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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Thoughts....

I hope, first, that you are all having a wonderful Christmas, and that this whole holiday season treats you well.

Squirrel and I left Florence last night at about 9pm and arrived home to our anxious dogs at 4am. We proceeded to sleep in until about 3pm! It is really great to be home.

I was very ready to get out of Atlantic City. The final 10 days there were really aggravating. It was pretty amusing though that the things that drove me nuts, and inspired me to blog (and later get a 'silent reprimand' from upstairs) ended up igniting a firestorm when the game's elite showed up for the 10k Main Event and started pitching a fit. Some of those players were asking me how I wasn't flipping out about some of the things.

"Well, I have already been here for two weeks...so I have been desensitized to it all!"

Since my plane left Atlantic City on Tuesday I have not played a single hand of poker, live or online. Can't lie...feels quite nice.

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When I go home with Squirrel for Christmas every year there are always three very eventful days. The first day is when we go to her brother's house and we exchange gifts with the kids and Scott's side of the family...and we spend the night there. It's usually pretty tame. The next night...at her Mother's house...her 2nd husband of many years has his side of the family invade. At one point I counted 17 kids, all under the age of 9. In this average sized home we had around 35 humans. That was the only 'adavan' night of the trip. It gets so loud, and so out of control at times...that if you are one of those people who are on the fence about having children...an experience like that could forever change your mind.

The 3rd day...is when we go to Cheryl's Aunt and Uncle's house...from her Mom's side for a breakfast that requires us to be up by 8am. I don't function well at 8am. I mostly sleep-walk my way through this thing. I think last year there were 77 people on hand. Two years ago...this was where I proposed to Cheryl and made all the women (and Cheryl) cry. Another very special thing happened this year.

This past Easter, her other Aunt and Uncle...Dennis and Deborah, nearly lost their life when their home caught on fire. The house and all their cars and other belongings were destroyed...and they barely escaped death. They also lost their family dog. Their son and daughter-in-law...who at the time were living with them...would have likely been killed had they not been away on spring break vacation. It was a tragic event...and the whole family bonded together in support. Well, every Christmas...we do a huge gift swap game...where everyone brings a boy and a girl gift and then we draw a number. Its called the 'Take Away Game' and its always provided a lot of wonderful memories.

Well, this year...once we got assembled in the living room...the eldest of the home's children, announced to everyone that all the gifts this year would be given to Dennis and his wife. Everyone clapped. And then the two of them both were overcome with emotion...with Deborah wiping away tears while opening all the gifts. Then she went around the room and hugged and thanked each and every family member. It was so moving. And as I sat there reflecting back on the past few days and the visions of all the kids devouring wrapped presents...it finally provided me with a 'real' Christmas 'moment' where we got to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays.

I am so lucky to be part of such an incredibly loving family. Having witnessed watching my wife do so much for MY family to get them all gifts while I was out of town...then seeing how much these people care about each other...it just really made me feel a sense of pride that I married into such a wonderful group of people.

Then...as we were driving away from there, my mother called...and Cheryl talked to her for about 20 minutes...and it dawned on me how thrilled I am that the two of them have developed such an amazing relationship. I know about all the horror stories about in-laws and the relationships that exist between them...and I am just so proud that we don't have any of that animosity.

Christmas has always kind of annoyed me because it gets so overblown with the pressure put on gift-giving and not enough emphasis put on just sharing each others company. But I have to say...this year provided a nice balance of both. Cheryl got to spend almost a full week with her family...which is the most she has gotten to see them at Christmas in years...so I know she was very content. It was a great Christmas. I hope that even 20% of you were able to have as wonderful of a holiday as I had.

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I am watching all these NBA games. Ya know, I just can't find the interest to sit through an entire NBA game. I'm just not that entertained. And two things that I have had my fill of...guys slapping fives with each other after missing a free throw (why? you MISSED a free throw!) and the chest bump...or running/flying chest bump. I am ready for this one to be over. Time to invent something new. Perhaps something involving the feet? Don't think they have 'gone there' yet, right?

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When you own a car...you get to know that car pretty well. For this reason, I am now ready to announce to the world that the oil companies are totally manipulating the product they sell to us. What I haven't quite figured out yet...is what their model of manipulation is based on. But I am 99.9% certain of my conclusions.

My car has a 20-21 gallon tank. The first 2 or 3 years that I owned my car...a 2005 Toyota 4Runner Limited V8...I would get between 275-290 miles per tank. Then...when gas got super expensive...until about 6 months ago...I was averaging between 320-350 per tank. I started convincing myself that my engine has just gotten 'broken in' and was now getting better mileage. Strike that!

For whatever reason, oil prices are spiking again...up over $91 a barrel...and this is a peak travel time, over the holidays, and now...suddenly, I am only getting between 250-275 miles per tank! The lowest I have ever averaged! Explain that one!??

Now I have read consumer reports that suggest that automakers have the technology to design engines that will get 30-40% better gas mileage than the ones they engineer, but that they just havent been. Why do you think that is? Perhaps the petroleum industry has been heavily lobbying them not to?

Well, now I am pretty positive that there is something in the way that they produce gasoline where they determine at the refinery how much mileage you are going to get. So...if its a peak travel period...keep the price down per gallon, but send them the 'bad product' thus ensuring that everyone has to fill up 25% sooner than normal. And assume that 95% of the public won't notice. I would have to assume that I am in the 5% who pays very close attention to my mileage.

I mean...we already know that their are 3 or sometimes 4 different 'grades' of fuel you can buy that assure better mileage or performance of your engine, right? So I think this is right on target. And I am really sick of being ripped off by the big oil corporations. It sucks!

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Two weeks to do just about NOTHING...as I wait on the event at the Beau Rivage to arrive. I am hearing from a lot of players who are coming and really think its going to be a big event. That would be a nice way to start off the new year...with a good event here at home...and maybe make a couple of good licks.

Squirrel just got a call from 'The Claw' telling her that Gabe and Claudia are engaged. Well, this is their 2nd shot at this...hopefully this one goes the distance.

Noticed Tyler Smith bought his girlfriend....Nikki Longoria, a new SUV for Christmas. Whoa. Thats a pretty nice Christmas gift, right? I just got Squirrel a nice diamond necklace, and thought I was doing good. Thanks for raising the bar, Tyler!

Okay...well, wanted to holler at y'all real quick. My Mom keeps calling asking us if we opened her gift yet...and we haven't, so I have to get to that so she will quit waiting on us.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monkey

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