Friday, January 28, 2005

More Skiing, More Poker and More Students

Google Ski Trip was last Thursday and I came up to join Lexi that weekend at Squaw Valley for some skiing. I got some more blues in and even tried out a small ski jump. I managed to catch a little air and still land in control. I'll try to get a little more air next time.

We got out to Harveys for some poker on Saturday night. I got the worst cards of my life. Worse than I could even excuse playing at as loose a table as we found. I folded away $20 over 3 hours. Lexi did get the cards though and used them well. She netted $243 profit at the table. I'm still proud I had the will power to keep from loosening my play too much for that table. With 6-9 offsuit and the like making up most of your hands, Q-6 offsuit starts to look good, but I knew I shouldn't play it and I didn't. It would have just made my losses even greater.

This week was recruitment for the Academy. I feel good about the new candidates this year. I hope that we are able to keep more of the students that we want. It's been getting better year to year and I hope the trend continues. If we can keep a good team running this academy, it could really make the transition to a college prep program.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

The way I remembered it, this hill kicked my butt last time. That was nine months (and eight percent body fat) ago. I had decided to bike the scenic route home from work - through Mountain View, to Foothill Expressway, to Alameda de las Pulgas, through San Carlos. The hill in the middle was a surprise, and it felt like it stretched on for miles. It took me two hours to get home that night, even though it's maybe fifteen miles, and it completely wore me out.

Today, after hooking up my new odometer (thanks, Andrew) and replacing yet another flat (thanks, bike shop dude), I figured it was time to take on some hills and put the new gadget to some use. We decided to take that route to Palo Alto, on the theory that at least Palo Alto has good food and a bookstore.

Going up San Carlos Ave., the route starts out flat and gradually builds up to a hill. We kept up a 15 mph clip up until turning on to Alameda, where the hill asserted its presence. I downshifted until I was comfortable spinning and slowly made progress upwards. We crested the top of a hill at the mile 3 point, and I was feeling pretty good - hadn't even broken a sweat, and the new gadget said we had kept up a 7mph pace up the hill. By mile 3.5, there was another leg of the hill, and my legs were starting to feel it. Fortunately, I was distracted by the view of the smog rolling in over the bay, and made it to the top at mile 4. If the faded "Welcome to Atherton" sign is right, that's a 500 foot climb. The rest of the way was mostly downhill; we hit 30mph in a few places, and just coasted in others. We covered the total of ten miles in a little over fifty minutes - about 12 mph. (Lucas has a record of hill grades for other rides in the area.)

After a stop at the Cheesecake Factory (where we ate dinner plus a whole piece of cheesecake) and the bookstore (where we sat and read poker books for a few hours), we headed home via Middlefield. It was dark already, and a little chilly. Sadly, I've now lived in California long enough that "chilly" was probably hovering around 50F. My headlight really needs new batteries, so I was navigating partly on instinct through the darkness of Menlo Park. The fading light was just enough to catch the reflection of the stripe on the road (where it existed) or the litter off the side of the road (elsewhere), but not enough to pick out the dead squirrels in the road. I set a pace at a sprint as we left Palo Alto, and started counting in my head to keep myself on pace. (The new gadget had lost its connection to the sensors when I parked the bike roughly, so I didn't get good readings from it on the way home.) The cold air was invigorating, and I quickly found a comfortable cadence, listening to the hum of my new tire on the pavement, breathing evenly in and out, in and out.

We made excellent time, through cooperative streetlights, until the boundary of Redwood City. Redwood City is designed to be an exercise in memory for bicyclists. The only way to go through Redwood City directly is El Camino, which has stoplights every hundred feet, lots of traffic, and no bike lane. So we stayed on Middlefield, which has stoplights every hundred feet, not much traffic, and no bike lane. Middlefield goes through the barrio of Redwood City, so in contrast to the empty road through gated communities we had just left, there was now snatches of Latin music coming from bars with their doors open, the smell of lard-and-tortilla concoctions wafting from restaurants, and little punk kids yelling at us. Then, Middlefield turns in to the center of Redwood City, whose map looks like the city founders turned a perfectly good grid of streets to a 45 degree angle, added some dead ends and traffic calming measures, and made some streets that turn back on themselves. But, the secret to escaping Redwood City is this: from Middlefield, turn right on Main, turn left on Brentwood(?), then ignore that this street dead-ends into city hall, go through the county court's courtyard and pick up Brentwood at the other side, then slight right onto Allerton, which eventually lets out at Whipple.

By the time we got home, another forty minutes had elapsed (most spent in Redwood City waiting at stoplights). This is about seven miles, so we averaged about 10 mph. I think this makes sense now, because our speed on the hills was better than I'd predicted, and the stoplights on the flat route really cut down on the average speed. We got back home and I was already hungry again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Defeating the Post Vacation Malaise and Malady

So I'm still not completely over my cold from last week. There's a nagging cough that I just can't shake. But my energy is back up and I had my first good day at work since I came down with the cold last week. I got so much done today:

-Lessons prepped for the rest of the week
-Agendas created for the steering committee and Career Technical Education committee meetings next week.
-Met with Bev Parks and planned our strategy for our meeting with the superintendent over the academy budgets.
-Taught my heavy load of classes (Tues and Thurs have more class time than the rest of the week)

As my threshold for what I'll put up with at work continues to drop, it was refreshing to have a day that went as well as today. This vacation had a real impact on my work ethic. I found that I have enough hobbies to keep me busy and happy without work. If I can keep finding enough interesting problems like the budget meeting with the superintendent, maybe I will last in the district until I go back to school (which is currently leading the pack of ideas for what to do next). Though reading some of the bios for the Profs at Stanford, I came across a too many pedagogical theorists and too few administrative policy analysts.

Lexi and I have been playing some on-line tournaments lately. We've been doing pretty well too. Our very tight preflop play has been paying off big time as well as our new aggressive pursuit of drawing hands with a variety of outs. Overall, tournaments seem to pay off more reliably for us, but not offer the same return as regular play. It's a volatility versus rate of return trade off. Thursday we will try to make the Google Poker night for the first time. I'm eager to meet the player that has apparently impressed David Sklansky (One of my favorite poker geek writers).

Friday, January 07, 2005

Low Week, Low Pairs and a Bad Beat

I am so glad this week is over. Tuesday was a tripple whammy. We lost Zack in the morning. I had biked to school under partly cloudy skies. Then right when school ended the skies opened up just in time for me to bike to my blood donation appointment. The combination of grief, rain and blood loss gave me a bad cough that I am still fighting.

On the up-side Lexi and I have broken $600 in our partypoker account. It started with $60 earlier this summer and hovered there for a while. The big boost to the account came yesterday when we hit the sweetest 2-4 table. There were two lunatics with $350 each. Lexi hit a pair of twos and limped in. She caught a third 2 on the flop and the two lunies maxed out the betting. Then on the turn another 2 falls. They keep betting the max. When the dust settled we were up a hundred. They kept playing the same way too. At the end of the night we were up $250. It's been lots of fun practicing our poker together.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Zack liked to play outdoors, and didn't even mind the leash that much. Sometimes he had so much energy that it freaked out the cat. He loved to meet new people and was always very friendly. He had just adapted to the new baby ferrets and was enjoying playing with them. We brought in a tub of dirt over the weekend and let the ferrets all play in it. The babies and Zack loved the dirt, and dug in it so much that all their fur turned dark (even Zack, who was normally mostly white-gray). Zack also became so excited about the dirt that he leapt up onto the counter and overturned a poinsettia plant, creating further havoc. We gave them all baths afterwards - they hate baths - and dried them off in big poofy towels. Zack seemed so happy.

We'll miss him.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Zack's Passing

Lexi found Zack, our Silver Ferret, dead this morning. I was just about to get on my bike, when Lexi called me and told me she found him. It was a real shock as he was only 4 years old. He had been losing some weight, but still seemed active and was still eating right up until he passed some time last night. We buried him out in the back yard, wrapped in one of the towels he loved to curl up in.

Zack was a puppy trapped in a ferrets body. Whenever he was happy, he would hop all the way around the dining room. In fact he hopped way more than he walked. He was the only one of our first 4 ferrets that would chase the little ferret toys around the room. It was a hard morning at work. I'm still feeling depressed. When I get home tonight, I'm going to give our other 5 ferrets so many treats.