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Date: Sat, Jun 14, 2014

Nina and I took a hike in the North Carolina Arboretum again today. I didn't take a lot of pictures, and of the ones I did, I think only two have even a modicum of merit. They are basically the same subject, framed two different ways. Which do you like better?

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Date: Thu, Jun 12, 2014

I was just casually checking the status of my bank accounts, as I do every few days, when I noticed this unexpected deposit apparently in the process of going through today:

And it only took 38 months!

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PokerNews article #18

Date: Tue, Jun 10, 2014

This one is all about the various kind of promotions and jackpots one finds in poker rooms these days:

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Poker >>>> Bridge!

Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2014

I guess MemphisMOJO knows that now, in case he was ever in doubt. He of the poker, bridge, and photography blogjust made what I have to assume is his best run ever, getting all the way to 3rd place in the WSOP Seniors event, and walking away with $279,412 in prize money. Not too shabby for three days' work. I wasn't watching the live video, but apparently his other fans were, and they said that he raised a couple of times with The Mighty 2-4 towards the end, winning the pots. He must have flashed the cards for the camera, because the PokerNews hand-for-hand blog does not seem to report them.

Congratulations, sir. Truly superb work. Now you can pay me that $275,000 you owe me for teaching you everything you know about poker, and still have a little party money left over!

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PokerNews article #17

Date: Sun, Jun 8, 2014

It's been a while, but my next article is now up. It's about tables, chairs, and space in a poker room:

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Stop and smell the roses

Date: Sun, May 25, 2014

This weekend there was a rose show at the North Carolina Arboretum here in Asheville. I went out there to do as the old advice says. Of course, further experimenting with the new camera was on my mind, too.

As always, right-click/open in new tab to see larger versions.

First I just wandered a while outdoors:

Then I went inside to the star attraction.

Making pretty pictures of roses ought to be child's play. Not here. It wasn't for lack of good material; goodness gracious, they had an amazing assortment of rose varieties and colors. (And the smell in that room was nothing short of heavenly.)

But for nice pictures? It's as if they had a committee work for months devising every possible obstacle to successful floral photography. Most of the roses were single blooms in crystal vases. The lighting was a weird combination of fluorescent bulbs with hot incandescent spotlights. The walls were ugly, and would spoil any photo if not carefully blocked out of the frame or blurred into obscurity. There were people crowding around the display tables. I didn't have a macro lens. Finally, this was the third and last day of the exhibit, and many of the specimens were past their prime, getting wilty. (Is that enough excuses yet?)

The net effect of all of this was that I took 35 rose pictures, but deemed only six of them salvageable:

And now, to cleanse the palate from that surfeit of color, here's a trio of experimental studies of lines and surface textures, rendered in black and white:

Given the post title I chose, I feel compelled to end with a throwback to one of the big hit pop songs from 1974, when I was 13: "Stop and Smell the Roses" by Mac Davis (who, in a different phase of his career, wrote some of Elvis Presley's more unconventional hits, such as "In the Ghetto," and "A Little Less Conversation").

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Use it or lose it

Date: Fri, May 23, 2014

I went out for my first real bike ride since moving to Asheville 15 months ago. (I say "real" because I took a quick spin around the block Wednesday just to be sure all the mechanical parts were working after reassembly.) The numbers don't lie: I've completely lost the extremely modest amount of conditioning I had managing to achieve with my riding in Vegas.

As you can see from this screen shot (from a very nice, free site called "Ride With GPS"), my last serious ride in Nevada was in late November of 2012. I wrote about that ride here. It was at the outer limit of my ability, but I could do it: 99 minutes, 18 miles, 1370 feet of climbing.

Today I rode 11 minutes, 1.7 miles, and a measly 153 feet of climbing--and it nearly killed me. The last stretch is about 200 feet of an 11% grade up to the alley behind my house, and I swear that if I had had to go another 10 feet, my heart and lungs would have jumped out of my body to go find a more worthy host. I had to spend five minutes huffing and puffing to recover enough just to pick up my bike and carry it inside, and even then I couldn't carry it up the stairs to my apartment until after I had spent 10 minutes panting on the couch. And 15 minutes after that, sitting at my computer, I was still covered in sweat from head to toe.

Pathetic. Completely, utterly pathetic.

My goodness, it is discouraging to both feel in my bones how much progress I've lost, and see it reduced to cold, hard numbers by a GPS tracker that will not fudge the data to soften the ugly truth.

On the other hand, there is this: I'm better off than the people who slacked off for the past 15 months and then DIDN'T go out for even a short ride today.

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Montford Music and Arts Festival

Date: Sat, May 17, 2014

Nina and I went to the Montford Music and Arts Festival in the Montford neighborhood in Asheville today. I'm still getting to know my new camera, so I took it along and tried to remember to be on the lookout for photo opportunities. There were a few interesting things to see, but I mostly wanted to capture the fact that people were enjoying themselves.

Here are the results. Right click/open in new tab to see bigger.

As you can see, a good time was had by all.

Well, except maybe this poor kid, who had the only tear-smeared face I saw all afternoon, and was bawling conspicuously:

I'll leave you with a sampling of the toe-tapping bluegrass music we heard, from a band called "Cat Dragons."

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Random thought

Date: Thu, May 15, 2014

I don't know why this just occurred to me, but it did, so I'll put it out there.

If, a couple of years ago, somebody had told me that, between Shane Shleger and Jason Mercier, one of them would out himself as a devout Christian and one would out himself as a drug addict, I probably would have guessed wrong which was which.

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PokerNews article #16

Date: Mon, May 12, 2014

In a departure from my usual general subject matter, I wrote (at the request of my editor) about my first WSOP experience:

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PokerNews article #15

Date: Mon, May 5, 2014

Finishing up the five-part series on cards, this article is a few more tidbits on protecting your hand:

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My Sunday Puzzle submission

Date: Sun, May 4, 2014

I often spend some time on Sunday mornings trying to solve Will Shortz's weekly puzzle from "Weekend Edition Sunday" on National Public Radio.

This week, instead of a puzzle with one correct answer, he invites listeners to submit their best constructions of a particular type of puzzle for other listeners. He gives this description and example:

On-air challenge: Every answer is a five-letter word. You will be given a clue for the word. Besides describing the answer, the clue will also contain the answer in consecutive letters. For example, given "It's near the planet Mars," you would say, "Earth."
Next week's challenge (Please note this is a two-week challenge): Write a clue for a word in the style of today's on-air puzzle, in which the answer has six or more letters. The clue should both define or describe the answer and contain the answer in consecutive letters.
Entries will be judged on accuracy of the cluing, specificity, naturalness of syntax and overall elegance. You may submit up to three clues in your entry. The person who sends the best clue in the judgment of Will Shortz will appear on the program in two weeks. And some of the runner-up entries will be used on the air.

Here are my three submissions. I'll put the answers in the first comment, so you won't see them until you click on "comments."

1. Last fall, I blew another chance at impressing my boss when I missed my big project's deadline.

2. As if Thoreau wrote of bustling urban life at Walden, I also often say the opposite of what is true.

3. In order to succeed, a magician must will us--or you!--to see what is not really there.

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PokerNews article #14

Date: Mon, Apr 28, 2014

Part 4 of 5 on cards generally, and the first of two articles on protecting your hand.

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