Believe it or not, he’s walking on air

I knew I’d need Patrick, Protector of Sanity within the Office of Ridiculousness and Incompetence&#153 to deal with an issue of ridiculousness and incompetence, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. Yesterday, he had to swoop into action to protect me from screaming at another contractor, an individual who expected me to do his team’s job, then complained when I wouldn’t. I could never defend that behavior, but I especially despise it because he went directly to my boss without saying anything to me. For the second time in three weeks. Knowing that his intervention was necessary, Patrick, Protector of Sanity within the Office of Ridiculousness and Incompetence&#153 jumped into action and saved the day.

Again, when I mention Patrick, Protector of Sanity within the Office of Ridiculousness and Incompetence&#153, I can only ask… Ain’t he cool?

Martians are blinded by the bright light

President Bush shined tonight, but only from the flames of the giant fireball surrounding him every time the camera focused on him. Perhaps the armies of compassion could save him, but I doubt it. Senator Kerry finally started punching back when President Bush made ridiculous statements. Since this was on domestic agenda, Kerry proved that there was a fiscal liberal standing on the stage and he wasn’t it. I don’t agree with everything Kerry proposes, but I think he’s easily the better choice for the next four years. I’ll happily push the button for Kerry on November 2nd.

Your thoughts?

If only my car could fly…

Over the last few days, I’ve been having major issues with bad drivers in DC. On Saturday I drove around for an hour looking for a parking space, with zero luck. (It was ok because I was listening to the Hokies, until it wasn’t ok because the radio went out on when Wake Forest had 4th-and-3 from the 5 yard line with less than 10 seconds to go in the game. Tech won, but still.) Not only could I not find a parking space, but I encountered every idiot driver and walking tourist possible. No, it’s not acceptable to drive around me because I’m stopped at a red light. No, it’s not acceptable to walk into traffic when I have a green light.

On Sunday, as Danielle and I returned from Ikea and Whole Foods, I had the joy of merging on to the Beltway, which isn’t as hard as most DC drivers think, as evidenced by my simple demonstration. (Exhibit A: The friendly man on Sunday morning who gave me the finger because I didn’t slam on my brakes as he sped up while trying to merge into my car. I forgot the old lesson that he who is not already in traffic has the right-of-way. Ass.) After getting on the Beltway, I immediately began dodging random junk falling from the pickup truck two cars in front of me. The driver felt it sufficient to throw over-flowing open boxes into his truck and shun any sort of tarp. At 65 miles per hour, what could go wrong, right? Objects I ran over included swimming goggles, cardboard boxes, a lunchbox, and a happy meal. I switched lanes before the inevitable dead fish smashed my windshield.

And then, Monday happened. As annoying as working on government holidays is, I get a reprieve from the Worst Mass Transit System in the Universe&#153 because the highway HOV restrictions are lifted. Driving into the city on a holiday is 25 minutes of Howard Stern-induced bliss instead of 60 minutes of commuter hell. Yesterday, as I drove through the one way street next to my office building looking for a parking spot, I noticed the only other car in front of me stop. Beyond comprehension, the the tail lights lit up and the car started driving in reverse, coming straight at me. As the car got nearer, I stopped my car and honked my horn to remind the driver that I was trying to share the road. When the car didn’t stop hurtling towards me, I shoved my hand into my steering wheel to blare the horn into one continuous note. The car drove in reverse, parallel to my car, with 4 inches of space separating my car from acquiring a blue paint job on the driver’s side to counter the original metallic green paint. What inspires someone to do this just to get a parking space half-a-block behind? But the day wasn’t over.

Leaving the parking garage after work yesterday, I pulled out of the garage and turned right onto the one way street. As a reminder, a one way street means I can only go one way, so I turn right because it’s the only way I can turn, even though going left would get me home faster. After driving about 3 car lengths, an 18-wheeler pulls out of its loading dock as the driver looks directly at me and the empty road behind me. Rather than wait for an extra 3 seconds to let me drive by, he pulled out and proceeded to execute a 27 point turn, including a two minute delay in which the security guard gave me the stop sign (even though I wasn’t moving) and the truck driver left the truck and went inside the building. With the truck blocking the street. Blocking that one way street that I was driving on, in which the only way out was under the truck of over the wall. People are stupid.

To every driver I encountered over the weekend: a little common sense would be nice. Until then, I will now request IQ tests be required of all applicants at the DMV.

The big bad stupid people can’t win

Patrick rocks, but who thought molding Patrick into this was a good idea.I have a new guardian for my job. When I’m stuck dealing with the crazy people who are not only crazy people but also incompetent people, I need someone who appreciates my point of view. I need someone who can give the appropriate posture and attitude and ferocity of mental superiority. This person exists. He is Patrick, Protector of Sanity within the Office of Ridiculousness and Incompetence&#153.

Today, he will look menacingly at his first assignment, the Forces of Evil Who Require Tony to Work on Government Holidays&#153. I suspect that I will call him into action many, many times after today. Even when I’m not invoking his name, he will stand watch in menacing anticipation. Ain’t he cool?

…Fool me twice, I’m an idiot

Let me tell you why I suck at Texas Hold ‘Em.

Texas Hold ‘Em is a simple game, but the strategy is quite detailed. The only way to get better is to see as many hands as possible. That’s why I generally buy back in if when I’m bankrupted from the game. I have to lose before I can win. So I play some cards.

Last week, my roommates and I had a game. I was the 3rd to bust out among the six players. I don’t really remember many of the good hands I’ve played and won, but like every poker player, I remember every bad beat. Last week, I had played my worst hand ever, letting my roommate play a straight draw from the Flop to the Turn without betting when I had top two pair on the flop. Naturally, he pulled the straight on the River. Being blinded by my “sure win”, I bet into his straight because I wasn’t paying attention. I never recovered in the game.

Monday, I told some friends about my horrible play, laughing as I swore I’d never make that mistake again.

Early in tonight’s game, I drew the following pocket cards:

I raised aggressively into the big blind before the flop, just to let everyone know that I was serious. A few players called my raise, while a few folded. That was exactly what I wanted.

The flop came out:

I bet into the pot again, hoping to buy the pot or gamble my way into the flush. Two of the other three remaining players called. I made a silent wish for another spade. The Turn came out:

I made my flush. This is the time to bet into the pot, most likely with an all-in to let the other players know that they had better have a strong flush. I checked to play it “cool” and pretend that I didn’t have the flush. Why I played it that way, I don’t know. What was I waiting for? I had the Jack-high flush. All I could do is let someone make the stronger flush. But I checked. Everyone checked behind me. The River came out:

I had a sinking feeling as I realized that I’d possibly let someone draw to a flush with only one spade in their pocket cards. I checked, knowing I’d messed up. It was too late to play it, so I decided to let the cards play out. As the bet went around the table, I assessed that only one card could beat me. If one of the other two players had it, I’d lose the hand.

After the betting was through, we flipped over our cards. My brother, one of the remaining players, saw that I had the Jack and sighed. I relaxed, expecting to win. The other remaining player, who’d never played before, had been tentative the entire hand and hadn’t bet into the flush when the Ace came out. With my pocket cards and the community cards, I knew 7 of the 52 cards in the deck. That meant that, with 45 cards unknown to me, only the Queen of spades could beat my flush.

She flipped over her cards and looked for help. I saw her cards and immediately knew I’d lost:

Despite vowing that I’d never make that mistake again, I made that mistake again. I let an opponent draw into the best hand without having to bet to see it. I busted out two hands later.

I’d say I’ll never make that mistake again, but I’m not confident about it now. I suspect that I’ll overplay that situation a few times before I balance out into the right strategy. Playing more cards is the only way I’m going to get better and not make the stupid mistakes. That doesn’t make tonight any less frustrating.

It’s just like breathing

I don’t know how I missed this, but after UVA beat UNC a few weeks ago, UVA Fourth Year senior tailback Marquis Weeks commented on his 100-yard kick-off return for a touchdown. Before I reveal his quote, consider this description of his run:

Receiving the kickoff a yard deep in the end zone, Weeks started up the right side, ran out of a tackle attempt by Hilee Taylor near the 25-yard line and burst to midfield, where he cut left across the field to pick up blockers who cleared the rest of the way.

I didn’t see it, but it sounds like it was a sweet run. Good for him. Blah, blah, blah. As I said, the real key is this post-game quote from Marquis Weeks:

“That was just instinct,” Weeks said with a laugh. “Kind of like running from the cops, I guess you could say.”

Ummm, I don’t believe I have that instinct. And I remember getting mocked over the summer because of the most recent legal run-ins for members of the Virginia Tech football team. I can accept the mockery because there’s no defense for the behavior of some of my guys. But I can’t allow that quote to just disappear into the ether. Considering that one of my roommates went to UVA, do not fret. That quote isn’t going anywhere, except maybe taped to my refrigerator.

Beam me up, Howie.

Stern.jpgI’ve mentioned once or twice that I don’t like our government’s irrational and (unconstitutional) assault on free speech. I’m not going to debate that now because there’s no new information on that front, but I have to re-examine my beliefs. I was wrong about the entire debate. The last nine months have been wonderful and useful and beneficial, so I have a few thank you’s to offer.

First, to the people who complained to the FCC about Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime debacle, I say thank you. You got the ball rolling while people like me were too busy watching another channel to even know that a breast had been flashed. Nice work!

Second, to the tight-panted bureaucrats at the FCC, I say thank you. You ran like lunatics once the fine, offended citizens of the United States gave you the ball. You threatened censorship. Righteous!

Third, to President George W. Bush, I haven’t said this before to you, but I thank you for your outstanding service to the nation. Without your overbearing hand pressing down further on the censorship machine, we might have artists criminals slinging curse words and flashing naked genitals on the radio and the TV. Kick ass hiney!

Why am I making such a bizarre turn-around on my previous opinions? The witch hunt was worth it. All of the sternly-worded, paternalistic slaps on the wrist for our moral depravity will pay off in a better society. If my beliefs had been embraced, we’d be at a status-quo, but they weren’t, so we’re not. Inspired by this re-interpretation of freedom, Howard Stern is moving to Sirius satellite radio in January 2006.

Before anyone gets the wrong impression about me and thinks that I’m excited because that means we’ll hear coarse language and sexual innuendo, that’s not why I’m excited. Ok, it makes me do a little dance of joy, but that’s not the point. I’m excited because our censorship-obsessed political climate is going to make me a lot of money. I bought many, many shares of Sirius in early 2003 and stuck them in the back of my investment vault. That decision is paying off today. Without the FCC witch hunt of the last nine months, Howard Stern’s move to Sirius would’ve been improbable at best.

I’ll do my part for the economy when I buy a beach house with my profits. (Insert super-cool slick thumbs up gesture and sparkle from winking eye directed at Michael Powell…)

Thomas and Franklin become George

Did you know that if you insert a dollar bill into a vending machine and then insert extra coins before selecting your item, the vending machine will exchange your small coins for quarters?

I tried this on a whim when buying a pack of gum. At 60&#162 for the gum, my 40&#162 change would add to a pocket full of change. And I have an exhausting, never-ending need for quarters to pay for Metro parking every day since a day parked at a meter is cheaper than a day parked in the garage. Because the meters accept only quarters, I have an obsession that fosters creativity. So I put $1.10 into the machine and waited. I expected a quarter, two dimes, and a nickel to fall into the change slot. When I only heard two clinks, I did a mini mental dance.

The Evil Vending Machine Giver of Nickels and Dimes&#153 will never win again!