Monday, December 28, 2009


Saw Avatar at noon. Wonderful film experience. Saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Very good. Talked to friends. Unpacked and packed again. Did a load of laundry. Snuggled with Sandy. Cleaned up my email.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas '09

December 25: We woke up at 6:10 a.m. The kids came downstairs around 6:30. We watched Alex and Hayden open their stockings and play with their toys. Hayden got books, play food, an activity table and a big wheel. Alex got a play vanity, play food, a couple of games, some dolls and a coloring book. The adults then opened their stockings. I received some nice things and yummy candy. A great little haul for sure!

Christmas was enjoyable and fairly stress free. Everyone was in good spirits and had a wonderful time. The dinner was delicious. Later in the evening, I watched the Wizard of Oz and a few special features. Still holds up. Great show.

December 27: My last day in Reno. It's been very relaxing and wonderful. I'm not sore today, amazing considering how many runs Chris and I went down at Mt. Rose yesterday. I do have a slight headache, but other than that I feel good. I slept until 10:30 this morning. Last night Jill and I played poker at The Pepper Mill until 1:30 a.m. I was dead tired and only played with Jill at the 2/4 table, so I didn't have to think too much. No big surprises at the table except how badly I played a few hands in which I knew I was beat. The players are very predictable. Maybe I was too, but my edge is in evaluating when I have the better hand and valuing betting because of it.

I leave for Oakland tomorrow, then go to Seattle the next day until New Year's. I see the entire gang on the 29th. Should be lots of fun…I'm looking forward to seeing everyone together. Kathryn and Tom are the only two who be missed. Oh, and Amanda, who flies back to Ohio on the 29th.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Sandy is such a cute little dog. She has several quirks and idiosyncrasies that make her special. Her separation anxiety issue has become legendary. I've had her for over four years. She is a little princess toward other dogs. She rarely shows other dogs any attention, which drives some younger dogs crazy. She loves turning her head away as if saying, "sorry, not interested." She's 14. She's slowed down this past year, but occasionally she can work herself into a frenzy by running and jumping around like a rabbit. Her back issues have been contained this year. I carry her up and down the stairs, which has helped. She rarely jumps off the couch anymore. Such a good little dog.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. It's very good. The writing is seamless and strong. I'm paying attention to how the book is marketed and sold. It serves as a good model. The second book came out last October, Catching Fire. I'll read everything Suzanne Collins has written. She's the best I've read so far. Thanks for the tip, Sara.

This n That

I just watched Tom's documentary about Jim Thorpe, called "Jim Thorpe: The World's Greatest Athlete," an engaging, very well produced film about the football and sports legend. I liked the pace and flow of the biography, and some of the archival footage and pictures of Jim Thorpe were fantastic. I've never seen the Burt Lancaster film. I wonder if it's even out on DVD or video.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December never counts. The month is spent buying presents, going out to lunch and writing Christmas cards. It's difficult to get anything done, but I try. I'm setting up plans for revising Chapel, which should take no more than a couple months. Megan D. gave me some excellent edits. I really liked them. I meet with the Youngs next weekend. In the revision, I'll give more detail to some of the characters and emphasis some of the magic a little more. I'm getting a sense of what works and what doesn't. Overall, the book is strong.

I've been alternating between writing and poker this week. Monday and Wednesday were all poker, and Tuesday and Thursday are all writing. So far it's worked out all right. I've been focusing on tournaments at Players Only. The players are much softer than at Poker Stars. I play some limit poker to accumulate some of the bonuses at Players Only. It's more enjoyable than grinding out at 10 tables on Poker Stars. The limit players just aren't as strong.

I'm planning my trip to Reno over Christmas and need to buy chains for my MINI. I haven't put my Christmas to-do list together yet. I need to!

Today I have lunch with two former co-workers, Cheryl and Judy. It'll be a very pleasant lunch, catching up on the year and seeing how they're doing. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Racquetball, Music, Stories, and Poker

Yesterday, I played in our club doubles tournament. Dorian and I took second. He didn't play that well and was suffering from a bad back. We weren't competitive at all in the finals against Tyrone and Steve. It was somewhat frustrating because I was playing well and really wanted to reclaim the doubles trophy. Next time. I'm hungry for some racquetball wins. I'm determined to increase my endurance and play smarter. I'm excited about the new year and play to take ten lessons with Angela Grisar. This will really improve my game. She's a top 10 pro and very nice. I need instruction to improve my game.

Last night I listened to Ari and Richard at L'Amyx, then watched Heather Donnell's 10-minute short film at my place with the Youngs and a few others. Sweet film about the power of story and comic books. Today I read chapters 9 and 10 to Sophie, who needs to be finished before our roundtable discussion next weekend. A lot to do to make the book better. I found all sorts of things I'd like to change in the two chapters I read today.

Getting back into poker starting today. I miss the game and would like to increase my skills this month. Also cleaned computer stuff and paid some bills. Feeling the crunch these days.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today I finished organizing the garage, edited the dreaded second sentence of Julia Milan, sent some emails, posted a few pictures on Facebook, and read. The days fly by, as always. Chatted with Megan D. on Facebook for about 40 minutes. That was fun! Sent some pics of Sandy to Rhonda. She'll love those! Tomorrow is our club doubles tourney. I don't think we'll win, but hopefully we won't embarrass ourselves. D has had back issues lately.
I was hoping to play some poker tonight, but it didn't happen. Maybe Sunday I'll get back in the groove.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cleaning the Garage

I spent most of today cleaning out the garage. It's been a project I've wanted to start for about a year. My idea is to organize everything in Banker's boxes and put them on shelves. I got the shelves up today, and tomorrow I fill them up with boxes.

I met up with Sara N. last week for coffee. She gave me lots of agent suggestions. I plan to send out queries after the new year. I'm working on my query now. How aggressive should I be? Part of me wants to say this series is going to be over-the-top huge, but another part of me thinks I should be more quiet and reserved. Where has that gotten me?

I had lunch with the director of the PBS documentary I was involved in back in the 90s, Tom Weidlinger. He's such a great guy. We talked about our projects and will meet again next week. He's a good person to know. I'll show him a few scripts and the first couple of chapters of the new book. I'm glad we're back in touch.

The Young family has read the book and we're doing a roundtable next week. That should be interesting. I can't wait to receive Trey's detailed notes. Maybe he'll be an editor when he grows up. I'm looking forward to the next that the plot's on paper, it's time to have some real fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Reading James Lee Burke to remind myself what clear, crisp, solid prose sounds like. I like his descriptions and witty humor. I'd like my writing to read so well. Today, I was hoping to pound out 10 new pages of material, but I was sidetracked with plot concerns and the feeling that I didn't know the details of my story as well as I should, which is somewhat true I'm afraid. So I spent the day thinking. Is thinking another form of procrastination? Sometimes, but I did need to think through some issues today. I meet Heather, Jackie and Connie on Friday and that should be fun. I'll try not to be too preachy. Sometimes I get that way. I'm such a fixer. Stop it. Back to the book...chapter 8 is shaping up. Lots of family drama there. Two counseling scenes, one with Nicholas and Julia and one with Mara and Julia. It's a fun way to show the differences in the two characters.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

End of June

Chris read chapters 6 and 7 and enjoyed them. He can't wait to find out what happens next. I can't either. I worked on chapter 8 today. I worked on the psych scenes and wrote down ideas for school. Chris wonders if Audrey is to be trusted. In many ways the book feels like a season of "24." I love it!

Played some poker today for the first time in ages. I need to get back into it. I need to make some money. Broke out some books and watched three videos on PokerXFactor. Also did four loads of laundry today before 3, a record. Productive.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Halfway There

I'm gearing up for two months of non-stop writing. I'm halfway done with the first draft of Chapel. Now comes the good stuff. I really like this story and see all sorts of possibilities for later installments. Meanwhile, I'm firing up the poker playing again. I haven't played at all this year, which is a surprise, yet necessary. I really needed to get the book off the ground. Now that I know what's going on and where it's going, I can start playing again. I also need to think about creating a cushion, and that means dedicating myself to making some money. The priority, however, is writing and getting this novel completed. Then I can write Retro-Therapy, a script Chris and I plan to compose together. I can't wait to write that script.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writing & Reading

I helped Gwen with one of her homeshows last week. I enjoyed it. We worked 8-hour shifts from 10-6, selling Gwen's kitchen design services. She receives several strong leads during the week. I was happy to help her out.

Back to life in Oakland, my book and poker. The edge is small for online poker. Everyone's playing fairly well; however, I am learning a lot about the game from the books I'm reading, and hope I can use my new poker knowledge at the Oaks and San Pablo and hopefully produce some respectable gains in my bankroll. I can see why players who aren't afraid of losing excel in this game.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two- and Three-Outers

Those two- and three-outers are real killers. I don't do well when I lose contest after contest holding cards that have my opponent dominated, and yet they suck out on their three-outer. Or worse, when I have them dominated with an overpair and they get their miracle set. That seems to happen so often. I've had a losing week this week in poker, but I guess part of the skill set in cards is accepting these weeks while still trying to play the best poker possible. The players at the Oaks are not very good, but that $4 rake really affects play, especially in the late positions when no one has entered the pot. The rake really adds up. I've been playing a little bit online, but I don't feel as comfortable playing nl online. It's more difficult for me. I could do a better job of reading players when I'm in hands. I still tend to pay more attention to my own cards.

When I return from Seattle on Monday, I plan to play a consistent amount of cards. Then there's the WSOP, which I really want to try and win a seat for this year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Learning Tells

I played a 3.5-hour session at the Oaks last night and lost $260. I couldn't win a hand to save my life, even though I was surrounded by lots of gamblers and players who played in an obvious manner. Lots of poor calling with inferior straight and flush draws. I lost my money on good starting hands with all the money in, QQ twice, AKs and AQs. I lost all four of those hands when the money was in pre-flop. I just wasn't my night.

One thing I notice is that folks with good hands stick money in the pot right away. I also notice that few people bluff but many will make horrible calls when they're on a draw. That's really a good way to make money, but giving people bad odds to make their draw. Finding out what folks have on the flop is good, and making a near pot-sized bet on the turn is where I can make my money with these gamblers.

My image at the table is tight and conservative, and perhaps a bit unfriendly. I wear glasses and dress in black clothes and say nothing. I will slowly get better and better at this game. I still have a lot to learn.

Monday, February 9, 2009

NL Cash Games

I played a session at the Oaks two days ago. It was my first session of the year playing live. I won $136 and thought I played well, but lacked focus for such a short amount of time. I only played 3.5 hours or so, but found it difficult to focus on the players. This is a skill I should develop. I had a couple of very interesting hands. One involved A3s (spades) and three spades floped, 679. Two other player were in and I was on the button. The first player checked, the second player bet $15, I called, and the big blind called. The turn was a blank 2. The blind checked, the second player bet $20, and here I wasn't exactly sure what I should do. Do I raise, do I call, what exactly is my optimum play? I decided to call, and the big blind called as well. The river did not pair the board and I had the nuts. Both players checked and I bet $35, a small value bet in a $105 pot. I got one called and took down a nice little pot. Did the second player have a set? If I had gone all in, I would have run roughly as much as smooth calling turn, but might have folded on the river had he gone all in with the paired board. Interesting hand. I play again tonight and will be playing more on the evenings to gain experience and win money.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Year

Today will be the first day I play poker live at the Oaks. I'm reading throught the Harrington cash game books and planning to play the low no limit tables regularly. When I played there a few months ago, the play was loose and typically weak, with lots of gamble. People get bored quickly and want to win a big pot. I won't be too reckless. Usually, in games like those, I wait for strong opening hands and raise preflop and push all in on the flop. Either the hand holds up or it doesn't. It holds up over half the time, maybe 60%.

I plan to play for 6 hours or so. I'm looking forward to it. I'm really going to work on my observation skills this year. I can do a much better job of paying attention to tells. This will be a top priority for me in today's session and the sessions ahead. I'm curious to know what the hourly rate is for a top player at these tables.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poker about to begin for me in 2009

I will devote a lot more time to poker soon. I wanted to establish my writing routine first and work on things at home before I put too much time and attention into poker. I'm reading Harrington's cash game books right now. They are very thorough and should prove effective in some of the lower stakes nl games I come across at the Oaks and San Pablo. I see myself working on several aspects of my poker games: nl cash games to generate some consistent revenue, my limit game to increase my FPPs on Stars, my heads up game because this will make me a better player, and my MTT game because I enjoy them and this is where the money is. Everything else might have to be secondary for the time being, though I'd like to venture into the split-level games at some point.

I've put together my charts for the year. I continue to run poorly at Craig's. Last week I had two players dominated with high pairs, only to lose both hands to sets. That was disappointing. I played well though, and was very aggressive once the antes kicked in. We'll see what happens tonight.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I will be playing a great deal of poker the first four mouths of the new year. I hope to increase my skills at live play, especially at no limit tables at the Oaks and Casino San Pablo. No limit is the most challenging game in poker, and because it's the most popular I feel I might be able to create an edge with it. We'll see. There are a lot of weak players at the Oaks. We'll see how much money I can make, if any.

I'm reading Dan Harrington's book on no limit cash games. It's very good, some great concepts and ideas. I'm enjoying it very much.

Over New Year's I stayed at Gwen's. I've been in Seattle since Dec. 23. I'm ready to go home and get to work. I've been eating non-stop since I arrived, so I feel quite bloated. 2009 will be an interesting year.

I'll have to think about my predictions for the year and my resolutions with poker. I'd like to carry out my goals through the end of the year. I have a lot to look forward to and a lot to learn. With the freedom I currently enjoy, it should be interesting to see how far I go this year with my projects and goals and schedules.