Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kinda poker

Knowing my penchant for poker, my son gave me some playing cards he had found at a thrift store. The box was decorated with a reversed-out Chinese print and some calligraphy, and read “Characters in Water Margin.” This link shows details of the box and the cards. Very nice, although the size of the cards suggest they were meant for either smaller hands or cut of a size to save paper costs.
 Made in Shanghai, China, I was intrigued by their availability and age, and confused by the term “Characters in Water Margin.” Was the article ‘a’ between ‘in’ and ‘water’ lost in translation? I thanked him for the gift and as soon as I could, googled. “Water Margin” is a famous story in Chinese literature. The decks are readily available on ebay.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Of a sharing nature

The starlings are doing their collective acrobatics, coming in for the last of the apples; the sweet corn has been topped to get the last bit of swell to the kernels; and there are no fewer than four deer corpses feeding the buzzards in the three-mile stretch into town. The buzzards will be circling above the back field soon, not for some kill but to file off one at a time due south. Jupiter is the brightest it will be for the next fifty years, the moon is waning low on the horizon and the house is noticeably quieter tonight.

I want to think about cycles, for we seem prone to go that way this time of year, except the change of non-change that comes back around is blunted by a persistent sense of linearity and absence. Some things we’d just as soon not repeat, if only we were granted some insight as to how to avoid such; notions of the chance of a last chance at something enduring come with their own pressure; and sometimes simply drawing from experience to find a few words to acknowledge enough to build on the next time around. Or in some instances, to set the stage.

I said, “Work to uncover the sublime that comes through the commitment,” knowing full well that I offered a challenge and an opportunity all at once.

In other news:

I laughed like I have not in some twenty-seven years, and made sounds and faces I pulled from those same recesses.

They forgot the cutest little pair of socks behind. They’re on the fridge for the time being. We may not return them.

I showed my son my favorite place on the river to not catch fish.

The mules make their presence known a couple times a day.

We all have colds now.

 I’m getting a haircut tomorrow.

R of home game fame is getting married next week; Saturday is a poker bachelor party.

We’re digging up a few spuds from the compost pile.

I’m back.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We have company

Well, more like company and a couple boarders. Lots of thoughts in the usual vein. For the time being, let's just say that's me on the left.

My son and I are going to try our hand at Steelhead tomorrow. And we have some of the same species defrosting, just in case.

And we have the requisite photo, courtesy of DW. Here's hoping we get to meet his first serious crush.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clocking in

The visit is going well. We are eating well. Job interview today. It was obvious I was ill-suited, at least for this one. They suggested a better position, and one for which they would hire me. Application deadline is day after tomorrow, so you'll have to excuse me now.

The photos are few and far between.
A lot of industry involved in making those pants look the way they do.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


As opposed to hiatus.

My son just phoned to say he was leaving Spokane, Washington well-rested for the remainder of his road trip to our place. He'll be here in seven hours or so. His wife and son arrive Monday evening. I don't imagine I'm going to have much time to post most than the occasional photo over the next week and a half.

We'll see.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


But not that much. Just a little something.

I played some 8 Game yesterday, even two-tabling it, which means that I was often playing two different games, for instance Stud H/L, NLHE, at the same time. I mention the two tables only because I don't do such things well, and when I doubled up on one table, I closed it down to concentrate on the other.

I had calling stations on either side of me, and as is often true to form, they were slowly bleeding my stack, only to feed those chips to others. Eventually, the one to my left bled out, twice, and left. After a little more play, the one to my right also exhibited some LAG tendencies. Not that it matters except in setting up the betting in the back-to-back hands below:

 8-Game (Triple Draw 2-7 Lowball Limit, $0.20/$0.40 USD)
Table 'Tucson' 6-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: bastinptc ($13.86 in chips)
Seat 2: The_Greeeek ($2.48 in chips)
Seat 3: hurnz2 ($14.40 in chips)
Seat 4: aussikrtecek ($11.86 in chips)
Seat 5: tudsen ($4.93 in chips)
Seat 6: kipkachel ($6.54 in chips)
bastinptc: posts small blind $0.10
aussikrtecek said, "lol"
The_Greeeek: posts big blind $0.20
Dealt to bastinptc [5s 4d 2c 3h 6c]
hurnz2: folds
aussikrtecek: calls $0.20
tudsen: folds
kipkachel: calls $0.20
bastinptc: calls $0.10
The_Greeeek: checks
*** FIRST DRAW ***
bastinptc: discards 1 card [6c]
Dealt to bastinptc [5s 4d 2c 3h] [7c]
kipkachel: discards 2 cards
bastinptc: bets $0.20
kipkachel: calls $0.20
bastinptc: stands pat on [5s 4d 2c 3h 7c]
kipkachel: discards 1 card
bastinptc: bets $0.40
kipkachel: raises $0.40 to $0.80
bastinptc: raises $0.40 to $1.20
kipkachel: raises $0.40 to $1.60
Betting is capped
bastinptc: calls $0.40
*** THIRD DRAW ***
bastinptc: stands pat on [5s 4d 2c 3h 7c]
kipkachel: stands pat
bastinptc: bets $0.40
kipkachel: raises $0.40 to $0.80
bastinptc: raises $0.40 to $1.20
kipkachel: calls $0.40
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [5s 4d 2c 3h 7c] (Lo: 7,5,4,3,2)
kipkachel: shows [7h 5h 6h 2s 4c] (Lo: 7,6,5,4,2)
bastinptc collected $6.60 from pot

Seat 1: bastinptc ($17.26 in chips)
Seat 2: The_Greeeek ($2.28 in chips)
Seat 3: hurnz2 ($14.40 in chips)
Seat 4: aussikrtecek ($11.66 in chips)
Seat 5: tudsen ($4.93 in chips)
Seat 6: kipkachel ($3.34 in chips)
The_Greeeek: posts small blind $0.10
hurnz2: posts big blind $0.20
Dealt to bastinptc [3h 2c Jc 4s Jh]
aussikrtecek said, "nh's"
bastinptc said, "booyah"
Deegk [observer] said, "weeeeeeeeeeeeee"
aussikrtecek: folds
tudsen: folds
aussikrtecek said, "nhs"
kipkachel: raises $0.20 to $0.40
bastinptc: calls $0.40
The_Greeeek: folds
hurnz2: folds
*** FIRST DRAW ***
kipkachel: discards 1 card
bastinptc said, "thx"
bastinptc: discards 2 cards [Jc Jh]
Dealt to bastinptc [3h 2c 4s] [5d 7d]
kipkachel: bets $0.20
bastinptc: raises $0.20 to $0.40
kipkachel: raises $0.20 to $0.60
bastinptc: raises $0.20 to $0.80
Betting is capped
kipkachel: calls $0.20
kipkachel: stands pat
bastinptc: stands pat on [3h 2c 4s 5d 7d]
kipkachel: bets $0.40
bastinptc: raises $0.40 to $0.80
kipkachel: raises $0.40 to $1.20
bastinptc: raises $0.40 to $1.60
Betting is capped
kipkachel: calls $0.40
*** THIRD DRAW ***
kipkachel: stands pat
bastinptc: stands pat on [3h 2c 4s 5d 7d]
kipkachel: checks
bastinptc: bets $0.40
kipkachel: calls $0.40
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [3h 2c 5d 4s 7d] (Lo: 7,5,4,3,2)
kipkachel: shows [2h 3s 6h 7s 8c] (Lo: 8,7,6,3,2)
bastinptc collected $6.50 from pot

Weeeeeeeeeeeee, indeed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010


The Patriot

The Captain

The Drunk

Sunday, September 12, 2010


This weekend the town to our north had its Harvest Festival. I had mentioned elsewhere that I did not have any interest in attending this event as it was known to be something of a drunkfest, with fights and the works. However, today was Family Day with a shorter schedule of events, and therefore I thought I should make an attempt to see just what was what. And to perhaps avoid some version of an "all talk," I offer the  first picture:
The rest of the photos I will present with minimal commentary, except to mention that the stock tractor pull was the main event for the day.
The Republicans (they don't use that term on their signs any longer) were having a fundraiser.
By far the best looking tractor on the field today. Had a rough start but managed to end with a decent score. I may remember seeing only one other Cockshutt in my life.
One of the two women contestants I saw.
The gentleman who drove this rig asked me to take photos of his rig. I obliged. Dual pipes made for a loud ride. Not much torque but a lot of speed.
The announcer informed the crowd that this pull was this young lady's (18 years old) first event. I wish I could say it ended well for her. Note that she has her hands up in the air. This is to signify to the guys hooking up the sled that she has the beast out of gear. Her gears were her undoing.

I'd imagine that's enough photos for one post. Tomorrow I'll put up a few of the monster truck competition.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

You saw it here first

I've submitted the below to the art site I write for:

Eva Speer’s  Landscaping at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art

It’s the Pacific Northwest, so of course there is a fascination with landscape. Just as the Hudson River School of painting, Ansel Adams, and the f64 photographers and artists who live in the Northwest have no choice but to be in awe of the nature that surrounds them.  Those who agree with the previous statement may be unaware that such an assertion is political at best or, at worse, exclusionary. However, it is hardly more so than the opinion that within a progressive art history, landscape painting has been dead for over 150 years. Some may wonder why everything must be deemed political while others maintain that to ignore the political gives short shrift to an ethical awareness in artistic choices.

However, for some reason the argument persists less vociferously when the percentage of greenery overwhelms the total yardage of asphalt. Call it the “Kumbaya Effect” of our region. Still, there are some artists who find that the dichotomy of these two extremes is where one can find the richest subject matter. Contemporaneously, the majesty of fir trees and volcanoes is tempered in a suitable parlance, and in that a language is necessary, the landscape as an idealist abstraction has to be realized as an active personal space. In Eva Speer’s case, she makes it a gerund. It can be safely assumed that Speer knows all of this theoretical rigmarole, has taken it into consideration in her recent work, and even has some fun working in a milieu that maintains a strong influence in the region.

Speer experiments with the genre, but also gives viewers traditional “scapes.” Even though they are seascapes, they set the tone for the contrariness in her paintings. The artist as subject matter is never far from the context of the paintings. We Could Have Stayed Home depicts a turbulent body of water that reflects the moody assertion of the title. (Regret and remorse are equally common themes in art as is the ubiquitous seascape.) The materials of the painting, gouache on paper with a Xerox transfer, implies that there is no need for inspiration derived from actually being at the depicted scene in order to paint it. The Xerox frames the scene, any scene, really, of such a body of water, wave after dashing wave, as different in formations as snowflakes, but on a grander scale, just another stormy sea or snow-covered field. The second seascape, Collection, reinforces this notion of the mundane. While well executed (Speer is more than proficient as a painter), we ultimately are left with yet another seascape.

Another aspect of the aforementioned schism is the idyllic nature of the most traditional landscape art. It is given to a nostalgia, a more perfect frozen moment and therefore more like a memory than an event. It is how one remembers a scene. The two large gouache on paper pieces, Loved Ones (#1 & #2), have that effect without being traditional landscapes. Again, Speer is evoking themes around landscape as a genre. The reproduced prints are reminiscent of cotton curtains our grandmothers might have preferred just prior to the introduction of fiberglass as a fabric and the angularity of modern interior design. Not so much landscapes as mindscapes inspired just as much by the dearly-departed’s love of gardening, these trompe loeils of hanging fabric generate feelings of melancholy and fondness just as much as they perfectly replicate a luscious old design.

It is a simple notion, actually: Landscaping is creating a landscape. To paint a landscape has a similar agency. And both are constructed around geology, namely the most fundamental aspect of land. With no recognition of either a human presence or preference of a specific depiction, the landscape/geology becomes more of an abstraction. In her Slipways series, Speer comes closest to the abstract and reminds us of the tectonic dynamism that lies underground in the Pacific Northwest. The paintings look like colorful seismographic charts, and that might be enough of a reading for these meticulously rendered oils. Yet, they offer more. Their sheen is not unlike that of a photographic print of a landscape, except the camera has been jostled, the emulsion emulsified (Spillways?), all during a magnitude 8 earthquake. The palette is largely that used in landscape painting, including tree bark, water, reflections and sunsets. Since we are so accustomed to seeing the landscape painting in its unadulterated, non-deconstructed form, with her use of these color combinations, we readily give Speers the benefit of the doubt. (One can almost see the scene, but it is best not to gaze for long periods of time and instead look for that millisecond between tremors to see the landscape represented.)

Landscaping is typically what one does to one’s yard, to a golf course or park. It is plants, land contours, irrigation and whatever else suits one’s fancy, combined in such a way to be visually appealing and designed in a manner to allow easy yet controlled navigation of a given area. It is a manipulation of a natural order, pragmatism as much if not more than an aesthetic. (Just ask a farmer, for whom it is more about landscaping than the landscape, a desire for more efficient production than the aesthetic. Looking good is an added bonus.) Comparatively, a traditional landscape, whether painted, photographed, or filmed, reverses priorities; were it not for the skill of the artist, agency is not given a second thought. Yet, when the artist’s representational decisions, derived more from thought than flora and fauna, are brought more fully into the equation, it is then we can recognize that the entire genre should indeed be seen as “landscaping.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Project's end/rainy day

I took what may very well be the last photos I will shoot of the burned fields today. Not all will make the cut for the series on my website, maybe just the less landscapey ones. I think I want to avoid a more photojournalistic theme for the group, and concentrate more on the abstraction.


With a second draft of the art review blurring my brain, I thought I’d finish tonight with some limp-festing at Poker Academy. I received the Spinning Chip of Death when I tried to log on, so I thought now might be as good a time as any to try and remember how went my live cash game at Commerce Casino a week ago last Sunday.

It is fortunate that DW has both a brother and cousin-in-law who are avid poker players. It takes little to convince them to hit one of the big poker rooms in the LA area. In years past I have been taken to Hollywood Park and done fairly well, even when just a newbie (still am, really). The cousin likes the room, the brother-in-law, not so much, as he maintains that since it has been for sale a while, the owners have let the place go downhill. It is indeed a filthy place, or it was a year ago, and I have no reason to believe it has improved since then. The brother-in-law also believes that there is a substantial amount of collusion at the tables, not to mention folks who follow big winners to their home and dispatch the player for those winnings. Maybe an urban myth, but I’d rather not worry about contracting flesh-eating bacterial infections from my chip stack, so we discussed our other choices: Hustler, Bicycle or Commerce.

In that we both have spouses to answer to, we opted out of the first choice. Not that anything would have or could have happened, but explanations take words, sometimes words more carefully chosen than at other times, and even then there is no guarantee that those words won’t become pretzels, again, even if nothing happened… You get the idea.

This is how my brother-in-law described the Bike: a bunch of angry Persians and Armenians yelling at each other, “You are a very good poker player!” “No, YOU are a very good poker player!” I don’t mind playing against monkey-tilters, but no thanks. I'm of a delicate sensibility and I’m on vacation.

That left the Commerce, the largest poker room in the world. I believe that’s how it’s billed. It is big, for sure. If memory serves, one giant room is designated for the odd poker games such as Pai Gow, somehow played so that one is not playing against the dealer/house. There’s some Blackjack derivative as well. No thanks. Never played ‘em. Another huge room is for high stakes games. Pass. Then there is the low stakes room. Wow.

I’m not clear on just how many games were being spread, maybe five, yet all tables, maybe fifty or sixty in all, were full. Most games had waiting lists. My brother-in-law tried to give me a quick run-down on the games offered, but frankly, the size of the room had me a bit disoriented. Crowds and me… I heard “$100” buy-in, can reload another 100 if down to fifty,” signed up fifth on the list and was seated within two minutes. He was going to wait for a 3/6 Omaha seat to open up.

$100 buy-in, blinds 2/3. Shit. Get ready for a jamfest.

The table did not disappoint. Crazians (did I spell that right?) jamming with AJo, smiling when a pair of tens holds up, and reloading. I could handle it. Initially there was a lot of such action as I fold my 92o again and again. Two players to my right were building stacks, and based on their play, I knew given the right circumstances, I’d own them. No such luck. I did get involved in a hand with one when I was still nursing 3/4 of my starting stack. I had Queens UTG and given the aggressive tenor of the table at that time, decided to limp. That put the big stack in the SB and he came along with three others and the BB. The flop was good and bad: AQJ. I checked. One player made a small move on the pot, the SB min-raised and I jammed 2xpot. Both players folded.

I hit sets better than I have in a long time. Fours twice, tens, and Queens again. Each time I got no action. Not that I came across as a nit or anything. I mixed it up enough. Perhaps it might have been my age and demeanor. I was by far the oldest player, and as my brother-in-law puts it, “If I didn’t know you. I’d be scared of you.”

Eventually the two players to my right left with their winnings, nitting it up when ahead, and two more players sat down. One, a woman, although obliquely greeted by the dealer, was obviously also a dealer at the casino. The other, I initially didn’t pay much attention to, but when I did (please forgive this indiscretion) was so butt-fucking ugly, I dared not look his way again. The game changed as well, into a limpfest.

The hands came few and far between, but it was during this phase that I hit my sets. Even my second set of Queens came when I checked my BB. Probably the wrong way to play that hand, but eh. Another player sat down, asked the dealer(s) by name about the action, donked off a buy-in on the first hand to the player to my left, lost another half-stack to me with a worse kicker for his King, tried to get some of it back on the next hand, except I had too little invested to bother, and he left soon thereafter, presumably for greener pastures. The ugly duckling changed seats to that one vacated.

But the seat change came later, after the big hand of my evening. I limped with A4c UTG. A full four players came in, including the dealer cum new SB. The flop was beautiful: AQ4. The SB leads out for the pot. I called, as did both other players. The turn I don’t remember; the bet I do: $15. About 1/3 of the pot. I call, as do the other two players. Of course I worried about AQ but I’m not laying down my two pair here. The river was another 4. The SB led out with another $15 and I was left with a decision. How do I keep her in, and possibly keep another player along for the ride? I decided on a small raise to $30. Both players left folded. She called and said, “Show me your four.” I showed her both cards, the table murmured, and I cannot recall what she had. She may have mucked them for all I know.

At that point I had three times the stack size of the second largest stack and knew that my game was finished. I could change tables, and that thought certainly occurred to me, yet when I racked up and checked in with the brother-in-law (who had given up waiting and decided to play NLHE with an angry and donking Egyptian), he was also ahead, so we decided to call it a night.

At one point early in the game I had called off half of my stack and rebought another $100. I liked the bigger stack and used it. I ended up winning 71BB, and the brother-in-law, 32 BB. Not a bad night for either of us, and a great victory, as both of us came home winners.

And that, my friends, is the end of the story. A story that is about 100 words longer than the second draft of my art review, although just a first and final draft, written in about 1/10 the time. And I won’t get paid for the art review. Life’s funny that way, eh?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Papery thin

I almost let another day get away. It's amazing how much time can be spent on nothing more than watching streams of data. Otherwise known as reading online stuff. The books and magazines that I began to read before going to LA sit. Andrei Codrescu has an answer of what to do with the books that go unread.

I'm working on another art review, another painter, much younger than the last (still alive), who works alongside the landscape genre. Not exactly scenic views but amazing skills. That'll take another couple days. Meanwhile, folks keep asking me what I think, or I can't help myself from saying. Of course, I'm torn.

I'd build me a house next to a big pond, yes I would. The hard part would be plugging in a phone. But, yes I would.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In the eyes of the Beholder

Extra bowls of cat food on the counter this morning meant only one thing.

—They’re in the tractor shed. I saw the mother and a kitten. Calicos. The coffee’s ready.

I was familiar with the mom, as I missed her two weeks ago at 30 yards. I poured a travel mug, pulled on some shoes, and out we went.

I spotted the first one as soon as the door was open. It headed toward the back and tried to climb the galvanized side of the building before taking off to a further corner. Another was peaking out from under the oil pan I use to drain the tractor. I moved the pan away with care as it still had a few quarts in it. That young one also tried the wall and fell back, but not before I foresaw the inevitable stumbling romp through the sludge and leaving a trail out the door and around the back of the shed.

Holy heck for what to do after things left undone. We snatched gloves and went a-lookin’.

—It might very well be under that plywood you’re standing on. Look out for the nails, too.

—Why are there nails? she asked as she stepped back and I lifted.

—Because it used to be attached to… There it is!

Back into the shed. I chased it down and grabbed a leg. It responded in kind with teeth into my right index through the waterproof gloves. I grabbed the nape but it was a tenuous grasp at best, oil and all that squirming.

Long story short, into the Hav-a-hart it went while we inspected my wounds, dressed them, and fetched the.22.

By the time all of that was done, no others (I counted four including the mother) were to be found again. The bowls came back in the house. I’ll go back later today to finish things up.

As if.

We’ll go back in time.

We came home Friday to a few sacks on our porch, the contents of which were cat-related: food, food and water bowls, supplements, and such. DW recognized the supplies as some of those she gave to a neighbor when that woman started feeding a stray cat from her back porch. As DW makes certain our animals want for nothing, we always have a surplus.

That cat was a tabby and after a while disappeared, only to be replaced by a black one. Both cats were friendly to the woman, allowing an occasional petting. When the neighbors went away for short periods, we were responsible for feeding these animals, although we never actually saw the animals eat, This is not to say that we didn’t see the cats. The tabby kept its distance and the black cat… well, we saw a black cat, but that is the predominant coloration of most ferals emanating from the drug house, and so it is somewhat difficult to recognize an individual.

The neighbors went away for a week at about the same time one of these back cats started frequenting our yard. This cat was a male, not neutered, and somewhat scraggly. Could it be our neighbor’s porch cat? That was the question that kept DW from giving me the go-ahead. Still, this cat seemed to be deteriorating before our eyes, and I was eventually green-lighted. The #4 shot scarred our porch.

Of course the food bowl at the neighbors’ stayed full thereafter, and upon their return, we invited them over for dinner and confessions. She seemed to take it fairly well; he could care less. We get along with these folks.

So, when the cat supplies were left on our porch while we were away, we thought poetically, ironically. Naturally. And when the neighbors brought the little cat house back yesterday, DW had to clear the air. Yes, the woman neighbor was upset and he relieved, except for her emotional state. She could not understand how a cat could go downhill so quickly while DW wondered how the neighbor could pet a cat in such shape. You know, not fat and sassy.

So there I squatted with the oily feline with its matted fur and eyes fiercely bulging, fighting to escape. And as I write these words, I have a feeling of déjà vu.

Yep, as if.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

As half-heartedly promised

My friend, Young, is a good sport.

LA is a street photographer's paradise.

So wrong on many levels.

Near the In-Laws house.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I had every intention of relating my week in LA. I can't do it just now. Maybe never. Maybe just parts. Perhaps some photos. I could not get over the fact that so many live in an area that was not meant to support people in such numbers.

I walked out to the back of the property to watch tonight's sunset. On my way back I found some late blackberries that were sweet and delicious.