Friday, March 27, 2009

Dream table

I've been watching Poker After Dark this week. Some guy named Arnold Thimons on Full Tilt won the right to play a table full of the pros of his choice on the show.

It's easy in such circumstances to play armchair quarterback, and I think there were lots of choices I would have made differently in Thimons' shoes. But the heck with that. Instead, I'll chime in on who I would have chosen, had I been asked. Not that anyone cares, of course, but why not?

Most of these folks are instructors at one or more of the boot camps I've attended.

In no particular order:

Kenna James. He was the pro at my table of the SnG at the champion's camp. With 3 aces on the board, I bluffed him off his pocket kings by making what looked like a value bet on the river after checking the two-ace flop and the ace turn. It's still the most amazing lay-down I've ever seen from anyone involved in a hand with me.

Mike Sexton. While he was dealing a lab for us, I made 3 bluff bets at a board I had missed, hoping to impress him with my ability to "fire that third bullet." But in fact, my opponent in the pot had flopped a set and was "walking the dog," as they say. It'd be nice to be able to show him something better than he saw from me at the camp.

Clonie Gowen. Of all the things I learned at the boot camp, Clonie's SnG strategy has been the single most valuable thing. The opportunity to effectively play a 6 handed SnG with her would be outstanding.

Crispin Leyser. He's been at all the camps I've been at, and I've had a private session with him.

Gus Hansen. He's not a boot camp instructor, but if you're going to play tight at the table, then having a loose cannon (though Gus has tightened up his game a bit over the years as the field has gotten more aggressive) is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mississippi bans red-light camera enforcement

Who in the world would ever think that one could use "forward thinking" and "Mississippi" together in the same sentence? But it's true - Mississippi is bucking the trend of states and municipalities using red-light cameras as profit centers (who ever said that government was supposed to profit off anything? I thought government's job was to serve the people).

Is it any wonder? With example after example of municipalities that have been caught tampering with light timing in order to increase the number of tickets generated?

For the first, and perhaps only time in my life, I say hoorah to the state of Mississippi, and further exclaim that I have a reason to be jealous of them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fireplace trouble

We had a gas insert put in our fireplace last year. We didn't really do it in anticipation of the new BAAQMD fireplace regulations, but because of Scarlet's lung problems. Burning wood was just too smokey in the house for her. We're fairly satisfied with the new insert, but it came with a remote control made by Acumen that really sucked.

First, some background.

A gas insert is not unlike a gas furnace. There is a standing pilot which heats a small thermocouple. The thermocouple serves two purposes: the voltage it produces holds open the valve supplying the pilot flame (so that if the pilot goes out, the gas supply for it will be cut off), and it also is the power supply for the burner valve. Close a switch and the valve opens and gets lit by the pilot. In old fashioned furnaces, this switching was done by a simple thermostat based on a bimetallic strip.

The thermocouple is only capable of producing a few hundred millivolts, though, so if you want to do something more sophisticated, the control mechanism (whatever it is) will need to be self-powered. This is unlike most central HVAC systems today that use a 24 VAC circuit to power thermostats. There are so-called battery eliminator circuits or remote controls that can be powered off the thermocouple. More on that later.

In our case, our gas insert actually also has an electrically powered, thermostatically controlled fan. Whenever the flame is on and heats the box up to a certain temperature, the fan kicks in. The fan is powered off an outlet we had installed actually inside the fireplace itself. Given this state of affairs, it's only natural that our remote control system would have had a receiver that simply plugged in to the AC outlet.

Guess what.

They supplied us with a receiver system powered by 4 AA batteries, plus 3 AAA for the remote. Not only is that a lot of batteries to have to deal with, but it seemed like it wouldn't go more than a month or two before petering out. I did some research on the Internet and discovered the battery eliminator solution, but though Skytech did make a 6 volt battery eliminator, it didn't work on our Acumen receiver. I'm not sure if it's because our receiver was bad or whether they're all like that. But in any event, it was dismissed.

In its place, I installed a Skytech 5310. Yes, it's got a Jetsons remote, but that's not why I chose it. It was just about the only model I could find out there that had a plug-in receiver. No more batteries ever.

Anyway, ripping out the old receiver and installing the new one was a snap. Just a pair of push-on spade terminals. There was only a single outlet in the fireplace, so I added a "Y" cable so the existing fan and the remote could plug in. That's all there was to it.

Losing weight

Last January, I had a Vertical Gastrectomy. Since then, I've lost 180 pounds.

I'm almost half the man I was.

I still want to lose another 30 pounds or so, but that's going to go more slowly, I think.