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March 19, 2003


Took the Amtrak up to Chicago this weekend. The round trip fare is $23. That's cheaper than a tank of gas at the current rates. So basically, on that basis alone, I declare that I am not going to drive up to Chicago again as long as gas stays this expensive.

However, the great bonus is that in addition to helping reduce my wasteful exploitation of Earth's natural resouces, I discovered that Amtrak is actually a pretty darn pleasant experience! I mean, legroom and personal space comparable to domestic First Class on the airlines, a 110V power outlet at my seat, large windows to see the scenery go by, I can use my mobile phone throughout the journey...

Not too bad. I'm so sold on this whole train thing that I even signed up for their frequent rider program. For trips less than 500 miles, this is definitely the way to go.

PGP Signed Entry

March 14, 2003

I live in Fear

On September 11, 2001, I was scheduled to fly from Orange County (SNA) to London (LHR) via Chicago (ORD), then a day later, I was to continue on to Vienna (VIE). My flight was to depart southern California a few minutes after 2 in the afternoon. I don't have to tell you that I never made it to the airport that day.

But I was on United Airlines flight 1212 on September 19. When I boarded the Boeing 757, the captain explained that it was his first flight after the grounding of all commercial air traffic. He expressed his confidence and appreciation of our confidence. At the time, I thought nothing of it. After all, I was going to continue living my life.

So it is with great irony that I find myself in fear of the actions of my own government. I didn't stop traveling after terrorists used airplanes that I myself may have sat in only weeks before to commit a horrible atrocity. But I stand aghast as my government pursues a path of isolationism and aggression that I believe will ultimately benefit only a very small constituency amongst us.

I didn't hesitate to make plans, travel and otherwise, after September 11. Not for a moment. But right now, I'm afraid that if I make plans, they're going to be suddenly and horrifically interrupted by the specter of war. And I'm afraid that this country, built on such noble ideals as freedom, equality, and justice, has abandoned those foundations so that a very small number of people can hoard profit and power, hiding behind a false facade of security.

It is deplorable. I fear reading the news each day, trying to convince myself that I don't really need to know what moronic insult Secretary of War Rumsfeld has hurled out of that foul mouth this day. What feeble excuse to wage war President Bush is trying to feed a public he and his policy makers clearly believe are as simple and weak minded as himself. Does anybody out there buy this? Please!?!?

It is insulting. It is even demoralizing. I fear that the terrorists may win after all. But not for their effort. The sad irony is that my own government is playing directly into their hands. It is sad.

PGP Signed Entry

March 13, 2003

Dr. Strangelove

Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Well, despite my best efforts, it would appear that Spring Break is turning out to be Vegas III. Hopefully it will be warm this time. And maybe some hiking in Grand Canyon or around Lake Mead. That might be interesting. If it's warm.

The Reunion planning is coming along. We're getting the word out, although slowly. The priority for this month is to get the menu set. And then the invites go out.

I'm also serving on the student selection committee for my high school's class of 2005. I feel old.

Haven't really done too much with the design of the blog and my website, though. I should get around to that one of these days.

On a happier note, I finally cleaned out my bathroom the other day. I'd forgotten the sink was white... ah the bachelor life.

PGP Signed Entry

March 3, 2003


This weekend has been the coolest Vegas trip to date. Let me first start with the LEGEND.

So back in November I gave Vince the pointers on Craps. Part of my sales pitch was the fact that it is the most rambunctious game in the house when things are hot. It would appear that the learner has now become the master. On our last day, we checked out at about 1 PM. The three hours that followed were spent at a single craps table. Now some people can stand a single table for much longer periods, but usually I stay for about an hour and then move on to something else. The dice started off kind of teasing around. I went down a couple hundred, then back up, then down. This continued at a half-full table for maybe an hour. Then things started to heat up a bit. Shooters started making two or three points before sevening-out, so the bankroll started increasing. Some more people joined the table, and so by the time it was Vince's turn to shoot again, we had pretty close to a full table. By this time I was up a couple hundred, so I think I was at $15 on the pass line. Vince hits the point. Woot! Next round. Vince hits the point. Woot! More people come to the table. It's getting pretty crowded, but to my surprise, the pit boss tells a couple of people trying to squeeze in next to me to move to the other end "to not crowd the shooter." Now as far as I could tell there was just as much room there than there was next to me. I thought this was kind of interesting. Then the stickman goes on break. I quote an earlier stickman, "every time you get a new stickman, everybody wins!" I up the bet to $20. Vince makes 7 on the come out. Woot! Vince makes 11 on the come out. "Yo!!!!!!!!" erupts from the players on the other end of the table. This is clearly a happy table. Vince makes point. Vince makes point. Vince hits some hardways, field bets, come, points... it goes on and on. I have to pee really bad. But I am not going anywhere. I mean by this time I was up to $25 on the pass, I was putting $25 on the hardways, $24 on the place 6 and 8... Vince was throwing black chips down on the field... The dealers were taking a while to pay off all the bets after each roll... and everyone was yelling and screaming and cheering. "6 the hard way! Shooter makes point, pay the line!" "YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!" "Yo! Eleven Yo!" "YYYOOOOOO!" Earlier in the trip Ben had told us a story about a lady he saw peeing at a slot machine because she didn't want to leave the machine to relieve herself. I laughed at the time, but I began to worry about how this might come to pass. "Shooter makes the point!" "YEEEEEEAAAAHHHH!!!!" By this time I was up so high I was loosing count, and bets were being paid off in multiple black chips. The stickman who went on break comes back. "Same shooter?!" It was the first time I saw any semblance of surprise from a dealer in Vegas. I mean, they've seen it all, right?

Anyhow, after a good hour or so, Vince finally hits seven. I had never seen that much action at a Craps table. One guy we later ran into said he made ten grand during the run. Vince and I both tripled our bankrolls. People were coming up to him later and thanking him. I mean we must have tipped the dealers a hundred bucks all told. I finally make it to the restroom. We are quite happy.

Earlier in the trip, we were at a 6-deck Blackjack table and were losing when this guy comes up with a yellow and says he'd like just one hand. Blackjack. He walks off into the crowd. Okaaaaay, then. Also earlier, I made a couple of sucker bets on Craps, which is something I almost never do. This guy had trouble setting the point, so after he rolled a 3, I suddenly get this overwhelming feeling to put five bucks on 3. "3! Ace-deuce!" Woot! Then, later, when I was shooting, I hit a 2. Same feeling comes over me so I put five bucks on snake eyes. "2! Aces!" Four or five people got paid on that one. Must've all had the same feeling.

Also, we'd like to thank the MGM Mirage corporation for the complimentary room and board. Plus the free The Macallan 25 at Petrossian in Bellagio. And a bottle of Stag's Leap courtesy of a forgetful sommelier at a restaurant which will remain unnamed to protect the guilty. As Vince put it, we're like mid-rollers...

Other notes from this trip...

Got to check out Hard Rock for the first time. I wasn't all that impressed by the casino, where we only played Craps. But the scenery in the Casino is pretty fine. The other thing is I had a hard time telling the difference between the $5 and $25 chips there. It's probably some weird color scheme set up to get people confused into betting more than they intend.

Saw the pirate battle at Treasure Island and the volcano at the Mirage for the first time. Being that it was rather cold and the shows involved pyrotechnics, this was a good thing. And hey... free!

"Two words: mini bar." Enjoyed $3.75 soft drinks from the mini-bar (later comped, thankfully).

In Vegas, there's a set of rules, and then there's exceptions to the rules you can buy with money. Dry cleaning must be in by 9am to be returned by 7pm. Unless you have $20. Then, it's whenever you want it. The great thing is that this isn't some off the record thing... there's actually a form they have for "special services" like doing dry cleaning in the middle of the night.

Didn't win $35 million at the Megabucks progressive slots. I guess what do you expect on one spin? Too bad. I could use $35 mil.

The red-eye coming back is definitely the way to go.

Anyhow. Now it's back to reality for a while. Viva Las Vegas!

(This entry was edited and re-signed after the original posting to correct a couple of typos. The original PGP signed entry is here.)

PGP Signed Entry