First Guest from Home

Gee, it's been a little while since our last post. Time has been moving right along for us, and it's hard to believe we really have been here for four months already! The big news this week was our friend JR was over in England for a work trip and managed to get a few days off to come visit us in Dublin! So we had our first houseguest here. Unfortunately it was in the middle of the week and I felt too guilty to ask for both days off so I just got the Wednesday off. JR arrived Monday afternoon and Diane met him at the airport so he didn't have to worry about finding his way to our place. On Tuesday, Diane and JR wandered through downtown Dublin catching several of the attractions down there including Trinity College, Dublin Castle, and the like. They really did a lot of walking and sightseeing! On Wednesday, we took JR to a museum, the Guinness storehouse tour, and the Jameson distillery tour. We got to the distillery for the last tour of the day and it was pretty neat. There was only a handful of people there for it and as a result we all got to do the taste testing of Jameson whiskey next to Jack Daniels and a scottish whiskey. Add to the taste test our free glass of Jameson, and we had a pretty good buzz going after those tours!

We just saw JR off to the airport this morning. I hope he enjoyed himself :) It was pretty surreal to see him here!

Outside of that, we're getting excited about the Christmas party. It's just a couple days away, and it really does sound like fun. We're going to go down on Friday evening and stay that extra night so we can see a bit of the town before the party starts in the evening on Saturday. It should be a good chance to get some more photos.

The past few weeks have been pretty busy for us, but we have managed to get out to do a few things too. Diane and I went and saw the Book of Kells the previous weekend. The book was pretty neat, but the real attractions for me were the information on how much work went into making the book (and books in general back then), and the view down the Long Room which is the library on the upper floor of the building that the Book of Kells is in. Today, it's easy to take for granted the availability of books, but back then the amount of work that went into copying and binding each book guaranteed that there really wasn't enough for everyone.

This last Saturday, we joined in with a very large group of people to help wish Aaron a happy 30th birthday. It's a good thing that their apartment is HUGE, or there's no way we could've crammed us all in there. For this party there was a team event where teams of four competed against each other at various gaming events: Rock Band on the Wii, NHL 2009 on the XBOX, and Foosball. I got conscripted onto a very strong team (including the birthday boy himself), and we eventually went on to win the competition. It was pretty fun!

So that's a taste of what we've been into. Hopefully I'll get a blog entry in soon after the Christmas party so you can hear about that!


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!


The Best Time to Move

Morgan and I have always had it comparatively easy, and this move is no exception. It turns out that Irish summers are lovely – it’s been rainy and cool and cloudy and sunny without going much above a comfortable “room” temperature. All this temperate goodness while the folks at home have been cooking in those bouts of +30-35C we’ve been getting in sunny Alberta these last few years.

The winters here are supposed to be windy and rainy and generally grey and miserable so I’ve heard, which means that the middle of summer is probably the best time to begin/end a year lease (the norm here nowadays) so you can move your stuff in comfort if you so choose. It’s certainly the best time to move stuff in Canada anyway.

Once we took up tenancy in our rented suite, we had to figure out how to turn the thermostat high enough to heat up our boiler and get hot water (we actually thought there had been an oversight at the gas company for a little while before our neighbours told us the secret), and we were without the convenience of readily heated water for a day or two. Nothing that can’t be satisfactorily overcome with an electric kettle of course, but say it were the power instead of the gas, or both. (And don’t even talk to me about the crash course.) I am much better equipped to deal with that sort of thing in the summer, when natural heat and light abound (though here in Ireland they only abound so much) and I’m in a happier state because of it.

Not only in the smaller details has the timing been right but on a bigger scale as well. Both Morgan and I were able to get up and move very easily: we have no children, our parents are in good health, our siblings are doing well. In fact, Morgan’s sister was able to move into Morgan’s apartment and their parents were willing to store stuff for us, making moving even easier. Morgan had finished his contract with the U of A and managed to stay until the Second Man v. Machine match, which was certainly a defining moment in the history of the U of A CPRG (Computer Poker Research Group), and a high note on which to leave… at least officially. For my part I feel I could have contributed long term at the U of A (my team was the Canola Research Group), but I think it was good to leave while I was more replaceable. `Cause really, who can argue with seeing the world while one has the life and health to do it!

The last reason (okay, next-to-last) this transition has been so smooth is that scores of folks have done this before us. Many through the ages have traveled and settled in leaner circumstances than this, and of course there are the friendly, accessible ones who very recently made the exact same trip. There is one couple in our building, newlywed like us, another couple down the road, who’ve been so encouraging, and, in particular, Darse and Alexandra have been there for us every step of the way. We probably wouldn’t be here now if not for them.

And the last reason (I promise) is that we’ve got each other. We may disagree and do a little squabbling and squawking, but in the end it’s nice to have a partner with whom to share and recall the experiences. It’s nice to have Morgan to point things out to and share the stories of the day with and have him show me stuff and help me… and cuddle me when the day is done.


We're in Ireland!

That's right, Diane and I had a safe, if slightly stressful, trip over here. Let me tell you the story of our day(s). The goaway party was fantastic. Despite the fact that I didn't get the word out very well (sorry to the people who I didn't let know about it ... I really was too distracted to make sure everyone knew about it), we had more than 60 people show up for it. I'm sure glad the weather held out so that we had enough room for people to hang out. Anyways, it was great fun, and I hope everyone had a good time. I sure did!

After the go-away party, Diane and I returned to the Condo to get ourselves in a better packed state. We got there at about 1:45am, and packed until well after 3:30am before falling into bed exhausted -- but we were up again early the next morning to continue packing and cleaning up our place. We then went out to Dim Sum with our parents which was a nice way to spend our last brunch in Edmonton. After that, we went back to the Condo and met up with Megan. The four of us -- Megan, Mom, Diane, and I spent a couple hours working on making the condo cleaner and tying up the loose ends. We, and in particular my mom and Megan worked a miracle of a job in there -- with the condo almost back in a liveable state. Which is good since Megan will want to live there soon enough.

We then trekked out to get my dad and we got a ride out to the airport where we bid farewell to my parents and Megan there. And we were off on our grand adventure!

After waiting for an hour or so, we boarded our Air Canada 767. It was a pretty nice aircraft, and we were quickly glad to find out that we had the first row of economy class seats -- which meant we had tons of leg room! Sweeeet! Not only that, the airplane must've been newer than the last two air canada flights we'd taken between Edmonton and London because each seat had its own tv screen. We happily were able to watch our choice of several movies. I love those things.

The flight itself was pretty standard. They fed us, I watched the movies Fool's Gold and Flawless, and also managed to get 2 hours of sleep or so! That's like a record for me on these long haul flights!

We arrived in Dublin, and found out that we had to go through UK customs to get our bags and then take an outside route to terminal 1 to get on our aer lingus flight. Turns out this is because air canada and aer lingus don't have a baggage agreement. Boourns. So our layover time quickly became panic time when we had to wait for our luggage, run to terminal 1, check our luggage, and then run to the boarding gate. Thankfully, the aer lingus people graciously let us check our bags (despite being overweight) and told us to run to the gate. So we did, and got there only to find out the plane was just in its initial boarding call. Whew! So I was pretty tired and stressed out, but we got on the plane and made it to Dublin.

Dublin was beautiful today. It was +21 degrees celcius, and wonderfully sunny. From the airport, we caught a shuttle bus called aircoach for €7 each that took us within a couple blocks of our temporary apartments. When we arrived, we were just in time to get our keys before the office closed at 5:00pm. Whew! Not only that, but Darse pulled up in his car before we even had a chance to go up and see our place! So him and Xan helped us find our apartment suite and got us all setup there. We caught up for a bit and then went out to see Dundrum Mall which is a huge shopping mall here in Dublin. We had dinner at a grill type restaurant -- Diane and I were too tired to really make a strong decision on a restaurant so we kinda floated until we found a place that looked decent.

After dinner we wandered a bit more, but found that most places had closed up shop by 8:00 on a Sunday. Oh well, Diane and I will have more than enough time to explore the immediate vicinity shops and services.

So now we're back to our place, and Diane has already gone to bed. She didn't get as much sleep as me on the plane, so she was pretty tired. I'm going to follow suit pretty quickly here. I hope that someday I'll get around to posting pictures, but no promises on it being anytime real soon. We'll have to see.