Friday, March 30, 2007

And the Wheels on the Bus Go 'Round and 'Round

The day job has managed to take a bit of an odd turn, as I'm still working full-time at my trusty old monkey job, but I've started doing contract SEO work for the marketing department, through my side business, completely separate from my day job duties.

The original plan was to modify my job description so that I could split time between my current job and marketing, but there were too many hoops and red tape to cut through, so it was simpler logistically for me to do the SEO work as an independent contractor, which I was more than happy to do.

The odd part is that while the contract work is essentially part-time right now, it pays about 50% more than my current job, and if the current work I'm doing bears any fruit (and there's a good chance it will, due to the woeful current state of our website from a SEO perspective), there's an option on the table to dramatically increase the scope of the contract work I'm doing.

If that happens, I'd likely have to hire additional staff (other than, you know, just myself) to produce the amount of content they want. If that happens, I'd hire other people I work with in the content department, as they're familiar with the product, yada yada yada.

Which brings us full circle to the beautiful corporate irony here, as far as potentially paying 50% more for work that is entirely produced by current employees, who could otherwise do the work for 50% less, except for the fact that you make it impossible due to a steadfast insistence that everything be made as insanely complicated as possible, at eash and every step.

To be fair, the above likely won't happen, as while SEO is the current shiny thing that they're throwing money at, I'm sure next week it'll be something entirely different like spinner rims for all employees or free breakfast burritos for life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cue Triumphant Return Trumpets (Or, Err, Anticlimatic Slide Whistles)

After much jumping through hoops, I finally managed to get money from my ePassorte account onto Full Tilt.

Full Tilt, I think you're cool and you hire good people but for tje love of Jebus, address your piss-poor customer support. Seriously. If a customer is literally trying to hand you bundles of money, for the love of Jebus try to find a way to make that easy. I'd go into further detail but really, what's the point, as you've maintained this piss-poor level of support for years and apparently don't give a rat's ass, so, you know, thanks a pantload.

After all of that, I lasted about ten minutes in the Bracelet Race I played last night. Whee. UTG+1 raises to 90, one cold-caller, and I bump it up to 250 with QQ. Folds back around to UTG+1 who insta-pushes, cold-caller folds, and I call pretty quickly. I probably would fold that hand a year or two ago when I wasn't so jaded from having witnessed so many donkified pushes from people in that same spot with 88-JJ, AKs, AKo, AQs, AJs, but honestly thought he had AK, and was willing to take a coinflip early for a shot at doubling up or going to bed at a reasonable hour. If you have KK there, so be it.

He had KK.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is it Time to Go Back to Work Yet?

This last week off from the day job nearly killed me, as far as pretty much non-stop manual labor of all sorts, including landscaping, ripping out tile, ceilings, and walls at the investment property, cutting up trees, and the lugging of many, many rocks and stones around. Feels good to be a non-sedentary monkey, but I'm pretty much running on fumes today, after a week or so of actual honest-to-Jebus work. Which is kind of sad, in some ways, but it is what it is.

My head's been in a bit of a weird place of late, and I'm not sure what to do about it. It's not exactly malaise, really, but a close cousin. While I enjoy my scheming and plotting 90% of the time (whether it's affiliate marketing or investing in real estate or whatever), I do occasionally bottom out, and start questioning all of it. Is this really how I should be spending my life? How exactly am I bettering anyone's life by all of this?

And, really, it's pretty simple and nuts-and-boltsy. I really admire people who just do their thing, whatever that thing is, and find a way to make it work. Doesn't matter what it is, whether they're rich or poor, or any of that. They enjoy doing something, so they do it, and fit everything else around that, finding a way to make it all work. Sometimes it involves a lot of uncertainty and risk, as far as whether or not it'll fly. They just do it, though, trusting in the fact that doing what they enjoy is worth the risk, and confident in their ability to make it work.

Despite (or maybe "Because of") all my schemings and plottings, I hardly ever truly risk much. Yes, indeed, I usually have a grander plan, almost always one that involves one day escape the grind of mindless day jobs, and I do work pretty hard towards that plan, but I've never, ever made a complete leap of blind faith and pursued it. Even if I know that a successful leap would leave much happier, content, and satisfied. I always keep one foot firmly anchored in the Land of Safety and Responsibility. Which is, you know, responsible of me, but sometimes I wonder if a healthy dash of fuckitallletsseewhathappens might serve me a lot better, in the long run.

As much as it pains me to say this, not the most exciting March Madness this year. It's not just that the top seeds are having their way with the field, but also that the eventual clashes of top seeds have been pretty ho-hum. Doesn't help much that my assorted brackets went up in flames early, or that I have little love in my heart for the Ohio States, UCLAs, and north Carolinas of the world, but most of the Sweet 16 games on have been pretty Meh in my book. Of course, I'll be begging for some Meh games when it's over and done, with nothing to look forward to sports-wise other than exciting, gripping early season baseball games.

Glad to see that Neteller finally released some more vague, non-committal news about maybe knowing when they'd possibly be able to start thinking about refunding money to US accounts. While I'll obviously likely always keep a pretty close eye on doings in the world of online poker, part of me is pretty happy to close that chapter of my life.

Yes, indeed, I just loaded some cash via ePassporte to try to qualify for some WSOP events, but that's a bit different, and I just can't see myself ever returning to grinding out hands online. It's one of those things that I needed a bit of distance to really grasp, but I don't think I realized at the time the residual, omnipresent feelings of frustration that online poker always managed to stir up in me, aside from the complete and utter time suck. Or, more simply, busting my ass to fix up a house is infinitely more pleasurable, and an equally viable way to make some extra money for the time I put in.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Daddy Likes 'Em Huskee

I officially busted my riding lawn mower cherry today. And it was good. Damn good.

My wee little Murray push mower had served me well, going on 4 years, but a half acre of lawn at our new house plus investment properties made stepping up to a riding lawn mower a bit of a no-brainer.

I only nearly killed myself once, and that was getting it off my truck, all by myself.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mmm, basketball...

Not that it was really in question, but the last few days have driven home just what an out of shape cube monkey I've become in recent years. Much yardwork and landscaping and painting and chainsawing of trees has pretty much reduced me to doing little more than lying on the couch, occasionally groaning, and watching the magic that is the NCAA basketball tourney. Which, all in all, is a pretty damn nice way to spend one's time.

Not a good year for my brackets. I'm doing respectably in our work bracket but really needed VCU to win last night, and am pretty much doomed at this point, unable to gain real ground on the leaders. Doesn't help that I have Texas winning it all and they seem determined to make a fairly early exit.

I'm off all of next week, which I'm pretty psyched about, even if I'm going to be putting in many long hours on both the flip house and the Austin house, prepping both for sale in the near future (hopefully). It still sort of baffles me when I stop to think about the fact that we currently own three houses, but it's a good bafflement, and hopefully I can keep the real estate train rolling after we unload these two.

Gave into temptation and reloaded some money into my ePassporte account, as the lure of the bracelet races on Full Tilt is too strong. Even if I completely whiff it'll be fun to get back into the poekr swing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You Peoples Are Good Peoples

Many thanks for all the recent comments and emails regarding ScurvyRat. As the title says, all you good people are good peoples and it's much appreciated.

Not sure what the over/under is on how many days until acquiring a new little rodent is. We're likely going to get two when we do, just so they have more company when we're busy. The initial plan was to wait a month or so, but the house feels pretty damn empty right now, and I wouldn't be surprised if we crack and, lo and behold, suddenly are infested with rats again.

Last night was sort of funny as we went out, just to be out of the house, and my wife wanted to go shopping at Bealls, so we hit up a nearby town that we haven't explored much, and, right next to the Bealls was a pet store. We jokingly discussed how we shouldn't even go in, and I threatened to buy a dozen or so rats, just to be safe, but thankfully all they had were stupid rabbits and hamsters so no temptation even existed.

In happier news, hot damn, the NCAA basketball tournament is about to get cranking and I have all of next week off. Granted, I've suddenly got two houses that need lots of work (I closed on the investment property last Friday and we're putting the Austin rental house on the market very soon), so I'll be pretty busy with that, but it'll be nice to be busy. Depending on how quickly the Austin house moves, I also might have some fun money to spend on some early WSOP events, as we're planning a trip in June.

The day job has also *gasp* taking more than a few turns for the better of late, and I may actually be spending a good chunk of my time there doing some search engine optimization work, instead of my normal, boring data entry. It's still up in the air and involves some coordination between departments and fleshing out of job descriptions, but if it actually happens it'd make the daily grind a bit more interesting, as far as doing something I enjoy and working on a big honking, heavily-trafficked site, something which I've never done.

Now if my check from Bodog would get here for my last cashout, sometime before 2012, everything would be peachy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fair Sailing, Sherman Troublerat Shafer (aka ScurvyRat)

He fought it tooth and nail, but we had to put ScurvyRat down today. The last four or five days were pretty terrible, as we had to force feed him by syringe and give him evil meds three times a day, and sit there and hold him as he gasped for breath. I'm not sure he even slept that much, as we'd put him in his house (where he'd normally snooze 2/3rds of the day) and he'd freak out, until you took him out and held him, but even then he'd never sit still and constantly squirm and readjust and try to find a position where he could actually breathe.

Which sounds terrible (and it was) but he still had that spark and somehow still had energy, so just when it seemed he was down and out, he'd perk up and spaz out some, just like he used to. So we'd basically decide the best thing would be to put him down, he'd recover some, we'd get our hopes up, he'd take two steps back. And on and on and on.

The real pisser is that he actually managed to fight off the pneumonia and infection from the abcess surgery, but was did in finally by a tumor in his nasal cavity. The vet said that it's fairly common, and that the abcesses could actually have been caused by tumors as well. So not only was he weak and tired after all that fighting, but his right eye was clouded over and actually being forced out of his socket by the tumor, so it was more than time to put him down.

Many thanks to everyone for the kind comments and emails.

Buried him in the rose bed out in front of our house, along with a bunch of peanuts and other snacks he liked for the trip to wherever he was off to. Fair sailing, little dude. May you always have lots to eat, as you were a champion eater and the best little rat friend I could ever imagine having.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sometimes Life Suxors

It looks like poor ScurvyRat may be down for the count this time. He bounced back well from his surgeries and seemed to be on the mend, but he started breathing funny a few nights ago, as if his nose was whistling, and yesterday he was much worse, having a hard time breathing with this awful-sounding clicking, mucousy noise. It's not uncommon for rats to develop pneumonia/respiratory trouble when they're older and stressed and recovering from other maladies, and that seems to be the case.

Last night was rough, as our local small-town vet wasn't comfortable treating him any more, since she doesn't deal with exotics at all, so we couldn't get him to a vet last night. I understand her position but it also pissed me off a bit, as she wouldn't even give him any antiobiotics, as she claimed that "antibiotics are tricky with rats". Again, understandable, but it's sort of desperate measures time, and if he's in bad enough shape to possibly die anyway (and his owners completely understand that), well, it seems like you should be willing to take a shot and give him some antibiotics.

So we hung out with him last night and fed him bananas and scratched him and all that stuff. He was a little sluggish and sick, but not totally out of it, and still has some appetite and wanted to run around. He just was having such a hard time breathing and obviously in distress. Broke my heart to put him back in his house for the night and turn out the lights, leaving him in the dark, barely able to breathe, and nothing to do for him.

He made it through the night, though, and seems about the same as he was. Still struggling to breathe but he ate some more bananas this morning for breakfast, and he's still able to get around and doesn't seem to have given up quite yet. We're taking him to a vet in Austin today, even though things look kind of grim. I'm not sure what they can do for our sick, old rat, but we want to give him a chance, even if it's a two outer, if he's stubborn enough to hang around like he has so far.

Which is a lot of verbiage about a wee little sick rat, but it's more a preamble than anything. Each time he's stepped in the neighborhood of death's door it's freaked me out and wrecked me more than I'd have ever imagined. My first reaction to the extent that it wrecks me is always "That's odd, I'm more upset by this than when my grandparents died. What sort of freak am I?"

And, to be completely blunt and honest, it's true. I am more upset at the thought of ScurvyRat kicking the bucket than I was when either of my grandparents died. I know that sounds inhuman and terrible on the surface, but it's true.

But it's a little more complicated, obviously. Both of my grandparents died fairly suddenly, within a few years of one another, and in each case it was almost better that they went when they did, instead of facing a pretty bleak life due to the condition they'd have been in (in one case a major stroke and in the other paralysis and other complications from lung surgery).

I'd moved away from Tennessee long ago when it happened, so the funerals were more surreal for me than anything else. I expected I'd be wrecked and devastated when it happened, but I never really was. And it never was sort of a delayed reaction sort of emotional response, as far as hitting me later. I was very close to them growing up, loved them very much, but was pretty firm in my belief at the time that they'd lived a long life, done lots of things, and largely made the most of their time on this spinning ball of earth.

Now, though, I realize I was a pretty shallow, guarded little man, which explained my reaction more than anything. It wasn't some sort of cosmic wheel of life philosophy that prevented me from getting emotionally upset; it was that I was scared to get close to anything, for fear it'd be taken away. Chalk that up to whatever you want (only child of divorced parents; way too many personal insecurities; way, way too many botched relationships) but the end result was that I distanced myself from pretty much everything in my life. I was nice enough to people, friendly enough, but I just didn't open myself up or let myself care about anything.

Which, really, is the reason that ScurvyRat's medical woes are affecting me so much. I pretty much associate him directly with my wife, as getting a rat was her idea, and we got him right after we were married. She's pretty much solely responsible for saving me from a life of guarded detachment, from living life from the sidelines, safely esconced in a PopeMobile, complete with two-inch thick bullet-proof glass.

It's kind of an odd path to self-realization, as far as sick rats being the impetus, but it's also hard to ignore. Honestly, a small part of me wishes at times that I could go back to living solely for myself, with no other responsibilites, no other attachments that can hurt me. But a growing part of me is starting to realize what a sad little life that is, risking nothing, hiding from everything. Getting punched in the nose may hurt but it's a hell of a lot better than engineering a safe little life where the possibility of getting punched in the nose is 0.87%.

So, if I cry like a little girl at the thought of ScurvyRat shuffling off this mortal coil, it's all her fault. And I probably can't ever properly thank her enough for that, despite how much it hurts like hell at times.

UK Casinos

The following is a paid review for UK Casinos: The Gaming Directory

The Gaming Directory bills itself as "The Definitive UK Gambling Resource", with the following mission statement:

"The Gaming Directory is the definitive UK casinos and online gambling resource, our human edited gambling and online casino directory provides you with the best up to date gambling information on the Internet today."

While it takes a little digging, the site does contain a decent amount of information about brick and mortar casinos and poker rooms in England, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, providing the street address and phone number for each casino listed. The largest category, England, is also broken down into sub-categories for different regions and cities.

The Gaming Directory also contains bonus listings for a variety of online casinos and poker rooms, as well as link pages for other gambling related topics such as forums, lotteries, bingo, betting exchanges, chatrooms, sports betting, and gambling equipment. While most of these categories are simply lists of links to other websites, they're organized well for quick and painless browsing.

While there's not a ton of original content on The Gaming Directory, it is a directory after all, and does cover a wide range of gambling-related content, with useful links in each and every one.

Monday, March 05, 2007

PokerDIY - Connecting Poker Players

The following is a paid review for

PokerDIY is a free service that allows poker players to find online and live poker games based on a variety of criteria and parameters. One interesting aspect of the site is that it's heavy on the social networking element, so this isn't yet another site with tons of freerolls listed, largely just an excuse for lots of banner ads.

Players can create and manage profiles in a fashion very similar to Myspace, as far as joining various groups, sending private messages, and finding other poker players interested in home games across the country.

also offers an Events section that allows users to schedule custom events, both live and online, and track them via a calendaring system. Events can be public or private and the system supports email invitations, RSVP tracking, and guestbook functionality.

The other major component of the site is the Leagues feature. While pieces of it are still in development, this is one of the more interesting aspects of the site, as it could offer the chance to not only form a personal poker league, but the ability to track results on the scoreboard for not only that season, but past seasons as well.

While some sections of the site are still in development, PokerDIY has over 5,000 users and offers some other nice features and tools, including some general poker articles and tools like Blind Timers and the Odds Checker.

All in all, it's definitely an interesting idea, and a site I'll keep my eye on. So many of these paid reviews are for sites that are, umm, rather shilly in nature and yet another forum site with little new or unique to add, but PokerDIY seems to be tackling things in a new, unique way.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Yay, Springtime

Pretty happy to bid cold weather (well, relatively speaking) adieu here in central Texas, despite the fact that all the greenery is making it painfully clear the amount of yardwork in front of me, as far as taking care of three yards shortly. We'll see how long my tightass nature holds out, as far as refusing to pay for lawn service when I can, you know, do it myself. I'd put the over/under at about 60 days, unless I cave and buy a riding lawn mower. Then all bets are off.

Many thanks to the brave bloggers who signed up to kick the tires over at and, as far as my community blogging experiments. Falstaff, BSN, TripJax, and Jeff, you guys rock, and many thanks again for giving it a whirl. I'm still looking for more beta testers, so if you'd like to post to either site, gimme a holler at

Still scheduled to close on the investment flip property next Friday, which I'm pretty psyched about. I'm trying to keep my expectations pretty low for this first one, and am more curious than anything, as far as the potential profit I can squeeze out of it. It honestly may not turn out to be worth the work and hassle involved, in the end, but it'll be interesting, if nothing else, and a slightly extended way of getting my gambling fix on.

Despite swearing off the poker for the short term, I have to admit that I'm getting tempted to jump through whatever ridiculous hoops I need to to get some money back on Full Tilt, as I had a lot of fun playing the Bracelet races last year, even managing to luckbox my way into winning one. We're planning a trip to Vegas in June but, as of now, I probably won't buy my way into an event or two as planned, what with all the house buying.

Not a whole heck of a lot else going on. Still cranking away at assorted affiliate stuff, rebuilding the income whacked by the UIGEA bit by bit. Still hard not to get grumpy about that, but, like anything, life could be much worse.