Friday, May 31, 2013

Swimming Update

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who donated to Elizabeth's cause.  Her fund-raising total stands at about $5200 as of this writing, and to be blunt she wouldn't have made it without all of you.  I don't have exact numbers, but I think people I cajoled donated something like $1000-$1500.  If you didn't receive a personal thank you from me it's because I missed the donation (I don't have administrator privs) or because I don't have any good way to contact you (as is the case for at least one $100 donation from this blog...thank you very much JJ), and for that I am very sorry.  It means a great deal to me when my friends and family come out to support something like this, and I have nothing but heartfelt gratitude for all of you.

Now...about the actual swimming part of this thing.  Two (but hopefully only two) small concessions are going to be made.  First of all, while Elizabeth's ride is spread over just 7 days, I am leaving open the possibility that my swim will last for 8.  The reason for this is that Sunday afternoons are my absolute best chuck of time to make progress, and I want to use two of them.  I have a commitment this Sunday that could last until early evening, but I still should be able to get a good chunk done afterwards and am not going to delay the start of the challenge.  Ideally I will complete the swim in technically just 7*24 = 168 hours, but if it ranges up to 172 I'm not going to take any flack from anybody.  There is a chance I'll finish early, who knows, but I am making it known right now that that if I use the second Sunday I'm calling it a win.  And second of all, while it was sort of implied (by omission) that this swim was going to just be me cruising back and forth down the pool for hours upon hours, that's not actually the case.  I'm going to be swimming things that resemble actual workouts, and that involves sets (things like ten 100 yard IMs on 2 minutes and the like) and on occasion, at my discretion, props.  Normal swimming workouts do include the use of kick boards, paddles, and even fins, and for some (a small percentage) of my yardage I may use things like this, especially if my shoulder flares up.  There is a pretty big difference between a kick board and paddles/fins, and I'm aware of that, but I'm always aware that we used those things not infrequently growing up and I don't consider them cheating at all.  It's my party and I'll use fins if I want to, basically.

Physically I feel OK.  I have had shoulder tightness the last two days, and I have also had some issues with my knees when doing breaststroke.  Those are both pretty concerning, but I'm confident that the swim now simple is going to come down to mental toughness (of which I admittedly do not have an excess).  I have never attempted anything like this, and while I'm sure it would have been simple in high school (I doubt I've ever swum this far in a week, but I am pretty sure I put in 15 mile weeks regularly back then) I just don't know how my body is going to hold up.  I could be in for a rude awakening of almost any sort.   I'll post regular updates here (sets, yardage totals, etc) and if things go well it'll be pretty obvious pretty immediately that I'm going to make it.

Thanks again to everyone out there for your support!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Beatings Continue

I'm sure you've all noticed the paucity of actual poker content recently.  There are reasons for it, which I'll explain at a later date, but for now you'll have to make due with two fantastic beat stories.

Beat Number 1

The game is 25/50 (yes, yes I was where you think I was) and I am on the button.  3 or 4 people limp and Mr. 40 Month Win Streak (maybe snapped?  He was playing on the 29th!) raises in the cutoff.  I cold call on the button with pocket 6s (what else could I possibly do) and we see the flop at least 7 and maybe 8 ways.  I don't know.  Lots of fucking people.


Obviously.  A stone cold idiot who has limped 85s in the middle somewhere donks, it folds to me, I raise, the blinds both call two cold, stone cold 3 bets, I cap, the blinds call again, to the turn.


The blinds check (they're both drawing dead now I'm sure) he donks and I actually consider just calling to let the blinds draw but then decide that's stupid and raise.  The blinds both fold (which in theory is good since there are like 20 bets in the pot, but I mean really nobody is folding anything with outs here unless I get like a pair of tens to go into the muck) and stone cold...three bets me.  He has an 8 and a 5 and he three bets me.  He is winning exactly zero percent of the time here (I cannot have 9s or better from the preflop at a minimum I have absolute minimum) and this throws me for a loop.  Shouldn't he know he can't win?  He should.  What can he think I have?  Tens?  I mean, really?  I actually call meekly, which given what he has is a MASSIVE mistake.  Obviously....


He bets I call he wins and has this shit eating grin on his face and absolutely no idea that he did anything remotely unusual in the hand what so ever.

Beat Number 2

This is just a cold deck really, but since it was played at 100/200 it really hurt.  It's simply really.   The lady opens and I 3 bet the aces in the small blind and she decides to cap headsup in position with a pair of 8s.  Sure.  Seems reasonable.  I'm sure she's super balanced here, and her range isn't just a decapitated piece of shit missing virtually every single monster.  I'm sure....The board comes down 833 obviously and against her range I probably have literally north of 90% equity in a 5 bet pot but instead get to lose 6 more.  Seems reasonable.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Swimming and Magic

First of all, at this point swimming is what it's going to be.  I only have 4 more days until I start the challenge, and about all I can do that will really matter here is sleep enough, eat well, and try not to hurt anything.  I haven't actually figured out any sort of schedule for the week itself, but I'm hoping it just sort of comes to me.  I guess what I'm really hoping is that I can manage to stay in the pool for 2 hours at a time some late mornings and get the bulk of it out of the way in that fashion.  I don't have a good solution for counting...and that is truly bad.  But on the whole I think I'm going to make it.  Thanks to everyone who donated (I think I thanked you all individually except maybe the blog reader who gave $100 whose name I don't really want to make super duper public but thank you very much JJ) and now it's about time to watch me struggle :)

Now on to the discussion of the magic.  I spent about 30 hours at the Camp Scherman 45th anniversary this weekend, and while I've heard Danielle simply rave about how awesome the parts of the 23 summers she has spent there have been, I had never really gotten a chance to see it for myself.  I was there in 2004 for about 3 hours, but that didn't really do the job.  I was young and so was she and I hadn't really realized what a huge part of her life it was and most importantly I didn't get the sense of the magic.  And if you don't stop to think about it and just let everything about the place and the people just sort of float by around you as an observer, you will get the distinct impression that something magical is actually happening all around you.  The way people behave.  The way things get done.  The sense of friendship, of caring, of just sort of everything actually seems illogical and impossible.

Of course it's not actually magic;  there is no magic, and that's a sad hard truth in our world.  Danielle pointed out to me that if there is any magic on earth it very likely does exist, at least for her, in that place, and while I sort of agree with her see above re: there is no magic.  If you think about the place and what's happening a little longer you'll realize that what appears to me magic is simply the culmination of 45 years of positive feedback loops doing good things.  The values and ideals of the place, the confidence and happiness it inspires, have combined over the years to make it a one of a kind location for everyone who falls in love with it.  In turn those people pass on all the goodness down to the next generation, and unlike other institutions where the leadership and active involvement lasts just a few short years (and therefore one bad generation can poison the entire establishment) "camp" has lifers.  These people come back again, and again, and again, and each time they do they are even happier to be there, even more confident that THIS RIGHT HERE is in fact the best place on Earth and they try even harder to convince those around them (lifers, newbies, and everyone in between) of that simple and obvious truth.  In other words it's not technically magic, but for all intents and purposes it might as well be.  You cannot bottle it up and you cannot recreate it.  At the very, very most you can think about it, try to understand what makes it the way it is, and learn from it.  Or maybe that's too much;  maybe you're just supposed to drink it in and let it remain a little bit of magic.

I like to think about things, though, and it made me realize that from a lot of points of view a lot of things that happen in the real world do look like magic.  If you just experience something with your logical, reasoning brain turned off then you'll see something magical every single day.  And I guess the point is that while it's good to understand things, sometimes it's better to just let them remain magical.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Random Musings

Even for me this one is probably going to be pretty disjointed.  Here we go.

Aruba was fun, but I completely understand why nobody really goes there from California.  Other than being a little bit cheaper and with seemingly a little better food, Hawaii really is just a better way to go from here.  You don't have to leave the country.  The weather is better.  The flights are way shorter and way cheaper.  Like I said I had a great time, but objectively if you're coming from the left coast just go west young man!  There were only about 70 people at the wedding, and nearly half of them were my fraternity brothers and their dates.  It turns out the guy getting married is one of the more hidden pieces of glue that holds us all together, reaching down to my class and all the way up to a good number of guys who graduated before or right when I arrived.   So that was pretty fun.

Flying really does suck.  Danielle hates it, and I usually don't understand her beef but this time on the way back I was pretty miserable.  The dude in the middle was just too big and we kept bumping each other and the temperature was wrong and we sat on the runway and I still think I have a headache from the fumes and it was just kind of shitty. And that flight from Miami STARTED about 7 hours after we left our hotel.  We did discover valet parking at the airport, which is pretty awesome.  The dude just picks you up IN YOUR CAR and takes a shuttle back to his office after giving it to you.  A little more expensive, but at 11:15pm when you've been traveling since 9am local time saving 30 minutes is worth...well...a lot.

Swimming....yikes.  I snorkeled three times in Aruba and did one of them without gear (just racing goggles, probably swam a mile or so) but I have regressed a fair bit.  I should still be OK, but it's not gonna be easy.

WSOP....It's here and shit!  I am going to avoid backing people this year, although I sure am tempted to get a piece of professor ben as I say this.

Records that likely will never be broken....In my time as a swimmer I had occasion to set some team, pool, and meet records.  I bet a lot of them still stand to this day, but honestly I have no idea.  My high school ones probably do, since we sucked.  My YMCA got torn down so those don't really count.  And the pool and meet ones who really knows.  I think I hold (or likely am tied for) the record for times quitting the MIT swim team.  I gave up twice, and I doubt anyone has ever quit three times.  Sort of like the dude who threw back to back no hitters;  I mean really, is anyone ever going to throw three?  Today I lapped a load of Danielle's laundry for a second time.  The stuff she did has been sitting in the dryer for close to two weeks I think, and I have done two full cycles as it's been just hanging out.  Lapping a load of laundry three times seems impossible.

My cat...she is upset we were gone for so long but is in super duper lovey dovey mode.  She actually purred the entire time I brushed her this morning (something I have done like exactly once, ever, before today) and is hoarse from meowing so much.  As an aside I brushed her wearing only my last pair of clean boxers, which demonstrates just an unimaginable lack of foresight.

I am working on a theory of readiness, where by some people actually become unready for an activity simply by way of time being allowed to pass (for example, in the car on the way to an event).  I saw this happen with some of my friends this weekend, and I think it is worth exploring.

That is all.  No poker content.  None :)

Aruba, Jama....Well, Just Aruba Actually

I just got back from a week in Aruba.  It was great.  I'll write more later, promise.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Humorous Interaction

So I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to get just two little things and was left in awe of the checkout girl.  First of all, for the 17th time in a row when I started reading off the phone number for our rewards cards (those things are such a freaking scam...can't you figure out a better way to track what I buy?) I was asked, after the first three digits, "is that the area code?"  You see, both Danielle and I have "not from here" numbers because we got our cell phones "not here", but the checkout persons at the store somehow think that here, in 2013, we are going to try and give them seven digits and call it a day.  I was going to ask her "when's the last time someone said "oh my mistake" and corrected it?  does anyone EVER screw this up?" not so much to be a jerk but really because I was curious.  Are there people out there that just say "867-5309" and walk away?  I realize it's almost certainly not her fault;  they do this so regularly that it has to be some sort of mandate or training they get that management has decided makes things run more smoothly.  Just as my mind settled on "you should ask, but do so in a funny, joking way" I was hit with another whammy.  My total was $12.xx you see, and when I dove into my wallet I found only 20s and a slew (but non 13) of 1s.  I say to myself "Self, you can solve this problem with gusto and flourish!.  You have been educated at arguably the finest university in all the land.  What you must do is hand her the twenty dollar bill (which alone will cover the sum of your purchases), AND ALSO hand her not one, not two, but three of the Washingtons.  You will receive a single $10 bill as change and everyone will be happier; your wallet will have fewer bills (always desirable) and her drawer will have more (always desirable).  Self, you are a master of efficiency!"

My coup is met not merely with a vacant stare.  If only that were the case!  But not here, no no, here my efforts are met with open disdain bordering on hostility!  "I don't need these...just the twenty" are the words I hear as my chin grows heavy, seeking desperately the floor, and the Washingtons are thrust back across the divider.  As the change rattles out of the dispenser two feet further down the line (those things should be against the law I forget to grab it half the time) she goes for the death blow.  Her drawer?  Out of 5s.  So what do I get right behind the three washingtons she just handed back to me to add to the six were patiently waiting in my wallet?  Seven.  More.  She practically shoves the flowers and diet pepsi (serious business here) at me straight away, without even attempting any sort of bagging procedure, as I'm still stuffing the additional washingtons into my billfold.  Ambling towards my car I am left with the distinct tingling sensation that I have just witnessed something magical.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Patience and Apathy

I seem to be on a bit of a kick here.  Confidence is good;  overconfidence is usually bad.  It's ok to be ignorant;  it's definitely not ok to be a bigot or evil.  As I was swimming I realized something else today, and that's that having the correct amount of patience in your life is something that a lot of people THINK they know, but in truth haven't really ever thought about (just like all the stuff in How to Win Friends and Influence People which by the way if you have not read you should).  It occurred as I was slowing down during a set of 10 150s (on 2:30, my progress has been just great the last two weeks) and decided to try the 5th rep making sure I took as few strokes as possible.  You see the tendency when you swim (and are out of shape like I am) and want to go faster is to take more strokes.  Strokes are the thing that make you go forward, right?  If you take more, you'll go forward more, right? Nope.  So what happened?  My fifth rep was actually faster than my 2nd (usually the fastest for me), AND I expended less energy because I had drastically increased my efficiency (for the record I was trying to keep these under 2:00) while it absolutely felt like I was moving more slowly.  Neat stuff that patience and discipline.  If I'm going to make it 26.2 miles in 7 days I'm going to need every trick I can muster;  this has been the closest development to a silver bullet I could possibly have hoped for.

Then I got to thinking on the drive home that while most people suffer from a lack of patience in many endeavors (their relationships, their jobs, poker, etc), if one were to have an excess of patience it could manifest itself outwardly as a sense of apathy.  The analogy isn't perfect, but you can probably see where I am going with this.  If you're too patient waiting for some good result to happen, but aren't actively pursuing it, what you're actually doing is being apathetic.  Sometimes the only thing you can do is wait, and when that's the case taking action can actually get you into trouble.  Letting your partner cool off after an argument is a great example.  It's fucking HARD to go to your corner and think about how on Earth you just got into a heated discussion over something that silly and just let it be for a little while.  But most of the time in that spot that's the exact right thing to do.  But waiting patiently for the situation to change, without taking action, being the correct course of action is likely the exception, not the norm (thank goodness, as I am horrendous at actively pursuing the course of action of "just wait for it").  There is a balance that needs to be struck.  If you want to affect change in your life you need to be working towards it, but at the same time you need to have patience and not get frustrated when you don't see those changes immediately.

Now it is time for a hand that I sweated!

The SK opens stone cold UTG in a pretty full game and hero three bets a few spots later with the ace and the jack of spades.  SK calls, they see a flop hu


Or something like that.  There is no straight.  SK checks and calls.


Again, I think that was the card.  Maybe it was a 3, but it was pretty much a blank regardless.  SK checks and hero..checks it back!  My immediate thought at the time is that he needs to be betting that card because he is at the stone cold bottom of his range in terms of showdown strength (I think....maybe he wasn't but I sure would have been) and has a flush draw.  Ergo he must bet.  But the more I think about it thinking about GTO stuff here is pretty silly.  He has the ace and the jack high, and we are in a decidedly narrow range spot.  The SK is going to be super good (even better than you know) against his specific holding in this specific spot, so maybe he does need to be checking.  I just don't know.

He rivers the 6 of spades because "that's the second best sweater in the business back there SK" and gets to raise and snap off two of the three remaining aces (whoopsie) and we all have a good laugh.  But I thought the turn spot was kind of interesting I guess.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Swimming Report

One thing I hadn't really taken into account was just big of a pain in the ass it is to try and swim a legitimate workout in the pool in our community.  The 24h fitness pools can be crowded (and one time I even got kicked out by a water aerobics class) but at least there are lane lines, pace clocks, and no little kids splashing around trying to get themselves clobbered (except that one time).  Seriously, a lot of people don't realize this but collisions with someone of mass actually swimming at a reasonable rate of speed can be rather violent, especially because their pointy parts are flailing all about in every which direction.  Growing up I saw not one but two foot bones broken during swim practice, just from a simple breast stroke kick.  I guess the point is that I weigh 170 pounds and even if I'm only going 2 miles per hour if my head slams into your head it's not gonna be good for anybody.  The last time I tried to swim down there there must have been 10 kids running around, and they just don't get the picture.  I'm trying to swim in the three feet of pool next to the wall and well...yeesh.  And no pace clock...not cool.  Also very sunny;  I'm getting a nice tan that I don't really want.

But it's good.  I should be able to make the 26.2 miles physically, and am now just sweating the mental side of things.  Conservatively I need to be in the water for an hour twice a day all 7 days to get this thing done; and that's a lot of boredom, a lot of driving, and an awful lot of patience.

Life otherwise is pretty good I guess.  I had more to say but I don't seem to have any idea where it went :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

You Learn Something Every Day

If you're not careful, that is.  If you are too careful, or even in many cases reasonably careful, you will go through a day and not learn a single god damn thing.  But if you do something stupid or silly you're almost certainly going to learn something.  Today I had to meet a friend in town who wanted to meet up for lunch;  he didn't have much time, not even really lunch, more like coffee and brunch you see, so I suggested we just go to Starbucks and catch up for a bit.  He countered with "have you ever had Vietnamese coffee?" to which I responded "just what they serve at Commerce."  He insisted that I try the real thing and gave me directions to a place he said was really good.  I say to myself "self, why not?  this is a good friend, he must know something you do not know.  Vietnamese coffee it is!"

So I roll up to the place and am immediately struck by is.  Like, it's way back sorta behind a restaurant in this weird corner of of strip mall, there is construction blocking one and a half of the ways in, it's just kind of strange you know?  Then the building itself just has some nearly indecipherable characters on the front (that spell some Vietnamese words) and big, giant, tinted one way glass on the front.  Immediately memories start rushing into my brain, memories of Kevin and Walter talking about just such a place, where they serve coffee, no drinks, but the atmosphere is...visually pleasing.  Sure enough I walk into the place and three things strike me instantly.  First, I am the only white person in the entire building.  Second, at least 25% of the patrons are smoking.  And last, the servers are wearing lingerie.  I don't really dig Asian girls that much, but even I had to admit that the talent level was...considerable.

So it turns out that this is just sort of what my friend (and a lot of Asian dudes, actually) does with some of his spare time.  Sit in a coffee shop, flirt with girls in lingerie, and order expensive and overly caffeinated non-alcoholic beverages.  It was an experience, let's just leave it at that.  We had three "rounds" of drinks (regular Vietnamese coffee, super strong super cold with condensed milk just delicious), weak un-sweatened iced tea which we didn't actually order but was presented sort of as water, and fantastic avocado milk shakes.  It was almost too loud to talk, almost too dark to see, and almost too smokey to breath, but we caught up and I excused myself after about an hour.  He was sort of disappointed I didn't want to stay longer;  I felt like my effort had already been herculean.  So today...we learned something :)