Friday, January 28, 2005

It's Friday...You know what that means...

Do some looking around most anywhere these days and you will find some kind of discussion as to the redeeming social values of poker, or lack thereof. While most of us take the game seriously, the fact is, for a majority of us it is just a hobby (that takes a lot of our time). I also think that many of us would like to do something to “contribute”. I am not wealthy by any stretch, and save a few specific organizations, I blanche a bit at the thought of giving my hard earned money to most charities. I’m not sure why, but I think that the Seinfeld episode with George Costanza’s Human Fund has something to do with it.

Last night, though, I had an idea. For a while now, I have been a contributor to Folding@Home. To read up on exactly what it is, just follow the link, but I’ll try and sum up. “Folding” refers to protein folding, and it is a distributed computing project at Stanford. You simply download a client which uses your spare CPU cycles (computer brainpower) to help fold proteins and send the work unit back to Stanford. The client doesn’t get in the way of anything you’re trying to do, either. It simply uses the power that your processor doesn’t. If anyone accuses you of completely wasting time while sitting at the PC playing poker, with this you can claim: “I’m doing my part to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.” In case any poker bloggers ( or anyone else for that matter) want to contribute, please consider joining the team I created. The team name is ‘Thinking Big’ and the team number is 42205. Stanford tracks the work done and awards points, not for prizes or anything, just a ranking system. Perhaps as poker players, one day we will be able to say that we have not only liberated the fish from their chips, but also the brain from various diseases.

Unnecessary Shit

Since it is Friday and the second installment of “Unnecessary Shit”, this would probably be the most appropriate time to explain it’s origins a bit. (For typing ease I will begin referring to it as US, how mildly ironic),

It was during my time in the military that my friend Jonbo first introduced me to US. It is in a nutshell, this: Any wildly random action taken that doesn’t fit into current context in any way, shape, or form. Perhaps a couple of examples would be better……

  • You're at a store (type doesn’t matter, but the more subdued, the better) wearing, say, flip-flops or some other loose-fitting footwear. Everyone around you is shopping quietly and nicely. You suddenly let out a “Hup!”, kick your leg, and then chase after your footwear that just flew to a random location. This will prompt some priceless looks from observers, ranging from disgust to pity because quite obviously, engaging in this type of behavior must surely mean you are retarded in some way. Regardless or your age, you can literally see people wondering where your mother is.
  • In this example you are at work, which is often the most entertaining place of them all to engage in US. Equipment needed: Empty (or very close to it) plastic water bottle, the shape and size are of no import. While standing around talking to a couple of co-workers (the bigger the group the better), if the conversation begins to lull or grows tiresome, simply yell out the aforementioned “Hup!”, whip yourself around 180 degrees and chuck the bottle as hard as you can, and turn back around as though nothing out of the ordinary happened. This works especially well in rooms with a hard tile floor (as opposed to ‘soft’ tile?) as it will make an incredible amount of noise. From those who know you, this should prompt some ‘your pretty weird, but I think it’s pretty funny’ looks. From the ones you don’t really care to know or don’t really like, this will keep them at a healthy and respectful distance going forward.

Now, engaging in US does take some practice. It can be very easy to slip over that fine line where it is no longer funny, but has fallen over into the realm of poor taste. Should you accidentally cross over that line, don’t be disheartened. Just as in poker, where a move can quite suddenly be either genius or folly, so it is with ‘Unnecessary Shit’. While there is definitely a time and a place for such immature shenanigans, with practice you too can find those places you never knew were there, because they weren’t before. Congratulations! You have now added lightheartedness and a bit of the strange to seemingly unfit places and situations, thereby liberating yourself by another increment from normal societal constraints.

Considering the frights that Grubby gave those of us who work with his running porno collages, I will simply link to this week’s Unnecessary Shit. Just make sure that if you are at work, no one can see your monitor. I’m not sure if it is fake or not (probably fake), but it IS completely unnecessary.

It’s snowing outside (unbelievable, I know), so today is going to be a poker day, if I can find some good games. Otherwise it may be a video game day and a poker evening. Either way, I should be around tomorrow or Sunday with some poker content, where I’ll be endeavoring to Think Big, and my head will be Much Bigger.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just a few plugs..

Egads, it’s still January. Mommy, make the bad month stop. Between dealing with the tribulations of the month, school, and the corporate overlords, there has been NO time for poker. This obviously means no poker content today. Hell, I’m too beat to even go on a smallish rant of any kind. There’s still plenty of material, but as Otis might say, “I’m ill-equipped” at the moment.

Years ago, I went through A+ and Net + course materials but never actually took the tests to get certified. Not because they were difficult, mind you, I was simply unmotivated to do so and short on money at the time. The only actual certification I hold is a CCNA, which now that I’m thinking of it, is nearing it’s expiration. Fast-forward to my current corporate servitude. Some micro-brained non-tech from on high has issued a “directive” that all the SysAdmins should be A+ and Net+ certified by August of this year. That means two separate week-long boot camp sessions in Phoenix which is no big deal (refresher education is always OK, as long as it’s tech or poker), the problem comes with the news that they’ve cancelled my trip for the Cisco/Avaya bootcamp until FY ’06. Huh? What kind of numb-skulled idiot decides that A+/Net+ is more valuable than Cisco or Avaya? What a waste of time and money. And while my valuable training gets slashed for this year, tons of money is still being spent on ‘Ethics Training’ for the rest of the corporate monkeys. Okay, I’ll shut up now. It’s not like I’m the only worker bee out there with these frustrations, but sometimes you just gotta bitch a little, right?

A full-on congratulations goes out to Otis on his foray into fulltime writing. He’s living a dream that many of us have, and deserves every bit of it. I hope I get to actually meet him at a blogger event one of these days. For writing that is better than what you will find on these pages, go check out his posts on Up For Poker or on his personal blog. Good stuff.

Just in case it hasn’t been linked to enough and you haven’t seen it yet, get thyself over to AlCantHang’s L.A. Poker Classic auction. Show some support for a drunk hippie and get you piece of dat. I decided to go ahead and invest in an entire 3%! In my ever so humble opinion, better to gamboool on Al than the stock market.

Don’t forget, there is now less than a week until the next WPBT event on PokerStars. February 2nd at 9PM EST. $20+2 buy-in, password: thehammer. The money will be well spent, as you can rest assured that you’ll see some better dialogue than you would watching most movies, and unlike the MPAA, poker bloggers aren’t evil and are more deserving of the cash. So come one, come all!

Tune in tomorrow, as it will be Friday, and that means the second weekly installment of ‘Unnecessary Shit’.

I’m Thinking Big. My head, Much Bigger.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Degenerate Monks

I arrived home from work this evening to find my new issue of Wired waiting, and I immediately devoured it in one sitting. Whenever there is a new issue of something I am interested in, or a new posting on one of the blogs I read, I morph into something resembling my dogs who wolf down their treats as though someone will come racing around the corner and snatch them away at any moment. Anyway, there was an interesting article on the dominance of right-brainers in the coming Age, and it got me to thinking….

Since the article isn’t on the website to link to yet, I’ll try and sum up as briefly as I can. The author basically asserts that the Information Age and the abundance that came with it was/is ruled by left-brained thinking, logical and analytical. Now he makes a case for what he calls the Conceptual Age, in which the right-brained will prosper. Those who see the Big Picture and not simply the mechanics of it. Those who feel more and can see and bring more beauty and meaning along with new concepts. Idea people, basically.

The value of the dollar goes down, white collar wages in other countries like India continue to rise, but are still far below what a US worker expects/needs. Any job that relies solely on sets of rules is at risk to other people who will do the same job at a much cheaper rate, or machines. Hell, even programming in many cases is handed over to the computers themselves. Having skills in the logic, the analytics, or the mechanics of a thing won’t be going away. In fact, it will remain a necessity. It’s just that in not-too-distant future, these skills alone won’t be nearly enough by themselves to prosper.

In the name of all that is holy, what does this have to do with Poker? I’ll try to explain it coherently, and if I fail miserably, you have my many apologies as it is late and I am writing in that sleep deprived “copy of a copy” state.

While poker is certainly booming, and shows nary a sign of slowing, the fact is that sooner or later it will. Whether we like it or not, this is America, and the trend will certainly decline from it’s current fever pitch. Many of the fish will move onto the next big thing, like Hidden Limit Kilted Pachinko Tournaments, Stuffed Animal Wargames, or vigorous matches of ‘I can take a Bigger Dump than You’. As folks who actually take the time to write our thoughts on the game (and incidentally, anything else that comes to mind), I think that the serious bloggers will maintain an edge, however small it may or may not be.

The deeper thoughts and ruminations on this game that someone writes about day after day may be just the thing that keeps the game fueled when it would normally be fading back into oblivion. I am definitely beginning to become more and more convinced that we will be the ones continuing to prosper as poker marches inevitably into it’s own Conceptual Age. Degenerate Monks, if you will. Many of us see not only the mechanics of the game (knowledge of which will always remain a necessity), but we also see the beauty and deeper meaning contained within it. There is empathy for another’s daily struggle with the game. We are neither left-brained or right-brained, we are both. I believe that it is this propensity that will allow us to prosper regardless of the twists or turns poker may take.

Then again, maybe the fish really will never stop coming and I simply have diarrhea of the brain. I need to get some damn sleep.

For those of you who feel their time was egregiously wasted by the above rambling, I offer this token that someone posted on 2+2 (can’t remember who, and yeah, what a weird place to find it). I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or be horrified. A bit of both, I guess.

Keep Thinking Big, everyone. My lack of sleep and head remain, as always, Much Bigger.

Monday, January 24, 2005

January...Oy veh

Everyone knows the Counting Crows song, A Long December. I’ve decided that they were really talking about January, they just couldn’t use it because of the extra syllable.

I’ve always hated January. Many are uplifted by the New Year that it brings, and I am often confused by this positive attitude. Of course, positive attitudes have always confused me. I never once felt the urge to help “turn a frown upside down” or assist in diagnosing a case of the Mondays.

So, in honor of the month with no seeming end, let me try and make a case to persuade others to join me in shaking my fist at the January’s of our lives.

  • January, in most places, is the height of winter. It is more often than not an extremely depressing month, weather-wise.
  • Waiting for all of those damn W-2’s to come in. Taxes, in their role as one of life’s only two certainties, can never be done soon enough. I hate that monkey being on my back for any longer than necessary.
  • For those of you who, like myself, have the utter misfortune of being corporate worker bees, I hate the first of the year “hoo-rah” motivational conference calls.
  • There are 31 days in January, and boy, for some reason that extra day makes a REALLY annoying difference.

This week isn’t looking that great for poker, unfortunately. Work, sick dogs, more work, and a lot of schoolwork to round out this hellish 31 days. A pox on you, Midwest.

I won’t get in to the boring-ass details of my weekend poker any further than I already have, suffice to say it was decent, I guess. After gaining 17 BB’s on Stars Sunday morning, I got nailed in the afternoon for a net gain of 2 BB’s. I fared a bit better on Party, coming up 23 BB’s to get my free money roll up to a few cents short of $75. Yippee. But hey, it’s better than losing, that’s for damn sure. And even though I am not winning wild sums of money (yet), it’s good to know that I can hold my own over many hours in the no fold’em jungle that is low low limit.

Being the “gay” community that we are, we just got “gayer” (if indeed that is a word). The new WPBT site is up (built by PokerErrata) and looks great! With this bit of centralization, look for an extremely gay blogger event near you! We are fam-i-ly.....

Given the fact this week looks to be pretty hectic, don’t be too surprised if the posts are a bit intermittent. Then again, given the fact that I’m pretty OCD about posting (even if it is mostly worthless drivel), don’t be surprised if they keep coming regularly, either.

And regardless of how hectic things get, I will remain Thinking Big, while my head is definitely Much Bigger.