29 February 2008

Around the Bend

Tracking by the Allegheny
Originally uploaded by csquard

The end of this long trip is drawing near, and I think I'm going to make it back home to see my boys and my wife. A few highlights from the trip:

>> Having a camera in hand made me stop and really see America and Canada. There is beauty literally most everywhere, and I really started slowing down and seeing things once I started taking more photos.
>> I thought I was pretty used to long times of being alone, but I underestimated all of the interaction I have with my family on a daily basis.
>> I like to think I'm fine not being with others, but I think I'm actually healthier when I'm interacting with other people. The fact that I have to fly somewhere to find a safe haven to be with someone else is a problem pointing to some flaws in me. I need to create opportunities to be with people.
>> I need my family, need each of these boys, crave the intimacy with my wife.
>> I'm still unsure about all of the career questions I had, and I'm not sure if this helps clear things up or not. I don't think I want to return to being gone 60-80% of the time, although I do like being utilized and doing good stuff.
>> It is strange how easy it is for me to slip into deep, intimate discussion about myself with the friends I've made online. I'm very thankful that I was able to see everyone on this trip, if only for a brief glimpse. It kept me going.

skidoo is trying to walk me through a new Outlook problem that crept up yesterday, and I have to head to my next set of meetings. For anyone hanging with me, thanks for stopping by and for all your support. Have a great weekend.

27 February 2008

Oakmont Country Club

Oakmont Country Club
Originally uploaded by csquard

Not sure if I slept in the bed Tiger did, but I at least stayed in the small inn that he stayed at during last year's US Open. Some gorgeous shots of the thick snowy blanket around the Allegheny River (I put up a few of them). Heading to the airport, flying to Birmingham this afternoon.

26 February 2008

Here and Now

79/365b Here and Now
Originally uploaded by csquard

I have to confess, I've felt pretty miserable and alone the last two days. Not much fun, and I return now to why I'm trying to keep up with this site as I travel from place to place. As I've drifted away from poker and Bloglines and Google Reader have continued to flourish, I've become more and more alone online. Couple that with being away from my wife and boys, and it's a fairly isolated feeling.

I played some poker last night to try and numb things, but not much luck. Lost my buy-in at the Argosy, somehow lasting through having aces cracked on the first hand, then later catching kings on consecutive hands and losing both of them. I got down to $85 after shoving on a 888J board with QJ (short-stack caller had A8, and another guy had J2), then busted on a board of 5c-7c-2s-Js when I'd bet the flop with my 6c-8c and shoved the turn (big stack caller had As-4s) and caught his flush on the river).

I'll be extremely busy when I get back Friday, working non-stop over the next five days to analyze data that would normally take me 2-3 weeks. My wife is headed away for a Women's Retreat at church, leaving Friday I think right before I arrive. I'll be so glad to see the boys, but it will be a pretty rough weekend for me.

25 February 2008

Post-Lost Luggage

77/365 Post-Lost Luggage
Originally uploaded by csquard

Horrible day this Sunday. The Cliff's Notes version:

4:45AM wake-up
5:15AM breakfast (room service)
5:35AM leave for airport
6:15AM check-in, find out my Air Canada flight is actually United; flight delayed two hours, I'll miss my connection; re-booked on American Airlines flight
10:15AM take-off
3:30PM flight attendant tells us we're arriving at C29, my flight is at 4:47PM at gate B22A
4:08PM get off plane
4:12PM find a cart to run with my luggage down one terminal to the end of Terminal B
4:17PM gate agent at B22A tells me flight left (United flight, not American), so I start running to Terminal 2
4:25PM gate agent tells me he doesn't have time for me, go to Customer Service
4:30PM Customer Service tells me I should be at Terminal 3; I miss the flight, they re-book me on a 7:30 United flight.
5:00PM I eat at Chili's Too (boneless buffalo wings)
5:30PM I find the gate, ask the agent to check on my bag; she says it is still at Chicago O'Hare
7:30PM Board flight to Cincinnati
9:45PM Get off plane, head to Baggage Claim
10:15PM Realize United has indeed lost my luggage
11:00PM Finish with United's Baggage Services, get on rental car van
11:15PM Leave rental car place
11:55PM Check into hotel
12:40AM Find Wal-Mart to purchase my snazzy new outfit for tomorrow
1:15-2:05AM Try to do heavy lifting on creative work; not much luck with too much stress and worn out. Heading to bed.

24 February 2008

Vancouver, Eh?

75/365 New Do
Originally uploaded by csquard

A great day Saturday in my quick trip up to Vancouver from Portland to see Fuel55. I'll try to have a longer trip report at the airport if I have time (4:45AM wakeup call this morning and have to rush to my flight in a few minutes). We both played in a $200+20 6-max NLHE event yesterday. He busted out fairly early, I lasted to 26/120 with 15th the cash bubble. I lost a big pot with 9's vs 6's all-in pre-flop (she spiked a six on the turn), then I was moved to a fairly aggro table where I just couldn't make it happen. I stole enough to last a couple levels and was a double-up from getting into the cash and making a long run. I probably played overly nitty, but whatever.

Time to pack up now.

22 February 2008

Is CC Just a Big Girl?

I'm a movie crier, no question. I will cry at the drop of a hat in most any movie. It's one of the reasons I so enjoy seeing movies with my wife, so we can turn into one big slobbery mess if there is cause for it. Of course, there are the guy crying movies, like Brian's Song or Where the Red Fern Grows or We Are Marshall.

Trailer for "Brian's Song"

Huntington WV Premier of "We Are Marshall"

But no, I'm talking about the real heartstring movies. My favorite to cry to I discovered when watching Sleepless in Seattle.

Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in "An Affair to Remember" has to be one of the best, well-made romantic movies of all time. I turned on AMC, and there were the opening credits. So many great one-liners, Cary Grant at his charming finest, on and on. So funny at times, always just terrific. I'll make a video later of the climactic scene, which you can see here (SPOILER ALERT: if you've never seen the movie, then don't watch this).


CC watching the end (and crying a bit)

Good Morning Portland

74/365 Good Morning
Originally uploaded by csquard

I made it out for a very nice sunrise this morning and have several hours to work before heading to my next meeting. I'll be heading to Vancouver tonight to see Fuel Saturday. He's currently playing in the HU championship and is up against his good buddy, Alan. Should be a great best of five series.

This isn't safe for the workplace, but I've posted a couple times about merkley???'s 111 Naked Girls photos and books, really funny and creative. Here is his latest, and I think his title is self-explanatory (edited since I don't use bad words...): Rachel - Posing A^^ End In The Oven With Shoddily Prepared Potatoes, Fake Gold Knife, Old Masher, Sloppy Teapot & Iffy Generic Canned Gravy As A Stuffed Rat Pretends to Give a F*#+. How he comes up with these and then convinces girls to get naked and strike the pose is beyond me.

Have a great weekend.

Mt Ranier

Clouds Parting
Originally uploaded by csquard

I snuck away to Mt. Ranier National Park today, and what a treat. You can see photos here.

21 February 2008

An Evening Away

A Little Treatment
Originally uploaded by csquard

This was a day with great interactions that I'd just as soon forget.

I spent a few hours Tuesday evening at Casino Arizona, sort of heading back to my roots of poker. I bought a hundred white chips and played $4/8 LHE, the game I'd learned poker at. I was up to $195 at one point but a turn raise in a kill pot with an open-ended flush draw couldn't push K3o off of his two pair. I ended up down $30 for the evening.

I had a great lunch with one of the guys who changed my life. JP hired me from my job leading a small consulting division in a market research company, giving me a salary which was more than my wife and I made combined. With that, we moved to Phoenix, where we had the first of our three boys.

I was able to make an earlier flight and get to Seattle in time for dinner with Mrs. Chako. While the meal wasn't rushed, I think we both had our minds elsewhere. Her boys and nanny were arriving from a week away within the hour, and my mind was on work and a rough call with my wife regarding work and on and on. As we sped away to our destination, I was definitely glad that we'd gotten a meal, but I was also glad that she was rushing off to see her kids at the airport.

I found my way to the B&B on Puget Sound. I played some low stakes stud, four-tabling to numb myself to sleep more than anything. It is a gorgeous evening, and I was able to get here as the lunar eclipse was finishing up. I've kept the cottage I'm in cold, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe to punish myself a bit, I don't know. Tomorrow is an early start then I head to Portland. Riveting, I know...

19 February 2008

Emerging from the Fog

71/365 Emerging from the Fog
Originally uploaded by csquard

I flew to Denver last night, again with precious little time to spare to meet up with someone I'd only corresponded with in email or in the comments of my blog.

Jason has always been a big encourager of mine, especially during my times at the WSOP. He is a young father of two girls and a boy, all under the age of nine. He is something called a Worship Leader, the person in contemporary Christian worship services who plans and leads the music, as well as prepares the band/musicians. He and his family lived in Vancouver, and his church there was growing.

And like that, he and his wife decided to leave the certainty of things going well to head to Denver to an uncertain immediacy. He felt it was what he and his family were supposed to do, and so they left. Fast forward to today, and he's been designing websites along with some part-time worship leader assignments before recently signing up for a church planning to head to inner-Denver.

Why have I inconvenienced my travel plans to see these people, to see Kat and Jason and Michelle and Fuel? It's because I am in need. I need the nourishment of speaking and connecting with someone else. Maybe I have a safe haven sharing a meal or coffee with someone thousands of miles away. Maybe my defective, dysfunctional interpersonal skills somehow become unlocked and freed when I'm with strangers who care about me. I have no idea.

Off to the airport now to return the car then head to Phoenix, a city of very mixed emotions for me. My wife and I continued our big adventure in life there, moving from New Jersey to Phoenix in 1994. Our first son was born there, I thrived in my career, I had my largest client there. Such a far away place, those times.

Have these times been special? Absolutely, there is no doubt. Lunch with Kat and Keith, coffee with Jason, these have been incredible

18 February 2008

70/365 Sleeping in an Airport

70/365 Sleeping in an Airport
Originally uploaded by csquard

This is what you look like after sleeping in an airport. Due to the violent weather that hit Alabama and came through Atlanta Sunday, I was stuck in Atlanta's airport from 3:30 to 10:30 (flight was scheduled for 5:45). I was connecting to Reno through Phoenix, so that got blown out of the water. The 1-800 number told me they'd put us up in a room, then Phoenix staff told us no because of the weather. It was 1:45AM when I got there, and I was leaving at 7:55AM to Reno, so I decided to camp out at my gate.

It was a bit cold and the CNN speaker/television screen was right over the seats I was spread out on. I slept through it pretty well. I was able to find a Comfort Inn in Reno that gave me a half-day rate, so I'm here for a couple hours working online and about to shower. I have a 1:00 meeting then fly to Denver at 3:30, so it's about a six-hour stay here. An excellent start to week 4 of my trip.

17 February 2008

CC Watches "The Brave One" on Air Canada Flight

Riveting video, only on YouTube

Frantic Peace

69/365 Frantic Peace
Originally uploaded by csquard

It was the briefest of stops at home. Arrived after everyone was in bed Friday night, hugged everyone Saturday morning, ninety minutes with my travel agent taking care of the two week itinerary except for a couple hotels still to figure out, threw football for thirty minutes with our middle son, dinner and a movie with my wife, woke up this morning and worked, frantically fled to church, left my family to work more, met them for a slice of pizza, wrapped up and packed in thirty minutes, then headed to the airport, where I sit and hope that I'm able to get out of the ATL before a big storm hits.

I didn't have time to make it to church today, but I felt like I didn't have the ability to miss. I was able to be quiet for a moment, sitting next to the love of my life and letting the frantic stress of life dissipate. Although I'm tremendously busy, every day that passes is a day I haven't worked on new business, haven't worked on marketing, haven't worked on a redesign of my company's website. Lots of haven'ts. One of my first bosses used to talk about the Ain't-It-Bad's, and I must confess I've had those lately. Currently, there really aren't enough hours in the day to get things figured out. I haven't found the ability to get it done on the road, but hopefully tomorrow will be a day I can take a step closer.

Our pastor was finishing a series that he called "The Fight." The first part of the series (that I think I missed several weeks ago) talked about the fight for a slower pace. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God." Be still. What a difficult concept for me, not to be still in body (I'm pretty good at that!), but to be still of mind and of spirit is extremely difficult for me. Recently, my ears seem to ring from the pounding of my mind.

Does this mean don't multi-task, don't push to achieve everything we can be? I don't think so. It does mean though that I need to be certain I have properly prioritized what is important in my life and to focus on those things. I'm normally good at it, and maybe I still am.

I know no one really reads these blogs on Sunday's, least of all mine. I had an hour before my flight, and I just needed to pay my $7.95 to get online and put this up. As always, this is really mostly for me. I'll try to make tomorrow better than yesterday for me.


Flight diverted to Birmingham, so I've missed my connection to Reno. I'll spend the night at a Phoenix airport then fly out first thing in the morning to Reno (which shouldn't impact my meeting in Reno). Off to a great start...

16 February 2008

What Should I Do Next Two Weeks: First Dibs

OK, time to reach out for contact with CC. Here is my itinerary over the next two weeks (date is where I have business):

17 Feb (PM): Reno
18 Feb: Reno
19 Feb: Pueblo, CO
20 Feb: Phoenix
21 Feb: Seattle
22 Feb: Portland
23 Feb: Vancouver
24 Feb: Vancouver
25 Feb: outside Dayton
26 Feb: Cincinnati
27 Feb: Cheswick, PA
28 Feb: Montgomery, AL
29 Feb: near Anniston, AL, then drive home to the ATL

I'd love to grab coffee or a meal with anyone along the way, so ping me at csquard@gmail.com or leave a comment here. If I can figure the logistics out, we'll make it happen.

What Should I Do Next Weekend?

I will be in Portland next Friday and have to get to Cincinnati Sunday night. Options:
  1. Oregon exploration
  2. Washington exploration
  3. Vancouver (five hours from Portland)
Recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

14 February 2008

A Day Wasted

66/365 The Airport Hotel
Originally uploaded by csquard

It happens.

We made it to the manufacturing facility in Juarez after calling to be sure we didn't need any Immigration paperwork (a Business Permit), only to find out that the Security Guard would not let us in the gates. The customer came out, told us he was sorry that he had been wrong about the permit, and we headed back to El Paso. Thanks for stopping by.

I'm back in Dallas, tonight at the DFW Grand Hyatt so I can make my early flight to Cincinnati. No interest right now in supper, although the night is relatively young, sort of.

I have planned to working on my reinvention of this site over this trip, but I just can't make it happen. Thanks to any and everyone out there still dropping by.

On Roger Clemens

I didn't watch the entire proceedings, but hopefully I have enough content for point of view regarding Clemens et al.
  1. Clemens asked for these proceedings. Don't forget that Congress didn't request these hearings, it was Clemens. I'm not exactly sure how one can request such a thing and why this would be granted, nor the overall objective of the hearings from the perspective of the House Oversight and Government Control Committee.
  2. All of the evidence is circumstantial. Why do you think the Olympics goes through so much effort to capture and protect urine and blood samples? Because a secure specimen from a person at a point in time is the only true, valid source to determine what was in someone's body at a specific time.
  3. Brian McNamee was this good? Why Clemens stuck with McNamee for so long seems a bit bizarre, as does McNamee's perceived lack of success as a trainer. Clemens put up some incredible numbers after he started working with McNamee, winning Cy Young's and remaining a dominant force on the mound until he was 43 years old. It's hard to visualize how exactly McNamee produced such great results with Clemens, and Clemens obviously kept hiring him for years after his rape allegations and after being dismissed from the Yankees. Was he just good at shouting at you to get you to lift more? I've searched Google for an hour and can't find any details about his fitness training techniques and expertise.
  4. Double breasted suits. If you're going to wear one, then button it (Clemens) instead of leaving it loose (McNamee).
  5. Bud Selig. Again, the MLB Commissioner presided over the entire Steroids Era and has a new contract.
  6. Our reaction to Bonds vs Clemens hits squarely at how we fans form our opinions. Some may claim race is a factor, which can't be dismissed. I think the bigger difference though is that Bonds has always had an adversarial relationship with the media vs. Clemens, as well as Bonds had to break the iconic figure in baseball ground. If Clemens had been first, maybe he would have been criticized as much as Bonds has been vilified. I don't know.
  7. What would a short-term usage of HGH actually do? Is the premise for the use described that it somehow reinvented Clemens' workout capabilities and regimen? If the dates he received injections are accurate, then he had a big upswing in results with the Blue Jays (20-6, 2.65 ERA) but virtually no impact with the Yankees (13-8, 3.70 ERA).
  8. How do Pettitte and Knoblauch come out in all this? Remember that period of time when Knoblauch couldn't throw the ball to 1st base? It was as brutal a thing as I've seen in sports, with Rick Ankiel's pitching meltdown coming to mind as well as David Duval's collapse. What was his logic for using HGH? Pettitte seems like this really good friend who is also a bit of a wimp personally, a guy you would be hard-pressed to rely on. Maybe I'm wrong.
  9. Justifying cheating. All of these reasons for taking these drugs or providing them is just a bunch of denial and crap. McNamee is a drug dealer, and every person who used his products or those from one of his colleagues is a cheater. Steroids can be obtained from a physician if it is for treatment. My eldest son has taken steroids a couple of times when he's had bad flu bugs.
  10. Why do physicians prescribe HGH? Here is the answer given from a manufacturer of the drug, Eli Lilly: Pediatric Children, AIDS Wasting, Hypopituitarism, Adult HGH Human Growth Hormone Deficiency, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, And Currently there are hundreds of physicians prescribing HGH Human Growth Hormone for Anti-Aging programs, although there is still a lot of unanswered questions in regards to the safety of long term usage of HGH Human Growth Hormone. HGH is a hormone that grows humans, so it is for those who need growing. The first four conditions that Eli Lilly lists are severe problems, and this treatment is an aggressive protocol not to be taken lightly.
Sitting at the airport flying back to Dallas to head to Cincinnati/Kentucky first thing tomorrow morning. let me know what you think.

Early American Idol Frontrunner

Kelly Clarkson had a chance to catch David Archuleta before she had hit the big time (above). Here, he blew the judges away with "Heaven" from Bryan Adams.

13 February 2008


64/365 Departure
Originally uploaded by csquard

I finally have a bit of a breather after a whirlwind of activity over the last three days. I'm about at the midpoint of my trip, holed up at a Starbucks to knock out this post before heading to the next set of tasks before my afternoon flight to El Paso.

My schedule is firmed up for next week:

Monday: Reno
Tuesday: Pueblo, Colorado
Wednesday: Phoenix
Thursday: Outside Seattle
Friday: Tentatively Oregon
25-26 Feb: Ohio (Cincy on the Tuesday)
27 Feb: Outside Pittsburgh
28-29 Feb: TBD

I got a bit of sleep last night, 2:30-8:00 or so. I'll zonk out on the plane, so I hope to catch up on the sleep over the next day or so. I wish I had some wild escapades to report, but it's really just been alot of grinding away. No sneaking in a poker game here or there, no winks at ladies.

For those of you still waiting to get a Valentine's Day gift, you should at least look at Red Envelope. Use code LOVE1308 at checkout and get $10 off overnight shipping. You have to order by 6:00PM tonight Pacific time to make this happen.

I was able to see my brother, his wife, and my young nephew and two nieces last night in Waco. It was brief, just a couple hours, but it was worth the driving grind to give them hugs. They're at a similar place that we were a decade ago, far away from family (albeit with more young kids than we had). It always seems like such a heavy burden for the lone child to be far away from the rest of the family. For our family, it is doubly hard with him in Waco, me in Atlanta, and my sister and parents in Memphis.

I would like to thank everyone who gave me feedback regarding my blog and this site. I'm excited about some changes I'll be making over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more details, and feel free to always let me know what you like and what you don't. Thanks for the continued encouragement while I'm on the road.

Sunset in Texas

Sunset in Texas
Originally uploaded by csquard

Surely I'll have some energy to post Wednesday, but this was a brutal day. Fort Worth-Conroe-Waco-Rockwall Texas makes for quite the long day (heading to bed here at 2:00 AM Central).

12 February 2008

Photo1: Yellow Rose of Texas

Photo1: Yellow Rose of Texas
Originally uploaded by csquard

Forgot my camera, decided to upgrade. Internet down last night in my Ft. Worth hotel (very nice one, so bummer). Starbucks on my way to Conroe, Texas. gottago gottago gottago gottago gottago gottago

10 February 2008

CC on Stud

So my new casual poker vice is 7-Card Stud, normally fairly low limit ($1/2 is sort of the standard). As anyone who has ever been here knows, I'm the opposite of an expert when it comes to poker. Having said that, here are my tried and true rules to live by when it comes to Stud (hey, I'm up $400 or so in the last couple weeks, so bear with me...):

  1. Fold I know that is a standard rule in poker, but I think it is even more so in Stud. Fold most everything, especially depending on what's already out there. Have your six paired when there is another six and your seven already on the board? Fold. You start with rainbow 567 when there are two 8's and a 4 on the board? Fold. Have two 4's in the hole with your 7? Fold. Basically, just fold and fold and fold.
  2. Auto call with three to the flush
  3. Be sneaky when you're rolled up (three of a kind with the first three cards)
  4. Chase your straights and flushes when you can, but don't make it a habit
  5. I check with my two pair or straights on the river when someone is paired. I've found I'm raised with a better hand more than I'm paid off, and worse hands seem to fold.
  6. You can bluff depending on what everyone is chasing and how you've bet.
  7. Fold. Did I mention fold 90% of the time that you don't have a pair? I'll occasionally raise or call with AK down, but really I think it's rare.
  8. Multi-task I'm pretty sure you're supposed to pay alot more attention to what cards have come before you, but I'll most of the time just pick up play after the deal once it's to me.
  9. Buy in for some amount over the minimum, then cash out when you get tired, up to $100, or make $100.
  10. Don't be afraid of the initial re-raise. That means a pair most of the time, but who knows and who cares? If you get your two pair with your 575, then you're probably good.
  11. Don't feel bad if people call you names. Really, how can anyone get upset at Stud? Look, I've had my share of moronic beats or straight flush draws with five pair that never gets there, but c'mon. If they call you a bad name, it probably means that you're good. Or you're horrible.
  12. Be tricky. You'll think you're playing some sort of advanced stud. Actually, you're being dumb. If it makes you feel better, then good for you.
  13. Keep notes. Not.
  14. Don't calculate any odds. You can normally keep track of how many spades have come out when you're on a flush draw with your left hand. If you have to use your right hand, you should fold. Otherwise, keep betting or calling.
Stud is the best thing since affiliate marketing, from what I can figure out. If you need some extra money, then fire up a stud game and fold your way to an extra tank of gas. And tell them CC sent you.

Live Blogging the Atlanta Ballet

I had dinner with my wife and her friend here in the ATL (next to Fox Theater) as they then headed to the Ballet. I'm holed up at a diner next door, using the wireless network of the sandwich shop which is closed for the evening.

I'm pretty worn out and fried, trying to get work done in the few hours yesterday and today that were available to me. I have a ton of projects on the marketing side for a client as I'm in the midst of my five-week project. It's never easy for me to drive creative work while I'm traveling. My wife has tried to step in and do some project management, but I need to give her much more direction (as well as give my graphic designer more detailed input). I'm sure many people are like this, but it's hard to be creative when the well is dry. I'm fine with multi-tasking, but not too fine with coming up with copy and interesting stuff.

I have a morning flight which means I'll have to leave early to get to Atlanta Hartsfield on the horrid Monday mornings. This is going to be a big driving week, which means I also will need to get some sleep. I do wish I could just crash tonight, but in fact it could turn into an all-nighter or close to it.

OK, so I didn't exactly live blog this. I ended up eating a BLT sans T, fries, and a piece of cheesecake plus about ten cups of coffee (after eating lasagna with the girls before the Ballet). I had to do something to stay there. Just got back an hour ago, now still working away. They enjoyed "Romeo and Juliet," although I think the ending was fairly typical. I gave a homeless guy two dollar coins on the way out of the diner.

09 February 2008

Travel Schedule for Next Week

It was great to sleep in my own bed after celebrating my wife's birthday. A busy weekend of activities coupled with work and travel plans make me wish I had some extra time on my hands.

Next week takes me to the Southwest for most of the time with alot of hopping all over.

Monday: Oklahoma City
Tuesday: Fort Worth, Conroe, Texas (outside Houston, I think)
Wednesday: Wylie, Texas (outside Dallas)
Thursday: Juarez, Mexico (outside El Paso)
Friday: Kentucky (outside Cincinnati)

About to figure travel out. I may just drive to all these places for the first three days, but we'll see. Hopefully, I can sneak out Monday morning which would let me have dinner with my wife and her friend Sunday evening.

08 February 2008

Strange Last Night in Montreal

60/365 GoGoGo
Originally uploaded by csquard

Montreal's television channels had a mix of French-language, English language Canadian channels (can't get enough curling, btw), and a few US channels. There were a couple of channels that showed various HBO/Showtime shows we don't get. I can only imagine that every fraternity house in America has a "The L Word" viewing part each week.

So anyways, this commercial comes on for the Interactive Male. "Call to find guys who share the same interests as you or find some new friends." Well heck, I don't really have very many friends, and I like my interests, so it sounded pretty neat to find some other guys who I could hang out with the last night I was in Montreal.

Let me just say that these guys didn't really share my same interests.

07 February 2008

O Canada, Indeed

Nikki Yanofsky (above), a fourteen year-old jazz prodigy from Montreal, makes her Carnegie Hall debut this week. O Canada, one of the most riveting national anthems around (especially when it is sung in French and English), gives a hint of the complexity that seems to be Canada. Like most places non-American, we all seem to assume we know about this neighbor to the north. "Are you a hockey fan?" asked the room service guy as he brought my pot of coffee. "Tonight is Toronto-Montreal."

Precarious Plodding

What is this place I've traveled around this week? I haven't been to all of it, missing Fuel's Vancouver, but this week I've headed from the bitter cold of Edmonton to the cosmopolitan Toronto to the second city of Hamilton to the small towns of Ancaster and Thamesville to Montreal, a proud yet strange French enclave. I'm still not sure what makes all of these people Canadian, maybe other than the heartiness required to make it through the winters. Toronto-Montreal seems to make New York-Boston or Alabama-Auburn seem like Little League spats (I have to admit, I don't know if it's Toronto-Montreal or ROC/Rest of Canada-Montreal). Maybe the winters breed a friendliness into the DNA, where neighbors have to reach out to one another to pull through.

Frozen Boat

But Canada seems to also be a fractured country, much like most developed nations. Some of the signs are easy to spot: Quebec wanting to create their own country, the language police, the government dissolving every time they get mad at each other (the US would never have a government, would we?). Are there common values or history or sense of being that binds these folks? I'm not sure.


I know that the Canadians I've spent time with all seem to have a genuineness to them. Although the land I've seen often has a flatness like Phoenix, there is a beauty reminiscent of the sweeping farmlands and plains of great swaths of the America of yesterday. The silos, barns, and horse farms lining the highways may be invisible to the Canucks, but they've been a constant source of comfort to me.

Amidst the Ice

My Flickr obsession has made me continuously look for beauty everywhere. It's been everywhere here in Canada, but I can't wait to get back to my beauty, the true love of my life on her fortieth birthday tomorrow.

Spoiling a Child Part IV

Can't wait to get home

In Montreal/Six Degrees with Charlie

6Feb 012
Originally uploaded by csquard

I'm in my hotel in Montreal, about ready to crash for the evening. A very long day filled with driving lots through steadily deteriorating weather (I missed it driving), sleeping on the plane for three hours (the only one comfortable on the plane as it sat on the runway for three hours), then made it to my hotel. I played in the Mookie, lasting two hands longer than Fuel (my AKo down in flames to QQ after Fuel's QQ lost to AA).

I'm pretty worn out and have alot of work to do in the morning, so I'll just fire up my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, where we jump from this site to see where the blogdom takes us.

>> Pookalookaville I first found Charlie through her riveting photos on Flickr. I followed her heartache as she watched her father pass away in a thirty-day stay in a hospice. She's definitely someone worth investing in.

>> JeannieGrrl Never ceases to amaze me when we do this. Very neat design with lots of gadgets (webcam, other stuff). This one will take some time to dig into.

>> Just a Girl Want to know more about AmyElle? Well, she has a General About Me and an Adult About Me.

>> Deepest Darkest Thoughts Very prolific lady going through alot, it seems.

I'm a middle-aged woman going through a midlife crisis. Sometimes I wonder if I'll live through it. Trying to reconcile losing the love of my life at the same time as losing my marriage (not to the love of my life).

>> The Eyes Have It A green-eyed lady living in Hong Kong (Happy Chinese New Year, btw!). She also has lost a loved one recently, her mother. Unfortunately, she's having to go through some of the mess that happens after the death of a loved one.

>> Violent Acres Another interesting lady. Very prolific, and she looks to be an excellent, open writer as well.

So, accidentally there you have it, six ladies from literally all over the world. Check them out, and I'm checking into bed!

06 February 2008

A Bit Dicey

Originally uploaded by csquard

Bad weather is upon me, and I have alot of driving. I'm going to head out early, so wish me luck.

05 February 2008

Lunch with Kat

Lunch with Kat and Keith
Originally uploaded by csquard

I flew from Edmonton to Toronto yesterday, a four hour flight with an extra hour to get my luggage and rental car. Another hour of driving through a storm to find my Hamilton Sheraton, close enough to make my trip to Ancaster quick today. I needed it as I had a very long night of work and an early morning. After my meeting with my client's customer, I was off to find a wireless connection for another client call then scrambled to intercept a mistake from one of our graphic designers.

Kat had reached out and offered to come from Toronto out to where I was in Ancaster, and she and her husband walked into the Old Mill restaurant while I was in the midst of another client telecon.

I made them wait for probably thirty minutes while I briefed my client. By the time I made my way to the dining room, the restaurant was empty and my friends were eating cheese. It was a delightful lunch, and I was reminded how wonderful it is to be with people who are interesting and who unconditionally care about you. I understand how foolish it may sound that I've flown from Atlanta to Edmonton through Phoenix then to Toronto and drove to Hamilton and Ancaster to find a lunch with a friend.

I've now driven on to London and have another challenging day tomorrow. I have to drive I think 1-2 hours to my meeting in the morning (will plan on two) then drive three or four hours back to Toronto to fly to Montreal.

Long night ahead, so I'll get on with it. You can see more photos of the restaurant on my Flickr site.

04 February 2008

Leaving Edmonton

The Fairmont Patio
Originally uploaded by csquard

Some high points from my stay in Edmonton:

>> Your first sign that the body is freezing is when all moisture in your nostrils crystallize
>> Denim makes a strange sound when frozen
>> My surgically repaired knee must have some cartilage as it too froze
>> It's strange how beautiful a city can be when it is covered in a blanket of snow
>> Five blocks is the max you can walk in -10F weather (I walked six, so I'm pretty sure five is the max)
>> I jaywalked several times since I think it is the antithesis of what a good Canadian/en would do
>> People actually incessantly say "Eh?"
>> Trip report from Baccarat Casino: poker there sucks. Forget that I was down $20 due to the ridiculous, made up exchange rate (lady looks at the ceiling, then announces "$90"--she also refused to give me a receipt). Forget that the $4/8 mixed game was comprised of Holdem, Crazy Pineapple, Omaha, and Pineapple (you get three then discard one before the flop). Forget that I was stuck $100 until I won a big pot against Aggro1 on a 7s-8h-9s-2s-Ks board (I had 10s-5s-Jh-Qd). Forget that when Aggro2 lady came, every third hand was a seven-way capped pot pre-flop. Forget that I was up to $400 before finishing +$75 (including the exchange rate debacle), this after not winning a pot for an hour. Forget that I was watching the Super Bowl in this dump. No, I hate this place because with only one $3/6 and two $4/8 games running, they force two players to leave our game and go to the "Main Game," where it was seven handed as well. It was absolutely moronic. The floor's final comment to me: "No sir, I didn't break this game. You did."
>> Best hand of the session: Omaha on a board of A-3-5-4-9 rainbow, it was capped on the turn and river three-way. You can guess the hands (I'll give you a hint; it was scooped)
>> I wish I could have gotten out and explored a bit, but I might have died.

Boarding in ten minutes or so. Next post from Hamilton, Ontario.

03 February 2008


I didn't want to hope for this, didn't want to talk about how the only way these Giants could pull this out is to make it a defensive, possession game. Incredible!!

I've only seen the Giants play once in Giant Stadium. Maybe the Packers and Lambeau field is a better set of professional football fanatics, I don't know. Archie Manning convinced Eli to get away from the Chargers before the draft, a decision that I've always felt was idiotic. No matter.

Eli Manning is the Super Bowl MVP after two staccato drives. This wasn't Elway or Peyton or Brady. No, these were stumbles and bumbles then miracles. Just incredible. I'm thankful to the hotel for not throwing me out in the freezing cold after screaming like a girl in my room.

55/365 The Frozen Tundra

55/365 The Frozen Tundra
Originally uploaded by csquard

Bitter cold today, but I snuck out to snatch some shots (click on to see more photos). Also, a great new flickr buddy of mine, crustydolphin, has seen the end of her father's struggle today with his passing. Head over before the Super Bowl to give your thoughts, ever comforting even from a stranger. Her photos are incredibly revealing, so check those out as well.

On Drew Henson

We lived in Brighton, Michigan for the briefest time, time enough to redecorate our home in its beautiful wooded setting next to a small pond, time enough to buy a pool table for the little room in the basement, time enough to put a salt lick out for the deer, time enough to learn the stupidity of not raking leaves when it snows and snows and snows due to the lake effect. Brighton was a small town north of Ann Arbor, and we loved the normalcy of life there. We had a butcher and baker, the Saturday morning breakfast place, a pizza place, a couple of great golf courses, a working farm for our first toddler. It remains the favorite place I've lived.

At the local high school, another transient family was turning out one of the greatest high school athletes of a generation. Drew Henson was a throw-back, the kid we all grew up with who excelled at any and every sport. He averaged over 20 points a game in basketball his senior year, which he squeezed in between being a Parade All-American as a quarterback (a season after being a Parade All-American as a punter) and baseball (where he hit 70 home runs over his career, then a prep boy record). Had he decided to focus on baseball rather than negotiating a $2mil signing bonus with the Yankees as part of a $4.5mil contract, maybe we would have never heard of Tom Brady again.

Brady patiently moved up from 7th on the depth chart at Michigan behind Brian Griese to the starter his junior year. Yet, here came All-Everything, Drew Henson. Again and again, Henson was given every opportunity to jump over Brady, to ascend to Wolverine glory. Brady fought through this with a real sense of urgency, knowing that his time was fleeting and fickle. He's truly never lost that sense of urgency.

The quarterback, as a species, are the cockiest pretty boys in school. We forgive him his transgressions, whether they be personal affronts to the minions, their own demons, or simply showing the world how wonderful they are. Brady has played like every play could be his last, every day of his career. There is no good reason that he has a chance to win his fourth Super Bowl today.

I'm sure there are folks who love Brady. I've never been one of those people, probably for no good reason like most of us. Yet in the midst of this numbing spectacle that is Super Bowl Sunday, if we take a step back for a second and strip every scrap of football knowledge and data and loyalty and misinformation that we have in our being, we realize what is before us. A young man with a steadfastness to understand what he is supposed to do, one who has never stopped working (dare I say even as hard as the poster child of hard work for a QB, Mr. Manning), who has a desperation that never leads to recklessness.

Really, until this year we rarely heard of the greatness of this man. Anyone proclaiming him on par with Manning, Elway, Marino, Favre, (name as many as you like) would normally receive a rolling of the eyes, assuming that the proclaimer was some nutjob homer from Vermont. This season has brought our doubting of his core passing abilities into question itself as he's produced the greatest season any quarterback has ever had.

I don't care to argue whether he's the best QB even in the league right now. Tom Brady may simply be the greatest winner that we have ever seen at the position. Today, in this place Santa avoids because it's too cold, today I'll pull for the Giants while watching one of the most special competitors I've ever seen.

Checking in in Edmonton

Checking in in Edmonton
Originally uploaded by csquard

I'm here after nine hours of flying. I was able to upgrade the whole way from Atlanta-Phoenix-Edmonton. I slept most of the way, as it is nearly impossible for me to stay awake on a plane. There were many people on the plane headed to Phoenix for the Super Bowl, and it seemed like most were Giants fans. It's warmed up to -11 Fahrenheit here in Edmonton, which was actually bearable to get a taxi and to get out as I'd packed my coat.

The taxi music was a bit odd--some sort of techno-Euro dance tracks. Every ten minutes, a DJ would come on to announce that the previous songs were from two obscure bands and that another was coming up. Of course, every song sounded exactly the same. I may have to record some techno-Euro dance mixes, I believe.

I got here around 2:00AM, so I'm planning to hit the sack in just a bit. Sunday is a day off, so I'll have plenty of time to rest up. I'm sure I'll catch the game, but I'll have to figure out where to do that.

02 February 2008

Passing in the Night


My wife and I married in August of 1991 then headed off to Princeton, NJ after our honeymoon. She worked in Bristol, PA while I took the train each day to New York, a ninety-minute commute each way door-to-door (an hour on the train with fifteen minutes of commuting on each end). From 1992 through probably 2006, I traveled anywhere 60-80% of the time. Probably a fifth of that travel was international, taking me throughout Europe and Asia Pacific mostly. For the last eighteen months or so, my travel has cut back significantly, down to the occasional trip every other month or three. It's been great for both of us as I'm able to be here for her and for the boys.

I'm home for a little more than twenty hours today before heading back to the airport, where I'll be hopping around while she hops around here with the boys. It isn't something I'm particularly looking forward to, this tactical change in the lives of the five of us. My wife bears the full burden of parenting, financial management, and household manger. Each boy then tests her and works to mold her into an accommodating supervisor, finding and exploiting soft spots in her psyche and in her vision. It's hardly fair.

On the plus side, I need this. I need to work hard, to feel valued, to tackle something difficult. The thing I forget often lately is that I have a have alot of talent. I'm good at what I'm good at; in fact, I'm excellent. I am insightful, have a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise in my specialties, and they are in great need. I'm excited about being out on the road with the customers of my client, and I think this will be tremendous.

None of that makes it easy to leave. I'm still working on other things while I'm doing this, which makes it an additional challenge to be sure. We're working on another ad campaign and some other projects for another client, and I've struggled in seamlessly pulling that off. I guess that's why they call of this work.

Need to crank for the next two hours, finishing up work stuff, packing, kissing everyone, then rushing to the airport. Big win as I was able to change my seat from a middle seat on the long connecting flight through Phoenix to an exit row window. I guess there are a few people flying to Phoenix today for some strange reason...

01 February 2008

Confirmed Itinerary

Saturday: Atlanta-Phoenix-Edmonton (unfortunately, I have to leave tomorrow afternoon and arrive after midnight)
Sunday: Edmonton
Monday: Edmonton-Toronto (staying in Hamilton)
Tuesday: Ancaster, then drive to London (staying in London)
Wednesday: Thamesville, then drive back to Toronto airport to fly to Montreal
Thursday: Montreal
Friday: Montreal (no meetings currently), fly to Atlanta in the afternoon; btw, this is my wife's birthday

Currently in Dallas on the 12th-13th, still looking to book the 11th as well as the Thursday-Friday
Currently in Reno on the 18th, Phoenix on 20th, outside Seattle on 21st (looking to book the 19th and 22nd)
Still have the week of the 25th to book

So, that's what I'm doing in February.

Why I've Been Goofing Around with Stud

While trying to figure out my travel for next week...

PokerStars Game #14990048520: 7 Card Stud Limit ($1/$2) - 2008/02/01 - 19:19:22 (ET)
Table 'Io III' 8-max
Seat 1: raisingbear ($50.55 in chips)
Seat 2: bigdee338 ($33.80 in chips)
Seat 3: liyu3268 ($63.20 in chips)
Seat 4: Spartacuss ($51.50 in chips)
Seat 5: csquard ($57.10 in chips)
Seat 6: AKH Suited ($40 in chips)
Seat 7: ONZGRIFT ($17 in chips)
Seat 8: Ucalegon ($73.25 in chips)
raisingbear: posts the ante $0.10
bigdee338: posts the ante $0.10
liyu3268: posts the ante $0.10
Spartacuss: posts the ante $0.10
csquard: posts the ante $0.10
AKH Suited: posts the ante $0.10
ONZGRIFT: posts the ante $0.10
Ucalegon: posts the ante $0.10
*** 3rd STREET ***
Dealt to raisingbear [Qd]
Dealt to bigdee338 [7s]
Dealt to liyu3268 [9h]
Dealt to Spartacuss [7h]
Dealt to csquard [Ad 6c 4c]
Dealt to AKH Suited [8s]
Dealt to ONZGRIFT [4d]
Dealt to Ucalegon [7c]
csquard: brings in for $0.50
AKH Suited: calls $0.50
Ucalegon: folds
raisingbear: raises $0.50 to $1
bigdee338: calls $1
liyu3268: calls $1
Spartacuss: folds
csquard: calls $0.50
AKH Suited: calls $0.50
*** 4th STREET ***
Dealt to raisingbear [Qd] [Td]
Dealt to bigdee338 [7s] [Kh]
Dealt to liyu3268 [9h] [2h]
Dealt to csquard [Ad 6c 4c] [Ah]
Dealt to AKH Suited [8s] [8c]
Pair on board - a double bet is allowed
AKH Suited: bets $1
raisingbear: calls $1
bigdee338: raises $2 to $3
liyu3268: calls $3
csquard: raises $2 to $5
AKH Suited: calls $4
raisingbear: folds
bigdee338: raises $2 to $7
Betting is capped
liyu3268: calls $4
csquard: calls $2
AKH Suited: calls $2
*** 5th STREET ***
Dealt to bigdee338 [7s Kh] [3h]
Dealt to liyu3268 [9h 2h] [Jc]
Dealt to csquard [Ad 6c 4c Ah] [Ac]
Dealt to AKH Suited [8s 8c] [Js]
csquard: bets $2
AKH Suited: calls $2
bigdee338: calls $2
liyu3268: calls $2
*** 6th STREET ***
Dealt to bigdee338 [7s Kh 3h] [6d]
Dealt to liyu3268 [9h 2h Jc] [9c]
Dealt to csquard [Ad 6c 4c Ah Ac] [5c]
Dealt to AKH Suited [8s 8c Js] [9s]
csquard: bets $2
AKH Suited: calls $2
bigdee338: raises $2 to $4
liyu3268: calls $4
csquard: raises $2 to $6
AKH Suited: folds
bigdee338: calls $2
liyu3268: calls $2
*** RIVER ***
Dealt to csquard [Ad 6c 4c Ah Ac 5c] [Qc]
csquard: bets $2
bigdee338: calls $2
liyu3268: calls $2
*** SHOW DOWN ***
csquard: shows [Ad 6c 4c Ah Ac 5c Qc] (a flush, Ace high)
bigdee338: mucks hand
liyu3268: mucks hand
csquard collected $67.80 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $68.80 | Rake $1
Seat 1: raisingbear folded on the 4th Street
Seat 2: bigdee338 mucked [6h Ks 7s Kh 3h 6d Qh]
Seat 3: liyu3268 mucked [9d As 9h 2h Jc 9c 4s]
Seat 4: Spartacuss folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 5: csquard showed [Ad 6c 4c Ah Ac 5c Qc] and won ($67.80) with a flush, Ace high
Seat 6: AKH Suited folded on the 6th Street
Seat 7: ONZGRIFT folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 8: Ucalegon folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)

Why the Pats Win Big

I wish the Giants would bust these guys in the mouth, force Brady into looking ordinary, shut down the Patriot running game, burn their defense. I wish the NFL's steroid and performance enhancing drug policy was half as tough as it is in track and field, cycling, swimming, or soccer. Then Rodney Harrison would have been out all season instead of the first four games. I wish and hope these Giants turn the clock back, slow the game down, and have 23-play, 95 yard drives every time they touch the ball. I hope they stun the football world.

But I think all of this is wishful thinking on my part as well as everyone else's part. And I think the man pictured above is the reason the Pats win and win big. In case you don't know who that is, it's Kevin Faulk. Can anyone honestly say they were worried about Faulk being the top receiver for the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game? Do you think smokkee was wringing his hands, saying, "If we can only shut down that little Faulk, we'll go to the Super Bowl."

No, the reason the Pats will win big isn't because of Tom Brady or Randy Moss or Laurence Maroney or Wes Walker. No, it's because they had eight guys who caught a pass against the Bolts, and Brady could care less if the Giants take Moss away from him. When sports gurus talk about a team having too many weapons, it usually means that there are three excellent offensive players on the team. This team actually has only one weapon on offense, and that is the Heat-Seeking Missile. This weapon finds the soft spot with each defense then regularly strikes and adapts, much like some advanced supercomputer would to continually beat the world's best chess players.

On a side note, I was wondering during my drive back home today why Bill Belicheck isn't coaching the other team in this Super Bowl. If you remember, he was on Bill Parcells NY Giants staff, became head coach at the Browns, was fired then followed Parcells to the Patriots and the Jets, held the Jets head coaching position for I assume twenty-four hours (maybe off an hour or two), then chicken-scratched his resignation on a piece of loose-leaf paper before taking the Patriot job. In fact, his defensive blueprint for the Giants upset of the Bills is the exact model the Giants have to produce to have a prayer this weekend. So why did he land in the Jets-Pats tug-of-war instead of being sought after by the real team of New York?

Parcells knew how talented Belicheck is, how relentless and precise his preparation is, and he thought he'd orchestrated his own legacy by handing off the Jets to him. To his credit, Belicheck wanted true redemption of his Browns legacy, and he knew he'd be Parcells boy if he stayed at the Jets. Jim Fassel was also at the Meadowlands, this the season before his playoff guarantee turned him into a motivational prophet. Regardless, Belicheck has become the standard in football coaching, and a win here will make it very difficult for all not to recognize him.

I'll either be in the air or in Edmonton watching this game. I'd much rather be with my wife at a movie then either of the other options, believe me.

My Top Flickr Photos

Brandi in PLO
Originally uploaded by csquard

I've been spending more time photographing stuff with my mediocre cameras. Here are my top photos by traffic (all poker shots, probably due to search engine stuff or links). This is Brandi Hawbaker playing PLO.

Liz Lieu

My buddy, Liz Lieu at WSOP 2006

Isabelle Mercier+Banana

Isabelle Mercier, Freddy Deeb, and a banana

Jamie Gold

Jamie Gold


Shannon Elizabeth

And my three favorites that I've posted on flickr:

Snow Day

Spoiling a Child Part IV

Brugge 2002 Flowers

I'm done for the day and heading back to the ATL.

53/365a Slumber

53/365a Slumber
Originally uploaded by csquard

It's actually been a good week of sleep for me, partly because of late nights and early mornings. I used to stay in Bed and Breakfasts alot when I was traveling to New England alot. We'll see how next week goes. I'll book my travel later today or tomorrow. I'm not sure how next Friday will look, although hopefully we can stay in Montreal for another meeting.


Busted Toledo2
Originally uploaded by csquard

Microsoft's bid for Yahoo shows how far afield Microsoft realizes they are as well as the continued struggles of Yahoo. Is this a good idea, and will it work?

First, let's look at the latter. The cultures of Microsoft and Yahoo will be quite difficult to mesh, as Microsoft executives seem to struggle to get away from the illness of Not-Invented-Here along with other challenges that Microsoft struggles with.

It has been almost eight years since I was at Microsoft's headquarters. These were in the heady days of the internet, when everyone was an expert in everything. I was struck by the sluggishness of the newly wealthy managers there, the youth of the senior executives there, the dynamics of the industry. The entire internet industry was filled with arrogance combined with lack of experience, a deadly cocktail that ultimately cratered many firms.

The combination of Microsoft and Yahoo will be quite the struggle, but is it a good idea? It's hard to imagine how the combined firm can create value rather than destroy shareholder value, but maybe I'm wrong. Will this be an AOL/TimeWarner merger, a Daimler/Chrysler takeover? It will be interesting to see how the combined force can some transform themselves into a lean, nimble company or collection of firms who can leap from Google. We'll see.

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