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Views: 1203
Date Posted: Apr. 8, 5:58pm, 3 Comments

People seemed to enjoy my last travel piece, so here goes another one...

At the time, I didn't know this would be my last visit to the last country on earth. I simply boarded the plane in Portland.  Twelve hours later I was in London. Twelve more hours were spent at the airport awaiting my connecting flight.  Another twelve hours down through South Africa to my final destination, Zimbabwe.

The year was 2005. Zimbabwe had been suffering greatly for years.  A combination of corrupt government, hyper inflation, lawlessness, aids, and famine had wreaked havoc on the country.  And yet, its talented artisans still toiled in the hot African sun, so I came.  I flew half way around the world to secure some of the best stone carvings in the world.
HandsloversColleen SistersFaceVerdite bust
They are called Shona sculptures, after the tribe that the majority of the sculptors come from.  They are carved in a range of stones from the hard verdite, springstone, opalite, serpentine to the soft, carvable by a knife, soapstone.  The range of colors and textures are almost endless.  The subject matter and form differ almost as greatly; from modern to primitive, abstract to realistic.  It was all there.  All I had to do was travel the country, find it, negotiate, and figure out a way to get it back to my Portland gallery.

ThreesomeThis year, I wasn't met at the airport by a BMW 7 series, but a beat up old Peugeot.  It looked like its life had been prolonged 10 years past its prime; washed daily to preserve the look despite the ever-present scratches and dents.   The tires were completely bald, with the threads on the verge of bursting.  And burst they did. After clearing the two police barricades as we departed the quiet but modern airport, we drove past a couple closed gas stations. The whole country was suffering from fuel shortages, rationing and 'black marketeering' now dominating the distribution.  The normally bustling roads seemed abandoned.  Within several miles of the airport, one of the tires blew.  I was told there were no replacements in the country, so your only option was to repair the one you had, over and over.  After changing the tire with the spare that looked in worse shape, we limped back to the homestead.  The guard opened the metal gates, and we drove through the high walls with broken glass on the top.
I wasn't staying at some posh resort or hotel, but at the home of my usual host, a Shona sculptor friend of mine.  Anyone who owns a half decent home needs these security precautions to protect their possessions and their safety.  In the courtyard sat his prized BMW 7 series, under a tarp, idled these days as it was too expensive to run and brought too much unwanted attention.  It was a big letdown to the young sculptor's ego to travel around in that humble Peugeot when he had worked so hard to gain status with his other cars.  He was a well known musician and sculptor, but he was also a dogged survivor of Zimbabwe's harsh current conditions.

The rules for this trip were quickly laid out for me.  I was never to go anywhere alone.  I would only travel during daylight hours. I was always to have a driver and another person/guard to watch my back as I traveled around on my buying trip.  No more evenings going to see live music in Harare.

Currency inflation in ZimbabweIn years past, the strict currency laws required I travel almost daily to the banks to exchange my traveler's checks and get the proper documentation.  Things had devolved to such a point that people ignored these regulations, as the banks didn't have any cash or exchanged it at such an unreasonable rate that the black market was the only option.  Hard foreign currency was king. The customs personnel would be bought off later.

The currency was in such hyper inflation that negotiations of the black market rates changed each time I engaged in them that month, varying up to 20%.  The soaring inflation made their money nearly worthless. The government hadn't been able to generate newer higher denomination notes, so when you exchanged US $2000 for instance, you had to pack the equivalent Zimbabwean millions of dollars in a suitcase.  Unlike previous trips, there was no way to be inconspicuous with a money belt under your shirt.  As an art dealer going around to individual sculptor's homes and studios with suitcases fulls of cash, you were constantly a target to be robbed, or at the very least be solicited at every turn to relieve you of some of that cash. 
100 Billion note
In the following years they have printed new bigger notes, that are almost equally worthless, but less bulky.  Ever wanted to be a billionaire?

Fortunately, the artists were still thrilled to see me.  They were reliant on my yearly buying trips.  They were aware that the world economy had slowed, even if not nearly as much as the Zimbabwean economy. That year, I represented one of the few Shona sculpture galleries who chose to come in person, despite the dire conditions.  They were hungry for business, but still savvy as ever in their negotiating. 

All over Africa, negotiating for most things you purchase is a necessity and high art form.  It is to be relished, not avoided, by both parties.  Fixed prices don't exist.  They enjoy and expect the communication, the give and take.  The sculptors have a keen sense of who their buyer is and how much they can try to charge them.  My former partner, an Americanized Zimbabwean, and I joked about it all the time.  In the early years of the gallery, when we alternated buying trips, he was always able to get better prices than I could, because he was Shona and spoke the language.  But the artists were also savvy enough to know that the Nike's he wore indicated he wasn't living in Zimbabwe, and thus they charged him a higher rate than they would a local Zimbabwean.

Due to the nationwide shortages of fuel, on this trip, travel planning was critical.  I couldn't just roam the cities and countryside scouring it for good art and artists.  I had to focus on predictable pockets where I would have reliable results.  Thankfully this wasn't my first trip, and I had an established network of artists I had worked with for years. We bought a 40 gallon drum and arranged for some fuel from a gas station owner.  That was where some of the fuel that did get delivered to the gas stations went, to the highest bidder.  I was willing to pay a premium, to ensure some ability to travel each day. 

TengenengeAfter securing one drum, we arranged a couple special one day trips up north.  One trip we traveled to the mythical stone community of Tengenenge, where many credit the Shona sculpture movement originated in the 1950s and where hundreds of artists still toiled.  While I'm personally not a big fan of some of the styles from that region, it is an inspirational environment with thousands of sculptures spread through hundreds of acres under the trees and throughout the village.

The second special trip was to an aids orphanage where we contributed funds and tried to set up an ongoing association of helping.  It was an inspirational and equally disheartening setting, where hundreds of children had been orphaned, but were cared for in this big community of volunteers and nuns.

I will spare you the details of the bureaucracy, shipping challenges, bribes paid, and government hassles.  I survived the trip and succeeded in purchasing some lovely sculptures, some of which are currently warehoused after my gallery closed down.  I couldn't have pulled off the trip without my prior years of experience and connections. Zimbabwe has sadly become the last country on earth, not just alphabetically, but least desirable place to live due to having one of the most despotic evil rulers who has beaten down his people and destroyed its once impressive infrastructure.  The level of suffering is tremendous.  Although I was trying to be a positive influence and support the positive aspects of their rich culture, it ultimately became too much. Fanizani Akuda

Some day in the future, I would like to return under happier circumstances.  I wish the people well.

Views: 1112
Date Posted: Apr. 4, 1:22am, 1 Comment

On Timex's Where To Go From Here blog post, I commented...

"I completely respect your thoughts and feelings, but I would say it's not what you do, but how you do it that counts. No activity is innately more meaningful over another, until you give it that meaning.

I agree with the comments saying grab a backpack and go off and travel the world for a while. Don't rely on your wealth, try to live as sparingly as possibly and visit underdeveloped parts of the world. Explore, observe, experience, and keep an open mind to the possibilities. GL"

On further reflection, it sounded a bit trite, as most short comments will sound.  I think I can explain my thoughts more clearly on why I would suggest throwing on a backpack and beginning your journey.  Much of our lives are consumed with creating a solid financial base for ourselves.  You have been fortunate enough to do that in poker at the tender age of 20.  You are left with the search for meaning and connection.  I feel the best way to begin that process is to take yourself out of your comfort zone.  Put yourself in unfamiliar situations.  Soak up everything you can.  Try to view the world how others you've never met do.  Evaluate the possibilities and your choices.  Don't start with an agenda or plan, but allow your journey to define you. 

The best way I can probably explain it is to share one defining journey from my life.  I've written about multiple individual adventures that occurred during the trip, but not so much about what the trip meant as a whole and how it served me.  I was 22 or 23 at the time. I had graduated from college, but still didn't have a concrete sense of what I would do.  I flew from suburban Philadelphia to Nairobi, Kenya.  I was to meet my best friend from my Kenyan exchange trip from a couple years earlier.


Our goals were simple.  With our backpacks, we were looking to travel for as long and as far as we could throughout Africa.  We wanted to get a sense of the continent, not just Kenya that we already had a familiarity with.  We wanted to experience as much as we could.  We were looking to spend as little as possible to prolong the journey with the funds we had, but also to experience what life is like for those in Africa, as opposed to what our privileged lives could have afforded us. Each day we would wake up and evaluate the new day.

Our first thoughts, after reconnecting with our old friends and home stay families in Kenya, were to head from East Africa to West Africa, but our plans changed regularly as we encountered revolutions, closed borders, and tropical rainy seasons. Some countries we spent a day in, some countries we spent several weeks.  Some days we hitch-hiked, others we rode local 'bush taxis', country buses, trains or boats. None of it was glamorous or luxurious.  We ate what the locals ate.  We stayed in very inexpensive local hotels, hostels or occasionally camped.  We used our limited Swahili and French where possible to remove ourselves from the cultural imperialism that is American culture.  We wanted to be seen as individual travelers, not defined by the country we came from.  We wanted to avoid the overland trucks with hoards of similarly minded travelers.  We avoided many of the backpacker hot spots.  We were interested in soaking up the local culture, history, cuisine, flora and fauna.

After four months of traveling together, our interests and attitudes diverged and my friend continued on to South Africa to eventually get a newspaper internship, while I continued my journey on my own.  We parted in Zimbabwe, the country that years later that I would eventually return to many times as an art dealer.  I loved my time in Zimbabwe; the people, its culture and geography.  I even think I began to fall in love with a young woman there named Senzeni Tadii Kanyangarara.  In the brief time I knew her, she was unlike any other African woman I had known before or since.  Time and space prevented us from developing our relationship. She died tragically in a car accident a few years later.  But I was richer for having met her.

My father contacted me while I was in Zimbabwe and indicated an interest in seeing me, so I made arrangements to travel by land and air over war-torn Mozambique, through Malawi and Tanzania, back to Kenya, so we could travel for a little while together, showing him some of my life there.  After he left, I decided I wanted to continue to West Africa, our original destination. So I flew to Cameroon to meet up with a Peace Corps friend working on a Elephant preservation project in very northern Cameroon.  I then continued my journeys throughout West Africa, eventually ending my journeys in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire where a Belgian, friend of the family from my childhood days in Africa, lived.

All in all, I traveled for 9 months, the last 4-5 on my own. I averaged spending $10 a day (granted it was 20 years ago) which covered food, lodging, transportation and entertainment.  I visited 15 countries on that trip. I encountered so many cultures, tribes, languages, geography, cuisine, weather, that it would be hard to recount it all.  Thankfully, I survived without any major health scares, although I had brushes with malaria, amoebic dysentery, and jiggers. I had my fair share of adventures, many of the which I've shared in my blog over the last several years.

I came away with no greater sense of what I would do with my life, but a greater sense of who I am and what the world was about.  I had gained experience and wisdom from the lands I traveled through.  I had gained friendships and an awareness of the diversity that makes up this planet.  I appreciated the hospitality I was shown by people who had so much less than me. I had removed myself from the comfort zone that was America.  I had removed myself from the expectations that others had for me.  For that time, I lived only to travel, explore and connect. I felt so alive. I had tested myself in ways I could never have predicted.

Where you choose to travel may differ.  What you want to accomplish or see may differ.  But do it.  Take yourself out of your comfort zone.  Experience the world as you never have before. Open up to the glorious beauty and tragedy that makes up this amazing planet and discover yourself.  Many good wishes to you on your journey.




Send me a postcard!


Warm regards,



Views: 1672
Date Posted: Mar. 31, 2:57pm, 0 Comments

It's such a simplistic saying, but it holds a lot of wisdom.  We live in an escapist society.  As soon as we encounter hardship and challenge we look to flee from responsibility, conflict, hard work, marriages, and jobs.  We figure the grass must be greener elsewhere.  We fall back into thinking of ourselves before others. We can flee to fantasy, new opportunities, drugs/sex/alcohol, or any perceived fresh start.  I won't argue that each can't play some ameliorating role, but how about you just keep showing up?  Of course that is only half of the story, but it shows your desire to work on the other half.  You have the rest of your life in order to get the other half right.

Recalling my college days, I was never a stellar student.  I was the typical "try to get the most from the least" type of student.  But what I had going in my favor was I showed up to all my classes.  I paid attention.  Just by showing up at all my responsibilities, I had a significant advantage over my peers. 

Recalling my early work years, I would also say I wasn't the most brilliant worker.  But by showing up every day, with a willingness to learn and do my part, I was always a benefit to any business at which I worked.

In my marriage, it could certainly be argued that I have room to improve as a husband.  And yet, every day I show up for 'work'.  I will gladly face those challenges the rest of my life.  Yes, I work too hard these days.  I spend too many hours at my computer.  But I try to be responsive any time when things arise.  All I need is the communication and I will try to accommodate it.

A good friend shared a story with me yesterday that I thought I would share here as well.  She works with children and was speaking to a mom that it was important for her to 'actively engage in a playful/social manner' with her child 20 minutes each day.  The mom looked shocked and stated, "20 minutes, that's a long time, I'm really busy, I'm a single parent and I work!" She discussed breaking the 20 minutes into smaller segments- say two 10 minute periods but I insisted that 20 minutes a day total was what was required to build and maintain relationships with her child (as per research).

My friend is also a working mother.  She then examined her own life. "I thought to myself, wow, can it really be that hard to do?  That night I went home and looked at my own life.  How much time do I spend with XXXXX and XXXXX - truly actively engaging in a playful manner?  I give orders, listen (passively) to their stories, help with homework, make meals, do chores, tuck them in and help when requested - but how much do I truly engage them in a meaningful, social, playful activity?   Not 20 minutes on most days - not even 5 most weeks.   Why not, because I work - I have to work - I support the family - but what am I teaching them about family, what's important and what being successful and happy really means?

She is a strong woman who I admire greatly.  She is also a great mom.  The challenge of 'showing up' exists for her as much as it does for me.  Your kids don't need a specific agenda, they need you.  Your wife doesn't expect perfection, but that you show up and care. Your boss or teacher may want the ideal, but they are more than happy to have someone who shows up and does their part reliably.

I don't have all the answers for how you do the other half ideally, but I can say that you will always be ahead of the game if you just show up every day willing to give of yourself.  The world will be more forgiving when it can count on you.

Views: 1556
Date Posted: Mar. 26, 4:32pm, 0 Comments

When I speak or write, my goal is to be heard and understood.  I dont need to be agreed with, that's only an added bonus. Most of the time, I feel I'm being very clear.  I really do. It makes perfect sense to me.  And therein lies the problem.  I am not communicating to me.  If I am to be effective, I have to better understand the party receiving my communication.  And that takes a lot more work.

I refer to this challenge because lately I've been running into problems as I communicate with various co-workers and members.  Sometimes it's with someone who isn't a native English speaker.  Sometimes it's with a coder/engineer type who speaks in their own technical language.  Other times it's with a designer who uses another set of terms.   Even members can be a frustrating group because they don't want to read instructions or follow guidelines no matter how clear they are.

The first challenge is translating your thoughts to words. Your brain has a history of experience and context it's basing your words off.  The receiver of your communication doesn't share that, so they will always be at a disadvantage trying to understand you.

Compounding that dynamic, online you are only using typed words. Effective communication is so much more than typed words.  In person you can express a feeling, or context to your words.  There is a whole host of body language that accompanies the words.  Without those nuances to help you interpret the words, misunderstandings can easily occur. For instance, sarcasm has always been notoriously difficult to communicate online.

Relating this discussion to poker.  You are told to tell a convincing story when you play.  But if your opponent doesn't pay attention, the story can go on deaf ears.  They may not speak the same language as you, or misinterpret the story you are telling.  There is no guarantee that  your efforts will be rewarded.  That is why they indicate to play ABC tight poker when playing newer, low stakes players.  Until you build up a shared language that you all understand, it isn't wise to try to be fancy in your communication.  Trying to understand how they play individually, why they make the moves they do, will serve you better. 

Lesson learned.  I need to pay more attention to the audience and their particular qualities.  It would help if they would contribute their part, but that doesn't absolve my responsibility.

In honor of today's blog, I'm putting up a video by the Raconteurs, called "You Don't Understand Me"


Views: 1560
Date Posted: Mar. 22, 7:11pm, 2 Comments

Every time I hear the phrase "the hands played themselves", uttered by commentators watching tournaments and cash games on TV, it irks me.  It seems to fly in the face of what I've come to focus on in poker, the role of choice and skill. For so long, I have been led to think that I influence my destiny by each choice I make at the table.  I can't control the outcome of the cards on the flop, turn, or river, but I control each of my actions at each step of the way.  Do I raise, call or fold?  Do I slow play, check raise, or bluff?

The longer I play, the more I realize that poker is a game of common situations.  Sometimes the math of a particular hand does 'play itself'.  In NLHE, if I raise A,K suited and I'm reraised by J's.  I call.  The flop comes 10, 9, 5 with two of my suit.  It is likely you will get a lot of money in the pot with a 53-47% expected equity split.  If I'm playing PLO with a hand like 10,9,8,7 double suited against A,A,K,5 single suited, and the flop comes A, 5, 6, it is likely a lot of money will end up in the pot again with a 56-44% expected equity split.  The more important question for me is how might the outcome affect your future decisions.  The deeper stacked you are, the more I would assert that the hands don't play themselves and that you can make a choice to walk away from 'coin flip' type situations.  If you are 20-40 BB's deep, I understand that in a three bet pot, the money is going in under these common scenarios.  With significantly deeper stacks there are more factors to consider

Considering the pot odds is not the only factor in determining your call, fold or raise.  In cash games, if you know that you will 'press' if you lose a big flip, you can choose to pass on some coin flip type situations.  You might be losing some expected EV in the hand, but saving money because you are more likely to keep your composure and put the rest in when you have a greater equity advantage.  Some players don't respond well to big swings during sessions.  It affects their future decisions.  Those players could benefit from making some decisions to moderate their results.

If you are in a tournament, your life is more important than any one hand.  Look to preserve your life, rather than putting yourself in multiple coin flip situations.  I was watching a friend play in the mini FTOPs main event yesterday.  I am always impressed by his ability to generate large chip stacks.  He plays fast and loose, constantly applying pressure.  His problem is even after he builds a nice chip stack, he continues his loose ways.  So he can spew off much of his stack bluffing or playing too loose.  He argues, "live by the sword, die by the sword", but I would say he has more of a choice.  He is able to do what others can't, by regularly generating large chip stacks.  But now that he is playing deep stack poker, he needs to be able to change gears to preserve and nurture his stack too.  Even if the math would suggest a certain move, you can evaluate your situation and make a different choice.

Poker is a game of choices and incomplete information.  If you are ever to be successful in poker, what shouldn't ever be incomplete is your sense of yourself and how you react to certain situations.  In deep stack poker, you don't have to be a slave to the math.  There is more at stake than just chips. Don't let the hands play themselves.  Take control and determine what's right for you.    

Views: 715
Date Posted: Mar. 19, 2:35pm, 1 Comment

Admit it.  When you drive by an accident, you can't resist slowing down and looking.  It's just something that seems to be hard wired into us.  We are drawn to drama and conflict. 

When I read the paper today, I saw the rumored break up of recent Oscar winning leading actress Sandra Bullock and Jesse James caused by tattoo model Michelle "Bombshell" McGee.  What did I do, I Googled it along with thousands or millions of others. 

When I heard about the brouhaha on 2p2 a few days ago regarding Nick StoxPoker Grudzien and CR, I couldn't help but follow along as things unfolded.  Somewhere in the 87 pages and 1300 replies, there is even one little passing mention of Zimba at CR that AceCR9 posted.  Thanks for my likely first ever mention ever on that site...LOL

There is one big difference to be found amongst people in these scenarios.  There are those who prefer to be a part of the conflict and others who prefer to gawk from afar.  Some people seem to crave the conflict in their lives.  It somehow makes them feel more alive.

It is particularly evident when you visit an online forum.  The conflict junkies seem to gain some kind of fulfillment from expressing their thoughts.  They feel compelled to share their opinion, especially if they disagree with anything stated.  Unfortunately, it rarely ends with their sharing a different perspective, but becomes a personal attack.  Invariably, they insist that you are essentially an idiot for having an opinion different from their own.  Their goal is to beat you down and prevail.  They aren't looking for compromise or a coming together of opposing minds.  Either side of the argument is steadfast.

While I'll admit my role as the drive-by gawker of conflict, I've never understood that element about human nature that I call conflict junkies.  Call me strange, but my inner pacifist is strong.  I look for compromise and conciliation first, conflict and argument as a last resort.  I try to appreciate a different perspective or at least respect the right to air your different viewpoint.  It's not that I don't have strong opinions or feel that I'm right in having them for myself, but I feel equally that it doesn't have to be shared by everyone else.

I will freely offer my input if requested or encouraged, but I'll usually refrain if I sense it won't be heard.  What is right for me, isn't necessarily right for you.  We don't have to share every same belief or opinion.  Even on a pure theoretical debate stage, the semantics of language and the subjectivity of claimed fact and truth often undermine any debate's meaningfulness.  Everyone will be coming from a different perspective and frame it with a different context. So can't we agree to disagree?  If it is important, can we negotiate some compromise solution?

I was asked why I didn't contribute anything to the Stox/CR debate on the 2p2 forums.  What good would it do?  Yes, I was an active part of CR in the early days.  Yes, I know who the former disgruntled employee who vented in the debate was.  Yes, I could contribute something to the discussion, both good and bad, but for what end goal?  I have no agenda.  The direct parties involved can speak for themselves.  They need to be responsible for their actions.  Unfortunately, it often takes forum conflict junkie zealots to unmask those that resist the urge to be transparent.

I'm a firm believer in some sort of karma.  I will be answerable for my choices.  So will they.  Let me not be the first to throw a stone.  While I am guilty of gawking at the drama as I drive by, I never have had the desire to be the one in conflict.  Peace out!

Views: 808
Date Posted: Mar. 14, 4:49pm, 0 Comments

I was up late last night working on some projects for my merge partners at Poker Curious.  They have an ambitious agenda and I'm assisting their sites, while they will push along mine.  I'm not sure if it was staying up late to work or the time change, but today my brain is fuzzy and unfocused.  I may not get a lot of project work done today, we'll see. 

I wanted to share this electronic group from NYC that I stumbled on last night - Ratatat.  They create some great grooves, that kept me energized for hours.  Interestingly, some fans have played their songs backward and they sound just as good.  It's an interesting concept that is obviously easier to appreciate with electronic music with no lyrics.  I included one of the several examples I found at the bottom.






Views: 714
Date Posted: Mar. 11, 10:14pm, 3 Comments

When I was born, they were blue.  For most of my childhood, they were brown. For most of my adulthood, they have been hazel.  During my lifetime, my eyes have changed colors, and so have I changed.  As a young child, I had blond hair, which turned to brown as I got older.  Now it continues to slowly recede while showing slight hints of gray. These outward changes symbolize to me that life is mutable.  There is no constant.  There may be a some predictable physical progressions, and an accompanying societal progression, but our minds and actions can wander where they like.

I share these observations in an attempt to address the question of a 30 year old new PC member I spoke to in our chat room recently.  He is searching for meaning and purpose in his life.  He is searching for a career which will really satisfy him.  He is still searching for his true passions.  The process seems so daunting to him, as it should be.  Those are big questions.

In February, I devoted a couple blogs to a discussion of finding your passions - Pursue your Passion and Discovery

Instead of rehashing those thoughts, what I wanted to emphasize today is that it is the small moves that make the difference.  Don't allow the daunting big questions to deter you from making the small moves.  Using a poker analogy, you don't move from a being a TAG player to a LAG overnight.  You don't change your natural tendencies that easily.  You do it in baby steps.  For instance, you start introducing some new hands to your opening frequency.  You see how they fare and get reinforced by your results.  You try some new moves, slowly testing the waters.  You might experiment with donk leading instead of check raising your strong hands and bluffs when out of position.  Each small move you try slowly changes your image.  You may like the new results, or you may not. Each small moves pushes you in a new direction. You may not even end up where you thought you wanted to go.  But that is the beauty of life.

Using myself as an example, when I was younger, I didn't know that I would become a teacher.  I didn't know I would make ice cream for a living.  I didn't know I would own an art gallery.  I didn't know I would run a poker training site.  I didn't know I would be an entrepreneur.  I didn't know I would be an active blogger.  I simply took small steps each time to try something.  Some things stuck, some didn't.  Some things I did well at, some I didn't.  But I firmly believe that each one of us has many options.  Our lives can go down many paths.  Unfortunately, that potentiality seems overwhelming to us at times.  Breaking it down into smaller decisions can often remove the inertia and allow us to take that first step in a new direction.

These days, my life may not be the shining example of spontaneity, or even of excitement.  I lead a sedate, married with kids, suburban lifestyle, working many hours out of my home office.  But my goal years ago was to create a stable, loving environment to raise kids with my wonderful wife.  At times, the routine can seem uninspiring, but as I always tell Mrs. Zimba, as long as my mind is free and hopeful, I will always be satisfied.  Each day, I can take small steps in the process of determining my future.  I can't predict where I will end up.  It doesn't really matter, as long as I have my family and my passions to accompany me.

No condition is permanent.  Determine that you want to change.  Then go out and do something.  Anything.  See where it takes you.

Views: 680
Date Posted: Mar. 8, 11:55am, 0 Comments

While it took me six months of requests and my questions were limited from my usual interview style, I was still thrilled to get an interview with Ilari 'Ziigmund' Sahamies in support of an exclusive Ziigmund bounty freeroll Poker Curious will be hosting on PowerPoker on March 21st.

This weekend, I tried to have a more normal balance of family activity with work.  It was pretty domestic. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, on Saturday.  I vacuumed the house in preparation for a dinner party we had Saturday evening.  I dug in four Hyrdrangea plants Sunday morning, giving myself a nice popped blister.  I watched my son's indoor soccer game match which they won 9-1 to end the season on a good note.  Finally, on Sunday evening when I'm usually in my office alone, I watched the Oscars, which I don't usually do, with my kids because they asked me to join them.  So score points for being a good suburban dad this weekend.

Views: 702
Date Posted: Mar. 6, 2:43pm, 0 Comments

There is a reason we all enjoy reading a good rant or listening to a sharp witted comic.  We take pleasure in hearing someone else let loose, revealing their intense thoughts and criticisms on the world around them.  They are often venting or riffing on subjects that we also find disturbing.  It is a guilty pleasure; one that we don't often allow ourselves.  We are naturally conditioned to withhold our more extreme thoughts and actions.  We have learned, as adults, that muzzling our more severe perspectives is beneficial for our survival and success. Being too 'prickly' will create more trouble than it's worth, so we mute or try to control those parts of ourselves.

What this dynamic seems to create, though, is a state that I would call subdued sublime rage.  Your primal thoughts and feelings are involuntary, but the battle for your resulting words and actions is constantly waged within you.  It creates this tension that is never resolved, except by decisive action which can introduce more strife. 

Let's look at this dynamic further. By the time you are considered an adult, you have experienced enough to know that life is complex, full of conflict and often unjust.  You have enough education to know that there are numerous ways to escape and many possible belief systems.  You must navigate your life between these parameters to carve out your sanity in the balance.    Anyone significant you interact with must be factored into your equation.  You are constantly weighing many layers of considerations before taking any action.  A major defining feature of your adulthood is having to do things you don't particularly enjoy.

As usual, I'll use myself as an example.  Friday, I had my bookkeeper here at the house for over 7 hours.  She sat at my desk going over the last year's records for both Poker Curious and my old gallery.  She has worked for me for 10 years.  She's a sweet kind lady.  But these days are torture for me.  They dredge up the past and unpleasant aspects of business that I don't like to focus on.  As she's not here most of the year, she asks a million questions about the minutiae of every aspect of the business.  I am having to explain the non traditional online poker world to her. I am repeatedly reminded about the aspects of modern business that I detest; taxation, insurance, lawyers, government regulations and overall bureaucracy.   Everything has to be balanced, reconciled, and reports printed out.  I go through more paper and ink during her visits than the rest of the year combined.  She is paid hourly, so I feel the clock ticking the entire time. 

The entire day is a necessary evil, but one that I would love to reject entirely if I had my way.  Externally, I smile, answer questions, dig through files and bear it as best possible.  Internally I roil and rage.  Why do I put myself through this?  I prefer to keep my life simple, but complexity and complications are thrust upon me.  I prefer to keep my life sane, but injustice and insane bureaucracy greet me instead. While I can rationalize and contextualize myself through most of life's situations, it definitely foments something I can only abstractly describe as subdued sublime rage.  Maybe someday I'll be able to put it better in words.

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