Some Random Thoughts, Some About Poker, Some Not

Thursday, June 17th, 2004, 12:35 pm

— I’m watching the England-Switzerland soccer game, and anyone who thinks England can actually win Euro 2004 is a few bricks shy of a full lorry. The lads lead the Cheeseheads (European branch) 1-0, but they’re hardly impressive. They can’t keep possession, their first touch of the ball is uniformly awful, and if the best keeper your nation can come up with is David James you have no business thinking yourself a soccer power. The English goal was a pretty piece of work between Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, who both have been invisible other than that one flourish. Some pretty dire stuff.

— One of the horrors of being laid off is watching daytime TV. I did discover the delights of free On-Demand programming on our digital cable, but the programs never change. How many times can I watch the “Attilla the Hun Show” episode of Monty Python? I watched a lousy History Channel documentary about the Battle of Kursk, and some Food Network show about BBQ. Actually, there are so many shows about barbecue on Food Network that if you light a fire in your backyard you’ll probably have a camera crew jumping your fence five minutes later.

One thing I did watch today was the 9/11 commission testimony about the FAA and military reaction to the hijacked aircraft. Depressing, disturbing stuff. No one had any idea what was going on, no one at all expected anything like this to happen, and the big question is whether or not we should have been better prepared. I think it’s easy to look back and say, yeah, we could have responded better. The FBI did prepare a report stating bin Laden planned to strike the US, and our intelligence services knew about Muslim men learning to fly and that there had long been al-Qaeda plans to use airliners as cruise missiles. How all that information could have been put together and acted upon in such a short time frame is the crux of the matter.

Two pieces of info stuck in my mind. One: As the plane headed for the Pentagon bore in on Washington, someone asked a controller at FAA headquarters if maybe it was time to scramble fighers out of Langley to intercept it. The reply from the harried controller could have come from any underling who is under tremendous pressure and has no power to solve the problem. He said, “Uh…there’re all talking about it right now (he meant his superiors)…there’s nobody in the room”.

In other words, with a jet perhaps 20 minutes from destroying the Capital, the White House, or (as it turned out) the Pentagon, the people with the authority to at least get planes in the air weren’t even in direct communication with the people who could scramble the fighters.

Two: Vice-President Cheney authorized NORAD to shoot down any airliners that did not respond to commands. This was communicated to NORAD in an online chat converasaton, of all things. Even after Cheney gave this authorization, the NORAD person responsible for communicating this to the Air Force didn’t exactly believe it. He asked the person on the other line to read out what exactly Cheney had said, and only then did he say he would pass on the order.

But did he? When Cheney spoke to Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary asked if someone had actually communicated with the pilots in the air and told them what to do. Cheney said yes. This turned out not to be true. The pilots who had been scrambled originally were told only that they were to tail and visually identify any non-responsive aircraft. They were never ordered to get themselves in a firing position. On the other hand, the fighters that were scrambled out of Langley were told that the were under “weapons free” conditions. Meaning that the pilot, without waiting for authorization or orders, was free to fire upon any airliner he deemed a threat.

In other words, it appears that none of the aircraft patrolling the skies over the dangers zones were operating under the orders Cheney had given. It just further illustrates how completely unprepared we were for an attack against targets in the US. One can only hope we’re better prepared now.

— I played a little last night during the WPT show, and maybe my powers of concentration are getting better because I don’t remember much of the show at all. They played Limit Hold-Em again, which is a nice change of pace. Erick Lindgren won again…he just isn’t as compelling as Gus Hansen was a year ago, is he? Both two-time champions, but Hansen plays a more risky, dynamic game. More TV-friendly.

My own tournament play has collapsed. I haven’t placed in a single SNG all week. Finished 4th like 4 times. I haven’t been getting cards, but that happens to everyone, but what’s been frustrating is the cards my opponents have gotten. I make a nice raise with AA, other guy calls. Flop comes A-9-6. Tasty. I check, the other guy goes all-in. I call. He has 44, was making a desperate bluff. The ace and the six on the board are diamonds. He has the four of diamonds. Do I need to tell you what happened? I get killed on runner-runner diamonds and my trip aces get cracked.

Last night I’m down to about $600 and the chip leader raises when I’m in the big blind. I have AK, might as well push ’em in. He calls…and turns over AK also. Ah, a friendly little hand, we’ll chop the blinds and I live to fight another day. I have the king of diamonds, he has the ace. Do I need to tell you what happened? Four diamonds appear on the board and I go out to his ace-high flush.

Then I decide to play some pot-limit. Three guys in, about $10 in the pot, I make the nut flush on the river. Sweet. First guy bets the pot, next guy goes all-in, I raise it, the original better raises…and only then does it hit me that an ace-high flush is not necessarily the nuts if the board is paired. Guy # 1 has the full house and that’s $25 flushed, if you pardon the expression. Weird thing–the other guy went all the way with two pair, including the pair on the board. Oy.

I did win all that money back, and then some. I even won about $15 back against the guy who killed me when he caught an ace on the river to beat my KK after I raised the pot like three times. I got out of there with a tidy profit and about 50 more gray hairs.

— I may be posting a bit less here in the next few days, as I’ve been working on my poker-themed short shory and I’d like to get it done in the next week or so (it’s called “The Big Blind”). Plus I need to find a job and do yardwork and whatnot. Think I’m going to go through a career counseling business, I probably have a much better chance of finding a “real” job that way as opposed to my usual floundering from one dead-end gig to another. Met with one of the counselors at this one place and got a rare boost of confidence after speaking with him.

So that’s it for now. Maybe some volleyball tonight, some more tomorrow. Still gotta write about All-In, about personality and poker, and I’m sure some other bright ideas that’ll come to me.

Permanent link to this post.

One Response to “Some Random Thoughts, Some About Poker, Some Not”

  1. the wolf Says:

    Gene…interesting article in The Spectator about English football, along the lines of what you said…

Leave a Reply