Monday, July 31, 2006

7/31/06 If You Can't Take the Heat

I'm beginning to question my "global warming is a hoax" stance.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

7/30/06 Israel and Oil

As a kid, I was taught that Israel was formed so that the Jewish people could have access to "The Holy Land". Basically, it was the least "the world" could do to make up for the atrocities of World War II. But why there? Why in the middle of the center of Islam? Why not some slice of equivalent land in the middle of Europe? Or Long Island? Could it be that the "Allies" (The U.S., Britain and France) needed access to the newly found oil in the Middle East? The oil discovered in Iran in 1908. Or in Iraq in 1923. Is it coincidence that oil production started in Qatar in 1949? The year after Israel's statehood? Just a thought.

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I know what I want for my birthday.

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I bet they do really cool things at this high school.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

7/29/06 You Look Like a Monkey

Of all the ridiculous things that happen on MySpace, this is the one I'm deciding to share. One of my "friends" (I have 16 now, thank you very much) posted - Search Google for "(Your first name) looks like" and see what comes up. So I did. My two favorites were:

"Mark looks like a cheap dollar-store tattoo."
"Mark looks like Hitler."

See what you come up with.

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Have you seen this German Kid? Do I want to do a German joke here? Do I want to continue on the Hilter theme? Do I want to compare the kid to someone I know? Eh, let's let the video speak for itself.

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Ken Jennings is awesome. Not only is he the all time Jeopardy money winner. But now he's making fun of Alex Trebek. (Thanks, Cousin Danny).

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Footprint on Mars? Or another studio trick by NASA? Or just the tracks of the rover? (Thanks, Dad).

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hotter Than A....



You think it's hot where you are? It's over 108,000 degrees in South Dakota today.

7/28/06 Nerd Rock

A number of years ago I was talking to a coworker about music and bands that rock. At the time, I was discovering the group Rush (20 some-odd years late). I talked about the amazing and unique drumming of Neil Peart (who, coincidentally is cousins with a guy on my softball team and the cousin has some CRAZY stories about being backstage with Rush in the late 70s). After explaining the time signature changes and syncopation and all of the music theory that impresses me about Rush, the guy just laughed and called it "Nerd Rock". Honestly, I was kind of hurt. I mean, I went to go see AC/DC with this guy and we had a common music bond. It wasn't so much that he indirectly called me a nerd that hurt. But rather, it was then that I finally realized that my appreciation and taste for complex music wasn't shared by most people. That, even some of my most respected friends were content living in a 4/4 world. (The funniest part of that AC/DC concert was that the drummer looked half asleep, cigarette dangling from his lower lip as he pounded out the same 4/4 beat for just about every song.)

Over the years I've attempted to introduce some of these musical theory concepts to friends and family, in hopes that I could really talk about music in terms of "that guy is genius". While I won't say that I haven't had any good music conversations over the years (I have and I've enjoyed them immensely), I've generally learned to keep my passion for "nerd rock" to myself. Instead, it comes out the wrong way, as I end up trashing a bunch of bands I hear on the radio. What can I say - I'm just an angry dude when it comes to music.

So, where am I going with this? One of the few sites I can browse at my office, regardless of content is Wikipedia. I was listening to a song on my iPod, I searched on it, one thing led to another, and I clicked on a link for "Musical Works in Unusual Time Signatures". As I browsed the list, a lot of my favorite bands have multiple songs on the list. Even before I really understood musical theory at all, I was instinctively drawn to those bands. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd, Andrew Lloyd Webber (I guess that explains why I listen to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"), Tool, NIN, Radiohead, Pantera, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, King Crimson, Faith No More, Dave Matthews, System of a Down, among many others. (I have a personal list of Top Five albums ever. Every one of the five are by bands I just mentioned.)

And it's not like there are bands like Nickelback or Semisonic showing up on the list, making me question everything bad I've said about them. (Although, as I'm writing this, I found both Kelly Clarkson and Lindsay Lohan on that page. All I'll say is that they didn't write the songs themselves. And I distinctly remember dissing Kelly Clarkson, so I feel a little awkward about it now.)

So, what did I learn out of all of this? That I'm drawn to music that is off the beaten path. I always have been. And, I suppose I'm also looking for people who share the same passion for "nerd rock". I'll settle for nerd jazz too, as I've found myself listening to more avant garde jazz lately. So, my friends - If you're out there, I'm always looking for recommendations.

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We got this job on 65th and Third. This big freakin' ballbreaker of a job, right, and we got the area roped off so that some schmuck don't walk through there and take a wrecking ball between the eyes. All of a sudden this woman, you know with the big dark glasses and the Bloomingdale bags, she starts walking right through the ropes and I yell down at her, "Hey! You can't go there ya stupid bitch." And suddenly, this big steam fittin' bursts and this God damn crane crashes right down on her legs. And she's screaming, "My Legs! My Legs!" And I say, "No shit, your legs, you got a two-thousand-pound goddamn crane on you." Now you know that in an emergency situation you can get superhuman strength? I reach down and I lift this crane and was able to slide her out from under, and the doctors were able to save her legs. So the moral of this story is: don't walk where you're not supposed to walk because there may not be someone with superhuman strength to save your little ass. And don't do drugs.

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In the past we've discussed lousy commercials. We're not the only ones.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

7/27/06 How to Solve the Rubik's Cube


I should've known then that I was going to be bored with routine office work. I spent my first semester sophomore year of college taking an introductory accounting course in an auditorium that held 1500 or so people. The reputation was that it was a "weed out" course, where far too many people failed and it would "weed out" crappy aspiring business students. It was very unlike me to attend large lectures often (the trend culminated when I attended my first finance lecture the following year about 7 weeks into the semester and my friends all stood up to give a standing ovation), but I couldn't quite grasp accounting principles. Well, it was more like, I didn't attend a bunch of lectures early, then I fell behind and never quite caught up. So, I started going to class more often. But the lectures I did attend, I brought a Rubik's Cube with me, and spend the entire hour learning how to solve it. After a semester, I learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube. In my heyday, I could actually solve it in under 2 minutes. (I know, some dude did it blindfolded in like 13 seconds, but I'm still sort of proud in a dorky way).

In a way, I'm far happier that I learned to solve the Rubik's Cube than I am disappointed that I got a C in accounting. (You can obviously infer an inverse relationship between my grade and the cube solving.) Which, if you remember from my story about my computer science intro course, was my 2nd C in as many years (I had never gotten a C before in my life and it wasn't exactly the way I had planned to start my college career - if you can call it a "career"). Anyways, fast forward to today. I have NO recollection of how to solve the Rubik's Cube. I can probably solve the top half with a little practice. But the top half is 100 times easier than the bottom half. So, my challenge to everyone... Is, with some help, learn to solve the Rubik's Cube. (I also have a 4x4x4 Rubik's Cube at home, which has never returned to its original configuration. And probably never will.)

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Someone posted a long comment about Net Neutrality and it's only fair that I point it out.

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I'm posting this World War III. Or IV. Clip so I can watch it at home. (Mike sent it to my work account and I can't watch the video here. So instead of emailing to myself, I'm putting it out for everyone to see. Because I trust Mike. And because I'm that lazy.)

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My softball team's 2 game winning streak is on the line tonight. (We won the 2 games both by forfeit and tonight's opponent has promised to show up.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

7/26/06 Peak Oil


I'm reading a book about Peak Oil and how all of the recent wars have been in the planning for decades. And that those wars are completely about controlling the remaining oil (and other hydrocarbon reserves) on earth. Oh, and basically we're all pretty much screwed in the next 10 years or so. What have I learned? That sooner or later we're running out of oil and we're going to have to deal with it within our lifetimes. In fact, demand has just recently outpaced supply and the high prices are here to stay (actually, a decade from now, we'll be dreaming of $3 a gallon).

Oh, and I'm thinking that buying a little land on a lake in Montana might not be such a bad idea. If you want to join me, we can get a foosball table, put up a basketball hoop, maybe play poker and have some fun while the rest of the world goes to hell.

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Lance Bass of N-Sync admits that he's gay. In related news, the sky is blue, there's no peace in the Middle East, Mark Buehrle sucks and I took a poop today.

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I'm pretty sure I posted this a while back (courtesy of a Google Nicki IM - Speaking of, where are you, Google Nicki?) But it's cool, so it's worth a re-post. What celebrity do you look like?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

7/25/06 Net Neutrality

You may have heard or read about "Net Neutrality" lately. While the term is very vague and the matter is very complicated, Google does a tremendous job of summing it up...

"Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success...A number of justifications have been created to support carrier control over consumer choices online; none stand up to scrutiny."- Vint Cerf [PDF]Google Chief Internet Evangelist and Co-Developer of the Internet Protocol

"The neutral communications medium is essential to our society. It is the basis of a fair competitive market economy. It is the basis of democracy, by which a community should decide what to do. It is the basis of science, by which humankind should decide what is true. Let us protect the neutrality of the net."- Tim Berners-Lee Inventor of the World Wide Web

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Speaking of Google - they're offering real time traffic times and road conditions to your mobile phone. Wow, someone finally put traffic reports in the car where it belongs. (I can't wait until navigation systems come equipped with those same reports.)

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What does it take to be on "Deal or No Deal"? Wait, wait... lemme guess.....

1) You have to at least pretend that you think Howie Mandel is funny.
2) You have no concept of 2nd grade math and have to be confused by the banker's offer of $17,000 the first time around and actually consider taking it.
3) You're the kind of person that gets super excited about free ice cream day at work and talk about it in constant anticipation at least once an hour.
4) You LOVE bingo and think that you're really good at it.
5) You have been on "The Price is Right" at least twice in your life.
6) You celebrate Sweetest's Day.
7) You're happy because Willard Scott is happy.

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Is your dad a hardcore gamer? (Thanks Sridhar)

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Do you feel kind of occult-y today? The significance of the number 23.

Monday, July 24, 2006

7/24/06 Chimp vs. Chump

You may have noticed I'm not writing as often as I used to on the weekends. It's in part because people visit this site far more often during the week (probably from work during stretches of boredom). It's also in part due to my abstention from using my computer a whole lot during the weekend. Between the obscene heat (with no AC in my apartment) and... well, now that I think about it, it was because of the heat. I couldn't stand to be in my apartment much all weekend. And when I was there, I wasn't in the writing mood. I was more in the "sitting in my boxers in front of a fan and watching 24: Season 4" mood. Seriously though, I think I'm not sleeping well from the heat and it's starting to catch up with me. But fear not. I'm in the air conditioned office (one perk of working, I suppose) and am ready to keep posting.

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You think it's tough busting out of the World Series of Poker? Try losing to a chimp. (Thanks to, who else... Poker Jason).

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Like I said last week, the baseball trade deadline keeps me way too occupied online. Already today, I've received phone calls and emails about White Sox doings. So, in case you're a super hardcore White Sox fan, you might enjoy SouthSideSox.com. It's a place for yahoos to waste lots of time and post about anything White Sox related. From that site, I found the team's payroll through 2010.

In related news, Waa Haa... I told you there's some sort of 10-year-ago retro music trend going on.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

7/21/06 Jump in My Car

I wanna take you home. (Thanks for the aneurysm, Cousin Eric)

The Nacho Expert sends reason #114,204 to hate the government.

My dad sends a way to make your own mini Bellagio Fountain.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

7/20/06 Write Your Own Caption


(Another picture from the 20x20 contest.)

Let's have a "Write your own caption" contest. Put your caption in the comments section below. We'll vote on them later.

(I got the idea from this picture of Ozzie Guillen and his son, Ozney. I wrote something about the size of the doobie Freddy Garcia smoked before his last start. Apparently it got censored.)

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Studies show that people who have blogs are young, self indulgent, loners in dire need of a girlfriend. Or something like that.

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My dad sends the odds on which Harry Potter characters will die in the seventh book. I will NEVER post anything that spoils the final Harry Potter book. (The odds are based on an interview with the author). In return, I ask (a year in advance) that nobody ruin it for me either. Cuz seriously, if you do, I might have to bludgeon you.

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Since I'm bored out of my mind and can't sit still, I'm posting another random thought. If I were to make one improvement to Netflix, I'd add a "Taunt" button. How many times do you check your friends' movies at home and think, "What the hell were you thinking?" For example, I checked the queue of an anonymous friend today. The next 28 movies in his queue are the first 4 seasons of "24". While it's a spectacular choice (and I think I may have recommended them), I still feel like taunting him for lacking any creativity to put some intermittent movies in there. Wouldn't you check your Netflix account more often and take your movie watching a little more seriously if you could play the "Taunt" game? Everyone wins here, including Netflix for the increased use of their service. Ok, everyone wins except the makers of "You, Me and Dupree".

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

7/19/06 Gold Bullion

When I was a kid, my dad told me a story about a guy he worked with who wanted to be paid in gold bullion. The idea was to receive coins with a mint value of $50, but were actually worth over $600. That way, he only had to report the $50 as taxable to the IRS, while receiving his actual pay in gold. Sure, it's weird, but it's really not a bad idea.

Which brings me to a not-well-thought-out question that has been bothering me for a while. You know how money used to be backed by the gold standard? Where every dollar you had also had a gold equivalent stocked away in Fort Knox or something? And some president (Nixon?) eventually took us off that standard, meaning that our money wasn't backed by gold anymore. My problem is - Why does gold hold so much value in the first place? If our economy collapsed tomorrow and people were in dire need of survival goods, what the hell would a block of gold do? Would it have any value then? Wouldn't you gladly trade a whole truckload of gold in exchange for some water, shelter, food and weapons? Your fortune of gold would be worthless overnight. Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks about these things.

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Thanks to everyone who posted their soul cleansing confession yesterday. Oh wait. Only Mike posted something. So, to everyone who isn't Mike - Thanks for nothing. I know a whole bunch of you checked it and didn't write anything. I write everyday and, every so often, I ask for a little audience participation. Where's the love?

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Here are two things I've posted before but found their way back in my life today.

First - The baby name wizard. The interface is really sweet.

Second - Test yourself in number sequences. I'm trying it again and I'm up to 13 (which I think is better than last time).

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I Google Mapped Beirut today. If I didn't know any better, it looks like a cool place to live. Beach front property, swimming pools, a soccer stadium... The reason I checked the map is because I read that Haifa, Israel is only 30 miles or so from Lebanon. Then I got to thinking what this war must be like. It would be like Illinois and Wisconsin fighting, with the military bases being Chicago and Milwaukee. Or, for the California folks, it's like Los Angeles and Orange County going at it. I'm not writing this to sound silly, but rather to help myself get a small grasp on the proximity of these sworn enemies.

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The Sports Guy strikes again. This time, he outlines his detailed thought process in picking his English soccer team to support. If anyone can convince you to start watching soccer, it's Bill Simmons.

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You know how I talked the other day about how silly sports are? Well, slap me silly during the run up to the major league baseball trading deadline. I spend WAY too much time checking websites, making sure I'm the first one to know about any big trades that go down. I would guess that, annually, between July 15th and July 31st (the end of the deadline), I will spend 25 hours online checking trade rumors. What can I say? I get really bored during the day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

7/18/06 Jump


(Marlon in the white and Alex in the black from the 20x20 burger eating challenge. I'll post more pictures over the coming days.)

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Jump to prevent global warming? Brilliant!

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Since we're only days away from World War III, I think it's time to begin cleansing our souls. So, this post is going to become our little confessional. Everyone who reads this needs to post one confession (it can be anonymous - no worries). Got it? Ok. I'll start... I've fallen off the wagon and am drinking coffee on a daily basis again.

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The softball regular season is over. We finished 1-6, scoring 27 runs and giving up 108. Now, for an explanation of how we didn't finish in last place. We went into the final game of the season at 0-6, playing a team that was 1-5. The other team didn't show up, giving us an automatic 7-0 victory. And giving us the head-to-head tie breaker, putting us in 7th place. So, in all reality, we scored 20 runs in 6 games. And gave up 108. That's an average margin of 18-3. Man, we're awesome. The playoffs start this week - I can't wait.

Monday, July 17, 2006

7/17/06 Benford's Law

I was watching a rerun of the show "Numb3rs" and they referred to Benford's Law. The law "states that in lists of numbers from many (but not all) real-life sources of data, the leading digit 1 occurs much more often than the others (about 30% of the time). Furthermore, the larger the digit, the less likely it is to occur as the leading digit of a number." I just thought it was cool.

While we're talking math and numbers, check out these math problems.

Remember the guy dancing around the world? He's back in action.

The greatest part about minor league baseball is the wacky promotions - Here are the 10 most outrageous minor league baseball promotions.

"The Charleston RiverDogs tried to play the quietest game ever on “Silent Night” in 2003. There was no talking for the first five innings, and fans wore duct tape over their mouths. Fans held posters that said “YEAH!,” “BOO!” and “HEY, BEER MAN!”"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

7/15/06 Trapped in the Closet

The South Park guys finally speak about the Tom Cruise episode. Most importantly, Comedy Central will air "Trapped in the Closet" this Wednesday. If you respect my opinion, it's well worth watching.

In somewhat related news, I got a rare IM from Google Nicki the other day. She just wanted to know if I thought Suri Cruise exists. I had no comment. My fascination with celebrities is pretty low compared to most people I know. Honestly, I really had no idea that the Tom Cruise kid thing was a big deal.

Which leads me to a simple observation. One that probably deserves a masters thesis written about it. And one that I'm going to sum up in a few sentences. Men have an illogical joy and craving derived from sports. Women have the same illogical joy and craving when it comes to celebrities (actors and singers mostly). (The gender line is not black and white, as I know women who are into sports and guys who are into Hollywood.) Sports stars and Hollywood celebrities are really the same thing. They play games and pretend for a living and, for some reason, we watch them and become overly obsessed with the minutiae of their lives. If you take a childlike view of what we do, it's all pretty silly.

I could care less about the lives of the Hollywood celebrities and am sickened by the magazines and coverage they get on local radio in Southern California. My reaction has always been, "Who gives a flying fuck?" But soon after, it hit me that my passion for sports is really the same thing. And most women I know have the same reaction when it comes to sports (although most women I know won't use the term "flying fuck" in normal conversation.) So, I'm just trying to be more open minded about the silliness of the world around me (because it's real easy to be cynical and start using the phrase "flying fuck" a little too much). And, even though following sports and athletes and the lives of singers and actors is beyond silly.... Isn't most of what we do in life pretty silly?

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My mom sends the Italian soccer team version of the Superbowl Shuffle. Her cousin in Italy sent it to her.

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My dad sends Netflix Guilt. Well, he doesn't send the guilt, but he sends an article talking about the guilt people feel when they hang onto Netflix movies for too long, essentially paying hundreds of dollars for the right to keep the movie that long.

Friday, July 14, 2006

7/14/06 In and Out


I'm excited today. A group of guys at work have decided to put together a pretty sweet wager. They have all decided to go to In and Out Burger today for lunch. The bet - Each of them will attempt to eat a 20x20.

Twenty beef patties with twenty slices of cheese on one bun. The final wager is, as of yet, undecided. But it doesn't appear that money is the goal. It's simply man pride. Personally, I doubt I'll participate (but I am considering the option). One dude just drove home to get his digital camera.

More to come after the event - I figure I'd let you in on the anticipation early on. I hope you're half as excited as I am about this.

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The Competition

Seven of us headed over to In and Out Burger around 11:40 am. It's an old fashioned kind of burger place. (Well, sort of - They do have a double drive thru). There's no seating (or ordering) inside and they pretty much just serve burgers, fries, soft drinks and shakes. The two original combatants were the only ones who decided to partake in the eating competition. The rules were simple. One hour. Whoever eats the 20x20 the quickest, or eats the most, and keeps it down for the remainder of the hour, will be crowned the champion. (No money was wagered, but each of the spectators offered to give $5 to the winner to cover the cost of the $23 burger.)

We parked and walked up to the outdoor window to order the 20x20 burger. We were informed that they now limit their burgers to 8x8. Ok, simple enough. "Two 8x8's and One 4x4. No onions." The rules would remain the same - only one bun needed to be eaten with the 20 patties and 20 slices of cheese. Due to the lunch rush and the size of the orders, we waited around for more than 20 minutes. The temperature where I work got up to 98 degrees and we were seated outdoors without any shade. That's not exactly eating competition type weather.

I wish I could describe the trash talking and posturing. Marlon appeared more confident in his words. But Alex stood up on the bench numerous times, posing for the audience.

Marlon got his makeshift 20x20 at 12:20 pm. Alex received his 5 minutes later. As Alex sat down, the competition began promptly at 12:28 pm.

Within the first 3 minutes, Marlon had a commanding lead, already plowing through his first 8x8. Alex was trailing significantly, but appeared to be on a steady push for the finish line. In a very unorthodox move, Marlon moved onto the 4x4, saving an 8x8 for last.

12:37 pm - Only 9 minutes into the competition, Marlon, obviously showing signs of fatigue, had finished his 4x4. 12 patties down. 8 to go. Alex wasn't too far behind, starting his second 8x8 and nearly finished with patties 9 and 10.

The health and well being of the competitors started to become a factor. The sweat beads were not simply due to the near-100 degree heat. The beef and the cheese were at play here.

12:42 pm - Marlon's pace has slowed to a crawl. He's working on patty number 15, when slow and steady Alex ties things up.

12:43 pm - Alex finishes the 16th patty and takes the lead. Alex stops for a minute. He looks up. And he begins the "I'm gonna be sick" motion. Marlon immediately jumps up from the table, taking his remaining 5 patties and bun with him. This is most definitely the turning point in the match. Marlon is obviously startled by Alex's psych out. Marlon decides to stop eating, hoping that Alex will literally "lose his lunch".

12:45 pm - Alex has the equivalent of a double double left. 2 beef patties. 2 slices of cheese. And a full bun. He goes for the patties and cheese, leaving the bun for last.

12:46 pm - Marlon meagerly starts on his 16th patty, as Alex goes for patties 19 and 20 together.

12:47 pm - Only 19 minutes into the competition - Marlon throws in the towel, claiming cheese discomfort. And gives the 20x20 challenge victory to Alex. Alex claims victory, one patty and one bun short of a complete 20x20. Alex is also redeemed from his inability to eat a 4.5 pound bunt cake earlier in the year.

Pictures will be forthcoming (probably next week). When I woke up this morning, I was upset that I had to go to work. But this made me day. Hell, it made my week. Even better? I didn't participate and can happily go on with my weekend, bowel obstruction free.

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While we're talking food - The 15 most popular ice cream flavors. Sloth would be proud with Rocky Road on the list. Chuck, on the other hand, will have a tough time finding Mississippi Mud or Chocolate Eruption.

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Update - I think I have the NATO phonetic alphabet memorized.

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Apparently 14 percent of US workers have the option of telecommuting and don't do it. Only 2 percent telecommute full time and 9 additional percent telecommute part time. I don't know what their problem is. If I had the option of telecommuting, I'd be in the office... oh... just about... never.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

7/13/06 Super Collider

(WARNING: Nerd-o post alert! Please disregard if you're looking for something fun and entertaining.)

Most books on theoretical physics that I read usually leave off saying that experimental evidence will be provided once the CERN (roughly translated: Council of European Research Nuclear) Large Hadron Collider is complete and functional in 2007. Which is basically admitting the theoretical physics is so far beyond experimental physics, that they're all just guessing at this point. And they're all eagerly awaiting the new experimental data that will be provided by the LHC.

Yesterday, I found a basic movie filmed at the site of the Collider. The movie discusses how they hope to create conditions that simulate the big bang (what could possibly go wrong there?). Basically, the largest super collider is currently at Fermi Labs in Illinois. The size of the super collider limits the speed and force at which scientists can smash particles, therefore limiting which subatomic particles can be "seen". Sadly for Fermi Labs, its super collider will soon provide antiquated. The Large Hadron Collider is being built near Geneva, Switzerland and is a joint effort among multiple nations.

Physicists hope the LHC will help answer:
  • Is the popular Higgs mechanism for generating elementary particle masses in the Standard Model, violated? If not, how many Higgs bosons are there, and what are their masses?
  • Will the more precise measurements of the masses of baryons continue to be mutually consistent within the Standard Model?
  • Do particles have supersymmetric ("SUSY") partners?
  • Why are there violations of the symmetry between matter and antimatter?
  • Are there extra dimensions, as predicted by various models inspired by string theory, and can we "see" them?
  • What is the nature of the 96% of the universe's mass which is unaccounted for by current astronomical observations?
  • Why is gravity so many orders of magnitude weaker than the other three fundamental forces?
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Moving on from the Big Bang - The Big Suck is being planned somewhere between Seattle and San Francisco. Microsoft and Yahoo are joining forces to offer one super instant messenger of suck.

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At work I overheard someone spelling out a login or password or something. It was a sad attempt at military like spelling. It sounded like, "Bravo. Sissy. Dog. Zero. Telephone. One. One." So, in my infinite boredom, I looked up the military spelling code (I had no idea what to search for, so it took me a couple of minutes. It's called the NATO phonetic alphabet. It's my goal for the week to memorize it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

7/12/06 The Inferno

Chalk this up as reason number 87,489 that I hate the government.

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"Ozzie Guillen, you've just won your first all star game. What are you going to do next?"

"I'm going to the Canadian Gay Games!"

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Poker Jason is going to be pissed that I'm posting this story. But it's one of those things that happens maybe once a year, at best. So it's too hard to pass up (sorry, man).

A little background - Poker Jason is a HUGE NY Mets fan. In all fairness, probably more than I am a White Sox fan. We're probably the only two people on earth who have been trash talking the all star game, simply due to the winner getting home field advantage in the World Series. (Both of us strongly believe in a Mets vs. White Sox series. Well, we're each convinced that our team will be there and we're giving the benefit of the doubt for the other side).

With 2 out in the 9th inning last night, the NL up 2-1 and Paul Konerko batting, he picks up his phone. Konerko singles and I answer. I skip the pleasantries since I know he's ready to gloat about the NL win. Our conversation goes something like this:

Me: "Yeah, yeah. It ain't over yet."
Jason: "The only question left is WHO should be the MVP? Carlos Beltran or David Wright? Wright had the homerun, but Beltran had the double and the stolen base... (he tails off)"
Me: (As Troy Glaus nearly drives in the tying run, but ends up with a ground rule double.) "Are you SURE you want to be talking about this?" (AL has men on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs).
Jason: "Who do you guys have up to bat? Who is that? Michael Young?"
Me: "Yup. A great guy to have up when you just need a single."
(I kind of forget what we talked about for the next 30 seconds. But we may have been talking about why Billy Wagner wasn't there. Or how Michael Young is no Albert Pujols. Or something like that. When, with 2 strikes, Michael Young popped the ball into the gap in right center.)
Me: "Uh oh! Uh oh!"
Jason: "A triple!? I have to hang up now. This call is a jinx."
Me: "Ok" (He's already hung up and I'm laughing, wondering if I'll ever be able to properly re-create the perfectly timed sequence of events that happened in the previous 2 minutes.)

The American League hangs on to win 3-2. Ozzie retains a decade of American League all star dominance.

10 minutes later I get a text message - "Trevor Hoffman Sucks!"

End of story.

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My favorite overhead quote of the day:

Some kid playing outside near a fountain: "Eww! Eww! Eww! Eww!"
Dad: "Hey psycho. Relax."

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Food for thought - Did the writers of The Goonies intend for the subtle, double meaning behind "One Eyed Willy"? And equally as important, why did it take me more than 20 years to put those two together?

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More food for thought - There are two types of people in this world. People who like black liquorice and people who don't. (There is no middle ground here).

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I've been sick the last few days and was all kinds of grumpy. I think the fact that I'm writing more is a good sign that I'm starting to feel better.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

7/11/06 Free Slurpees

Burritos are in the news again. This time as a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Ok, it's not exactly a Pulitzer Prize. But in the immortal words of Bill O'Reilly... "It's close enough to the truth." (Thanks to Mike for the story).

Let's just chalk this up as reason number 54,302 that I hate the government.

Monday, July 10, 2006

7/10/06 E=mc^2

From the "All that and brains too" files... Einstein had himself a whole slew of women.

In honor of the baseball all-star break, here's a little quiz testing your baseball knowledge. It's super hard. I got exactly 50% correct. Which is only 25% higher than purely guessing. And lower than any test score ever. (Except for my introductory Computer Science course in college, where I got a 42% on the final exam [after receiving a 12% on my final project] and somehow maintained a C in the class. I subsequently changed majors to something I'd suck at less.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

7/9/06 Birthday Calendar

What happened on your birthday?

Poker Player, Daniel Negreanu, has an ongoing video blog during the World Series of Poker. He's an entertaining fella.

More Family Guy Clips. Plus The Neverending Story. YEAH! Oh, and the side boob hour.

My new favorite version of Sudoku is Killer Sudoku. (I recommend printing the puzzle. It's way easier to do if you can use pen or pencil.)

Cousin Danny sends the ridiculous fact of the day. Some dude is suing Michael Jordan for $832,000,000. Guess why.

Friday, July 07, 2006

7/8/06 Waa Haa

There's a new trend on the radio which is making me a little uneasy. Some stations are starting to play music that was popular about a decade ago (when I was in college). At the time, I wasn't super keen on the post-Seattle grunge, wuss rock. In fact, if you think about it, music went from self-loathing Seattle grunge (which defined my teenage years and, of which I remain very fond), to wannabe wuss rock (I would say that Hootie started us off and it only got worse from there) to even wussier boy bands (at which point I eventually left the country cuz I couldn't take it anymore). What a terrible decline in popular music in less than about 8 years. At the time, my friends and I who liked hard rock were trying to latch onto bands that we thought would fill the void of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins and Alice in Chains. We tried really hard to convince ourselves that Creed rocked. And that Sevendust would actually have another good song. (Their song "Black" rocks.) But we were simply kidding ourselves. Music was beginning a sad, slow downward spiral into wussdom. The beginning of the slippery slope is making a comeback on the radio.

Every video for those mid-late 90s songs had some goofy, dark blue tint to make the band seem deep and meaningful. In the past week, I've heard Semisonic's "Closing Time" twice. I've also had the honor of hearing Dishwalla's "Counting Blue Cars" and Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping". Just an hour ago, the radio played that song goes, "Waa haa... And it's Goooooooood... (living with you?).... Waa haa". I'm convinced that if you played that song simultaneously with REM's "Man on the Moon", they'd sync up perfectly.

(Side Note: I just looked it up and the song is called "Good". And it reminds me of the only thing that Norm MacDonald ever said on SNL's Weekend Update that made me laugh. It went something like this. "On top of the Billboard Charts this week - "Better than Ezra". And in second place... (pause)... "Ezra". Ok, maybe it was funny because nobody laughed. Fine. Whatever, dude. I promise never to mention Norm MacDonald again. I don't have a man crush on him or anything and it's merely coincidence that I bring him up. Umm... Wait. Was that too defensive? Seriously. Just leave me alone. Anyways. Moving on...)

What else from that mid to late 90s era have I heard on the radio lately? Prodigy's "Firestarter". (Two girls on my floor in the dorm swore that "Firestarter" was the "Best video ever" and sat watching MTV for about 72 hours straight waiting to see it again.) Just about every song off of Bush's "Sixteen Stone" is being played again. (One of my roommates picked up his first guitar and 2 weeks later, thought he could play the intro to "Machinehead". Turns out there's a "Bad Midi Museum" that has a version of "Machinehead" that sounds very much like my ex-roommate. It's classic.)

At a pool party for the 4th of July, the DJ played The Spice Girls "Wannabe" (I think that's what it's called - "If you wannabe my lover, you've gotta get with my friends." Another roommate used to sing that song about each of us - "If you wannabe (Name)'s lover, you've gotta get with his friends.")

(Super tangent side note: I walked down to the pool in sandals and swim trunks for that same party. There were a bunch of people on the basketball court and they waved me over. They were having their annual 3 point contest. So, despite the sandals, I gave it a shot. You'll be happy to know that I am the 2006 3 point champion of my apartment complex. [Don't ask about the details. It's sort of embarrassing. I'd rather just tell you that I won.])

Oasis is getting a lot of play. I'm even finding myself fond of Tupac and other rap that I never consciously listened to in the 90s. "Standing outside a broken phone booth" by Primitive Radio Gods has also spent recent nights stuck in my head.

Why is this making me a little uneasy? Because it actually is making me a little sentimental. These songs have a deep, rooted place in my brain that will always bring me back to some general time and place in college. In fact, many of them have specific memories tied to them (as I've already shared some of them). How can something that drove me so crazy (the crappiness of the music) now bring back such fond memories? Music is funny that way. Songs and smells are the two things that tend to bring me back to a moment or a place or a person.

Why am I posting this? I dunno. This is the stuff that rattles around in my noggin and keeps me up nights. And if I don't tell you about it, I figure I'll die in my sleep from a seizure or aneurysm or whatever happens if your synapses over-fire. (Think Lewis Black "If it weren't for my horse" routine.) I also feel the need for comfort that I'm not the only one who is notices the comeback of wussy mid-late 90s rock. So, next time you turn on the radio, take special note of the comeback of mid-late 90s wuss rock. Let me know what is on your radio station. And go ahead. Post the songs (and memories) here.

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Just as I was getting ready to post this, an ad on TV for Buzz Ballads came on. If hearing "32 Gi-Normous Hits" wasn't enough to irritate me, I had to listen to the super suckage, song after song. Hole, Diswalla, Lifehouse, Fastball, Eve 6, Remy Zero, Third Eye Blind (Never trust a band with with a number in the name), Vertical Horizon, Marcy Playground, Counting Crows (How did this whiny sack of crap date Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox?). Do I need to go on? Yeah, I didn't think so.

I want to be optimistic here for a minute. Let's say that real classic rock started just before Woodstock. Right around 1968. And the grunge rock revolution came around 25 years later in 1993. That means we're only 12 years away from another rock movement around the year 2018. For one, I can't wait.

7/7/06 I've Got Worms

As I wrote today's date (7/7), I was reminded of one of the few episodes of "Friends" I've seen where Courtney Cox went through some routine of "Seven. Seven. Seven. Seven..." (The same thing happens when I'm silently searching for sevens in sudoku). Am I the only one?

Dumb: ABC is trying to disable fast forward on DVRs.

Dumber: Friendster patents online social networking.

Kinda Cool: 25 Things some dude learned from Google Trends.

Insignificant: 1 thing I learned from Google Trends - The upward spike early in the year on searches for "nachos" has to do with the Superbowl.

Softball team update. We're now 0-6. It's frustrating and pathetic. Actually, we forfeited since we only had 7 players at game time, and the umpire was being a prick and left. So, after the forfeit, we scrimmaged, picking up two of their players. Even worse? They put me into pitch in the fourth inning, some girl fouled the inside pitch into the corner of her eye. I ran to see what happened and the white part of her eye was bleeding. She seemed like she'll be ok. But I still feel terrible. Nobody had the heart to call her out on strikes, so we let somebody bat with a fresh count. We have one game left, then a 3 game playoff against the other 3 worst teams in the league (which are all better than us).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

7/6/06 Giggity Giggity Goo

Maria Sharapova: "I won't stop grunting." Giggity.

The USA today is all over breaking news... People prefer power windows to hand cranked windows in their cars.

The fact that I can't check personal email or use IM at work is negatively impacting my social relationships with friends and family. It's sad in a lot of ways. It's sort of sad that I rely on electronic communication in place of face-to-face communication. But it's even sadder than I honestly don't keep in touch with enough of my friends and family anymore. My brother and I used to IM one another from work at least once an hour. Now, neither of us have IM at work and haven't really spoken in over a week. By the time I get home at night, I try to respond to one or two personal emails, but, in general, they pile up and I feel like a jerk when I wait 3 weeks to respond. But that's what's been happening in recent months. So, in a way, I'm apologizing for not getting back to anyone that hasn't heard from me in a while. But, more to the point, I'm super pissed that I can't be trusted to manage my down time in the office to catch up on emails. So now, during my down time, I waste the opportunity to keep in touch and spend it doing other mindless, useless activities. Like finding new and unique sudoku puzzles. And calculating the White Sox' magic number. And wondering why my body wastes proteins and cell divisions on making finger nails.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

7/5/06 Museum of Food Anomalies

In case you missed it, I finally finished up my WSOP experience post. Mark Vos won the event and won over $800,000.

My mom sends The Museum of Food Anomalies.

So nobody has MySpace? Nobody? C'mon. I'm trying to get my friend total into the double digits and I'm stuggling. Help a brotha' out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

7/4/06 Big Slick

First and foremost, I want to thank everybody who sent luck and wishes my way this past weekend. As promised, I'm going to write about the experience. At night, I took notes on a pad of paper. So, I'll do my best to recreate my time at the WSOP for you.

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Friday, June 30th....

I arrived on Friday, the day before the event I was planning to play in. Poker Jason picked me up at the airport and we immediately went to the Rio, so I could register for Saturday's event, Event #6. We parked in back of the Rio hotel and I immediately walked towards the registration area, luggage and all. As I walked from the parking lot to the hotel, I felt like some minor leaguer making his major league debut. The Rio Convention Center was the venue and, despite the big lights and big names, I had to act like I belonged there. More importantly, I had to believe that I belonged there.

Honestly, I was a little concerned that the event might sell out (the first No Limit Hold 'Em Event had more than 400 alternates). As I walked down the corridor of the convention center, I saw a lot of familiar TV faces, most of them in line for the restroom... Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, David Sklansky and John D'Agostino were some of the first big names I noticed.

As I registered, I got my seat assignment. Table 4, Seat 6. Ok, I like Seat 6. As silly as it sounds, it helps me to visualize what I'm going to do ahead of time. So, knowing where the table is and what seat I'd have will help the visualization.

After checking in, I spent some time wandering the convention center. The main room had 200 or more tables for tournament play. The tables were all full to start most of the tournaments, and within an hour or two, the tables would free up for cash games and satellites for the main event. I was probably most surprised that the final table was in the same room. The audience you see on TV were people just sitting on metal risers with 3 steps (like ones you'd see a high school choir use). They do a tremendous job on TV to make the final table appear to be in a larger room with a bigger audience.

The room was filled with the big names, some of them playing in the tournament, others playing in big cash games. Barry Greenstein, Phil Gordon, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, John Juanda (who was at the final table), David Williams, Gavin Smith, Layne Flack, Howard Lederer, Freddy Deeb, Mike Caro, Daniel Negreanu were the ones I can recall off the top of my head. Many of them were wearing customized hockey jerseys with their last names on the back, advertising for FullTiltPoker.net.

The cash games had a LONG waiting list (especially at the low limits where I wanted to play). So, across the hall, many of the big online poker sites had lounges with drinks and spreads for anyone who wanted to just hang out. I got coaxed into entering the UlitmateBet.net lounge. I sat on the comfy couch and was joined by Phil Hellmuth. There were maybe 6 of us in the room, but I didn't really have anything to say to Phil. What could I possibly say? I like your play? I admire your game? You're kind of a wuss when it comes to playing big pots and I'd come over the top against you with any pair? So I just kind of sat there.

That evening, I decided to play some No Limit Hold 'Em to get used to playing in the room and sitting at a table (since most of my play is online). I played the lowest limit game - The blinds were 2 and 5. In my experience with NL, I just play tight and win a couple of big pots, since the games tend to be wild and loose. My first big hand was a guy in early position raising to 15, one guy calls and I look down at A 10 of diamonds on the button and call. The flop comes A 9 7 with 1 diamond. The first raiser bets 30, the next guy folds and I study him. He looks way too confident - I can't put my finger on it. But, even with top pair, I didn't like it. Every instinct told me to fold. And I do. He's pissed... he says "One of you must've been playing that ace". He flips over a set of 7s. I said, "I was". I thought for a second and realized I didn't want to give up the fact that I read him well and said, "I had a lousy kicker and figured you were ahead". He says, "You don't even call to find out where you are? I'm supposed to get ALL the cookies there. All of them." Followed by, "Nice laydown". I saved myself quite a bit of money right there. Sometimes the best plays in poker are the hands you fold.

Soon after, one guy limps for 5. I look down on KK, which is one of my favorite hands, since it's easy to get away from with an ace on the flop. I raise to 20. I get 2 callers plus the limpers. So the pot is 82. Flop comes J high, 2 checks and the limper bets 50. Later, I ask both Poker Jason and Pro Player Pete what they would have done. They both said they'd raise between 100 and 150. I raised to 125. After the 2 players fold, the other guy goes all in immediately for another 175 chips. He hit a set. Twice now, I'm convinced I'm up against the improbable set. He doesn't have AJ. He looks way too happy to have AJ. I look at him, he's way too confident and I fold my overpair. He flips over a set of 3s. Damn, I should be broke by now. Just bad luck. And real tough folds. I'm tired of running into sets. Perhaps my luck will turn around in the WSOP event.
I stop playing just after midnight, and decide to cash out and sleep in. The event starts at noon on Saturday, so I'll try and sleep in until 10:30, if I can.

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July 1st - The WSOP Event

My favorite poker shirt of the day read:

“Nice Hand Sir”. And by “hand” I mean “suckout”. And by “sir” I mean “moron”.

I am unable to sleep past 8:30 am the morning of the tournament. I was hoping to sleep a little later, so I’d have energy and focus in the wee hours of the morning if I made it that far. So, I just stayed in bed for a while and tried to stay relaxed. Poker Jason called around 10:15 and we made plans to meet up for breakfast. Pro Player Pete joined in for a hearty egg and OJ kind of breakfast.

The tournament was going to start at noon sharp. The feelings I had reminded me of taking AP tests in high school. It was easy to focus on everything I wasn’t prepared for. It was easy to be filled with self doubt. It was easy to be intimidated by the competition. And, when it was all over, you knew that everyone would ask how you did. It was important just to focus on all of the preparation I had already put in and to remain confident in my abilities.

As I sat down at table 4, seat 6, I noticed that everyone at my table was a guy and in his 20s or 30s. No big poker names were at my table. It was just like my home games, so that helped my confidence. Although at table 3, seat 10, directly across from me was Jean Robert Bellande. At first I was upset that his antics would be a distraction. Then I decided that I was 100 times better off with him at table 3 instead of directly in front of me at table 4.

Much like the minor leaguer being called up for his major league debut, my adrenaline was pumping and it was crucial that I figure out a way to keep it in check. I felt like knuckleballer Charlie Haeger who kept throwing his knuckleball too fast, losing his movement and his edge. If I could just remain calm and play my game, I'd be fine.

My plan was to play only a couple of hand the first hour and to just hang around and observe. Then, first hand, I pick up KQ suited in middle position. I didn’t want to play the first hand, but I couldn’t fold. Blinds were 25/25, so I raised to 100. That was going to be my standard raise with no variation. It folds around to the big blind, who calls. Pot is 225. And, I’m honestly nervous. Flop comes Q 4 3 with 2 diamonds. BB checks and I bet 150. He thinks for a while and I’m ready to fold to a stiff raise. I'm not ready to start risking massive amounts of chips first hand. He folds. Wow, that felt good. There’s something psychological about being over 2000 chips. At, for the moment, I’m chip leader at the table with 2125. It doesn’t seem like much, but it calmed my nerves. I could fold for the next hour and still be even.

3rd hand, I pick up AQo. So much for playing tight. I raise to 100 again. Everyone folds. Alright. 2175 in chips. I can handle this. In the first hour, I pick up 44 twice in a row, AQ suited, 66, and I probably play at least 10 hands, which is WAY more than I planned. My stack was up to 2300. I raised with 66, got called on one spot. The flop came 8 4 4, so I figured my pair was good. I bet 150 into a pot of 250. He raises to 425. I have to fold. Even though he could’ve had 2 big cards, I wasn’t ready to make a big move. My stack is down to 1600. By the end of the first hour, my stack is exactly back to even. All of that play and I have 2000 chips. That was a little more nuts than I expected for the first hour of play. Just after the first hour, my table gets broken up (this happens to keep tables full during a tournament. Basically, we fill in all of the spots where people have busted out.)

I draw table 17, seat 10. I also like seat 10. I don’t like seat 1 because sometimes I can’t see the blinds coming around on the other side of the dealer. Also (this is going to sound goofy, but I swear it’s true), I have better peripheral vision to my left than to my right. I noticed this recently when I was driving. And I think I figured out why. It’s because of sports. As a righty, when you hit in baseball, you’re looking left. As a quarterback, same thing. You look left. So, there you have it. I like seat 10 because most of the action is to my left.

As I approach my seat, I scan the table. Again, no big name pros. But in seat 3… Norm “Friggin” MacDonald. Everyone was very tight lipped except for Norm. He’s just there to have some fun. I haven’t said a word the entire time and I don’t plan on saying a word. How can I sum up Norm’s game? The man doesn’t like to play post flop. So he’ll bet 4-6 times the big blind with a good hand and hope to just steal the pot.

I have 2 quick Norm stories. First, he started chatting with the hot blond girl playing at our table. He was asking where she’s from and the regular chit chat. She then asked where he’s from, obviously having no idea who he was. He said somewhere in Canada and was obviously a little ticked that she didn’t know who he was.

Second, he raised 450 in early position with blinds of 50/100. I was in the big blind, hoping to have a monster hand and put him all in. I look down at a measly J8. I knew I was going to fold. I take the opportunity to just stare at him and study him for a while. There’s nothing quite like being a jerk and making your opponents nervous. After about 10 seconds, and making him obviously uncomfortable, I fold. He says something like, “I don’t know what kind of face to make when someone stares at me like that.”

Level 2 begins with blinds of 25/50. There’s still plenty of play. The aggressive, serial raiser is 2 seats to my right. I don’t like that, since he’s going to try and steal my blinds every time around. Usually I try to act really tight and weak, let him steal some small blinds, then, with a pretty good hand, I’ll pop him with a big raise, forcing him to either fold (and give back all of those blinds he stole), or call and have the worst of it. This guy becomes my nemesis for the next couple of hours.

During the second hour, I try not to play as many hands. With the blinds at 25/50, the serial raiser makes it 150 and I pick up 8 8 and call from the small blind. The flop comes 9 8 6 with 2 hearts. Great flop for me. But scary with the straight and flush draws. With the pot of 325, I lead of for 200, hoping to take it down there or make him pay a price for his draw. The pot is now 725. The next card is the 7 of diamonds, putting four cards to a straight, 6 7 8 9, two diamonds and 2 hearts. That was one of the worst cards that could’ve fallen. I check. He bets 225 into the pot of 725. Which make me suspicious. I think he’s on a flush draw. Or he has the baby end of the straight and could fold to a raise. I want to know right then and there where I stand. If he’s got me crushed, he could just come over the top, I’m willing to lay it down. I can’t give him a free card if he’s on the flush draw. (Pro Player Pete says I should’ve just called, and looking back, I think he’s right. But I thought he would lay down there and didn't really put him on a 10.) He just calls. Shit. What could he just be calling with? He MUST have the 10 and the straight. Pot is now 1925. I have 1150 left in chips. I’m not in a good spot here unless the board pairs. Then, the river brings the best possible card (other than the final 8 in the deck). A black 9 rolls off. So, if he has the straight, I can pretend that I have a busted flush draw and try to steal the pot. I have to act first, so I do just that. I act like I missed and that I’m stealing. I push all in for 1150. At this point I’m shaking like a crack baby (I tried to think of a more PC analogy, but only the crack baby gives the proper visual). Even my jaw is shaking. Which is a huge indication that I have a great hand (a sign of an unconscious adrenaline rush). I try to “reverse tell” him and put my chips is forcefully and stare at him, hoping he puts me on a steal. He keeps saying, “You flopped a set. You flopped a set.” And finally he calls. I flip over my full house and take a huge pot, giving me 4200 chips total. He’s definitely bummed out, flipping over a 10. I feel fortunate about the river card (even though I had him on the flop and he was drawing to a gutshot straight draw and lucked out on the turn).

At that point I opt to play tight, except making some position raises (which would prove impossible since the serial raiser kept raising 2 seats to my right). Just before the first break at the end of level 2 (each level is an hour), I’m down to 3700 chips and I’m ready to just stretch and take a leak. I’m in the sb for 50, the serial raiser raises from the cutoff to 175. Everybody else is already gone on break. I’m good and ready to fold when I wake up to see AK of spades. I reraise to 400, hoping he just goes away and we can break. He calls. (Maybe I should've made it 450 or 500?) It’s just the 2 of us and the dealer. The flop is K 5 3 all of clubs. I lead out for 600 into a pot of 900. That should do it. He calls. GO AWAY! The turn is the 8 of clubs. 4 clubs out there and I have spades. I check. He goes all in. I fold. He shows the K 10 with the 10 of clubs. Shit. I go into the break with 2700 chips, after having 4200 just 30 minutes earlier.

I meet up with Poker Jason and Pro Player Pete. Poker Jason had his aces cracked and managed not to go broke (very impressive play on his part). Although, he busted out soon after. Pro Player Pete had 1250 or so chips left and he encourages me that my 2700 is still plenty to work with. He really helped me get over my AK vs. K 10 beat just before the break and keeps me focused.

In level 3, I make my first bluff. Blinds are now 50/100. The crazy serial raiser calls my raise (I have AJ). The flop is not memorable, but I know he didn’t hit either. By the turn, I pretend that I’ve hit a monster and do my best to subtly re-enact my adrenaline shaking routine and bet small, like I’m luring him in with a huge hand, like top set. He calls the turn. I do the same on the river, forcing him to fold. PHEW. I suck at bluffing. I’m back up to 3200.

At this point I tighten up, but it’s not exactly my choice since I don’t get many cards to play. I had one chance to make a button raise with Q 5 and I didn’t do it. The blinds limp in and the flop comes Q Q 7 and I’m pretty pissed at myself with not being aggressive there.

Level 4 comes around and blinds are up to 100/200. By this level, people start to move all in a lot. I’m actually excited about this level, since my strength tends to be playing the short stack. I know when and where to be aggressive and put pressure on the right stacks at the right time. My confidence is way up, simply since the blinds are getting bigger. I’m also saving my $25 chips because in level 5, the antes kick in and I want to psychologically prepare for level 5.

Norm MacDonald goes all in a few times for 1800 or so. On the button he goes all in, gets called by the hot blonde in the sb (she actually comes over the top all in) and the bb folds. Norm had 6 6 and hot blonde had Q Q. Norm doesn’t catch and he’s gone. We get new players filling in here and there. One guy actually moves to our table, plays 3 hands, loses all 3 and busts out in 5 minutes. This is getting to be a little nutty. But it’s also exciting poker.

Towards the end of level 4, I look down at AK again. This time, I’m under the gun. I have 2400 in chips and I’m ready to play for all of them if I get reraised. I bet 600. It folds around to the big blind, who sits and thinks and is ready to fold, but decides to call. He’s directly to my right and has just won 2 all ins and went from being short stack to the big stack at the table in very little time. The pot is 1300. The flop comes A 4 3. At this point I see Poker Jason and Pro Player Pete out of the corner of my eye, watching my action. (Which sadly means that Pete is also out of the tournament). Alright, I hit, so it makes things easier. He checks, I bet 900, essentially pot committing myself and I’m ready for the fold and to move on. I'm shocked to hear, “I’m all in”. HUH?! I felt like I had just prepared a spectacular anniversary dinner and evening on the town for my girlfriend, and I’m a little giddy for the romantic evening. And as soon as I tell her about it, she says, “We need to start seeing other people.” I’m devastated. Either this guy is making a move on me with a weaker ace and assumes that I have JJ QQ or KK. Or he’s hit a set. (He could also have A 4 or A 3, but it didn’t feel that way. I can’t explain why, but it didn’t. It also didn’t really feel like he had A 2 or A 5 and was gambling with the extra outs of a straight). He seemed convinced that he had the best hand. Remember my games from yesterday when I folded to 2 sets? And I thought my bad luck of running into sets was over? I feel like he’s hit a set. But I have 900 chips left. And he has a big stack and could be making a move. I’m stuck. I’ve played this hand over and over in my head since the event and wonder if I could’ve laid it down there. Every poker player I respect has told me that, no matter what, I was getting all my money in on that hand. I still somehow feel like I could’ve laid it down, even with top pair, top kicker. But I called. My worst fears come true as he turns over a pair of 3s, giving him three of a kind. I’m drawing to runner runner. I need a 2 5 to split, or running Ace King. It’s like, by calling the all in, I asked my girlfriend why we need to see other people, and she said she’s sleeping with my buddy and then she decides to kick me in the nuts for good measure. It was such a rotten sucker punch in the stomach feel. Seven out of eight times, he will miss his set and will fold. That would've put me over 3000 chips again. But the one out of eight times he hits and I go broke. To add insult to injury, I pair my king on the river, giving me aces and kings. I didn’t have to go far to find my buddies, as they were right there, watching me double over in pain.

So there you have it – Ace King cost me nearly all of my chips on 2 separate hands. That’s why they call it the “Anna Kournikova”. It looks great, but it never wins.

Overall, I am proud of how I played. A couple of swings in the other direction and I’m playing into the evening, at least. I read online that after level 4 (just after I busted out), 700 of the original 1700+ entrants were left. Also, if you read about the event online, you’ll see a whole bunch of big name pros that busted out real early (I can’t check those names right now, so you’re on your own.) I can confidently say that I outlasted half the field and was energized and focused to play deep into the night. To my backers and investors… Sorry. You knew up front that investing in me would be like hitting on 19, hoping to make blackjack (and even that was optimistic). I also thank you for the opportunity to play in my first World Series of Poker event. It’s most definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

One last note about Vegas. It’s becoming really hard to tell the difference between the hookers and the slutty girls these days. At this point I just figure that the ones who make eye contact with me and smile are hookers. Which isn’t really helping my confidence any.

Thanks again for all of your kind words of support and confidence. Until tomorrow...