Poker Update #6

Lordy, that was just awful. Playing from behind almost the whole night, I was knocked out after only 90 minutes. And I was 5th out 8, it was a brutal table. I’ve never seen so many high hands. Almost every pot was won by trips or better. One guy in particular got incredible hands the whole time. Three times he had trips after the flop, each time taking huge pots from people with two pair. Once he had the nut flush, taking out pocket aces. He got a miracle straight. Those are just the ones he showed, he had so many chips he could bully every one around.

I managed to work my way back to an average stack. I had K-Q. Flop was Q-J-x. I went all in, I was called with A-10. A King came up. I had two pair but he got the straight, so I was knocked out. Sigh. Frustrating to go all in with best hand and get a bad beat, the same thing happened last week.

Tonight: $-20
Overall: $-34

Kids

“Hon – why is there a kitchen knife stuck through my new library book?”
(after a moments investigation)
“Correction. Hon – why is there a kitchen knife stuck through my new library book,with peanut butter all over it?”

Muttrox Goes to Court

On tee-ball opening day, our mini-van was ticketed. It was a fitting end to an awful day since the minivan was in a clearly marked legal parking spot. Rather than pay $50, I took a half-day off of work to fight it. It isn’t a smart financial decision, but I can’t stand the idea of getting screwed like that. It’s my second or third time fighting tickets in Atlanta. I know the drill. By 9:00 I was comfortably seated in prime bench space with a new Terry Pratchett book. And a pad of paper to record random Muttroxian observations.

We defendants were 90% black, 36 out of 40. Maybe a little higher if you include the ugly white teenager with the Kobe Bryant shirt who wanted to be. More on him later. All officers of the court were black. The sample size was small, but there seemed to be no correlation between race and status. There were just an awful lot of poor people. They were about to get a lot poorer.

Next to me was the upstanding white couple. A nice southern gentleman and his nice southern wife. They were reading a book called The Human Body: Accident or Design? Really? Are those the only choices? They annoyed me already.

First up were all the guilties and nolos that the judge wanted to get out of the way. They had a probation officer out in the hall, and if you couldn’t pay right there you were put on probation. Many folks couldn’t pay a $100 ticket. Most fines were in the $150-$300 range. I felt bad for some of these folks, that’s a big hit in their circumstances.

I wonder if judges for parking court feel like they’re failures? It must be mind-numbing to deal with the same idiots every day. You main duty is collecting revenue for the state. They probably don’t feel like failures, but they probably don’t feel that great about it either. On the other hand, criminal judges probably feel they could have done something better than hear the same dirtbag stories every day also. I hope they rotate judge assignments around every few years.

There was a huge variance in body types. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all healthy bodies look the same but every unhealthy body looks different. You can really see the lack of healthcare. One man told the judge he was on dial.. dial something.. You mean dialysis?.. I think so, does that help me piss?

“You want to take the defensive driving course? Why should I let you do that?”
“. ”
“Why should I let you?”
“So I can get my license back?”
“It was your choice to lose it. I didn’t make you drive thirty miles over the speed limit. Why should I interfere with the consequences of your choice?”
“.

Kobe was up. A 19-year old white kid. He looked like Eminem with glasses and acne. The full size Kobe Bryant shirt was a dress on him. He had the walk too, the stereotypical black urban rap walk. He was the only one the whole day with it. There were a lot of characters who were clearly a lot more badass than him who didn’t have the walk. I think health plays a role here also. You have to be physically fit to be able to walk like that constantly. It’s a way of displaying your male virility. If you’re sick or fat, you can’t pull it off.

Now we’re into the not guilty folks (which includes me). She calls it the trial phase, which is true, but intimidating.

“What are you driving now?”
“Nothing.”
“Good. Marta’s Smarta.”

The oath doesn’t mention God. “Do you solemnly swear..” but it doesn’t say what you’re swearing by.

A clear miscarriage of justice. A guy is up there for serving liquor without a license. But he has never served liquor. He’s a weekend cook, never even been behind the bar. He was working his shift, when he heard a break-in two stores down. He calls the cops. They take a long time to show up, he starts going home. As he does six police show up and start asking him questions. They want to go in his place, but it’s after hours and locked and since he’s just the cook he doesn’t have the keys. They make him go around back with them. They go in and see liquor being served. They start asking for permits and the owner doesn’t have any. They throw the book at the owner, but that’s not who is in court today. The poor schlub who called the cops is up there. All of this is perfectly clear. He is found guilty and fined almost $1000. A collective moan of sympathy and outrage rises from the audience. It doesn’t help.

It’s awful hard being up there. The judge asks you if you want to ask the police officer any questions, and it’s always unclear what to do. You don’t know the rules, you don’t know how to ask the right questions. Most people have more of a statement. They want to discuss it with the judge and you don’t know when you’re supposed to do that. Most people don’t know the right questions to ask. The cook might have asked the policeman, “Did you personally observe me serving liquor?” That might have been enough.

So far no one has been let off the hook. The not guilties are zero for six. Did I get the hanging judge?

There’s graffiti and names etched into every square inch of the benches. What kind of jackass vandalizes while they are actually in court?

My southern neighbors are up. It seems that there was a bus parked illegally at the entrance to the highway. Another driver was trying to get around the bus and merged badly, hitting them. They are witnesses for the state, the hitter is the defendant. The general consensus is that the bus was at fault, but the defendant clearly did cause the accident. After the first statement, the policeman asks the hittees if their insurance has settled everything. Yes, it has. Judge, in light of that, since there was no harm done, since the bus fled the scene, since the insurance has settled all financial matters, I would be content with reducing all the charges to a warning. The judge asks the defendant if that’s OK with him. Of course it is! I’m feeling good as someone is finally getting off light. Is it OK with everyone else? No! My fine creationist neighbor speaks up. It’s not OK. The judge can’t understand the problem. What does he care anymore, he’s been made right? He asks to approach the bench. That cracked me up. What could he have to say that can’t be said in front of everybody? I’m guessing he’s a racist pig and here he is, stuck having to come up with some BS to a black judge. What a vindictive jerk. May I approach the bench indeed. The defendant is let off with a warning. They are really strange people. (They also forget their book, but I bring it out to them.)

Now Single Female Lawyer is up. She has worked out a plea-bargain arrangement with the police. It’s a good one, her client basically gets off with a small fine. But wait, the judge won’t accept it! I didn’t know she could do that! She says it’s not right, why shouldn’t this guy get community service at least? Well, because he’s been unemployed he’s starting a new job as a trucker on Monday that requires a clean license it’s all been worked already etc. The judge says he can do community service on weekends. He says that’s hard for him, he has two young boys to take care of. “Then you’ll be a good role model for them, won’t you? Help keep DeKalb county clean! Twenty hours community service!” Who’s going to watch the kids? Why is she sticking her big nose in anyhow? what’s the point of working out a plea if the judge comes and throws the whole deal out?

I am the very last case of the morning. The policeman didn’t show up, so all my charges are thrown out. I jauntily wish everyone a good day. For the first time the judge cracks a smile, for the freakshow is over.

Poker Update #5

Funny thing about poker. You don’t need much skill when you get good cards. I didn’t play as well as I did the last two weeks and yet I finished in the money. I had three monster hands and sucked out loads of money on each one.

Monster Hand 1: With J-8, the flop is 5-9-10. The turn is a 7, I have the nuts straight. The river is a 6. Two other players also had 8s and assumed it was a 3-way chop. Not so, my Jack high straight trumped their 10-high straight. I was already at 2.5x the average stack.

Monster Hand 2: A-9, the board is A-A-6. I check, then call the moderate bet. The turn is nothing. I check again, he puts in a lot, I put him all in and win easily.

Monster Hand 3: A-A, another A comes on the flop. When I go all in on the river he won’t call, but I already have most of his chips.

Between these three hands, I was sitting pretty. I spent most of the last two hours folding and patiently waiting for other players to be eliminated. That was a good strategy. I cruised to the top three. In our game, the top three finish in the money (50%-30%-20%). I was slightly short-stacked. I went all in prelop with A-J. I was called with K-J. A king came up so I was knocked out in third place. It was a bad beat to go out with, but I can’t complain about the cards. And now to watch the TiVo’d Celtics game.

Tonight: $32
Total: -$14

Mystery Guest

Once in a while, Mrs. Muttrox and I get ourselves a cheap meal by serving as Mystery Guests. We dine anonymously, answer questions about the meal, and get reimbursed most of the cost. The price is right, and it’s fun. We haven’t done it for a long time, because the surveys are such a pain. Last week we did it for the first time in three years. I whipped through the survey in ten minutes. I thought I had remembered everything that happened, I was ready for anything. Except these.

85. If you stepped away from the table at any point in your dining experience, when you returned, was your napkin neatly folded in front of you?

89. If you paid with a credit card, did the server say your name upon returning your card to you?

Really? Uh… I’m going to pass. One made up answer, coming up.

Poker Update #4

Some good news and bad news.

Good: I went in determined to play position. I did. When I had position, I used it to bully people into folding. When I was out of position, I didn’t go in with marginal hands. I bet out of position just enough to keep people honest. I showed good discipline.

Bad: Two fatal misreads. The first one was unremarkable. I thought I had someone’s body language figured out and I was wrong. In the second one, I had around 2,300, big blind is 200. I get K-K. I bet 500, I get two callers. The flop is A-x-x. Any ace kills me, otherwise I win. Neither of the two players bet. Neither of them are players who slowplay. I push in 800. One folds, one calls. The turn is another garbage card. This time the other player puts me all in. I don’t think he just got a set or anything like that, there are no straight or flushes out there. He either has the ace or he doesn’t. We have eight players, the odds are good that another ace got dealt. But why no betting? Is he scared that I also have an ace with a higher kicker? If so, then why put me all in? Did he get a second pair with that garbage card? You can see where this is going. I can’t get away from those beautiful kings. I finally call, he has the ace and takes most of my money.

My final stand: I somehow struggle back from the edge of ruin to a fair-sized stack. I get dealt Qc-10c in the big blind. I check the option, three players are in. The flop is Kc-Jd-5c. Both players go all in. At this point, I am definitely far far behind, but folding is the wrong play. I’m getting 2-1 on my money, not even including all the money in the pot so far. I have four to a straight and four to a flush (any Ace, nine, or club.) That’s a lot of outs. And if any of those come up I’ve almost certainly won. I suspect (correctly) that both my opponents have a King or Jack pairing the board. I call. I don’t get my outs and the pair of Jacks take the pot. I can’t complain about that hand, it was still the right play.

Classic poker outing. Many good plays, but two bad reads threw it all away.

Tonight: -$40
Total: -$46

Pulitzer Update

I haven’t done so good with my resolution to read 10 Pulitzer prize winning books this year. With the year 30% over I’ve read two.

  • The Shipping News (E. Annie Proulx): I just finished this a couple hours ago. It was good, but not even great. I don’t understand how it won the prize. At first it seemed like a book where everything conceivable goes wrong for the protagonist. That is a particularly loathsome form of narrative. A Man in Full and The Corrections stand out as books to avoid. Fifty pages in, The Shipping News was going down that path. Fortunately, it turned back and made itself into a nice little story. ‘Story’ is an overstatement, since nothing happens of interest. It’s a word portrait of Newfoundland. It could have been half the length or three times as long and it wouldn’t have mattered, since there were no meaningful events to elide or reveal. My advice is to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Stern Men. It is the same style of story told much better. And it’s funny to boot.
  • The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two (Studs Terkel): What a book! I was hooked by the third paragraph. World War Two is a broad topic and Terkel manages to cover most of it. The entire book is recollections by people who were part of the War. Mostly American soldiers, but it also had Germans, Russians, Japanese, scientists, politicians, ordinary citizens. There is no editorial content, just the stories by those who were there. No matter how cynical you are, you can’t walk away from this book without believing they really were “The Greatest Generation”. Both in what they did, and how they did it. How would you have acted in the same circumstances? I can’t recommend this book enough. It will reveal parts of history you never knew about, parts of humanity, and parts of yourself.

    By the way, the correct answer to my previous question about this book (have there been any other “Good War”s?) was: Afghanistan. Afghanistan. We were clearly attacked first and the Taliban were harboring and supporting an international threat in l-Queda. The Taliban were clearly illegitimate and clearly evil, and we got rid of them. We haven’t been so hot on the follow-through but give us credit for the first part. Afghanistan.

Cabin Pressure: Book Review

Cabin Pressure

Muttroxia gives a stamp of approval to Cabin Pressure: One Man’s Desperate Attempt to Recapture his Youth as a Camp Counselor. It’s a bit like Bill Bryson goes to camp. The odds are you know the author, Josh Wolk. Odds are good you went to high school with him. Odds are good you know he was funny then, and he’s funnier now. It’s the kind of book you read with a small grin on your face that every so often erupts into an actual guffaw. Turns out it’s funny. Funny, that is.

It is very strange to read something semi-autobiographical about someone you knew growing up. I wasn’t good friends with Josh, but we were on each others lists of good people. At least I hope I was on his list. And I also went to camp right on that lake. In fact, my brother is getting married there in two months.

Josh is the second author from my high school class with a recently published novel, Austin Grossman being the first. Oddly, they lived across the street from each other.

The story has legs. The movie version has already been optioned. Josh also has a blog, and it is also funny. But he updates it even less than I do. I win!

Find the Fallacy

Allstate insurance has a full page ad on the back of the business section of today’s New York Times. It has a cartoon of a woman in a business suit chained to a rock. Here’s the first two paragraphs of text:

The number of women over 65 who are still working has increased by more than a third in the past ten years. Why are retirement-age women increasingly chained to their jobs?

Well, women live longer than men, so their retirement savings have to stretch father. Women earn less – 77 cents for every dollar a man earns – so they save less. And they work fewer years – the average woman spends 11 years out of the workforce caring for children or elderly parents.

  1. What happened to the number of men over 65 still working? Suppose that has risen by 50%?
  2. Who says they are chained to their jobs? Maybe they are living a full rewarding life working part-time.
  3. Women used to make a lot less than 77 cents on the dollar. I seem to remember 40 or 50 cents. Seems like they’re doing better, not worse?
  4. Nothing in the second paragraph relates to the first. The first is about change over the last ten years. Women live longer, but has that changed in the last ten years? Do they take more time out of the workforce than they used to? Do they make more than they used to?

So the evidence doesn’t relate to the summary, and then the summary is given a pejorative spin that’s unsupported.

Oh, by the way, the main fact? Not so much.

The number of women over 65 who are still working has increased 38 percent since 1980

In 28 years it’s gone up 38%, but Allstate says it’s gone up over a third in the last ten years? Fishy.

Links o’ Interest

Always clear your download history.

Japanese barcodes. I can’t wait until these come to America.

Beach policeman, circa 1922.

Learn to play Go Interactively (I downloaded Igowin to teach myself.)

A blog of Responses to the stupid questions you see in celebrity magazines.

One of the weirder and sadder stories I’ve read in a while.

South Park characters drawn realistically

Let your next of kin know, because you won’t be able to stop watching this. (More variants here)

Pattern identification. I was told if you can get 4 per minute, you’re a genius. I agree. I am not a genius. Addendum: I started on Level 12, I’m not as bad I thought.

The entire Godfather script, drawn as a picture.

Improv Everywhere does a sweet one.

Logic puzzle comic strip: The dragon paradox

The 50 greatest comedy sketches of all time. 66 years later, Who’s on First is still as brilliant as ever.

Employee Name Tags

One of the nice things about Disney World is the name tags. They have the first name, and where they are from. We had a wonderful conversation with a husband-wife team from a town just down the road from where I grew up. It’s nice to see where people are from. In Las Vegas some casinos have their employees do the same thing. It can trigger a conversation and give you a nice instant connection with someone. This is a nice idea for those tourist destinations where both the staff and the customers are from all over.

California Pizza Kitchen just outside Atlanta’s perimeter highway? C’mon. I didn’t need to be informed that Brenda was from Guadalajara. It just doesn’t work. And you know what? 70% of your staff is from Central America. Instead of connecting me to the employees, it reminds me of class differences. Kind of a downer.

And you are California Pizza Kitchen! You are not “CPK”. I will not “Locate a CPK in my area”, or “register with CPK”. Get over yourself.

Social Security is NOT Medicare!

This is an actual question from a Harris Interactive poll:

78 million baby boomers, now ages 44 to 62, are about to retire and will begin collecting Social Security and Medicare retirement entitlement benefits, putting tremendous strain on the resources available to pay benefits to future generations.

How do you feel about the future of our country’s Social Security program?

Please select all that apply.

– Fearful
– Optimistic
– Frustrated
– Secure
– None of these

For the definition of Social Security, please click here.
For the definition of Medicare, please click here.

Social Security and Medicare are different programs. Both are growing issues for the general budget, but Medicare’s impact is roughly five times larger. To the degree their finances can be independently judged, Social Security is very well-financed, Medicare is not at all. Whether through ignorance or malice, it is common to see factual statements about both of them lumped together as “entitlement spending”, and then conclusions drawn about only Social Security.

entitlement growth

In this question, the setup includes Social Security and Medicare and the help links include Social Security and Medicare. But the actual question is only about Social Security. This is dishonest.

I am not looking forward to seeing how this research is used.

Elite Security Force in Action

The building I work in has doors with electronic locks, you must flick your badge on a reader to get in. Today, one of the doors was broken and would not open at all from the outside. I went around to another door. After my meeting, I tried to go out the first door and found you couldn’t open it from the inside either. I turned to the worker nearest the door.

Me: Hey, is –
Him: I know, it’s broken, it’s been broken all day. We called Facilities already.
Me: OK. Uh, would you like me to –
Him: We had a sign up. Facilities made me take it down.
Me: Wow, you’re good at this! Why did they make you take it down?
Him: They were worried that it revealed a hole in our security to potential robbers.
Me: [dumbfounded] You mean the security problem that the door won’t open at all?
Him: You got it.
Me: What would happen if a robber found that out? Their master plan of stealing a badge to get in this door would fail?
Him: [shrugging] Tell me about it.

Star Wars III

(I didn’t see it in the theatres. I caught the last half on TV last night.)

Obi Wan and Darth Vader fight to the death, jumping around the molten mine planet of something-or-other. Darth leaps up, Obi Wan chops off his legs with the light saber. Instead of killing him (everyone else dies when you touch them with a light saber), it slices off his legs. Vader pitifully tries to squirm his way up the hill which is slowly sinking into the molten steel below. Obi Wan pontificates. Vader doesn’t make it. His legs slip into the inferno, and he catches on fire. What does Obi Wan do? Pontificates some more, and then walks away, leaving Vader to a long, horrible demise.

Jedi are the good guys, right?

Perspective

Me: Have I put you in timeout at all today?
5-year old: No.
Me: Have I put your brother in timeout today?
5-year old: No.
Me: Right. It’s been a good day, hasn’t it? I like days where I don’t get mad at you and you don’t get mad at me.
5-year old, after thinking it over: I don’t care if I get mad at you.

Poker Update #3

That hurt.

I dominated the first hour. Our starting stacks are $2500 and I had well over $5000 within 30 minutes. Some good hands, and some great bluffs. I didnt play much until we got down to 4 players. I now had about $9000, average stack was $6000. One player had 300. I was counting on at least 3rd place, which would have good for $36, and probably higher than that.

And it all slipped away. I can’t point to any hand I misplayed. Yes, a couple bluffs didn’t play out but they were still good bluffs. Yes, there were a couple bad beats, but nothing outrageous. It simply dripped away. The last hands were unremarkable. Blecchh.

Tonight: -$20
Total since 3/15/08: -$6