Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ATVing in Oceano

So, we rented ATVs (Honda 250 Sport Quads) at the Oceano Dunes over the weekend as part of the bachelor party activities. I must say that while riding around in the ATVs was a lot of fun, it's actually a bit scary at times.

For the most part everyone who hadn't really been on one before started off overly cautious since the sand dunes were pretty damn steep at times. But, after a little bit of taking on the various drop-offs, everyone would get a bit too confident. Not long after you enter the stage of overconfidence, you'd pretty much get jacked in one way or another, and you'd revert to being cautious.

I think most of us got messed up at one point or another, and I'd say that getting hurt on one of these vehicles is probably not uncommon. At least two people got completely thrown off their machine, and one guy had the ATV roll over him... I'm surprised he wasn't seriously injured. Several of us banged our helmeted heads into the handlebars after being jolted around after catching air. At one point I managed to slam my leg into the side panel so hard that the fairly thick plastic completely cracked. My leg got really bruised up as a result of that.

Anyway, my opinion is that the activity is definitely dangerous, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for everyone. But, maybe this means nothing more than the fact that I'm just a wuss.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Countries of the World Challenge

If you have 15 minutes to spare, give this a try. Basically, you have to enter as many countries as possible in 15 minutes. Spelling counts, which cost me a few points, unfortunately.

Here's the link: How Many Countries Can You Name?

I got 116 out of 195. There were a few really obvious ones that I should have gotten, but I did manage to get a number of the more obscure ones. Not really a great score, but it's probably not all that shabby either. Below is a mini-image of my final map (click to zoom) so that there's no spoilers. Green = correct and Red = missed. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Upcoming Bachelor Party and Poker

So, I'll be attending a bachelor party for Ken (some of you know him as Captain Kings) this weekend. The plan is to head down to Pismo Beach and do some ATVing followed by the usual bachelor party activities of boozing and wasting money at strip bars.

We'll see how it goes. I've never really been a fan of strippers or of the establishments where they work. I haven't been to a strip club in a number of years, and that last time was for a bachelor party as well.

Been playing a lot of cards lately and running good... maybe I'll go again tonight. The drop at Bay101's low limit games is now $5. When I went a few times in January, it was only $4. Fortunately, the games are still great for the most part. But, it still sucks to pay 25% more in rake.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Pacific Treefrogs and Wild Turkey

In the early evening, we were out in the back planting a satsuma mandarin orange tree that we just bought, and we happened upon two Pacific Treefrogs. One was green, and the other was brown. Reading a bit more about them, it turns out that they can change colors within minutes. However, I was not lucky enough to see any of that action. Here area couple pictures that I took of them.

Since we're on the subject of random animal sightings, I guess I'll throw in a picture of a wild turkey I saw the other day during a walk on a nearby trail.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Las Vegas and Le Cirque

Last weekend, I was out in Vegas for our annual trip during March Madness. A bunch of the usual group was able to make it, and there were some new faces this time as well. All in all, when the various groups were accounted for, there were around 12 of us.

Before I even got there, I had already lost $50 betting on Memphis. They got spanked. I figured I better try and win some back, so during our first meal together, we played some game where we'd choose a category and then a person and then make over/under bets on how many from that category the person could name without too long a lull. Some categories were famous aviators, serial killers, NFL quarterbacks, etc. I won a few bucks mostly betting against a certain someone. Not all of it was his fault... at one point, Mr. Tarek set a ridiculous line of 30.5 for the category of NHL players when the person doing the naming wasn't a hockey fan at all (I think he ended up naming 6 or 7 total).

There was a fair bit of negative EV gambling to start off the night. The first night Paul (some of you know him as Womper) and I ran good and started the trip up a fair bit of money. Paul was able to win a quick $750 at the quarter blackjack table as he pressed his bets a few times and managed to go 13 hands without a loss (there were some pushes, of course).

I did alright playing blackjack, but my big winner was playing Let It Ride. I was mostly playing $10, but then decided to go for $20 since it was getting late. So, I've got 3 $20's out there and I pick up K55. I pull a bet back, and 4th street brings a K. With a sure winner, the last two $20's stay put, and the river is a 5 for a boat. That paid a lovely 11:1 on $40, and since I was actually up a fair bit already before that hand, I was able to finish the night solidly ahead.

The next day was mostly recovery, as we were all up pretty late and indulging too much in the 'free' booze. At night though, we had our nice dinner at Le Cirque over at the Bellagio. Seven of us participated in what would be one of the best Vegas meals I've ever had.

Here are some pictures.

Mint Gazpacho with Bacon and Mushroom Foam Topping

Burgundy Snails in Garlic Herb Butter

Terrine of Foie Gras

Brioche to go with the Foie Gras Terrine

Risotto Topped with Truffles

Duck Magret

Sea Bass Wrapped with Crunchy Potatoes

Filet of Beef and Sautéed Foie Gras

Crème Brûlée

Chocolate Soufflé

Lemon Soufflé

Pistachio Cream and Chocolate Cake

Yuzu Cream and Strawberry Sorbet in Ice Bowl

Strawberry Sorbet, Foam, and Gelatin with Chocolate Bits

Strawberry Souffle and Sorbet

Plate of Goodies

I am a bit too lazy to write more, but it goes without really saying that the food was outstanding, and the service was great. We were all able to taste each of the different desserts, as we played a game where the various plates got passed all around the table. Also, all of us got a taste of the risotto with truffles... we purchased 4 orders, which they be split up into 7 bowls.

We had a nice view of the Bellagio Fountain show, and an unexpected bonus was that during dinner, we were able to see the Las Vegas Strip go dark for Earth Hour. Here's actually a pretty cool page showing some before and after pictures from around the world. And, we did see one of the Dallas Cowboys at the restaurant, but none of us really knew who he was. All we know was that he was a very, very large man.

Anyway, later on that night, a few of us (including the Tiffster herself) hit up Tao. The lines were super long, but her boyfriend (the smooth talking fellow that he is) was able to work some magic and allow us to skip the line. Tao was pretty nice and all, but I wasn't a big fan of horrendously overpriced drinks ($16 Red Bull Vodkas -- no thanks).

Fortunately, we were able to strike up a conversation with this one girl from Hawaii who was out there partying with a big party. She was super cool and hooked us up with a couple cups full of vodka, which we could then mix with whatever we could buy at the bar. So, that made things a bit better. There were also some mostly naked women with nothing on but pasties that were floating around in these tubs, and a lot of the drink servers were wearing nothing but lingerie... sort of reminds me of the attire seen at Vietnamese coffee shops.

After the club, a few of us played some craps, and we were quite fortunate to be at a table with this guy with his lucky shirt. He was the shooter for 15-20 minutes making 8 points. So, let's just say that we were all big winners. This more than wiped out some smaller losses I took earlier in the day from additional -EV gambling. Gotta love being at the table when the shooter has a golden arm.

The next day I played some low 1/2 NL poker, and won $240. NL isn't really my game, and nothing too exciting happened. The two biggest hands I had were flopped sets. I was able to get all of my money in with TT on a monotone QT3 board when a guy with the Ace flush draw attempted a semi-bluff. I called and did not get unlucky.

My other set, I should not have won as much as I did. I had 33 and the flop came AK3 rainbow. Somehow A7d 3-bet me on the flop and called my final bet that put him all-in. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised by this, as donks will be donks.

And, that's all I've got to say about this most recent Vegas trip. For those that went, if any of you want pictures, let me know. Check you all later.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

ShamWow Update

I'm sure you have all seen the ShamWow commercial. Here it is to refresh your memory.

And, you have probably heard that the guy was recently arrested for beating up some prostitute after she bit his tongue and wouldn't let go... details here.

Anyway, here's the updated commercial.