Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Just Kooza'ed On Myself!

Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza, which is in Atlanta through March 1, had me laughing so hard I nearly Kooza'ed on myself!   

I had the opportunity to experience Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza in Atlanta with my girlfriend.  Her opinion of the show was that it was "great", but I think a bit more analysis is warranted.  As an avid fan of Cirque Du Soleil I was extremely happy with the show and enjoyed the aerobatics, clowning, theatrics and music as always yet even for a Cirque veteran like me there were still a few surprises.  

I had heard that Kooza was a step back to the early days of Cirque Du Soleil when shows had less of a story line and more of an even flow of entertainment, but what I saw tonight left me with the impression that Kooza was created with the idea of pushing the limits of the circus arts to new limits while rekindling the focus on clowning.  If you have not seen the show stop reading now as what I am about to discuss may constitute a spoiler.

The opening of Kooza was very surprising for me.  Like most shows it started with clowns in the audience, but not just 3 to 6 like in other touring shows, with many of them all over big top from the time the doors opened until the curtain was drawn back unveiling the relatively modest set.  The set for Kooza is relatively unassuming by Cirque standards - the usual roman arena seating wrapping 260 degrees around the circular stage, a massive yet simple curtain used to conceal the delights that await and a large three level traveling tower called the "Bataclan".  The set serves the production well as it does not compete with the performance and instead serves to enable many of the gags and trickery that come in a Cirque production.

The acts were excellent and contained what I consider the most important aspect of any acrobatic performance - passion.  All of the performers seemed to find a bit of the circus performance gumption that was present when Cirque started years ago.  Not only did they get the crowd going by putting on a fabulous show, but they were verbose and played to the audience injecting the crowd with a fantastic energy.

The music was fitting to the moment and at times surprisingly intense and at others surprisingly mellow, but never what one could call mainstream.  The two singers are less present on the stage than I have seen in other shows, but their  presence is known when they take center stage on the Bataclan as they bellow out beautifully haunting lyrics.  

By the way - can someone tell me how to get a seat at Section 201, Row J, Seat 1?  Oh yeah...and the female "volunteer"  - she sure does seem to go to a lot of shows and get "volunteered" a lot. 

Go and see the show.  Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Did Bush Do Anything Right?

Last night as I sat with some friends after playing tennis the often taboo subject of politics came up and I found myself in a sea of vitriol and venom focused on George Walker Bush.  The table had six people at it including myself and instead of contributing to the opinions being bantered about I decided to hold back and listen.  After 15 minutes I asked one simple question to the group that was decidedly anti-Bush.

"Did Bush do anything right?"  No one offered an answer.  

Isn't that a great question?  Given all the gaffes and folly that many people mindlessly repeat regardless of its basis in reality I really want to know if he did anything right.  For being in office for 8 years he must have!  Even Barack Obama himself said, "the President made the best decisions he could at times under very difficult circumstances".  Granted he later qualified his statement generically mentioning "bad decisions", but it seems Obama himself realizes the gravity and potential consequences of the Presidential role. 

I personally don't buy into the rhetoric and posturing of the Bush myrmidons that follow the party line or parrot Hannity and Limbaugh, trying to justify the war in Iraq as some masterful strategic move and I too must admit that the items Bush did right are faint in my recollection, but there still has to be one - just one and there is - protect America since September 11th.

Since September 11th there has not been a single terrorist attack on the United States. We are now in our eighth year and there is simply no way there has not been a concerted effort.  I  don't know how they've done it, and I expect no one will for 50 years until some old CIA spook writes his final manuscript.  

I suspect Obama knows the secrets and hope that his tenure as President is not marred by terrorist attack either.  Hopefully he will only fix what needs fixing and not what is working so that at the end of his term we have addressed the challenges that face our nation today and continue the period of solitude and safety we have experienced since 2001, because if we are attacked on his watch the public is fickle and the compassion and change he offers today may be rebuffed by the people he serves.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who's The Hero of Flight 1549?

Much has been made of the "hero" of US Airways Flight 1549 that crash landed into the Hudson River after departing New Yorks La Guardia Airport. Let me first say that I agree Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III did a fine job with all the things a commercial pilot should do when his aircraft is in trouble, but with so many people labeling him alone the "hero" it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Why? Because as a pilot and a frequent traveler on commercial aircraft I recognize that the entire crew - and not just one person - are the heroes of this episode. It is assumed Captain Sullenberger was flying, but he has not confirmed that nor has the NTSB investigation proved it out yet and flying is only one aspect of aircraft operation. What about his Second in Command? What was his role? Most people don't even seem to realize that are two pilots in the cockpit - so yes, there were actually two pilots of US Airways 1549. Want to bet you cannot name the the other one?

Also, what about the flight attendants that apparently did such a splendid job of getting the passengers ready for the crash landing, out of the aircraft onto rafts and wings so that they could be rescued? In typical media fashion there has been a sensationalizing of the Captains role and a diminishing of the rest of the crew and it is a shame.

Here is a list of all the heroes.   The crew members of US Airways Flight 1549 were:

Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III - Age 58, joined US Airways (PSA Airlines) in 1980. He has a total of 19,663 flights hours.

First officer Jeffrey B. Skiles - Age 49, joined US Airways (USAir) in 1986. He has a total of 15,643 flight hours.

Flight attendant, Shelia Dail - Age 57, joined US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) in 1980 and has more than 28 years experience with the airline.

Flight attendant, Doreen Welsh - Age 58, joined US Airways (Allegheny Airlines) in 1970 and has more than 38 years experience with the airline.

Flight attendant, Donna Dent - Age 51, joined US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) in 1982 and has more than 26 years experience with the airline.

Our safety when flying a commercial airliner is a group effort, so in my opinion labeling one person a "hero" before all the facts are in does a major disservice to the entire crew and the publics understanding of each crew members role in their safety. Think about that next time you fly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

As the President of APPA I play various API venues to get to know the players and support the venues, but I will at times also go outside of API to sample other leagues games 3 or 4 times a year so I am informed when making recommendations about the future of APPA.

Last Monday after my weekly tennis drills I headed up to Canton to check out another leagues game at Jocks and Jill's and came in 3rd, winning $10 house cash. It is funny how I always seem to do well when I play in other tournaments outside API since I have no preconceived notions about how the players will act and revert back to my core solid / aggressive with switch ups as needed.

Today I received a blast email from the other league (into my alias email account) telling me that Jocks and Jills in Canton is no longer in business* (oh well - so much for my $10 house cash and their game), but this reminds me that in the current economic environment how important it is for us as players to support (read spend money with) the venues that we frequent.

As the old saying goes, nothing in life is free and the same goes for free poker. There is a cost to the venue, the league and you to keep our games viable and active at each of the venues API brings to the table. Venues will change from time to time due to the competitiveness of league poker in the Atlanta Area, the needs and desires of venues, and the support from the players, but for my money you can't find any better league to get you ready for the "big tournament" than API.

*NOTE: I could not contact anyone at Jocks and Jill's Canton location to confirm it was closed and when I contacted their corporate office I was told they were unaware of the closing and to contact the owner Michael Holiday directly at 770-704-5455 for confirmation. I was unable to reach Mr. Holiday. If it turns out they are still open I will follow up with another blog on ethics of poker leagues.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not Cirque Du Soleil

As you might know if you read my blog I am a big fan of Cirque Du Soleil.  Let's suffice it to say that the video below is not Cirque Du Soleil.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Dark Day for Nortel

I spent a fair part of my career with Nortel Networks so today's news that they company has filed for bankruptcy protection is met with mixed emotions.  First, now that I work for one of their competitors I am glad since this may just open up more opportunity with my customers.  On the other hand, I have a fond spot for this company and hate that poor management of this once great technology powerhouse has driven it into the ground.  

At least the misery for those of us who ever had any financial or emotional ties to this failure is finally over.  

Rest in peace in peace.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chips Are Not Chips

Following through on my commitment to play three 1 hour ring game sessions per week I spent several hours tonight online playing a $.10/$.25 ring game on Full Tilt.  Tonights lesson - chips are not chips - they are money.

I started my evening with $15 starting my session about 8:00 p.m.  I was up down early on and then ended up with a huge swing to the upside when I gambled a bit and my pair and straight draw on a low board up against pocket 10's.  I pushed thinking the player I was up against did not have a pocket pair, but was pushing based on previous show downs and his betting patterns seemed to back up my hunch.  I was wrong, but I drew a 2 on the river for a set and won a large pot vaulting me to more than double my investment.  

Over the next few hands I started to notice that my starting hand selection had loosened and I was doing a lot more calling and folding.  I sat out a few hands to think about what was happening and came to the realization that I was not viewing my chips as money.  That is a bad move.

In any cash game, whether it be tournament or ring you should always keep in mind that just because you won a lot of chips there is no need to give them away and chips represent dollars. This is the exact reason casinos introduced chips - to remove the emotional connection from your hard earned money and you.  

Keep this in mind the next time you go up big in a cash game, or for that matter any API tournament.  Using your chips stack is one thing, giving it away is another.  

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Addressing Weakness

I feel that one of the weakest areas of my poker game is when I get into a ring game.  The reason for this is simple, I learned to play poker tournament style, and the skills and objectives of the two types of poker are somewhat conflicting.  Is it the same game?  Sure, NL Texas Holdem - but the objectives and goals are different.  In a ring game marginal mistakes do not cost you everything, where as in a tournament marginal mistakes can - and usually do - cost you everything.  

To address what I feel is a weakness in my game I have dedicated to playing 3 hours a week of ring games.  Tonight was my first session and I ended with a 30% positive return on my money and avoided any major swings to the negative.  I would say my play was tight and the area of glaring improvement that I found was betting less aggressively with a made hand, after all I want these guys to stay in and give me more money - not fold.  I think working more on this will also help me in tournament play to extract as many chips as possible from players.  

We will see how it goes, but tonight went well.  I was patient, folded when I thought I was beat and avoided chasing from behind.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So True

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

- Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Smiling at SkyMiles

When Delta announced they were merging with Northwest, many were skeptical - especially those of us who fly Delta a lot.  It seems upon further review that the merger is going to be a good thing for SkyMiles members and today I was very pleased to see that the "new" Delta has brought back segments as a way to earn elite status. 

This is huge for those of us in Atlanta and other hub cities that fly a lot, but cannot seem to to catch a long enough flight to build up the miles for that next elite level and an even bigger deal for flyers out of cities like New Orleans and Jacksonville that must connect to get everywhere they are going. 

I am very pleased with these changes and hope Delta continues to make changes with their loyal customers in mind.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Must See Travel Web Sites

Here is my latest must see travel web sites (in no particular order):

1. Farecast - Predicting airfares is tough. This site makes it easier by giving you advice based on historic data if the price is likely to go up, down, or stay the same based on your travel dates.

2. Happy Median - Ever have multiple friends getting together and you cannot decide where to meet that would be fair to everyone, well Happy Median takes care of this by allowing you to enter multiple addresses, selecting the type of place you want to meet and providing recommendations of locations as central as possible to everyone.

3. Inside Trip - InsideTrip takes flight search to another level by letting you add comfort level as a search parameter. Is legroom important to you? Aircraft type? Lost-bag or on-time percentages? InsideTrip is the sight for you.

4. Trip It -
TripIt takes the hassle out of travel itineraries. Simply forward your travel confirmation e-mails to its email address and TripIt will build you a master itinerary, complete with flight/hotel info, maps, driving directions, weather reports, and much more. This site is a real time saver!