Wednesday, February 25, 2009


In preparation for my three-legged flight to the debauchery that has come to be known as Mastodon weekend, I am trying to prepare my MP3 player. I have a Sansa (Sandisk) m200 series, and it sucks. That's what I get for cheaping-out and not getting an iPod like everyone else. I used it in Iraq, but it took hours to get music on and off it. I eventually figured it out, but now I can't remember how I did it. My biggest problem is that I have two playlists on the player that are huge. I want to delete them, but Windows Media Player won't let me.

I tried searching for a solution on wikibooks. They have 10 different "solutions," at least two of which are labeled, "This is the easiest way." Then I read stuff like this:

create an extended m3u (EXTM3U) playlist file using Windows Media 9

...and my eyes get all blurry.

Here is where I need your help. Either tell me an easy way to fix this using simple words that I can understand, or tell me to get an iPod.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Life Lessons - from an 11 year old

The Wife was going to blog this, but she's sleeping in order to be rested for skiing later today. I'll give it a shot.

Last night we were out at dinner, and the subject of reciprocity came up. We talked about doing something nice for someone while expecting something in return. I then asked son #1 the following question:

Dr. Chako: What do you call it when someone does something nice for someone and expects nothing in return?

Son #1: Is it... retarded?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My hospital is huge and confusing. There is a central multi-level square with a long hallway to a nursing/bed tower and a 90 degree hallway to a medical mall. Patients are often found wandering the hallways with a confused, lost look in their eyes. The good news is that every single employee here - doctors, nurses, janitorial staff, you name it - will stop a lost soul and ask if they need directions. It's one of the things I love about this place.

Today I was walking past a young orderly who was giving directions to an older woman pushing her husband in a wheelchair. As I approached, I heard the woman say, "Is this the way out? My car is by the nursing tower." As I passed, I heard the orderly reply, "Sure is! Just head down to the elevator, go up one floor, and then out you go!" This caused me to stop in my tracks.

"Excuse me," I interjected. "Were you looking to get out?" They replied that yes, that's exactly what they wanted.

"Well, you can head straight down this hallway, right out the doors into the parking lot. No elevator necessary!"

"Really?" replied the orderly. "We're not in the basement?"

"Umm... see those big windows there? Nope. Not in the basement."

I'm glad I came along when I did. The thought of this woman pushing her husband out the 2nd story window is just terrifying.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vegas Valentines - Trip Report

What a trip. I can't tell you everything. Suffice it to say it was an incredible time. Despite not seeing 80's hair metal, we still had a blast. This was a people-meeting trip. After hooking up with my buddies Mike and Scott and their lovely better-halves, we all I took off for some entertainment at the Health Club (AKA Olympic Gardens). These stories will only be pulled from me after much alcohol. You're buying. Let's just say I didn't stop smiling until... well, I still haven't stopped. Remind me to tell you about my leather belt.

After we had all the "health" we could handle at the Health Club, we met up with Dave and CK, and I already told you how awesome that was. We got to bed around 4:30am Valentines Day morning, and finally dragged our asses out of bed around noon to play a little poker. I got into a juicy game of 6/12 HORSE just as they were starting the game. First orbit is Hold 'em, and - no fooling - I won 7 of the 9 hands played. It turns out I owe it all to The Hammer!

First hand I'm dealt pocket 7s and I bet on all streets. I win without showing. Next hand I get the all-powerful hammer, so naturally I raise. Two callers and we see a flop with random ugly cards. I bet out and get called by one local. I've played with him before, but I doubt he remembers me. Turn puts two spades out there. I bet. He calls. River is a blank. I bet. He calls. Now here is where the magic happens. I turn over The Hammer and say, "Beat that!"

He turns over King-high. WTF???!!! Are you f-in' serious?! He called me with that?!

Well, I just smiled and congratulated him on a great read. Next hand, I have KK. I get to the river against two others and drag. Next hand I have AK. Everyone folds when I bet the turn. Next hand is 77 again. I flop a set, but the board puts 5 spades out there, and the idiot with pocket 6s has the 6 of spades to take pot #2 away from me.

The remaining hands in the orbit were less memorable, but I won them all. I owe it all to The Hammer. I never would have gotten that much action or made that much money in one orbit without showing down that hand. Yet, despite my awesomeness, I couldn't compete with The Wife (I know. What else is new?). You'll have to go to her blog for that story, though.

In the evening, we met up with my old college buddy Colin and his lovely wife Martha. I haven't seen Colin in almost 18 years. Despite being from London, Ontario, he picked up his family and moved to Vegas to follow his dream of developing a company called THUNDERBALL! which markets and showcases golfing long-drive champions. He's even going to have 3 shows on the Golf Channel. And I can say, "I knew him when."

We ended the trip with The Wife at the spa and me at a juicy 1/2 NL table, booking yet another win. All in all, it was a great trip. The Wife may say differently, but I couldn't think of anyone else I'd want to spend Valentines Day weekend with.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vegas Valentines

We got into Vegas last night at 10pm and never stopped running. Our tale of the evening is Olympic Gardens, where we had our own Existentialist Conversations with Strippers. My favorite line?

"Wow! 21 years in the Army AND you were in Iraq? How are you are totally not F***ed up?"

This was followed by drinks with the lovely CK and her man-toy. We have such a great time when we get together. Give me someone who tells great stories any day!

More later. Perhaps.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cars - Part V The Final Reveal

Are you ready for the big finale? Here it is!

I bought a Ferrari.

Let that roll around in your head for a while. While it's percolating, you wanna see it? Here it is:

Beautiful isn't it?

I love the interior. I love the exterior. This car is the culmination of my lifelong dream. I feel like I should be standing on a podium accepting it as an award. "I'd like to thank all the people that made this possible," I would say.

At this point, I imagine your reactions are varied. If you are a guy, you might be thinking, "Good for you! I'd do it if I had the means." Others amongst you are sadly shaking your heads and thinking, "Hasn't he heard about the economy? Doesn't he know people are losing their jobs left and right? How callous can he be?!"If you are married to me, you now have confirmation that your husband is, in fact, an idiot. You also are looking at real estate because one of us might have to move out (not as far from reality as you might think). And finally, at least one of you has proposed marriage. At this point in time, I'm still taken, but check back in a little while.

Now, before you write me off completely, here comes The Rest of the Story. The car was aggressively priced. They are still expensive, but this one was about $10K below market. Of course, I insisted on an independent pre-purchase inspection (PPI) from a reputable dealer. It turns out that these PPI places are few and far between in the outback of Alabama, where the car was located. I found a place called Hesco in Birmingham. I can't say enough good things about these guys. They were up front that they didn't work on a lot of Ferraris, but they'd do their best. Here is a short list of what they found:
  • The exhaust was cracked and leaking
  • The catalytic converters were broken
  • It might need a new clutch
  • There was oil seepage
  • The dash was pulling at the edges
  • The electric canvas top needed "help" (a push with the hand) whenever it was closed
  • The under panels were broken
  • The brake sensor wires were disconnected
Some of these are known issues with this model Ferrari (the 360 F1 Spider), but it all adds up to make this car even more expensive than one in good repair. End result? No Ferrari. At least not right now.

It would be an understatement of epic proportions to say that The Wife is relieved. At the very least, she doesn't have to kick me to the curb (at least not yet). If we buy real estate it will be as an investment, not as a place for me to move into. We also don't have to park one of our cars in the driveway, which would have been necessary with a 4th car.

This was the right decision, for many reasons. For now, the dream of ownership remains just that - a dream. For one shining moment, I was a Ferrari owner. I will be again, some day. Hopefully, I'll be able to hang on to all the other great things in my life, too.

My Sci-Fi Character

My last installment of the Cars series would be here already if I didn't keep getting distracted with these silly things!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Seattle Blogger Home Game!

This is what I was facing to my right!

Many thanks to MeanHappyGuy for hosting. I was going to write a bunch of flowery stuff, but it's been done by better writers than me already. My thoughts are these:

  • Yes, The Wife is HOT. When I saw what she intended to wear, I almost didn't want to leave the house. But that would be selfish, no? Remember, I have a huge ego. What better way to show everyone my awesomeness than parading around my trophy wife in her low-cut tee-shirt.

  • I drank WAY too much.

  • I'm awesome at Roshambo.

  • Fortunately, because I won at Roshambo, it meant I didn't have to drive home.

  • Unfortunately, it also meant that I didn't care at all that The Wife was being ogled and fondled by a bunch of horny geek poker-bloggers. Right in front of me. A lot.

  • It also meant that I donked off half my stack in the cash game because I couldn't read my own hand. Apparently the alcohol made me think I had the ability to read other hands, though. Yeah, not so much.

  • Donking off my stack wouldn't have hurt so much until I realized that most of it was to our host, who also wrote a memorable write up of the evening. Basically, he got my money and he got to rub all over The Wife. I'm pretty sure I got the raw end of that deal.

  • All totalled, it was everything you would want in a poker blogger gathering. If you weren't there, you missed one helluva night.

  • Did I mention that The Wife is hot?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cars - Part IVa

Okay - one quicky before my final reveal. This one also has to do with cars, kinda.

I was driving to work yesterday morning when I passed a Mercedes Benz sport coupe. I caught a flash of short blonde hair from the driver, but that's about it. If you know me, you know I have an innate fear of blondes (believing they are evil in some way), but that doesn't stop me from acknowledging a cute one in the wild.

Well, we get to the stop light and she pulls along side of me. Actually, she had stopped a little short, but then she pulled up right next to my car. She was checking ME out! We made eye contact and both smiled at each other. I lost the staring contest and looked away first. As the light turned green, I checked once again. Sure enough - big smile aimed right at me. I've still got it!

As she pulled away, I caught her license plate:


If anyone needs me, I'll be drinking heavily.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Cars - Part IV

In the 4th of this 5 part series, I want to point out three additional items that brought me to the obsessive idiot I am today.


Most of the guys out there - the real ones that didn't play with dolls - had Matchbox cars as a kid. I understand some of those old cars may actually be worth something today, but as a kid I didn't care. I loved racing them around the shag-pile carpet and up the wood-paneled walls of my little house in upstate New York. I made all the noises and added the crashing sound effects, too. At one point, I had a car much like the Ferrari F50 in the picture, but I accidentally stepped on it. At first I was crushed (no pun intended), but then I realized it was even cooler now that it was flatter. Aerodynamics, baby!

Do NOT Speed on 684!

Mom had a lead foot. Mom had a Chevy Impala. Mom drove fast.

After I got my license, I figured out that certain cars had an extra little umph when you stepped on them. This was that car. A big ol' 8-cylinder engine is a dangerous thing in the hands of an 18 year old. We had a road that ran between Poughkeepsie and Connecticut called Highway 684. It was notorious for cops. There were speed traps every 5 miles or so. Being the clever kid I was, I figured out where all the traps were and found out that if I timed it just right, I could drive really fast without getting caught. Well, I passed the cut off and gunned the engine. I watched that needle slide to the right. 110. 120. 130. I passed a mile marker and checked my watch. When I passed the next mile marker only 26 seconds had elapsed. The speedometer said I was doing 140. Off the gas and feather the brakes. Down to a more respectable 55. Check the mirror. No cops. Whew.

Fine Corinthian Leather

I can still hear the voice of Ricardo Montelban on the commercial for the Plymouth Volare. Dad got a deal on it from his buddy, Bob. It had 4-on-the-floor and it was much cooler then the green station wagon (or the Volkswagon bus that I can barely remember). One day Dad says to me, "Wanna see a power shift?" Before I could ask what that was, Dad punches the gas and starts flying through the gears. He had this intense look of concentration. I was about 13 years old and just giggling from the passenger's seat. After we slowed down, Dad explained that he used to race an old TR3 when he lived in Kerhonkson. I knew it! Dad was a racer.

Next up - the final installment.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Cars - Part III

Originally this was supposed to be a 3 part series. After I found this video, I realized that the video with Riccardo Patrese was actually Part I. That makes my long entry Part II and this Part III.

I love driving a car with a manual shifter. Some people aren't so good at it. At least they aren't this bad!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Short Break from Cars

Part II of Cars should come tomorrow or the next day. For now I have three shorts that may or may not be related.

1. A paper grocery bag has been sitting at the end of my driveway for about a week. I've ignored it until today. When I opened it, I found two Ziploc baggies filled with white powder. I left it right where I found it, and after a short powwow with The Wife, I called 911.

2. Michael Phelps' halo has come crashing around his neck, potentially costing him millions. Dude, I've seen the picture. That could have been anyone! Did you have to come out and admit it was you right away?! Plausible deniability. C'mon man. Your sin is choosing your friends poorly.

3. The latest issue of Truckin' is out. Go. Read.

Any similarity between these three drug-related items is probably coincidental.

Cars - Part I

People that know me well know about my obsession with Ferrari. Hell, people that don't know me well probably know about it, too. I do tend to go on and on about them. It's gotten to the point where I've overheard people talking about me and saying, "Dr. Chako? Yeah, he's that Ferrari-guy." But where did this come from?

The love affair begins at, of all places, IHOP

Dad and I were just coming out after breakfast. There in the parking lot sat two beautiful sports cars. I had never heard of Maserati before, but Dad sure had. The reverent tone he used when talking about them must have rung differently to my 8 year old ears. I would come to find out later that I was looking at matching Meraks, one red and one blue.

They looked mean just sitting there. I was hooked. We talked about them on the way home. Seeing my enthusiasm, Dad was sure to mention how unreliable they were and how rare it was to see one in the wild, since most were sitting in a shop somewhere, waiting on expensive parts that might never come. He wasn't convincing, though. I don't think he wanted to be.

What's a Ghia? Sounds Ghey.

Despite the horrible-sounding name, the next car to catch my fancy was the Karmann Ghia. I think it was even this color:

We again saw it in the parking lot of another restaurant, this time at a diner on Route 9 in Wappingers Falls, NY. It intrigued me because it was unlike anything else on the road. The name sounded cool, too. It was a car with hips. And it was small, too. Small and sexy with hips - does it come as a surprise that I was hitting puberty right about this time?

Gotta love Italians

Next up was the Detomasso Pantera. This was the first car I actually heard as well as saw. In a neighborhood filled with Iroc's and Mustangs, this car really stood out. The rear tires seems wider than they had a right to be and the sound was intoxicating. I was a little disappointed to find out they weren't true blood Italian sports cars, having a Ford powerplant, but I could tell by the curves that no American was at the helm of the design team.

I'm never washing this gash on my face again!

The last major formative car from my youth (besides the Ferrari) was an El Camino.

I hated the design and I hated the guy who drove it. He was one of the older boys and he was mean. Still, he had a car and I, being about 15 or 16, didn't. He used to pass us when we were waiting for the school bus. On more than one occasion, he'd gun it and spin the tires, throwing rocks all over us. I hated him for that most of all. Still, I envied him and vowed that some day, I'd be the one with the cool car. And I'd never abuse the power, either.

Next up, the inevitable transition to Ferrari.