Bring your own fork

October 23, 2005 - Sunday

 The View From San Diego

Finally, at 1:15 a.m., I can upload these pictures and write this View From Here entry.

Can I take a second to talk about what total shit the hotel’s wireless connection was in the lobby this afternoon? Yes, I think I can. Well, it sucked. I’d connect, fire up my Flickr uploader, tag all the pictures I was uploading, write notes for each one, click “upload” … and I’d be offline. Again and again and again. Cursing was involved. I think I scared a few journalizers in the vicinity. I eventually gave up. Now that the evening’s fesitivities are complete and I’m back in my room, now I succeed. Go me.

And how about those festivities? In one room of JournalCon there was much karaoke loudness and off-tune-ness and drinking and carousing and having of fun, and in the other room was me and several piles of poker chips. Alone. Because, you see, I was the “alternate activity” for those who don’t karaoke. But it all worked out. People came trickling over and I started teaching them how to play Hold ‘Em, and other people came to watch and then join in, and more people came over and … well, we had a full table and a lot of fun and I think maybe I got a few of the ladies hooked on Hold ‘Em.

And speaking of the ladies… At one point there was just me and seven women all playing poker together — Beth included — and I cracked a joke. “Hey, it’s just one guy and seven women playing poker. Who’s up for strip poker???”

Crickets. Chirping. And then an uncomfortable moment when I thought maybe one or two of them were going to throw something at me. That joke, it did not go over well. Man, talk about your tough rooms. Also, we didn’t play strip poker.

And should we talk about Beth giving poker advice to my opponents and they handed me my ass and took me down to the felt? Three times? No, let’s not.

But you’re here for the View From Here, aren’t you? Well, here you go, then, the View from San Diego:

And the Room In Here:

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October 22, 2005 - Saturday

 Welcome To JournalCon

Greetings from San Diego, site of this year’s JournalCon. Beth is here with me and we’re staying at the “fabulous” Westin Horton Plaza with a “fabulous” view of the Morgan Stanley office across the street at 1st and E Streets. Stand by tomorrow for a “View From Here” picture when there’s enough daylight for a decent shot.

So, yeah. JournalCon. First the snark, then the nice, shall we?

Organizationally, this thing is some kind of fucked up. Being handed my registration packet when I arrived gave me my first opportunity to learn what panels are being offered. They’ve had a website up for months teasing what the panels might be, but never actually got around to telling us. We participants are learning by reading the program, which surely must have been printed far enough in advance to have allowed posting the information contained therein to the web. But it’s a small quibble. But not so small that I don’t mention it, apparently.

And the opening night festivities… There was a JournalCon dinner at 6:00 p.m. that we missed because we didn’t get in until 7:00. But that’s on us, so it’s cool. But then the gang decided to adjourn to a nearby bar for drinks and merriment. That’s cool too. But there’s a perfectly good sports bar adjoining the hotel that we all passed on our way out to walk three or four blocks into the heart of the gaslight district to a bar that charged a $5 cover and was so fucking loud that I challenge anyone to have any kind of meaningful conversation inside without resorting to sign language. But again: a quibble. Just because I’m a lazy, half-deaf, cheap-ass bastard doesn’t mean everyone else has to be.

And then there’s this internet connection here in the room that is Pissing. Me. Off. First, it’s trying to charge me for another connection when I’m logging on with my laptop after Beth signed up for it on hers. Then the friggin’ ethernet cord wants to drop my connection unless I manipulate my laptop in such a way that it’s perched on the edge of the desk and I’m doing a naked handstand with Beth’s panties on my head and holding the cord straight with my toes. And finally, every freakin’ site on the mother-freakin’ internet comes smoking down the pipe here like greased lightning except my site, which crawls like Michael Jackson’s new boyfriend. Fuckingpieceofshit.

But let’s focus on the positive, shall we? We’re having fun. Against our natures, even. We both came here suffused with ennui about the whole thing, very neutral about coming and in fact leaning toward staying home. We were going to hate everyone and be bored and it was going to suck and etc. Instead, we’re liking everyone and having fun and having a good time and etc. Go figure.

But my biggest annoyance of the night has been Beth. No, not my Beth, another one, Xeney Beth. Way back when in the dawn of time, when dinosaurs walked the earth and we old-timers did a thing we called “journaling” — which was where we wrote personal-type essays longer than 26 words like the kids do today and call it “blogging” — there were two journals that caught my eye and attention and got me hooked and started me down the road to what you’re reading today. One was a journal whose title claimed that there is no one who has any knowledge on any subject (and how’s that for coy?), written by a woman who turned out to be a dilettante of epic proportions and a snooty bitch to boot, and the other was “Dear Jackie Robinson,” written by this other Beth.

Well. Dear Jackie Robinson totally sucked me in and was one of the best, most personal things I had ever read on the web — and remains so today. And the Beth behind it became very popular in the journaling world, and rightly so. But she wore her heart on her online sleeve and so attracted a lot of nut jobs and flack from said nut jobs and reacted by taking her site on and offline with an almost yo-yo-like frequency and getting into online fights with them. And I eventally stopped reading her because of the drama and the perceived mood swings and I started thinking of her as a Drama Queen and started to kind of not like her. Because I’m open-minded like that.

But I met Beth in person tonight. And, damn it, I really like her. I mean, like, viscerally like her. A lot. That personality that sucked me in with Dear Jackie Robinson was right there in person and it sucked me right back in again. I didn’t get to talk to her for very long, but the few minutes we did talk erased all the conclusions I had drawn and impressions I had formed and made her and all her perceived foibles real as a person to me. And I just really like her as a person. And that annoys me, because I don’t like to be wrong. And I’m admitting it here and making such a thing about it because I kind of feel like I owe her this honesty.

So Beth, if you’re reading this, you’re okay in my book. And I hope I’m okay in yours.

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October 16, 2005 - Sunday

 Back In The Plus Column

I hit the Bike for poker again last night. I know, I know: I keep swearing I’m going to quit and then I go back and play some more. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been having a problem lately with losing. Last night, I finally achieved recovery and ended the session + $280.

Best hand of the night was when I was dealt 7-7. When I looked at my cards I felt a certainty that there’d be another one on the flop. But I feel that way almost every time I get pocket pair, especially when they’re Aces or Kings, and I’m usually wrong, so I just called. But this time I was right: the flop came 3-7-Q rainbow, giving me a set with no flush or straight possibilities out there. Sweet.

The guy in front of me bet $10, so I re-raised him $10 — enough to suck a little more cash out of him but not make him fold. Everyone else folded around to him … and he re-re-raised me another $40.


I stopped down and thought about it for a minute. What the hell was he raising me with? I kept looking at the board and trying to figure out if I was missing something there. He couldn’t be drawing to a flush or a straight — well, he could, but stupidly since he’d need runner-runner to get there — and I was certain he didn’t have trip Queens, so the only possibility was two pair. That put me out in front and him chasing, so since I didn’t want to let him catch a full house I re-re-re-raised him a whole stack — $100. But he called all-in. Wow. And also uh-oh.

But the river was a thing of beauty: a 7. That gave me four of a kind, the absolute nuts. And I had been right about his hand: two pair, Queens and threes. Push that nice big pot to me.

Aaaah, I love having the nuts.

When I stopped at the cash machine when I first got there, I found incontrovertible evidence of someone else who clearly had not had the nuts:

Now that’s a gambling problem.

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October 13, 2005 - Thursday

 The View From Houston

Oh joy. I’m back in Texas. There’s a country song that crows about how “God blessed Texas,” and I think it’s because Texas needed God’s help: it’s full of Texans.

But I kid. Texas is great. No, really. Honest. Bush, Delay, Rove, No Child Left Behind, Enron, Clear Channel, etc… Texas has a lot to be proud of, God bless it.

Anyway, here’s the crowd-pleasing favorite feature, The View From Here:

…and that upstart newcomer, The Room From Here:

Surprisingly enough, I haven’t seen a single Waffle House on this trip to the heart of Waffle House-land. But I’m cool with that because directly across the street from my hotel — and by “directly across the street” I mean on the other side of eight lanes of interstate highway and two one-way frontage roads, one on either side, that makes it a 3 hour/30 mile journey through Deliverance country to get there — is a Pappadeaux restaurant. And that means Crawfish Etouffee and Sweet Potato Pecan Pie for dinner. And that makes me a happy man. Fat, but happy.

God bless Texas.

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One Year Ago Today (ish)



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