and it’s now so bad that people expect things to be held up for them. I know, everyone is late at times, but for the love of all that is holy, use the phone and let someone know beforehand you’re not on schedule and/or not coming. My own parents are the worst people I know when it comes to this (which probably goes a long way in explaining this particular neurosis of mine). I honestly cannot tell you the last time they showed up on time for ANYTHING. If I offered them $1000 to be somewhere at a designated time, they would show up late and be pissed that I didn’t give them the money anyway. They are the embodiment of many of society’s problems. If only there were stiff penalties for lateness. At the very least, penalties for lateness where no social graces are observed should include, but should not be limited to, prison time, caning, or simply a nice punch in the stomach. Fuck the War on Drugs. Let’s have a War on Tardiness.

On with the show. After half the people don’t show, and the other VERY late half do, we realize we are 4 handed. We have one more coming later who, by the way, called prior to let us know. We decide to proceed with the NL ring game anyway. It’s pretty fun as we are all good friends, but for an action packed ring game I would like to see at least 7 people. Our fifth finally shows up, and action improves a bit. I was up about $5 at one point, but then lost half my stack to my friend Laura who has some kind of wicked read on me that no one else has and continues to bust my balls repeatedly. I would love to know what the hell kind of tell she picks up that no one else sees. Maybe there isn’t one, and she’s just an evil ball buster :) After a few hours, everyone took pity on the house and toked a bit for food and whatnot (it was not expected, but Thank You, everyone) we decide to end the night with a $5 winner take all tourney. It is here that my wife calls my attention to the highball sitting next to me that is ¾ full of Courvoisier, and is completely incredulous. I don’t usually drink very much at all, but it seems that this was “one of those nights”. Oops it appears that I killed half a bottle of the stuff all by my lonesome, along with a few vodka tonics and a smoke whose ‘spiciness’ was unparalleled. It is these conditions that may account for the lost chips. That, or Laura and her evil ball busting. My vote is for the former.

I ended up winning the tourney, which put my wife and I up $4 after expenses, and even without that, it was a great evening for all involved. After all, the home game with friends should be more about a good time, and slightly less about the money. I wish I could say specifically when, but due to the copious amounts of cognac I can only tell you that I played The Hammer twice during the evening, winning one and losing the other. I suspect the one that I lost with was during the later stages of the cash game. It was the first time I have played the magical hand, and I can already feel Hammer sickness creeping into my brain, telling me something to the effect of—“The reason you lost with the Hammer was you didn’t show enough courage and you didn’t bet it hard enough” Never mind the fact the other folks actually had hands.

As always, I’m Thinking Big, but have a strange inverse shrunken-head type hangover going on, so I’m not really sure if my head is Much Bigger at the moment.