Thursday, December 10, 2009

We had the most enjoyable evening last night in Palm Springs. I am sure many of you have also enjoyed the Palm Springs Fabulous Follies (now in it's nineteenth year with over 3 million patrons). I have seen stories and read about the unique cast in the media. Since we are in Palm Desert for a week, we decided to take in the show.
What makes the Follies unique? The cast is comprised totally of senior citizens – mostly in the 70’s. There is the “baby” at 56, but the prize goes to Dorothy Dale Kloss who at the age of 86, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the "Oldest 'Still Performing' Showgirl in the World." Yes, the picture at the right is current and looks just like her -I want her genes.
I knew the show would be good – just to marvel at the ability of the dancers and singers. But I was surprised at the beauty and grace of the cast. The ladies wore impressive, Las Vegas style, showgirl costumes that required a lot of strength - just to hold up the headpieces. The rest of of the costume took courage to wear even for a very young person.
What an uplifting experience. We laughed hard at the ventriloquist Brad Cummings and his prehistoric dinosaur "Rex. We enjoyed the music of guest star—Susan Anton, crowned Miss America the year I was born.
The Master of Ceremonies and co-founder, Riff Markowitz, was funny and kept the audience engaged and laughing between acts. If you would like to read more about the history of the Fabulous Follies, click Here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Finally... A Computer Designed For You, Not Your Grandchildren!"

Since I retired, my technology needs have changed. I now notice businesses that market to “Boomers and Beyond” for cell phones and computers.

I no longer want a phone that will replace my computer, camera, Ipod, Gameboy or GPS. I simply want a phone that has big enough buttons to use and a design that allows me to hear and be heard. The phone functions should be call and end call – period.

Enter the JitterBug phone. The first time I saw one was in an AARP magazine. Finally, I thought, a cell phone that is just a phone ! This phone is now a popular option for people who use a cell casually or for emergencies only.

Today, again advertised in AARP, was the new Go computer. The ad declares “ Finally…. A Computer Designed for You, Not your Grandchildren." Just plug it in and it is ready to use. It features a large keyboard, and a ‘never get lost – just click and Go’ menu. To turn on the computer, press Go, then select either Email, Games, Help, My Files, or The Web. That’s it.

Not inexpensive by today’s Netbook standards (under $500), the Go computer is just under $900 and requires a monthly access fee of $19.99. Still, for older seniors that have never had computer experience this might be a good solution to quickly get online without having to take classes or be intimadated by stacks of manuals.

It seems we have gone to cramming as many functions into a microchip as possible to going back to the basics and simplifying – at least for the senior population.

Disclaimer: this is by no means an endorsement of either product as I have no experience with products mentioned in this blog. The blog is simply my observation of marketing technology products to seniors.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My new neighborhood newletter

The other night, I was asked why I started I used the easy answer; I wanted a place where neighbors could share ideas, get to know one another and be involved in Glenbrooke.

While those reasons are certainly valid, I also needed a sense of purpose and the ability to feel I could still contribute.

When I left my last position, it was with a sense of new adventures, travel and consulting. Those plans dissipated several months later when I suffered a stroke.I have worked very hard both physically and cognitively to recover. I had to relearn many things - including the value of numbers, how to add and subtract. I spend 2-4 hours a day on cognitive exercises- hey card games count!

While I can use the computer keyboard, I still have trouble writing and making letters. Thank goodness for spell check in computers!

I was feeling lost - I was just a consumer in society and had nothing to offer. Then my best friend, Doni Greenberg, suggested I write a blog for her website I wrote everyday at first. As I wrote, I started to be more comfortable with my limitations. I finally felt I still might be able to do SOMETHING. Doni helped me find my voice again. Then we moved to Glenbrooke. It was very difficult to leave the community I love and the support I felt.

We didn’t know anyone in the area, let alone the neighborhood. But we quickly found people here are accepting and friendly and I now have a new community. I will always feel a connection to Redding.

The experience at gave me exposure to a tool that can help build a sense of community. It is something I CAN do - on a much smaller scale. I may have to do it in tiny increments and I need a lot of help correcting errors, typos, grammar and spelling. My new friend neighbor Vickie Glaser, graciously agreed to edit the newsletter. We quickly worked out a system to post weekly. Jim Gore is the technical support behind this website - without him, I would still be lost. Doni and all the writers at are so supportive. I know you will come to know and love them as much as I do as we have been given permission to reprint their articles.

Is this a business? No, it’s a productive hobby. There is no way I could deal the need for advertisers, structure, or pressure of a business at this stage in my life. is limited to our retirement neighborhood.

Will we charge a subscription? No, we paid the nominal fee for web hosting and no one gets paid for contributions - so there is no need for income.

Do we want to take over or be in competition with No, I needed a hobby not a job. The HOA website is just that, a HOA website for the business of HOA and is controlled by staff. Recently adopted policy limits resident’s participation and coverage of city or community events.

When Doni started we offered to help in anyway. I had no idea the tables were turned and it was me being helped all along. Thanks everyone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fastest Growing population

I was surprised to read today that the fastest growing population in the United Sates is now the disabled. The article stated that disabled people surpassed Hispanics for the fastest growing segment of our population.

After reading that, my mind starts racing with random thoughts:
  • You can't believe everything you read - I need to do some research.
  • It must be good, disabled are living longer, better medically managed lives.
  • It could be really bad as it means there are thousands of newly disabled veterans.
  • The baby boomer population is huge and a large percentage of us are disabled in some way.
  • Disabled are no longer ''hidden" or staying home.
  • ADA has made a tremendous difference is accessibility and working environments.
  • Once people are no longer marginalized, the motivation for living life to the fullest increases.
  • What opportunities this presents for many other businesses; retail, specialized products, home builders, automobile makers, etc.
  • Special equipment rental/sales - such as the disabled scooter pictured above from China see more at

Okay, I better stop thre or I will find half my day gone researching and pondering the opportunities.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Warning Frustration Ahead

We're back from our 10-day Alaska cruise. We really did have a great time. There was one day at sea that was challenging for many people due to the winds and high seas. There were several broken bones as a result of falls, one helicopter evacuation, and many seasick passengers.

I am proud to say, Baileymy service dog, did just fine. But she was VERY tired of people by the last day. I even kept her on my lap, covered with a light blanket so she could get a break.
I had to wipe lipstick off her head at night from women kissing her. I know people think they are being friendly and are curious, but it is so frustrating to answer the same questions - hundreds of times of day. Bailey gets overstimulated when constantly being petted, called to, and get this, barked at. Honestly, one server would always bark at her when he saw her - even from the other side of the room. There were very few children on the ship but they all knew how to behave - it was the ADULTS that were a pain.

While people are told to ask before petting a service dog, many don't and it is hard to say no to nice people just wanting a 'dog fix' because they miss their own pets- especially if we are just sitting down relaxing.

We understood that, but none of us understood the big attraction of a dog going to the bathroom. Bailey had a relief box on the promenade deck - the outdoor deck that circles the ship . While in her little corner using the potty box, she would draw a crowd. She would then stop what she was suppose to be doing and stare back at the people. We would have to ask them to move along as it made her nervous to have a crowd. Seriously, it got where I would park the scooter to block the 'view' and Jim, Jeff and I would stand with our backs to Bailey, face out, like a police line protecting her. This would be too funny if it wasn't so disruptive to taking care of business - especially with rough seas!
There was even one time when Jim was taking Bailey to the relief area before bedtime. They were in a hurry and a lady asked if she could take a picture. Jim said not now and picked up the pace. The lady ran after him snapping pictures.

Can you imagine asking a stranger, “What is wrong with you?” Me neither, but when going from the cabin to the dining room it happened numerous times. I explained Bailey is a medical alert dog, and helps me with my disability. That is good enough 80% of the time. If someone kept asking personal questions, I would finally say, “Gosh, I don’t feel comfortable discussing my personal medical issues with strangers.” It is a good thing I have improved my impulse control and ability to filter words a little or I would have exploded dozens of times a day and killed several idiots. Especially when people would barge right into our personal conversations and disrupt our family's vacation time. Thank you Jim, Laura, Jeff, Patti, John, and everyone else who was patient and didn't sign on for the attention.

There were several times people distracting Bailey was dangerous. Exiting a crowded elevator, backwards on a scooter, with a service dog, takes concentration- especially for a stroke survivor. Once, I gave her the command ‘back’ and she was going out of the elevator while I was backing the scooter. Most people were great and cleared a space, but one woman stopped Bailey - she literally blocked our path. I almost ran over Bailey, then the doors closed - squeezing my hand against the scooter before they re-opened. The scooter does not stop on a dime and I need time to react. I said “oh, please don’t distract her while she is working” and the lady said, "but she is so cute!" The other passengers waiting to get in the elevator appeared frustrated too –they had to wait while we could get clear for them to enter and be on their way. I was nearly in tears by the time I made it through the crowds and was safe.

While I feel so grateful to have Bailey, and be able to travel because of, I feel I needed to vent about this 'other aspect' of having a service dog. I fantasize about a day when people think nothing of a service dog and go about their own business.

It really isn't the individual questions or actions of well meaning people that cause additional stress and hardship, but rather the cumulative effect many - whether we are just trying to grocery shop or enjoy vacation.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cruising with a Service Dog

This Alaska cruise is Bailey’s second cruise as my service dog. By far, the number one question other passengers ask is "where does she go to the bathroom?"

No, we don't make Bailey wait until the next port. The cruise line sets up a 4x4 relief box, filled with wood shavings, usually in an area only accessible by crew members.

The second most frequent comment, "boy I wish I could take my pet on the cruise!'
Trust me you don't. First, if you need a service dog, that means you are disabled - even if your disabilities are not visually apparent (think about disabled parking - not everyone that needs it is in a wheelchair). It is much nicer to take a cruise/live as an independent, able bodied person.

In order to bring a service dog onboard, there is a ton of paperwork to complete for the cruise line. This includes very personal medical information, the dogs training documentation, copies of registrations, license/certifications and the dog’s international health certificate.

In addition, you must pack everything the dog will need including enough food and water for the entire cruise.
I wrote about Bailey as my service dog and common questions about her for about a year ago. You can read the full story HERE.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fun Website

My picks for fun and interesting web sites:

Are you an intern, reporter or editor? Test you knowledge of current events here:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It is just not right

There is something very wrong with Bruce Springsteen turning 60 and being on the cover of AARP magazine!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Different kind of Ceremony

Right now, Jim, Jeff and I driving on I-5 on the way to San Jose to Laura’s Convocation – have I mentioned how much I love my little netbook with seven hors of battery time.

This has been a wonderful summer of milestones for our family.
Jeff graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering but he chose not to “walk” (participate in graduation ceremonies). We respected his decision, but I have to admit for parents it is wonderful to witness the transition into the next phase of their lives.

There is a different language with Laura’s graduation. We were provided an envelope with a memo re: “Convocation” Tickets to San Jose State University Health and Science Department: presents Master in Public Health Class of 2009. The class will be sequestered from family at first, then right before they ‘walk’ the parents join the graduands to walk them across the stage while they are conferred their degree and ”hooded.”

Did I say how proud I am of both of them? Gosh, I think we will take them on an Alaska cruise in a week to celebrate.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Picking myself back up - again

It shocks me when words or actions hurt so much I get knock on my butt. Years of working on trying to recoup my (pre-stroke)cognitive skills seemed to have been washed away - in one week. I just get so tired of having to fight everyday.

A couple of days of rest and I am ready to continue the daily battle. I refuse to give others the power to define who I am or my self worth. Time to dust myself off and start climbing back up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Wipedia defines saddness as:

Sadness is an emotion characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, and helplessness. When sad, people often become quiet, less energetic, and withdrawn.

Sad is the opposite of happy. its similar to the emotions of sorrow,grief,misery,and melancholy. The philosopher Baruch Spinoza defined sadness as the transfer of a person from a large perfection to a smaller one.

I keep getting smaller.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Juliia and Juie

It has been a long time since we have seen a movie we both enjoyed as much as Julia and Julie.
Meryl Streep is so incredible - she brought Ms. Child to life. We laughed out loud many times. It was the first time in decades where I have been in a movie theater when the audience actually applauded at the end.
Two days later, we are still talking about lines in the movie.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Post CVA brain hiccups

Fear of the unknown is not the same as an unknown fear. One can rationalize the former. The later just makes you feel vulnerable.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's not just your family...

Many families seemed to have taken advantage of those shopping mall photo store coupons - ah, I mean opportunities. Some families did the annual Christmas card portraits.
If they seemed awkward to you, you're not alone. Now you can share in other families' discomfort by logging onto another selection of 100 best websites for 2009.
Yes, Awkward family Photos makes you happy your mom did not have more imagination.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm so sorry - Not!

Why do people have such a hard time apologizing? Apparently, saying "I'm sorry" is difficult for so many that felt compelled to name Apology Center as one of its top 100 websites of 2009.

On this site you can confess your wrongdoing. While the person that deserves the apology is unaware, the poster will get anonymous votes tallied to determine if they are forgiven or not.
Some of the confessions are funny, some sad. At least PCMAG put it in the “FUN” category so as not to be taken too seriously.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Weird things on eBay

Blame it on insomnia and boredom but I fell in love with this vintage Bingo Blower on eBay. I know, it doesn't make any sense, but I guess love is like that.

Many, years ago (1983?) I started a weekly fundraising bingo for Helpline. The profits from those weekly games probably saved the 24 hour crisis line as our total budget was very small and a portion was being eliminated.

It was a small group of regulars that met upstairs at the old Saloon Club on south highway 273. This was before many non-profits had bingo and way before the big jackpots at Win River made our $10.00 and $25.00 payouts seem minuscule. I am not sure when they stopped the Helpline Bingo (maybe someone can tell me). I left Helpline to return to college for my master's degree.

I am trying to start a bingo in our clubhouse for the residents of our retirement community. That was my justification for bidding and winning the vintage bingo blower. It works, the board is just fine (after I cleaned it up). The motor is a 'little' noisy, but Jeff is going to come down and take a look at it and replace the cord. Jim sanded the rust off the cage and I spray painted it. With a package of shinny new bingo balls, I am ready to play!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Repeat after me

I have to keep repeating: "It takes a variety of people to challenge us, encourage us, promote us, and most of all, help us achieve a broader dimenson." __lenn Van Ekeren

Friday, July 31, 2009

How to use chopsticks

The Internet is an incredible educational tool. You can learn anything from how to repair/build engines - as our son learned in high school - to something as simple as how to use chopsticks.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Insomnia: one advantage

The advantage of insomnia is the ability to visit these two Internet sites - right after midnight. You never know what will be the bargain of the day and the free items go fast. Check out WOOT and

For the gadget lover, today's free offering at is an adapter that fits on the faucet and lights up the water red or blue (hot or cold). Hey, the price was right...

Monday, July 27, 2009

A real gardener would know the difference!

Did you know there is a difference between bags of compost and bags of soil? It took two experiences for me to learn this. Obviously, I know nothing of gardening and am a slow learner.

The first hint came in Las Vegas. We were staying at a condo for a week and my dog, Bailey, was with us. Since it was 116 degrees outside with mostly pavement and cement, I thought it would be a good idea to fix a relief box for her in the shade of the patio so she wouldn't burn her paws. We went to Home Depot, purchased a bag of compost (it was less expensive than soil). The clerk even gave us a top to a refrigerator box. We turned the cardboard lid upside down and poured in a layer of compost. Perfect - or so I thought.

Bailey used the box exactly once and refused to use it again. The next morning, we opened the slider to a patio swarming with hundreds of gnats. At first we were not sure where they were coming from -were they trying to get water or stay in the shade? A couple of days later there was no question they were coming from the bag of compost and the relief box. We found the nearest dumpster and threw it all away.

Fast forward 6 weeks. I decide to try again to grow tomatoes in a container. I dumped the dead plant, washed and bleached the container, bought a bag of compost (I did mention it was cheaper than soil) refilled the container and potted the new tomato plant in the compost.

My houseplants have been in the same pots forever, so I thought it would be a good idea to add some soil to the pots and replant a couple. I felt smug as I used the leftover compost for the houseplants -I hate to waste anything.

The next day, we notice a few gnats in the house. Did we leave a door or window ajar? Are they so small they are getting through the screen? A mystery. More and more gnats appeared in the house. I tried desperately to kill them and find the source.

A few days pass and it's time to water the houseplants. EUREKA, I found it, they're coming from the plants. Only then did I remember the patio scene in Las Vegas.
At least I know the source and can be more effective in eliminating them. I feel so sheepish, next time,I will spend the couple extra dollars for potting SOIL.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh how I wish it was a Vespa scooter

Like other people who have been caretakers all their life, it is very hard for me to accept help.
It used to be so frustrating as a medical social worker to see patients struggle, risk falls or limit their activities because they would not use a handrail, cane, walker, or wheelchair.
I understand now the huge psychological impact of having physical limitations. It is devastating. Then to add insult to injury, an assistive device identifies you as different to the whole world. I am 55 years old. I don't want to have to use a cane, walker, wheelchair or scooter. I don't want to be considered old, I want my body and mind to function like everyone else.

For Jim, who sees everyday how painful it is for me to walk, it is difficult to understand my reluctance to use a mobility scooter. Heck, I am already publicly identified as "handicap" as I have my service dog, Bailey, and a permanent handicap parking placard. So what is the big deal to add a scooter?

We rented a scooter for a week in Las Vegas. It came apart and fit in the trunk of the car. Jim and Jeff had it apart and in the trunk before I could get my seat belt fastened. It was amazing the difference in my quality of life. Not only could I go to see Jeff in the World Series of Poker, we could go through a casino to a restaurant located in the back, we went to museums and stores all in the same day! Usually, if I walk for more than 100 yards, that's all I could do for the entire day - due to lack of stamina and pain. It was eye opener to me to realize how restricted my world had become. It had continued to close in bit by bit without me realizing how much I have been missing.

This week, my scooter came. We took it to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento - a place we have wanted to visit since moving to Elk Grove a year ago. It was wonderful being able to stop in front a painting, read about it and take as much time as I wanted enjoying it.
Why did I wait so long? I don't know, I am excited about the new possibilities; but it still makes me cry to think that is where I am today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'd rather be up all night

There are some things worse than the staying up all night.
One of them is waking up in the morning after taking a "PM" tablet and feeling like I have a hangover. I would rather stay up all night, at least I could be productive.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

River Cats

I went to my first River Cats baseball game this last week. I loved the stadium by the River. It happened to be the hottest day of the year. When the Delta breeze came up, there was a audible sigh that roll through like the raised-hand stadium "wave."

If I had the opportunity to make a suggestion to the River Cat organization, I would suggest they do not need to fill every second with noise. Do they think that makes the game more exciting? It did seem to make people restless, maybe they sell more food and beer that way.

As a stroke survivor, I am very sensitive to stimulus. It was unbelievable how much stimuli can be thrown at you during a baseball game. By he 7th inning stretch, I was feeling anxious and had a headache. There was music blaring constantly, a bazillion vendors walking up and down the stairs - yelling out whatever it was they were selling. Beer sold beer for $2.00; water was $4.00 -guess which sold more. Lots of beer equals lots of bathroom breaks. Even Jim commented on the constant parade of people up and down the stairs - often the same folks over and over.

If the player stepped out of the batter's box, they had to blast music, if there was a foul ball - sound effects. Changing a pitcher , end of inning, or calling a time out resulted in local radio stations taking the field for gags.

"Kid, would you like a free hot dog or $50.00 to hit your dad in the face with a pie?" The boy smeared pie all over his dad's face for the $50.00, visible to all on big screen - ah yes, America, baseball and apple pie.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pissing on Fences

This quote of Will Rogers was sent to me by a friend:
"There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves."

It made me think of "wet paint" signs and servers telling customers their plate is hot only to have 9 out of 10 touch it to verify the temperature. Laura just reminds mom by saying psst, ow, psst ow, as in touching a hot stove over and over.

I wish I could always learn by observing and reading -but I fear there is a lot of electric fence staring at me for this battle.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hoover Dam - 30+ years ago and now

I was NOT looking forward to going to Hoover Dam. I had been there many years ago. I figured since it was completed in 1936, not much had changed. Once again I was wrong. I am not going to cover the facts of the dam - there is plenty of information online. This blog is rather my reflections on a visit to the same place only 30+ years apart.

We had just graduated college and were starting our cross country "hippie" trip. It seemed like we had been in the isolated desert for hours before our first glimpse of the dam and the two towers that seemed to rise from the waters. We stopped to take the free dam tour. I remember it being very informal with only one other tourist and the guide.

Fast forward to July 2009. The line of cars was stop and go for miles before seeing the dam. Looking out the window, we could see major highway construction on a straight, wide new interstate that ran parallel to the curvy road we were traveling.

Suddenly, I think, are we lost? What the heck is that? It looks like the St. Louis Arch in the middle of nowhere.
OMG, it is the bridge for the new highway to bypass the dam. We are looking at it from high up the canyon wall and it still towers above the mountain side. That will be a tourist attraction in itself!

I point out to Jim and Jeff an engineer must have made made a mistake, the two halves do not meet in the middle. Of course, that gets them started on the torque, size of wires, wind velocity, etc. -yawn.

No longer can cars stop on the dam so people can look over. Security was tight with cars being stopped, some even searched, before being allowed to drive over the dam. But before we even get to the dam, there is a HUGE parking structure.
At the entrance was a large bronze statue of a dam worker scaling the rock. We park, take the elevator down to the smooth, flat, rock pathways that lead to the "new" Visitor Center.

There, signs say you can only take what will fit in a marked area (about 14"x14"). We enter the building and are greeted by security lines much like the airports. We have to empty pockets, put all belongings on the conveyor belt and pass through the metal detectors.
It was 116 degrees and I brought a tote bag with bottled water and my medications. Jim was carrying it for me and they told him he would have to put it back in the car. (Just my guess, but he might have been able to take it through had he not had the small pocket knife on him).
I do have to praise the security officer's knowledge of service dog laws. He asked the appropriate questions and followed correct procedures. A first!
Now we are waiting in the 'box office' lines. Tickets to tour the Dam are $30! I look at the families and feel bad that it cost so much to see a public works project. We get our tickets and move on to the Disneyland-type lines.

Taking the cue from amusement parks, they try to have interesting things to view while we snake through the rope barriers. The walls display movie posters, looking more like the local Cinemark than a visitor center. I suggest to Jim that the movies must have scenes of Hoover Dam in them and he confirms it while reading a brochure.

Yes, we are almost there, oh no, the line is divided right in front of us and we have to wait another 10 minutes for the next elevator.

Finally our elevator arrives and we cram at least 25 people into it. It is hot, people are grumpy and stinky (including me) and I am wishing for the tour of 30 years ago.

Once down to the turbine room, it looks the same; in fact, we are told they are the original turbines from 1935. The Dam is the same, only the surroundings have changed. Jeff points out it would have been more efficient if the inlet pipes had been straight instead of angled - the guys start in again on doing calculations.

We finally complete the tour (and the calculations) and are headed back to the parking lot. Most people pass a bronze plaque embedded in a rock wall. I stop to read the memorial marker for a dog that was a mascot for the dam workers. He was hit by a truck and was entombed there that same day. I found it touching that workers marked his passing and with all the new buildings it has remained his respected resting place.

I don't ever want to go back to Hoover Dam. I am sure given time, there will be a roller coaster and bungee jumping available - for the price of additional 'E' tickets. (sheesh, ask someone over fifty what an E ticket is).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Shelby - the car and the man behind it

Las Vegas is the home of Shelby Automobiles and Museum. Jeff and I love fast cars and the Shelby certainly qualifies as fast. Appropriately, the museum is located near the Las Vegas speedway.
It felt like walking through a dealership showroom except it held Shelbys from 1966 to present production models. From the Cobra CSx2000 to the Terlingua, and GTE00KR, the dozens of cars (and 1 Shelby truck) they were all in mint condition. We were told the exhibits change frequently.
Behind the walls of the museum is the production facility. Both the museum and production facility tour are free. We made it in time for the 10:30am tour; as did about 35 others. One man had brought his Shelby from Arkansas to have additional modifications made.

Don't expect a large production plant. The Shelby is produced by about 8 people and they roll out 2 cars per week. There have been exceptions, such as when Ford partnered with Hertz for a special 'Rent a Shelby' program. Ford then sent Shelby 4,500 Mustangs to be modified.

Of course the cars were beautiful, but I was more moved by the stories of the man that started it all, Carroll Shelby.
Mr. Shelby is now 86 years old and goes to work every day at his foundation in Gardena. Shelby cars branded with the number 85 are tribute to Mr. Shelby's 85th birthday. Carroll Shelby has had two heart transplants and a liver transplant. He is the oldest surviving heart transplant recipient and had his second heart for 15 years now.

While waiting for his first heart transplant in the hospital, Mr. Shelby saw several children die before finding a organ match. Heartbroken, he felt he needed to help in some way and the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation was born to help seriously ill children. Just recently, the Foundation changed it's name to the The Carroll Shelby Foundation in order to broaden service to include young adults. Both the museum gift store and the store at the foundation contribute to the fundraising efforts.

One of the most successful fundraisers of the Foundation is the Carroll Shelby Signature program. It helped the foundation raise over $450,000 last year. For a donation, Carroll Shelby will autograph anything from pictures to car parts. One of the most coveted is to have a Shelby dashboard autographed by Carroll Shelby. All items are sent to the Foundation - including many car parts. They are autographed and shipped back to the donor.
On a side note, when we walked into the production facility, the walls looked like they had colorful wallpaper. It was actually thousands of signatures in different colored permanent markers. At the end of the tour, the guide told us that people want Carroll Shelby's autograph all the time, but that Mr. Shelby would like to have ours. He asked everyone to take a different colored pen and sign the walls. (pictures were not allowed to be taken inside the production facility -except for the walls).

Carroll Shelby is a fascinating man, not only for his contribution to the automotive and racing industry, but for his social contributions.
As we were leaving the production facility, I saw this bench outside. It made me smile.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Things I did not know about Las Vegas - Part 1

Las Vegas is the home of Atomic testing museum - right next to the Desert Research Institute. For the cost of admission, $12.00, we had several hours of blissful air conditioned comfort and access to a surprising number of exhibits. The Nevada Proving grounds was established in 1951 for the testing of atomic “devices” - its name later changed to Nevada Testing Grounds.

In early atomic bomb testing, pilots flew through the radioactive mushroom clouds. Jeff said he wondered about the volunteers for those missions - it was probably whoever didn’t take two steps backwards.

One mistake was testing in clay soil. It resulted in plumes of radioactive dust sent 10,000 feet into the sky. They had to evacuate whole towns. Another time, they advised the 4,500 residents of St. George, Utah to stay inside when winds unexpectedly changed directions.

In the early days, the tourist industry was very concerned about testing so close to Las Vegas. The fear was it would keep gamblers away from the area. In fact, testing gave the industry a boost, when thousands of people came out to watch the atomic explosions. People booked rooms in upper floors of the casinos so they could watch the mushroom clouds from their windows.

Jim and Jeff were interested in reading about the engineering and the technical stuff - I preferred the interactive displays.

In one such exhibit cameras, used to record explosions, had extremely high shutter speeds. This was demonstrated by using a drop of milk to form mushroom patterns and ripple effects that could be isolated in each frame shot.

There was an interactive display where I passed a Geiger Counter over a number of items. It was surprising how much radiation was given off by a wind up clock with green luminous numbers. However, the largest radioactive numbers were registered when I passed the Geiger Counter over a red Fiesta ware plate. I learned that red color was made by adding uranium oxide to the glaze. During WWII, Fiesta red was discontinued when the US government confiscated the company’s stocks of uranium.

A display of a sparse family bomb shelter represented many such shelters installed in backyards during the 1950’s. The supplies that people were urged to stock were not that much different from emergency supplies everyone should have in case of a disaster - sealed water, medications, blankets, and food.
Some of the items in the display I would not have thought of – stacks of comic books, 45-semi automatic weapon, and a red round tin of “Commie mints.”

Upon leaving, there was the requisite donation box. We noticed a large number of currency from foreign countries. Jim dropped in 25,000 Vietnamese Dong (worth a little over a dollar) he had left from his bicycling trip in Vietnam.

Ah, the things I learn when traveling with my two analytical guys.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

He's in the Money

Jeff got knocked out of the World Series of Poker - event 54 on Tuesday afternoon.

There were 2,818 entries in the Texas hold 'em tournament and Jeff made it up to 282 place - which was in the money. What a great experience it was for him. I am so thankful he let Jim and I tag along for the ride.

It was heartwarming to read messages of encouragement from family, friends and even strangers. Doni and Kelly were so sweet to mention the tournament ion and Facebook. As his family, of course we were excited and proud - but it was surprising how much interest and support came from the community.

Jeff does have the option of entering the WSOP Main Event, starting July 3rd. That is the tournament televised by ESPN.
Jeff won the $10,000 entry fee in a online tournament (plus they gave him $2,000 for travel expenses). The question asked most often was, "is Jeff going to 'go for it' and enter the Main Event or will pocket the money?"

Jeff decided to keep the money. Combined with his winnings from event 54, , he won just under $15,000. For a recent college graduate without a job - especially in this economy - it seems like a responsible decision.

I will always treasure him sharing this experience with us. I love seeing him excited and hearing him discuss analytically the various plays and probabilities with his dad.

No longer being tied to the Rio poker pavilion in Las Vegas, we are now going to play tourist. We enjoyed dinner, a show and the observation deck of the Stratosphere Tuesday night. We will take in another show Wednesday and travel to Hoover Dam for a tour.

I am looking forward to Jeff and Jim discussing how many gallons of water are released from the Dam and how much concrete it took to build. I have no doubt that at some point paper and pencils will materialize to figure out various formulas to find the answer to obscure questions.
Just like they used to do at the dinner table.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Here we go again!

Okay, here we go again, day two of World Series of Poker.
They just started about 25 minutes ago. Jeff is short stack at the table #170. He is having a great time and it is so much fun to share this experience.
Jeff said he will have to go 'all in' and win twice in the next two hours to stay in the tournament.
So now mom's emotional roller coaster is slowly chugging up the track...

Completed day 1 of WSOP- Event 54

Jeff began playing in the World Series of Poker final $1,500 No-Limit Hold 'em event 54 about noon. We anxiously awaited every two hour break when we would get a status update via cell phone.

Yesterday, I said the event started with 2,700 players. That was wrong, the official count was 2,818 players. The first-place prize money is nearly $675,000.

By the early morning of day two, only 384 players remained - Jeff is one of them. Those players return to the Rio Hotel at 2:00 PM for another 12 hours of Texas Hold 'em. The current leader has 159,800 chips.

It should be another exciting day in Las Vegas.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Report #2 from World Series of Poker

Jeff was entered in the tournament that began at noon on Monday. The crowds were enormous and it was hard to walk to the room where his event was being held. I found out that in his tournament alone there were 2,700 players. There were other tournaments going on throughout the Pavilion. It appeared they all started at noon as there seem to be a frenzy of activity with mostly men rushing to get to their designated rooms.

We followed the long hallway to Event 54 (felt like we were being sent to area 51). In answer to my question "what does one wear to a poker tournament?" the answer is -anything they want. There were shots, t-shirts and flip flops. There were suits and ties and even a couple vintage zoot suits complete with hats. By far the most common was shorts and t-shirts - with lots of baseball caps and sunglasses. It looked like a bunch of aliens buzzing around a space craft with flashing lights.
Mid-day report from Jeff (at a break) is that he is sitting at Phil Hellmuth's table. Yes, that is the very poker pro he knocked out in the other tournament to win a seat at the WSOP. Jeff is amused by that turn of events. Two hours into the game, there have been four players already knocked out. Jeff sounded happy when he called us during this first break.

Report #1 from Las Vegas

World Series of Poker here we come! We left Northern CA for Las vegas around 8:00am. We drove down I-5, cutting over to 58 at Bakersfield. I was really dreading the drive, I have about a four hour limit for riding in the car comfortably. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad - until that last hour.

Doni recommended a audio book, 'Middlesex,' which is an epic on 12 CDs. That certainly helped pass the time as we drove by sage brush, mile after mile. Have I mentioned how much I hate the dessert?

Arriving in Las Vegas round 4;30, we went straight to the Rio Casino so Jeff could register for the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The hotel had a covered red carpet with cool misters leading from the parking area to the entrance to (WSOP). With the tempature 109, the misters were much appreciated.

We dropped Jeff off so he could get in before 5:00pm to register. As it turned out, there was no hurry as the registration area was opened 24 hours a day. I sat with Bailey, my service dog, out in the hallway waiting for Jeff to complete his business. Bailey is always a conversation starter and I met a woman who owns a "poker business" in Florida. She runs poker tournaments and takes the top seven winners to the (WSOP every year. She told me she lives in Las Vegas for the two months of the tournament each year. She gave me two pieces of advice:

1. Nothing in Las Vegas closes as 5:00pm, and

2. Check out Bluff magazine for coverage of the events. ESPN will televise the main event and selected tournaments.

We left the very crowded, circus like atmosphere of the poker pavilion to go check into the 2 bedroom timeshare condo we rented. For the next week we have our 'home base' with a kitchen, living room, dinning room, laundry, and three flat screen TVS. Ya gotta love those Internet deals where you can rent a condo for less than a hotel room.

Jeff is entered into 'event 54' which starts tomorrow (Monday) at noon. Turns out it was a good thing he did register early as the event later closed out.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Jeff won a seat in The World Series of Poker

We leave tomorrow for Las Vegas to watch son, Jeff, play in the World Series of Poker(WSOP). I need to pack today (what does one wear to the WSOP?)

We have been asked many times how he got in the event; the answer is I still have no idea -even after he summarized it for me. Here is my short verson - of what I understand. For die hard poker players, Jeff's summary is below mine (warning: non poker players eyes may glaze over).

My version: Jeff entered an online poker tournament. If a player was able to knock the pro player out of the game (in this case Phil Hellmuth)then they advanced into another tournament. Jeff beat Phil's pair with a full house.
In the next tournament, he had a chance - along with 1,000 other players - to win one of 50 seats in WSOP. He won the entry fee of $10,000 - plus they gave him $2,000 for travel expenses.

Of course I asked if he can just take the money. At first he thought the answer was no, it had to be used as his buy-in only. But then he learned that he could in fact just pocket it.

Wow, what a dilemma. Pocket the money or go for every poker player's dream and possibly hundreds of thousands or even millions more (last year's winner took home 9 MILLION dollars, the record over 16 million).

We get to go along with him for the ride! I was so happy when he said he wanted us to go. He even said, "that it would be fun."

Here is where I keep my (mom) mouth shut. On one hand, I want my recent college graduate son, to take the money, move out of his studio garage apartment and leave behind the student housing and lifestyle. On the other hand, he has no dependents, or commitments, preventing him from entering the main event and I think - go for it!
I am glad it is his decision and not mine.

So, what did he decide? Well, Jeff is like his father in analytical thinking. Here, in his words, is how he decided:

I could just play a $1500 event and get 80% of the once-in-a-lifetime WSOP experience at 15% of the cost. If I busted out early in one, I might even be able to squeeze into another for a better shot at getting a return. And should I be fortunate enough to go deep, I could then feel a little more comfortable buying into the main event.

But I mustn't forget one of Ben Franklin's certainties... If I took the money and ran -- that $12K would only be worth 8K after the IRS and FTB get their rake. Still better than $2000 (if I failed to cash), but Uncles Sam and Schwarzenegger are basically giving me a $4000 incentive to play in the main event -- (and how I love overlays). So I'm not quite sure what I'll do -- still weighing options and getting opinions. But it's been quite a nice run so far.

So, at this point he is entering event 54 and playing on Monday June 30 at the Rio hotel. We don't know which events, if any, will be televised on ESPN except the main event which starts July 3rd.

Click here for the tournament schedule.


Now for all those poker players that wanted to know all the details, here is Jeff's summary he wrote the day after his win.

A lot of people are asking for the full story, so here it goes (and I
apologize in advance if my analytical nature gets too boring). A few months
ago the site (Absolute Poker) sent me one of their emails with all their
upcoming promotions. One of them was a "VIP 45 seat" tournament with Phil
Helmuth and a $4000 prizepool. The kicker was if you knock Phil Helmuth
out, you were awarded a seat into a $530 WSOP satellite where they were
guaranteeing 50 seats. The buy-in for this 45-man was 10,000 AbsolutePoints
(very similar to Pokerstars FPPs & Full Tilt points). Like FPPs, Absolute
Points can be redeemed in 3 ways -- in cash bonuses, by purchasing
merchandise in the store, or by entering tournaments. If you exchange your
points for cash, those 10,000 points are worth ~$70. Items in the AP store
can vary, but generally that 10,000 points would buy something you could
get online elsewhere for $30-$40. Tournaments, on the other hand, generally
offer the largest face value. With a $4000 prizepool split between 45
players, those 10,000 points are worth $89. If you include the $530 bounty
in the prizepool, then those 10,000 points are worth just over $100.

That makes the tournament seem pretty appealing. But it has some downsides
-- the first being the obvious that if you don't cash, you don't get
anything (and I think only the top 5 paid). The second is that tournaments
require a decent time commitment -- and this one would probably take over 3
hours if you made the final table (so if you could be doing something more
profitable during that time your hourly would go down). And the third (and
probably largest downside) was that this particular tournament was for the
top 2 tiers of their VIP system. On AP this means any eligible player rakes
at least $1000/month so even though many of these players typically play
cash games, you're not very likely to come across any complete donkeys in
this field. Normally I'd probably just redeem the points for cash and keep
playing my normal game (6-man 1 table sit-n-goes), but the chance to play
Phil Helmuth and the additional overlay his bounty presented persuaded me
to register.

When the tournament started, I was not at Phil's table so I fired up some
sngs on the side and kept an eye on his table hoping he'd still have chips
when the tables combined. After 30 minutes, the first 9 players busted and
I was fortunate enough to move to Phil's table. I let my running sngs
finish (they typically take ~20 minutes) so I could better follow the
action. Phil was down to 800 chips from the 1500 starting stack, and had
been getting bullied by a couple of the more competent players. Still, most
people seemed to be avoiding him which I found odd given his bounty. My
plan was to see any cheap flop whenever he was in the hand, and hope to
make a monster and take his stack (and the bounty). Now Phil Helmuth is
without question the best live no-limit hold'em tournament player today
(and he'll often mention his record-breaking 11 bracelets as proof). But
the style he has developed to win in fishy live tournaments relies a lot on
trapping & on making great physical reads/laydowns. Online (and against
competent opponents) this style is terrible as people will mercilessly
exploit his predictability. Anyway, after about 15 minutes he'd played 3
hands and I'd stolen 2 pots from him with another player taking the 3rd. I
should note that I was pretty fortunate to have position on him so when
he'd miss a flop and check, I'd bet and take it down.

Anyway, the hand where I busted Phil went as follows: Blinds were 30/60 and
he had about 600. I had around 2000. He limped under the gun and I put him
on AJ+ 66+ and maybe KQ. He hadn't been raising preflop at all so I
couldn't eliminate JJ+ from his range. It folded around to me and I limped
along with the powerhouse 53 offsuit. The flop came 439 rainbow. The big
blind checked, Phil checked, and I bet the minimum (as I had the last 2
pots I took down). The big blind folded and Phil called. Now unless he held
99, that flop completely missed Phil (indicating that he probably had a
pocket pair or possibly was going to try and take a stand, picking off a
bluff with Ace-high). I was prepared to check (or fold) the turn until it
came 5. He checked again, and I bet 60. Normally this would be a terrible
bet size (and it may still be less than ideal long-term), but at the time I
was thinking of the following:

a) He only had 600 chips at the start of the hand and I wanted to make as
easy as possible for him to commit more (and I know that he loves pot-odds)
b) He had never seen me play a turn and wouldn't know that this bet was
unusually small for me
c) I wanted to give him the opportunity to bluff -- with 480 chips left in
his stack and a pot of 330, he had the illusion of having fold equity if he
d) I was hoping to allow the strongest part of his range the chance to
check-raise **
e) I was hoping to setup a bluff-catch against the weaker part of his
range... My flop and turn bets are weak -- if I shove the river Phil might
call with a weak holding thinking I am a donkey and have absolutely nothing

In hindsight:
c)* he'd probably only shove KQ here -- any other holding he might
reasonably have would still have some showdown value and he'd just call
d)** This isn't likely since Phil is the consummate trapper and would
rather his opponents do all the betting (if he's going to check-raise, it
would probably be on the river)
e)*** Bluff-catching hands (basically ace-high and 66-88) are going to be a
smaller part of his range (which would be weighted towards premium pocket
pairs since I'd expect him to fold most of the time on the missed flop)

Anyway he just called. The river came another 3 (filling me up) and he
checked. The pot was now 390 and he had 420 left. I'm confident that he has
a pocket pair, but there is also a chance he has something like AJ+ and is
hoping to get to a cheap showdown against someone who's been bullying him
(me). So I shoved. If he has a pocket pair he'll call and the only possible
hand he could hold that I lose to is 99. If he has Ace-high, he might fold
(where he might have called a smaller bet). But he's already invested a lot
of his stack into this pot, and my min bet, min bet, shove is precisely the
kind of play a fish would make in a live tournament with a bluff. And the
board is 43953 -- its very likely to have missed me as well (even though I
happened to make a full house). In his mind, I might have gotten lucky with
76 or A2s, but I'm far more likely to have something like JT since I
wouldn't shove 98 or J9 here (I'd only be called by a hand that beats me
when I have good showdown value).

He called and mucked and I won entry into the 50-seat WSOP satellite. I was
waiting (and secretly hoping) for the famous Phil Helmuth chat tirade, but
he just said "nh gg" (nice hand, good game). I pulled up the hand history
and he had AT offsuit (ace-high) -- a little surprising since ATo is a
loser for most people under-the-gun. Sure Phil is a great player who might
be able to play AT profitably against fish -- but to limp ATo utg with a
bounty on your head (not to mention with only 10 big blinds) is just lol
bad. Then again, this tournament meant nothing to him -- it would be like
me playing $0.01/$0.02 poker. I ended up busting in 12th out of the money
in this tournament, but I didn't care -- I had knocked out Phil Helmuth.

That was about 2 months ago, and I watched in disappointment as the entry
list grew from 50 to 500 to 1000. When it reached 1000, I had a 1/20 shot
of winning a seat and I figured I'd rather just take the $530 and see it as
a 10 buy-in upswing in my normal $50 sng game. Thankfully AP made this
event a "must play" and wouldn't let me unregister, so I played. It started
at 2pm yesterday and the first hour was like most donkaments -- people
going a little crazy and busting out left/right. I played fairly tight and
after an hour had 3500 chips (starting stack was 2500). 500 people were
left so the average stack was 5000, but the distribution was off with a few
people having 15,000-20,000 and most players having 2000-4000. I remember
thinking "Okay, we're halfway there" but the bust-outs slowed to a crawl. 2
hours later we were down to 200 players and I was still below average with
7000 chips (average was ~12,500). I hadn't had any all-in confrontations --
I'd just been slowly chipping up small pots and hoping for others to get
out of line. Another 2 hours later, and there were 100 left. I had still
been slowly chipping up but had also doubled up when I went allin with AQ
against KQ on a Qxx flop. I remember thinking "ok, I'm in the top 50, I can
ease up a bit." An hour later there were 75 left and I was still around
50th in chips and feeling pretty good -- staying out of confrontations and
stealing the blinds about once an orbit to maintain my stack.

At that point, I began to stall. Now I know stalling is frowned upon
(especially live) but it is a powerful strategy in a satellite. Where a
table that isn't stalling might play 1 hand every 90 seconds, I could add
30 seconds to the length of every hand played at my table by running out my
timebank. This means I pay antes and blinds less often which helps conserve
my stack. It also makes the game frustratingly slow for the action-junkies
-- and they tend to start getting bored and making mistakes. Unfortunately,
there was at least one other person like me at every other table -- so the
net result was all the tables played about the same number of hands/hour --
just that the game really dragged. The other downside is that I'm telling
my table how aware of my position in the standings I am -- and my blinds
become open-season (you might expect a "walk" -- where its folded to you in
the big blind -- once every 10 orbits normally, but you'll never get a walk
if you're stalling). The flipside is that when I do raise -- people will
give me much more credit since they know I don't want to commit any chips
without a good hand.

But an hour goes by and we still have 65 left (I'm now in 55th and not
feeling quite so confident). The biggest stack at each table is basically
stealing every hand and now everyone else at the table is stalling as well.
I had just under 10 big blinds -- which would still be somewhat comfortable
for me as a sng player, except the antes were big enough that I only had
enough chips to play for 3 more orbits. The big stack in the small blind
shoved on my big blind and I've got ATo. In a regular MTT this would be a
snap call, but I mulled it over -- I'ma 63% favorite against a random hand
(and this villain is really shoving any two cards -- in fact probably worse
than random since he'd likely raise small with a big hand) but that means
there is a 37% chance I get knocked out. What makes satellite bubbles so
interesting is that even though it isn't looking good for me, I could still
very well have more than 63% equity in this tournament (in which case
calling would be a mistake). In a regular MTT -- winning more chips is good
since it would move you up the payout scale -- but when all 50 spots pay
exactly the same -- it doesn't matter whether you have 150,000 or 500
chips. But since the guys who were 45-54th at the other tables were in much
better shape than I was, I made the call. I haven't run the math yet (it
gets pretty complicated with more than 1 table) -- but it is quite likely
that folding would be the best play (though I'm pretty sure its close).

Thankfully my AT holds up against his 32 (yes really). But even against the
worst-possible hand (heads up), I was still just a 66% favorite. So now I'm
25th in chips and basically celebrating -- its gotta be smooth sailing now,
right? Wrong. I still had only an "M" of 10 (the number of orbits I could
post blinds/antes before being allin). And an hour later, I find myself
52nd in chips with 55 left. I've played a number of satellites before, and
I've never seen a bubble last this long. There were basically 10 guys with
100,000+ stacks, 10 with 50-90,000, and then the bottom 35 with 15-30,000
-- all looking at each other and hoping someone else will go first. I now
have about 2 big blinds and zero fold equity so I'm hoping for a premium
hand or for other tables to buck the trend and knock 5 people out quickly.
Thankfully I pick up QQ and the big stack shoves from under the gun. I call
from middle position, and even though I'd normally get 2 overcallers from
people wanting to check-down and knock me out -- the big stack's shove
prevents them from over calling. My QQ holds up against his 97o (83%
favorite) and I move from 52nd in chips to 20th.

It takes another hour for 4 more people to bust so we're now at 51 players
left and 50 paid. I'm 35th with only 15,000 chips. Blinds are 6,000/12,000
with a 1200 ante so just about everyone is in bad shape and hoping for
someone to bust. Each hand there are one or two people allin but they keep
on doubling up. Finally on the one table no one was really watching
(everyone on it had 50,000+ chips) the big stack pushes allin and some
idiot calls with AA (even though AA is an 80% favorite to win the hand,
with over 50,000 chips that guy must have been well over 90% to just fold
into the money). The bigstack had JT suited and wound up with a flush --
much to the delight of the guy at my table with 498 chips (he had
previously pledged to treat us all to a Ceasar's buffet if he made it).

Mathematically, I ran above expectation in my allins (not having lost any
of them).
AQ vs KQ on Qxx flop: 87.3%
ATo vs 32o preflop: 66.3%
QQ vs 97o preflop: 83.0%
Odds of winning all 3 allins: 48%

I was also pretty lucky to have not run into any coolers when stealing (AQ
vs AK / KK vs AA -- types of situations where that hand plays itself). But
I also think I played significantly above average overall -- just in terms
of picking good spots to steal/resteal and avoiding getting into big
confrontations when I didn't need to.

Anyway, so here comes the dilemma. The Rio does not allow US-friendly
online poker rooms to buy in directly to the WSOP. Instead, AP (and
apparently Stars/FTP as well) credits your account with $12K and hopes that
you register on your own. Now I would have been perfectly happy to play in
the main event from my ~$70 initial investment if I had no other choice,
but when offered the cash I don't know... MTTs (multi-table tournaments)
have high variance (as my math above sort of shows). In a normal (non
satellite) big-field MTT I might expect to cash 20% of the time -- most of
that being for the minimum. 3% of the time I might go deep, and less than
1% of the time I'd expect to reach the final table (where all the money
is). This would probably result in something like a 30% ROI. So while I'd
fully expect to be profitable long-term, the idea of putting up $10K for a
1/5 shot of getting a return isn't particularly appealing. Then again, it
comes with the whole once-in-a-lifetime WSOP experience (and what is the $
value of that?).

I could just play a $1500 event and get 80% of the once-in-a-lifetime WSOP
experience at 15% of the cost. If I busted out early in one, I might even
be able to squeeze into another for a better shot at getting a return. And
should I be fortunate enough to go deep, I could then feel a little more
comfortable buying into the main event.

But I mustn't forget one of Ben Franklin's certainties... If I took the
money and ran -- that $12K would only be worth 8K after the IRS and FTB get
their rake. Still better than $2000 (if I failed to cash), but Uncles Sam
and Schwarzenegger are basically giving me a $4000 incentive to play in the
main event -- (and how I love overlays). So I'm not quite sure what I'll do
-- still weighing options and getting opinions. But it's been quite a nice
run so far.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trying to break diet soda habit

I have been addicted to diet soda for years. I know it is not good for you. I have rationalized with the thought that there are no calories so it is better than regular soda. For the record, I hate milk and it has always been hard to drink enough water.

As I get older, it is time to stop fooling myself and quite drinking 1-3 cans of diet soda a day (okay, sometimes more). I will replace it with water.

This is day three and I have a splitting headache. I know it is caffeine withdrawal. I am going to push through, I just hope the headache is gone by the time we leave for Las Vegas on Sunday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blue Chip Stamps

Remember licking Blue Chip or S & W Green Stamps and putting them in books? We would pour over the merchandise catalog trying to find toys that cost no more than the number of completed books.

These stamps were found in my great aunt's home after she had died.

According to Wikipedia, "Blue Chip had 1970 sales of $126 million as about 60 billion of"stamps were licked by savers, pasted into books, and taken to Blue Chip redemption stores.Sales dropped to $19.4 million in 1980 and $1.5 million in 1990. In 2006, revenues came in at $25,920."

I wonder if other people remember the excitement of going to the redemption center to get their 'free' merchandise.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jeff is going to play in the WORLD SERIES OF POKER!

Our son, Jeff called his dad for father's day - just like thousands of other sons did yesterday. What was unexpected was Jeff telling us he won an entry into the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas on July 4th weekend. Huh???

I have worried so much about his poker playing in college. He plays online and also in card rooms and casinos. As a mom, there are just too many negative outcomes to that lifestyle. I worried he would drop out of college - he graduated with his BS in mechanical engineering a couple of weeks ago. I worried he would become addicted and use tuition, rent, food money. He didn't and even supported himself playing.

Now I am in an interesting place. I still worry, and don't think playing poker should be a career choice. Certainly the odds are stacked against players and they will all eventually lose.

On the other hand, I am so excited for him to get to that level. What an opportunity to play with the 'big boys" and have a once in a lifetime experience. He is young, single and only responsible for himself, why not go for it? There will never be a better time.

So, next week, we are going to go to Las Vegas (in the middle of summer!) to support our son. Happy Father's Day, Jim.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Save trees and sanity

Credit card offers and catalogs fill the mailbox daily. We were successful in stopping the junk mail prior to our move. So I forgotten how much paper the mail carrier delivers.

Today, I took the time to register to remove our new adress from direct mail lists
It can be confusing as there are so many Internet sites that say they will stop the junk mail - most for a fee. You should never have to pay a fee for having your address removed from mailing lists.

I am glad it is done. While we won't see results overnight, gradually, we will see a decrease in mail. I know we have saved time, wasted landfill space and a couple for trees in the process!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dirty Car Art

My last blog was pictures of tractors made out of bales of hay. This morning I see Dirty Car Art on a web site.. Scott Wade's pictures are protected by copyright so I am unable to post them, but click here to go directly to his site. He describes how the art changes as the car is driven and more dust collects. It must be sad when it rains and washes away the beautiful images.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Slow down for scenery

In this day of hectic schedules it is hard to enjoy the little things in life. One of the things I enjoy about being retired is our flexibility. We are able to slow down and even turn around if we see something interesting.

Such was the case on Saturday going to Dixon on I-80. There was a recently harvested field of hay with two tractors sitting at the end of the road. One green, the other red, I was trying to figure out what was weird about them. Then it dawned on me, they were made out of hay bales! I am yelling at Jim to look but at freeway speeds, we were past before he could see them.

I really wanted to get a closer look and Jim agreed to stop on the return trip home. However, there was more resistance to the idea later in the day. I had to point out the off-ramp, several times, while he drove past.

A mile down the freeway, I am telling Jim the next exit is coming up and yes, I do want to go back. Bless his heart, he finally got the message and took the off ramp - only to discover there was no frontage road. We had to get back ON the freeway and exit again to find the correct road. Then we see the tractors on the opposite side of the field. We needed to turn down a private road. Jim was not thrilled about going down this dirt road and initially passed it- but he gave in and turned around.

In my mind, we we had gone that far, we shouldn't stop there. Plus, I figured who ever put that much work into the unusual project would appreciate someone enjoying their work and taking these pictures to share.