May 31, 2009

What I Have Learned About Poker

Category: Life — Cranky @

1 – Being bluffed off a pot once in a while is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s only terrible players that can’t be bluffed.

2 – The fact you are stacking chips doesn’t mean you didn’t play the hand like an idiot.

3 – Being up or down on a single given night is meaningless.

4 – If somebody thinks you (a) suck at poker, (b) aren’t very bright, or (c) have had more to drink than you actually have, embrace the image. You can crush them with it.

5 – A couple of nights of merciless calling against an aggressive player might cost you some cash in the short term, but it’ll save you much more over time. Call it an investment.

6 – No matter how much you want to throw your chips in the face of a donkey, just smile and nod. He’ll pay it all back to you, and more.

7 – If you’re steaming, get up and walk away for a few minutes. It’s much cheaper than the alternative.

8 – If you don’t know how the other players perceive you, you can’t win.

9 – You have to have a table image if you want to use it to your advantage. If people just think you’re completely unpredictable, you have no tools.

10 – If you rarely bluff, show it once in a while when you do. If you bluff a lot, never show it.


May 29, 2009

The Value Of Quiet Neighbours

Category: Life — Cranky @

When I tell people that my new condo is right beside a cemetery, most of them seem a bit put off by the idea. Personally, I think it’s wonderful. It’s a nice cemetery, well tended, and full of all sorts of trees. You would mistake it for parkland if the headstones didn’t poke out of the grass. It’s very peaceful. Nobody is going to build a mall there, and the view from my balcony is, and always will be, pretty.

This evening, after my cardio workout and before I cooked a couple of jumbo prawns on the barbecue, I took a moment to just relax outside. I contemplated this week’s development.

I learned that cancer has returned to a first cousin, and this time it’s terminal. She has six to nine months, or so the doctors say. She is of Native American ancestry, and so at the behest of her mother she is seeking assistance from traditional sources. Good for her. There’s no need to give up that fight just yet.

I always thought I would be the first of my generation to die of natural causes within the family. I’m tied for oldest, and most of my life I haven’t taken good care of myself. So I figured in thirty or forty years I’d lead the charge into the hereafter. Odd, how life works.

As I looked out at the cemetery, I thought about that aversion people feel towards it. I don’t think people are disgusted by the idea that there are bodies nearby. I think it’s the reminder of death that they are uncomfortable with – that evidence of mortality.

I think they’re looking at it wrong.

Every day when I see that cemetery I see fresh flowers placed carefully at tombstones – little flashes of yellow, red, and blue, each one showing that somebody remembers someone who has passed on. This past mother’s day the place was awash in flowers and visitors. I found it very uplifting.

One could look at a cemetery as the place where we put bodies, but that’s not all there is to it. It’s a place of remembrance and honour, not storage.

I’m glad that cemetery is there.


May 25, 2009

Does This Smell Okay To You?

Category: Science And Technology — Cranky @

Lois Griffin: “Oh, what’s that smell?”
Brian Griffin: “It’s either bad meat or good cheese.”

I often wonder why it is that animals can eat meat that has been sitting in the sun for days, but humans can’t eat a couple of bad peanuts without getting sick. It seems odd to me that we should be so vulnerable to the state of our food supply. After all, it couldn’t have always been this way.

Early in our development, long before we mastered fire, we ate whatever we could get our hands on. That meant we ate raw meat all the time. Dead animals had to be fair game if we were to survive. So what changed?

I think what changed is that we started cooking our food. Once we figured out that fire plus meat equals delicious, I’ll bet that it only took a generation or two before we had destroyed our ability to deal with the nastier stuff that decomposition produces. We cooked our way into weakness.

To be sure, we haven’t necessarily lost our taste for raw food. I don’t cook vegetables at all, and I eat sashimi on a regular basis. Sometimes I’ll eat steak tartar, too. I’m also a medium-rare kind of steak consumer. I rely on the producers of these products to handle them properly, and if they mess up, I’ll get sick. They do screw up occasionally, but it happens so rarely that nearly every occurrence hits the news.

Of course the situation is much worse in other countries, where food is suspect and contagion is rampant. Destitute Africans around Lake Victoria in Tanzania frequently dig up and consume the rotting remains of fish from landfills fed by processing plants. For them it’s survival. If I tried it, I’m quite sure I would be very ill. After all, I’ve been coddled my whole life, food-wise.

Could I achieve their tolerance for “bad” food, or am I a lost cause? Not that I’m in a hurry to turn in my happy, healthy freezer of carefully prepared products… I’m just curious.