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Back in the Game

After almost a year of job searching following our move to FL, I finally landed an IT gig at the second largest hospital in the Tampa Bay area.

Unfortunately, it’s not a management position as I’ve held with my previous two employers.  Now I’m the guy in the trenches doing a lot of the heavy lifting.  Instead of managing IT projects, personnel and budgets, I’m rolling up my sleeves performing IT service myself.  While I feel I’ve taken two steps back career wise, there’s definitely a lot of job satisfaction in supporting a hospital employee who’s in the business of serving a fellow human in need.  I walk out my front door now with a real purpose and come home with a sense of fulfillment.  In my two months there I’ve been all over the hospital, in places I never thought I’d work.  It’s been an interesting journey so far.

Tina finished up her internship last month and is now in the process of finding a post-doc.  It’s been a long road of sacrifice and hard work but she’s finally attained “Dr.” status.  We’re flying back to CA for her graduation ceremony in October.  To say I’m extremely proud of her seems like a colossal understatement.  Her commitment and passion toward this achievement has really demonstrated to me what she’s made of.  I feel very fortunate to have been by her side as she chases her dream.

Meanwhile in the poker realm, since Black Friday I’ve seen the inside of a poker room once.  I sat down one night after work at One Eyed Jacks.  But I left after about an hour of play realizing I was sitting with a table full of nut peddlers and only one fish.  The fish left so I had no reason to stick around and it turned out I wasn’t really in the mood to play anyway.  Since its off-season at the dog track, I suspect that’s mostly the case with the games there unless it’s a Friday or Saturday night.

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Sarasota Kennel Club is conveniently located adjacent to SRQ (Sarasota Int’l Airport) and hosts a smoke free poker room with approximately 30+ tables in addition to their greyhound dog track wagering.

I strolled in on a Wednesday night and sat immediately upon requesting a 1/2 NL game.  Less than half the tables had action at around 6pm.  A 6:30pm NL tournament started shortly after I arrived.  Just as I sat and laid down my buy-in, I saw the hammer get coolered in a Blind vs. Blind hand against A7 on a Q77 flop.  I have no idea how the PF action went but I assume the BB called a raise PF with 72s.

I noticed I was easily the youngest guy at the table with the exception of one black guy who happened to be missing his two front teeth.  I doubt it was due to hockey.  He got coolered in a hand which cost him most of his chips but later went on heater to turn his last $20 into almost $300 cracking pocket Aces twice.  In both hands, the players with AA misplayed their hands miserably.  He also doubled with AK and again after flopping a set with pocket 7’s.  Every time he had a monster hand he’d min-reraise the action and every time he got paid.

After buying in for $100, I bled down to about $80 and doubled up against a player who couldn’t fold his 99 against my pocket Aces after limp calling my PF raise then calling my reraise on a J-T-x rainbow flop.  Afterwards, I bled down to $125 seeing a few flops until doubling with a set of 4’s on a QhTh4s flop.  Guy to my right let me limp PF utg with 44 along with 4 other players then went apeshit with his KsQs.  Shortly after, the table busted.  I cashed out $250 and reflected on some of the action over a few beers.

The room is clean, smoke free, well run and can be profitable. Several players at my table couldn’t fold a pair or draw.  Friday afternoons they have 50 cent beers and hot dogs downstairs and Saturday nights it’s $1 hot dogs and drafts.

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Ever wonder how your dog would measure up against a field of other mutts in a 50 yard dash?  Sarasota Kennel Club is hosting their 3rd annual Mutt Derby this Sunday April 3rd, races start at noon.

Pre-registration is Saturday April 2nd, they also take last minute registrations on the day of the event.  Proceeds benefit Fast Friends Greyhound Adoption and All Faiths Food Bank.  Bring non-perishable food for free admission.  Enter your mutt in the derby for a $20 entry fee.

In addition to their dog track/wagering, the Sarasota Kennel Club is also home to One-Eyed Jacks Poker room .

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dinking and donking

Reading posts and tweets about snowmaggedon and the nasty weather that pounded the northeast this winter, I’m thankful not to be shoveling driveways and scraping ice off the windshield.  Florida is not so bad after all.  But I reserve the right to change my mind later, notably when June/July swings back around.

I’ve been dinking and donking around in super turbo and Rush tournaments without much success.   The luck factor is magnified in these formats but I just don’t have the patience or motivation I used to for a well structured online poker tournament.

Adjusting to the EST zone has been somewhat of a nuisance.   Especially in the context of following my West Coast teams.  For instance, Lakers home games don’t hit the tube until 10:30pm ET and MNF games were running up until almost midnight.

On the topic of football, I’ve decided to relinquish our Charger’s season tickets for next season.  Travel expenses for the two home games we attended last season was around $1200 a visit.  This included free lodging at my brother’s condo in Dana Point.  Even with the added benefit of visiting family, it’s just too much of a commitment for us.  The Chargers missing the playoffs for the first time in 4 years, the CBA hanging over the league’s head and the city of SD unable to put together funding for a new stadium made the decision a no brainer.  The team will probably end up in L.A and I suspect they’ll go the PSL route which will be too expensive for us anyway.   I consider myself very lucky to have been able to keep the seats since the 2000 season and witness the Chargers turnaround from being a doormat in the AFC to a team with SB potential.

Finding employment in FL has been discouraging.  Unemployment numbers out here are some of the highest in the nation.  Rarely do I get more than a canned response to any job application.  This has prompted me to pursue work as a network contractor.  Tina’s sister has been a huge help developing marketing materials for me and I’ve been able to obtain accounting/contact management software for next to nothing.  Next steps are finding clients.  All I really need is a handful of small networks to support to keep me busy.

The good news is I’ve been back at the gym consistently since moving out here in July.  I run about 3 miles a day/5 days a week on the dreadmill and pushing weight around on the machines.  I’ve been utilizing the gym in our complex which is somewhat limited as far as equipment goes but it does have a nice view of the pool while I get my sweat on.

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On a day I expected to end with exhilaration, it ended with “how the fuck am I still standing here?”

Growing up as a teenager in Southern California meant you spent a good amount of time at the beach, surfing, drinking and meeting chicks.  Just after I turned a teen and until I was in my mid 20’s, I surfed.   I surfed my ass off.

I fuckin’ surfed a LOT.  Like a shit ton.

I ditched school whenever I could and hit the surf before and after work in my 20’s.  Surfing was my passion.  I spent my best years at the beach grinding waves.  It was an escape, a high and my passion.  I paddled my way out hoping to catch that perfect ride to the whitewash.  And after I did, I’d do it all over again.

I never wanted the sun to go down and even after it did, sometimes I’d surf at night by the pier where I could still see sets rolling in.

Tina has asked me one time “Weren’t you ever afraid of what was in the water?  Out there in the middle of the ocean?”

Noobs

The only worry I ever had was maybe a random jellyfish.  And luckily, I was never on the bad end of a jellyfish story.

Generally, the waves were in the 1-3 foot range.  Sometimes, they’d get in the 3-5′ range but it was pretty rare.  One winter, a storm was brewing and one of my surf buddies called to say the waves were “raging” and we needed to get down there immediately.

He said Hermosa Beach was cranking out 6-7 foot waves.  I picked him up and drove down there to see some to the biggest terrifying waves I’ve ever seen up close and personal.  Some surfers were walking out on the breakwall to jump off into the ocean to avoid paddling through the big ass waves that were crashing the beach that day.

Being the big tough guy that I am, I said fuck that we’re paddling through.  What a big fucking mistake.

If you’ve never surfed or understand the sizing of waves, they’re sized from the back of the peak which means, the face of a 7 foot wave can be 12-14 feet, fucking scary man.  When you’re paddling your ass off to avoid getting crushed by a 14’ mountain of water, IT IS FUCKING TERRIFYING.  Trust me on this.

I don’t think I’ve ever paddled so fast to get past the break.  After getting punished by several waves and spending several minutes tumbling underwater I finally made it.  I sat there in the water, catching my breath recovering, thinking “what the fuck was I thinking?’.  After several sets rolled in I caught what was probably one of the smaller waves of the day, maybe a 6 footer.  I rode it all the way to the beach and that was that.  My friend rode in shortly after asking me what was wrong.

I told him I was done.  Drowning has got to be one of the worst ways to go out and I got dangerously close that day.

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Online Poker

Online poker just took a huge kick to the junk.  I haven’t been keeping up with my blogroll so I’m not sure if there has already been several posts about this.

Last month, Full Tilt and PokerStars banned French players from playing on their .com site.  They’ve since created a .fr online poker room available only to French players.  They’re completely segregated from the rest of the online poker world.  This restriction was required by the French Government so they could get license fees and a percentage of the rake.  It appears a similar law was introduced by Italy some time ago but wasn’t enforced.

I suspect more countries will follow suit making it that much harder to beat the rake and tougher online texas holdem fields.

Interestingly, Full Tilt froze French players accounts preventing withdrawals while the .fr site and client software was being developed.  PokerStars still allowed French players to withdraw their money.   I’m not sure how long French accounts were frozen by Full Tilt but, that’s just unacceptable.  Unfortunately, French player’s hands were tied.

If this leads to US regulations and our segregation from the rest of the world, say goodbye to online poker.  Only the best players will be able to beat the game and rake.

This is a terrible turn for online poker.

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When i got the boot from my old job, I was 42 yrs old. I immediately put my updated resume up on several well known sites and got a few interviews
that went no where.

I came to a realization.

My professional background is in Information Technology Management. I managed an engineering staff as well as a desktop support staff. I built
a team that was loyal and professional who cared about each other, not
easy to do.

I found several “Management” positions but they were mostly glorified managers. By that I mean technical professionals who were looking for a management title.

The majority of the IT skills I accumulated over the years were no longer needed. I managed an engineering staff and technical support staff
who did their job well. They just needed my direction, motivation,
encouragement and nurturing.

I had an employee who i didn’t even hire tell me I was “like a brother to
him”. Our crew was very tight. My previous employer went through several directors and our CFO fell in love with a director he had past history with.

It changed everything.

Since then I’ve been playing poker, selling advertising and collecting $$
from affiliate advertising, writing and other creative means. Somehow, I’ve been able to get by but I haven’t hit the grand slam I was hoping for. Call me a sellout. I’d like to think of myself as a survivor.

I’ll always play poker but after our move to FL next month, I’ll be forced to looking into some sort of regular employment. While I’m definitely not looking forward to waking up at a reasonable time in the A.M., i realize I can’t retire this early and must find a way to bring in a reliable income for the family. This month to month shit is just no longer feasible.

Tina and I were talking with a neighbor who had recently graduated from college that’s in a similar predicament. Where do I go from here? There are just so many options. One of them may be stocking shelves at Home Depot.

It can always be worse.

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