27 December 2007

Merry Christmas, Everyone Part II

As with many of us, we break our holidays between the two families. We spent the weekend through Christmas Day with my wife's family and have now headed to Memphis to be with my family through New Year's-ish (we're not sure when we're leaving).

We made our quick, seven-hour trek to Memphis yesterday, and we launched into our feasting quest immediately. It was a spread that is a tradition for us normally at our big Thanksgiving, but we postponed it this year to be sure my brother and his family made it from Waco/Baylor.

My brother's smoked turkey prepared on the Green Egg was the centerpiece of the options that included two hams, cornbread dressing, rice, lima beans, five casseroles, hot rolls throughout, then seven desserts. With the death of my grandfather, we shifted the venue to my sister's house. They moved here after Hurricane Katrina, where their house was flooded. She's an emerging artist, and her home is adorned with a variety of artwork that's she's picked up over the years as well as from my Mother, an established artist here in Memphis.

I read an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday about a growing group of Christians who are turning their back on Christmas. Their view is that the celebration of the birth of Jesus is not Biblical, that God has not instructed us to celebrate this holiday. Certainly, much of Christmas is more about American commercialism and materialism than it is about the story of Jesus.

For me, I think that Christmas is best when it is about the story of Jesus; specifically, about the story of unconditional love. And the closest I can get to unconditional love is from my family. Being warmed at the hearth of my parents, being caressed by the heart of my siblings, being accidentally comforted by aunts and uncles; these are the aspects of Christmas that are truly the spirit of the season for me.

It all comes with baggage, to be sure. The family member who cannot listen to you nor can feign interest in your story. The brooding one in the corner (it's been me more often than not recently). It's easy to get hung up with all of these things, especially when you don't see people very frequently. I'm working hard to escape these feelings, and the last twenty-four hours has been very good.

From meeting the Musical Director of a top Broadway musical to discovering the new music of my cousin's band, it was a great night for me.

Here are my Christmas wishes for the important people in my life:

That Otis will improve on his role as one of the best father's around while seeing his career options open up for him in exciting new ways.

That Wes will have big 2008 on the felt while strengthening his time away from the felt.

That Rav will have a great first year in Chicago--and that our paths will cross.

That Waffles finds a few new things to rant about!

That cmitch has the best year of his life, both at the table and everywhere else.

That Smokkee's first year of marriage is an order of magnitude better than the last year of his singlehood.

That BadBlood will sneak a round of golf with me at the Cliffs, and that his year in G-Vegas will be the best yet.

That Drizz will never lose his smile.

That TripJax will have a year of great comfort and depth of intimacy.

That Kat will continue to find hidden worlds and unlock hidden minds.

Have a great Thursday. You can check out my 365Group photos as I'm still staying with it.

25 December 2007

Merry Christmas, Everyone

We're headed to Memphis to see my parents and family early tomorrow morning. It was a very hectic build-up to Christmas, and we had a really great time with gifts today. I got Moose Munch from Harry and David's (YoSoyVeneno still owes me some from our HU match!), a bench for lifting/sit-ups, a Gordon Setter calendar (which is here to remind me what I've done to our family), and a couple of mock turtlenecks. It really wasn't about the getting this year for me, it was about the giving. I went bonkers on a bunch of doing things that were low cost but took alot of effort, and it's been very rewarding for me.

My Christmas wishes this season:

That Fuel will have a year of great success, and that our friendship will strengthen.

That Dr. Chako has a year of peace, and that he has great courage in the face of his challenges, and that The Wife has a year of closeness with her husband and navigates all of the tumult ahead.

That my friend Liz will move past her loss into a year of great peace and joy.

That IGGY will continue to find new ventures to stay enthused and achieving greatness.

That Gene's fire will continue to burn in the way that makes him special and such a great guy to know.

That Amy will continue to stretch herself and that our paths cross again.

That Pauly and change100 can spend the next fifteen years with the kind of joy that I've had with my wife. I won't wish any specific direction, just that the two of them share unlimited joy.

That I get to spend time with my ATL buddies: skidoo, kurokitty, weak, butch, kaja, surflexus

That Carmen continues to stay on a great path that sees her continue to progress in all walks of her life.

That I'm able to have a great conversation this year with Al--my fault that I've never made the time to do that.

That Linda has a year of great comfort and success.

That Don has peace and continues to strengthen all aspects of his life.

That Dan and his bride have a year where they start to have more answers than questions in raising their young brood.

That my two favorite WSOP buddies have an even better summer than last (Lucko and sprstoner). And that their twists turn up in the next few months.

That I'll catch up with old buddies, including WillWonka , Jordan, Mook, and Mark.

I have so many other Christmas wishes, and I'll try to bring them forward soon.

24 December 2007

CC Sings O Come O Come Emmanuel

In case you need to be thankful for something--be thankful you don't have to listen to this too often! Hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas Eve.

Next Year, I'll Do Better

To those of you who have asked to be my friend on MySpace this year when you only had young Tom as a friend, I promise I will become your friend next year and look at your naked photos if you feel it necessary. My apologies go to Tamara, Heidi, Fifi, Candy, Brandy, Sandi, Sandy, Lily, Shawna, Lindy, Tabatha, Lizzy, Rachel, Rachelle, Richelle, Riki, Aleesha, Courtney, Mindy, Alexa, Nini, Tamara (again), O, Brandi, Colette, and Sam.

23 December 2007

My Eulogy for Papa

Trip report to follow possibly, but here is the eulogy I gave yesterday at my grandfather's funeral. I had a couple of tough spots where I broke down, but I made it through. The graveside ceremony had Military Honors, which was great.

JT Hellums Eulogy by Craig Cunningham

Winston Churchill, in a radio address in 1939, described the Russians this way: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” He just as easily could have been describing my grandfather, JT Hellums.

JT Hellums was the fourth of seven children in a family of ultimately eighteen siblings and half-brothers and sisters, yet having been raised in a herd of chaotic children, he often stood alone in life. He was a man at times apart from his family yet his role as grandfather may have been his ultimate calling. He was a weathered man, hardened by the times atop scaffolds and skyscrapers yet he was a man of great gentleness. He was a vagabound whose world stood still in Tupelo with his two boys surrounding him. And it was a heart forever broken when he was forced to bury a son in the midst of a time of such joy in all of our lives.

It was no accident that it was Jamesie’s chess set that he looked at every day as he sat in his chair in Albertville. I don’t believe it was because he loved him more, but that these rooks and pawns were a symbol of both the great loss that he had in life but also the great joy he brought to his days and, in turn, brought to each of us.

This man was as cantankerous as an old man could be at times. It seemed at times that his ideal family visit would have been better served if our homes had a drive-in window for hugs and grub. Any trip that took over an hour and you stayed over an hour was often an hour too long for him.

He could be a cranky old fool, but it was his dry wit that endeared all of us to him. He handed that wit down to his son Jerry and on to several of his grandsons. Papa was a funny man in a hilarious life that often bordered on the ridiculous. These scenes in his existence would have been rejected as ideas for television series, yet there they were, live and in color. He demanded a pickle jar be used on trips rather than stopping at a restroom along the way. His staple diet for several years was samples given out at Sam’s, making the rounds two or three times to get his fill. My boys called his home in Tupelo the Cat Farm as he somehow had gathered half the cats in the county to watch him ride his riding lawn mower. Fighting with Anne over Christmas chocolates. Rushing away on any occasion to watch his beloved Braves.

I used to travel heavily in my career, and I would often call him from some airport or hotel. I know he thought it was the coolest thing that his grandson was calling from Shanghai or Cleveland or Seattle or Paris. For me though, it was a chance to be with someone who cared about me when I was alone somewhere in the world.

We would talk about his Braves mostly, and I would tease him about their poor hitting, and he would defend Bobby Cox and his great staff of Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux. Papa could have been the poster child for what Ted Turner envisioned when he created TBS, a fanatic in the South who became so attached to the Braves that he would watch every inning available on the SuperStation. The only thing he enjoyed more than watching them on television was getting to see them in person, and he always told me all about it when I would call him.

He loved the Braves, but all the ladies loved him all over the place for much of his life. I marveled that Granny Anne was able to keep him tied down, because he was always a charmer. It was a credit of how much he loved her that he settled down for the long haul and took himself off the market. He’d still flash his smile or work whatever mojo he had to send some sales clerk or nurse into a tizzy. That was the same mojo that somehow escaped every Hellums, Link, and Cunningham male offspring. No, we weren’t blessed with the natural charisma that Papa flicked on when needed. It took every bit of mojo Jerry and Brian and Scott and I had just to get one girl to finally give us the time of day, yet Papa always had ladies swooning everywhere.

He could talk and joke for hours yet he kept some things very close to him. He only recently opened up to any of us about his time in the South Pacific during World War II.

Yes, he was an enigma. He had been gone working for much of the childhoods of his two boys and two girls. Maybe he knew he missed some special times, because any failures he had as a young father were advanced tenfold as a grandfather. He just seemed to connect with kids in a special way. I’ve never really tried to figure out why, but it was something special in him that stayed with him literally until his final days.

Honey and I brought our three boys to see him three weeks ago. Jamie and Allen loved talking to him, but they quickly bolted for the front yard when Papa began dozing off. We threw the football, and the boys fought much like Priscilla and Jerry and Jamesie and Jane did fifty-plus years ago. When I went inside, Papa was awake and transfixed watching our three year old, Joseph. Joseph has been on an Army soldier kick the last few weeks, and he’s uses a stick for his gun. We have about thirty sticks laying around the house. Anyways, there was Papa watching Joseph peer around the sofa, pointing his gun and shooting at him. Joseph calls me either Captain or Sir whenever he’s playing Army, and he calls himself Captain Ginger. He was a bit intimidated by Papa at first but quickly warmed to him. “Captain Ginger, this is the General,” I told Joseph as I pointed to Papa. “General, where is the enemies?” Joseph asked Papa. Papa looked at Joseph and said, “General, well alright then.” As we got ready to leave that afternoon, Papa again had roused himself up and again his eyes were glued on Joseph as he belly crawled around the sofa with his gun. Papa was one big smile, and I was watching a scene that had been repeated for the last forty years. Joseph was Julie and Brian and Cathy and Andy and Scott and Elise and Christie and me. We were each blessed, and I beyond all of us as I had my grandfather for forty-two years and for three boys and for my lovely wife.

And I was blessed this week as I was able to see him again and again at Shepherd’s Cove Hospice. We snuck in a few lucid sentences each day. I was able to give him an update of Tim Tebow and the Dolphins first win and Tom Glavine’s return to the Braves and Houston Nutt, and he nodded or gave some retort or smiled or asked some follow-up question.

And I was blessed as I left to head home. There were times in his last days when he would speak in random thoughts or to people from his youth, times where he wouldn’t recognize Priscilla and Jane. And then there were times when he was able to talk to each of us. Tuesday morning when I had to leave, I walked to the right side of his bed and told him I had to go. His eyes were shut, but he quickly took my hands that were near and he pulled them to his lips. I leaned down and kissed him on those lips, and what I thought was an invisible departure from my sick grandfather became five of the best minutes of my life. With all of the strength that was left in him, he told of his love for me, he charged me to love my boys, he told me to care for Honey, and he kissed me and held me. His last words to me were, “I love you, son.” He’d said good-bye to me, but it was each of his grandchildren’s faces and the eyes of his great grandchildren and those even now in their mothers’ wombs that he saw when he looked up at me that last time.

JT Hellums was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. I don’t care that I never solved the great riddle of JT Hellums. No, it was enough for each of us to simply be wrapped in the mystery of Papa and to share in the bountiful love he had for life and for us all.

21 December 2007


Nothing like all your buddies going to war against one another. Here is my recitation of the Hoy v LJ drama, with one post out of order (over twenty minutes of reading, so cut me some slack). I add a bit of nonsense at the end, if anyone can last that long.

Part II (took forever to save, as I had to split the video apart twice).

Part III from LJ below, where she gives her final finale.

And lastly, what we've all been waiting for, CC's take on all this (below).

I like virtually everyone mentioned, think LJ and Carmen are both pretty hot hotties, loved Hoy and played in the MATH when it was blip on the blip of all pokerdom.

20 December 2007

JT Hellums

JT Hellums (1923-2007)

I'll add to this post later in the day today.

Curt Schilling on Mitchell Report

Curt Schilling's blog

Calling on MLB to take Clemens' four Cy Young Awards won since 1997. I'm not sure where to start, so I'll just encourage you to read his blog post and then the comments if you can get through them.

19 December 2007

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: An Old Friend Pops Up

I'm back in the ATL and will have a post up later about my last day with my grandfather. My sister joined my Mom with him, and we're not really sure of his timeline.

LinkedIn is a site started or acquired by American Express (I'm not sure which). I've been on for several years, although I really hadn't done anything with it until the last few months. It is a professional networking site and is gaining momentum. A friend that I met through blogging and visited connected to me through LinkedIn, and she'll be a great place to start my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Letters from a Small State I first met Elizabeth and her husband in London, where the two of them were living and working away while also sneaking in a bit of poker. They've since moved back to the US (she's from north of there), and this is her blog. She's great, and I think you'll like her too.
Disgruntled Commuter The saga of a daily commuter with all the twists and turns that come with it. Hijinks ensue.
Copenhagen Girls on Bikes No commentary needed for this.
Jacquie Phelan's Weblog A relatively new blog, but I think this is one to dive into. Very long posts exploring away, very much up my alley.
Still Amazed Great photos accompanying this blog started this spring.
Lost City If you're a New Yorker or love New York, then this is a site to dive into. It is a chronicling of Old New York as it disappears among the progress of new development.

I'll be checking these sites out today; don't you have a few minutes to waste too?

18 December 2007

Leaving the Hospice

Not sure what this video will say exactly, but here you go.

Thanks to the following top referrers since I came back to my blog here:

Mrs. Chako


16 December 2007

Echoes of Life

We visited my grandfather two weeks ago, and my parents joined us in Alabama in the afternoon of that Saturday. My mother hasn't left her birth state since, remaining as a caretaker since his wife fell and broke her hip that evening.

He's had prostate cancer for awhile, and only recently doctors discovered the cancer has spread elsewhere in his body. I spoke to my Mom Saturday afternoon after a day of flag football for our middle son and some errands. Along with my aunt since Wednesday, she has taken care of him at his house. Many of the signs that he was close to passing away have been evident recently, and she contacted the hospice center to take him in.

Hospice care is pretty incredible in situations like this. The facility is less than two years old I believe, has ten beds, a cook on staff for meals, a kitchen if you want to cook your own food, a small business center, conference rooms, a kids room, etc. The goal of the center is to provide comfort and peace in the last days of life. My grandfather has a catheter, and that is the only tube in his body.

Yesterday was quite bad from what I could gather, and today was pretty good I think. I was able to chat him up, and always he appreciated my dry wit as well as his.

(Apologies for the political incorrectdness of these quotes from today's action)

Papa: "Are you going fishing with us?"
CC: "Sure, but I can't take a fish off the hook. You'll have to do that for me."
Papa: "How much are you willing to pay?"
CC: "How much do you charge? $5, $7?"
Papa: "Hehehehehe!"
CC: "I got a Mexican who can do it for $2 a fish if you charge too much."

Papa: "Can you scratch me?"
CC: "Where do you want me to scratch you?"
Papa: "On my butt."
CC: "I can scratch you there."
Papa: "I'm scratching my balls."
CC: "Look, there are some places I won't scratch you."
Papa: "Ann! (his wife) Get in here. This boy won't scratch me!"

This is plenty (of course you had to be there). Mainly, today was alot of hand holding, occasionally saying a sentence or two, then sitting back. Papa would suddenly talk to someone from seventy years ago as his line of sight moved from me to a point of intimacy or regularness from long ago. These were echoes of life, the voices and images cast deep into the cave of his journey, only now returning to his ears and eyes and mind.

I'm not sure what happens next. I have a fairly busy day tomorrow that I'll do from here. Hopefully, I'll be able to work from the Hospice Center.

One quick side note. If you don't have a will and a living will, get one done for you and your family before January is over. These situations are stressful and generally no fun, and everything from care to dispersing assets and personal items are fraught with alot of pain in the face of grieving. I'm a step away from the emotion of all this, which makes it easier for me to be here in the midst of this. For daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and wives, no good can come from figuring all this stuff out.

Thanks for your emails and comments (csquard@gmail.com), they are greatly appreciated. Any happy thoughts can be sent to my wife who is herding the three boys at honeycunn@yahoo.com.

13 December 2007

Reaction to Mitchell Report on Steroids in Baseball

Steroids in baseball is something that I've had alot of passion about over the last decade or more. I have long felt that the sport was rotten to the core and that it was caused by the leadership, namely Bud Selig. I don't care too much about who was named in the report and agree with Mitchell that no one should be punished who is named. Mitchell knows that players who weren't named have no clean seal of approval, nor do any players named have positive drug tests.

First Outside Devotional: To Be Abased and To Abound

My middle son dragged (drug?) me out of bed this morning to head to prayer breakfast. He gets up an hour before our eldest son now, so it was just the two of us who headed to Loren's Cafe for breakfast.

We read Philippians 4:10-13 "10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Here is verse 12 in a different translation: "12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Contentment is such a harsh word, as in America we celebrate the extremes of life rather than the peace that can come living life. I don't think Paul was saying don't live; in fact, joy should be fostered in the midst of any and all circumstances.

Yet contentment implies inaction, a stasis of life which is both unhealthy and wrong. Life is to be lived, and circumstances are to be tackled head-on. Joy is not something to long for, a far-off destination we stumbled upon at some point in time. No, we must each know how to be abased and how to abound, and we must strive to live and find joy in both extremes.

Yo-Yo Ma can sure play a mean cello...

365 Group

I joined the 365 Group on Flickr, where you photograph yourself every day for a year. Here are the first two entries.



CC's 365 Group

12 December 2007

Stuff I Need Help With

1. Wireless-enable my two Mac G2's
2. Clean this mess of an office
3. Flow my 365 Group flickr images each day to my blog
4. Find three new clients
5. Get a clue about SEO
6. New business development partner in China
7. Selection of wines to give my wife
8. Getting video from our video camera to my laptop (both Sony's)
9. Direction on how to improve vlog's/videos (I currently use Microsoft Moviemaker, and I'm not sure what my Mac's have)
10. Updated links to my blog (perennial pain)
11. Direction on Google Reader (any way to cut and paste from someone's Blogroll?) Biggestron

More to follow (feel free to comment or email me on any of these at csquard@gmail.com).

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon 12 Dec

As a special treat, heading from this site to the netherland of blogdom.

The Wife One of the best parts of the Vegas trip was getting to meet Mrs. Chako, whose husband is deployed as a physician in Iraq. A brave, terrific lady.

Otis He needs no introduction, but this G-Vegas gentleman is top dog in my book. He is as good as they come in life, and anyone who meets him is better for it. He's also now a local G-Vegas celebrity as he's being featured as the top area blogger this week.

Wil Wheaton I met Wil through Otis when I was covering the WSOP in 2006 for PokerStars. The actor, author, and self-proclaimed geek was very generous and kind to me. His site is one of the most popular on the web.

fejsez A great site currently to keep you posted on the Writer's strike from a very funny guy. Video of Justine and Jason Bateman skit regarding the strike.

Merkley Now this is a pretty interesting site to say the least. Very cool look, and it definitely pulls you in. The Three Questions (the name of the site) has three components: See (Scratches and Scribbles, very cool drawings), Hear (music), and Say (blog with excellent writing and a naked photo of a lady each day). The naked ladies are for a coffee table book he/they is/are doing about "...111 SF women I know, at home on a sofa in their favorite shoes..." And no top.

Djuliet's flickr photos Always great to swim around in the sea of images from others.

365 Days Group flickr group with a self-portrait taken each day for a year. I'm in! I'll update my first entry into the group later today or tomorrow. Done!

OK, so it was Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Plus One. That's that.

Bobby Petrino Departs Atlanta

Bobby Petrino, we hardly knew you. Here are the three questions I look at:

1. How good was and is Bobby Petrino?
2. Has Michael Vick’s departure been the sole cause of this season?
3. Was this the right decision for Bobby Petrino?

How good was and is Bobby Petrino? You will hear that Petrino is an offensive mastermind, and you’ll hear about his 41-9 record at Louisville. We won’t know what he would have done this year at Louisville as they fell to a .500 team, but let’s look closer at what he did there during his four years at Louisville.

You won’t hear that he was 4-4 against Top 25 teams (actually 4-5; who knew TCU was a Top 20 team in 2003?), with the 2006 win over West Virginia as his benchmark victory. He beat a .500 Miami team early last season when they were ranked and finished with an Orange Bowl win against Wake Forest. His only other Top 25 win was against an upstart Boise State team in 2004. Their schedule was filled with Syracuse, East Carolina, Pitt, and Cincinnati in conference, never looking like the week in/week out grind of the SEC or even the Pac 10 or Big 10. Offensive geniuses have started breaking out of the woodwork as the spread offense and its hybrids have flourished, so we’ll find out soon enough what he is made of.

Has Michael Vick’s departure been the sole cause of this season? Yes and no. First, let’s revisit the statistics of last season. Last year, they finished 7-9 after a 6-2 start, similar to the 2005 year. The Falcons led the NFL in rushing and were dead last in passing, putting them in 12th in offense for last year. This year, they’ve dropped to 24th overall, plummeting to 26th in rushing while climbing to 16th in passing. Vick gained over 1,000 yards last season, but they have a top back in Warrick Dunn and one of the fastest running backs in the NFL in the underutilized Jarious Norwood. With quarterbacks dropping like flies around the NFL, Petrino showed a lack of adjustment to the personnel he was dealt. He tried to turn a running offense into a passing offense lacking a QB and really any top receivers excluding Alge Crumpler. Granted he lost a second 1,000 rusher who was unique, but his inability to maintain a strong rushing attack is telling. His defense is 24th in the league vs 22nd last year. The Falcons have been unable to stop the run, dropping from 9th to 27th in rushing defense this year while moving from 29th to 19th in passing defense. The Falcons have been a mediocre team with an electrifying star in Vick since his arrival, and really only during last year’s slide were there serious grumblings about Vick’s lack of passing skills.

Was this the right decision for Bobby Petrino? Absolutely the right choice for him and his immediate future. Petrino still glistens today with the mantle of offensive genius that built the Louisville program from nothing. Add mediocre 2008 and 2009 seasons to this year's disaster, and his head coaching prospects would be few and far between. Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban had both won National Titles in the SEC, and they had a greater ability to boomerang back to the college ranks than Petrino did. His salary went from $2.5m at Louisville up to $3.0m at Arkansas, with a quick bump at the Falcons thrown into the mix. He knew he was in quite a mess in Atlanta, one that was going to take a great deal of effort to overcome. NFL clubs can be turned around quickly, but the Falcons fall in the basket with the Saints, the Bengals, the Cardinals, and the Lions of historically inept franchises. He understood there was more downside risk if he failed over the 2008 and 2009 seasons than any upside gain if he somehow righted the ship over those two seasons. Arkansas will be no slam dunk, mind you (just ask Nick Saban). Before Halloween next year, he’ll play Saban’s Alabama, Texas and Florida before heading to a perennial war with Auburn. I’m sure Mr. Tuberville remembers his 2003 escapades quite well. Add Kentucky the following week then finish your season with Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and LSU. Welcome back to college, coach. You just might be longing for your days in Atlanta after your first trip through the SEC.

Petrino's Arkansas Press Conference

DeAngelo Hall's Response

11 December 2007

2008 World Series of Poker Schedule

Here you gogogogogogo!!!

May 30 #1 World Championship Pot-Limit Hold'em (3 day event) $10,000
May 31 #2A No-Limit Hold’em (4 day event) Day 1A $1,500
June 1 #2B No-Limit Hold’em Day 1B
June 2 #3 Pot-Limit Hold'em (3 day event) $1,500
June 2 #4 Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No-Limit) (3 Day event) $5,000
June 3 #5 No-Limit Hold’em w/Re-Buys (3 day event) $1,000
June 3 #6 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better (3 day event) $1,500
June 4 #7 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $2,000
June 4 #8 World Championship Mixed Event (3 day event) $10,000 Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz , Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Holdem, Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball
June 5 #9 No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed (3 day event) $1,500
June 5 #10 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low-8 or Better (3 day event) $2,500
June 6 #11 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout (3 day event) $5,000
June 6 #12 Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
June 7 #13 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $2,500
June 7 #14 World Championship Seven Card Stud (3 day event) $10,000
June 8 #15 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship (3 day event) $1,000
June 8 #16 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better (3 day event) $2,000
June 9 #17 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout (3 day event) $1,500
June 9 #18 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball w/Re-Buys (3 day event) $5,000
June 10 #19 Pot-Limit Omaha (3 day event) $1,500
June 10 #20 Limit Hold'em (3 day event) $2,000
June 11 #21 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $5,000
June 11 #22 H.O.R.S.E. (3 day event)$3,000 Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better
June 12 #23 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $2,000
June 12 #24 Pot-Limit Holdem/Omaha (3 day event) $2,500
June 13 #25 World Championship Heads Up No-Limit Hold'em (256 player max) (3 day event) $10,000
June 13 #26 Seven Card Razz (3 day event) $1,500
June 14 #27 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
June 14 #28 Pot-Limit Omaha W/Rebuys (3 day event) $5,000
June 15 #29 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $3,000
June 15 #30 World Championship Limit Hold'em (3 day event) $10,000
June 16 #31 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed (3 day event) $2,500
June 17 #32 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
June 17 #33 World Championship Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better (3 day event) $5,000
June 18 #34 Pot-Limit Omaha W/Re-Buys (3 day event) $1,500
June 18 #35 Seven Card Stud (3 day event) $1,500
June 19 #36 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
June 19 #37 World Championship Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better (3 day event) $10,000
June 20 #38 Pot-Limit Hold'em (3 day event) $2,000
June 21 #39 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
World Championship H.O.R.S.E. (5 day event) $50,000
June 22 #40 Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better
June 22 #41 Mixed Hold'em (limit/no-limit) (3 Day event) $1,500
June 23 #42 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em World Championship (3 day event) $1,000
June 24 #43 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better (3 day event) $1,500
June 25 #44 No-Limit Hold’em w/Re-Buys (3 day event) $1,000
June 25 #45 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit) (3 day event) $2,500
June 26 #46 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed (3 day event) $5,000
June 26 #47 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low-8 or Better (3 day event) $1,500
June 27 #48 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $2,000
June 28 #49 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
June 29 #50 World Championship Pot Limit Omaha (3 day event) $10,000
June 29 #51 H.O.R.S.E. (3 day event) $1,500 Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better
June 30 #52 No-Limit Hold’em (3 day event) $1,500
July 1 #53 Limit Hold’em Shootout (2 day event) $1,500
July 2 Media Event
July 2 Satellite Day
July 2 Ante Up For Africa Charity Event (1 day event) $5,000
July 3 #54A World Championship No-Limit Texas Hold'em Day 1A 2,500 Players $10,000
July 4 54B Day 1B 2,500 Players
July 5 54C Day 1C 2,500 Players
July 6 54D Day 1D 2,500 Players
July 7, 2008 OFF
July 7 #55 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em (2 day event) $500
July 8 Day 2A
July 9 Day 2B
July 10 Day 3
July 11 Day 4
July 12 Day 5
July 13 Day 6
July 14 Day 7
July 15 OFF
July 16 Final Table

A few observations:

>> Twenty-four (24) NLHE events this year out of 54 events (excluding the Casino Employees, Media Event, and the Ante for Africa charity event). Additionally, there are three PLHE, four LHE, and two NLHE/LHE mixed events. That is 33 of 54 events that are hold-em this year.
>> Eight (8) Omaha events in their different forms.
>> Of the four Mixed Game events (five if you count the PLHE/PLO event), the Event #8 World Championship Mixed Event should kill half the dealers at the Rio. That's eight different games, including Triple Draw, NLHE, and PLO added to the HORSE mix. Wack.
>> Eight (8) $10k Events in addition to the $50k HORSE event (hopefully to be called the WSOP Chip Reese Memorial HORSE event): PLHE, Mixed Event, Stud, HU NLHE, LHE, Omaha H/L 8 or Better, PLO, and the NLHE Main Event.
>> Eight (8) $5k Events and 21 $1.5k events will be held this year.
>> Best dates to head out for the budget conscious: 4-7 June ($2k NLHE, $1.5k NLHE 6-max, $1.5k LHE, $2.5k NLHE), 19-22 June ($1.5k NLHE, $2k PLHE, $1.5k NLHE, $1.5k NLHE/LHE Mixed, watch Day 1 of $50k HORSE), 27 June-2 July ($2k NLHE, $1.5k NLHE, $1.5k HORSE, $1.5k NLHE, $1.5k LHE Shootout, Main Event Satellite Day).
>> Cost to enter each event: $236k ($236.5k if you include Employee Event). Not sure if anyone could play every event (would need to be a female senior citizen Casino employee to make every event).
>> Registration and satellites start 28 May.

Can We Live a Life of Joy in the Midst of Melancholy Circumstances?

Joy. I remember sitting in church as a child hearing a pastor speak about the difference between happiness and joy, how happiness is an emotional feeling in the midst of good circumstances while joy is a sense of being, a definition more of where one is in life.

Fast-forward thirty years, and I am just now understanding what he was talking about. Lifestyle vs life. Taking a path vs drifting along. A worthy life filled with the worthwhile.

I'm believing more and more that joy is connected to investment, the giving over of personal capital to others. Whether that capital be time, activity, emotion, caring; whatever the assets one has in a life, giving and sharing it with others only serves to enrich and strengthen you.

I've found in this last year that there is an almost limitless number of people who are open to this type of investment. I've decided to invest in being as open as I can be about the details of my life situation, struggles, and decisions I will make. My life is an easy one lived in the muck of contentment, and I want it to be transformed into a life of joy. This is starkly different than a smiling-Born-Again drone, and it's the antithesis of the giddy-God's-Will optimist.

No, the life I want to build is one of delight, of joy. Life is a long time to be sure, but it is also each day, each moment of interaction, each touch of a hand to hair, of an eye to an eye, of the caress of a soul.

I don't think this joy is a switch to be flicked on when the endorphins drop or pressures start mounting or we start feeling overwhelmed. This joy is about the wonderment of life in the everyday.

I hope today will be that day of joy wherever I am and wherever you are.

Kaki King, Guitarist Extraordinaire

As always, I'm late to the party. Kaki King is from Atlanta and plays the guitar on the horrendous movie "August Rush." She's terrific though.

I'll be firing these CD's into my iPod soon enough; definitely the first two, although I'm not sure about the third one (my wife might prefer it actually as she sings on it).

10 December 2007

A Quickie

I've had a pretty busy day since taking a connecting redeye back through Charlotte to the ATL this morning. Highlights from the trip include eating, seeing everyone, understanding TJ and craps, -EV table games causing monkey tilt, my new hottie friends, and the rushing to see my Little Guy from the airport just in time to see his 3 year-old pre-school sing "Away in the Manger." Many regrets from the weekend, mainly that I didn't get cell numbers and therefore missed spending time with Otis, BadBlood, and many, many more. Meeting Mrs. Chako was one of the highlights of the trip. She is a courageous lady, and it is stunning to think that there are tens of thousands of men and women like her during this time in our nation.

It was great to meet TripJax and his wife. He's always been one of my favorite bloggers, and we got to chat for just a few minutes during the tourney. It was one of those small times that will stay with me at least for awhile. Amy also made a point to spend some time with me, which was really appreciated. I'm not the easiest guy to chat up at times, but it really meant alot for her to look me in the eye and share herself with me. We had the awkward conclusion as I sat there wishing I was able to get beyond the surface with her. I'm just thankful I got a glimmer this summer.

IGGY has always been extremely generous to me, and he once again gave of himself. He's a guy I'd go to battle for, anytime (figuratively speaking, as I wouldn't be much of a battler unless someone needed a human shield...).

As always, Fuel was key to keeping me connected and preventing me from drifting away alone. Thanks as always, buddy. Lots and lots more in the coming days.

My new Voki to always make you feel welcome here. Not a slam dunk but maybe a little bit of a resemblance (if you squint just a little...). Take a listen. Also on tap this week: vlogging my reaction to the Michael Vick aftermath, more devotionals, and more on my goals.

05 December 2007

Live vLogging: ATL-PHX-ABQ

Heading to Albuquerque through Phoenix, and I've uploaded a couple of videos of my travels. Enjoy.

Sky Harbor, Taberna del Tequila

Chip Reese's Passing

I covered the World Series of Poker during the summers of 2006 and 2007. When I first arrived, I was awestruck mingling through the tables with my Best Buy camera. I was a hack among poker hacks, dreamers, hustlers, and a select few risk management professionals. After the first few days, I was comfortable sneaking through the Amazon Room, although it most often looked like a rhino wading through a limoge shop near the Louvre. I was I think fortunate enough to interview many players, from the one-hit wonders to the university wunderkids to the rock stars of the game.

I never really made any attempt to befriend players, although I became friendly with several. I've always assumed that these men and women had plenty of friends and companions, and that there was no need to bring in another one. When the true friendships have occurred, I've benefited greatly from them.

Barry Greenstein has a poignant audio post on The Poker Road. Certainly, he has one thing right: the lives of these poker players celebrated and revered by the public are anything but glamorous. Too often, these men and women live really dreadful lives. There are the broke players I've barely met who have filled my cell phones with pleadings to help them find backing or can be seen milling around rooms and events. There are the vices. There are the marathon grinds at the table. There are the boom to bust to boom to bust journeys. The implied pot odds blur into the desperate shoves, the bad runs spewing from the reckless abandon.

For whatever reason, we all seem to have some novel need here in the 21st Century to connect directly with catastrophe and grief. Maybe it is a gap in truly meaningful relationships in our lives, replaced by the MySpace or user name or avatar buddy. Maybe it is to somehow lift one's place in the world, a world where the everyman's popularity can now be measured by hits and comments and views and links.

I do know that Chip Reese seemed different than most of this band I would walk amongst. Doyle was the newfound King of the People, but Reese was one of those who came out only when the ROI looked good enough. He was never a bracelet chaser, having especially seen through the shallow significance of the unwearable metal wristbands. No, he would come out when the buy-in was high enough and the luckbox factor was low enough to make sitting in one of these crazy tournaments worthwhile. I always found it odd that the other person as selective as Reese when it came to tourneys seemed to be Gabe Kaplan.

He was commonly tagged as the greatest cash game player alive, and he played at the highest stakes online as CaseyAtTheBat on FullTilt. Yet it seemed that his warmth and generosity toward his close friends was the trait that will be missed the most. He had moved from the young hot shot to the grizzled veteran, and he could easily separate the pretenders from the legitimate players among the never-ending new faces he would face online, at the Bellagio, or in the biggest tourneys. For the select few in his inner circle, he was simply a friend of the highest order.

His death is a wake-up call, but not for any sort of reason related to poker. Does the sedentary life of a poker player create a body more susceptible to an early death or obesity? Maybe, but so does watching the NFL or being a cube monkey. No, Reese's death is a wake-up call for each of us to look at our lives and our relationships. Here was a man of the highest integrity in a world of deception and deceit, a friend of the highest order who regularly exposed the weaknesses of his peers and took their money. This is a wake-up call for each of us that investing in relationships, taking the time to deepen friendships, adding laticework to the goings-on with our companions, that these are the worthy pursuits of us all. Rest in Peace, Mr. Reese.

04 December 2007

I Miss Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

I used to do this regularly, head from my site and see where it takes me.

1. Diablo Cody's The Pussy Ranch (see earlier post)

2. An Amber Colored Life (she's a bit under the weather today, so head over and flood her with love)

3. Blah Blah Blah-ler Minneapolis ladies seem to be nuttier than Canadian women.

4. Kristabella, a wine-loving/slurping Chicago singleton who keeps wineries in business. Happy birthday to her Mom!

5. Alyndabear, a rambling Aussie teacher.

6. Gorgeous Footsteps in the Sand; aka Katelin. Send her some big happy thoughts with her Christmas Wish List

I miss Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I'll be doing it regularly again.

UPDATE Blah Blah Blahler is neither Canadian nor from Minneapolis. Whether she's nutty or not I'm not sure (Blogger was down when I posted originally, so I couldn't find anything else about her exept the most recent post...).

Heading to Vegas

Looks like I'll be sneaking into Vegas after all. I have to head to Albuquerque Wednesday evening for a photo shoot on Thursday (not of me, so don't be alarmed). I'll get into Vegas Friday morning then leave on a red-eye Sunday night. I haven't made hotel arrangements in Vegas yet, so any ideas would be welcome.

Daily devotional on love is below:

Gift Ideas for the Christmas

Alicia Keys "As I Am" (live version of "No One" below)

Sara Groves "Tell Me What You Know"

Aaron Shust "Whispered and Shouted"

"Extras" Seasons 1 & 2, Ricky Gervais; if you haven't subscribed to his podcast on iTunes, it is side-splitting.

In other news, Fuel scores a big coup by catching the Spice Girls first concert.

Will Ray Lewis and his mates on defense kidnap their coach and waterboard him after last night's stumble-bumble fiasco? Aaarrrghhh! Why on Earth would you call a timeout with these guys on defense? The only thing worse from the weekend (by an order of magnitude) was Sean Payton's double reverse call to lose the games vs. the Bucs. I always choose the Saints in Madden, mainly so I have a clue about their personnel. I would NEVER call that play when I was trying to close out a win.

03 December 2007

Hot New Blog: Stripper Screenwriter

I'm sure I'm behind here, but I've been eager to see the new movie "Juno" released this week. The screenwriter is Diablo Cody, formerly Brooke Busey-Hunt. She quit her job at an ad agency to strip in Minneapolis, then published "Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper."

Here is a hilarious sit-down with David Letterman after her book was published.

You can check her out on her blog, the Pussy Ranch.

And a couple of pretty funny promos with Diablo and Ellen Page, the brilliant young Canadian star in the flick (I'm sure that has to be an oxymoron...).

"Juno" hits theaters 14 December, so line up your babysitters now.

Goals: Faith

One new initiative I'm kicking off today is to record a (hopefully) daily devotional video on YouTube. Hopefully in that I'll try to do this daily. I've struggled a great deal with putting aside a time to focus on my faith and relationship with God, and I'm hoping this will be really more of a forcing mechanism for me rather than any great benefit for anyone else. I've titling each with Devotional in case you don't want to view them. Here is the first one.

I had to rush to a small town in Alabama to see my grandfather Saturday. My Mom told me his prostate cancer had spread throughout, so I wanted to get our family there to be see him. We still don't know how long he has as it may be a matter of days or weeks. Hopefully, we'll know more later. It was quite a twenty-four hours in Alabama.

We arrived after lunch to find Papa and his wife, Granny Ann (they've been married over twenty years). Papa recognized us as he sat in his chair, but he was hardly himself. He was able to see our three-year old playing soldier, calling him "General", and shooting him as well as neighbors. Granny Ann was fairly upset most of the time. As he slept, she recounted the travails of the last three weeks to my wife. They included the struggles she's had steering his wheelchair, as well as her own problems.

We headed off to a hotel to wait for my parents, who were driving down from Memphis. We all headed back to see Papa around 6:30 or so, taking them dinner which went into the fridge. The second half of the LSU-Tennessee game flickered in the living room as we sat next the sleeping man. It was difficult for my Mom at times to see him, but she was glad that they'd come as we headed to get catfish for dinner. She introduced our youngest son to Fried Catfish tails, which I thought was the low point of the trip.

In fact, the low point was around 2:00AM when Mom broke into our adjoining hotel room. She'd just received a call from Granny Ann's son, who told her Ann had fallen and broken her hip. She is now hospitalized hoping to have surgery after a kidney infection is treated. My Mom is now staying with Papa, who was much more lucid Sunday.

I'm still hoping to make the trip to Vegas this week, but I want to hold off just a bit more to see how all of this goes.

I'll be doing more work on my goals this week, and I'd like to increase my vlog output. I think it is helpful for me, and I know many folks have been encouraging to me.

I knocked out a photo for us to send with Christmas cards. Here it is.

I'm using Shutterfly for the first time to see how it works (ordered fifty of these for $10 or so delivered). If anyone else knows of better services, let me know.

I'm working on some different kinds of Christmas gifts to give this year. Christmas used to be my favorite time of year, but it has been a real struggle for me the last two or three years. It has become a time to worry about the future rather than to enjoy family, be thankful, and revisit my faith. I'm hoping that doing more myself rather than spending more will be a big step forward to make this a great Christmas.

That seems plenty for now. More later if there is more. Have a great day.
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