Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home, Snowy Home

That week in Spain sure went by quickly. It was really nice to leave a -20C (that's about 0F, I think) snow-up-to-my-ears Linköping and spend some time where it was +20C (uh... 70F?) and sunny, but the downside is how depressing it is to come home to the snow again. Although, on the plus-side, the snow IS melting. We'll see how long it takes for the weather gods to change their minds and turn down the thermostat again. Hopefully not until next winter.

Made me want to buy a house in Spain or some other mediterranean country that we could escape to during winters. Downside to that is that we both have jobs and, specifically, Lori is a teacher - and teaching is not a good career for telecommuting. Maybe when we retire.

I hope we retire when we're 50.


In the meantime, Taylor published the video he and I did together for StoxPoker. The original intention was to just do a regular sweat session but when we got on to record the audio for it, we looked through some hands that I had marked for review and decided on a whim to include those as an intro to the video. Ended up recording 48 minutes of commentary for those hands, so the sweat session was canned altogether.

The downside to doing what we did is two-fold, though:

1. It doesn't provide a real theme to the video. It was just a couple of hands (4 or 5, I think) that I for one reason or another thought presented tricky or difficult decisions, and
2. We didn't really have the hands "solved." We talked through them briefly but didn't really work much with PokerStove in order to make sure some of our assumptions were correct. For that reason, there's a risk that we're wrong, even if we agree.

Still, I think there's value in the material. Not necessarily for learning what to do with the second nut flush on a monotone board, but more of a "these are things that should be discussed with a poker buddy." If that makes sense.


Book order is going through tonight or tomorrow. The list I posted earlier is mostly adhered to, with some last-minute revisions and some additions thrown in for good measure. Caught some book recommendations from Skeptic Magazine (an awesome, awesome publication) and I can't wait to get my hands on a new big pile of books.

Yay, books!


Quite awhile back, I decided to stop posting results or monthly tallies or anything like that. I still feel that this is the right call; I don't think my results are anyone's business but my own. I do, on the other hand, have to admit that I like seeing how other people are doing at the tables. Does that make me a hypocrit?

For now, let's just say that I'm doing alright this year and I'm in fact on target for the goal I set out for myself late December. And that was a pretty high-reaching goal, so while anything can happen between now and 2011, I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll at least get a respectable portion of the yearly total I'm shooting for.


Books ordered! Final list (including some children's books and some stuff Lori wanted) here; the numbers to the right is just the price in Swedish Kronor because I couldn't be bothered cropping it - exchange rate is about 7.20:1 to dollars, if you're curious:

1 Collapse (9780140279511) 108.00 108.00
1 Eric (9789132435027) 31.00 31.00
1 Moving Pictures (9780552134637) 84.00 84.00
1 Sourcery (9780552131070) 84.00 84.00
1 The Greatest Show on Earth (9780593061749) 141.00 141.00
1 What the Dog Saw (9781846142949) 131.00 131.00
1 Wyrd Sisters (9780061020667) 74.00 74.00
1 Year Of The Flood (9780747585169) 133.00 133.00
1 Bear About Town (9781841483733) 69.00 69.00
1 Bear at Home (9781841489254) 69.00 69.00
1 Contact (9780671004101) 77.00 77.00
1 Fear Of Physics (9780465002184) 133.00 133.00
1 Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (9780143116387) 96.00 96.00
1 Guards! Guards! (9780061020643) 77.00 77.00
1 Physics Of 'star Trek' (9780465002047) 126.00 126.00
1 Pyramids (9780061020650) 77.00 77.00
1 The Story of English (9780142002315) 140.00 140.00
1 The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (9780060845506) 126.00 126.00
1 Farewell To Alms (9780691141282) 159.00 159.00
1 Geneva Deception (9780007230433) 95.00 95.00
1 Going To Bed Book (9780689861147) 83.00 83.00
1 In Defence Of Food (9780141034720) 127.00 127.00
1 Little Stranger (9781844086061) 108.00 108.00
1 Omnivore's Dilemma (9780747586838) 112.00 112.00
1 Sneetches And Other Stories Mini Edition (9780007175932) 62.00 62.00
1 Supersense (9781849010306) 122.00 122.00

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I like to move it, move it

So I mentioned before that I was trying to get back in shape and drop about 15 pounds before christmas. How did that work out? Not quite. In reality, I've lost about 5 pounds since then which is nothing short of a colossal failure - in all but one important sense.

I've actually been pretty good with what I eat. I've also picked up a new hobby: Squash. I've tried running (boooooring) and I try to play a bit of golf when possible (but can't play at winter, requires an insane investment of time to play just one round during summer) and I try to be good and walk or ride my bicycle to work, but not until now have I found something that fits the bill of being both fun and one hell of a workout. If you're having doubts about just how tough of a workout squash is, think again. The first 30 minutes I played, I was almost blacking out at times. Fortunately for me, getting the heart back in shape doesn't take too long and after only a couple of weeks I was playing an hour at a time and I've been reaping the benefits; I'm in better shape than I have been for the past 13 years, and it's only getting better. My weight hasn't dropped as much as I had originally wanted it to, but a fairly hefty portion of that has to be discounted by the new muscle mass I'm putting on.

Swedish Open took place in Linköping last weekend, and my most regular squash partner and I went to watch. We're both, let's say, "enthusiastic beginners" but even for us the event was well worth watching. They had some of the best players in the world present for the event, and I'm in awe over the shape these guys are in when I see some of the rallies they play. If you're interested in what it looks like when the pros play, I found the free highlights of the games we saw (the semi-finals):,,12933~1961663,00.html.

So I'm trying to play 2-3 hours a week and usually succeeding. I get all sorts of fun bruises and pains from it, and I've yet to win a single match against either of the two guys I usually play, but I'm still enjoying myself. And I'm getting a hell of a workout, which - really - is what it's all about.


Now I need to get away from the computer; guests arriving in an hour and we have to make dinner and I also need to get the bread that I'm baking into the oven. Yeah, you heard me - I'm baking. I'm an exercising vegetarian who bakes bread. Funny how things change.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Books, Spain and even some Poker

The one thing every parent who's been on parental leave tells me is that "don't make any grand plans for when you'll be home; you won't have time to do anything but take care of the kid."

The one thing every prospective stay-at-home dad thinks is "poppycock; the kid sleeps for at least three hours during the day - plenty of time for pet projects!"

The truth, as is so often the case, is somewhere in between. I don't have time to read three books a week, play 60k hands of poker each month and keep the house sparkling clean, but I have time for something in between that, and "no books, no poker and the house is a mess." In practise, I'm trying to play about 25,000 hands a month - the majority of which takes place when Bennie takes naps, which is certainly not an ideal time of day to be playing from a game selection point of view, but you work with what you have - and I usually end up reading in bed at night. The house gets randomly cleaned here and there, usually while Benjamin is chewing his food; I give him a piece of bread and during the 45 seconds it takes him to chew and swallow, I empty some of the dishwasher, etc. Works out nicely.

Now, about books... It's February, and it's time for that weird annual Swedish "book sale" tradition in a few weeks. It stems from earlier times when every year about this time the book stores would try to clear the shelves in preparation for the new books that I guess were published in March. After awhile it became a tradition; every late February all the book stores have huge sales and great prices on books and by now it's such a big deal that the publishers actually print extra copies to be sold during the book sale - quite defeating the original purpose.

I love book sales. But that's because I love book stores. Give me a Barnes&Noble and I'll come out a few hours and a couple of hundred dollars later. In practise, I very rarely actually buy any books that are on sale, because they tend to be mystery novels and the like, and I don't really read those. Only rarely will I find a book on sale that I actually want, although I usually end up randomly buying some books that I never read anyway. So why am I mentioning the book sale? Because we - for reasons I'm not entirely clear on - decided that we'll place our big book orders at this time of year. I guess "just in case" some of the books we want would happen to be on sale, but they never are. So, in effect, that means that I'm only a few weeks away from my next Big Book Buy, and boy am I excited!

Here is what I'm planning on getting:

Food Rules by Michael Pollan
In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

I was originally going to get The Omnivore's Dilemma after a recommendation by Dan Dennett but remembered that he (Michael Pollan) had been on The Daily Show and decided that maybe the other books would be interesting too. Cooking/eating is something I'm interested in, so why not?

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond
The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

I'm currently reading his Guns, Germs and Steel and am loving it. So I'm picking up some more of Jared Diamond, because that's how I roll.

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
Eric by Terry Pratchett
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Pyramids: The Book of Going Forth. by Terry Pratchett

... and I'm also continuing my trek through Discworld. I started reading that series from scratch this summer and am now on book... I guess it's book number five? Something like that.

Prisoner's Dilemma by William Poundstone

Another book recommended by Dennett. If there's one book in the list that I'll skip, it's probably this one, no matter how interesting it may be. I'm a little bit worn out on Prisoner's Dilemma explanations.

The Greatest Show on Earth
by Richard Dawkins

Okay, I'm probably overdoing it now on evolution, and I certainly don't need to be persuaded by evidence anymore, but as I like Dawkins's style of writing and find the topic itself fascinating, I figured I'll pick this up as well.

A Farewell to Alms
by Gregory Clark

Look, Belgo! Finally!

What the Dog Saw: and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

I've liked every other book of Gladwell's, so I'm keeping with my tradition of buying basically everything by authors that I like until I don't like them anymore.

Contact by Carl Sagan

I've actually already read this, but don't own it, and I'd like to read it again. I've obviously seen the movie too but from what I (vaguely) recall of the book, the plots weren't entirely similar. In the book that was some funky business going on with Pi. But we'll see.


So that's that.


We're going to Spain for a week starting next Saturday. It'll be nice with a break from all this snow, and my parents are coming down a couple of days after us (we'll be staying in their house down there) so we'll have the dual pleasures of having available - and highly willing - babysitters nearby while also getting spoiled by my dad's cooking and getting to enjoy some sun. Our book order won't go through before we leave, but I'm not entirely out of reading material to bring with me. Yet. I think what both Lori and I are looking forward to the most is this excellent Indian restaurant that is near the house. Mmm, Indian food.


And poker is... Well, poker is as poker has always been. This year, overall, has gone OK but not great. The entire month of february has been a rollercoaster around the break-even line, largely from running like crap but probably a little bit from tinkering with some fundamental parts of my game as well and breaking some stuff in the process; specifically, my 3-betting frequency plummeted to 3% because I started changing my ranges; removing hands from ranges is easy - adding them is hard, because my reptile brain still autofolds a lot of them. It's on the rise again, though, and I'm not entirely sure where it will end up. Anyway. I do feel like a much stronger player than I've ever been, and I have great hopes for 2010. How great? Well, we're buying a new car. The idea is to make enough this year to be able to easily cover the cost of it, and I'll leave it to you to try and guess what kind of car we're getting and how much we're paying for it.


Alright, Bennie's awake, so I'll leave it at that.