Archive for ◊ January, 2017 ◊

31 Jan 2017 Rain On The Way……………
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I woke up, at seven, to a cool RV. I tried to light the stove. No gas. That made me nervous as I had no idea if the other bottle was also empty. A quick trip outside fixed the problem and within minutes the furnace was going again.

For those who thought all the political rhetoric was going to end with the election and swearing in of the new president. Think again. Just try to turn on the TV and not see Trump or a Trump story. Greg Gutfeld said it all with his “Trump Breaks Wind—We Break in” line. Judith is more than sick of the whole political news thing and encourages me, at every turn, to shut off the damn TV.

I was off to the Graton at nine thirty. Unfortunately they have fallen into the trap of waiting for enough players to show up to put the cards in the air. That is the kiss of death and a downward spiral of players showing up later and later. Most well run places start the clock ten minutes before the tournament starts and when the clock hits 00:00 they put the cards in the air. What’s next? Give players that don’t cash coloring books?

Barely twenty players paid the forty five dollar entry fee. The tournament paid five places with first being just $464. I played well and doubled up early on in the tournament. With a good stack I could play more hands and actually play POKER. I made the final table with a stack about average. We were down to eight when the blinds went to 1000/2000 with 300 blinds. The rule of thumb is if you don’t have at least ten big blinds your choices are reduced to shove or fold. I needed to win one good hand then wait until the table got five handed and cash. I called another player, with equal chips, with my 66 thinking he was holding A something giving me a small advantage. He turned over A8o. The flop came all small cards with no eight. Then the dealer turned over the turn card——A. Only one of the two remaining sixes could save me and that didn’t happen. I finished seventh. No cigar or cash. Poker.

I was home at noon and had lunch with Judith. The plan was to stay at the park while Judith did some shopping. As Judith backed out I turned on my computer to find a virus warning and spent the next two hours running PC Matic. It is never easy………

Judith was back at five and I used the last of the daylight to load the suitcases back in the truck along with the 12v refrigerator and two small ice chests David wants me to haul back to River House.

David and Syd came over after dinner and Syd downloaded all our Australian pictures from both are I-Phones. Judith is making one of her trip books that she does for every trip.

Tomorrow I’ll sit in on Capture’s February kickoff meeting then head for Oakland to meet and have lunch with and old friend. When that is done we’ll drive to Capture for a meeting. I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon with John. At the end of the day we’ll drive to Martinez, meet Judith and John’s wife, Debra and have dinner.

30 Jan 2017 90 Days And Counting…………..
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I usually sleep under a sheet, thin blanket and comforter. Those usually keep me toasty warm and half the time are thrown off in the middle of the night. I also can fall asleep in seconds and sleep all night. Last night I was so cold I couldn’t go to sleep and got up to find another blanket.

Either Buddy forgot that part of her daily routine is jumping up on my bed at six AM or can no longer make the two foot leap from the stool I place near my bunk. This morning I didn’t wake up until seven. I looked down and she was lying on the floor and looking back at me. The minute we made eye contact she meowed and started doing her breakfast dance.

I sure have a new appreciation for Folgers after drinking long blacks in Australia. I checked the temperatures: 38 in Petaluma, 12 at River House and 30 in Walla Walla. I didn’t check but I’m sure it is still hovering around a hundred Down Under.

Job one this morning was coming up with a plan to get the F-450 and Travel Trailer inspected. Unfortunately the only way to accomplish that is to drive to Texas. The rig hasn’t been there in three years and I’ve run out of excuses, not to mention extensions. I Googled Texas Vehicle Inspection in El Paso then started calling inspection stations. I made an appointment for Feb 20th and will make the three hundred and ten mile trek from Tucson then back track to Yuma.

I talked to John about our meeting Wednesday when Judith and I will fight the traffic to see and old friend, Wendy Salvani, then drive to the Oakland office for a Board of Director’s meeting. Wendy has an advertising and promotion firm and we have worked together starting back in the soap business days when I was her first client. I’ve asked Wendy to give us some direction in advertising River House.

Judith was up at nine and we had a few minutes to discuss the day before I was off to the Graton. Monday’s have the lowest attendance with only twenty five players registering. I knew several of the players at the table and the guy to my immediate right likes to steel blinds by pushing all in from the button when first to act. I knew he didn’t remember me and my plan was to wait for the magic moment I pick up a top ten hand and he pushes from the button and end up with all his chips. Well, he did his part pushing at almost any opportunity. Unfortunately I didn’t even have a small ace in any of those situations and only picked up a few hands and barely made it to the fifth round. With just a few thousand chips left I picked up 10-10 on the button and went all in. The small blind folded and the big blind called and turned over AA. There is only a 20% chance of picking up another 10 and winning the hand and that didn’t happen. Poker.

Next I drove to downtown Petaluma and stopped at BofA and Buffalo Billiards. Lee was in his office doing what he always does: counting money. We talked for thirty minutes trying to avoid politics. Speaking of which…………

If Trump ever slept just getting up would be breaking news. It seems he fills every news cycle and I see no end in sight. Where does he get the energy? He isn’t human.

After lunch Judith rode over to Sonoma with me to check out www.Gatedepo.com . I bought some items from them on line and wanted to check them out and look at their store. It wasn’t much of a store but I did get the info and advice I needed; KISS–keep it simple stupid. With River House being so remote and no automatic gate repair people close by getting to high tech will only cause problems.

Darrell and I talked for over an hour discussing the final marketing plans for River House which goes on the market in ninety days. We’ll be using a finder’s fee to find that special buyer so keep your eyes out for someone looking for that special, one of a kind place. You could hit the jackpot and the odds aren’t one in a million.

Register Your Lead

Judith hit a homerun in the home cooked meal department; pot roast. She even used the last of my potatoes.

David, Sydney and Kate came over after dinner. Syd looked at all the pictures we took after she left us in Australia. Kate and Judith talked about Kate’s trip next year.

While we are here for four more days I’ll only be able to play poker tomorrow and on Thursday. Wednesday we’ll go to Oakland and on Friday I have lunch with buddies Bob and Ed in Novato.

29 Jan 2017 70 Degrees Cooler Than Down Under………..
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This Little Girl Can Ride!

I woke up at seven, well rested, and chilly for the first time in over a month. I checked the local temperature and it was just forty one degrees. I turned up the heat and reached for the Folgers. Within minutes I was drinking the best coffee I had tasted in a month.

I worked my way through the rest of the mail. For some strange reason several of Judith’s Christmas cards, although properly addressed with the correct postage affixed, came back undelivered. Go figure. Next I sent off money to our Canadian account where the exchange rate is still very favorable. We enjoyed nearly the exact exchange rate while in Australia.

Judith was up by eight thirty and we were able to discuss the day before heading to the ten o’clock tournament at the Graton.

Just behind us is a fifth wheel with a young couple and a little girl that I’m sure can’t be over four. I watched her come out this morning, grab her little bicycle and ride it like a pro. She made tight circles and demonstrated the balance of a tight rope walker. Amazing…………

We first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid nineteen seventies. In the entire time we lived in the Bay Area I can count the number of times of seeing the surrounding low lying mountains dusted in snow. The most memorable time was shortly after Judith and I were married I got the bright idea of taking the boys back to New York for a White Christmas. Well, I remember two things about that trip; there was no snow in New York: however, when we got back to California the Bay Area hills where white with an inch or so of the white stuff. On my way to the Graton I looked north and added another day to that very short list as there was a dusting of snow on the furthest most mountains.

Sixty players plunked down there one hundred and fifty bucks for this morning’s tournament. I looked around the room and there wasn’t a single player under thirty. My how the game has changed since it first exploded back on the scene when Moneymaker, a rookie unknown twenty something player, won the World Series of Poker in 2003. Soon after that the rooms where filled with twenty something kids with big ideas of making millions. Few did and these days young players are either broke and gone from the game or the really good ones have moved to the big games in places like Las Vegas playing for nose bleeding stakes.

The cards went in the air at ten on the dot with the action having an all in confrontation on the first couple of hands. A guy with trip threes got called by a guy who wouldn’t fold pocket AAs. A bad beat raised its ugly head when an Ace came on the river sending a player home. Today’s tournament wasn’t a rebuy event. The table was very aggressive with four or five players in almost every hand and limping wasn’t in the cards. In situations like this you need the card Gods to smile on you. Bluffing one or two players out of a pot is one thing beyond that you are tugging on Superman’s cape. I had marginal cards, at best, seeing only one pair above eights (kings) in the first ninety minutes. At the end of the first three levels I went to break with my starting stack about 5k below average. After the first break the antes and blinds went sky high putting me on the ropes and out by the fifth level. On the way home I replayed the tournament, in my head, and could only visualize one hand I’d play differently. I’m whining……….

With the tournament over I head for diesel as the F-450 was bouncing on empty. It looks as if diesel went up about twenty cents a gallon when we were Down Under.

Son David dropped by about two and I hitched a ride down to Buffalo Billiards. Normal I buy a monthly pass while here which allows me to play all month, before 6 PM, for just fifty bucks. This stay I’ll only be able to play once or twice and the cost of a monthly pass didn’t pencil. The hourly rate can get pricey and I was expecting to spend twenty or thirty bucks this afternoon. As I walked through the front door I saw a play all Sunday special for just a buck. I’ve known the owner for over forty years and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked the girl at the counter if Lee had lost his mind and she looked at me like I just landed from Mars. Lee wasn’t in but answered my “I’m in Heaven—Trump and $1 all day pool” text in a heartbeat. His reply—“Trumpeters pay $2” Ubetcha…..

Our first home cooked meal turned out to be a disaster when the salmon was too fishy for these two picky fish eaters. I’m not sure what happen as the last time we had some from the same batch, I caught last summer, was excellent. Some days the magic doesn’t work.

David came over for a visit after dinner. We only have five more days left here in Petaluma. So much to do………….so little time.

28 Jan 2017 Back In The USA………..
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I was up at five to spend the last few hours, in Australia, playing on line poker. In another 24 hours, back in America, I’ll be in one of the only countries on the planet that can’t legally play on line poker. Go figure.

Before logging on I wrote and posted my blog, checked in on River House (www.riverhousecanada.com) and also checked the weather around the globe. I’ve lived and visited hot places before but there was nothing to compare to the last month in Australia. If I had a dollar for every day below ninety I wouldn’t have enough to buy a good cup of coffee, which is on the top of my list when we get back to the states.

While Australia has lots of casinos and all the problems that go along with them mainly making the poor…..poorer, I haven’t spent a dime in a Australian casino. With the ability to play on line poker I decided to use what little spare time I had working on my cash game. I knew it was subpar and needed to play lots of hands and try to discover and eliminate the leaks. My work paid off. After the first couple of days I only had one losing session. I’d usually play for a couple hours before tour time started and stuck to the .05/.10 kiddy pool games.

Judith was up at eight and we walked over to the airport to check out things and have breakfast. We did that and mapped out our route a few hours later. We ended up at MacDonald’s our first mistake of the day.

We were back at the hotel by nine and called the front desk to see if we could have someone check out the TV which wasn’t working. They sent up two different techs and finally determined a wire was broken and it wasn’t going to be fixed before checkout. Upon checkout Judith tried to get a refund for not having a working TV. A different guy at the front desk smiled and said no. Customer what?

We checked out at noon and were over in the international terminal within a few minutes. We were three hours early and the check in area was nearly empty. We decided to try for an upgrade and asked at the premium desk. For a mere additional $6000 we could fly back Business Class and $8000 for a First Class Upgrade. With my dad’s favorite line of “fools and their money soon part” ringing in my ears we walked back over to economy. We were greeted by a friendly agent that was just signing on for the day. She greeted us with a smile and we told her we tried for an upgrade and how expensive they were to purchase. She agreed and said we were lucky that our plane wasn’t very full. She searched her computer and put us on each end of a four seat row in the middle of the plane near the back. Perfect. That gave as more room than if we did the upgrade. Sometime the magic works.

On the way to Australia we loaded at almost midnight and slept most of the trip. That didn’t work out on the way back. As much as I tried to trick my mind by setting my watch to San Francisco Time I couldn’t get to sleep and probably only logged a couple hours during the entire fourteen hour trip. Our plane landed on time at nine thirty, however it took over an hour to deplane, clear Customs and get our baggage. David was waiting at the curb when we walked out of the terminal. Our next battle was getting to Petaluma which took almost two hours. The traffic was heavy all the way. It is never easy.

Buddy gave us a where the hell have you been look and let out a little pathetic meow. She looked old and I’m sure she thought the same of us. David helped us with the bags and we were back home. Praise the Lord! While I really enjoyed the trip, thirty days is a long time to be on the road sightseeing almost every waking moment.

Naps were the order of the day then we started unpacking, checking mail and getting settled back in to the RVing life. I really wanted a home cooked meal but that won’t happen until tomorrow. We had Mexican for lunch and I bought ribs at the local deli for dinner. We did venture out and get a few items at the grocery store.

Tomorrow I’ll play in the ten O’clock tournament at the Graton then turn the truck over to Judith to do some shopping to restock the groceries. Just a week from today we’ll hit the road again seeing family and friends while we make a forty five day loop visiting Laughlin, Scottsdale, Tucson, Yuma, Borrego Springs and Temecula. In just seventy eight days we head back to River House. My, time flies………

27 Jan 2017 Hot, Muggy And Buggy………..
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My New Favorite T-Shirt

Well, up until yesterday the little black flies were the most annoying party of our trip to Australia. Then came the humongous cockroaches and even bigger centipedes. They were everywhere. Apparently the unusual wet weather coupled with Africa hot temperature brought them out in droves. While we were at breakfast I heard two ladies talking about how bad the bugs where and they had called room service sixteen times last night to get bugs out of their room. Why again were they traveling alone?

We were on our final AATKIng bus for the short ride to the airport and boarded a nearly full plane to Sydney. Our travel agent had the good sense to book us at the airport just footsteps away from the international terminal.

There was a screw up on our room giving us just one queen where our travel itinerary clearly stated two beds. The hotel stood their ground and Judith coughed up another fifty bucks for a good night’s sleep before what should be a grueling fourteen hour flight home.

We were last off the plane and the last to baggage which worked out perfectly. As I approached the baggage area there where our bags just a few feet away. We were told the T-Bus would take us to the hotel, about a ten minute walk from the domestic terminal, for six bucks each. When we got on the pleasant drive said it was free to the Rydges. It took two attempts to get settled in with Judith doing the heavy lifting.

Our View Of Sydney Through Our Not So Clean Window.

Our second room has a nice view of Sydney and must have great insulation as while I can see many planes arriving and taking off I can’t hear any noise. Speaking of which…………

One of the great things about this trip is that we got to stay in a whole variety of different rooms and discussed what we liked and didn’t like which will be invaluable when, and if, we build a commercial building in Walla Walla and put B&B type accommodations on the third floor.

We didn’t have the strength to go into Sydney and went to one of the three restaurants in the hotel. One of the restaurants had an awful singer whaling at the top of his lungs and driving potential dinners away by the droves. We chose the restaurant on the second floor and opted for a salad and pizza. While the food has been great here Down Under I can’t wait to have some good home cooked meals. Next on my food list is Mexican food. By the lack of it in Australia my guess is that there isn’t a big Mexican population in this diverse culture.

Much to Judith’s delight our TV bit the dust and I was left newsless. I did pick up some stories on the internet. It looks as if CNN got caught on misrepresenting the inauguration numbers. Go figure. The Trump bump continues but the market will always correct. Early on in the trip I talked with a Doctor who wasn’t on the Trump train, however, yesterday he said “so far so good, this might work out”. Smart man.

Judith worked out a late checkout allowing us to stay at the hotel until noon. Our plane leaves at three and we will arrive in SF at 9 AM the same day regaining the day we “lost” at the beginning of the trip. Son David will pick us up at the Airport.

25 Jan 2017 Another Day…..Another Tour
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Major Hiway Between Alice Springs and Uluru

The last morning I was on the Ghan I started coughing and had that telltale tickling in the back of my throat. I thought “this can’t be happening”! It did. Yesterday was uncomfortable. Today was a nightmare.

I started my yesterday getting up at four. The rain was pounding on the hotel roof in Alice Springs and I had visions of roads flooded to the point passage to Uluru (Ayers Rock) would be impossible. I wrote and posted my blog, check in at all the familiar places before waking Judith at five forty five. Yes, five forty five. I hopped in the shower and asked her to check with the front desk and see if the tour company had called to cancel. They hadn’t. We packed our bags, went to the restaurant for our “free” breakfast and arrived in the lobby ten minutes before departure time.

A Week Old Baby Cmel

The ATTKIng Tour bus was driven by the same thirty something women that picked us up at the train station. She assured us the roads would be open and after several more hotel stops we headed to Uluru. The first stop, about an hour later, was at a camel farm. Judith really wanted to go for a ride but was wearing a dress so that bucket list item bit the dust. Camels played a big part in settling the outback as horses just couldn’t stand the heat. Tens of thousands were imported to Australia and flourished. Then the tractor came along and for the most part camels were turned out to fend for themselves. Depending on which tour guide is spinning the yard there are currently between 360,000 and 2,000,000 farrell camels roaming the outback today. Today’s blog picture shows a week old camel just born at the farm.

Over the next five hours we made several stops at little outposts for bathroom breaks all featuring the “long drop” (outdoor toilet). Of course to use the toilet you are routed through the gift shop. Go figure.

We got into our hotel shortly after one and two my amazement our room was ready. The lobby was full of tourists waiting for the three o’clock check-in time. I couldn’t get in bed fast enough and Judith walked a short distance to town to find anything to help fight my cold which was getting worse by the hour. My big worry is being too sick to make the flight back on Saturday.

Judith booked us in for the “Sounds of Silence” sunset dinner and I (barely) made the bell. We were taken out to the desert to experience the sunset, have cocktails and dinner and a Sky Talk by one of the tour guides. The sunset wasn’t spectacular but the setting was beautiful. My least favorite part of the trip is the annoying little black flies that are constantly landing on my face. Many tourists ware netting over their heads which looks goofy but apparently works. Being in the southern hemisphere the sky is filled with constellations we don’t see in North America.

We arrived back at the hotel at ten thirty and set the alarm for four twenty. Vacation is killing me.

January 26th