Friday, June 29, 2007
Thanks to Martin for the ticket.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
More Vegas adventures and yes Dave; I'll get to the prostitute story soon enough.
The great thing about traveling east to west is that you gain time and even more so on Airtran flight 777. Yes, I know. Who names a flight "777" going to Vegas? Sounds like a death sentence. Especially when the pilot came on to welcome us aboard and tell us that this flight would be the 5th leg EVER by this brand spanking new aircraft. This made me jumpy and I love to fly.
Pretty photos on approach to McCarren.
It turned out to be a "lucky" flight. We landed (safely) 20 minutes early.
I made plans to meet two fellow Atlantans at Caesar's Palace for the 11 PM, $120 buy-in tournament. I've been very happy with my successes online over the past few years. One of my goals on the trip was to see how I stacked up in a live tournament format. The World Series is currently on going and everything I've ever heard or read says that the poker action all through Vegas is very live while the WSOP on going. They weren't lying.
Every poker room (sans the Palms) I glanced into was jumping. Multi-limit, multi-stakes, multi-game. My friend and I entered the 11 PM tourney while her husband went off to play table games. I went into the first tournament with the wrong state of mind and body. I was mentally tired from the past week, I should have had a snack before sitting down, and I would have rather just been hanging out. I busted right before the first break. My queens versus his A-7. I will never bitch about losing with the best hand if I get it all in pre-flop. He got lucky and like I said, my mind really wasn't in it.
Kem stayed in for another hour while her husband and I proceeded to work a black jack table as a team. When Ken went out, we headed across the street to O'Sheas for some cheaper limits and proceeded to have a ball. We all made a little bit of money and the drinks were stiff. I crawled into bed around 4 AM.
But going back to Caesar's. The poker room is nice enough; high ceilings, soothing taupe colored walls and friendly dealers. There is a bathroom right outside of the entrance and the cocktail/coffee women come around quickly enough. My only issue with the poker room was the way the tournament director treated the dealers. He couldn't have been more than 24 or 25 and he was obviously climbing the corporate ladder. He was very nice to the players but would snap at the dealers for seemingly no apparent reason. To give the guy some slack, he could have been having a bad day or he could have been new and a little jumpy. I suspect the latter.
The next day it was time to get a little more serious. Monday night, I went back to Caesar's for the same tourney. I sat down to give it a go, this time with food in my belly and the right frame of mind.
5 hours later.
5 hours later.
5, my-butt-is-sore-as-hell, hours later I was at the final table and guaranteed a pay out that would more than double my initial buy-in. At this point I had had enough. I made the money, was starving, and I'm not kidding, my butt felt like it had been rode hard by Siegfried and Roy.
I pushed, got called, and lost a hand I deserved to lose. I got paid and went back to the hotel. Had a few cocktails, watched the sun come up and went to bed. I have a new appreciation for people who do this for a living. This sounds silly, but sitting and concentrating for hours on end is mentally exhausting and incredibly mind numbing.
So, of course, I went back Tuesday night.
I needed to know if the results from the previous night were a fluke. This time my patience ran out at hour 6. I was tired of playing. I cashed again. 8th instead of 10th and the pay out was a little less than 4 times the initial buy-in. I went back to the hotel content with my level of play. I was able to take down pots that I knew I was losing by using good story telling and let hands go that I needed to let go. I didn't get cocky and was able to stay focused, unleast until I made the money. I also took some lessons home with me. 12 hours of poker in three days was enough for me. I didn't play another hand the rest of the trip and I felt good about that decision too.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
So does this.
I hope they don't suck.
Chris' comment on yesterday's post summed up the attitude of the clientele of The Palms nicely.
I'm having to write in the order of topics that I don't have pictures for because I haven't had the time (Read: too effin' lazy) to upload them. So food. I set a few goals for this trip. Have fun, eat well, have fun, sleep when I wanted to sleep for as long or as short as my body wanted to sleep, play a lot of poker to figure out where my game was and have fun.
So food. I ate a lot. I didn't eat any "nice" meals away from The Palms although the pastrami on rye sandwich I had at the Stage Deli in The Forum Shops was incredible. They import all of their pastrami and corned beef from New York. No, I'm not just believing what is on "teh internets" but I heard an interview with the owner, Steve Auerbach, where he described how the meats were prepared and then shipped cross country.
So my "nicer" meals at The Palms. My first dinner was at the Mexican place, Gardunos. I sat down at what I thought was the bar for dinner. It was actually a chef's station where they made all of the sauces and salsa, prepared and cooked to order. The salsa was awesome. Just a little chunky with the right amount of heat and taste.
In addition to their extensive mixed drink list full of tequila, they also had Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada and Negro Modelo. I opted for the Sierra Nevada while I waited on my steak fajitas. The tender pieces of meat melted in my mouth and the veggies were still just a hair crunchy, not over cooked and mushy at all. Over all, Gardunos was a little pricey for Mexican but the food and service was good. If given a choice I'd rather go back to Pink Taco at Hard Rock for Mexican.
The next night I tried Little Buddha. I sat at the elevated bar to survey the elegant and serene interior and for prime people watching. I knew I wanted some sushi but I also knew I was going to try something new. The something new was going to be Saki. The bartender, Robert, helped me pick a standard chilled Saki. I smelled and tasted and it was good and different. Not so good that I'd like to keep some at the house, but good. It reminded me a little like a thin barley wine. He explained how Saki was produced and the differences of why some are served chilled and some are served heated. He then poured me a half a glass of some of the "good stuff" just so I could compare. Excellent.
I opened with the spicy salmon and scallop roll. A huge roll served just this side of chilled. Fresh and delicious. I was leaning towards more sushi for the entree, but Robert and company talked me out of it. There was a special, that the staff sampled it before opening that night, that I just "had to try". The special of the day was Grouper spiced and broiled on top of a bed of greens and Mediterranean red rice. I took the suggestion and when it arrived, no less than three other staff members remarked or oohed at the course. I thought to myself, damn, this must be really good.
It Knocked My Socks off. Incredible. I ate every bite and was pleased as punch. Between the staff and the food, this was makes one of the top ten dining experiences I've ever had.
Finally, I ate at N9ne Steakhouse. A more casual atmosphere than I was expecting but I'll always take casual and relaxed over stuffy and pretentious any day. Again, I sat at the bar so could take in the room and people watch. Just like Little Buddha, the service was beyond reproach. I asked for a beer, Sam Adams was the best option, while I perused the menu. There was so much of this menu I wanted to try but I also knew that my stomach could only hold so much.
I started with the sashimi. It arrived on a chilled plate, each piece cut exactly the same size. On each end of each piece was a paper thin slice of jalapeno pepper, all covered with a thin layer of soy sauce and a few clovers. I don't know where they got the idea for the jalapeno but raw fish plus spicy pepper equals d-licious.
I knew I was wanted to go steak for the main course and again, I was talked into the special which was a bone-in 16 ounce Filet Mignon. What did you say? Stop talking? OK. I asked for the wine list to pick a suitable red to accompany my impending heart attack. The wine list is over 60 pages. Front and back and the print is not large. I'm not exactly a "wine-guy" so color me overwhelmed.
I finally made a selection from the Australian section of the book and asked the bartender to approve. After confirming that I am not an idiot and picked wisely, I also ordered a side that isn't worth even mentioning because next to the steak and the wine, it was just a side. The steak and wine came out together and both were beautiful. I tried cutting the bone off of the filet but I failed. It fell off instead. I don't have the writing ability to tell you how good this meal was. It just was.
Both experiences at Little Buddha and N9ne were great and above what I expected but between the two; Little Buddha is the clear winner. Their service was just a hair better and their attention to detail was higher.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I'm still playing catch up with work and personal email, photos that need to be uploaded and tweaked, and stories that I need to write down.
The Sunday after The Event, I flew to Las Vegas and stayed at The Palms. The Palms could be described as "the young and hip" place to stay. It has fours clubs (not my thing) and all of the people at the pool could have been models for something (yeah right). You could say with a great degree of certainty that this resort was not aimed at the thirty something, middle class bald white guy that could stand to lose 5 pounds. But I found a great deal online for $60 a night so the choice was made for me.
From the moment I got there to the moment I left I had an incredible time. From the front desk to house keeping to the dealers to the bartenders to the floor staff; everyone was at least polite and most were friendly and ready to help or serve. Every employee I asked said they enjoyed working for The Palms and it showed.
Maria and I laughed as she checked me in. Turns out she's moving to south Georgia in a few weeks. She got me into a room exactly where I wanted to be. Overlooking the pool, near the elevator.
Chronological order doesn't matter much this trip so I'm just going to write in chunks and hope I get it all down. Things to write about. The food, the clubs, the WSOP, Caesar's poker tournament, learning Pai Gow Poker, best cabs rides ever, and the conversation with the prostitute who had a Masters in Mass Communication from Pepperdine.
Because I was staying there (and more importantly because it was not the weekend) I was given passes to all of the clubs. Again, not my thing. But not wanting to miss out on something for free I got all dolled up and walked up to the really large door guy at Ghost Bar. This bar is not a club per se but an ultra lounge. It is located on the 55th floor of the Palms Tower and has one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. With no exaggeration, you can see for miles. Half of the bar is indoors with an opening to a deck area with chairs and tables and two more bars. The photos I took of the view came out poorly, so here are some link to pictures that don't suck.
Rio and North Strip
From inside the bar looking towards the South Strip
Luxor and South Strip
I took a picture that I don't have uploaded yet. But it is me standing on this piece of glass flooring looking straight down 55 floors of air.
I talked with one of the security gentlemen about the customer service at The Palms. According to him; they have customer service and safety beat into them at their daily briefings. If you want to rough up people or be a "bouncer", then evidently The Palms is not the place for you. I really like that attitude.
I could have sat at Ghost Bar all night taking in the night air and soaking in the spectacular view. But the plan was to knock all of these clubs out in one night; having one cocktail at each stop, do some people watching, and move on.
The next stop was Moon. This is a straight up dance club and I don't dance. Heavy bass, flashing lights, lasers, fog, very crowded, and pretty people having simulated sex on the dance floor. So not my environment but it is an amazing room. I can't begin to put a price tag on the sound and lighting equipment in the club. One drink and gone.
Down the escalator to The Playboy Club. Immediate peace and quiet, which was a nice change from the loud thumping of Moon. It is a high roller ($50+ per hand) gaming lounge where the dealers and waitstaff are all women in "Bunny" costumes. I slipped a 20 into the poker machine so I could grab a free drink and enjoy the view of the city. Cashed out for $55, tipped the waitress when I got my second drink and hit the road.
Monday, June 25, 2007
The Event went well. I have lots of pictures that I need to get upload.
(Site currently updated with photos from Lori.)
I went to Vegas for vacation and had a fantastic time.
I was the victim of credit card fraud, not once, but twice.
And by twice I don't mean that my card was used twice. I mean I had two different cards hacked. The fraud was caught early both times. The thieves only got one hundred off of one and a little under four hundred off of the other.
On the one hand I'm beyond pissed. On the other I'm happy as can be.
On the one hand, I'm going to be very vulgar, rude, offensive and quite possibly racist. On the other, I'm going to sing the praises of my banks and the level of customer service I received.
Mom, stop reading. Dad, you too.
SOME FUCKSTICK FROM FUCKING SINGAPORE STOLE MY DEBIT CARD NUMBER AND TOOK MY FUCKING MONEY!!!
I'm very diligent about checking my accounts. Late last month there was an odd charge in my checking account. An even hundred dollars had been spent but there was no information on with whom I had spent it with. Two weeks later the company name finally appeared; http://ch-info.biz/, located out of Singapore. I immediately Googled the name and nothing came up. I tried blog searches, news searches, partial name and got nothing. On a wild and frustrating whim, I typed the company name into the address bar and interestingly enough, their website popped up. Hmm...I can't find you if I Google you, but you do exist. Red flag number one.
Looking around the basic website, the only options were to click a link for customer service. Their statement of "If you want to query a transaction that appears on your credit card statement, please click here." made me very nervous. Red Flag number two. After clicking the link a pop up window requested my name, email address, date and amount of transaction and the last four digits of my debit card. Red flag number three. I'm outta here.
I called my bank and explained the situation. They gave me my options but with some unknowns at the time none of their options would work for me. I slept on it overnight stopped by a branch the next day. The manager and I got on the same page and he immediately had a solution that protected me but gave me access to my funds while I waited on a replacement card. Their staff went out of their way to get my claim into the system. While I was looking over the affidavit to file, they canceled and then shredded my card and ordered its replacement. At this point, they turn the claim over to Visa and Visa goes and gets my money back.
Then while I was in Vegas, I got good news and bad news. The good was that the stolen money had been replaced. The bad news was that my other debit card had been hacked. Deep breath.
SOME FUCKSTICK FROM FUCKING CHICAGO STOLE MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER AND TOOK MY FUCKING MONEY!!! FUCKING CHICAGOANS.
There were many pleasant phone calls and emails with this bank they too, they were beyond nice. That card was cancelled and a replacement was sent on its merry way. I filled out the affidavits and the list of fraudulent charges and sent it off this morning. Should be a few days and the money will be returned.
Ok world, here's the deal; you don't take any more of my money and I won't stab you in the scrotum with a pitch fork. Asshats.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
This year's party will be held in honor of Dr. John Culvahouse. As you may know, John has accepted an appointment as Professor of Music Education and Director of Instrumental Music Education in the Kennesaw State University College of the Arts. In addition to spending time with old friends, our gathering will be dedicated to thanking John for his exceptionally dedicated service to UGA over the last 16 years and wishing him the very best in his new pursuits.
The Village Idiot is allowing us to use their space at no charge. In lieu of a cover charge, we ask that you strongly consider joining us in donating to a KSU music scholarship in John's name. You can contribute on the evening of the party, or anytime beforehand by contacting us through the email addresses linked below.
While the gathering will be very informal, anyone who wishes to speak briefly is more than welcome to do so. If you would like to say a few words at the event please email Brett or myself so we can better plan out the event.
Details: Saturday, June 16th, 2007 8:00 PM
The Village Idiot - Third Floor
400 E. Clayton Street (at Clayton and Wall on the east end of downtown)
Please forward this information to anyone who might be interested in attending.
We hope to see you there.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Part of the Jack Daniels tour took us into the bottling room where Single barrel is bottled. In the corner of the room was a pallet loaded with the empty cask and 18 cases ready to be shipped out to The Bellagio. I'm going to try and hunt down this exact vintage at the next time I'm out west. Something about being a part of the beginning and end is very cool to me.
But beer in Vegas....
The various casinos are obviously not going to want or even try to accommodate everyone's individual preferences. They don't need to. It's as if you were buying a new car an you wanted Ford to color match your car to your dead grandmother's ashes. They'll say; "Sorry, we don't carry dead-grandmother-gray". It's not worth their time or money to customize their selection to every Tom, Dick and Harry. It's about moving a large volume at breakneck speed. So I get why you can't find a good craft beer in Vegas.
To make sure my tongue is overloaded with pleasure before I go out West, I stopped by Green's on my way home from work yesterday. I picked up three beers. A four pack of Dogfish Head Midas Touch Golden Elixir, a 22 oz bottle of Lagunitas Maximus IPA because I liked it so much last Friday. And finally on a recommendation from Tony; Avery's Collaboration not Litigation.
I'm thirsty and ready to go home now.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
But this is important. This is about beer, and Sweetwater Tours on Fridays after work, and the state of Georgia sticking it's legislative noses where it doesn't belong.
If you ever went to the Brewfest at The Classic Center or Foundry, you have Owen Ogletree to thank. He's heavily involved in the beer community and the few times I met him at the Classic Center and at beer events around Atlanta, he's been nothing but gracious and nice.
Owen just sent out the following newsletter. You should read it. Then you should write a letter or email. The directions and a sample letter are at the bottom of the newsletter.
BREWERIES NEED YOUR HELP!
We recently received notice that the Georgia Department of Revenue has decided to change the rules that apply to tours at breweries in Georgia. The new proposal calls for a limit of a 2 oz. pour of each beer style on the tour with a maximum limit of only 16 oz. The 16 oz. pour is only possible if a brewery has eight different styles of beer to offer on the tour. If a brewery only has four beers available to taste, then only 8 oz. can be poured at the tour.
It is the belief of the Georgia breweries, and their wholesalers, that this proposed rule change would effectively kill craft brewery tours. Since the breweries have spent significant sums of money on tasting rooms for the purposes of conducting tours, this investment would be lost. In addition, this proposed change would cause the layoff of employees who now operate as tour guides and could cause serious harm to the profits of craft breweries. Tours are the main marketing tool of Georgia's microbreweries. By losing the ability to continue tours as they are currently structured, these breweries would lose customers, lose sales and find it much more difficult to continue in business.
If you have enjoyed tours at Sweetwater and Atlanta Brewing in the past and are looking forward to tours at Terrapin this fall, then please take a moment to respond to the Department of Revenue as indicated below.
Atlanta Brewing, Sweetwater and Terrapin have worked together to craft a response to the proposed rule changes. If you agree that the proposed rule change is wrong and will harm the brewery tours and thereby harm our craft breweries, please take the time to send the attached response to the Department of Revenue, as indicated below.
The department must receive all comments regarding the proposed rule change from interested persons no later than 10 am on June 19th, 2007. Written comments (see the sample letter below) must be sent to:
Georgia Department of Revenue
1800 Century Blvd N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30345-3205
Electronic comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE REFERENCE "NOTICE NUMBER AT-2007-1" ON ALL COMMENTS.
Here is a sample letter that you may send...
To: Commissioner Graham
Re: Notice Number AT-2007-1
The department has proposed a significant change in the state's long standing policy on service limitations for brewery tours. The proposed new rule will adversely affect the customers and suppliers of the small brewers in Georgia. It will also put at risk the brewers investment in facilities designed to attract and accommodate tour attendees and severely limit the marketing and sales of their products. I oppose adoption of the proposed rule change and respectfully urge the department to withdraw proposed rule 3a.
Do it. Right now.
Monday, June 11, 2007
My bosses in Vegas like quoting the chorus from Pippin's "No Time at All";
Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....
I've been over the blogging thing for about a month. It's felt like a chore instead of an enjoyable activity. So, tomorrow I'm posting a reminder about The Event and then I'm taking at least two weeks off. It's time for a recharge both mentally and physically. I have no complaints about life. None. Zero. I love my life. But I'm too tired to enjoy it.
The buzz around Saturday's party is pretty awesome. I hope it holds true. John deserves it.
See you Saturday.
Friday, June 08, 2007
It's not a pretty system, but a very functional one. The hoses are not buried yet and I'll tackle that this fall. Because of the water restrictions, I can only water three nights a week from midnight until 10 AM. So right now, I'm strongly considering going back to the Depot and picking up two timers to complete the system.
The upcoming weekend has already been eaten alive by life commitments. Life commitments are those events that you don't necessarily *want* to attend, but *have* to attend. I'm sure they'll be fun, but it's hard getting geared up for.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
It's funny how the more I enjoy life, the less time I have to document the journey which was the point of this blog in the first place. This begs the question; who is this blog for anyways?
Monday, June 04, 2007
Saturday - New delicious beer and friends
Sunday - I rested and other than cooking dinner and visiting with my niece, I did nothing. It was everything I thought it could be.