Playing Poker With Jesus

This past week has been a insanely busy. It's been a week filled with parties and late nights which has made it a bit hard to keep posting to the blog. There was even a party tonight that Diane and I passed on just to spend a quiet night relaxing a bit for the first time in over a week. One of the noteworthy events of the week has been that Chris "Jesus" Ferguson has been in town. He played in the WSOPE and had another big tournament in London last Saturday. So he stopped by the office and I got a chance to add another poker pro to a list that's getting pretty long.

Anyways fast forward to last night which was a scheduled company tournament: a €50 deep stack buyin tournament. Since Chris was in town, he was happy to play, which meant the tournament drew a good crowd. In all, 36 players registered which was a really good turnout. Warning: lots of poker lingo coming your way from this point on.

The tournament started out real slow for me. Apart from picking up one pot a few rotations in, I basically sat and folded a lot of hands while several players at the table spewed chips at each other. After the first break I was starting to get pretty short stacked. I picked up A6o on the button and raised, but the small blind pushed. I didn't have many chips left so I called and didn't like seeing my opponent flip over AQ. Luckily for me, I hit a 6 along with an Ace on the flop to double up. Not too much later, The 2nd table broke, and guess who got seated on my left? Chris Ferguson.


The next big hand in my memory happened after we had got down to the final table of 9 players. I picked up KK on the button and make a decent raise. The small blind reraises me and I pushed allin and got called by AJ of diamonds. The flop was rather exciting when two diamonds landed, but thankfully I dodged another diamond and won a monster pot -- which made me chip leader by quite a bit.

The tournament got down to three players -- Chris, me, and another guy that I didn't know but who played very well. The stack sizes started to get pretty close to even, although I still had a small chip lead. Chris had a €50 bounty on his head, but unfortunately I was not going to be the one to earn that. The other guy at the table would do that when he flopped trip queens and busted Chris out in 3rd place. I guess that means I can say I beat him!

On the first hand of headsup play, the other guy limps on the button and I check with J4 of diamonds. The flop is 578 with two diamonds. I bet out, get raised, and I decided to push. I get instantly called, and get shown 78 for top two pair. I miss my flush and gutshot outs to lose the hand. So I finished a respectable 2nd place for a payday of €440. Not too bad for a couple hours of play!

So that's how it went down. It was an honour to play with Chris, and it's pretty cool to be able to say I beat him. I'm under no illusions that it was anything more than luck that made that the case, but I feel pretty good about most of my plays during the tournament. I probably missed a couple of plays and didn't play all that well when we got to three handed play, but all in all I can't feel too bad with my showing.

It's been a really cool week, but in a way I'm glad it's over. I've been out every night this week until at least midnight and it's starting to take a toll on my ability to stay sharp.

Oh yeah, there's new photos up on flickr too if you want to go check them out!


Thinking About the Future

Lately, Diane and I have been following a series of videos called the Crash Course. Be warned -- the future that Chris paints in these videos is more than a little disturbing. While primarily focused on the United States, many of the things he talks about also apply to most of the world's economic systems. One of the things it has done is challenge my base assumption that the world will continue to get better as we live our lives. Now that's a pretty general statement, but I think a lot of us can say that our standard of living has gotten better over the last several years. But the crash course brings up some facts that disturb this rosy picture, and make me wonder just how bad the future could get. One of the things that's driven home to me about the watching Chris' videos is that the nature of exponential growth is very difficult for the human mind to get its head around in an intuitive fashion. You've got to spend some time figuring out good examples to help show you how difficult it is to deal with problems that are escalating exponentially. There's an excellent series of youtube videos that a professor at the University of Colorado did concerning the problems of exponential growth here. It's long, but worth watching.

In those videos, the professor presents an extremely interesting example. Suppose you have a test tube full of food and put one bacteria in it at 11:00. The bacteria doubles every minute, and the life cycle of the system is one hour so when the clock strikes 12:00, there is no food left. So at 11:01 there are 2 bacteria, and at 11:02 there are 4 bacteria, and so on. One question to ask is: when is the bottle half full? The answer is 11:59, because in that last step there needs to be enough room for the bacteria to double to make the bottle full. To drive the point home further -- when is the bottle 1/4 or 1/8 full? Well just 11:58 and 11:57 respectively!

You can add on one additional piece to that. Suppose that the bacteria somehow are able to find 3 more test tubes full of food. This represents a HUGE discovery of resources - fully 3 times the initial supply! If the bacteria move into the new test tubes, how much time has this bought them? Just two minutes. The first to use one new test tube, and the second to use the remaining two test tubes. Wow. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make the connection that the earth is kind of like a test tube -- a finite area with finite resources, and human kind is growing in numbers ... exponentially.

I remember being taught in elementary school that population growth was one of the humankind's biggest challenges. How did this get lost from the public eye?

Humankind has made a habit of ignoring problems until they become annoying enough to solve. The problem with this approach is the problems we're going to be facing are of the exponential nature -- and when we notice it enough to be annoying, it'll probably be too late. I might even be too late now ... I don't know if anyone can say for sure. But it sure seems like a good idea to try and do something about it!

After watching these videos, I've started to get a real urge to go buy some gold and keep it close for the years to come. I wonder how far humankind will fall when we run out of easily exploitable fossil fuels? It's a little scary to think about just how much of our daily lives is dependent on energy. Oh it's not just hot water in taps and power for our lights and all that. It's the energy required to get us the food we need and to build the many things that make our lives easier so we have time to do more than just survive. Every time I see or read about earlier times, my most common recurring thought is "wow, people worked hard then".

I'm not saying we're headed back in time necessarily. Humans have progressed to be able to do some pretty amazing things -- and some of the things we've learned to do may help us adapt to the difficult time ahead. But one thing is pretty sure: the next couple decades are going to be ... interesting.


Day 2 in San Diego: The Zoo!

Diane and I slept in again, quite a bit later than I figured we might given that we went to bed super early. I guess we needed to catch up on some sleep. We wandered down for the complimentary continental breakfast which was alright, but not spectacular. Then we headed off to the zoo! It was just one bus from downtown, so we picked up a transit all-day pass and rode the number 7 bus from downtown all the way to the zoo. The San Diego Zoo is *huge*. It was very overwhelming at first, but luckily our tickets gave us a free bus tour throughout the park so we decided that the best way to start was to take the bus tour around to get a feel for what the park had to offer. The bus tour was at least 20 minutes, and I was able to get a few decent photos with my telephoto lens from the top of the double decker bus.

After the bus tour, we started to wander a bit and saw a large number of exhibits and took a lot of pictures. Diane and I teamed up -- she wrote down what the animal's names are while I was taking pictures, so hopefully we have most of my pictures labeled with the actual names of the animals.

What were my favourite ones? I think I liked the meerkats a lot. The Pandas were awfully cute, and it was pretty fun to watch the monkeys swing around in their little playgrounds. Also, the many deer related animals: the gazelles, the antelope, etc were really cute. Especially the baby ones. One of my other favourite things was walking through the aviaries. These were so much more picture friendly than some of the other ones where the bars just got in the way of the little birds.

We stopped for lunch halfway through the park at the treehouse cafe. It wasn't all that great, but it was okay. I had a meatball sub and Diane had a bread bowl full of chili.

Wandering through the rest of the zoo took us until after 4:00. One of the highlights in the afternoon was riding the Skyfari tram from one end of the zoo up to the other. It was quite a nice view from up there! We could easily have spent more time at each exhibit or made an effort to see some of the shows they put on there, but we basically explored fairly quickly and took pictures at many of the exhibits.

We headed back to the hotel and got lucky that the bus arrived right away. We sauntered back to the hotel and changed and consulted directions to an improv comedy show we picked up a pamphlet for. Dinner was at Anthony's Fish Grotto which apparently has been around for a long time. It was quite good -- I had a plate of fried fish, scallops, and shrimp. The coleslaw they gave me was some of the best I think I've ever had. It had bits of pineapple in it, and the cabbage was very very fresh.

After dinner it looked like there was enough time to try and find the improv comedy place, so we boarded a trolley car which on the inside looked startlingly like the LRT cars in Edmonton. We took it two stops and found the comedy club with time to spare. The improv show was very similar to the guys in Edmonton who do Improvaganza. It was a pretty fun show, although I kind of felt that the referee needed to do less talking and explaining the games and more time letting the improv people improvise. Still, it was quite fun.

We got back on the train and headed back to sleep. We have to check out of our hotel by noon, but the cruise ship check-in time is 12:30 so I think we've got a pretty good plan of attack there!

I'll probably be disconnected from the internet for the majority of the cruise. I have no idea how much internet will cost on the ship, but I have a feeling it might be expensive. I'll continue to type blog posts though and I'll post them when I get the chance. If the cost of internet there is reasonable I might jump online once in awhile and post something, but for the most part I think I will disconnect myself.



Double HappinessThe wedding is getting close, so here's a quick update. Diane and I are now starting to pass out invitations. We're hoping to be able to invite everybody who would like to come, but there are space considerations in the hall and we're likely to hit the max there. Everyone is of course welcome to come to the ceremony. The space considerations are only on the reception hall. As we get replies, we'll update our status and send out invites for spots that are freed up in the hall. If you've already got your invitation, you might be wondering what the symbol on the cover is. It's a Chinese symbol which means double happiness. It is a pretty common word used on Chinese wedding invitations, although Chinese wedding invitations almost always use red. Here's a wikipedia page on the character for double happiness.

The plans are going smoothly, but there's still lots of little details to do!