Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dipping a toe and booking a win

When my back went out earlier this month, I thought it best that I stay away from Poker Stars until I was feeling better. Actually, I didn’t need much convincing because of a bad run that I couldn’t seem to kick, dropping buy-ins like I hadn’t had to work hard to get the roll up in the first place. Friends suggested I try Omaha Hi/Lo to get away from the variance, yet I wanted to read Hwang before I stepped up onto a new learning curve. Hwang’s PLO/Hi/Lo book is in a bin next to the loo. I do my best reading there, but I just couldn’t bring myself to open it. I just didn’t want to play, or rather, I was tired of risk, and I saw no need to read.

I didn’t quite quit playing poker altogether, because all the while I knew that this phase would pass, and instead spent my time at Poker Academy, chatting with friends and keeping my rankings up. I did okay and both of my primary nicks are sitting at all-time high rolls.

I guess all I needed was a little morale boost, for when DW suggested I take it easy last night and play some poker, instead of firing up PA, I went to PS for the first time in over three weeks. And guess what, Aces improved.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (8 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

BB ($15)
UTG ($6)
UTG+1 ($12.40)
Hero (MP1) ($14.50)
MP2 ($10)
CO ($8.30)
Button ($2.95)
SB ($4.15)

Preflop: Hero is MP1 with A, 3, 6, A

1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.10, Hero calls $0.10, 1 fold, CO calls $0.10, Button bets $0.65, 3 folds, Hero calls $0.55, CO calls $0.55

Flop: ($2.20) 3, 4, 3 (3 players)

Hero bets $2.10, 1 fold, Button raises to $2.30 (All-In), Hero calls $0.20

Turn: ($6.80) A (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($6.80) 7 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $6.80 | Rake: $0.30


Button mucked J, 2, 6, A (two pair, Aces and threes).

Hero had A, 3, 6, A (full house, Aces over threes).

Outcome: Hero won $6.50

This is one of my favorite scenarios playing Aces in PLO (maybe second only to the next hand). The flop is way too kind, and even without it, I can almost anticipate the way the hand will play. I may have bet less on the flop and pulled a little more from the third player in the hand, yet I don’t like to give relatively cheap cards in PLO, and I know the initial raiser will most likely call my bet with his big pair. So, I go ahead and get heads up with the shortie. No big pair. In fact, one has to wonder what he was thinking. In hindsight, keeping the other player in might have been wiser.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (9 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

Button ($1.35)
SB ($10.50)
BB ($15.20)
UTG ($10.35)
UTG+1 ($10.05)
MP1 ($1.90)
Hero (MP2) ($10)
MP3 ($3.15)
CO ($24.25)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with K, A, A, 3

2 folds, MP1 bets $0.30, Hero raises to $1.05, 2 folds, Button calls $1.05, 2 folds, MP1 calls $0.75

Flop: ($3.30) 8, 9, J (3 players)

MP1 bets $0.85 (All-In), Hero calls $0.85, Button calls $0.30 (All-In)

Turn: ($5.30) 4 (3 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($5.30) A (3 players, 2 all-in)

Total pot: $5.30 | Rake: $0.25


Button mucked 3, 8, K, K (one pair, Kings).

MP1 had Q, Q, 2, 2 (one pair, Queens).

Hero had K, A, A, 3 (three of a kind, Aces).

Outcome: Hero won $5.05

I moved to a different table. Again, with the shorties. I’ve played with both of these folks before, but only the player to my right has left an impression. She’s a LAG hit-and-runner and will change the table dynamic within two hands of play, triple up or bust out in ten. I want to isolate her and put her to the test immediately. When my raise gets called by the button, I’m not too worried as his stack is what remains after a few beats in quick succession. I figure he’s tilting.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bees and flowers

I took a drive today to photograph some fields to the north of us. I took a lot of photos, looking to experiment with framing. I am getting some ideas that have yet to make for good photos; yet, I did manage to get some decent shots of what I initially set out to capture.

This is a field of Meadow Foam, a plant that is grown for its seed. The seed is pressed for oil. You can read about it here.


That is Giant Red Clover in the foreground. There are huge fields of it, and each field has a group of bee hives for honey production.

I wanted to get a good shot of the bee boxes. I walked up to within 50 yards of the hives and I could see swarms of bees all around. What you can't see is that the bulk of the clover field is behind me. As I was framing the shot, I became aware of buzzing past my ears again and again. I took the picture and turn around to see a site that can best be described as what one would see if every jet in the world decided to decend upon one airport all at once. I scooted.

Another field of clover, taken from the safety of my truck and at a respectable speed. There are thunderstorms in the Cascades today. In another month these types of storms will bring the forest fires that will burn through the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All in!

This is the "before" picture of our big, open-ended hoophouse. As one can see, I neglected to clean up the ground cloth and soaker hose from last year, yet at least I didn't have to go hunting for it. Works for me.

There is something about freshly and finely tilled soil that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I can't explain it any more than some aspect of this farm thing is in my genes, perhaps from when we upright hominids decided to do a little less hunting and gathering and a bit more cultivating. Or, it could be just a tractor thing. My 17 horsepower John Deere lawn tractor has no trouble with tall grass as long as I go slow. A couple passes over the patch of ground, and the area is ready to be tilled. I initially was going to use my hand tiller, yet thought better of it. I pulled up the t-posts and used the 55-in. tiller on the back of the Kubota. Work smarter, not hearter, right?

In this picture (row by row and left to right): Kamo Eggplant; Cherokee Purple tomatoes; Pineapple and Roma tomatoes; Dagma's Perfection and Grandma Mary's tomatoes; and, Rosa Bianca eggplant. The Dagma's Perfection are very similar to Pineapples, and the Grandma Mary's tomatoes are a Roma type. I'm testing for size, flavor and, perhaps most importantly, time until harvest. Pineapple and Roma tomatoes typically are the last to ripen and we loose a lot of produce because of that.

While we have a mild climate that translates into a longer growing season for some plants, in the case of large tomatoes and eggplant, we just don't get the heat required for them to grow well. The daytime can be warm enough, but at night the temperature rarely stays above 60°F, and the plants in question cease to grow and ripen fruit. The hoophouse and ground cloth help a bit and we actually manage a decent crop in a small area.

So, yes, the garden is pretty much all in. Now the weeding begins.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rest (except for some light stylistic lifting)

"Tomorrow I will start to prepare our other garden area, a large, open-ended hoop house for the big tomatoes and eggplant."

Didn't happen. Caught a typo in the above sentence, and that's about as close as I got to accomplishing what I had planned for today. Not gonna fret about it, as we were able to spend some time with a friend in need, chat with the mum-in-law and build some points, and talk poker with the bro-in-law who will be playing the June 1 PLO tourney at the WSOP. I walked Annie while he explained just exactly when he likes to bluff in position.

Of course there were chores (evening chores in a half hour). I watered. And I sold some plants from the farmstead.

I may have mentioned that I was asked to grow some onion starts for one of the grocer's customers. Walla Walla, a big, sweet onion that is delicious but a lousy keeper. I wasn't happy with how they came up, so I offered to just give the guy the plants with my best wishes. He honored my offer and came by to pick up the flat of about 150 little babies of varying size. I explained how I plant them, he asked a bunch of questions about soil health and temperature, and gave him a quick tour of the greenhouse. He picked up some summer squash and cayenne peppers, and dropped a double sawbuck on me for my efforts. Then we talked about holistic medicine a bit.

Interesting guy. Big black rig pulls up into the yard and I wave him on back to the greenhouse. Out steps a guy in a bandana covering of a length of hair and with a beard about a foot long. Can't say I saw that coming.

He has a firm handshake, always a good sign, and a ready smile. Introductions are made and the DW and friend go off to look at our garden. He's engaged with the information I have to offer on how we amend our soil. We discuss liming to neutralize the acidity.

I tell him, "I use Calpril and turn it in."

"Is that organic?"

"Organic enough. You can use lime too. Just throw it on top of the soil and let your irrigation take care of it. Tomatoes need it if you don't want blossom end rot." And who does? Romas are the most suceptible.

Lots of questions, most of which I can answer by referring back to when we used to be a bigger operation. And as I gaze out over fallow ground I find I have a need to explain.

He offers, "Well, I'm kind of a part time shaman."

Can't say I saw that coming. But then again, my son knows about 25 shamans in his tribe of 100 friends. They are quick to impart that part of their résumé. And then he tells me about the miracle of tumeric and MSM and a few other daily supplements, all of which I am very familiar, and take under a modicum of duress due often to the size of the pill or amount needed for maximum benefit. I could easily dispense with a meal and still feel full.

And then it was time for him to go. I helped him load up and noticed a large piece of corrugated cardboard in his bed. It had wring on it that indicated he had a birthday and a nephew.

"Yep, that is the biggest birthday card I've ever received. I use it to soak up the blood when I go hunting."

He was a regular guy after all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


That what it’s called, or at least part of the phrase used for planting: the garden is in. Well, not all of it. Just most of it.

Wednesday I laid down the soaker hoses we use for irrigation. As you can see, the rows are raised. We use manifolds to direct the water to different rows, and since in some cases more than one row may be on the same hose, I plan out what will be planted where prior to setting up the water. I'll try to use the next picture to explain more precisely how I do what I do.

All four rows to the right of the garlic are on one hose. When working with such lengths, the water pressure is somewhat diminished by the time it gets to the last row. So, one either has to find a way to maximize the water used or place plants that don't require a lot of water in these rows. I have done both. The ground cloth minimizes the evaporation in those rows, which is of primary importance for the squash and cucumbers in those rows, as they use a lot of water. The cherry tomatoes don't require a lot of water, so they are planted in the row at the far left.

When planning irrigation, one also has to take into consideration how long it will take for plants to reach maturity. For instance, I planted about six feet of lettuce at the end of the garlic because the lettuce grows quickly and will have gone to seed by the time we have to quit watering the garlic so it can dry out for harvest. Likewise, the two rows on the right are on one hose because they contain plants like beets, basil and peppers with will require the same amount of water for the entire growing season. The two rows on the left are a hodge-podge of plants like kale, mustard, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I planted these together because they are most prone to pests, and if I have to remove them, I won't have to disturb healthy plants when I till up the rows.

Speaking of pests, I noticed some of the potatoes that volunteered from last year are already inundated with flea beetles. I nailed them with an organic pesticide (Pyganic, made from chrysanthemums), yet I expect them to discover the mustards by tomorrow. If nothing else, the mustard will make for a trap crop. I planted a lot of it as it is one of my favorite greens, so we may get some of it for ourselves. We'll see.

Tomorrow I will start to prepare our other garden area, a large, open-ended hoop house for the big tomoatoes and eggplant.