Saturday, October 28, 2006

20 Years After

28 OCT 06

I wish I had the writing skills of Joe Speaker or Otis or Pauly to tell this story, but I don’t. Even if I did, I’m not sure how I would begin to tell this tale and make it interesting. I’m reminded of the first time I ever heard Michael Craig speak. “The next thing that happened was…” followed by, “The next thing that happened was…” Who knew he would turn out to be a phenomenal speaker (reference the last WPBT) and writer (see what’s happening on his blog these days. Amazing stuff). I don’t want to be that kind of story teller. Besides, how would I accurately convey:

A freightened 19 year old college dropout on a “cattle car” with 40 other scared young men and one large, angry, black man yelling at us from under his “brown round” Drill Sergeant’s cap.

A broken but hardened man at the end of basic training, ready to take on the challenge of becoming a Combat Field Medic.

Seeing my first real non-military female after months of training, and picking her up on the first try. Albeit with a British accent…

Sewing on a 1st Cavalry Division patch and feeling immense pride, until I learned some of their sordid past in Vietnam.

Meeting my 1st Sergeant (a “door-gunner” with the 1st Cav in Vietnam) only to have him call me a “college puke” who was only there to “abuse his Army and take the Army College Fund and GI Bill and run away.”

Competing with 10,000 other active duty soldiers for 350 slots in ROTC, and winning.

Leaving Active Duty as a Private – having never been promoted (thanks again, 1st Sergeant!).

Riding my motorcycle from New York to Florida to restart college.

Meeting more girls than I dreamed possible, thanks to “Baby,” my Ovation guitar.

Kicking ass in college and getting accepted into the first medical school I applied for.

Meeting the girl of my dreams and realizing that all those other girls were just practice.

Being accepted into the honor society in medical school and finding my true calling in the world of x-rays.

Pinning on the rank of Captain and resuming my Active Duty career in Colorado.

Meeting my old 1st sergeant (now a Sergeant Major) and having him call me “Sir.”

Seeing the look on my advisor’s face as she told me that I didn’t match with a residency and therefore had to move to Ft. Benning, Georgia.

The birth of my first son.

Moving to Texas to start my residency.

Wearing the uniform on 9/11.

Moving to Germany.

The birth of my second son.

Standing in a US Army bookstore in Germany with an 80+ year old German woman who barely spoke English. We watched together as Saddam Hussein was dragged out of a hole and she began to tell me about her time as a Nazi cartographer and how this was similar to the fall of Hitler.

Moving to Washington State into a home that trick-or-treaters frequently call a mansion.

Teaching young doctors the art of radiology and finding true beauty in shades of gray.

Preparing to go to combat for the first time.

How do I eloquently tell you of these things? I have no words - just a few more gray hairs then when I started and a wealth of truly awesome memories.

Thanks for listening!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Unfinished Business

27 OCT 06

From the Nickel Please story: She finally gave me my nickel and took the 4 pennies, but I’m certain she thought I somehow cheated the system.

From the You People story: The thing I left out was that Bill doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. When I told him how the comment may have been perceived, he was shocked. Bill is a pretty simple guy with a good heart, and he was really bothered by what I said. In fact, he was so bothered that he went out of his way to tell me two things he felt were really important:

He looked up “people” in the dictionary.
There was nothing in there about racism.

My bad. I guess I was just being overly sensitive. I think the correct term here (endearingly) is “palooka.”

Finally, this thought regarding someone breaking into my home: Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. - Helen Keller

My next post will reflect on tomorrow, October 28th, 2006. To coin a Beatles song, “It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.” Or, more appropriate to my case – 20 years ago tomorrow was the day a young Private Chako joined the US Armed Services.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Nickel Please

26 OCT 06

I want to continue Part II of the “You People” story because there is something significant I intentionally left out, but first I have to share this.

I was running late this morning because my wife left me [1], so I stopped into BK for a crossanwich. The total was $2.18. I had a few pennies, so I gave her two bills, two dimes and three pennies.

She hands me my sandwich and then hands me my change – 2 pennies.


I hold them out to her and say, “a nickel please.” She looks at me quizzically, reaches into her drawer and hands me another penny.

Dr. Chako smiles patiently.

“Nope,” I reply, still holding out my hand. I just want a nickel, thanks. She reaches into the drawer and hands me, yup, another penny.

Straining my smile muscles now.

“Nope,” I say, hoping it sounded like the last one and not a little maniacal like I was feeling, “I just want a nickel, thanks.”

Looking at my open hand with the four pennies, she replies, “but then you would have too much money.”

[1] – Okay. She didn’t really leave me. She’s just in Arkansas, but that’s kinda like the same thing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You People

25 OCT 06

I hope none of my neighbors read this blog…

About this time last year, someone broke into my house (while I was HOME), and stole a bunch of my stuff – about $2000 worth. I started talking about it to my neighbors and many of them said they had similar experiences.

Last week, I go to the city council meeting. Mr. Mayor is presiding over a hearing as to whether or not to let my neighborhood install gates. Needless to say, I was there to vote in favor. It turns out that about 80% of my neighbors were also in favor. Arguments against were basically that they didn’t want to seem elitist. Whatever.

Well, there was one dude who said that it was obvious to him that the thefts were coming from WITHIN the neighborhood, so the gates would have no effect.


Turns out I knew what he was talking about. Two weeks ago, my next door neighbor (let’s call him Bill) was teaching himself to rollerblade and tripped in front of crazy neighbor’s house just as he was pulling out of the driveway. The crazy neighbor rolled down his window and started yelling at Bill saying, “Why are you staring in my garage? Are you casing my house? You better not try and steal my stuff!”

Now, let me say that Bill is rather well-off. He was so shocked by this that he was speechless. Now fast forward to the city council. Crazy neighbor gets up in front of all my other neighbors and the mayor and says we don’t need the gates because he knows the thefts are coming from within (the call is coming from within your house!), not without.

Now it’s Bill’s turn to speak. He starts in about wanting the gates. He’s about done, when he looks over his shoulder at crazy neighbor and says that he wasn’t going to say anything, but, guess what? It was him who was looking in the garage. He wasn’t “casing the joint.” He was looking for a place to bleed to death.

It would have been fine if it ended there. We were already convinced that the other guy was nuts. But then, Bill continues…

You people need to watch yourselves,” he threatened.

You people? Did I mention that crazy guy is black and Bill is white?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Beware of Rapidly Changing Gears

23 OCT 06

1st Gear: Take a Shot vs. Grinding – I think 99.4% of all bloggers are grinders. With good reason, I suppose. I’m guessing most top players all eventually “took a shot” at some point in their poker career. Presumably they all hit their target, too. Sure, they also grind (if you can consider playing 4000/8000 HORSE grinding), but in order to get to that level, they all stepped up at some point and made it. I know several bloggers that took a shot, HIT, and then came back to a more reasonable level. What separates the two?

Gear change! Someone volunteered to go to the Middle East in my place, but it’s too late to change. Thanks a lot guy – I would have been better off if you never said anything to me in the first place.

3rd Gear: I’m probably going to deploy before the WPBT in December. Someone better raise a glass of Guinness for me, dammit.

Downshift: You may flatulate in front of a woman only after you have brought her to climax. If you trap her head under the covers for the purpose of flatulent entertainment, she's officially your wife.

Now excuse me while I go save some lives.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Guest Post (against my better judgment)

Dear Dr. Chako,

As the host of the radio show, "The World of Hunter Silvastorm," I felt compelled to make some additional comments on your October 11th performance.

You were correct when you wrote on your blog that the radio station experienced a record number of podcast downloads during the 24 hours following our interview. What you were not aware of, was the record number of e-mails that poured in from listeners all over the world.

To set the record straight and give your fans a balanced view of how you did during that interview, allow me to present a sampling of those e-mails:

From a listener in Detroit: "...the doc used a lot of big fancy words, but can he drive a stick shift?" Doogie "Mad Muffler" Mulligan

From Sydney, Austrailia: "...the damn sting ray got the wrong man." Tiger "Snake" Kresh

From Miami: "Since you're such an expert, can you do anything to stop my breasts from hanging over my waist?" Estelle Shapiro

From Barrow, Alaska: "Other than moving to Los Angeles, can anything be done to prevent 'stiff nipple?'" Joe "Orca Man" Koko

From Paris: "...and although you spoke about the one subject that is very dear to me and all my fellow countrymen, you neglected to mention the sheer beauty of those lovely orbs." Guy Tremain

And finally, from Las Vegas: "Now I know that Dr. Chako is not only an expert on Texas Hold 'em poker, but he really is a doctor who knows everything there is to know about boobs. In this town, that makes him Top Gun!" Graham "Gunny" Fieldstone

Hunter Silvastorm


19 OCT 06

Not much to talk about today. Thursday is Cardiac Day. If you are interested in seeing some of what I do, click this link to my other blog.

Other random thoughts:

I just finished Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower series. All I can say is this – Stephen, you are a magnificent, egotistical sumbitch.

He could not possibly have used more clich├ęd plot devices if he was sitting in Lit 401. In fact, the story ended up seeming like it was written as an assignment for an advanced writing class. No, let me take that back. It’s like a very cool professor gave the writing assignment to his class, and after seeing the results, decided to show his students how it’s supposed to be done. I realize this isn’t the most glowing review, but let me just say that I really liked the books and if you like Stephen King, give this one a whirl. Great characters. Unique story.

Now I’ve started Missing Links, by Rick Reilly (from Sports Illustrated fame). Laughing my ass off from page one.

I’m still trying to steel myself to get back to George R. R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows. His first three books in the Song of Ice and Fire series are the best science fantasy I’ve ever read. I’m struggling with book 4.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I’m Famous!

18 OCT 06

I’ve talked about Hunter Silvastorm on this here blog before. He’s a blind author and inspirational speaker. He now has his own radio show at It’s a great show. You can check out the site for more details.

I was privileged to be his guest on his last broadcast. I’ve never done anything like this before. The closest I ever got was being a radio DJ in college (where my audience consisted of one drunk, one girlfriend and one ex-girlfriend who would delight in my mistakes on the air).

I had a great time on the show. Apparently, they had so many callers that the call-in thingy shut down. I was shocked that anyone really cared that much about what I do.

Hunter just called me to say that this interview is the single most downloaded show in the history of the radio station. There were over 26,000 downloads within the first day the podcast was available on the archive!

The show is about an hour long. I’m in the second half (Podcast 16B). If you have no life and an extra 24 minutes to kill, give it a listen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lack of Information

I still don't know the details of my upcoming deployment (hence the title of this post), but it made me remember a conversation from my last Vegas trip.

The young gun had just moved all in after the flop and was called by Crazy Ivan with A Q. The Queen spiked on the turn and the desperado went home. Overhead from the other end of the table:

Lack of information favors _______.

They gave their answer (which I completely disagreed with). Then I gave mine (sage that I am) and everyone nodded in agreement.

What is your answer? I'lll post mine in the comments section later today or tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Spice Girls

13 OCT 06

Why am I not surprised that this post comes on Friday the 13th?

Thanks Pauly. I’ve now got this stupid project in my head, and I can’t rest until I pick which Spice Girl I would be and why. I hope you choke on my answer.

This is stupid.

I hate the Spice Girls and I hate pop music. I couldn’t name a single song they did. Well, except for Wannabe, but, I mean, everyone knows this song, so it’s not like it’s a surprise that I know it too. It’s a stupid song. The only reason I know it was Jhoan Camitz that directed the video is because she has a cool name. That’s it. I could care less otherwise.

Okay, I guess I know one other fact, but that doesn’t make me like them any more. Or at all, in fact. It’s just that when the song came out, it was the highest debut in the US by a non-American act (beating the Beatles). I guess that’s kinda cool. If you like that kind of thing.

Which I don’t.

If you remember that video, it was Scary Spice right out front. Her cleavage was amazing. If that was me, people would totally be looking at my chest and it would feel really cool and stuff and all the other girls would be sooo jealous. ‘Cause I’m scary, you know, like, it’s my name but I’m really scary to the other girls. I’m powerful and female and woman and you all love me so much that you hate me.


But, I really think this is a dumb idea. I’m mean who cares, right? Right?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


12 OCT 06

Thanks for all the kind comments. It’s times like these when it’s really nice to hear that people support our troops (even if they don’t support our government).

I’ve often voiced my opinions about being a disenfranchised Republican. I’ve never publicly criticized our government for its foreign policy, and I won’t start now. It’s not for fear of retribution. I truly feel like I can say whatever I want. Many of my colleagues in uniform certainly voice their antigovernment opinions loudly and often. Rather, I feel there would be a conflict of interest, and I like to keep things simple in my life.

I signed up with the Army 20 years ago, and even knowing what I know, I’d do it again. It’s support from you (yes, even you Dr. Pauly. In many ways, especially you) that reminds me how cool it can be to wear the uniform.

I probably won’t be leaving for a couple of months, so you’ll have to put up with a few more Muckleshoot stories (and hopefully an awesome Vegas trip report), but if at all possible, I’ll update this blog from the desert.

Won’t that be a tale to tell…

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ain’t Gonna Do It

10 OCT 06

I was going to write about some of the things I may include in my “letter from the departed,” but I can’t stay that moody and dark. It’s just not in my nature.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the positive. There is nothing like an impending deployment to use as a bargaining chip.

That’s right folks, I’m headed to Vegas! It makes perfect sense, right? I’m sure you can picture the conversation in your head:

Dr. Chako: Honey? You know, since I’m going off to war, don’t you think it’d be nice if I had one more trip to Vegas? You know – in case I don’t make it back?

DAPW (Dear and Patient Wife): Sure, dear! Take as much money as you think you need to have a great time. You deserve it!

Actually, those of you who have been married for more than 2 or 3 days know the conversation was nothing like that, but the end result is the same.

I’m headed to Vegas!! Did I already say that?

My plan is simple. I’m going to really crank up my side business. This is a win-win-win. The family gets to keep most of the money, the hospital I work for gets a ton of cheap work from me, and I get to splurge like a high-roller (hopefully not) one last time.

After reading Seattle John’s post about his recent Vegas trip, I think I know where I’m going to start, but I’m open to other suggestions. Who’s with me?

Friday, October 06, 2006

If You Are Reading This…

6 OCT 06

I’m already dead.

Sorry folks. This post may sting a little.


I’m not dead. Far from it. Confirming the fact that I’m not dead are two idiots who are telling a bad beat story (courtesy of me) from last night at the Muckleshoot. Perhaps I was overly aggressive with my second nut flush draw BECAUSE of my impending deployment into combat? Who knows? It’s certainly possible.

What I do know is that in the very near future I’m going to have to write a letter that starts off with those words (If you are reading this…).

Talk about a time for introspection.

I know I’ll tell my family to read my old posts on this here humble blog. There is a piece of me in here (I don’t think it’s in the hand histories, though). I’ll talk about my love for them and about how proud I am to be an Army doctor.

Shit. I can’t type more now. I’ll post some thoughts tomorrow about other things I might include with the letter. For now, just this…

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I am Psychic!

5 OCT 06

From comments I posted to Whiskytown’s blog regarding Rep Foley:

Look for some mid-level staffer to take the blame for not informing his boss in a timely manner.

That was two days ago. Now this from yesterday:

Kirk Fordham, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Reynolds, resigns amid fallout from Rep. Mark Foley's sex messages to a teenage page, CNN confirms.

And prediction #2 – also from a comment on Whiskytown’s blog:

This [political climate of indecision] GREATLY increases the vulnerability of our troops in theater and increases my likelihood of being deployed (doctors and hospitals are ALWAYS needed most at the beginning and end of conflicts).

Now this from today:

Dr. Chako – pack your bags! You’ve won an exciting and all expenses paid trip to the Middle East, where you will have the finest sightseeing, shopping and traveling experiences of your life. Think how fashionable you’ll be in the latest Kevlar and camo!

Anyone want to know who’s gonna win the World Series?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Desert Doctor?

4 OCT 06

I can’t say more right now, but I bet there are some rockin’ poker games in Iraq…

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just War on Poker?

This set out to be about poker and our government, but it rambles a bit.

I heard an interview with John Ashcroft on NPR yesterday where he talked about past presidents infringing on human rights during times of war. In his new book, he talks about the fact that Woodrow Wilson surveilled (Ashcroft’s word) all calls in and out of the US during WWI. In WWII, FDR surveilled and started jailing 100,000 Japanese (almost a third of whom were American citizens) on December 8th. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeus corpus and jailed journalists, among others, (see Otis’ link to the Ze Frank parody about the death of Mr. Corpus) so it should come as no surprise that George Bush is doing it now. He’s looking out for our interests. He’s protecting us.

John Ashcroft met with President Bush after 9/11 where the president gave him a mandate to prospectively mete out terrorism, as opposed to what we had been doing, which was react to it. This presumably led to the domestic “warrantless” surveillance program at the NSA and other secret programs, too.

Here is the problem. We are at war, but nobody knows it, or no one cares. The disconnect between the White House and the American people comes down to this fact. In DC, they are peddling like mad (or at least they think they are) in order to protect us, but they aren’t selling it.

They certainly haven’t sold it to me. As a Republican, I am finding it harder and harder to stand behind my government as they continue to erode my civil liberties. Make no mistake, the attack on online poker is an offshoot of this war on terrorism. When government officials begin to take away our civil rights because “it’s in our best interest,” there comes an insatiable greed to take more.

Has history taught us nothing?

I’m not sure what I want. I guess I’m asking our government to either convince me that it’s in my best interest to (hopefully temporarily) give up some civil rights because it is best for my country. Hell, I’ve already taken an oath to die for my country while in uniform. Either that, or stop the nonsense and leave me free to dance while Rome burns.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Something’s On My Mind

2 OCT 06

Obligatory poker content: I’m not good enough to get away from a flopped set when a third diamond comes on the turn and I KNOW he called my big raise on a draw.


I’ve been bugged lately. Normally, I’m a very happy-go-lucky kind of guy. I think my blog reflects that. I have a youthful enthusiasm. I love my job and I love my life. Sometimes I think my “voice” on this blog is too childish, but it’s all I know. I read Otis and hear a depth that I can’t manage. Pauly’s world is backed up by character with more folds than a Shar Pei. My life comes across like Mayberry.

But something is bugging me.

I’m hesitant to blog about it. I’ve read others like Joe Speaker who were able to really work through some issues by blogging about it. Sure, there was plenty of great advice in the comments sections of those blogs, but the catharsis obviously came from putting the words out there to begin with.

There are some big life changes ahead of me in the very near future.

I’m turning 40.
I’m celebrating 20 years in the Army this month.
My poker game sucks (relatively minor, but I think it factors in somehow).
My side business is successful and profitable.
I’ll be getting out of the Army to look for gainful employment in the world of “real doctoring” within a year and a half (probably).
My wife is set to make partner within the next two years, which may entail a move.
My oldest son is a great storyteller, but all of his stories revolve around TV shows (as opposed to soccer goals or baseball plays, I guess).

There is more, but just typing this is starting to sting a little. I can’t put my finger on it. I just have to work a few things out.