Thursday, April 27, 2006

Finger, Hand, Wrist, and Arm Pain


Funniest Neck Traction Device I can find!!!

So I went to the doctor this morning and got a lecture on crushed vertabraes, slipped and herniated disks and other degenerative conditions that are causing the pain in my hands. I get to go in for neck traction tomorrow morning for an hour. I am sure it is not like this but dude, I'd rather hang myself than look that stupid!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Age of Decadence Ends: Back to Work...

Vegas wrap up...

Day one: I had a lot of fun playing the new Casino Texas Hold'em game at Caesar's Palace. Basically you make a series of bets from the ante to the flop to the turn and river. There is a bonus bet involved with some crazy odds. Money was made here but I'll get to that.

First day earnings, $170

Day two:
I start early hitting the Texas Hold'em table at O'Sheas. I promptly lose $100 and then shell out $75 more. I catch a pair of Aces at 30:1 with a $5 bet and bet out the table and win $150 back. I win two or three more hands and move up to $280, $110 ahead from the $170 the day before. I then head off to Casino Royale for some Blackjack Switch and drop $100 back to $180. I move back to Texas Hold'em at O' Sheas and get my $100 right back. I break for lunch up $280 for the trip.

After lunch, I give $200 back to O'Sheas. In a bit of fury, I take $25 out and head to the Blackjack table and tear up a chute of 7 decks. I leave the table now up $300 for the trip. The people were freaking at the table when I launched myself from $25 so fast. I was nicknamed the "Card Whisperer" because I was literally calling for cards and getting them.

I cross back over to Caesars and win $50 in a nickel machine. I head back to a Casino Hold'em table and proceed to go up $500 for the trip. I head to Tommy Bahama and buy a watch, some silk slacks and a cool Tommy Bahama silk shirt. I am now stylin'. (See photo in post below)

I head to dinner with the family over at the Aladdin. Commander's Palace is freaking awesome and I am glad they have one in Vegas. I drop $100 playing blackjack at the Aladdin. In a fit of rage, I lose $50 on one hand. I went and had a nice meal with my wife, her parents and her brother and two sisters.

Later that evening, I am denied entry with my sister in-laws into Pure. Something with my foot wear the bouncer dude didn't like. I watched as people passed through with tank tops under their unbuttoned shirts and holes in their jeans. I realized then my true calling in life: That Casino Texas Hold'em table. My sister in-laws got into Pure without me and I was quite fine with it. I get $100 back from the Texas Holdem table and I am out. (Apparently, K-Fed Spears, Britney and Paris Hilton were inside Pure this night. Don't drop the baby Britney, ha ha ha ha:))

One last thing about Pure. Rules are rules. If my footwear "violated" their rules on style, fine. I wasn't wearing athletic wear or tennis shoes like their rules indicate but it is their "discretion". What got me mad was how he proceeded to chastise me after I left, with my family members standing right there. Them... is fightin' words! I want to fight that man.

Total winnings thus far, $450

Day three:
I hit O'Shea's after breakfast and dump $250 as fast as Paris Hilton dumps boyfriends. It was lickity split too. Maybe 20 minutes. It sucked. I moped all day because I wasn't allowed into that club. That club was packed too. It made me realize parts of this world are so fake! Fake plastic watering cans... All those little blond things were probably immune to disease from all those fake plastic rubber parts in their scientifically altered bodies. Probably not!! Anyhow...

I stewed about it all day and then bought the movie, "Glory Road" about the all black NCAA basketball team from West Texas in 1966. My wife and I curled up and watched it together on the flat screen in our room. The Belagio hovered outside like a monument to decadence, hence the photo below, two posts down. What a different world we live in where something as intimidating and absurdly built as the Belagio yet we have stories like "Glory Road" to inspire us to just only become decent human beings instead of ignorant fools!

I headed out after the movie into the Forum Shops at Caesars for a new Golf Shirt. I ran into my sister in law and expressed still how bummed I was about the whole Pure incident. We discussed dinner with the family and played some slot machines, $5 here and there. I suddenly pop, $50. We were heading out after to go back to our rooms. I felt good about the $50. Real good, in fact. I saw the Casino Hold'em table and said screw it, I am back in it. I left my "seester" in law and went to the table. I match the $50 with $50 of my own and I start out $10 at a time with a $5 bonus bet. I play every hand. I caught a 7 2 off suit and still played and won. I lost a few hands, I won a few hands but suddenly after treading water for like a half an hour, I get some seriously good cards. In three consecutive hands I catch an Ace Jack unsuited for 10:1 on the $5 bonus and then win the hand on an Ace to 5 straight, an Ace King unsuited for 15:1 on the bonus and another Ace to 5 straight, and then an Ace Jack SUITED for 20:1 on the $5 bonus and yet ANOTHER Ace to 5 straight. I look down at my stack and I have $500 in chips.

I then look at the dealer and just say, "I'm gonna go..." I push all my 5 and 25 dollar chips forward and I get the chip featured below (Click to enlarge image):


I rule!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Age of Decadence, part 2

I keep winning so I bought some nice duds and a watch. (All Tommy Bahama)
God is going to kill me! I decided to display my winnings and clothes.

I am such an ass!

The Age of Decadence

Opened the curtain this morning and there it was...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dude is TIRED!!!

Little guy had a rough night.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Since My Last Post Had Involved So Much With Cars...

...I decided to update my Photoblog. Check out the classic cars from Sacramento's Towe Auto Museum on my photo site.


Friday, April 14, 2006

It's April isn't it?

This is from behind the wheel of the H3. Note wrist brace on hand. I may have carpal tunnel syndrome or some other nerve disorder. I guess I didn't tell you all on this blog. Anyhow, this is coming up to Truckee from Reno on Wednesday morning. I took the Hummer so I could blow through the road blocks and chain controls. Pretty cool eh? No snow...

Then no more than 10 minutes or 6 miles later just outside of Truckee:

The Sierra Nevadas are an amazing environment this time of year. 6 miles and maybe I ascended 500 feet in elevation and boom, there is this.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Three High Balls of Whiskey and a Dash of Valerian Root

No lucky wins at the the BJ table tonight which is actually a good thing. I needed to be humbled. I played by my rules and I lost. I am sitting in my hotel room bored out of my mind listening to my iPod. It's 2 AM. My iPod has blown through about 30 or so songs. For some reason there is a jacuzzi in my room.

Tonight has been surreal with the music I have heard. My iPod is on random so anything come up. The "Don't Break Me" by Samiam to "Fireman" by Jawbreaker transition was quite sweet and reminded me of my college years when I was into that edgy punk stuff. (Anyone else besides me know those songs?) When I was walking out of the casino a loser, the song "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day was playing.

Suddenly I came up to one song by my favorite Social Distortion. It was off their latest album. It;s a song called "Winners and Losers". Mike Ness has always been a great lyricist. This song struck me so I had to play it a few times. I decided to post the lyrics because I think it'll make my readers think. So what do you think? What does this song say to you?

Winners and losers, turn the pages of my life
We’re beggars and choosers, with all the struggles and the strife
I got no reason to turn my head and look the other way
We’re good and we’re evil, which one will I be today?

There’s saints and sinners
Life’s a gamble and you might lose
There’s cowards and heroes
Both have been known now to break the rules
There’s lovers and haters
The strong and the weak will all have their day
We’re devils and angels
Which one will I be today?

Are you happy now with all the choices you’ve made?
Are there times in life when you know you should’ve stayed?
Will you compromise and then realize the price is too much to pay?
Winners and losers, which one will you be today?

There’s a light and a dark side
Standing at the crossroads, there we’ll meet
There’s prophets and fools there
The lies and the truths, will be at our feet
I got a reason to turn my head and look the other way
Its heaven and hell here, which one will I live today?

Are you happy now with all the choices you’ve made?
Are there times in life when you know you should’ve stayed?
Did you compromise and then realize the price is too much to pay?
Winners and losers, which one will you be today?

Which one will you be today?
Which one will I be today?

Makes you think don't it? It's gripping when you here Ness's voice and acoustic guitar start the song and then it ramps up to a full fledged rocker. "There’s cowards and heroes... Both have been known now to break the rules"? Wow! Chilling!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Courtesy, Anger, Lucky Charms and Hummers

"Well sir, there's just a meanness in this world."---last line in Bruce Springteen's song Nebraska

I just want to tell a tale this evening and then resolve it with some thoughts. Last night my wife had a hankerin' for some Lucky Charms. (Remember she's brewing our son right now) We were out of milk, I wanted some Pepsi and some Raisin Bran. My old ancient neighborhood still has one of those corner grocery stores up the street. Kind of like the one in the movie "Clerks". It's almost close enough to walk to when you feel like it but I didn't so I took the wife's Hummer. I cruised up the street with my XM Radio blaring Channel 47's Ethel. When I got up to the corner I turned into side driveway at the store. Once in the driveway I realized there wasn't a convenient place to park on the side without navigating a few cables attached to the telephone pole outside the store. You couldn't really do it in a small car either. So I decided to drive up the side of the parking lot to the front which is roughly 25 feet or so. It's a small lot. Suddenly on the street this lady about my age or younger makes a left at the stop sign and proceeds to turn into the lot in front of me. Seeing this and playing it safe, I assumed she had the right of way since she was in the street and I was nowhere close to making the turn so I decided to wait. What does she do? She stops in the street. She's just there blocking traffic. I make the "Be my guest" hand signal inviting her to take the spot that I could not even get to at the angle I was at. She shakes her head angrily and points with the "YOU, GO!!!"gesture. Seeing the traffic building up behind her and being a bit peeved that I am actually waiting when she clearly had the right of way, I turned my head to the side window and waved my hand in disbelief at the cars behind her. She waits a few seconds and then pulls in FAST!!! I casually drive around to the front and get out. I thought the incident was over and we'd be on our merry way. But no! She came up to me and said "F---ing Republitard, learn how to drive!" I just glared at her then walked into the store. She stood ten feet behind me while I got my milk.

Let's think about this situation for a second. What did I do? I just expressed my opinion which I thought was correct. I mean, we all get this when we are driving. Non-verbal cues, right of way and courtesy. It isn't a language, it's just a way we communicate when we drive. After all, we are all under glass in full view of the public when we drive. We wouldn't act like idiots normally in public. But in our cars?

What a freak... How did she know I was a Republican? OK, yeah, maybe the Hummer gave it away with it's big 33 inch tires and the "Screw the Environment" stereotype it exudes. I don't put all that political bull all over it or hang one of them magnets on the back. It's just a vehicle, man. But was it the white male, All-American face, that gave it away? Did I look like a stereotypical prick? It definately wasn't the Birkenstocks, torn comfortable jeans or the unshaven 5 o'clock shadow or the infamous U2 hat I wear that gets me free Starbucks. I was buying Lucky Charms for crying out loud.

I didn't think much of it until today when I read an email from one of my favorite bloggers, who also regularly posts on BIO. Her email was a response to a comment I made on one of her "Bring It On" posts. (Check out pia's plug in the Long Island Press and you'll start reading daily.) If you read pia's blog, you know she is a fan of the show "Boston Legal", to which I am a big fan as well. One of my favorite characters is Alan Shore played magnificantly by James Spader. And what a paradox he is! Disgustingly rich, smug, a womanizer, and a liberal. A few weeks ago he said something during the show when his secretary was on trial because she evaded paying her income tax by sending an almost nasty response back. He said something that stuck with me at the end of the show, "Americans are becoming a mean people." This is an interesting statement to me because I hadn't thought about it much even though I see it everyday. People being mean.

I drive a lot and I am in different parts of Northern California. Like today I was in Los Banos, this little po-dunk town out in the San Joaquin County where a rare Kangaroo Rat lives. The day before I was in Marin County, where Scott Peterson now lives in San Quentin. (Imagine, you kill someone and you spend the rest of your life looking out the window at where you dumped her body in the SF Bay... Freaking surreal) Before that though? Around Sacramento, locally. I see a lot of people and those that know what I do (Hey Kurt), know I see a lot of diversity. I have the "melting pot" of a career. I don't know which area is more mean. I don't think you can narrow it down. I think it is just people being human. But is this a real human nature to flag down a guy in a Hummer and call him a Republitard? Whatever that means anyway.

If any of you have read my almost daily "abuse" on BIO, you know they let anyone voice their opinion regarding politics and most importantly for me, Social Issues. It's a left leaning political site. It's pretty anti-Bush as well, but it is different than Huffington or Daily Kos, which I refuse to link. They let Republicans have a voice but as long as they don't get goofy. They're pretty even handed too, as they have whacked some crazy liberals. But my point being without rambling much further, they respect honesty even if they disagree and make fun of you for it. It's a conversational sport, as Steve O over there says. It's a group of people sitting down and having a beer. And when isn't that fun and relaxing?

That is not always easy for Americans however. We are too wrapped up into what offends us to see an opposing view much of the time. Social issues like Terri Schiavo's life, the Death Penalty, Abortion, whom can and how many, we marry, etc. We fight tooth and nail to stick up for what we believe whether it's our religion, our label as a voter or even as our culture, like Nor Cal vs. So Cal. And sometimes we're very right on the side we choose. We're so correct in our choice, liberal or conservative, religious or not, that we'll have something to say about it. But what creates the anger, to cause racism or in my case to stereotype. Not all Hummer owners are Republicans, the same that all liberals do not own guns, when one obviously does.

But when we're pissed, we Americans, go after someone and act irrationally. We say stuff to strangers we don't really mean. And when we're in a crowd we'll lay it on even more because we feel safe in our crowd, much like the protesters in Los Angeles who said awful things about white Americans, they don't really mean because they're hurt. We act like that to family members and friends say stuff we don't mean. This can't be good for us. This can't be good for America.

It's really perplexing the meanness I see.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bob Dylan: Still has it going on...


I am a huge concert goer. Not so much now as in the past but I still manage to get to 5 or 6 concerts a year in. I'll go see just about anybody. The atmosphere, good loud music and the people are reasons I go. I like the cool heads of a Dave Matthews Show, where sea of people are grooving to the music. I also love the intensity of the front row of a Social Distortion concert and the pretend violence that goes along with expended all of that energy.

I saw Bob Dylan last night for the second time. He played down in Stockton at their new arena. It was a small show, maybe 7,000 people tops. He had his little band which consisted of rhythm, slide, and lead guitarists, bass, drums and Dylan on keyboards and harmonica. It was a real compliment to have solid musicians playing those classic songs.

I took my parents to this show. They recently have grubbed up a lot of the new release compilation cd's Dylan has released. It is not uncommon for me now to go to their house on a Sunday with Dylan or the Stones blasting away by the pool. They missed the whole "hippy" thing in the 60's with Dylan going "electric", Vietnam, Hendrix. My mom was a Beach Boys-early Beatles fan. In 1966 at 18 and 20, they started having kids and have been married for 40 years. Dylan played the music of their generation much like Nirvana or U2 has played to my. I am so glad they are embracing Dylan's stuff as they approach their 60's.

It felt good to get them to go to the show. My mom had called a fews months back to tell me Bob Dylan was playing in Stockton. Without flinching, I immediately brought up Dylan's site to see if there was a pre-sale. And there was and by the end of the call I had us on the floor about 20-25 rows back, center stage. They wouldn't have gone on their own.

What got me about the show was the amazing sound his band had on that stage. Stockton Arena is new but it was nothing special. It looked like Sacramento's Arco Arena or Oakland's Arena or pretty much any other arena you'd see in an NBA or NHL game. But the sound, that's what's hung with me all day. Unlike most concerts, you heard every note. Every part of the drum set. Dylan's diminutive vocal range and timbre was actually crisp and clear, like it came out of a Bose System. His harmonica sent chills down your spin. Dylan rocked out world last night! He had the sound of Old Nashville, the sound of Sun Record's in the 1950's and that chilling sound of protest in 1960's. At 64, that man is still making magic with his timeless songs. His rendition of Lay Lady Lay sounded nothing like the original but as new as it probably did back then.

The other thing that got me was the crowd. There were a lot of grey heads, an abundance of blind and disabled older people in wheel chairs. The crowd looked drab. Lots of flannel, old sweaters and worn jeans. There was no diversity to speak of. Everyone was polite and they were really into the show. There was the abundance of pot smoke which freaked out my innocent 58 year old mother. It was quite hilarious when the guy next to her fired off a blunt. The look on her face.

I am very fortunate to have parents who can go to a Bob Dylan Concert with me, and have a good time. But I am even more fortunate that Vietnam did not effect my family. And that my parents have been married that long, even with having kids at 18 and 20. I am also fortunate they did not get into the 60's drug scene. I don't know what it is like to have a father who went to Vietnam. I don't know what it is like to have divorced parents or a step mother or father. I don't know what it is like to see a parent addicted to drugs. I missed a lot of what people my age spent a life time going through. It is really perplexing to get to this age and meet people who had Baby Boomer parents experiencing all that adversity and knowing absolutely nothing about it other than what I read.

We are all fortunate to still have the opportunity to see a man like Bob Dylan, still putting on a great show that is still relevant today. The songs will always mean a lot to us.Here is a list of shows. I highly recommend going.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Gambling Winnings and My Black Jack Philosophy

I should go professional. (Not!)

Since January 1st, I have won approximately $1,500, give or take, on a black jack or three card poker table.

I hit a straight flush for $460 at Thunder Valley Casino and walked after hit two more straights in January.

I netted $250 on the black jack table in late February at Thunder Valley Casino.

I hit another $300 a couple weeks back in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Casino playing black jack and Ultimate Texas Hold'em.

And yesterday instead of standing in line at the buffet at Thunder Valley I hit $400 on the black jack table and walked.

This all leads me to believe I might have a system going on black jack. I first set rules. I only go into a casino with $100. I leave the ATM card in the car. No alcoholic beverages to cloud my judgement. I start at a $10 table and bet the minimum. If I win, I take $5 back and leave $15 out. If I lose the next hand I am out $5 and start again with $10. But if I win, I pocket $10 and leave $20 out. I now am up $15 with a $20 bet and $5 of my own money out still. If I win the next hand, I leave $5 more out for a total of $25 and now I am up $30 since the start. I stop at $25 in case of a double down situation or something and if I have to, it's all their money. I play conservatively. If a dealer has a 7 for example and I have 14, I stay. My chances are slim if I hit a 14 against a 17. A 9 or better I hit. If I have a 9, 10 or 11 and a dealer is showing 7 or higher I do not double. If the dealer shows a 5 or 6 and I have an Ace 6 or 7 or sometimes even 8, I double.

Betting this way makes it easy to win. If you catch a streak of 8 or 9 hands on a $10 table and only bet the minimum, you win $80 to $90 bucks. Bet my way and you are almost up to $200 on the same streak and are still only in for $10. If you only catch three hands betting the minimum you win $30 and so do I, but on that 4th hand I have a $2o bet and you are at $10. That 4th hand is the magic hand.

I just need to grow the balls to start betting more. If and when I tap out that $100 I hit the table with, I walk. I am totally gone. It takes courage and self control but it is a must so you don't risk your exposure. Neat eh?

My spoils have gone to Ikea for home organization with the baby on the way. As soon as the light fixture comes in I will post a shot of our Ikea bathroom. Off to install storage for the nursery room.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Steve's Blog Facts

Some facts about this page:

Since the remodel I have gained top status with Google at number 11. Pretty good for a generic title like "Steve's Blog".

In 2004, I had 1648 visitors with like 1% repeat visitors and 19 visitors a day

In 2005, I had a total of 29,500 hits with 21, 186 unique visitors or 58 per day. Roughly 5% were regular repeat visitors.

So far first quarter 2006, I have almost 10,000 hits, 7,500 are unique or just over 80 per day. 12% are repeat visitors.

I changed the blog in February and continue my onslaught against liberalism here, instead of here. The last three months I have made this place more personal and more observation based than political.

I have not updated my picture blog in 6 months. I should start doing that.