Saturday, December 22, 2007

Shopping and Societe

I started (and nearly completed) my Christmas shopping this morning. I set my alarm to get an early start and avoid the crowds that usually form in mid to late morning. This is my least favorite day of the year. I should plan ahead and do my shopping online, as averse as I am to mingling among the masses, but my my procrastination holds higher sway over me than my agoraphobia.

One of my coworkers, Robin, gave me a Costco membership as Christmas gift yesterday, so I started my shopping there. I was able to find three gifts there, but given the volume of merchandise they carry, was hoping to do all my shopping there, minus the gift cards for the nieces and nephews. As tacky as those sound to me, gift cards do make shopping much more easier for the kids. I would otherwise have no idea what to get them. Their mothers say that gift cards are exactly what they want, so who am I to argue?

I admit, I bring a certain amount of tension to the table when I go out on these missions. I want them to be quick strikes. Get in and get out as quickly as possible. I want to minimize my interaction with other shoppers while in the stores. (This doesn't translate to the bar scene, however, where I enjoy striking up conversations with strangers while imbibing.)

Costco wasn't too bad, with the lone exception of this family of five. Mom and Dad with their three little girls who were shouting about every toy or movie they saw. They just had to have it or watch it. I was within five feet of them, when I first became aware of their presence in the DVD section and could feel my blood pressure shoot straight up. I quickly found the movie I was after and moved as far out of their orbit as I could. I didn't know the store very well, so I didn't know where I was going, just far from those little girls. They were now 50 yards away, but they were the only thing in the store I could hear and I still could feel the toothpicks under my fingernails, proverbially speaking. What gets me, is that the parents don't find that cacophony annoying and don't seem to be clued in that it is annoying to others. (Trust me, it was) It must be a frequency issue with me and the sounds of children's voices, but I strive at all costs to avoid it.

Great, now I have painted myself as some grumpy old scrooge. So be it, but I do have a problem with society, or its individual members that behave in a manner that offers no considerations of their neighbors or others inside their sphere of contact. Noise pollution (man made) is the greatest source of irritation and it almost always emanates from sources that provide the extremes for humanly audible frequencies, babies and car stereos. My attitude on this isn't supercilious in tone or intent, rather, it is one of supplication.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dating (round 3)

Long time readers will recall that my dating track record has been less than desirable over the past 18 months. October saw a date with a very attractive nurse go from great to horrible when a stomach virus emerged during dinner.

Fast forward to last night. A coworker set me up on a blind date with Tammy. I am not sure why she wanted to set me up. I never talk about my personal life outside of work with this particular coworker. She doesn't really know me. The only time she and I are out in public is when someone from the office has a going away lunch at a local restaurant.

Anyway, she thought it would be great if Tammy and I got to know each other. Gayle (the coworker) knows Tammy because they live in the same building in their condominium complex. I told Gayle I wasn't interested in the least in going out on a blind date and to find someone else. She was persistent (and annoying) and finally after much pleading, I acquiesced and agreed to meet Tammy for happy hour.

Z-Tejas was the agreed upon venue. I was in a good mood, actually when I showed up around 5:30. My work day was over and I had Friday and Monday off for vacation, so a 4 day weekend was ahead of me.

When I arrived, the parking lot was half full, so I easily found a space to park near the entrance and walked into the bar. I was early and wanted to get a drink or two under my belt. Now, the reason I don't like going out on blind dates is because I view them as wastes of time. I am attracted to very few women and the odds of being set up with an attractive woman are a long shot. None-the-less, I was nervous about impressing this date as I walked in and decided to remove the tension with a couple of drinks. As I waited for the bartender to mix my cocktail, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I wheeled around and was confronted by a woman who asked if I was Paul.

Why yes I am. "My name is Tammy and I am here for our date."

She slid into the barstool next to me and ordered a drink for herself. I have to say, I wasn't attracted to her in the least. After some initial small talk, she began to regale me about her life, not once stopping to ask anything about me. I didn't offer up anything about myself, either, because she was talking non stop. I did learn that she is still married, though her divorce to a prisoner in New Mexico is pending. She has 3 children, all under 10 years old. Thankfully, she didn't produce any photos of them.

She was quite the drinker, too. By 6:15, she had already drank three double vodka soda cocktails. She was also slurring and her voice began to rise in volume. I was getting embarrassed, and for those of you who know me, that takes a herculean effort.

We were supposed to have dinner, as well as drinks, but I didn't see that happening. She was wobbling on the bar stool. I started to excuse myself from the date and dinner when she started crying at the bar. I asked if she was OK and she continued to sob. I ordered the check, paid it and walked her out the door. I felt so bad for her, and then she started in on me, cursing me for who knows what.

At this point, we were out the front door and in the midst of diners waiting on a table. I ushered her away from the crowd as she bellowed insults at me. Why didn't I just leave her behind as soon as I left the restaurant, you ask? Because I wouldn't have been able to take this picture of her sitting on the bench as she waited for the valet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Poker Trip 12/9/07

I returned yesterday morning from my trip to Dallas and the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma. I decided to scuttle the trip report due to privacy issues. I did have a blast at both locations.

I can relate my poker experience, however. Christopher and I arrived at the casino around 12:15 PM and put our name on the list for the $1-2 No Limit Hold'em table. There was already 6 ahead of us, but it wasn't until the list grew to 14 that they decided to open up a new table some 25 minutes later. We watched the Cowboys-Lions game while waiting. So they seat us and we sat two seats apart with a middle aged dowager between us. The table was mixed with regulars and tourist, who all possessed roughly the same skill level. They had varying styles of play, though, with some real loosey goosey types in seats 1, 2 & 3. First hand, I find myself with a pair of 10's in the hole. I intended to make a minimum raise of $4, but grabbed the red chips and bet $20. I got one caller. Flop comes A - J - 8 rainbow. I bet out $15 and get called. I check the turn and river (as does my opponent.) I show my hand and he flips over two Queens. Had I paid attention to what chips I was grabbing, I could have saved myself ~$25.

An hour later, I get AA and raise to $8. I get two callers, including the woman to my right who had called the blinds. Flop comes 9-10-J. I bet $24. Next player folds and the woman raises me $40. I put her on a set and folded, showing my Aces. She shows me her 7-8. BAD BEAT.

After that hand, I was down to $65 of my $200 buy in. I slowly crawled my way back and caught a rush to bring myself back to even. Soon afterwards, this young Asian kid sits next to me to my left. He was playing very aggressively. Until he arrived, the whole table was pretty passive. Lots of calling (which helped me get back to even) on questionable hands. He was ramming and jamming and soon tripled his buy in. He bluffed a lot. He admitted to me that was the only way he could win. He was also started putting a straddle on my big blind. The third time he did it, I called with a suited connector, with the intention of bluffing him. The flop missed me, but I led out with a $24 bet and he raised me. I folded, with my little experiment having failed. A couple of hands later, I lost $25 more to one of the loose guys after he hit the case Queen to win with 3 Q over my pocket Kings. I decided to leave at that point.

Except for the hands I have outlined here, I played very well, I just wasn't getting good cards and neither was Christopher. Table was easily beatable, and I would have done so except for the aforementioned hands.

The poker room was very nice with plenty of screens and fast dealers. I will definitely return to this fine poker room.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Parties and travel

I have uploaded a picture of Taz after his previous vet visit last summer. His right paw was in bad shape after the claw split. Yesterday's visit wasn't nearly as bad (or expensive.) Thanks to all who wrote concerning him.

As we enter the holiday season, I look at my calendar and my list of invites to Christmas parties, and I notice that over the years, the number of invites extended to me has quietly diminished. I don't remember any specific egregious behavior(s) in year's past that would warrant being pretermited. No wearing of lamp shade on the head, or micturating into the punch bowl. I am currently at a loss as to why the volume of invites has waned. This year, I count two invitations. One of them is to my company's Christmas party and the other to my brother-in-law's Christmas party. The latter invitation, I suspect, was offered because I performed some IT duties at his office this past summer.

I will not be going to my own Christmas party as I will be heading to Dallas Saturday night and then on to the Winstar Casino on Sunday. I do intend to play poker the bulk of the time I am at Winstar. Cash only, no tournaments. A full trip report will be forthcoming upon my return.

First mobile post

Six selfish seals swapped swimsuits suggestively.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Taz and the Vet

First off, I want to welcome everyone who has followed me to this blog from my previous blog, The Streetwise Dandy. As you know, they (I can't bring myself to mention their site) took down all content. And no, I will not pursue legal action.

Longtime readers will recall that Taz has had a history of foot problems. Today, he split two nails in his front left foot. Earlier this year, it was his right foot. The doc fixed him up and he should be back on his feet tomorrow. Fish oil and antibiotics are in his future.

The picture of him above was taken soon after he came to live with us. Here he is under one year old. He is about 8 now and 15 pounds heavier.

His vet's office is about 400 feet from our house in a newly built shopping center. Also, in that shopping center is the second location of Birds Barbershop. (I got a haircut there Sunday, as a matter of fact.) Anyway, we are walking home from the vet and I saw this guy get out of his car in the parking lot in front of us and head towards Birds Barbershop.

I was lost in thought when I saw him and noticed he had a patch over his left eye. Without thinking about it, I let out a loud 'AARRRRR", which is the universal pirate cry. This was a case of my inner voice slipping out of my mouth. He glanced in my direction, but didn't hold it for a glare. I was embarrassed, but not too much to relate that incident.