Monday, February 25, 2008

Gamblers Unanimous

I went to a fundraiser for the Oak Lawn Chargers this weekend. The Chargers are a travelling little league baseball team that plays against teams from nearby towns and cities. I don't think they receive any financial support from the Oak Lawn park district, but rather are supported through sponsors, fundraisers like the one I attended, and of course, the team members' parents' pocketbooks.

This particular fundraiser caught my interest because it was a Texas Holdem poker tournament. The $75 donation paid for your entry into the tournament, a buffet dinner, and free draft beer all night. They made out on me with the beer part, but I might have offset it at the buffet. :) They also were selling raffle tickets for a variety of prize baskets, split the pot raffles, and a 1 in 52 chance drawing on a wide screen LCD TV. This was a pretty good strategy, because with a room full of poker playing gamblers, they probably sold enough raffle tickets to cover their expenses.

The event was held at the Chateau Bu-Shea, an area wedding and banquet facility. I imagine that late February is a slow time for weddings, so they were probably happy to get the business. The buffet was very good. It included cole slaw, potato salad, mostacciolli, fried chicken, kaiser rolls, and sliced beef in gravy. There was also an extensive fruit and dessert table. I can't comment on the beer, but if you didn't want beer, there was a full cash bar available, and it was only $3 for a good sized glass of J&B.

The tournament was very well run. My only real complaint was that it started about 40 minutes late. I think they were getting a lot of walk-in late registrations, and wanted to fill up at least 20 tables. My other complaint was that they didn't use standard casino colors for chip denominations, or even consistant chip designs within a denomination. This sometimes caused some bettor confusion. There were a lot of novice players there, so some of the rules normally found in a casino or even a home game were being overlooked. This was probably a good idea because it kept the game friendly.

I played pretty well, building my stack with a couple of good sized pots early on. I wont make you suffer through my bad beat stories, but making it to the final table in a 20 table tournament takes both skill and luck, and luck was not with me that night. I ended up busting out with about half the field still left in the game.

I didn't win the LCD TV either :(

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It's convention time again. Every 2 years, McDonalds holds their Worldwide Convention, where all McDonalds suppliers come together to show off their wares to the thousands of McDonalds owners and staff that attend. Most McDonalds corporate departments also have a presence at the convention so they can show off what they've been working on for the past 2 years.

When I was a consultant, this was a great time to work at McDonalds because most of the corporate managers and employees were gone for over a week, and you could really get a lot done without the usual interruptions. Now, as an employee, I'm expected to attend and work at the convention. This will be my 3rd convention. The first one in 2002 was actually fun. You don't suppose the fact it was held in Las Vegas has anything to do with that do you? I didn't attend the 2004 convention in Orlando. That was the one where the McDonalds CEO died, so it was probably not fun. When I went to the 2006 convention in Orlando, the novelty of going to convention had worn off, and it wasn't in Las Vegas, so it was more work than fun. So, while I don't mind spending 10 days in Florida, I'm not really looking forward to working the convention this year.

One of the fringe benefits of working the convention is that the department provides you with a fresh new shirt for each of the 4 days of the convention. These shirts are usually nice, collared, dress shirts with a tasteful McDonalds logo embroidered on the left sleeve. They are certainly suitable for wearing to work the next couple of years until the next convention. This year however, someone decided to order long sleeve, pullover turtleneck shirts. We're going to be in Florida! If these shirts were chosen for comfort over style, at least make them short sleeved!

So today they wanted us to try on sample shirts to find out what sizes they needed to order. I decided to try on the largest size first, and work my way down to the one that fit, so that I'd feel better with each consecutive shirt that was too big. :) The shirts come in size small, med, large, extra large, xxl, and OMG XXXL. Please don't let me need the XXXL! I worked my way down to large, but I was afraid it would shrink in the wash, so I settled for the XL. There's nothing like having to report to your co-workers that you're a size XL to make you think about starting a diet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Have you heard this song? Chances are you have, though you might not recognize the title. You may have heard me humming it since it's been stuck in my head lately. It was written in 1984 by Canadian singer/songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen. It has been performed or recorded by literally dozens of artists from Bob Dylan to Bon Jovi. A version by the late Jeff Buckley seems to be one of the most popular, possibly due in part to the young artist's untimely death.

In spite of its jubilant title, it is a rather melancholy sounding song. It has been used as backgound music in numerous movies and television shows, including "House" and "ER", and is often used in scenes involving death or heartbreak. Possibly its widest exposure was its use in the movie "Shrek". I've seen the movie, but I don't remember the song being played. Apparently it was used to set the mood during a scene where the action was more significant than the soundtrack.

This is one of those items I came across while looking for something else. I was searching for a song on YouTube. While YouTube is a video site, there is a lot of music that can be found there. A lot of amateur and aspiring musicians post videos of themselves performing their original songs or covers of popular songs. Apparently "Hallelujah" is one of the songs many of them like to post. Search YouTube for hallelujah +cohen or hallelujah +buckley, and you will get hundreds of hits. They range from the comical to the spooky. Someone even made a compilation video of several different YouTube musicians performing their versions of the same song.

I like the song, and I'd like to learn to play it. If I was still in an active band, I'd want to add it to our setlist. Maybe I'll record a video of myself singing it and post it on YouTube. Perhaps then it will finally get unstuck from my head.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day to the girl who first charmed me over 40 years ago, and still does today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I've had a song stuck in my head recently.

Usually I hate when that happens, because often it is some obnoxious song like "Flying Purple People Eater", or "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer". (Gotcha!) I've read that the Germans use the term "Ohrwurm" to describe this phenomenon, and that its literal translation to English, "earworm" has been popularized by Dr. James Kellaris. Dr. Kellaris has performed research into earworms, and discovered that while everyone experiences it as some point, some people experience it more often, especially women, musicians, and those that are prone to worry (pity the worrisome female musician). There is even an earworm top ten list. Click the link at your own risk. :)

This weekend, my grandson Austin, who has shown signs of being musically inclined, was sitting at the computer playing on Club Penguin, while whistling a tune that was apparently going through his head. I actually laughed out loud when I realized that he was whistling the 1968 rock classic "Sunshine of Your Love". I wondered how an 11 year old might have a 40 year old song stuck in his head. When I asked, he said, "Oh yeah, that's from Guitar Hero". Score another point for the Wii for teaching today's kids to appreciate great music.

So what's the tune that's been stuck in MY head? Stay tuned (pun intended). That'll be the topic of my next post.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Congratulations Patrick and Sarah on the birth of your baby girl, Finley Ames.

Your lives have entered an exciting new phase, and will never be the same again.

I hope you've started a college fund. Projected cost for a bachelor's degree from Marquette in 2026 is $540,000.

Friday, February 8, 2008


I bought myself a Wii last week. I justify it by saying the grandchildren will enjoy playing with it, but it's no secret that it's really for me. I've always been into computer gaming, playing Nintendo alongside my own kids when they were younger, as well as a variety of computer games from the earliest pong and breakout games, to the immersion adventures like Myst or Uru. I acquired an XBOX shortly after the sixth generation game systems emerged. The XBOX died recently, and while I considered replacing it with the newer 360 model, I really got swayed to the Wii after playing on it. (though I haven't totally abandoned the idea of replacing the XBOX as well)

I love the interactive aspect of the Wii Sports. I think it's a great idea to at least get kids (and adults) up off the couch if they're going to be playing video games. However, it is important to heed the warnings about allowing adequate playing space when swinging tennis racquets, or throwing bowling balls. We've already had some minor collisions.

The Wii has some entertaining features in addition to the games you can play on it. One of these is the Mii editor. A Mii is an avatar that represents you as a player in some of the Wii games. With the Mii editor, you can create as many Miis as you want, and make them look like you, or like something outrageous. If your Wii is connected to the internet, you can participate in Mii creating contests.

Another entertaining Wii feature is the "Everybody votes" channel. Here you get to respond to various poll questions, and see how your response compares to responses from all over the country, or even the world.

But one of my favorite features is the ability to download classic Nintendo and arcade games, and play them on your Wii. Already I've downloaded Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, and Pac Man.

So here I am, with a 21st century, state of the art, 3D, $$$ videogame console, playing side scrollers from the 1980's. Go figure.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mental Detours


I saw recently that there are over 90 million blogs, including a few from some of my family members. [ Although having a blog, and actually posting on it seem to be entirely separate ideas. :) ] While I am usually an early adopter of technology, I seem to have fallen behind the mainstream in this respect. Therefore, as kind of a belated new year's resolution, I have decided to join the blogging ranks, and put my thoughts, etc. up for the world to see. 'World' may be a bit of an overstatement, since I'll be lucky if a dozen or so family members actually read it.

This blog will contain posts about random topics that happened to interest me at the time I post them. I have several ongoing interests. Alphabetically, they are: blackjack, casino gaming, computers, family, food, guitars, music, poker, singing, and travel. Most of my posts are likely to be on one of those topics, or a sub topic that I am currently obsessing about.

The blog name comes from the fact that I often find things that interest me while looking for something else. As a child, I would often look up something in an encyclopedia, and then find myself looking up another topic that the original article piqued my curiosity about, and continue on this zig zag path until I forgot what I was initially searching for. Today, with sites like Wikipedia, and just web surfing in general, it's even worse.

So this blog post is the result of a current passing interest in the blogging phenomenon. It remains to be seen if it will continue to live and grow, or fade and gather dust.

As a plug for the first and most successful blogger in the family, I'm posting a short video that features him and his blog: