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January 31, 2005
Coolness Factor

I couldn't help but notice the complete difference in coolness factor of the two Quarterbacks for the Superbowl. If only it mattered come game time.

Mcnabb on the left, Brady on the right.

Posted by Don at 09:56 AM
January 27, 2005
Celebrity spotting

The other night we decided to head over to the Sports Scheck for dinner. The Sports Scheck is a local high end tennis and health club, and is about a 5 minute drive from our house. Obviously since we were going there for dinner, they also have a mini-restaurant. Anyways, while walking from the Parking lot to the store we end up passing who else, but the infamous German tennis star Boris Becker. We had always heard he lives nearby, but had never actually seen him. Maybe next time I'll ask he wants to join us for dinner. :)

Posted by Don at 03:17 PM
January 23, 2005
Prague

It's taken us some time, but we finally made it up to Prague for a weekend! Prague is actually the one city in Europe that I have always wanted to see since I was younger...don't ask me why, but it is. After being there, I must say it is one of the coolest looking cities we have been to. When standing out on one of the bridges at night, the city's buildings are completely lit up, making for a spectacular view. We only spent a couple of days there, but we definitely made the most of our time. Saturday night we spent the entire morning, and part of the early afternoon walking around the old town following a self-guided tour book. The architecture in Prague is absolutely amazing. As my one friend said, if you are there when the weather is good, you will love the architecture. However, if you are there when it is raining, the city will just look old and dirty. Luckily for us, the weather was bright and sunny on Saturday and Sunday morning (about 32 degrees though), with tons of snow on Sunday afternoon. Hence, when you look at the pictures, you will see us wearing some of our warmer clothes...and me wearing my infamous "Tigger" hat. :) So, it is hard to say what all we saw, and they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so be sure to check out our "Prague Gallery", and read the great captions by Barbie which will let you know what you are looking at. So, in conclusion, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen...rivaling even Paris. I wish we could of spent more time there to see some of the museums, and some of the bars/clubs, but who's to say we won't go back up with one of you if you come on out!

Posted by Don at 08:54 PM
January 21, 2005
Bringing down the House

If you are into gambling, you are going to love this book! I finished this book a few months back, but, like gambling, it is still fresh in my mind. This book is about a M.I.T. blackjack club that basically learns how to count cards, and ends up taking Vegas, along with other Casinos, for millions of dollars. After reading this book, I guarantee you will be spending at least half an hour trying to count cards, but as you will soon find out, it is not as easy as it sounds.

'Bringing Down the House' mainly chronicles the life of one guy, name Kevin, who ends up joining his friends Math/Blackjack club, learns how to count cards, and finally hits the big time. It is great to hear about all the stories of how he would arrive in Vegas, be picked up by a limousine (obviously paid for by the Casino), and finally be ushered into the penthouse suite! Of course all of this luxoriousness comes with some work, and in the end a price, but it is fun to hear how things go back and forth.

If you want to know how to count cards, here goes. You need to keep a running count. The count goes like this:

  • Cards 2-6: +1

  • Cards 7-9: 0

  • Cards 10-Ace: -1

The odds are in the dealers favor when the chances of a low card coming up next is high, and of course the odds are in the bettors favor when the chance of high card is coming up next. So, if a lot of low cards have come out on the deal, you will have a count of something like +9...which means to start betting big. When you have a negative number, odds are you are going to lose, so hold back on your bets. Easy enough? Now try to go count cards while 6 players are playing, your buddies are yelling in your ear, the waitress is asking you if you want a drink, and you need to keep all of this hidden from the pit boss!!

Now I'm sure you are saying that Casinos know when you are counting cards b/c they see you raising your bets when the odds are good, and lowering them when they are bad. However, they have a system where the team is divided into three types of players. You've got your Spotters, your Gorillas, and your Big Players...of course the BPs get the high roller suite. I'll let you read the book to figure how the whole system operates, and how the Casino doesn't know what hit them (pun intended) :) .

Posted by Don at 12:28 PM
January 15, 2005
Henry Rollins

This past Thursday night I drove up to Frankfurt to watch a man by the name of Henry Rollins. If you don't know who he is, don't feel bad. You may actually recognize him from his pictures, but maybe not the name unless you are into music. He is basically a hard rocker type of guy who also does some stand up comedian talks. I can't say I've ever listened to his music, but my friend that I drove up with had some of his talk CD's, and the man is hilarious. He is a shorter, but very thick muscular type of guy who seems to have some rage issues, but he can be seriously funny.
So, the show ended up seating a few hundred people, and was held at Frankfurt University, which I came to find out was where a lot of the U.S. troops used to be before we moved most everyone out of Frankfurt. Well, he starts the show with none other than ripping on Bush. I guess you have to play to your audience, but a good third of the two and a half hours was about ripping on Bush, which got old pretty quick. A man is entitled to his opinion, so state it and move on. After listening to him you would think all of America hated Bush, but as we now know, that is not the case. And people wonder why Europe has a distorted view of what Americans think. Anyways, the rest of his stuff was quite good. There were definitely some stories that were better, but the overall show I would give a thumbs up. I think the best way to listen to this guy is on the CD's though since it takes his best stuff. Although, there is something to be said for being there in person. One interesting side note, the man went 2 1/2 hours without taking a sip of water...I can't even speak for a 1/2 hour without getting a dry throat.

Posted by Don at 11:58 AM
Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson

I just finished reading Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson, the same author that wrote 'Devin in the White City.' If you don't know hi s work already, what he does is write about actual events that have happened, but makes it so it reads more like a novel than a history book. Isaac's Storm is about one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit America, and how Isaac, a metereologist in Galveston, Texas where the storm made landfall, handles the situation. First off, I was given this book for Christmas by Alan, and I am already done with it, so that should tell what a fast read this book really is. The book was extremely interesting for me since I obviously know a thing or two about Hurricanes, and also because of similarities b/t what happened in Galveston in 1900 and the recent Tsunami.

OK, so onto the book itself. The book starts off telling the story of Isaac and how he came to become a meteorologist. It also gives a good background about how back in 1900 weather reporting was considered something that could not be done accurately and is basically a false occupation. It also tells how the U.S. government tries to block transmissions about Hurricanes from Cuba, since it wanted to be the sole provider of weather forecasts. This arrogance ended up costing thousands of lives b/c Galveston was not made aware of Cuba's prediction that the storm which had just passed over Cuba, could possibly head to Texas. The U.S. actually said the storm had turned and headed back out to the Atlantic Ocean, when in fact it was in Gulf of Mexico.

When the storm finally hit Galveston, Texas it was about a category 5 storm with wind gusts easily about 200mph. Unfortunately, the wind equipment back in 1900 only measured up to 100mph, and was actually blown off the top of the building. The thing that ended up causing the majority of the deaths was the massive flood of water that came with Hurricane...hence why I compare it to the recent Tsunami. Isaac, along with many others, had zero warning of storm, and the forecast for the day was actual very nice with slight winds. I guess we can see why no one trusted the weather service back then. :)

The book does a great job of describing the many different experiences that families went through as the city flooded, and debris flew around town at 200mph. At one point in the book, it describes how a piece of debris was able to create a hole in an armored ship that was plated with about 1-2 inches of iron! (Sounds very familiar to stories I heard after hurricane Andrew) I don't want to give away the whole story about each of the stories, but take my word for it, they are very good, and often times tragic. It's amazing how minute decisions can affect so many lives.

So, if you are looking for a good quick read, and have even the slightest interest in Hurricanes or history, then you will enjoy this book. Thanks to Alan for recommending it to me.

Posted by Don at 11:27 AM
January 14, 2005
The 2004 Computer

Now that 2004 has come and gone, I thought I would show you all a picture of what they predicted back in 1954 the home computer would look like in 2004. If only they were right! :)

Follow the following link:
Computer of the future

p.s. You gotta love the good old days of FORTRAN!

Posted by Don at 01:07 PM
January 13, 2005
The Holidays

So, it's been a little while once again since I last posted, but I was in the states enjoying the English language, and I couldn't be bothered with updating the site. Ha, just kidding...I'm just a lazy fool who forgot to keep the world involved in my life.

Anyways, Barbie and I got to go back to Cali for the holidays, and to make things even better my parents came out to visit also, so it ended up being the first time that we could celebrate Christmas with both our parents. Needless to say it was a great time. We ended up splitting time b/t Modesto for Christmas, and the Beach House for the rest of the time. Unfortunately Mother Nature did not play well and the majority of the time at the beach was overcast, but it was still nice to relax. Alan was also nice enough to get hi-speed internet installed at the beach house, so that, along with a wireless router, and the beach house has now turned into the best home office a person could ever ask for. I can personally vouch for how cool it is to sit out on the deck, having a drink, and still being able to get work done. You are able to be relaxed while still being working!

So, all in all, the holidays were great! I got to spend time with family, configure some wireless networks for Alan (I know...but I enjoy it), play some poker with the fellas, watch FSU play football (first time this year), watch other meaningless college football games (Barbie hated this), hang out and stay in cool posh hotel for New Years, and basically just have a grand ole time!! Thanks to all who made the holidays great!

Posted by Don at 01:11 PM