Monday, March 31, 2008

Dr. Chako is Getting Old

1 Apr 08

Well, folks, Spring is here and that means two things – The Masters is coming and so is my birthday (I’ve heard baseball season starts around this time, too, but since I started my boycott of MLB back in 1994, I really stopped paying attention).

If anyone is local and interested, we are having a small get together at Chez Chako this Saturday. Poker will be played, but it’s not the main theme of the evening. This should be just a small casual gathering of some good friends, a little EtOH and a lot of laughs.

RSVP to The Wife. You know who you are.

Real Poker Content!

31 Mar 08

So, I am officially recovered from my post-deployment turmoil, and I decided to get right back into things and play a little poker. For those of you keeping score, here are my stats:

Started playing seriously in 2004
Started winning seriously right away
Slowly crept up in limits from 4/8 to 10/20 and then 20/40 and 30/60
Broke even for a while
Decided to “take a shot” on three separate occasions in Vegas
Decimated the bankroll

If not for a couple bad beats… Yeah, you’ve heard this all before. In fact, if you saw that horrible movie Lucky You, you know the kind of player I am – a “bomber.” It’s the wrong way to play this game. Poker is about bankroll management more than anything else. Seattle John once said that the greatest sin in poker is losing your bankroll. I pretty much lost mine right before I left for Iraq. Perhaps it was a fatalistic thing.

Well, I survived combat. So I guess it’s time to rebuild the bankroll, right? Since my strong suit has always been Limit Hold ‘em and No Limit tournaments, that’s where I decided to start. My results?

AA twice – lost to Q2 and 64
1 bubble and 1 early bust out – both to Ace-rag
No winning session

Granted it’s early, but this is exactly how I left off. It’s a little disheartening. I’m headed to Vegas in two weeks and I was hoping to have some poker money! For those of you that are new here, I never use family money for poker, or if I do, I treat it as a loan and pay it back from my winnings or from my moonlighting.

Now excuse me while I go book another moonlighting trip. Before you go back to your lives, stop on by The Wife and read some great stuff. She got bit by the Blogger Bug and now is constantly thinking about how she can turn her life into a good post. She even thinks about it when she probably shouldn’t be. Go see for yourself.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Football with the Kids

After dinner at the O.G. (Olive Garden for the uninitiated) we got back home in time for the boys and I to play a little football. The oldest loves to dive in the grass. I think the football was just the right excuse (as opposed to an object meant to actually be caught). Then we just tried to tackle each other until our fingers were blue and we couldn't speak from laughing too hard.

As soon as I got home, I wanted to call my dad to tell him about how it was just like when I was a kid. Alas. If you believe in this kind of thing, I think he was watching.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Snow in Seattle?!

Okay - my newfound You Tube skillz are even getting on MY nerves, but I just had to share this quick clip. If you can't tell from the video, these are big, fat, fluffy flakes - the kind that just don't happen in Seattle in March.

Here it is - your Moment of Zen (interrupted by my confused dogs).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Blogger Guitar

25 Mar 08

I wrote about the Steve Earle guitar, but there was another incredible guitar that I want to tell you more about. Sean (AKA Instant Tragedy) (and perhaps Bayne?) brought this Squier Guitar to the last WPBT event in Vegas and all the degenerate bloggers and poker players signed it. The Wife was there to bring it home.

Thanks to everyone for such a great and profound gesture. I never claimed to be the best guitarist or singer on the planet, but I have a very appreciative audience in my son. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

R.I.P Dad

March 8th, 1940 – March 11th, 2008

How do you sum up your Dad in a blog? I loved my dad fiercely. When my mother was found unfit to raise me and my two sisters, Dad became mother and father. To say he did the best he could is a gross understatement and too trite. He ran his own business and still found time to teach us right from wrong and good from bad. And he made it fun. I remember the games we used to play – they were sold as fun, but they were actually educational. We never knew.

Dad taught me guitar. He never forced me to play. All he did was sit on the porch with his guitar. All the neighborhood kids would come around to listen and sing along. On more than one occasion, a friend of mine would say, “Why can’t you be cool like your dad?” Did I really have a choice but to learn to play?

Dad was a poker player – a lifetime winner, in fact. He didn’t teach me to play, but he taught me that winning spirit. He taught me to look beyond the game – something I’m still struggling with.

Dad rode motorcycles. In fact, both he and his dad were accomplished poker players and motorcycle riders. I am simply a continuation.

Dad was amazing at reinventing himself. After 26 years of running his own business, he set out for Florida and worked his way up with Home Depot. Two heart attacks and the loss of his vision would have crippled most mortals. Not Dad. He returned to an old passion – writing. After the first novel was completed, A Matter of Privacy, he combined his writing with another old talent – public speaking. He quickly found an agent and was soon booked all over the world – mostly on cruise ships. In the middle of all of this, he completed his second novel, The Coffee Bug, and was working on the screenplay for his first novel. I’m sure I made him proud with all my accomplishments in medicine and the Army, but he made me just as proud.

Dad died suddenly on the day I was supposed to leave Iraq. Of course, my family was first in my thoughts when I dreamed of the day I came home, but right behind were thoughts of hugging Dad. I’ll never get that opportunity, and frankly I’m a little angry about it. It’s not fair.

Dad’s memorial service was bigger than I could have imagined. With only 3 days notice, people came from everywhere. I think there were over 100 people in the small hall. There were even more calls and emails. Everyone who knew Dad loved him.

I was first to speak. My emotions were all over the place as I told the crowd about this great man who I had the incredible fortune to know for my entire life. I had the impression people were actually jealous that I had an all-access pass.

I started by briefly talking about the end. I told them that all endings are brutal. Being a physician and having just come from Iraq, I spoke with authority on this subject. I implored them not to think of the end, but instead to think of the great life he lived. They all agreed.

I left them with my signature quote, which has never applied more than now. I said, “Throughout your life, may you know how good you’ve got it while you’re getting it.”

Dad, I know how good I had it. I told you (and everyone else) all the time. I hope you found peace.

Edit: After reading this over, it sounds a little morbid. That wasn’t Dad. Dad had the best sense of humor you ever saw. If you believe in the afterlife, let me leave you with this. His love Judy, along with his daughters and his sister Pearl went to throw Dad’s ashes into the Atlantic Ocean. I guess they waded in just a little too far - a rogue wave came and knocked his sister right down! As soon as they realized Pearl wasn’t going to drown, they all were laughing uncontrollably. I’m certain of it – that was no rogue wave. Thanks for getting the last laugh, Dad. That’s how I want to remember you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kaki King

22 Mar 08

I still have a post pending about my dad, but I wanted to tell you about last night. On a recommendation from CC, The Wife and I went out to The Tractor, a local club in Seattle, to check out this artist. In a word, she rocked (okay, two words). My favorite live music is technically impressive as well as melodic. She did both incredibly well. It was liberating and cathartic.

Now go check out The Wife. She should have a few great pics from last night.

Edit: I just figured out how to upload a video. Check this out:

Thursday, March 20, 2008


20 Mar 08

Thanks to everyone who left comments, sent emails and called during these tough times. I felt the love at a time when I needed it most. This community really knows how to come together for someone in need.

I’m going to have a post up in a day or two about my dad. He was everything to me.

For now, please go visit The Wife. As usual she does everything better than me and this includes blogging. The following posts and pics really sum up my whirlwind return from Iraq.

Lessons in Grief


Keep Your Family Close

Friday, March 14, 2008


14 Mar 08

I am back in the U.S. and I’m hugging my family tight. Unfortunately, I had to come back 3 days earlier than expected, because my dad died. He didn’t have the goddammed courtesy to wait 3 more days. This wasn’t the homecoming I wanted.

I miss him so much.

I’ll be taking a short break from blogging. Thanks for all of your kind thoughts and well-wishes while I was away.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Goodbye Steve Earle

Bittersweet. It hurts to leave this guitar behind. It gave me much joy and kept me sane throughout my deployment. It sat in my lap during tons of late night lessons in the ER, Open Mike Nights and of course when I was lonely.

Brad, once again let me reiterate that this was one helluva great gesture. Danny, our new orthopedic surgeon, is exactly the right guy to carry this guitar through the next six months.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Going Off the Grid

I may not be able to post for a while, but I'll update when I can. For now just know that everything is great and getting better all the time. Life has become a bit surreal - it's hard to explain. Thanks for all your good thoughts during these last 6-7 months. The Wife and I really appreciate it.

Keep those good thoughts coming. We're in the home stretch now!

Oh yeah – Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Forward Progress

My replacement just arrived! He has the same look I had when I got here – dazed and confused. I gave him the standard speech. Namely, he should expect to take one day for every hour of time difference in order to adjust. He's coming from Ft. Bliss, Texas, and that's 10 hours behind. He's been in country for 4 days, so he's got about another week before he gets right. Hopefully I'll be gone before that happens.

For now, I'll leave you with more interesting soldier last names I've encountered recently.


And my favorite…

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Student Becomes the Master

Here is a strange revelation – I've never considered myself a good teacher. That may sound odd coming from someone who has been teaching physicians for the last 3 years. Hell, I'm an Assistant Professor of Radiology – surely I have some teaching skills, right? Well, when I think about good teachers I've had in the past, I don't see how I can compare. My style is so very different. I'm too confrontational. I give too much information and not enough explanation. My first evaluation from my students basically said I was an abysmal failure as a teacher. Granted, my last evaluation was glowing, but I think they were just sucking up.

A few years ago, I tried to teach The Wife to play golf. It almost ended our marriage. I had all these good ideas about how I played the game. Like most golfers, I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the swing. That doesn't qualify me as a teacher, though. I guess that's why guys like Ledbetter and Pelz get those crazy sums of money.

When I got to Iraq, I quickly found poker night. There were only about 2 other decent players. Since we didn't play for money, it was only about the points. I leaped out to such a commanding lead that everyone knew they were just playing for second place. It amazed me how often my success was attributed to luck, but anyone who has had success in poker knows this story. Week after week I just padded my lead.

Jess, our intrepid psychiatrist, asked me to give her some pointers. I was happy to oblige. She started with a basic understanding of the game, but that's about it. Watching her play in the beginning, it was obvious she was a Calling Station. If this was a money game, I'd have gotten rich off her. That's one of the first things I worked to correct. "Every time you put money in the pot, it should have a purpose," I said. That didn't quite work, so I pared it down to, "Stop calling the Turn, dammit! Raise or fold, but stop calling!" We talked about the importance of position, and I explained the Golden Rule of poker – he (or in this case, she) who folds crappy hands pre-flop wins.

There were many times she would ask me about the play of a certain hand. My responses were fairly typical.

Don't try to bluff the Chaplain or SuckOut Chris – they never fold.
You should have never been in that hand in the first place.
Raise or Fold there. If you thought you were beat, why did you put more money in the pot?If you knew you were ahead, why didn't you lead out?
Aggression, Aggression, Aggression!

There were several times she told me I was full of shit. Most times she would take the information and just nod. Suddenly she started winning. Not just once or twice, but consistently. She out aggressed me, if you can believe that! Still, there was no way she could close an 18 point deficit with three nights of poker left, right?

Last night was the final evening of poker in Iraq. The hands were played and the scores were tallied.

Dr. Chako gets the silver. I never felt so good coming in second place.

Congratulations, Jess!