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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

For the love of running

Lure Coursing is an opportunity for Whippets (and other sight hounds) to enjoy their natural instinct of chasing rabbits. In this case, the "rabbits" were white plastic bags tied to a remote controlled pulley system.

I finally got to see Lure Coursing yesterday, when Dennie brought her whippet, Zetta, down to Dixon. At a fenced school yard, a course of 900 yards was laid out where the hounds could run as fast (or slow) as they desired. They chased the white plastic bag on a zig zag course.

When the the bag stopped, they would touch it with their nose. Then the handler would put a lease back on and lead the smiling dog off the course.

Jm clocked the whippets at 45 MPH. I had trouble taking pictures of them as they were so fast by the time my camera clicked, I got a lot of pictures of just grass.

Little Zetta loves to run. Abby, my previous whippet, would do anything to have a safe place to run off leash. Bailey, on the other hand, doesn't care that much for running, she would rather just stay by me. So, we sat under a tree and watched the sight hounds enjoying the natural activity of chasing "pry."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Not sure if a web site is trustworthy?

The Internet is my Television. I know people that have the TV on all day. I am just as much of a computer addict. My little Eee PC is on from morning to night. It even fits in my purse and goes with me.
Since I do a lot of on-line shopping and research, I use many new-to-me websites. It is often hard to tell if they are reliable or trustworthy.
When in doubt -I log out.
Enter WOT service. It stands for Web of Trust. It is a FREE service to download at http://www.mywot.com/. This service puts a green dot on websites you can trust and a red dot on those with poor reputations and yes, there is even the cautionary yellow dot.
I have used this service for the last 2 weeks and it is non-obtrusive and effective. For example, when I did a Google search of "Free ecards" the first one that came up in the sponsored links had a red dot next to it. I know not to even click on that site. If I get to a site by accident that is questionable, there is a warning that pops up. This happened when I entered www.wot. com INSTEAD of www.mywot.com. It was interesting to read why the poor feedback, (annoying pop ups, virus, privacy, etc.)

Sometimes good things really are free - like another tool to help us make good choices.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Next step robot repair technicans

What would break on a new refrigerator before the summer months? Of course, the ice maker.

We noticed for a couple of days there was less and less ice in the maker. I thought we were just using a lot. But then came the day the glass under the shuddering spout remained empty. It was not spitting out a single ice cube.

The call to the 800 service number was, not surprisingly, answered by an automated voice system.

If you are calling for a repair, press 1.
If you are calling from the number where the appliance is located press 2.
If your address is ------------- press 1.
If you are calling for blah, blah, blah, blah, press 1,2,3,4, a refrigerator, press 5 (Oh, thank God. Have I mentioned I have trouble using phones and dealing with frustration?)
If you are calling for the repair of an ice maker press 1 - (hmm, ice makers must go out the most).
We can schedule a technician to come. Press 1 for Monday; 2 for Tuesday; etc.
I press 2. OK, on Tuesday we have available appointment between 8-noon (press 1) or 1:00 to 5:00 press 2. Again, I press 2. Thank you, a technician will be out on TUESDAY between 1PM and 5P M. To confirm this appointment press 1 - Finally!

Monday night we get an automated call. This is the service center, we have an appointment scheduled for you between 1PM and 5PM. TUESDAY. If this is correct press 1. To cancel this appointment, press 2; to reschedule this appointment, press 3.

Tuesday afternoon another automated call. Our service technician is leaving the prior call, his anticipated arrival will be in 30 minutes. If someone is home and this is okay, press 1. To cancel press 2; to reschedule press 3.

I was expecting R2D2 to appear at the door. But the technician was friendly and most important, human. In less than 15 minutes he had diagnosed the problem and replaced the ice maker. He carried a rugged laptop with an antenna, and a five inch printer attached. He pressed keys on the laptop explaining he was going to order a 'mother board' in case we had trouble with the new ice maker after the warranty expired. It would be delivered to our house.

My unfiltered brain wanted to ask him what the hell we were suppose to do with the MOTHER- - but I have been working on filtering thoughts from my brain -so they don't just pop out of my mouth, and I was sucessful in holding my tongue - this time.

The tech then completes a few more keystrokes and our service order and receipt are printed. The last thing he did was tap a key which started the automated voice mail calling the next customer.

I know computers and many electronics now diagnose problems and walk the humans through the repairs, so I have to wonder, how long before we have service robots show up at the door? Or will we go straight to replacing our own mother boards?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today''s blessings

Some days it is hard to stay positive with constant pain and frustrations. Today isn't one of those days. I am feeling very fortunate and so blessed.

Today's list includes:

A good night's sleep
clean windows
new friends
an ice maker under warrenty and repaired without hassle
Finding a Tai Chi class for arthritis that not only can I do, I really enjoy.
my backyard retreat
weather that allows me to enjoy outside
And above all, my family and friends

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Whitestrip Diet

For a number of weeks I have been having trouble sleeping. The worst part about not sleeping is getting bored and hungry in the wee hours of the night. This is less than healthy as you can well imagine.

This morning I was due for my fasting lab work. That meant I could not eat anything after 7:00 PM. Not a problem IF I could go to sleep by 11:oo and STAY asleep - but I was a little worried about the hours between midnight and 6:00 AM. Enter the Crest Whitestrips. The instructions say to use twice a day -or one could use two 30 minutes each, back to back. The taste remains in the mouth so I had no desire to get something to eat. A couple of times during the night and next thing I knew it was time for the blood draw.
It may not be a solution to insomnia, but at least I am not wandering in the kitchen and I have whiter teeth.
Do you think it will catch on as the next silly diet craze?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

How inspiring - Common Sense

I am very excited about the nomination of Judge Sotomayor. Not because she is a woman, not because she is a minority, and not because she is a liberal (or Conservative).

No, I am thrilled because while I like the experiences she brings to the bench, the most important characteristic is she appears to have is COMMON SENSE. She does not rule by party line, gender or ethnicity. There was piece in the Washington Post about her record and the cases they examined. The conclusion was "Taken together, the cases defy depictions of her record as falling neatly into either a liberal or conservative category".

I got into a discussion with my niece about Judge Sotomayor. She feels the judge is racist and pointed to the well publicized speech at Berkeley. I understood that Judge Sotomayor delivered that speech in a class ABOUT Diversity - so of course she would discuss ethnicity.

However, according to the Washington post , "In a less-publicized 2001 interview, Sotomayor said she tries to separate her Puerto Rican heritage from her judging. "It is very important when you judge to recognize that you have to stay impartial," she said in a video for a program on Latinos and the law. "I have to unhook myself from my emotional responses and try to stay within my unemotional objective persona. That process can be very weighty at times."

Wow, a well qualified candidate that uses common sense, the law, and the individual facts when deciding a case instead of 'sticking with party lines."

I think we need her on the bench.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sutter's Fort closure

Sutter's Fort in Sacramento is on the budget chopping block along with over 200 other California State Parks.

Among the ones in Northern California are
Ahjumawi Lava Springs SP
Anderson Marsh SHP
Bidwell Mansion SHP
Bidwell-Sacramento River SP
Castle Crags SP
Colusa-Sacramento River SRA
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial SP
Shasta SHP
Weaverville Joss House SHP
William B. Ide Adobe SHP
Woodson Bridge SRA

I am not sure how it is that I have lived in Northern California since age twelve and have never been to Sutter's Fort. So we figured we better go before it is closed (rumored to be this August).

Today, we went to Sutter's Fort; honestly, I don't see why it can't operate as a public/private partnership. We saw one staff person and the rest were docents. They were the ones that made history come alive for the many school children crowding the Fort.

I hope communities, statewide, step up to the plate and form alliances, foundations and nonprofits to keep the doors open of these important sites.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Motorcycle Helmets

Here are some interesting pictures of motorcycle helmets I Stumbled on. I feel sorry for the little boy. He finality gets to go with dad for a ride and has to wear a watermelon helmet!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things my children don't remember

A conversation about products or icons of our childhood made me think that my children have never heard of so many of these things. Some products may still be sold.

How many of these to you remember?

Brill Cream - a little dab will do 'ya

Prell shampoo
Helms bakery truck
Bosco chocolate syrup
Malto meal

Nichols candies

Sugar Daddy suckers - great for the movies as they lasted forever.
Toni Hair Perms

Bobbie pins
pink hair tape - to hold down bangs or make a curl

Comedy albums
Bill Cosby - remember God instructing Noah to build an Ark?
First family

Wishing wells in front lawn

Tiki patio decor

split rail fences

Metracal for weight control

oh, what were the tlittle square carmal candy ones you ate with a hot beverage before a meal?

Sour apple candy
Armour Star Canned meats - do they even make them anymore?
Diet-Rite Cola


Tab-opening aluminum cans - collected tabs made great chains for bedroom decor
Maxim (freeze-dried instant coffee) Postum
Shake 'n Bake
Chase & Sanborn Instant Coffee

What else?