Friday, June 29, 2007
As I have mentioned many times in the past, I don’t like to get political. I run the risk of letting all who know me find out how ignorant I am on current events. That said, I’m beginning to feel like I’m watching the decline of my great nation. I wish it were just one thing I could put my finger on and say, “Ah ha! This is the problem.” If it were that easy, someone smarter than me would have already figured it out and fixed it (I hope).
Here is the problem as I see it. America is too complacent with its place as the only superpower in the world. Rather than use our vast powers for good, we instead choose to give voice to our detractors and apologize for our bad behavior. This combination of attitudes emboldens others who might not even be enemies, and in fact (I believe) even enables them to become enemies, if only for the profiteering.
Let me illustrate. Right now, Vlad Putin, the chief muck-a-muck in Russia, has surrounded himself with a group of old KGB who are nostalgic for the Cold War days (feel free to draw your own conclusions about the Bush administration). America wants to put a missile shield in Europe. Russia wants a piece of the action.
There are two ways to get what they want. They can ask us nicely and run the risk of us saying no, or they can attack us on the world stage for political decisions made 40 to 60 years ago and hold that out as examples of why America is bad. In this way, America might be embarrassed into giving them what they want.
There is recent historical precedent that this method works. America imposes tough sanctions against Iran and says they shouldn’t build nuclear weapons, but when North Korea proves they actually have nucs, we kowtow to their desires and give voice to their demands.
The risk in all of this is you can’t undo the damage to our reputation. There is a new generation of Russian youth who are beginning to believe that America is bad. To make matters worse, the liberal media in America is turning American youth against our own country!
I’ve said this many times before. America needs better PR. We do great things. We’ve also done bad things. Sure, we need to be less hypocritical – I get it. But maybe if the world were regularly reminded of how benevolent we can be, they’d be less apt to find ways to attack us verbally. Attacking us physically may not be far behind.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Reflecting back on 300 posts, I can’t help but wonder what it’s all about. I have kept a written diary in the past, but I always lose interest after a few entries. What is it about blogging that keeps me coming back?
Certainly there is the feedback piece of it. Ask anyone who knows me (especially my wife), and they will tell you I have a huge ego, and it is ravenous. Blog comments feed that ego quite nicely, thank you very much.
But, after a while (and after many posts that receive no comments at all), there must be something else to keep me coming back. As most of you know, this blog started out as the chronicles of an amateur poker player, but has morphed into something else. I hope the reason you still read what I say is because you like the “something else.”
I think it’s like a written photo album. I know I get nostalgic when I read old posts. I’m sure I’ll look back on them in the future with fondness. I secretly hope my kids will one day discover this blog and learn a thing or two about their dad.
Anyway, thanks for being out there, dear reader. I hope you stay interested.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I’m really missing the World Series of Poker this year. I briefly thought about playing, but work, life and a bad run at poker kind of got in the way. On the flip side, if I had gone, I would have missed a wonderful day yesterday with my kids and their cousins at the Space Needle and the beach here in Washington.
But, if I had gone, I would have seen two buddies make it deep. Pauly cashed in his first WSOP event, taking 119th place out of almost 3000 players. Michael Craig, author of The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King (of which a signed copy happens to be sitting on my nightstand) is at the final table of a mixed hold ‘em event.
Way to go guys!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
So, I’m catching up on the WSOP and I check on the chip counts for Event 38. Imagine my surprise!
Some notes from the event include these gems:
1 hour 30 minutes ago Posted by change100
Dr. Pauly Doubles Up
Paul "Dr. Pauly" McGuire doubled his stack with the following two hands: McGuire limped from UTG with 8c-9c and along with seven other players saw a flop of 7c-10h-Jh. McGuire bet 275, an early-position player called, a middle-position player raised to 1,000, and McGuire moved all in for 2,000. The EP player folded 7-7, the MP player folded J-10, and McGuire scooped the pot with his flopped straight. On a subsequent hand, McGuire limped on the button with Jd-10d and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier checked from the big blind. The flop came jack-high, Grospellier fired out a pot-sized bet, McGuire moved all-in and Grospellier folded. McGuire is now up to 6,000.
Phil Gordon, and Dutch Boyd have all been eliminated.
That’s right. Our man Dr. Pauly outlasted Phil and Dutch.
Take it down, man!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Apparently this is Rant Month.
Doctors have little special privilege in the Army and, as such, we don’t get our own bathrooms. I have to use the same bathroom as our patients. No big deal.
So I’m taking my morning constitutional this a.m. when there is a loud knock on the door.
I don’t say anything because I’m concentrating on the task at hand, and I figure the locked door speaks volumes.
It’s one minute later. I’m not done yet, so I greet the intruder with silence.
I can take no more. “Occupied!” I reply.
From the other side of the door I hear, “Well, you’ve been in there a long damn time!”
It’s coming from an older male, and I’m sure he has a need. I could care less at this point. This is MY time.
“Feel free to come in here and wipe my ass then! I’m almost done!”
There was no one outside the door when I walked out.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Follow on my rant about not being a meth addict comes this post about white guilt. My son was playing the final game of his basketball season last night. His team is predominantly white. The opposing team was predominantly black. The 9 to 11 year old league has a rule that says all players must play. The opposing coach only played his good players while our coach (a 20 year veteran of the police force) played every one.
Coach Steve also has a sense of fairness, and he’d finally had enough. In the 4th quarter, he called over the other coach and spoke with the league director about the discrepancy. The opposing coach replied (loud enough for everyone to hear), “Man, I ain’t following that cracker rule!”
Our coach’s eyes bulged out, but no one said anything. The opposing coach continued to play only his best players and they went on to win by 2.
Here is my point. Our entire team (parents included) was embarrassed or afraid to call out the other coach on an obvious racial slur. I cannot possibly imagine suggesting a rule favored blacks – especially while using a slur that denigrates black people!
Why didn’t anyone say anything? Was there no one on our side willing to step up and say, “Now wait a minute. That’s unfair!”
Nope, and I tell you why. White guilt. Our culture accepts that blacks can slur against blacks and blacks can slur against whites, but it can never go the other way. It’s kind of an impressive example of selling your cause, actually. Okay, I get it. There is inequality in our society. Whites still have it easier than blacks. We are the majority in America. Surely we have some responsibility to acknowledge that minorities have it tougher.
But does that give minorities the right to push the limits? I’m tired of feeling guilty for something I didn’t do.
Monday, June 18, 2007
You Tube continues to punish me for not watching TV. It also rewards me with gems like this.
Editors Note: Here is the link for my RSS readers:
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Seattle is awesome, especially this time of year. Unfortunately, it’s also allergy season. For me, that means Allegra and Flonase. They work like a charm. Like a good and prepared physician, I always have stock on hand for when the itchy-scratchies start up. But I ran out. So, not wanting to wait until Monday to get my prescriptions from the hospital, I went to the next best thing. It always works in a pinch, even if it makes me a little jittery.
I’m talking of course about Pseudoephedrine, AKA Sudafed.
So, I go to the local Fred Meyer, and there on the shelf is my relief. But wait, it’s only a card. I have to take this stupid card to the stupid pharmacy before I can get this stupid over the counter medicine. As if that wasn’t enough, I also have to fill out goddamn forms and show two photo ID’s and give my fingerprints. This is f’in nuts!
Drugs are a problem throughout the country, but here in Washington State, we really have a problem with crystal meth. Sudafed apparently is a key ingredient. I’ve walked some nature trails in the area and have seen bunches of empty Sudafed packs lying on the ground.
But this is insane. I’m a physician, dammit! I can prescribe narcotics. I can prescribe drugs you’ve never heard of that will mess you up more than you can possibly imagine. Yet, I’m treated like a criminal for the only stupid drug that will quickly and efficiently stop my sneezing.
The worst part of all this is that I first showed up to the store it was before the pharmacy opened. When I inquired if there was any way someone could take my information and sell me one box, you should have seen the looks I got. I could hear their thoughts.
I hope everyone had a Happy Father’s Day.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I’ve been keeping a secret.
Okay, it’s not the biggest secret, and most of my readers are already aware.
Here it is.
If you are even the tiniest fan of poker, you have read Big Deal and are aware of Bigger Deal. Furthermore, you must know about the incredible collection of new “bloggers” over at Bigger Deal. It’s kind of an impressive line up including Anthony Holden, Al Alvarez and Lee Jones.
I normally don’t recommend other blogs unless they really have something to offer that is new or different or important.
Bigger Deal is all of this and more. Talk about raising the bar! Plus, I got a little ego stroke after leaving a comment on Holden’s post about poker songs:
Comment from Anthony Holden
Time: June 14, 2007, 4:18 pm
Uh-oh, looks like Dr. Chako beat me to it…
That’s right – Holden was talking about me. It’s like being acknowledged by royalty. Well, maybe not, but it’s cool to me in that “big, dumb fan” kinda way. Head on over and check it out.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Doing the single dad thing while my wife is away on business has given me too much time to think. Of course, that leads me back to the whole, “Holy crap I’m 40!” business.
Don’t tell mom.
The shortest song I know is My Grandfather’s Clock:
My grandfather's clock
Great. Another song about mortality.
Random other thought. I was picking up lunch last week, and I was in uniform. I started chatting with a young man at the counter. He was in his 20’s and was curious about military life. When I mentioned that I’m headed to Iraq, he was visibly stunned. “I don’t know what to say. Good luck, I guess.”
I thanked him and kind of casually said the first thing that came to mind. Here is my reply:
"I’m kind of resolved to the whole combat thing now. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. In the end, life is all about experiences, and this should be one hell of an experience."
It was a throwaway sentence, but it kind of rings true, no?
PS. You are a serious geek if this comic makes you laugh. I nearly busted a gut.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I’ve actually been playing a little poker lately, and I’ve done well in the local tournament. They just expanded their poker room and the daily 11:30 am $35 tournament gets between 40 and 80 people. Who are these people that aren’t working between 11:30 am and 2 pm on a weekday?!
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about tilt. When my stack gets short, I’ve been pushing a little too hard with the “double-up or go-home” mentality. Bad form. There is always someone willing to call me down with bottom pair, leaving me shaking my head and walking away in a huff. Well, at least I don’t have to waste my time at the cashier’s cage.
But, why can’t I be that other guy. If I recognize another player is on short-stack tilt, can’t I call him down with bottom pair and take the rest of his money? Is this move even profitable?
It sure is against me.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
This is my third and final trip report. I’ll keep it short and sweet because I have to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow. I’m getting promoted! For those of you non-military types, military promotions can be a big thing. My boys will be doing the honors of pinning on the newly acquired Lieutenant Colonel rank (although my youngest may need a little help from mom so he doesn’t drive the pins into my acromion).
For now, please enjoy these photos from our trip.
First off, my “cousin.” We share the same last name but have never met. Would you believe me if I told you he was my father?
Golfing in paradise. This is the Ko’olau Golf Course, and you can see why it’s ranked as #51 in Golf Digests top 100 places you can play.
It takes a real man to drink a fruity drink. There was no alcohol. Honest.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I’m under self-imposed pressure to blog about this before the memories become less clear. Ain’t that just the way of things? Thank goodness for pictures, which I hope to post soon.
After the amazing coincidental meeting with my long lost cousin, my wife and I checked into a fabulous room overlooking the ocean and Mauna Loa Park. The word “idyllic” comes close. Every day was paradise. We often joked about how long we’d have to live there before the perfection of every day became routine. Oh, look. Another rainbow. Meh.
Rather than bore you with details that only my wife and I will find interesting, let me share a few quick things with you:
- If you go to Hawaii, fly to the big island and visit the volcano. At first it seemed flat and uninteresting, but the more we wandered, the more it felt really foreign. It’s almost like we were visiting another planet. You really see the awesome power of nature and if you have a decent imagination, you can hear the explosions and see the lava carving the earth.
- Pauly and Otis have talked about the differences between being a traveler and a tourist. While the former sounds romantic, there is a reason tourism exists, and it’s for people like us. In that vane, if you must do a lu’au, do the one at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Nuf said.
- Buy a Hawaiian shirt at Hilo Hatties. Make sure it’s Rayon. Wear it. You may never get another chance (unless you live in Florida or Vegas).
- Snorkel in Haneuma Bay. Wear SPF 50. Apply it before you leave your hotel room and at least once more during the day. If you want to save a little time and money, rent your snorkel gear before you get there.
- I’m plus/minus about the dinner cruise we took on the Navatek I. It’s a very cool ship and dolphins were racing along the bow. The food was passable (barely), but the guitarist was awesome. There were Hawaiian dancers, too, if you go for that sort of thing.
Here’s an observation. Hawaiian girls have their own beauty, but as a rule, they didn’t do it for me. Give me an Hispanic woman any day. Uh, I mean, my wife outshone them all.*
It all comes down to the epiphany I had while walking on the beach. We all want to be known for something, and this is my something. You can inscribe it on my tombstone, and I intend to use it if I’m ever asked to give a toast:
“Throughout your life, may you know what you’ve got while you’ve got it.”
* She really did.
Friday, June 01, 2007
I'll get back to my Hawaii trip report soon. Please allow me a short detour.
I gave up watching regular TV a long time ago. Most of it was crap anyway. Sometimes, though, you get something like this. Wow. I’m speechless.
Here is the link if the video doesn't work. I've never embedded anything before:
Here is what I think I know from the video:
1st banjo -Earl Scruggs – perhaps the greatest banjo player ever and one half of the duo Flatt and Scruggs
2nd banjo -Steve Martin – yes, THAT Steve Martin
Acoustic Guitar -Randy Scruggs
1st Electric Guitar solo -Vince Gill
2nd guitar solo -Albert Lee
Mandolin -Marty Stuart
Harmonica -Gary Scruggs
Not sure about the rest, but I think it's Glen Duncan on fiddle, and I don't know about Dobro. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.
You all may not appreciate this as much as me. At least I know Daddy will like it.
Where to begin?
This was our first trip to Hawaii. A 5 ½ hour plane ride from Seattle is a bit much, but it’s a lot easier without kids. Big thanks to Nancy (my mother-in-law) for coming down here from Wisconsin for the week. My youngest got sick near the end of the trip, and Nancy didn’t complain at all about having to clean up puke from his bed. It was made easier by Jason’s “puke-and-rally gene” (right, Al?) because he was happy as a clam right after relieving himself. It’s hard to be mad in the face of such joy.
We get off the plane and head to Alamo Rental Cars. You must have your own car if you want to do Oahu correctly. Little known tidbit – if you arrive in the afternoon, do not pay for an upgrade to your rental car. Most of the economy cars are gone in the morning, so all they have left are the nicer ones, which they give you for the same price. We got a Trailblazer, which was quite nice. We headed to our hotel, the Prince Hotel on Waikiki, a 5-star humdinger where we were one of only two other non-Asian groups. That’s not much of an exaggeration.
Small world story. As I’m checking in, they ask for my last name. I say, “Chako,” and they reply, “John?” Sorry, my first name is Chuck (most people reading this blog know my real name, but since it’s out there for all to see, I stick with the nom de plum Dr. Chako).
Anyway, I’m surprised to see someone else listed at the hotel with the same last name. Since I have no relatives named John, it’s a weird coincidence. Imagine my surprise when the guy standing next to me hands over his credit card and I happen to see the name – it’s John! I introduce myself and as I’m shaking his hand, his wife remarks that we look a lot a like. It’s uncanny, really. John is the same age as my dad, and if he and my dad were standing next to each other and someone asked you to pick my father, I think you’d have a tough time.
We started comparing notes. Turns out there are tons of similarities.
- Both of our families are from Russia.
- Both families came to the US in the early 1900’s but were turned away at the border and forced to go to Canada.
- Both of our families moved to the states at the earliest possibility – his to Minnesota and mine to New York.
His grandfather was named George. I had a great uncle named George, but we know all of George’s offspring, and there are no Johns in there. There is a possibility that George had kids from a mistress, but no one in my family can confirm this. I asked John for more details, but he says that he doesn’t know anymore. I’m guessing we may be second cousins once removed. At most, we are 3rd or 4th cousins. Amazing.
Next – Waikiki, Diamondhead, Luau’s and throwing my wife into an active Volcano.