Monday, May 31, 2010

Verification Word

The Wife has and amazing eye for photography. She put up a post about our 15th anniversary over on her blog. Her post was much better than mine, of course.

When I went to comment, here was my verification word:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day of Awesome - Epilogue

At the risk of this becoming one of those travelog photo albums that you torture relatives with, I'll keep this brief. Here are some of the pics that I didn't have a chance to post from yesterday. If you need to catch up, start here.

How did we get an overnights worth of luggage in the Ferrari, you ask? Well, back in 1988, they still thought you might need room for golf clubs, so they made this little cubby behind the engine. It worked perfectly (after we found a duffel bag that would fit sideways). The alternative is buying luggage specifically made for the Ferrari 328. It exists! I saw a set on eBay for $2000.

The beautiful Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay.

Our lovely travel photographer hard at work.


At the restaurant, they really went out of their way to make up happy. If you are a chocolate person (like me), the candies inside this box were all hand made and all incredible. And all gone.

As we ate dinner in the amazing Navio restaurant (I erroneously called it Novia on my last post), the sun was setting. Well, every night at this hotel, a bag piper plays the sun down. It was quite romantic (even for bagpipes) and it was a really nice touch. EDIT: If you click on the pic and magnify it, you can see the piper.

I wasn't kidding. They really covered our bed in rose petals. I'm sure The Wife will have better pics up soon, because she has a real camera with a flash. I just have my phone.

At check out, I noticed this hot chick so I had to take a pic. I hope The Wife doesn't mind. :-)

Thanks for coming along on my Day of Awesome. Now I have to figure out how to top it for our 20th. I should start planning now. Nah. I'll just call Betty (she's the one who made the suggestion).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Live Blogging a Day of Awesome

I've never live blogged before. I'm not even sure RSS readers can follow along. Oh well. I've always blogged for myself anyway. If you want to come along for the journey, feel free!

5:50 am - ALARM

5:50:01 am - SNOOZE

6:09 - Wake, shower and shave

6:40 - Warm up the Ferrari. Now it's getting good.

6:45 am - Off to meet another Ferrari driver for the drive up to Marin County

6:50 am - Oops. Forgot my GPS.

6:55 am - back out to I-280. I'm certainly going to miss the other guy

7:00 am - As I merge onto I-280, there is Andrew in his beautiful black Ferrari F355 B. Two black Ferraris are headed north.

7:01 am - What's on the radio? Paint it Black, by the Stones. Includes the line, "I see a line of cars and they're all painted black." I could not make this stuff up.

8:00 am - Meet 9 other Ferrari drivers in Marin county. Cars range from an older 308, to another 328, two 348s, two 355s, a 456 and a 360. I'm sure there was one other. EDIT: There was also a Testarossa and a 550 Maranello.

9:00 am - Meet at a cafe in Larkspur. Great conversation and great food.

10:30 - 11:30 am - Spirited drive along the coast. My God, California is beautiful!

11:20 am (approx) - we drive by this lake and there is smoke on the water. What's playing on the radio? Smoke on the Water. I'm dead serious. I have this very real and selfish thought: I can't believe this is my life.

Real smoke on real water.

12:00 pm - Back at home now. Picking up The Wife in the Ferrari and headed out to Phase II.

2:30 pm - What should have been a 45 minute trip to Half Moon Bay turned into an hour and a half over Highway 92. Turns out we weren't the only ones who thought about heading out this way on such a lovely weekend. We averaged 12 miles an hour for the 10 miles over the hills, which was painful in the Ferrari. I was a little worried about overheating, but we coasted most of the way down once we crested the peak. Our drive ended at the incredible Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay (thanks Betty!). We got here just in time for The Wife to change and get down to her 80 minute massage appointment. I spent the time in the spa, alternating between the sauna and the steam room, followed by a shower and then some leisurely time sitting in the comfy chair while snacking on mixed nuts and dried fruits. Unfortunately, I hadn't charged my iPod, but I had Sojourn (thanks Drizz!) to keep me company.

Ritz Carlton - Half Moon Bay

7:25 pm - After a leisurely afternoon spent strolling the grounds, taking pictures and snacking like royalty in the Club Lounge, we are off to dinner at Novia. Apparently this restaurant is a Big Deal. I'll let you know.

10:47 pm - Novia was off the hook incredible. We had the tasting menu with the suggested wine pairings. Now we're slightly tipsy and we come back to the room to find our bed covered in rose petals. Which begs the question - what the hell am I doing blogging? Pics to follow tomorrow. EDIT - not THOSE pics. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We Interrupt Ferrari News...

...for a little poker!

If you can believe it, I actually stopped driving the Ferrari long enough to play a little poker. I had Wednesday off (don't all doctors have Wednesdays off?) so I decided to head down to Bay 101 for their Thursday morning special. It's a spread limit tournament (although I never saw anyone capped by the limit. It was basically no-limit). It's an $80 buy-in plus $40 add-on. What I didn't know was that it's a $40 re-buy tournament. I hadn't planned on rebuying, so I had to play cautiously. I managed to make it through the rebuy period with exactly my starting stack of 1000 chips. Add on gave me an extra 2000 and away we went. One note about the blind structure. I was impressed. It was a 5 hour tournament. Blinds started at 25/50, but there was a 100/150 level and a 200/300 level. It went:

100/150 (!)
200/300 (!)

I thought that was more than fair.

I channeled The Wife and played uber-tight. Made some big laydowns and pushed a few hands toward the bubble when things got tight. That plan got me to the final table as the chip leader.

Everyone cheered when the 9 seat was finally busted. He was a first class asshole who was literally screaming for his draws to hit (and he never hesitated to get his chips in with a draw - even after the rebuy period). Of course he kept hitting his draws. At least is wasn't against me.

As is usual with these things, we made a deal at the final table so that everyone at least got their money back. The real cash started at 5th place, and that's exactly where I finished. Ran into aces if anyone cares. I played well, and I'm happy with my cash in the first live poker I've played since MHG and I stormed the casino in the mountains of Washington.

We will now return you to your regularly scheduled Ferrari updates, just as soon as it stops raining and I can take the cover off.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Running with the Big Dogs

There is a regular gathering of Ferraris up in Marin county. It's one of the things I was most looking forward to when I bought the Ferrari. Today was my first ride with the group. We all met in a bank parking lot. Well, we actually met coincidentally at a gas station just down from the bank. We must have created quite the scene.

After a quick but unhurried breakfast, it was time for the run. It was spirited, but not dangerous. There were tons of bicycle riders so we had to take it easy. Most of the riders were pointing and waving, although I saw at least one finger. I think that rider was just startled by the unbelievable bark of the 430s in front of me.

This corner was slow enough to take a quick shot of the lead dogs. At a rest stop, a bicycler saw these two in front of me and asked , "Can you keep up?" "Everywhere but the straights," I replied.

The front car is a 430 Scuderia. Basically a race car for the street. Behind is a 430 Spider (possibly the 16M version).

Our pack outside of the restaurant where we had breakfast. It was a great mix of old and new. The closest car is a 308, then my 328 followed by the 430 spider and the Scud.

I got home, fired up the computer and saw that someone else had taken this photo of my car and posted it already. Man this was fun! I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ferrari - The Chase

In a perfect world, I'd be a billionaire playboy and rotate through Ferraris the way I rotate through socks. Alas, I'm just a regular guy on a budget, so I had to be very picky. I also had to get ultimate approval from the toughest judge of all - The Wife.

If I tell you it lead to difficult discussions, I'd be the king of understatement. No, I'd be the emperor. Hell, I'd be the emperor's mother. You seriously cannot believe the arguments that occurred in at Casa Chako over my silly little Ferrari fetish. They say that money and infidelity are the biggest causes of breakups. If we broke up, it would have been over a car.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know about my failed attempts (and premature elation) over at least two other Ferraris.

The 308

In April 2009, I titled a post The Ferrari that Wasn't. It's still the car I have as my background on Twitter (which I should probably change now). At that time, I found a local car in the Seattle area on Craigslist. It was a 308, which was the same car Magnum PI drove - same color and everything.

It felt awesome when I got behind the wheel. There wasn't much power, which I attributed to it being an older car. It wasn't until I brought it to Carlo at Alfa of Tacoma that I found out what a dog it was. After a very thorough $500 pre-purchase inspection (PPI), Carlo basically said, "Don't buy this piece of shit. There's a better car out there for you." You know, he could have made a mint off of me with the repair costs had I bought that car. He had a well-earned reputation as an honest mechanic and a true Ferrari specialist. I tip my hat to Carlo - a true gentleman.

The 360

In February 2009 I finished the 5th of a 5-part series with the final revelation that I bought a 2002 Ferrari 360 F1 Modena Spider. It was beautiful. If I'm being honest, it's still my dream car. I think it's one of the most beautiful machines in existence. I found it on eBay, which had a bad reputation in Ferrari circles as a place where people went to sell dogs (i.e. abused Ferraris). Of course, I had to get a pre-purchase inspection. In this case, the only one available in Alabama (which was where the car was located) was a place called Hesco. As it turns out, they were not an authorized Ferrari shop, nor did they have much experience inspecting Ferraris. When I contacted my eventual mechanic here in California about it, he basically laughed at me and told me I was wasting my money. This Hesco shop didn't have any of the equipment necessary to do a proper inspection, nor did they even know how to check clutch life on an F1 car. What they did have was honesty. For my $200 PPI, they told me a lot. They said the car looked abused and there were several really expensive and really broken things I'd need to fix before it was road worthy, including the catalytic converters exhaust and the underside of the car. It would have been at least another $10,000 on top of the purchase price. I backed out. Unfortunately, I had placed the winning bid on eBay, so I had some kind of contractual obligation. Lawyers were going to get involved, but then they realized that I had a detailed email conversation with the seller saying that if the car didn't pass inspection the deal was off. They backed down and I was only out $200 (plus a broken spirit).

MY 328

Well, as I noted in my 101 Things About Dr. Chako post, I look at Ferraris almost every day online. When I saw the 1988 328 GTS on a local Craigslist, I tried not to get my hopes up too much. After all, I'd been broken too many times. Still, I had to know more. I met Bobby (the owner) in the East Bay and we took it for a spin. In a word, it was awesome. Plenty of power, great looks and not the typical red. Oh, I like the red, but I was annoyed at the expression "First Ferrari Red" (meaning, your first Ferrari is always red - after that you can branch out). I don't like to do things the typical way, and black/tan was perfect in my opinion.

Out comes another chunk of change. This time it was $700 for the pre-purchase inspection. But this time, it was done by Brian Crall. Who is Brian Crall? He's only the most famous Ferrari mechanic in America. Seriously. People send him Ferraris from all over. When I picked up my car from his shop, there was a $700,000 F40 right next to mine, as well as several vintage cars that I can't even speculate to their value.

I was extra encouraged because as it turns out, Brian owns the identical car. Same color and everything. He sent me a report that was even more detailed than Carlo's, including pictures and recommendations. It needed some work, but there was nothing that was a deal breaker. I called the seller and expected a tough negotiation since there was $4000 worth of work that was mandatory before it was road worthy. To his credit, Bobby saw that I intended to care for the car with the same attention to detail he'd shown for his 15 years of ownership, so he immediately subtracted the $4000 from his asking price and we had a deal. A handshake and a signed check later, and I'm the proud owner of this thing of beauty.

It's a dream come true.

Next, I'll probably have to tell you about taking it to work today (90 miles away) and the smiles it created along the way.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What, Another Ferrari-Themed Post? OK!

First, some actual poker content. I let The Wife play my free roll today in the BBT5. I watched for a while and she held her own. Unfortunately, she ran into some big hands early (which would have surely knocked me out) and in the later stages her pocket Queens did her in. I was proud of how she played and honestly don't think I could have done better.


So, I decided to take another run in the Ferrari up through the hills. My youngest had been itching for a longer ride, so we buckled him in the passenger seat and off we went. As he is wont to do, he fell asleep within 2 blocks. That's okay. I wasn't punching it. Once we got off the beaten path and into the twisties, it became my goal to wake him up.

No such luck.

I'm sure I was babying it a little since he's far more precious to me than the car (honest!) but darn it, that engine was singing. Wake up!

Once I got to the top of Old La Honda road, I really opened her up and his eyes popped right open. We were both laughing in the tight turns and outright yelling when I really punched it on the straights. He gets it now, I think.

Later on, I pulled into a local gas station to fill up. Unbelievably, another Ferrari pulled in just across from me. We both got out, looked at each other and said, "Nice car!"

His was a beautiful 430 (16M version for those that care) and was worth easily 6x what mine is. We had a great chat while filling up and when he left, he punched it hard just for me. The sound was intoxicating.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Ferrari Thoughts

Warning: No poker content (not that I've had a lot of poker content lately anyway).

You may have heard that I bought a Ferrari. If not, well, I BOUGHT A FERRARI! There. Now you've heard.

If you click through to the actual blog, you'll see my "About Me," which includes this: "Just a humble poker-playing doctor with a Ferrari fetish and too much time on his hands."

I'm not kidding about that Ferrari fetish. Let me tell you how it all began.

In the Beginning

Like many of these stories, it started with my dad. He had his own business for many years and worked really hard to provide for us. He also was a big fan of all things ritzy. We'd be driving and he'd spot an exotic car and point it out to me. His knowledge of specifics on the individual cars was impressive, made more so in retrospect because these were the days before the internet. I remember there was a time when he left his business to work for his friend Bob at a garage. He brought me down one time and was all excited to show me a Rolls Royce that they were working on. We must have opened a closed the doors a half dozen times just to get an idea of how well it was made and how perfectly the door closed and fit. It wasn't long before I started pointing out the exotics even before he saw them.

The Fateful Breakfast

I'm 16 years old and Dad has just hired me to work as his assistant. On my first day, we head off to start with a good breakfast at IHOP. There in the parking lot were two Maseratis. This was before Chrysler took over and ruined the brand. I believe they were Meraks, but I could be wrong. All I know for sure is that they were low and sleek and I wanted one badly.

The Poster

You remember the poster, don't you? I had one and it had the desired effect. Seriously.

The Plan

When most kids wanted to grow up to be firemen or policemen or astronauts, I just wanted to be a doctor. I've always had an innate desire to help people. But deep inside, I also knew that is was the surest and most reliable way to make enough money to get the things I wanted. And first on that list was the Ferrari. It's always been first. It was never about a big house, or jewelry or anything else, really.

The Italians

Many of you have already heard this story, but I'll tell it here again for posterity. In high school, I got a job a DaNino's Italian restaurant in Wappingers Falls, NY. They were all recent immigrants and spoke very little English. Instead of calling me Chuck, they called me Chako (you see where this is going, right?). One day, they asked if I intended to wash their dishes for the rest of my life. No, I said. I'm going to be a doctor one day. Well, they thought this was the funniest thing they ever heard. As a joke they started calling me Dr. Chako. As in, "Hey Dr. Chako. Go clean up the vomit be the cash register." I took it all in stride, but I also told them, "Just you wait. One day I'll come back here in a Ferrari with a personalized plate that says DRCHAKO." They just smiled at me and went about their business. It was a challenge.


And now it's here. A dream I had 30 years ago and a plan I put together over 25 years ago has finally come to fruition. I've heard that sometimes, when you build up something so big over so long, that there's a danger it might not live up to your expectations. That's a load of crap. This this is even better than I dreamed!

If you aren't already bored with my Ferrari ramblings, in future posts I want to tell you about my first real ride up through the hill country in Palo Alto, and I also want to revisit the other Ferraris I tried to buy that didn't quite make the cut. It was quite the learning experience.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Today I realized a lifelong dream and bought and honest to goodness Ferrari. It's a 1988 328 GTS and it's simply amazing.

I will have many more thoughts in the future, but for now, the road is calling.

Monday, May 03, 2010

BBT5 Thoughts

I intended to make a big post here with lots of links to all the great players I virtually sat with, but I'm too lazy. I'm really just posting to say a couple things:

1. Big thanks to Al Can't Hang. Free money = infinite return on investment, and I had a blast to boot.
2. Sorry if I sucked out on you. You know who you are.

The most memorable was against Dawn Summers when I went runner runner two pair. I bet on all streets. Not sure why she didn't raise the turn, because she obviously had a hand. I felt a little durty, but I'll take it.

At one point I had over 60K in chips. Red shirt pro and awesome author Jim McManus was in 2nd with 28K. I felt like a poker god, and even got Al to christen me Dr. "Runner Runner" Chako. My favorite part was semi-bluffing the turn on the lovely CK with nothing but an ace and a gut shot straight draw. I played very aggressive early then slowed way down. When I tried to pick it back up, I lost a huge pot to Daddy when his K10 bested my K9. Not sure why I wanted to get my money in there, other than the fact that my bully behavior was working well up to that point.

I got to the final table and nothing more. I was bested (by one!) by Josie who was trying to juggle playing with interviews. It's tough being famous - get used to it. I had a great time and hope to do it again soon. Big props to the winners of the TOC (April and NYRambler, I think), and thanks for all the rails - especially to the super sexy Kat. Your purring didn't have the effect of calming me down, but it did have an effect.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Arlo Guthrie/Alice's Restaurant

I love living here in California. I'm constantly discovering new things. This one is right in my backyard:

Right up the road, less than 25 minutes from my house, is the famous Alice's Restaurant. The same one immortalized by Arlo Guthrie in the song of the same name.

I drove up with the kids through some of the most awesome twisties this side of, well, anywhere. They were all out of their famous pulled pork sandwichs, but their brisket was terrific. We sat on the back patio on a picnic bench we shared with a biker who turned out to be a PhD in physics and worked in radiology. Talk about small world.

There were literally hundreds of bikes and bikers out front, but my son only had eyes for the Lamborghini Diablo in the parking lot. All in all, it was a great day. We'll be back.