Sunday, June 27, 2010

Playing With The Big Girls

176.365_big_girl_too The other evening, the girls convinced me to go sit with them at the little playground behind our house, so that Jaiden could come ... Jasmine is there pretty much every day.

Jaiden is really hitting her 2 year old "independent" streak at a full running pace ... especially when it comes to her big sister ... she thinks that anything Jasmine can do, she can do too.

Unfortunately, Jasmine is simultaneously hitting her 8 year old "mean big sister" streak. Right now it's about 50/50. 50% of the time, she's still a great kid, and an awesome big sister who's very helpful and kind to Jaiden. However, with increasing frequency, she's also the big sister who will alternately tease and/or ignore her younger sibling.

This image above at the park kind of illustrates the situation perfectly ...

Jasmine and Jaiden had been playing together nicely, then one of Jasmine's friends showed up. Suddenly, as far as Jas was concerned, Jaiden no longer existed. Problem is, nobody told Jaiden, and of course she just assumed that Jasmine's friend was her friend too. Jaiden makes it obvious that she wants to swing with the big girls ... but check out that "possessive" sort of look that Jas is eyeing her friend with.

lol, this could be an interesting next couple of years ... especially when you consider that at some point we'll be throwing yet another little girl (Joey) into the mix ... at which point, I fully expect that Jaiden will go through exactly the same stages with her, as Jas is going through now.

Ah, the joys of fatherhood. :-)


Empty Little Pool

175.365_empty_pool We downgraded pools in our backyard last week. It's not like the other one was huge or extravagant, but it did still require a bit of regular maintenance ... which in the end, turned out to be too much, in proportion to the amount of people who were NOT swimming in it.

I got in a couple of times with the girls, and we all frolicked around for an hour or so. But normally, if they had a choice, the girls had other preferences. Jaiden really likes to just play in the little plastic pool pictured above. And most of Jasmine's friends in the neighborhood have the same above ground pool that we did ... so she was always at someone else's house swimming anyway.

And really the final straw, for Ana anyway, is that we never could totally keep up with all the leaves, grass and especially bugs that ended up floating around in the pool every day. She just thought that was totally gross for the girls to be swimming in.

So, we drained it out, packed it up, and she sold it on craigslist.

Now mommy is happy because the girls can swim in nice fresh clean water every day, and the grass is enjoying the extra drink every evening too. And as for daddy ... I don't have to mess with chemicals, and silly little nets, trying to scoop up every little blade of grass that blew in when Justin mowed the day before ...

Summer actually just got a little better for me. :-)

The Last Banana

174.365_last_banana Jaiden loves bananas. Actually, come to think of it, just about everybody I know loves bananas. In fact, I bet if you were to take a survey bananas would probably be most people's "favorite" fruit ... in much the same way that corn tends to be people's default vegetable.

Like most folks, we usually eat bananas in the morning, chopped up over cereal, or at night with ice cream. lol, if I was smart I'd just eat them alone with nothing else ... but hey, I like ice cream. Jaiden actually does eat them pretty much by themselves. I put them in her cereal, but then she just picks through it, and takes out all the "a'nanas".

Ana and I sometimes get into a minor disagreement about just how ripe a banana should be. She wants to buy them, and sometimes even eat them, when they're still green. Whereas to me, that one you see up above, nice and yellow with some brown spots on the outside, is just about perfect.

One thing I can all but guarantee ... no matter how ripe it gets, if there's only one left, someone will end up eating that last banana. :-)


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fort Hood AAFES PX


Fort Hood, being the largest Army base in the world, actually has two big PXs; along with about 6 or 7 shoppettes. A lot of people get a little excited about the big PX when they find out they're coming here. For us though, it was actually a bit of a let down ...

We came here from Hawaii in 2009. And among many other things that Hawaii has, there is an (over) abundance of military shopping facilities. There was a big BX at Hickam, an only slightly smaller PX at Schofield, and a huge Navy Exchange at Pearl Harbor. Needless to say, we didn't do a whole lot of shopping off base when we lived in paradise.

Here in Texas, it's a bit more of a toss-up as to where we go when we need something. On the one hand, the main PX is almost right across the street from our house, so it's really convenient. But some things, like clothes, they carry mostly name brand/designer stuff, so for a family with a lot of kids, Walmart is actually a little easier on the budget.

Not only that, but remember up above where I said that we have two big PXs here on post? Well, there's a caveat; even though they are on opposite sides of Fort Hood (about a 15-20 minute drive apart), they are not identical stores. The Clear Creek store, which is over by us, has things like clothes, lawn and garden, kitchen ware, and books. If we want electronics, furniture or sporting goods, you have to go over the Warrior Way PX on the other side of the post. (Ana is actually over there right now looking for a bicycle).

Even if it is a bit of a hassle sometimes, all-in-all the military exchange is a really good deal (tax free, and generally very competitive prices). It one of the better benefits that comes along with serving.


How to keep a Toddler Quiet for Hours

172.365_watching_barney For some reason, my wife is not a huge fan of the big purple guy. As for me, I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I love Barney! ... especially as the parent of a toddler.

To say that Jaiden is a "active" little girl, at just under 2 years of age, is a bit of an understatement. Lately it seems like it's gotten to the point where she gets into pretty much everything. So, as you can probably imagine, "watching" her can be pretty much a full time job. And since I've been known to enjoy my "goofing off" time, if I can find a way to keep her quiet, occupied, and out of trouble, I'm all for it.

Barney fits the bill perfectly.

It comes on PBS every day at 12:30, and you'd better believe we record it on the DVR.

Later in the evening, usually while Ana or I is cooking dinner, Jaiden will sit for 30-90 minutes watching (and interacting with) Barney on the TV. She sings along with the songs, dances, and even talks to the characters.

And the really cool thing about kids this age is that they don't really care too much whether or not the show is "new". Jaiden will happily watch the same episode over and over again. Along those same lines though, she also loves to watch Nick Jr ... Dora, Wubbzy and Kailan are her favorites.

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a "bad parent" for letting the tv be an occasional "baby sitter" .. but then, I think as long as you choose the shows wisely, it's not such a bad thing in moderation.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Justin and I Search For Mountain Lion on Fort Hood

170.365_justin_creek Yesterday Evening my son Justin and I took a little trip down to the creek behind our house. I took my camera with me so that he could show me some of the wildlife that he seems to encounter every day on his trips back and forth to the skateboard park.

So far he's seen everything from deer, to water moccasin snakes, to tarantula spiders; and then the other day, he came home and told me that he saw a mountain lion.

In hindsight, this might not have been the most responsible reaction a parent can have when their teenage son says he's seen a mountain lion, but after first expressing my doubts, my second thought was "hey let's go see if we can find the mountain lion and takes it's picture".

So off we went at about 7:15pm yesterday evening. My son and I walking down the path into the woods, in search of mountain lions ... or at the very least a "consolation prize" of cool poisonous snakes.

As you can probably guess, since the picture above is of my son, and not a wild animal, we found neither one; which might actually be a good thing. Plus, along the way, I think we might have solved the mystery of the mountain lion ...

After doing a little research, we discovered that there very likely are mountain lions on Fort Hood. However, I expect that they're most likely hanging out up in the training areas to the North, where they are less likely to encounter people.

Justin actually thought he saw a "baby" mountain lion. As we were walking through the woods yesterday, I think we eventually came to agree that what he saw was much more likely a Bob Cat than a baby mountain lion.

Never-the-less, it is pretty cool to be able to walk almost literally out the back door right here on Fort Hood post housing, and be able to treck into the woods in search of "exotic" wildlife.

Something tells me this won't be the last time my son and I go looking for mountain lions.

... but if by some chance we ever find one, I sure hope I have the long lens on my camera that day ;-)

Happy Father's day!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ultimate Frisbee For A Fun PT Day

At least 3 or 4 days a week, we do a normal military PT workout. But every Friday is "fun" PT day here at Fort Hood's 3rd Weather Squadron. We still get together over on the tennis courts for announcements and about 30 minutes of stretching and calisthenics ... then it's off to the field for some real exercise.

Teams are picked, the goals are laid out, and we run down to our respective sides. After the "kick off", we loosely follow what appear to be the official ultimate frisbee rules, but with a couple of local twists (mainly involving pushup). For instance ...

If you try to block someone on the other team from making a pass, and they can tap any part of your body with the frisbee, you have to immediately drop to the ground and do 10 pushups. This definitely has the effect off encouraging caution while playing defense ... and thus more exciting offense.

The second "local rule" involving pushup, is that each time the opposing team scores, your team has to "sprint" down to the other end and drop to the ground and do either 10 push-ups or (later in the game) 10 sit-ups before receiving the kick-off.

Despite being primarily a "fun" day, I am of the opinion that this is one of the better workout we get all week ... especially for the older guys. Seriously, I'm 41, and if you ever asked me to sprint across a field just for the hell of it, I'd probably look at you like you're crazy. However, throw a frisbee out in front of one of us old guys, and we'll chase it down like a golden retriever. :-)

On the flip side, the game is a bit more dangerous than our normal PT sessions. I don't think a week goes by where someone doesn't get injured. I've been on the wrong end of a twisted ankle, and a bruised tailbone since I've been here. Then just last week, another one of the "old guys" broke his finger during the game.

Oh well, it's still fun.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tarantulas In Central Texas

I was vaguely aware of the fact that we have Tarantulas here in Central Texas, and more specifically, right on Fort Hood. However, up until recently I hadn't actually seen any of them myself. For the past couple of weeks, Justin has actually been telling me about the tarantulas that he sees along the path on his way to and from the skateboard park ... along with the deer, water moccasins, and he even claims to have seen a Mountain Lion (I'm still not totally buying that one).

Anyway, back to the Tarantula ...

The other afternoon when I got back from work, my neighbor Mary Kay came over to the house holding a jar. She knows that I take pictures, and she wanted to know if I wanted to get a few snaps of the spider that she found underneath her car. Needless to say, I answered in the affirmative.

I took the jar out front, and picked up about a 2 1/2 foot stick that I could use to try to control the spider, then dumped him out on my front lawn. He was very cooperative. Not only didn't he run away, but it just too a few nudges with the stick to turn him (or maybe it was a her) around, and make a better pose for my photograph.

I really wasn't all that surprised by how relatively docile this tarantula was ... and actually, I'm a little bit disappointed in myself for not picking it up and handling it a bit. Basically, "walk the walk" to match the "talk" that I told my son ... that Tarantulas are not aggressive, and you would almost have to "try" to get it to bite you ... and then, even if it did bite, the venom has very little effect on humans ... for most people a bee sting is much worse.

I'm sure this won't be my last encounter with big hairy spiders here in Texas. And truth be told, I may even go seek them out at some point ... and of course I'll have my camera with me. ;-)


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Two Month Old Baby Flips Me The Bird

This seems to be a recurring theme for me. I take people's pictures, and they flip me the finger. The guys at work in Hawaii did this to me all the time. I did figured I'd have at least a few more years before my youngest daughter rebelled in this manner.

But no ... tonight as I'm going through the pictures I took earlier, what do I discover? My 7 week old daughter is flipping me the bird!

lol, it's all good though.

I'm sure this won't be the last time one of my kids demonstrates how the really feel about dad always pointing a camera in their direction. Usually, I just get "the look" ... or even with my other daughter Jordan, I have many pictures of her covering her face with her hands.

Joey obviously isn't quite capable of that yet ... so for now, I guess (hopefully inadvertent) hand gestures will have to do :-)

Fortunately, I also got a couple of "sweet" and normal pictures that we can show to grandma ...

In fact, this one where Joey even appears to be smiling, just about makes up for the rude fingers. Missed the focus just a little bit, but I suspect this one may end up getting printed and hung anyway.

This is pretty much the straight picture. Sitting up nicely, and looking off into the distance.

And finally, no set of small baby pictures would be complete without some finger eating.

Til next time ..


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Poker Bankroll Management - A Regular Guy's Perspective

50 Cent Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert on poker bankroll management. There are plenty of good resources out there, for determining exactly how much money you should have available for whatever type/level of game you intend to play. Instead, I'm going to share a few personal mistakes from a "normal" guy who plays relatively low stakes online poker.

I strongly suspect that I am not alone in making a few of these errors. So without further ado, let's get to it ...

First, a couple of "no brainers".

  • This one actually applies to any type of gambling - Never, ever, ever gamble with money that you actually need for something else (like rent). If you find yourself in this situation, stop playing, and go get help.

  • Now that we've established that we're only going to play with "fun money", the next step is to make sure that you load up enough cash that you can afford to lose, should you hit a run of bad luck.

  • Along those same lines, I've heard some "hard and fast" rules about exactly how much money you should have (ie, 20x the buy-in). But I have a much simpler, and more common sense thought on the subject:
    If taking two or more "bad beats" in a night would severely impact your ability to keep playing, then there's a good chance that the stakes you are playing at are too high for your bankroll

Ok, so that's the basics out of the way. Now, on to the mistake that usually kicks my butt ...

Unless you are trying to learn a new game (which will generally cost you some money), once you find a game or format that is profitable for you, STICK TO IT.

For instance, I'm a relatively good tournament player. If all I did online was play sit n go tournaments, and an occasional bigger multi-table tournament on the weekends, my poker bankroll would definitely grow over time. Tournaments are +EV for me.

Unfortunately, I don't always have time to play in tournaments, but I still want to play poker. So, I'll take some of my money and go play in a cash game. Only one problem ... I'm NOT a good no limit hold 'em cash game player. I don't know if I get bored, or what, but when it comes to cash games, I just tend to make way more bad decisions than I do in tournaments. Since I've been playing poker, cash games have definitely been an overall drain on my bankroll.

One exception to that, is limit Omaha 8 or better. That's a game that I can come ahead on almost every session (especially at the lower limits I usually play at). But even there, if I can't get a seat at a limit table, I'll occasionally sit down at a pot-limit, or even no-limit O8 table. It's pretty much the same game, but much more volatile, with bigger swings. They're the kind of games where one bad decision, or even a bit of bad luck, can turn a profitable session into a losing session in a hurry.

The thing is, I know that I shouldn't play in these games, which over time have proven to be unprofitable, but for some reason I still do. Right now, I guess I can just use the excuse that I only play poker for entertainment (which has the benefit of being the truth). But, if I ever do intend to use the game itself to significantly supplement my income, I'm going to have to get a lot more disciplined about sticking to games and formats that I actually have a reasonable expectation of being able to beat over the long haul.

What about you ... do you have any tips or stories about managing your poker money?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Little Fun with Photoshop

I love sunsets, and since my house is right in the Honolulu International airport approach path, we constantly have planes overhead. So, it's a natural picture combination.

plane into sunset

That being said, like any picture, sometimes these sunset airplane shots need a little help to become a bit more interesting. After playing around for a little while with this one, I think it's definitely more interesting, but I'm not too sure that's a flight I'd really want to be on ...

Even so, it's today's Hawaii Picture of the Day.


[phpbay]photoshop, 6, "", ""[/phpbay]

Full Hawaiian Rainbow

Today's Hawaii Picture of the day is one of my favorite sights here in the Islands ... a nice full rainbow.


This is one of the reasons I like to take my camera with me to work. I spend most of my time keeping up with the weather forecast, and briefing all the helicopter pilots. But, every now and then, I can't resist the urge to stick my head out the door and grab a few pictures. I shot this picture with my Canon 20D and a 17mm Tokina lens. Normally, that's plenty wide for they type of shots I take. But when it comes to rainbows, I sure do wish I had the Tokina 12-24mm.

Aloha til next time ...


What Happens When You Leave A Soda Can On The Car Floor In 100 Degree Heat

Ok, so most mornings as I'm getting ready for work, I throw a couple of cans of soda in a plastic bag, along with various other essential snack material, to get me through the day. Well, apparently one day last week, one of my sodas "escaped" from the bag, and decided to hide underneath the front passenger seat of my car.

... where it sat for the past few days, in 100 degree heat.

So then, earlier this afternoon, as I'm driving home for lunch, the Diet Mt Dew can rolled out onto the floor. I saw it, and thought "no big deal" ... until I went around a corner, causing the can to roll at an accelerated pace, and hit something on the bottom of the seat ... at which point it exploded! ... with a "bang" and all.


Not really too big of a deal. It scared me for a second, and now I have a bit of a mess to clean up. But otherwise, it actually gave me a good excuse to write a blog post to go along with my project365 picture today. ;-)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Do You Like Live Poker or Online Poker Better?

Poker 0308 5008 I play most of my poker these days online, but I have had stretches, mainly the two times I've been deployed to Iraq, where I also played quite a bit or live poker. I'm honestly a little bit conflicted about which I like better.

The biggest plus for online poker is the convenience factor. This is especially relevant to those of us with young kids. For instance, as I type this, I'm currently playing a tournament on Poker Stars while my 6 week old baby daughter sleeps in her little chair next to me. This a big plus, as my wife is way less likely to complain (as much) about my poker playing, if I'm able to watch the baby at the same time. :-)

I also really like the fact that I can jump online and practice, or even try totally new games for a relatively small investment of time and money. Take my current two favorite games, Omaha 8 or better and RAZZ. If the only poker I ever played was home games, and the occasional trip to a casino, I'd almost guarantee that I would have stuck strictly to Texas Hold 'em like a very large percentage of other poker players; especially here in the United States. But thanks to online poker sites, I can now hold my own pretty well in a variety game like HORSE

All that being said, there's nothing much more fun than getting together with a group of friends a couple of times a week to play some real, live, tournament poker. As I said, during the two times I was deployed to Iraq, we played a lot of poker. Mainly cash games, but for 5-6 hours a night the first time I was over there in 2007. And then just last year, the base actually had tournaments set up 3 or 4 nights a week. Either way, I made a lot of new friends, and won a few bucks along the way.

I'm still not very good at "reading" my opponents in live games. But sometimes it's not really that big a deal. I've played so much poker online, that it's actually still possible to put people on a range of hands, even in a live game, based purely on betting patterns.

So basically, I guess my conclusion is that I think I enjoy live games more, but I don't think I'd do nearly as well playing live poker, if I didn't have the experience of online poker to help me along the way.

How about you ... what are your experiences with live vs. online poker?