Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The summer of George? (unedited)

The summer of George turned out to be a lost summer for George Costanza. I can't afford a lost summer.

I have a new manager at work. He's at least the fifth manager I have had in the past six years. he's young, confident in his abilities and rubs me the wrong way. He has no real managerial experience, and the little things he nitpicks about remind me, yet again, that my life is one big waste of time. My company is a joke, and after more than 13 years, the joke is on me. I have pissed away more than six years working for a despicable company, if not more. I know every day of my life since Dec. 9, 2004, has been pissed away.

I have spent most of 2011 wondering what I'm living for. The answer is nothing. I haven't been enamored with my job for years, but I don't know what else to do. I can't wait much longer for the answer to magically appear. My job is the most significant thing in my life, unfortunately, and it's killing me. It is literally killing me.

When my girlfriend left Minnesota in early February, I was doubtful that I would ever move to be with her. I don't know what I expected to happen, but packing up and leaving Minnesota didn't seem like the answer.

Almost immediately I started to realize that moving out of state wouldn't have been as ridiculous as I first thought. I started to envision a scenario that would have made a lot of sense for me personally. This all happened within two weeks of her leaving, but it was only after she left that I was informed she was ready to kick me to the curb months prior. I had outlived my usefulness, but she decided it was easier to kick me to the curb after she left.

I thought she was the one person who kind of understood me. She couldn't put an end to the slow, downward spiral my life was in, but by moving out of state she unwittingly gave me the incentive I needed to finally jump off the runaway train my life had become. The hiring of Mutton Chops, my new manager, should have been the last straw. My personality clash with Mutton Chops should be affirming my decision to leave Minnesota behind. I should be moving to Utah in September.

Instead I'm left to pick up the pieces of my life, before it's too late. I'm not sure I have the strength.

Somehow I have to find the inner strength to carry on, faced with a life that is devoid of meaning and purpose. I don't know how that is going to happen. This may very well end up being the summer of George.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bradlee Dean is a whore (unedited)

I first encountered the cult of Bradlee Dean several years ago.

I was introduced to his wacky organization while pumping gas in Plymouth. His "international" organization, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, is religious, political and educational, I guess. It depends upon which shoe fits that day. At the time they were focused on promoting a drug-free message. Some dude volunteered to pump my gas and was happy to accept a donation for his anti-drug crusade. I quizzed him about his organization, thought it was a cute idea, gave him a buck and took a copy of his propaganda. I thought perhaps it would make an interesting feature story for my employer.

I'll get a few details wrong from here, but I don't care. I won't waste any more of my time perusing his ridiculous website.

Bradlee Dean, (that's his stage name) is the head honcho of YCRBYCH and a rock and roll washout. He didn't make it as a rock star, so he found God. Or something like that.

There's a great picture of him, looking every bit the part of a late 80s hairband drummer. He is the right age for the gig, too. Today he is in his 40s, I'm certain. (I found age info on his website years ago, which explained why he looked like an 80s hairband guy 15 years too late.) He would have been in his early 20s when hairband rock was all the rage on the Sunset Strip and hard rock radio.

Somehow he never hit the big time, but as I recall he claims that his own dabbling with drugs in his years of pursuing the dream provide the inspiration for his YCRBYCH program.

Today he has a band of like-minded folk who play hard rock. They call themselves Junkyard Prophet. (Or should that be Junkyard Profit?) I think their philosophy is that in order to reach kids, you have to speak their language. So by rockin' out, kids will understand what Bradlee means when he tells kids "say not to drugs."

The problem, I learned in the days that followed the gas station encounter, is that his well funded organization irritated a few school districts around the country, as their say no message was blurred by a bit of preaching about premarital sex and fidelity. I searched for info about his organization and found links to a few stories about public school districts who were surprised by the message being delivered by YCRBYCH. Girls were segregated from the boys, and the girls were basically told that they must remain pure for their husbands. And the message wasn't delivered in a clinical manner, it was presented with a bit of a biblical emphasis, as I recall.

YCRBYCH had corporate sponsors, I think, and as I recall the entourage traveled by fancy coach bus to preach its anti-drug message. Good gig if you can get it.

For years Bradlee's website has touted that Junkyard Prophet was the second best unsigned band in the nation, behind P.O.D. There's never any attribution to this claim, but somebody somewhere said it, so they cling to that to this day. I guess God frowns upon drug use, but not delusions of grandeur.

I hadn't seen or heard much about burnout Bradlee in recent years. His organization has had a booth hawking its merchandise at the Minnesota State Fair for at least a few years running, ironically right outside the building where I work. I don't stop to peruse the merchandise.

Recently Bradlee made the news here in Minnesota. He now calls himself a pastor, although I can't find any information about his alleged church. He weaseled his way into the Minnesota House of Representatives under the guise of being a pastor. He showed up, hair longer than ever, it appears, and pulled into a ponytail. Wearing a track suit, he led a prayer, video of which is online. He took a shot at Obama at the conclusion of his prayer to "Father God." One problem with that, his prayer wasn't supposed to be political. That angered Democrats and embarrassed Republicans.

So that got me started looking into the burnout's recent endeavors. As it turns out, he's a big defender of the Constitution, and he fears that it's being forgotten in the schools of America, particularly the "one nation, under God" part. I'm not sure what he is arguing for exactly, but we aren't God fearing enough in schools or our lives, it seems.

He has also been hosting a weekly chat session on a local AM radio station. I learned that he recently got the boot from his host station. This occurred before the prayer session, evidently, because he mocked African Americans. (That's what God wants, right?)

He has also been less than kind to homosexuals in the past. And shockingly he has a big supporter in wacky Michele Bachmann. What's not to like about this guy?

As if his preaching on the radio isn't bad enough, he now has a video that promotes his crusade to clean up the public school system, (the system that let him down). "My War" is not only available for purchase, he paid to have it broadcast weekly for several weeks running on our local CW affiliate. He see himself as a Marvel Comics superhero, according to his introduction. I watched a bit of it. He has all of our nation's problems pegged, or so he thinks. It's slightly entertaining, but I couldn't watch an hour of this burnout.

Good news, his hypocrisy is catching up with him. Bad news, for every media outlet or corporation that distances itself from him, another one sees an opportunity. He has been featured on cable news outlets, he claims, and that wouldn't surprise me. Cable news thrives off of extremists such as Bradlee. Having recently been booted from sending his lackeys out to Minnesota Wal-Mart stores and losing his local radio home, he'll probably get more national attention for his war. And there's a chance an FM talk station will pick him up.

Bradlee's operation is well financed, somehow. His websites are slick, his "war" video is professionally produced and his organization can afford a lot of operational expenses. He must be making big cash on the sale of those Junkyard Prophet CDs.

He's not dealing drugs or stealing credit cards to finance his lifestyle, as best I know, but I can't help but feel this guy and his disciples are criminals, too. But they're stealing time and money in the name of Father God, so I guess that makes it OK.

Wonewoc, we hardly knew ya (unedited)

The 22nd annual camping trip ended today. For the third time in its 22 years, it wasn't held at our private campsite outside Wausau, Wis.

Our private campsite is on undeveloped land, and it's a 0.2 mile walk over uneven ground to get from the gravel road to our campsite tucked in the trees. Usually the ground is dry by Memorial Day weekends. Five years ago it wasn't. Our campsite was dry, but it was rather wet walking to and from the campsite. That's not the end of the world, but it's not a good thing when my buddies are towing their kids with them. We ended up at the nearby county park that weekend and were lucky to get a campsite there.

Given the avalanche of snow the Midwest had this past winter, and the fact it has rained plenty this spring, it was a sure bet that the water was worse than ever. We decided we had to go elsewhere.

We spent a few hours last week deciding where to go. Online searches gave us ideas, but nothing jumped out at us as the answer we were waiting for. On Friday morning it looked like we were going to try our luck camping in a Minnesota state forest. State forests have campsites, but few amenities. Given our campsite in Wausau has zero amenities, a primitive campground in a state forest is not a big deal.

But then Doug offered the winning solution Friday morning. On Thursday night his wife found free camping, including firewood, in small town, Wisconsin. It sounded like the perfect solution. Instead of driving three hours into Wisconsin to camp in the Wausau area, we'd go to something called Wonewoc, a one-time rail stop in central Wisconsin.

Doug and I arrived mid-afternoon and missed our turn. We quickly determined our directions didn't match where we were going, so I called the number on our print out. My call went to village hall.

I think my call was answered by the city administrator. He explained what I was looking for, and noted that it had rained during the past two days, so the area we were headed to may be flooded. He noted, however, that there was another place to camp, Wonewoc Legion Park, a few blocks away.

We inspected the accommodations at site 1 and decided it was less than ideal. It's a great place to camp if you're a do-it-yourself biker or somebody traveling by car across the country and looking for free places to pitch a tent each night. There was enough dry land to meet our needs at site 1, but little more than that. There was free firewood and a fire pit, and an old park nearby, but our campsite was along the Wisconsin 400 State Trail. The aggregate trail wasn't a high traffic trail, but it was less than appealing. Great place to set up for the night if you bike with your tent and gear on your fork and frame, but not ideal for weekend camping recreationalists. We started to think we made a bad decision.

Our next stop was Legion Park. It has a city pool, a picnic shelter, a large grass field that was cleared in anticipation of a softball diamond that was never built and a small area for camping. It had an obvious place to park an RV, but if it is designed for more than one group to camp, I'm surprised.

Legion Park looked like the place to be, but we decided to check one last option. We needed groceries for the weekend, so we had to find a grocery store (Wonewoc has a small one with a nice guy who runs it. And he has a lot of stuff, but his store is more like a convenience store than a supermarket. If you live in Wonewoc, you don't do your major grocery shopping there.) As we backtracked in search of a grocery store we decided to backtrack further and check out a campground we passed. We worked our way back to Tunnel Trail Campground, named in honor of the tunnels the bike trail passes through. (The bike trail, like many others, is an old railroad bed, and the trains that ran up and down this line indeed passed through these tunnels.)

The campground had some adjoining spots open for tent camping, but most of the campground was full. There were plenty of camper trailers around, and that seemed to be what they catered to. There were a handful of tent sites, but we would have needed two of them for our four tents, and after checking them out we decided it wasn't worth it. Each site was $35 a night, meaning it was $140 for our two nights there. The money wasn't an issue, but what were we getting for our money? Two nice grassy spots together, yes, but small sites that left little room for the kids to play. There was a small volleyball area and a playground on the property, but this wasn't worth $140. There was a small mini-golf course that looked like fun, and it was cheap to play, but again, not worth $140 for access to. There was a swimming pool (heated, I think),) but in typical Memorial Day fashion the weather is less than outstanding. We weren't too interested in swimming even if the pool was warm. (I'm pretty sure the kids didn't have swimsuits.) We decided that Tunnel Trail Campground wasn't for us. We headed back to Wonewoc.

We set up in Wonewoc on a nice flat area that in a previous life had been the grassy space between horseshoe pits. A great space for four tents. Not long after we set up we had a visitor. It was Lee, the city administrator.

During our chat we learned about the history of the park and a few tidbits about small town, Wisconsin. I followed Lee over to the high school's outdoor environmental studies area so he could show me where the nature trail was. He told me more about the town's history, the Baraboo River and the bike trail. We were fortunate Lee stopped in to check on the park Friday night, as we likely never would have found the trail on our own Saturday.

German Bear and cubs arrived after dusk. We were all relatively tired and went to bed by midnight, I think.

I woke up at 6 a.m. Saturday to tinkle. I had to tinkle like an elephant. Too many beers before going to bed. It was light out already, and the kids were all up, milling about. I was convinced I'd never fall back to sleep, but I gave it a go. Sure enough, I snoozed without a problem. The next time I woke up it was to the sound of a police officer talking with the dads. It seems the kids were bored and decided to test if the old, dirty pay phone at the pool was working. It was. They decided to test it by dialing 911. Obviously the local officer on duty was dispatched to the park after this occurred. He found the kids and asked them if they had dialed the phone. They admitted to it. So he then talked to the dads, explaining what had happened. End of story. I rolled over and fell back to sleep.

Usually when I'm camping it gets too hot to sleep in the tent once the sun rises and starts heating the air inside my tent. That wasn't a problem on Saturday. It turned out to be a pleasant day, but it wasn't very warm Saturday morning. I slept almost until noon.

We headed out to the nature trail shortly after noon and walked around for a short while. The trail takes you near a cliff known as Third Castle, which has a cave in it. Unfortunately the cave is on private property, and on the opposite side of the river, making it inaccessible. I knew this, but the kids thought they'd be able to go inside the cave, evidently.

I wanted to do more walking, but the kids were easily bored by the nature trails, so we headed into town and had late lunch at a local pizzeria. The restaurant did a nice job, and they treated the kids well.

We returned to Legion Park and found a group was assembling on the field for a night of camping. It was a group of five, I think, all adults. They were quiet, unlike Doug, who insists upon singing, poorly, to his favorite rap and rock songs of yesteryear.

I went with Doug and the two boys to the top of a small cliff near our campsite. The boys thought it was a lot of fun to throw sticks into the trees from atop the cliff. I sat down and drank beer.

Eventually they headed back down to our campsite, I sat alone for a while, thinking back to my 2010 camping trip and how worthless my life had become since that time. During that camping trip my girlfriend told me she loved me. I don't know why she was compelled to lie to me that weekend, but there I was a year later, realizing I have nothing to live for, and instead of being sad about it, I was indifferent to it.

I wound up taking a nap before sunset, despite the fact I slept for most of a 12-hour period. I got up at dusk and sat around drinking beer with Doug until 2:45 a.m.

I had to tinkle within an hour of going to bed, which was annoying, but otherwise I slept until 8 a.m.

I got up to tinkle again and German Bear was milling about. I didn't think much of it, but shortly after I climbed back into my tent he started taking his down. He seemed to be a bit eager to pack up, but again I didn't think much of it.

Everybody decided to walk into town to go to the bakery. I stayed behind and eventually got up and started slowly packing my things up. It had started to sprinkle a bit, and I hoped we'd be packed up before a serious rainfall. (We had light showers on Friday night, too, but otherwise avoided significant rain, something we wouldn't have avoided had we stayed in Minnesota.)

The group came back after having breakfast at the family restaurant. (The bakery was closed.) German Bear had all his stuff packed up, so he quickly hit the road. Doug and I finished our packing and took off within an hour.

Wonewoc won't replace Wausau as our camping destination, but for a town we gambled upon for a weekend of camping, we did well.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Egos run amok (unedited)

I know, they're doing their jobs, allegedly.

I have had it with storm coverage by local television stations. On Sunday a significant storm blew through the Minneapolis area. It killed one person and did major damage in a lower-income Minneapolis neighborhood. There's a need to alert and inform Twin Cities residents via local television during such storms, but to say local stations go overboard would earn you the Understatement of the Year Award.

Somehow storms are now called events. The media covers events, so therefore every storm now deserves storm coverage.

The problem with the coverage is that it requires improvisational skills many TV broadcasters don't have. And since it's "breaking news," they beautiful people are improvising with limited information. it's painful to watch.

Why do stations insist upon event overkill? Same reason every other media outlet exists, to make money. I've said it before, public service is a nice talking point in a sales pitch, and it's a good excuse to be in business, but in the end print and broadcast media outlets exist to make money for somebody. Nobody invests millions of dollars to break even at the end of the year.

The meteorologists and anchors who babble endlessly, sometimes for hours, on live TV should be ashamed of themselves. At minimum they should be embarrassed by the pompous display they put on during such events. But being a talking head requires a degree of arrogance, and I'd bet most of the windbags think they're doing us all a really big favor.

I don't mind that they cut in, but I don't need two hours of live video showing me downed trees and roofs blown off houses. I've seen it a million times. Showing me a city bus stopped on a main road through the neighborhood because a tree fell down in front of it, and then eventually behind it, doesn't fascinate me. Show the bus on top of the roof of a two-story apartment building, then you'll be showing me something worth the time.

The maps and scrolling updates suffice most of the time, but meteorologists have to get in front of the camera and lecture me about the storm, using their fancy graphics and magical powers to show me how much rain fell at every intersection in a 90-mile radius and exactly what time rain will fall 30 miles east of where it's raining at the moment.

The whole charade is counter-intuitive. If the weather is that bad in my suburb, I shouldn't be sitting there watching TV, I should be cowering under a table or praying in my bathroom. And do I really need a TV genius to tell me it's raining in my city when the windows of my apartment are shaking from the wind and being pelted by liquid bullets?

So who are they putting on a show for? Themselves.

Breaking in with details for a few minutes, that's warranted. Conducting interviews with an Average Joe trying to describe the sound of the storm when it hit a neighborhood, not necessary. Even worse than the tired footage of downed trees and decapitated houses, the live telephone interview of somebody at the scene.

Unfortunately for the viewing public the live event coverage isn't going away. "Chief" meteorologists and anchors drop what they're doing to run to the station and provide their valuable insight. It's despicable.

My favorite moments from the 15-20 minutes of coverage I watched:
• Little Weather Boy was showing uploaded photos and videos from the storm on his station's Facebook page. I swear they pointed a camera at a computer monitor and he clicked through photos on Facebook.
• Ian Douglas (or is he Paul Leonard) made sure to have his shirt and tie on for Sunday's event coverage. I ran across him on Saturday afternoon, when a minor event also prompted live coverage. Ian was wearing some ugly, untucked shirt. He looked hilarious taking himself so seriously in that shirt.
• One of the channel 5 bimbos described what we were watching after the storm, through the miracle of live television. As people were cutting up fallen trees with chainsaws, she remarked how you could see standing water from the storm underneath the trees. Wow, rain puddled during a storm!

One person died during Minnesota's event on Sunday. Another guy died working to clear trees. People were hurt. Many homes were significantly damaged. Our state was overshadowed by the devastating tornadoes of Missouri, but this was still a major storm by our standards, and worthy of the time and attention it is getting after it is all over. But once again a storm proved it can't compete with an unnatural disaster: the TV broadcasting ego.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When it's over, is it really over? (unedited)

It wasn't exactly a revelation, but I woke up one morning not so long ago and realized that what I've known for years is true. My life is empty and meaningless.

I don't hate my life, but I don't love it. I'm busier than I was 10 or 15 years ago, but my life isn't any more fulfilling or satisfying. It's less so, and it's harder to go through the motions the older I get.

I never wanted children of my own, but parenting is a disease many American adults seem to be afflicted with. Raising children and working tirelessly to provide for them seems to drive plenty of people. I'm selfish, I have no interest in wiping a crying baby's butt.

And I'm not too concerned with my legacy. I don't need people talking about me when I die. I don't need a scholarship fund in my honor. Sure, I'd like to be remembered as the guy who cured cancer, but that's not going to happen. And I'm fine with that.

Years ago I realized that the one thing that would seem to inspire me, make my life worth living, is living it for somebody else. Knowing I was the most important person in somebody else's life seemed like the one thing that would make my life meaningful. But I've failed to achieve that. So now I wonder what I'm living for. The answer: nothing.

This doesn't make me sad. It doesn't make me happy, but I'm not having a tough time getting out of bed. Well, no more so than usual.

Are there people who go through life without a sense of purpose, yet have no problem with that. Are there people who don't care that their life is a series of motions? I think so. But I'm not one of those people.

After 40 years I'm done hoping, praying, wishing and waiting for a purpose. I'm one of those people who has none. I use to worry about the future. Now I don't have to.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All I wanted was a free buffet (unedited)

Allegedly the price of gas is going to stop rising, so say the pretty pretty TV people.

Yesterday I could have filled my tank for $3.82/gallon. But I had a 7-cent discount coupon for the gas station, so that made my gas $3.75/gallon. Today gas was pretty much $3.99/gallon everywhere I passed this afternoon and evening. Those gas price forecasts did note that the price may spike a bit yet before a true drop in the cost per gallon. The pretty pretty TV people were right.

So with gas going for $4/gallon, the last thing I need to be doing is driving an extra 30 miles to go to a casino. I didn't. I took my bike to a guy who does tune up work out of his home, and for half the price of a bike shop tune up. He hopes to open his own bike shop eventually. For now, without the overhead costs associated with a bike shop, he does tune up work cheap, and I reap the benefit.

I normally have my bike tuned up by May, but it was a lousy April, so I haven't missed many decent bicycling opportunities. By this time next week I'll be working out the rust in my knees and back.

After dropping off my bike this evening I went to a casino, Mistake Lake as some of us like to call it, about a mile from where the bike guy lives. I don't make many cameos at the casino any more, even though I live closer to it than I ever have. I use to go more often when I lived another 10 or 20 minutes away, but I have lost my appetite for it. (I do play poker at the poker room occasionally, so I haven't gone cold turkey here in Minnesota.) I like to gamble in Vegas, but I learned several years ago that the highs aren't as high as the lows are low, so I don't go to the casino very often here in Minnesota. Besides, online porn is cheaper.

I arrived at the casino about 8:30 p.m, still plenty of time to partake in the modestly priced weeknight buffet. I should have ruled it out immediately, as I tend to find that the end-of-night buffet offerings are getting long in the tooth, unless you are lucky. I don't expect the food to be 6 hours old, but it was a rather slow night at the casino, so I doubt there was a lot of fresh food at 8:30.

I was surprised by how little atmosphere and action there was in the casino. I'm not the only one scared off by $4 gas, I guess.

Instead of going to the buffet for dinner and trying to win back the cost of my meal, I sat down at a blackjack table and thought I'd play for 20 minutes, win $25 and then go eat. (The buffet would have cost me less than $15.) I won my first two hands, then lost two. I then went up $15, only to lose it. I couldn't hit a nice run of cards early, and I stuck to my conservative $5 wagers, so I had to win four or five more hands then I lost.

It didn't take long before I was in the hole, and no matter what I did, I couldn't catch a streak of winning hands. Sure I'd win a few hands in a short burst, but every time I'd win $20 or $25 in short order it was after I dropped $30 or $40 over a slow losing streak.

For every lucky hand I won, I lost three or four to bad luck. Maybe it was an average night, but I sure seemed to lose with 20 more often than I should have. Players get lucky and draw to 21 occasionally, but the dealer seemed to do so far more often than I did.

I hate when I am dealt a pair of aces. You can split them and draw one card on each ace, but that's it. If you don't draw a face card, you're stuck with whatever you have, unless it is another ace. At Mistake Lake they let you split aces up to four times. I drew a new ace on my split aces twice, so I had four hands on the table, and I drew one face card on the four aces. Naturally I lost on the other three hands. It was that kind of night.

I also had lousy luck on double down hands. If I doubled down on a 10 or 11, I'd almost never draw a face card. If I doubled on a soft 15 or 16, I wouldn't draw a 4 or 5, I'd draw a face card or some other worthless card, then need the dealer to bust because I didn't have a potential winning hand. Rarely did the dealer bust. I openly laughed at my misfortune a few times. It was just that kind of night.

I started with $100 in chips, and at one point I was down to $10. Despite that I stayed alive, and finally started catching a few breaks. I remember looking at my chip stack on a few occasions and noting it was at $85. I had caught a few breaks, hit an occasional double down and bumped up my bet to $7.50 or $10 when the cards were running favorable. I remember twice looking at my bet and realizing if I won the hand I'd be back to even or up a couple of bucks. Each time I had that break even opportunity, I'd lose. I just couldn't get back to even.

And before long my stack slowly whittled back down. I was so frustrated and angry at myself for sitting at a table that had managed to suck the life out of me for three hours that I finally got up, hating myself for having such lousy luck and not getting up when I was close to even. I could have tried to win that last $20 at another table. Instead I walked away with $27.50 in chips.

A dude sitting at my table when I left was destined for the same painful realization I was. The guy bought in for $20, and despite making some unwise decisions, such as splitting cards in situations where most players wouldn't, or doubling down at times when most players would stand, he was having decent luck. He'd bet $5 most often, but occasionally he'd bump his bet up to $15 or $20, and sometimes play two hands at a time. He bet $20 on a hand after the dealer had a blackjack, doubled down on the hand and won $40. At one point he turned his $20 into $120. But slightly unorthodox play will eventually catch up to you. When I left he had about $40 in chips, thanks to chasing a win with two or three consecutive big bets that didn't pan out. Unless he pulled more money out of his wallet, I'm convinced he walked away a $20 loser rather than a $100 winner.

Before giving up for good I decided to try my luck at a different table. I started by betting $5 on the first hand of a new shoe and got blackjack. From there I continued to win. I bumped my bet up to $7.50 and kept winning. I made $10 bets and won a few of those, too. There were four of us on the table and the other guys were making bigger wagers than me most of the time, and they were winning, too. They weren't winning as consistently as I was, but the dealer was busting quite a bit. I don't think I lost more than three hands. I may have pushed once or twice, but I had a few blackjacks during this shoe, and kept raking the chips in. In a matter of minutes I turned $27.50 into $100. There were still several hands left in the shoe, so I decided I'd better gamble a few bucks and see if my luck continued.

It did. I kept raking in $7.50 or $10 a hand for another four or five hands, and by the time the end of the shoe came I had more than $160 in chips. For that 10 minutes I was nearly unbeatable. Had I known I was in for that kind of luck, I'd have won $1,000, but I have found that you can have incredible luck for half of a shoe, and as soon as you think you're unbeatable, something changes and you can't win a hand. So I avoided the temptation to start betting $20 or $25 a hand, as I didn't want to leave the casino in the hole, and I didn't want to stick around another hour trying to break even. So I remained conservative and kept winning.

I decided to make a $6 bet on the first hand of the next shoe, to see if my luck continued. If I had won, I would have continued playing to see if I could turn that $6 into another $50 or more, but I lost the first hand, so I cashed out. I finished $57 ahead for the night.

It was midnight, too late for the buffet, and I was more than ready to go home. I spent less than four hours playing blackjack, and have no complaints about my per-hour winnings, but I could have lived without the emotional roller coaster and the prospect of dumping $100 that I didn't need to burn.

If only I had remembered why I went there in the first place, I could have had that free buffet and been home three hours sooner.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bristol Palin is a whore (unedited)

I'm not exactly breaking news when I tell you that Bristol Palin is a whore. A media whore, for sure. Beyond that, I can't say.

I don't know what's more pathetic, that Bristol and her fascinating life are going to be chronicled via a new show on a cable network I've never heard of, or that I read the Yahoo! blurb about it today.

The 20-year-old media whore is going to work for some sort of charitable operation in California and hobnob for the TV cameras with her celebrity pals she made through her participation in "Dancing with the Stars." A woman whose only accomplishments are getting pregnant and parlaying her mother's celebrity status into an appearance on a televised dancing competition is now fascinating enough to have a video crew follow her around, allegedly. It's not surprising, and considering how low cable television sinks to attract the Jerry Springer sector of society, why not profile a fraudulent teenager who is now telling teenagers "do as I say, not as I did."

You can't blame Bristol for cashing in as a media whore. Like mother, like daughter.

The mother-daughter media whores irritate me, but I can't blame them. I'd cash in if somebody gave me an opportunity to do so. Why govern Alaska when Fox News and mindless Republicans will throw money at you? Why go to college, get an education and work for a living when television networks will finance your alleged plastic surgery?

If you gave me a shot at Bristol, I'd take it. Riding the Palin gravy train beats working for a living, and if she kicked me to the curb I could cash in a la Levi Johnston. If that guy plays his cards right, he'll never have to live paycheck to paycheck, either.

I loathe the Palins, but if it wasn't for that moron John McCain, I'd have no idea who those whores are. Thanks for plucking a media whore from obscurity, John. You should be locked up for committing a crime against humanity.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Does Joe Mauer have a child, or is he secretly gay? (unedited)

If I had to bet $100, I'd bet that Joe Mauer is not gay.

As noted previously, Joe Mauer is most likely just a guy who likes his privacy, but even if people claim they don't care whether or not he is gay, they do. And if he is gay, it matters to a segment of society.

That being said, Joe did nothing to diffuse my theory that he might be gay. Here in Minnesota we have a local talk show called Twin Cities Live. It's about what you expect from a local talk show, lots of lame segments, the occasional celebrity in town to promote a book or movie and a cast of local celebrities who don't deserve the title of celebrity.

A few weeks ago TCL featured a segment on our boy Mauer filming another one of his fraudulent commercials for a local line of dairy products. (I doubt that his family has been loyal to this brand of dairy products for the past 100 years, but I'm a skeptic, what do you want?)

The wacky out-and-about reporter they subject us to periodically was granted the royal privilege of behind-the-scenes access to this fascinating world of television commercial production. During an interview of Baby Jesus and his mother, who appears in the dairy company endorsements, the TCL imp asked Mauer if he has a girlfriend. After hemming and hawing for a moment he said he is seeing someone.

He didn't answer yes. That may simply be because he doesn't consider this "someone" to be a girlfriend at this point. If you date somebody several times, it doesn't mean you've entered a committed relationship. During the baseball season I doubt Mauer has a lot of free time for dating, so perhaps he recently started dating a woman but hasn't had time to cultivate a relationship. Therefore he can't say he has a girlfriend, since he doesn't.

But the skeptic in me can't help but wonder if Mauer is playing the pronoun game. Instead of acknowledging that he has a girlfriend, he pauses long enough to admit he's seeing someone and leaves it as that, because that someone is a man. It's possible.

I hadn't thought a lot about this until last night, when my friend, a woman in her 20s who has long been infatuated with Mauer, told me that he has a child. I was quite surprised to hear this, so I asked her what her information source was. It turns out that she read about an alleged 1-year-old daughter, and fiance, on Mauer's Wikipedia page the previous week, and had printed out the page as evidence. She showed it to me, and I have a copy of it.

The information about this 1-year-old daughter and child has since been scrubbed from the Wikipedia page. My friend was unaware of how easy it is to post anything about anyone on a Wikipedia page. For a woman in her 20s, it's mildly impressive how detached she is from the Internet. She has a Facebook page and logs into it, but she's not nearly as Internet dependent as most people in their 20s. It's nice to see.

The Wikipedia reference to a fiance and child suggested that the woman was an on-again, off-again girlfriend who is now Mauer's fiance. It also named her and suggested she is a former Edina High School basketball star. (Edina is a Minneapolis suburb, and a wealthy one at that.) I searched for her name several times and several ways, and I am of the conclusion that the posting of this information is the work of a prankster. Never mind the fact it would be mildly remarkable if Mauer is able to keep the birth of a daughter a secret from the world for more than a year. The only other reference I could find to the alleged fiance and child was a variant of the info in the printout. Some website archived Mauer info from Wikipedia that showed similar information, although it had a different birth date for the child.

I won't say it is impossible for Mauer to have a child and keep it a secret from most of the population, but given that parenting children out of wedlock is practically celebrated in the NBA, the social stigma of having a child and not being married is long gone, and therefore makes for an illogical secret. If it's true, it whitewashes Mauer's squeaky clean image, but big deal. All that does is make him more human, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm convinced the reference was either a prank or the wishful thinking of a delusional stalker who wants to be the mother of his child. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps he is the father of a 1-year-old daughter. That would make me wrong twice.

But until I'm proven wrong, there's a chance I'm right. Not that there's anything wrong with that.