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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye to 2012!!! And a Look at Sandy Hook...

It's true. I've been gone awhile. In fact, in three years, I don't think I've ever blogged this few of times. Few of? Or just few? See how rusty I am? Do I have a good reason for it? I think so. It's, I'd say...a combination of factors. One of them is fatherhood. I kind of have a team deal in place with Squirrel. When I'm home...she works, and I play Mr. Mom. My poker trips have been drastically reduced because of Carley, and that is just fine. Because frankly, I'm as burnt out on the whole poker 'thing' in general. The travel. The long hours. The disappointing late bust outs. The inane and boring conversations overheard by a majority of the players. The politics. The constantly changing rules. The make-up-the-policies as they go style of management. And most importantly...just being away from my family.

On top of this...I just don't have the desire to sit down and write like I did. I credit a lot of that with just being tired all the time. Being a 'Mom' is hard work! When she is awake...I spend most of my time watching her every move. She's crawling, almost walking and wants to get into EVERYTHING! And her favorite place to cause havoc is on my computer keyboard. So my times to sit and write have been greatly reduced. When she finally lays down to take a nap or sleep for the night...I find myself joining her a lot of the time. This might be the first time I will ever utter this phrase: "I took a two week poker trip to catch up on my sleep and get all the stuff on my 'to do' list knocked out!"

When I do pick a trip to go just underscores the importance of staying focused, and playing well...and hopefully, bringing home significantly more than I left home with. Poker isn't a party anymore. I'm not on the road looking for people to 'hang with.' I find myself, more and more...being a bit of a loner when I'm away on a trip. I don't seek out people to talk to. I hide on breaks. I usually dodge everyone in social opportunities and scram to my room. A lot of people would find this type of talk to be warning signs of depression. I suppose it could be looked at that way, maybe. Or it could just be that I now look at poker as one thing and one thing only...a way to make a living without having to go grind out a 9-5 job that makes me depressed FOR SURE and/or want to kill myself. 

I've pretty much had this attitude all year. Which, when I go on a trip...and run into people who INSIST that I am a 'problem' and that I'm 'that guy' who pretty much disappeared from the poker landscape 2 or 3 years ago...I just find myself feeling that incredulous feeling that you get when you don't know what else you have to do to change people's perception of you. I swear to god...there are times when I think the only way I can dodge people's preconceptions about me, is to go in disguise, I'm talking, full-on Hollywood makeup artist type disguise. I mean, I quit using my trademark monkey on the a start. It has helped a little bit, I think. Anything to remove the once painted-on-target that I never thought I wanted off of me. 

When it came to deciding my next place to play, I had a few hurdles to leap over first. I will tell you...any place I'm not allowed to play, I wrote some very pride-swallowing letters to them in the past 30 days. I am disappointed that I have not heard back from ANY of them. Even a letter telling me I'm not getting back in would be better than hearing NOTHING.  Well, I had one person I had to get a 'green light' from before I could play at Choctaw and Palm Beach for those two WSOP circuit events. Why can I play those? Because they aren't Caesar's-owned properties. Regardless, the fellow who will be running them is still a loyal WSOP rep, and if he wanted to, could probably wield a sword of denial...and there were some rumors that this was going to happen. So I reached out to him...and finally, I heard back from him...and he gave me his blessing to attend both events...with the standard warning. You know the one...."if anything happens yada yada yada...." yeah I know the rest. So to Choctaw I will go. For that event...which promises to be really well-attended. I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of psyched. Some might think I'd rather stay at home and play the event at the Beau Rivage. would be more convenient. But I've been wanting to play in Oklahoma, at either Choctaw or WinStar for many years now.  So...this will be my first shot at it. And I've had a whole month off from poker to get a little bit of that fire back in my gut.

It's been a strange year. I keep thinking about 2012 and can't decide whether to call it a great year, a good year, a lousy year or a horrendous year. Well...God brought us the greatest present I think I will ever receive in my life in the gift that was Carley Grace...and she has proven to be the most amazing little thing I could have ever dreamed she would be. She is growing up SO fast its scary. I love her so much...more and more every day. And she clings to me like a koala. Her smile just fills my soul with joy. I can be having the WORST day imaginable, and when I go to sleep, and wake up...and she is sitting there in her little perfectly upright position...and is looking at me with her big blue eyes and has that gigantic grin on her face...the world just seems perfect. Totally perfect. If you are a parent, you GET it. If are probably rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, "Okay, Monkey...jeezuz I didn't come here to read your mushy baby rants...get on with the good stuff, already!"  Tell me I'm wrong!

So in summation...I have a lot to look back on 2012 and feel good about. I made some really good new friends. I found out who I thought were a few friends...really weren't, and that clarity really actually helped me. It's always good to know who your REAL and TRUE friends are. And to know who the Judases are in your life. I had a 'decent' year in poker, that could have obviously been better, but sure could have been worse. I had a nice little run this summer at the WSOP, that ended in obvious disappointment...but it was an overall positive experience. The setback I experienced in Hammond, while I know I did nothing wrong, inappropriate or anything...truly was a setback, and one that I hope can be overturned, or simply, I don't know...fixed somehow. A lot of great people signed my petition and left comments...and I would hope that they would assist in the right person getting all that information and making a decision about it where, well....common sense is used as the deciding factor. Common sense and a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing. There are some things I CAN control, and some things where...well...I'm at the mercy of others. It sucks. But being me isn't an easy gig.

My health really improved in 2012. My family grew even closer with the introduction of Carley into our lives...and it is such a pleasure to be around them all now with her in tow. Christmas...and all the holidays to come...have taken on new significance for me and Squirrel now. Being Santa this year was fun...but lets face it...she is still too young to really understand or appreciate it, so next year will really be a blast. Easter...that'll be fun. Halloween...can't wait. Financially, it was a rough year. My investments and side business both took a pretty bad hit this year...which puts a lot of pressure on my poker trips, especially the next two or three of them. On the bright side...not totally sure how it works...have to check with my accountant...but I think having Carley should help us on our taxes this year! Maybe even get a respectable return! Hell, I might actually NOT file an extension for the first time in several years!

I was all set to sit down and write about a week or so ago...right after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. I had a lot to say. My knee jerk reaction was posting something on Facebook that day about something needing to happen to get all the guns out of circulation. Well, that wasn't the brightest move. First of all...there are two different kinds of people in this country. Those with guns (Southerners mostly) and those withOUT guns (mostly Northerners) and as a Northerner, living in the South for the past 20 years...its not really a debate that I'm prepared to have.

I can't tell you how many online debates I've participated in this month over this topic. For almost a week, it was all I thought about. Those kids. That sick kid, who seems to have been severely mentally impaired...and what could have been going through his mind. The parents...of those children, who had to wake up and look at empty beds. I would like to think it would have affected me just as much if I hadn't just become a father...but in truth, I'm sure that made it that much worse. I don't know what the hell is happening to our society. I knew when I got Cheryl pregnant last year...that I was gambling on bringing a child into what I now consider to be a cruel and evil world. Led by leaders who lie to their own people, and a society that seemingly preys on the weak. 

The past week or so, I've been kind of observing from the there are gun control debates raging, along with this 'fiscal cliff' fiasco threatening to derail our entire economy. Then there are the conspiracy theorists, who have some very intriguing things to say. And to which, I admit...I would also like to hear some answers to some pretty important questions. A top ranking SEAL commander was found dead of a shotgun blast, in an 'apparent suicide.' This on the heels of two of our military's top generals being relieved of a result of their actions in the Benghazi affair, when it was learned that they either refused the White House's orders to stand down, or had made plans to send in help.  These were some of the TOP military commanders, most respected throughout the armed forces, and were thought to oppose Obama and his policies. There are rumblings that Obama fears a military coup...and that the only way to prevent this is to undermine the strength of the military, and lessen that possibility, but cutting loose numerous leaders. And then this SEAL commander just all of a sudden kills himself in Afghanistan? Its all just a tad bit creepy.

I mean, military coups are something reserved for other society's right? Not here in the USA. No way...250 years as a nation, and we've never had anything resembling that. That kind of talk is just crazy, right? 

Okay...can someone answer this question? Why did Homeland Security, in November, purchase 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition? Let me put that into perspective for you. It's enough ammo to keep all four branches of the military in bullets for 20 years. It's enough to fill enough 18-wheelers to line then up head to toe in a line that would extend for 14 miles. No bullshit. Who are they stocking up against? Canada? Mexico? I'm perplexed. 

Here is a VERY, VERY eye-opening article that a friend sent me, and this was AFTER he read my blog post. I'm just going in and adding it. To make things more interesting...I spoke to a family member on Cheryl's side, while home for Christmas, who is a commander in the National Guard, and who just returned from Afghanistan. I picked his brain about a lot of this...and when telling him about the massive ammo purchase, he looked noticeably shaken. But responded by saying "there is a possibility with all the budget cuts, that they are buying what they can before the money runs out." Sure, okay...maybe that's possible. But I wasn't sure he was convinced himself of that argument. READ THIS!

Is there a connection to the mass shootings at Sandy Hook and the big anti-gun hearings that were scheduled to take place at the United Nations just a week after the shootings? Remember, on the news...the pursuit of the man wearing camouflage pants into the woods behind the school? Who was arrested by 3 cops? Who was that? Why did we never hear another word about that?

 The medical examiner? Anyone see this fool? Nothing he said sounded credible. He claimed 'all the victims' were shot by a long rifle. Huh? It was reported that that long rifle Adam Lanza possessed was found in the trunk of his car.  When was the last time there was a mass shooting and there wasn't a single person hospitalized? No one was just injured?

 All these kids...20 of them...>TWENTY! were allegedly shot at point blank range, execution style. By ONE person...a fucked up, crazy kid with Asbergers Syndrome. What? None of those kids thought about running? Of resisting? They just sat there like good little sheep, and let this guy put between 2-7 slugs into them? 

Anyone find it odd that we never saw ANY photos of the crime scene? No blood. No bodies. No bullet holes. No funerals were observed, except from outside of the church. No parents were interviewed, except for two...and this guy sounded about as disingenuous as you possibly could after your 6 year has been taken from you by a crazed gunman.

Here's the rub. If you bang the drums too hard...and insist that its a government hoax, a conspiracy...where Blackwater (or Xi or whatever the hell their called now) mercenaries conducted this 'mission' to move Obama's boys one step closer to Gun Control...then you are viewed (most likely) as a freak. As being paranoid. Of needing help yourself. Really? Or are you a sheep? The citizen the politicians hope you are...that just take news events as they are...which will vanish from the public's memory after a week or so, and simply be replaced with the next hottest story. I can see it from both sides of the fence. These kind of things are SO frustrating...because the last thing I want to be is a citizen with my head stuck in the sand...willing to let my scheming government officials just do as they want...spoon-feeding us just enough misinformation to keep us from second-guessing them. Or maybe we all just watch too many movies? But wait...those movies have to be based on SOMEthing, right? Where there's smoke, there's fire...right? See what I mean? Spend enough time digging and trying to find the truth...and it just makes your head spin.

So...where does that leave me? I mean, I feel its disrespectful to an extent to 'doubt' the deaths of these children. But...well, let me put it this way: I play poker for a living. My job, is to spot a bullshitter. I've got a lot of experience spotting bullshitters, long before I even started playing poker...and there is SO MUCH about this case that just smells like shit.  Adam's mom was reported to be a teacher! School claims to never have heard of her! Huh? It makes me sad. But it pisses me off too. Because it just smacks of a government controlled media...much like they had in Communist Russia, or now in Communist China. 

And gun control? Honestly...I have no affinity for guns. I own a gun, but its an antique, and sits in a locked case. I've never fired it. Guns scare me. I've never found myself needing a gun. I've never dealt with a situation in 45 years that couldn't be handled with hand-to-hand combat. Yet gun owners will argue until they are blue in the face that their gun is an extension of their home security system. I try very hard not to thumb my nose at people's views and/or opinions. And I wont, where gun control is involved. The one thing I get...that I understand, and fully support, is those who preach that if the government is able to wrangle away ALL the guns from the civilians, then it will just be ONE side with guns. And yeah, I realize the obvious...every case of genocide in our history has generally occurred after the governments of those nations were able to first strip its citizens of their guns. Two that come to mind are Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany.  So from that point of view? Hell yes I would want my fellow citizens to have a little leverage when it comes to standing their ground against corrupt politicians.

Is there a middle ground? Fuck if I know. It's a mess. Are guns responsible for all these mass shootings? I mean, you look at countries with gun control and see the incredible disparity in gun-related deaths. It's mind boggling. You have all these people (and I find these points to be almost asinine) who want to use the..."look how many people get killed in car accidents! Should we ban cars!?? Look how many die of cancer because of smoking! Should we ban cigarettes?" Actually, yes! We should ban fucking my opinion. You get my point. People die...all the time, by several methods, some of them horrific. But most, which we have no ability to control. You can't (within reason) control death by disease or accident. But if you never allow a sicko to get his hands on a fully automatic military-grade assault probably don't need to worry about him shooting up a classroom! Granted, guns get into the hands of the wrong people...guns that were owned by people licensed to have those guns. So what do you counter that argument with? The bottom line? I don't think you can win this debate.

[this movie? I just happened upon it on NetFlix...exactly 4 days before the Sandy Hook shooting. It is eerily similar in so many ways to what transpired in Newtown. It was disturbing...and I recall, after watching it...asking myself, 'what the fuck would compel someone to make that movie?' I wonder...did Adam Lanza maybe watch this movie? It's called 'Rampage' ]

There are too many things you can blame. Too many factors. Our have and have-not society is no help. The video games with their incredibly violent themes can't be a big help. The shit they put on TV certainly isn't doing us any favors. The economy being dogshit...with so many people facing desperate levels of poverty doesn't contribute to a peaceful society. You see what I mean? It's a nightmare. And the NRA...the politicians, the lobbyists...they will sit and bicker back and forth with each other...more money will get slapped into the pockets of the lawmakers...and nothing will change. More innocent people will get gunned down, the news will cover it for a week to 10 days...America will express outrage...and it will continue on and on and on. It's a never-ending wash-rinse-wash-rinse cycle. Does anyone really think there is a solution?

Okay...I will get off that subject. Not sure why I vented. I guess it's possible that its all I've thought about this month. And I knew...when we took our annual pilgrimage to North Alabama for Christmas...that seeing all the various cousins and nephews would mean watching them chase each other around the house 'play' shooting each other. Guns are everywhere up there. When I grew Seattle and/or Montana...guns were like taboo. No kids played with guns. I didn't have any friends that had guns. We were taught that they were to be feared. Squirrel and I have debated this issue for years. We debated it again following my post on Facebook after the shootings last month. Like I said earlier, I think its a southern thing. Parents down here just don't see a problem with it. And in fairness, Squirrel's brother Scott, who has three little extremely intelligent, an excellent father, and teaches his boys the difference between right and wrong as good or better than any parent I've ever known. Nonetheless...its always the same thing when we go there...all of them chasing each other around the house with guns. I was kind of hoping, on the heels of Sandy Hook, that this year would have provided a reprieve from that.

I really thought it might. Who wanted to see a bunch of kids with guns in their hands...shooting at each other...just days after 20 kids all 6 and/or 7 years old, were mowed down in cold blood? didn't take long. Not sure who gave them the gifts...but there they were. Little 3 or 4 year old getting a pistol that fires b-b's. Other kid getting a big ass gun that shoots water pellets or something. All of them retreating to the yard to basically hunt each other down. Then coming inside...and wanting to shoot more people, before being told to shut it down. It brought it all back for me. It literally made me cringe. I never bitch about it while I'm there, mainly out of respect to my wife. And of course...out of respect to their families. They are free to do, and to raise their kids, however they want. And they are incredible parents...and the boys are great its not like I think they are going to grow up to be mass murderers or anything. I guess my issue, is that for every family like Cheryl's...where the little boys won't grow up to be mentally fucked up and violent? There is that family down the street, where they have planted the seed of violence in that child's head...where they think hunting down and killing something is a way of life. I think that people who grow up and kill others...are conditioned, all throughout their life...and arrive at a mental place that allows them the ability to pull the trigger with a gun pointing at another person. If you never HAD a gun, and never USED a gun...there is a very slim chance that you will ever develop into a murderer. 

On these Christmas trips...I've just learned to 'deal with it' as a good little husband. But deep kills me. I was SO glad we didn't have a boy for that reason, among a few others. Because I know our son would probably be getting weaponry from her side of the family...and then what? I have to be the evil dad who won't let him have it? I am pretty confident that Carley isn't going to grow up thirsting to go kill shit. 

Okay well...this blog, my first in two weeks, and only third of the month...has gotten incredibly long. That wasn't really my intention. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve...and I really, truly want to wish all of you a great new year. And while Squirrel and I are likely sitting at home when the calendar turns to 2013....I hope you all have a safe night. Playing right now...on the channel I'm watching is a long running reel of news events from this! Certainly a LOT to digest. Good night, and good luck....



Anonymous said...

They have us believe this mentally impaired crazed gunman deleted his hard drive and nothing could be saved from his computer? Really? Good blog. Im in the middle. Shootings were real and tragic but something smells. Something was covered up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks oddsmakers for my big moneyline win on Notre Dame. Sorry about Alabama in advance.


Poker Monkey said...

Apology accepted sir. Roll Tide!!!!!

Poker Monkey said...

Apology accepted sir. Roll Tide!!!!!