September 30, 2005

potato vine blossoms -- cupertino

rose leaf -- cupertino

my grandfather (+ haiku)

my dad's dad managed to drink himself to death before i was born making him, sadly, a man i could never meet. a true country doctor of an absurdly tiny missouri town, even 50 years after his death his name is hallowed and revered by the oldsters. i've met a number of people who, upon finding out i was his grandson, have said things such as "your grandfather was a great man. he delivered me on his kitchen table." and, "if it wasn't for your granddad, i would have died. he took my appendix out in his living room. i miss him. we all do."

people very close to him nearly always describe him the same way, "he was a very kind-hearted man, but with a cruel streak." words that could probably be ascribed to me (perhaps minus the kind-hearted part).

he was also, strangely, the town gunsmith. an avid outdoorsman, he built his own boat and would retreat to the minnesota wilderness for a month every year to fish, hunt and generally remove himself from the world that was. i've never seen a picture of him that didn't involve the out-of-doors, or some sense of adventure.

in a family deeply-steeped in oral tradition, i (surprisingly) only know a couple of stories about him. this is my favorite ...

one day my dad was milling around the house when my grandfather burst in, and like a demon possessed, headed to the bookcase. he jerked out audubon's "birds of america" and tore through it. he'd stop occasionally, study it intently and then tear through it some more. after a few minutes he stopped on a page for a long time and nodded twice.

he gave my dad a determined glare with a far-away look in his eye and said, with absolute resolution, "THAT'S what it was! it was a ... GOD ... DAMN ... CORMORANT!" presumably accounting for some freak wayward bird in the middle of a not-supposed-to-be-here missouri countryside.

to this day, whenever i see one, the first thing i always think is, "there's a goddamn cormorant."

this is a well-known story to my close friends. so much so that my first girlfriend wrote a haiku related it the other day. i took the liberty of flipping the first and last lines, resulting in a poem that i am certain my grandfather would love:

blissful autumn day
gliding through sparkling water
goddamn cormorant

September 29, 2005

dimly lit dryer ducts -- santa clara

haiku future guidance counselor

from fred "feddy" huxham:

forty three today
on the planet many years
what should I do next?

my response:

sell that big ol' house
cash in every i.r.a.
and head to vegas

September 28, 2005

first photos of a live architeuthis dux

the worst thing about living in the modern world is the mysteries are all being peeled away through the help of technology. communications technologies leave us always connected and aware. gps lets you always know where you are.

so it's more-than-refreshing to realize there are still real monsters on the planet.

here's hoping one eats a sub.

hibiscus -- sunnyvale

haiku email exchange

this is an exchange i had with ken sakamoto, the creator of the beyond-brilliant haiku circus.

from b1:
i love your cartoons
i'm sure bashō is upset
but he's a dead guy

from sakamoto-san:
The cartoons appreciate the love.
Basho's ghost has yet to ring me up.
So far so good.

September 27, 2005

quote of the moment

"we later caught a crow in a special trap we made. it was not a good pet."
-- greg "sarcasmo" jorgensen

haiku of the moment

squirrel high above
just misses branch to branch jump
needs rodent advil

September 26, 2005

poker haiku goes tanka?

karpov and i had an email exchange today that i wanted to catch here. he's referring to an off-beat poker game called "omaha" that's played mostly by hustlers, stupes and the infirm. ("nuts" is poker slang for the best possible hand at any given moment.)

[from k-pi]

These are crap, the equivalent of your 2nd grade class pounding out the haiku...written while playing two poker hands at the same...clearly breaks rules because I need three haiku to deliver point. Crap crap crap.

Omaha high lo
queen queen king king not suited
Flop 9T hearts Jack

I bet small, large raise
one call, I re-raise all in
Call call show my nuts

One fool has 78
other king queen plus two hearts
5th street heart knifes mine

[from b1]

the hard thing about this one is trying to convey all the action in 17 syllables ... it requires editing and preciseness.

maybe something like this?

playing omaha
all-in my nut straight gets beat
by one with flush draw

it's worth noting that there's a form of japanese poetry that pre-dates haiku called "tanka," that is probably the most written form of poetry in the world. the format is 5-7-5-7-7. the third line of 5 syllables is considered key because it's the hinge line ... the best written tanka can be read such that the 5-7-5 part makes a poem and the 5-7-7 part makes a poem. so my haiku above probably wouldn't work as a the starter for tanka because of the awkward preposition -- and any sort of doing that and claiming to be modernist in style (like staring a novel with "but none of that mattered ...") is just lame and lazy in this case.

in the purest form, tanka is written by 2 people and called "renga." one person writes 5-7-5 and the other finishes with 7-7.

pure haiku is not supposed to express feeling, but rather evoke it in the reader -- put you in the kind of fiesta mood where you want to burn incense and meditate.

in the feudal days of japan a party was not considered complete until a tanka had been written about it. so japanese tanka can be very emotional and funny in its lowest form and talk about things like the happiness of marriage, getting too drunk at a party (there are volumes of this), trying to get inside that cute little plantation girl's kimono, etc.

my understanding is haiku, in fact, came from bosho going crazy and writing a ton of tanka starters with heavy shinto/buddhist overtones. someone, most likely drunk at a party and expected to write the next 7-7, said, "hey man, these are pretty good. let's just call *these* poems. bashō, you da man! more sake! where is that hottie from the shack on the hill? hey kenji, how much for that sword of yours?"

so you could re-write it as tanka and get the space you need for the dynamics. i've never written tanka and i'm for damn sure not going to start on this -- like the death of hunter thompson in starting this journal, i need a big reason, and your overplaying a flush drawing board is not good enough.

of course the great thing about starting with this as a tanka is it completely ignores any sense of japanese aesthetic while faking it's of that form. it's the rough equivalent of busting into the buddhist temple in kyoto, kneeling with one eye open, then standing up and loudly saying, "kewl god you guys have here. i dig him. hey, does anyone know if there's a mcdonald's around here?"

and for that reason alone, may be worth trying.

feral lamps -- mountain view

haiku of the moment

late night rag-top drive
recurring smell in the air
freshly baked donuts

September 25, 2005

haiku of the moment

small mouse skittering
just over the platform's edge
come on mister train

September 24, 2005

neon splash -- san francisco

haiku of the moment

saturday at work
there's one thing you don't expect
the drone of bagpipes

September 23, 2005

quote of the moment

"car seat covers are the grown-up equivalent of underoos."
-- l.d., 13

knotty knitting

just how does one combine a fetish for red lace liquorice with a lust for thong underwear?

"dear grandma, samantha's getting so big now -- she'll be two next week! i'm looking for the perfect gift. a nice toy that she can play with and yet hints at what drives her deeper feminity. like mom said in those bra burning pix you showed me, 'you're never too young to be a feminist!'"

haiku of the moment

tiny "pizza hut"
with no seating, the name lies
call it, "pizza stand"

September 22, 2005

pizza conundrum

"hi, welcome to pizza hut. how may i help you?"

"i'd like a small 'pepperoni lovers,' please."

"we don't have small. only personal size and medium."

now what i want to know is, how can the order taker say that with a straight face?

haiku of the moment

when it's 4:00
the world drops into torpor
early and late blur

quote of the moment

"the ecosystem of blogging is more important than the content being generated."
-- george siemens

September 21, 2005

car hood reflection after heavy evaporated rain -- mountain view

strangest overheard line of my life

this was almost 20 years ago at the university of colorado, two guys are walking past me, in a *very* animated conversation ... one says to the other ...

"... and this got into the boulder water supply!?"

i just barely heard the other guy say, "yeah."

haiku of the moment

sudden flash of light
followed by shake rattle roll
love freak thunder storms

September 20, 2005

rose -- cupertino

haiku of the moment

making a judgement
involves knowing how things mesh
and where the truth lies

September 19, 2005

i'm in love with a woman ...

... whose face i cannot see.

haiku of the moment

animals and man
sugar for my hummingbirds
krispy kremes for me

note to self -- baseball wager

$5 bet with special k that barry bonds never hits another splash homerun in his professional career. pays 20-to-1.

September 18, 2005

haiku of the moment

with all things equal
everything would be the same
is this good or bad?

palo alto pix

mahakala -- not very happy, like always

tile and light pattern -- museum walk entrance

andy goldsworthy -- "snake river" made from stanford building stones, rubble of the 1989 earthquake

September 17, 2005

audio haiku of the moment

this is an audio post - click to play

September 16, 2005

re-written haiku

one of the nice things about this blog is i'm having a lot of haiku exchanges with people these days ...

a very sleepy friend sent me this this morning immediately before bed:

The swirling night fog
Glows brightly then fades away ...
Then the moon pours clear

there's some imagery i like here, especially the night fog and the concept of the moon pouring -- i re-wrote it:

swirling fog of night
haunts strongly then loses hold
leaving pouring moon

just *try* to listen to this without laughing ...

... talent tape of paul "don't call him 'orson'" frees ... voice of the little green sprout, boris badenov, the pillsbury dough boy and god. (let 'er play, it gets better as it goes.)

[thanks to special k for the head's up.]

September 15, 2005

haiku of the moment

mirages flicker
to remind you of the way
things may well have been

gerbera daisy in low light -- santa clara

pinecone -- mountain view

rose -- mountain view

cartoon of the moment ...

... passed by cap'n happy.

taqueria la bamba wall reflection -- mountain view

wsop part v

still in the heat of action.

a couple hands pass and i'm last to act in a hand that currently has three-way action. i have (2s 7s) 2d. i like this hand because it looks low, but might go anywhere. two of the others in are obviously playing high, with an ace that may be going either way. i call a full bet.

fourth street brings me a 3. there's a bet in front of me and i raise. i want to make it look very much like i've got a 4 card running low and get any of the weaker big hands to drop. both do. the ace behind me calls, but has caught a 10. it feels like he's playing high to me.

fifth street brings a As. i want to shake the other guy off his hand. he's not catching cards for low. i bet, he calls. (here's a photo of this very moment taken by the world series folks).

almost certainly he has ace's and is underplaying afraid of my straight, or of my made low that just is going to abuse him.

sixth street brings me 9s. i'm holding (2s 7s) 2d 3h As 9s there hasn't been another spade as an up-card on the table. to the best of my knowledge, of the 37 cards left in the deck: nine are spades and almost certainly flush winners. my opponent is definitely not playing low. two 4's are left, all 5's, all 6's and three 8's -- excluding the 4s, 5s, 6s, and 8s as already having been counted, that's nine more cards that will get me lows. trips will probably be good enough here too, so the other two 2's work. so 20 of the 37 cards, barring something really freakish, will get me half or all of the pot. my over-zealousness to drive the other guy out has made me deeply committed to this hand ... still, he's been playing very weak/tight at this table and i don't feel like it was wrong -- he's thought about passing a couple of times, he just hasn't done it ... if he did, i'd have a winner.

i get my last down card. it's a 3. godDAMMIT. one of my worst possible cards. now i've got a tiny two pair. i'm almost forced to call if he bets, but not strong enough to bet if checked to. i can beat the pair of aces i'm certain he has, but i can't beat him if he has two-pair. he bets, i call. yep, he has two-pair, ace's over. and as if that wasn't enough, every down card he has is a spade.

i'm now sitting with something like 150. i need to get a hand, and i need it quickly. antes of 15 each are gonna gnaw at me and we're less than two minutes from antes going to 25 and bets being 100/200.

the announcement is made that the levels will increase on the next hand when i'm dealt (A 2) 5. there's a bet and a raise in front of me, with three players in. from the way he's fondling his chips, i can tell the guy behind me is going to call as well. three people are vying for high, super-stack is playing low. there're no exposed aces. i don't like this hand, only because i have to draw to it to make it -- we're crossing that line where you play for low at the beginning of a tourney and high at the end ... but this is three of the lowest possible starting cards i can have -- and it's true, they're inside straight, but the odds on the money are good due to all the people betting. i think, "if i drop this hand now, will my cards get better than this?" maybe not soon enough. i think i have to play this hand.

i call.

fourth street is a 7. not great, but still in the low set of possibilities and the other low guy has bricked. i check, the guy behind me bets, i call when it's my turn. still five-way action.

fifth street is a 6. i now have a low. a weak, anemic, low with what's known as a "rough 7" to be sure, but i'm the only one who mathematically can have one at this point. i have some freak runner-runner straight draws. this hand isn't great, but it's not horrific.

i push all-in. a guy behind me raises all-in and forces yet another player all-in.

seventh street is dealt with no betting between the two players who are left that have that option.

the guy who was obviously playing high has rivered a full-house. he eliminates two, namely a set of trips and an A-high flush.

mr. super stack has rivered one of only five cards left in the deck that can beat me for low and has the second lowest possible hand, a stunning A2346. he eliminates me.

i'm out.

unlike online, you don't know your exact standing, but i'd guess i was probably in the top of the bottom third. i played for three-and-a-half hours. i had one good hand (the 10's) and two hands that i may have over-pressed. i made one good play where a guy passed on a hand when he was better than i was.

in general, there were two players who i thought were considerably better than me, three that i thought played worse, and the rest were indeterminate. i was surprised, frankly, of how strong my play was, relatively speaking -- but having said that, i did lose and am out ... so it's always possible that i don't know what the hell i'm talking about.

in the next 15 minutes, because of the stakes being upped, i'd guess as many people were eliminated as in the previous three hours.

if this were a job, i'd be losing $285/hr, or $570k/yr.

so yeah, i'm glad i did it -- i wish i'd done better. studies have been done that have shown testosterone count drops in people who lose, and i believe it. my bollocks feel like they're about the size of b.b.'s.

but winning something like this is possible -- i was surprised that the overall level of play wasn't much, much higher. i can imagine studying the hell out of this game and having a chance. the hardcore pros don't pay a lot of attention because the entry fee isn't high and the prize pool isn't hefty enough to their liking ... many of the participants are like me, playing just to have been in the series ... some just think of themselves as card sharps, but haven't spent the time to look a little deeper at the game.

it does make me wonder about one other event -- there are a couple of $1k entry n/l hold 'em events in the middle of july, in-and-around the "big event." for me, that's a different event ... something i'm better at and have true dark horse possibilities ... i've never done well in a multi-table tournament of size, but i'm better in live-action than i am online and i've become a pretty damn good tournament player online.something to think about for me, for sure.

but i have wounds to lick between now and then.

wsop part iv

break ended with me having spent all my time writing the last update. back at the table, the levels were jacked up -- it was now a $5 ante, with a $10 bring-in and $30/$60 for bets.

i get the first bring-in and no one calls, giving me the antes, +$35.

i get three small cards as my starters on the next hand, with no one else showing anything tiny up -- i raise and get no callers. +$35. i'm now over my number of starting chips and in fine shape.

a series of hands pass where i don't play and then our table is broken up ... all of us will be put somewhere else, moving me away from the not-a-threat-at-this-moment huck seed ... i draw the one table that isn't clumped with all the others and am given the #1 seat -- my least favorite seat in poker because you can't see the player to the right of the dealerand you're constantly in the way of a right-handed dealers card-holding hand. the player in the #8 seat (the one to my logistical right) is heavily stacked, probably with 4-5k.

several hands pass without me playing, then i'm dealt (Q 8) Q, i raise to complete the bet with three callers, the other two both having low hands. fourth street brings me a 6, but the two low hands both catch bricks. i bet, one low hand passes, the other reluctantly calls. fifth street get another 6, mr. super stack pairs an up 7. he checks, i bet, and heimmediately raises. i call immediately and i can tell this fast call surprises him. have i misplayed something? i can't see him, but i look around the table at other players to judge their reaction -- no one else is surprised, so it's something he's responding to about something *he* knows in his hand. hmm. sixth street brings a non-low card for him and no help for me. he bets, i call. on seventh street he waits a long long time and checks. i have no idea what he has (i doubt he's straight and he's almost certainly not low or he would have bet), so i check too. my two-pair feel marginal somehow. he's got trip 7's to beat my two pair. this puts me down to about $225 and officially in what would be known as "hurting" territory.

now i'm thinking, "goddammit. i haven't actually seen a single person eliminated from a table i've played at. i don't want to be the first."i'm not. the very next hand, a guy with a starting pair of aces ends up all-in and is eliminated. he's replaced by another short stack guy who is also immediately eliminated.

i'm then dealt (10 4) 10. the guy with a 2d opener has taken the (unusual in this game) step of completing the bet for the bring-in, implying he has either rolled-up trips, three cards to a straight, three cards to a flush, or my guess is three cards to a straight flush (2d, 3d, 4d). there is one caller from super stack, who is also going low. my shelf life is about to expire.are 10's good enough? maybe. if i can get money on the table *now*, the little hands are forced to call -- it'll give me greater odds on my investment.when it comes to me, i raise. both hands call.

fourth street brings a 2. notable only in that it takes the low hand card away from both players, but mr. maybe-straight-flush catches the Ad, to show the impressive Ad 2d combo. i check, he bets; the other low guy and i both call.

fifth street brings a 10. i now have three 10's and this is probably as good as it's going to get. both other guys have just got exposed pairs. i have 35 left. so really, what i want them both to do is call so i can maxmize this bet, but how? i want them to think i have two-pair, not trips, because one of *them* might have two-pair. and i'm going to bet this 35, but i need two callers. so what i do is pause for a long time and start mumbling numbers, what i'm doing is counting outs under my breath, somewhat audibly, that would be the same as someone looking at two pair -- if these guys can hear it and figure that out, they'll think i'm on two pair ... i do it for awhile and glance up ... mr. straight flush is smiling at me as though he's just caught me, i can't see mr. big stack, but i can tell that they've both looked at each other in one of those "we know something about him that he doesn't" kind of ways ... which means i'm set.

i bet and get two very fast calls. i'm all-in.sixth and seventh street are no help to me. both other guys check through. they're trying to eliminate me, and neither one wants to make a bet that may make the other eliminating man fold. i show my trip 10's and the table very noticeably freezes. nobody says anything. i can't figure out what's happened yet, but a guy not in the hand can see one of the other player's cards and says to me, "i can't believe you pulled that off." turns out mr. straight flush had been playing A23 off, the A had given him ace's. he'd two-paired, so had the other guy, and they'd both missed their lows.

i win high, there is no low and i triple through -- almost unheard of in a h/l split game and am now sitting around 650. still a bit down, but definitely back in it.

betting rounds go up. this time it's $10 ante, $15 bring in and $50/$100. things will now get serious, because the mode stack at the table is about 800 -- with the one dominating guy sitting above everyone else. but if there's one round of betting for every card, that's $400, or roughly half of a person's stack ... things are going to change quickly.

the good news is this is a relatively tight table -- lots of checking and free cards. the bad news is even then it means that you have to strike in just a hand or two or you're out. i'm very weak compared to these levels, so i need to watch it.

wsop part iii

first break ...

something like 566 players in the tourney ... i'm sitting at 970 chips, down 30, after 2 rounds of at the table is tight enough that even i look aggressive ...

one player, a guy who looks like the bald guy from alf, has had a tremendous run ... A5 wheel to sccop, 2-6 straight to scoop, and 4 4's to scoop ... i'd guess he's sitting around 3000, and would be one of the heavier stacked players in the tourney.immediately to my left, which is to say "right where you don't want him to be" is huck seed, former world no-limit champion.

he made an indescribably bad play, raising and re-raising a sole person, who clearly was going low when huck couldn't get there ... the low had a wheel, taking down a seriously large stack and removing half of huck's chips.

i've been playing okay -- chased one pot where i shouldn't have for one extra card ... and could have stolen the antes at one point if i'd thought about it a little harder.went down 300 from a successive set of weak hands that weren't improving and didn't look scary, but hit a big winner against the power force at our table ... i was going low, but the hand flipped over high and i bet bet bet until i won. he laid down trips against my showing 2 pair, assuming from the way i was betting that i had a full house -- i didn’ i'm happy to be where i am. would like a bit better, but i'm glad i'm not 300 down anymore.people have mtn. dew bottles here ... where the hell are they getting them?

wsop part ii

play day. 15 minutes 'til start.

jitters started hitting about an hour ago ... had a breakfast of oatmeal, strawberries (america's deadliest food) and pecans ... with mountain dew chaser ... i'm almost at the right "level," if they'd refilled my dew twice i'd be just right ... i'm moody, kind of quiet and mildly anxious to start.

the poker room has had heavy work done on the inside ... it's normally a convention center, but it's had a set of scaffolding put in along with a tremendous set of lights and security cameras .... this may well be the best *lit* poker room i've ever been in.the sleepy, dazed and confused are wandering in, yet again, to fleece the sheep in the side games that are just starting up. vegas is the place where you can't get a manicure at 3:00 in the morning, but you sure as hell can sign-up for a $5k entry for a no-limit poker tournament.

the crowd is noticeably divided ... old grey-hairs doing it yet again, and the young internet studs ... no one is yet seated in my tourney area to speak of ... the few that are are all: younger than me, male, and talking on cell phones.

wsop part i

over the summer i played in a world series of poker event. my friend greg "sarcasmo" jorgensen liked my write-up of the event enough that i've decided to post it here for possible later use. (as an aside, this was all typed entirely with my thumbs on a hiptop.)


a corporate decision necessitated me being in las vegas for the four weekends covering the world series of poker, right at a period of time in history when the wsop is its very biggest.not all bad, in and of itself ...but then that got me to thinking ... hey, if i'm going to vegas anyway, maybe i should play in the series.

now before you draw your breath and gasp, it's true that the top wsop event costs $10k, and those good/fortunate enough to fight their way to the end become multi-millionaires and gambling household names, BUT that's just the culminating event ... the series is actually a bunch of events of different buy-in's and game types ...

it just so happens that the lowest buy-in tourney of the series is today. at $1000, this would be the 7-stud hi/lo split event (i'll call it "7(8)" for brevity). 7(8) is a mutant game where the lowest hand on the table (only if it is no higher than an 8), splits the pot with the highest hand on the table. there's not always a low qualifier on the table (in which the high hand wins it all), but there is always a high.

in essence, low hands are what you're looking for, and the effort always, always is to scoop the pot with something like a lowcard-loaded flush, or a tiny straight -- essentially winning both the high and the low hand with the same freak set of cards (known as a “scoop”).

this is complicated by the fact that it is a limit tournament – meaning you can only bet certain amounts at certain times, with those amounts grinding ever upward according to a set clock schedule.further complicating this is 7(8) strategy changes over time in tourneys -- in early rounds you should play focusing on low cards, but in later rounds hone in on high (because you're forcing people to draw to low hands, and eventually miss).

7(8) is not a heavily played, nor sexy, game. it's essentially the 2-headed cow on the poker range, where something like hold 'em is the professionally-bred stud bull. in fact this particular tourney will not be televised even on the all-poker-all-the-fricken-time espn 2. it's simply not worthy.however, it does come with one extremely coveted prize -- a world series gold tiffany bracelet ... there's one attached to every event -- the $10k entry bracelet is diamond encrusted.this tourney is a mutant, and relatively speaking it's cheap. and if those 2 things don't scream “b1,” i don't know what does ... so i'm playin'.

on the down side:* i've never played a stud tourney in my life ... and here i am starting at the very top.* i've only ever had 2 losing stud sessions (that is to say, leaving the table with less money than i brought) in my life. both of them in the last month, one of them in 7(8).* i haven't played a whole lot 7(8).on the up side:

* i've always wanted to play in the series ever since i saw armarillo slim on abc's wide world of sports all those years ago. and now i am.

* i get to play at full tables. the last 2 months my poker play has been almost exclusively short-handed, a style and type of play i'm not great at (although i am winning again, after a brutal downward slide).* it's a mild form of thrill seeking.

* 7(8) is far enough removed from the mainstream that the giants in the game aren't over-whelmingly crushing. tiny boys still have a chance. almost.

when you balance the 2 sides against each other, there's only one conclusion you can reasonably draw: i am what gamblers call, "dead money." a fish. the person who gives their prize money away to the tournament hotshots.

and there's no question that for someone to win a tourney like this, you have to be 2 things: lucky and good. i can get as lucky as the next guy, but there's no question, even in my own mind, that i'm not good"enough."

but that doesn't mean that i won't play, and that doesn't mean i won't try. and it doesn't mean that i won't feel depressed when, like all but one of the other players today, i get knocked out of the tournament. and it doesn't mean that i won't sit and wonder about all the cool places i could have gone on 1000 bucks.

is this the best way i've ever spent money in my life? hell no. but it makes at least as much sense as, oh i don't know, say renting an apartment for 12 years on a month-to-month lease with a $300 monthly premium attached.

and if you don't have a house, and if you don't have a family, you damn well better have a good set of stories, or live under a bridge. who knows? maybe i'm headed both directions here.

the event lasts 2 days if you play well ... you'll get at least 1 more email from me as an update. hopefully, hopefully, it won't be notification that i'm knocked out. just don't be surprised if it is.what's funny is i used to play tournament backgammon with karpov and would sweat the bejesus out of a $125 entry fee ... so much so that i'd swap equity portions with him to help cut the loss potential. it's not an exaggeration to say that i studied backgammon much, much more heavily than i did mathematics.

but with this event here, for some reason i'm truly not worried about it ... weird because my overall financial standing (certainly my credit rating) was much stronger then than it is now. god knows why. maybe as i get older, i'm just more and more becoming my father. financially irresponsible. crikey. we all know how that story ends if you turnforward a lot of pages.

awake in 9 hours, tourney start in 11. and you better believe that i'll sleep like a baby until then.

September 14, 2005

quote of the moment

"he's got the heart of a tiger, the mathematical ability of a
super-computer, and the disposition of the pillsbury doughboy."
-- b1 describing karpov

not my photo ...

... but i like it anyway. looks one hell of a lot like the cover to "obscured by clouds."
(c) 2005 b.a. acord

haiku of the moment

just 'cause you feel it
(because you really feel it)
doesn't mean it's there

September 13, 2005

garbage -- san francisco

haiku of the moment

old girlfriends abound
full of smiles, hugs and advice
wasn't mean enough

i've never been in a strip club in my life ...

... but that doesn't mean i don't have a favorite.

it's "big baddy's," the place with the woman/robot swinging out through the slats on bourbon street in new orleans ... whenever i'm in n.o. i make it a point to go there and watch people pass by ... watching normal people take in somewhat weird things is nearly always a great form of entertainment.

here's a great article about them, and unlike most news articles, it only gets better as it goes.

saint jones (if that's your real name), you have a fan in me:

haiku of the moment

there's great irony
i missed my haiku deadline
while writing others

September 12, 2005

that's not a commune ...

... that's a group of billionaires. microsoft company photo from 1978.

Hookie Bobbing

Every time I recall a specific part of my youth to the Californian sun-belters out here, people shudder, so that means it's worth writing down ...

I grew up in the Denver-metro area, a place that was capable of getting snow anytime from the first of September through the middle of May. For the rich kids in our area, snow meant skiing; but in my neighborhood, and especially as a teenager, it meant hookie bobbing+.

The basics of hookie bobbing were simple:

1. Wait until there was enough snow on the ground to completely cover the street.

2. Now wait for a car to drive by.

3. Chase after said car, grab onto the rear bumper and "ski" down the street.

It was an event that filled every decent red-blooded boy with thrills and the vim of life, while sending many of the neighborhood mothers into paroxysms of panic.

Sounds dangerous, but wasn't really, as long as you followed a few simple rules:

* Only hookie bob on hard pack snow, not ice.
doesn't hurt as much if you take a fall, and it's easier to run away if something goes "wrong."

* Never hookie bob from the side of a car, only from the back ...
no way to get hit by oncoming traffic or catch a foot in a gutter/ditch. it also keeps you from going under the car. (There is a scientific name for people who get killed by their "ride" when hookie-bobbing: "stupid.")

* ... And when you're in the back, don't go behind a tire.
Nothing says, "I'm done" like getting a surface rock to the face.

* Walk the road you're going to hookie bob before hitching and make landmark notes of distances. Read this until you understand it: snow does not collect on manhole covers.

* Don't ever hookie bob the Popicks or the Goodmans.
The Popicks were a family of nine kids, eight boys and a girl (I saw her knock a guy out once -- that's a story I need to capture here sometime). All of them were mean. All of them were heartless. All of them were teenagers or worse. All of them drove hopped-up jalopies and would be more-than-willing to pull you 70mph down a short block and then spin a doughnut at the end. And the Goodmans were worse because they could beat up the Popicks.

Of course, you wanted to dress for excess. This meant:

* Gloves
Not mittens. Gives you more freedom of movement and keeps you from trouble if you try to grab a bumper join. And only girls wear mittens anyway for chrissakes.

* Jeans on bottom, nylon on top
Down parkas are pretty good, but (surprisingly) lacking a bit of cushion. Better were snorkel parkas or reversible jackets (fur side in). Under no circumstance do you want a jean jacket -- loose denim grabs the road and can make "unusual" things happen.

* Layer upon layer
Sweaters are good -- not for the warmth, but rather for the padding. On icy days we'd go "homeless style" and cram our jackets with newspaper.

* Shoes
Now this one will surprise you. *The* shoe of choice was a leather Stan Smith adidas tennis shoe, very well worn. Nice slick bottom and the leather can withstand infinite punishment. A good second choice was a well worn Chuck Taylor low top (not fashionable at the time, but that didn't stop any of us -- high tops were a bit too binding), but you had to watch as you went along to make sure the sole wasn't pulling away. My brother and I both kept a dead set of ten-ease (sic) specifically for hookie bobbing (I consider them to be my first dedicated-sport shoe). A friend of mine swore by worn cowboy boots and they too seemed excellent, although they'd fray a bit on the sole when drying. (Side note: I knew almost no one that wore boots to school in the winter -- we all wore tennis shoes. The few wimps/fashion victims who did wear boots wore over-the-ankle hikers, then called "clutter boots," but called "clompees" by my brother and me.)

Riding position was critical and easy to do. Grab onto the bumper, usually under-handed (less likely to get caught on the bumper) and squat down with plenty of flex in your knees. As the ride gains speed, lean back because if/when you go down you want to fall onto your butt-and-back, not face-and-chin. when you disengage lay back and put your hands behind your head, like you're laying on a beach. bring your knees up so your feet don't go under the car, but that's only a threat for the very briefest of moments. If you want to be super-cool, cross your legs like you're reading the sunday newspaper in the park as you slide -- always gets applause from the crowd.


Are you kidding me?

As kids we'd try to latch onto either unsuspecting adults (darting out from the bushes at stop signs), teenagers (with the above obvious exceptions) or women driving alone.

Women driving alone were always the funniest (although not the quickest) of rides and it would go something like this. we'd latch on and she would stop. We'd wait. She'd start, then stop and roll down the window and say something semi-sensical like, "hey, you kids can't do that." We'd wait. She'd start then stop. Then get out of the car, hands on hips and repeat whatever thing she'd just said, "Hey, you kids can't do that." One of us would always say, "Okay," and we'd just sit and wait. Then she'd get in, drive off, and we'd hitch right along. This series of events must have happened 50 times to me in my life.

As teenagers it was a lot easier and only a question of who had mom's car that day.

It never got "boring," but once you've become an old hand, you can do advanced moves:

* The Shimmy
This was a crowd favorite. You start on one side and shuffle your way across the bumper and back.

* The Single Helix
Especially good on new fallen snow. You shimmy down the bumper but rotate, your front to the car, then your back, then your front. Leaves an unbelievably cool pattern in the street sludge afterward (better viewed close to the road). (A "double helix" is the same thing with two people working across a car in opposite directions.)

* The Round the World
THIS is the move and I only know two people to ever pull it off -- my second-best friend and I, and we did it a bunch. It starts inside the car with a driver (person A) and a passenger (person B). Person A opens his (and, yes, it's always a "he") door and starts to inch his way out. As he does this, person B starts moving over to the driver's seat. Person A moves completely out of the car as person B takes the driver's seat. Person A then works his way down the side of the car (a "death slide"), single helixes across the rear bumper, works his way up the passenger side (a "glen ascent" -- the streets we did this stunt on all started with the word "glen") and gets back into the passenger side. The best part? You're only half way around the world. Person B has to do it all now. (I learned how to drive a stick this way.)

As an aside, it's worth noting that I never saw, or had, a hookie bobbing accident of any kind.

And you better believe, I'd hookie bob right this second, given the chance. In fact, I'm wearing my Stan Smith's right now. where's a good snow and a '66 Galaxie 500 when you need it?

+ Our neighborhood are the only people I know who called it "hookie bobbing" (Google does show some hits against this phrase) -- everywhere else it was called "skitching." I have no idea where the name came from.

  • see the rest of b1-66er's world
  • i know what you need ...

    ... you need a laser-guided, bolt-action, potato rifle.

    September 11, 2005

    haiku of the moment

    forget 9-1-1
    what i really want to know:
    where is the anthrax?

    san jose giants -- san jose

    "A" baseball

    the lowest level of professional baseball in the united states ...
    played in a venue so small that the majority of foul balls are hit out
    of the stadium ... there's no such thing as a sure out ... and inning
    breaks include such things as "bash for cash" (breaking headlights out
    of an advertising van) and a bagel toss ... if you don't like baseball, you'd love the s.j. giants.

    September 10, 2005

    weather porn

    (these shots of unknown origin and not taken/created by me.)
    [9/14 -- source now known]

    haiku of the moment

    food need increases
    as flowers go out of bloom
    thirsty hummingbirds

    September 09, 2005

    cadillac ghia -- las vegas

    bougainvillea -- san jose

    haiku of the moment

    evening approaches
    with a faint nip in the air
    summer making way

    September 08, 2005

    quote of the moment

    "usually when you combine two ideas, you get the worst of both. it's like a house-boat. it's a and bad house and a bad boat. now how much would you pay?"
    -- jim "cap'n happy" reekes

    karpov's eagle creek switchback -- luggage porn

    k-pi bought an eagle creek switchback in "palm" color.


    My bag arrived today. They did not send that bonus free cube accessory that they were supposed to send, unless it is coming in a separate shipment. I'll follow up with them.

    I like it, and I think that it is going to be great for me on work trips. I *think* it will be large enough (though it is just a tad smaller than I was envisioning.) It has a total of three main tones, with black trim, but primarily darker and lighter Palm (kakhi-like) colors. It's probably a pretty good color to not attract too much attention, but still be easy to find.

    The Palm color isn't as gross as I was expecting. It is not as 'fun' as a blue or red color, but it clearly will be easy to distinguish from all the black luggage on the carosel.

    There are straps galore, including one I haven't quite figured out yet on the top of the bag.

    The conversion of the full bag to a backpack (not to be confused with the removable daypack) is extremely slick. It is well padded and has a nice padded waist strap too. It feels surprisingly comfortable, though I don't have it loaded down yet.

    The handle is great. It zips away in its own compartment under a tough fabric. It curves and feels very comfortable and sturdy. It clearly does take up some room in the main compartment though.The wheels are very well-protected, and appear to be high quality.

    The zipoff day pack should be useful. It zips off very easily.

    The 'Sole Patch' corner guards seem to be a great idea, protecting a common wear spot at the top of the bag with some weird space age material.

    The fabric appears to be rugged.

    Two quibbles...the clips for the backpack straps appear to be thin and of lower quality than almost everything else on the bag. Perhaps it is a material that is stronger than it looks, but they seem out of place on a bag where everything is ultra-rugged. (Same with the loops that you hook them to.) The only other one is that the handle when you carry the bag by the side is not padded or rubberized. The top handle is.

    I will report once I field test it.


    front view

    back view, with internals exposed. note the curving of the straps -- this is a must for bags that can bear a heavy load. i have an eagle creek bag from before this discovery, and it suffers from it. also, a nice feature here is the belt is separate from the straps -- meaning you can wear shoulder straps without wearing a belt. necessary.

    top. note the hardcore handle cover. eagle creek has switched over to rubberized handles for the main weight-bearing handles, and i actually prefer their older leather-wrapped nylon ones.

    "soul patches," spots reinforced with thermo plastic urethane for wear. super hardcore. it's one of the gimmicks they use to make this bag guaranteed for life "regardless." i told karpov, "you get your car stuck in the snow, you know what to throw under a wheel."

    wheels, and the oh-so-hardcore kick plate. notice the recessing all the way into the bag -- this is precisely what you want on a great piece of luggage (and the wheels have treads -- oh, baby).

    [this actually added on 9/23/05, but i wanted it back in sequence with the luggage articles.]

    haiku of the moment

    thinking of travel
    and i can't -- now i'm drooling
    show me luggage porn

    a rough course in luggage, part 2

    a few rules of thumb of things to have with your "piece:"

    * anything but black
    i have a preference for luggage that isn't black (or at least, not all black). black is great because it (mostly) doesn't show dirt, but EVERYONE uses it. if you carry something that isn't black, not only do you stand out a bit from the crowd (something i prefer), you also make it far less likely to get your bag taken by accident off a carousel. the real "crowd danger" with luggage isn't theft, it's someone accidentally walking away with your piece and then you're stuck getting it back -- you *will* get it back, it just will be inconvenient as hell.

    * get modular
    modular is the way to go. if you can get a bag that either zips-to-expand, or has zip-off bags (like a day pack), get those over something that does not. the great thing about these is you can take stuff with you in the plane, while you check the rest of your luggage (this is also good for showing airline people what your bag looks like when the other half gets lost). being able to shrink down the size of your bag also makes it easier for smaller packing trips. as you know, my duffel and travel pack have zip off day packs and i love and use them all the time. my brother has a genus 1 eagle creek duffel, that i covet the hell out of, that, through a series of penn-&-teller-like zipper moves, can be doubled in size. i love that thing.

    * stand out but don't look expensive
    i'm overly aware of luggage and know expensive stuff when i've seen it. twice in my life i have nearly carried away a bag, just to steal that particular case. expensive luggage can, and will, attract attention -- some of it unwanted. if you have something a little more sedate, it's less likely to get lifted. you may want to balance this against what people might think in a business meeting about what you're carrying ... i've always felt everyone can fuck off about my luggage, since no one knows more than i do luggage in any business meeting, and when they smirk at my briefcase, they don't know that seven years ago that same bag was on the saddle of a camel in the rajistani desert, and that it will have even more adventure in the next 50 years ... you might feel differently.

    * leather vs. nylon deathmatch
    so leather looks and feels great. i also like the way it wears over time. (i actually enjoy the fact that a piece of luggage shows wear.) the problem is it's heavier and more expensive than the nylon equivalent and is a significant bigger theft target. (hartmann made some black leather briefly in the 90's that was to die for.) leather takes water damage, but not as much as people would hint. nylon is durable and great. it's also very common. there are some people experimenting with waxed canvas and i like it a lot. all things being equal, nylon is the choice, but i wouldn't call leather "wrong."

    * where to buy
    unless you have a very compelling reason, buy online. use something like froogle (google's pricing engine) to compare prices. make sure to be aware of shipping charges and who charges tax. if you're buying a bag you've never personally seen, buy from a store that has an easy return policy, that way you can jettison it if it's not what you want. buying from grey-retailers on ebay will save you loads, as will buying discontinued models. sierra trading post will often have extremely good luggage cheap cheap cheap.

    * wheels and straps
    in 1990, i bought a rolling duffel to take to england. it actually got stares in the airport for being so weird. today, everyone has wheels. wheels make sense if your travel is in the u.s. -- if you're going to be traveling in europe, or especially, anywhere further a field than that, don't get wheels and use backpack straps instead ... too many stairs, too many cobblestones, too much beat up road/walkways and too much desert sand in the rest of the world. when you get wheels, be *certain* that the wheels are incorporated into the frame of the luggage you buy (that is to say that the axles are inside the frame bag and the wheels are not attached on the outside of the main case); if not, they can, and will (and SHOULD), be eaten by a luggage machine. although some bags come this way, my opinion is that straps *and* wheels on the same bag is unnecessary overkill.

    * duffel or ?
    i like the size and shape of a duffel and a duffel on wheels is a fairly rare animal. however for business travel it may not be the ideal shape since it's not well suited to carrying books by default -- something like a travel pack on wheels is a reasonable alternative. you may want to balance this against the need to pack a jacket -- the long shape of a duffel let's you put a sport coat in more easily.

    * size matters
    if you're only going to buy a single piece, get something slightly *larger* than you anticipate needing. that way you'll always have room if you need it.

    * get compression straps
    this is especially true if you're using a slightly larger bag. compression straps in the bag will keep things from sloshing around. a compression strap around the outside helps as well.

    * damn your mortal soul, forget all that crap and just tell me what to buy
    so given what i've said above, and given a, maybe, a ten minute look on the web, i'd recommend one of these.
    or these

    * now you've got it, waterproof it
    whatever you buy, go to a camping store and buy spray-on waterproofing for it (if it's leather, get leather treatment). it'll significantly increase the life of your bag. you'll be surprised how much your bag is exposed to moisture over its lifetime.

    enjoy your luggage. don't forget to send me a postcard.

    (click here for part 1)

    a rough course in luggage, part 1

    my old pal karpov, asked me a question about buying luggage ... this is something i've considered writing/selling an article on in the future, so i'm catching it here now.


    let me start by saying that i think luggage is an extremely valuable asset. it's only the mildest of exaggerations to say that a great piece of luggage can keep you from losing money (like by missing a business meeting because a wheel is gone, or from a delay in theft), or death (cheap strap gets under the wheel of your landrover in the sahara, and VOOMP).

    only buy luggage with a lifetime guarantee. (and then if it breaks, *use* the guarantee.) these are the brands i'm familiar with and trust:

    * boyt
    i have a black ballistic nylon duffel bag of theirs that i use for my juggling equipment. it's taken abuse at a level that's hard to fully grasp (sitting in the sun for hours on end, getting white gas spilled on it, sitting in a car trunk for half a year, being moved every week for a decade straight). it's great.

    * hartmann
    i have a khaki hanging suit bag from these guys made from their pack cloth that i bought on a recommendation from "the airline passengers' guerilla handbook." i've used it a medium amount and it's been good. an airport carousel in germany chewed a zipper off the bag and one of their official repair centers (a shoe repair shop in my neighborhood) fixed it for free along with a whole bunch of tiny other things i pointed out to them (by their request).

    * eagle creek
    you know how i feel about these guys. they have the two pieces of luggage i use the absolute most -- my black nylon travel pack (it's a "transport 2," and had been discontinued when i bought it) and that large khaki-green-checked rolling duffel. these pieces are interesting not only in the raw amount of abuse they've taken (i don't know of anyone that has come even close to putting a piece of luggage through the rigors of that travel pack), but also in the fact that they are both modular -- both have day packs that zip off.

    * briggs and riley
    i don't own any of their stuff, but everything i've seen is of the highest of quality.

    * travelpro
    i bought my mom a blue nylon rollaway of theirs and thought it was amazing. (she actually was voluntarily complimented on it by a baggage handler the first time she used it.) i consider travelpro to be the sleeper of the luggage world. always overlooked, rarely talked about, but of the highest quality. no one actually uses this stuff, so your bag never gets taken by accident.

    * tumi
    again, i don't own any pieces, but everything i've ever seen has been first rate. i like their styling better than any other luggage manufacturer.

    * coach
    only if you're interested in leather. but if you are, you may want to consider hartmann. coach is more classy whereas hartmann is more utilitarian (and durable).

    * others a bit more off the beaten path
    l.l. bean, orvis, land's end and cabela's all make spectacular luggage. my ex-wife had a l.e. travel pack that was great. i use a cabela's day pack that's significantly better than any other i've ever seen.

    brands to be avoided:

    * victorinox
    "swiss army" to you and me, danny. lifetime guarantee, but i've always watched their luggage very closely in the stores and it's crap. they make knives for the love of god. and they're swiss. or whatever. no.

    * samsonite
    that these people are even in business pains me. they are the ford escort of the luggage industry. no. no no no.

    (click here for part 2)

    September 07, 2005

    if only they could have predicted the new orleans events ...

    gilligan has died
    leaving one less on the isle
    bye little buddy

    September 06, 2005

    haiku of the moment

    here's an idea
    let's spend hours converting docs
    goddamn pdf's

    quote of the moment

    "they're like mice, they die."
    -- a. goto

    September 05, 2005

    haiku of the moment

    celebrate labor
    by hanging out with your friends
    yes, i'm envious

    chandelier -- berkeley

    overheard snippet of conversation

    "when she said, 'no,' what did she say?"

    September 04, 2005

    why a white plate?

    as kids my brother, *for years*, would give my mom a plain white plate as a gift for any occasion. a plain. white. plate.

    oddly, no one in our family ever asked him what the deal was, so i took it upon myself to ask the obvious-but-unspoken question, "why a white plate?"

    the answer i got back was of such a high level of clarity -- especially coming from his at-the-time-10-year-old-mind that you can't help but be amazed. (Even more so by the fact that he types about 10wpm, this answer must've taken a day for him to do.)

    it's safe to say that our house wasn't "normal," but i won't have to tell you that after reading this ...

    -----Original Message-----
    Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 01:51:01 -0400

    Here's the deal- as i remember it. It was mother's day I believe, and we asked mom what she wanted. She said she wanted a "white plate" to serve food on. A platter. When I asked what the what should be on the plate -she said nothing- she wanted something that would go with all of her dishes she had already. And then it dawned on me- she wanted a WHITE PLATE. Perfectly round. Perfectly white. Sort of a zen plate. I understood the perfection of it. It would match every dish. It would match every food. It would be perfect. It would be white. It was the perfect gift for any occasion.

    So we went to the store. To my dismay, white plates are hard to find. I mean, they had white plates with a gold ring around the outside- or black ring- or silver ring. But those were all corruptions of the white plate. Perversions. They could clash with the silverware. They could clash with the food. They were not perfectly white. They were white with trim. Why would you ornament a perfect white plate? So we went to more stores. There were lots of white plates to be had, but you had to be careful... some were off white. But this was revealed when you sat them side by side. The true white plate glowed with whiteness when sat next to an off white plate. the off white plate look corrupted... tainted. But still there was that daunting trim. Then at last we found the holy grail. A perfectly white plate. No trim. No off- whiteness. I was thrilled. They handed it to me. Yes.... this was THE white plate. My dad examined it and was disturbed
    to discover that it was plastic! But I was unshaken. It was perfectly white ... perfectly round... Mom had specified nothing about raw materials: this was definitely THE plate. So dad shelled out the $3 begrudgingly, and home we went.

    We gave mom her presents, and I watched with pride as she examined the white plate. she was pleased, but also a little puzzled. Puzzled by the plastic... I suspected. Hmmm. Maybe there was more to this white plate thing than I had imagined. But what did raw material have to do with it? So everyone started talking about the plate, and the quest for the plate. At some point Mom allowed that trim on the plate was allowed.

    What? Oh NO!- Mom doesn't understand - without trim- the plate matches EVERYTHING. With trim it may not. All white is best... she just doesn't understand. So then, now and then, my mom would serve dinner's main coarse on the white plate. I would look at the effect. My fears were allayed. It WAS the perfect match for every food. But my Mom and Dad were right about the plastic. Plastic wasn't good. It wasn't that it upset the perfection of the plate, it was that it distracted people away from the perfection of the plate. Next year it would be different. It would be China. Then people wouldn't be worried about the raw material. They would think a china plate... a perfectly white china plate... a perfectly round , white plate, that matches the food so perfectly. They wouldn't get bogged down in the raw materials. They would just understand.

    But future years were not so kind. You see, you can't find a china plate with NO trim or NO embossing around the rim. They had one or the other. So I would settle on some kind of
    would be ok- Mom said trim was ok. But in my heart, I was not satisfied. I would look at the plates on the table, and they never looked as good as the ORIGINAL white plate. So after several years of searching for the perfect white china plate, I moved on to other things. Eventually I became interested in crystal balls... perfectly round... perfectly clear.

    But that is another story.

    haiku of the moment

    "want a lollipop?"
    "no. it's sugar on a stick."
    "like that's a bad thing?"

    quote of the moment

    "all people have a little bit of stalker in them ... it's just a question of how much."
    -- j. scott harlan

    carved tile -- mountain view

    ice plants in bloom -- los gatos

    trivium: the spanish explorers planted ice plants on every shore they hit as a future source of vitamin c to prevent scurvy.

    September 03, 2005

    haiku of the moment

    it's not for purists
    but it's still tasty, no doubt
    pizza with almonds

    quote of the moment

    "popularity is the new branding."
    -- bryan "bo3b" johnson
    while sitting poolside at the mirage in las vegas

    carpet with chocolate chip cookie camouflage

    September 02, 2005

    hibiscus -- mountain view

    the best mechanical engineer in the world

    j. scott harlan is a world caliber professional mechanical engineer. rely on him for cost reduction, mobile equipment, hydraulic design, engineering management, stress analysis, fatigue analysis, reliability, ground support equipment, weight reduction, testing, alternative energy, design of bolted joints, automotive and prototype design.

    living in salinas, california, he's designed, launched and supported numerous products including hydraulic trailers, military wreckers, aircraft cargo loaders, and motorcycles. he can provide swift, focused, and economical engineering services to any company.

    new orleans submerged
    worse than a city crippled
    is the great food gone

    distrubingly large slug on water can -- santa clara

    (dollar bill bottom show for size comparison)

    September 01, 2005

    this won't help the battle of the sexes

    my favorite haiku of all time

    anonymously passed to me in email over a decade ago as part of a series on spam (the lunchmeat, not the email badness).

    cube of cold pinkness
    yellow specks of porcine fat
    please hand me a spork

    two birds with one stone (haiku)

    a person from a company known as "haiku software" wrote to my company asking to be removed from our email lists ... i sent him this response:

    i've taken to heart
    your recent request to us
    nobody likes spam