Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Stats: April 21st 2014

Back on the grind today. Who want it?!
I am going to be doing a project this SCOOP season. I will be recording every single hand I play during SCOOP with commentary. If you would like to get a hold of these videos send $50.00 to Assassinato (Costa Rica) on Pokerstars, TheAssassinato, Panda, City Letter: S on Full Tilt, alexfitzgerald88@gmail.com on Paypal, or fitzgerald_alex@yahoo.com on Skrill. Then write us at Assassinatocoaching@gmail.com with proof of your transfer details and you will receive downloadable videos as soon as they are available.
Breakfasts Cooked For Wife And I: 1
Times My Wife Caked Lip Gloss On Me With A Long Kiss Goodbye: 1
Wife Is Leaving Because: Someone hit our car and ran off. We got the license plate. Charges are being more properly filed today. No one got hurt. W00t.
Number Of Times Felix Called My House In A Row: 3
Emails Answered: 15
Cups Of Coffee Consumed: 2
Cups Of Water Consumed: 2
If you ain’t got baby wipes in your bathroom I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but dingleberries ain’t: 1
1,000+ Word Hand History Analyses Written For Pocketfives: 1
Publish Date?: Unknown. Have to hear back from the kid I wrote it for, so I know it’s okay with him I publish it.
Sessions With Jared Tendler: 1
Did He Know Exactly What Was Pissing Me Off: Yes
Minutes I Went Off Like It Was A Rap Battle, At Full Volume, Into My Headset: 3
Therapeutic Level: Infinite
Hours Spent Reviewing My Game With A Trusted MTT Pro: 3+
Sunset Minutes Run: 30
Battles Watched: 
Battle Rapped Today: Went through all my shit twice. Most of the work is cutting lame lines. I have 4+ minutes without filter. Pretty confident on my recall and delivery now; aside from the fact I’m waving skinny arms with a pudgy gut like some geeked up Jimmy Neutron.

The Triple Package

The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in AmericaThe Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like every other reviewer of this book I must make reference to how it was called "The racist book." As a member of a group that closely resembles many of the baser self-defeating traits they reference I wasn't offended in the slightest. This book does an important service and describes where perhaps my family and myself have squandered potential in the past. Anyone who is offended otherwise just enjoys having been offended.

There are a few useless liberal moans from the authors, and it is laughable how they have to refer to Appalachian whites as THE group not doing well. These odd insertions are perplexing given how conservative their purported world view is, but other than that I could not find anything wrong with their assertions - and I assume they have to write that way to continue working at their university.

Despite their overwhelming attempts at fairness this book will ruffle a few feathers. The self-esteem movement is shown to be what's degrading America. The same rabid superiority complexes that produced the Holocaust and Imperial Japan are shown to be conducive to creating materially successful groups. Self-control and discipline is put at the forefront; directly negating the generational cry of "living in the moment."

Everything we were raised to believe in America was not true. It was not going lead us to success. The authors have the data to back it up. It's illuminating and painful, proving an extremely gratifying read to anyone who wants to better themselves.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Stats: April 20th

Anniversaries Celebrated: 1. One whole year married with my baby!
Easter Services Attended: 1.
Feeling When A Pastor Prayed Over Me: Like someone punched me. The words he said were, “thank you for the changes you’ve made in this young man’s life.” He had a different prayer for everyone. That one felt exactly like what I would want said for me. I was dumbfounded; felt so happy.
Anniversary Lunch: Small steak and chicken platters at Antojitos. Honestly, was feeling pretty lame about taking my wife there for an anniversary, but the meal was excellent. Upon asking for Diet Cokes we were given two mini-pitchers of the substance. The house gave us a small flan for free. I had an espresso that was to die for.
Number Of Screaming Matches Heard Over Scrabble At Wife’s House: 1. LOL.
Shows Watched: 4400, Law and Order SVU.
CDs Acquired Online: 50+
Need To Schedule Some Zoom Sessions To Listen To These: Yes

The Stats: April 19th

Hours Slept: Exactly eight, yes!
Eggs: Perfect. Somehow got them just right without paying much attention in my wake up delirium.
Breakfasts Cooked For Wife and I: One healthy one.
Breakfast Contents: Turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, and organic coffee.
Lizards Currently Chilling On Living Room Couch: One
Vitamins Taken After Breakfast: Fish oil, Alpa-Lipoic Acid, Garlic, and green tea extract.
Number Of Holes Dug By Dog: One, ergh.
Frustration Level When Every Time You Sit Down To Write With Your Coffee There Is Another Interruption: Infinite
Minutes Run In Park: 55
Minutes I spent waiting for a park security guard to leave the entrance shack where an old man was holding onto my helmet against policy: 10
Did The Guy Have A Gun?: Yes
Why Does Park Security Need A Gun?: Unknown.
Kettlebells Swings Completed: 100, 10 sets of 10.
Kettlebell some other exercise I can’t remember which essentially works other muscles than the swing: 80
Weight After Work Out: 199 LBS/90.25 KG
Lunch The Wife Lovingly Prepared: Lightly breaded fish, vegetables, small portion of rice, beans, and water.
Post Lunch Vitamins: Vitamin C, Garlic, Alpa Lipoic Acid, and Green tea Extract.
Cost Of Five Movie Tickets In Costa Rica: $24.00
Score For Captain America: Solid eight. Just the right amount of cheesiness to remind you of old cartoons and comics measured with topical political issues. Mind-blowingly good special effects. Even for someone like me who feels constantly bored in action movies I was entertained through most of this. I can’t believe how lucky kids are these days with superhero movies, considering the crap we grew up with.
Number of Video Games Received From A Bet: 1
Game: Need For Speed
Bet: It was a Super Bowl bet. Met up with the homie Henry on a chance meeting when he was taking his kid to Rio 2. Cruised by his house to pick up my winnings.
Dinner: Chef salad at Kafehaus. Chicken and vegetables at Chili’s.
Snacks: Popcorn.
4400 Episodes Watched: 1
Cups Of Coffee Consumed: 2
Cups Of Water Consumed: 5
Diet Cokes Consumed: 2
Espressos Consumed: 1
MAXX Energy Shots Consumed: 1

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Stats: April 18th, 2014

My wife, her father, and sister
My wife, her father, and sister
Really good feature in the latest Game Informer on a Darth Maul video game that never came to fruition. It’s an excellent look into what game developers deal with when working with large studios. Seeing the art is so dispiriting. The potential game looked incredible.
Just because you see all the angles of a problem doesn’t mean you know which one to attack.
Hours Slept: 8
Breakfasts Cooked For Wife And I: 0
Gallo Pinto, Bacon, and Eggs Cooked For Me: Tons. Booya.
Number of Law and Order episodes Lazily Watched This Fine Friday Morning Off: 1
Number Of Trained Dogs I Own: 2
Number Of Those Dogs Who Inexplicably Decided To Pee All Over The Entryway Again Today: 0 (Praise Jesus)
Number Of Individual Dog Shits Collected From My Yard: 3
Emails Responded To: 5
Snacks For The Day: Platinitos.
Games Of Scrabble Played In Spanish: 1
Final Score (This Isn’t A Joke): 187 (Me), 187 (My wife), and 186 (Our Friend Felix). Team Assassinato is going to kick ass this SCOOP.
Mcdonald’s Meals Eaten: 1. Starting tomorrow I have to get in fighting shape for SCOOP. Figured I’d pig out one last time.
Huge Coffee Time With Ticos: 1
Magazines Read: Game Informer
Time Spent Driving: 5 Minutes
Time Spent Staring at Hootsuite Feeds Doing Not Much Of Anything: 5 minutes
Time Spent So Angry I Couldn’t Think: 0 minutes
Pages Of The Bible Read: 2
Cups Of Coffee Consumed Today: 3
Cups Of Water Consumed Today: 5
Espressos Consumed Today: 3
Trippy Song For The Day:
Overall Satisfaction With Day: 7.5
Stress Level For Day: 5

Some dogs I was playing with at my wife's singing instructor's house.
Some dogs I was playing with at my wife’s singing instructor’s house.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 17th 2014: Stats

My wife and her sister
Hours Slept: 9?
Breakfasts Cooked For Wife And I: 1
Number Of Trained Dogs I Own: 2
Number Of Those Dogs Who Inexplicably Decided To Pee All Over The Entryway Again Today: 2
Is The Poodle Jealous Of The New Dog?: Seems so. He is always the first to pee. Than the Maltese pees on the area again.
Time Spent Listening To Chilltrax This Morning: 2 hours 42 minutes
Trippiest Track Award Goes To:
Number Of Dogs Currently Tied Up Outside: 2
Number Of Individual Dog Shits Collected From My Yard: 4
Time Spent Writing A New Blog: 2 hours?
Waste Of Time?: Not when the thoughts were physically painful to keep in.
Words Written: 1,500+, but I think they were good.
Hand Analyses Written: 1 Rough Draft
Words: 900ish
Number of Phone Calls Received Before Noon: 0. Praise Jesus.
Emails Responded To: 5
Snacks For The Day: Platinitos.
Hours Spent “Studying” Spanish: 2 hours speaking pretty much only Spanish with wife’s father’s family.
Kids With Tourettes Who Decided To Teach Me Spanish Today: 1
Words Learned: Maybe ten, many of which were extremely Tico.
Books Read: Leviathan Wakes, The Bible, The Qur’an, Thinking Fast And Slow.
Magazines Read: Game Informer
Time Spent Driving: 5 minutes
Time Spent Reading Cracked:
Time Spent Staring at Hootsuite Feeds Doing Not Much Of Anything: 0 minutes
Time Spent So Angry I Couldn’t Think: 0 minutes
Pages Of The Bible Read: 2
Time Spent In Physical Therapy For My Back: 0 minutes
Cups Of Coffee Consumed Today: 5
Cups Of Water Consumed Today: 5
Espressos Consumed Today: 0
Overall Satisfaction With Day: 8
Stress Level For Day: 2

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Encapsulate (What Is It Worth?)

I have 175,000+ words written in a manuscript. My productivity has become much greater since I started committing to 2,000 words a day. The problem is most novels are 60,000 – 180,000 words. Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, for reference, do not crack 70,000 words. I have just started scratching the surface of the yarn I wish to spin.
Dark thoughts cloud my ambition. “This is too long, no one will want this,” I think.
This strikes me as particularly manipulative. If no one wants it I’ll self-publish it. If 10 people read it and enjoy it I’d be overjoyed.
I’ve come to an odder moment in my life. Money doesn’t seem to motivate me like it once did. Sure, I need money, but I’m blessed with a stable income from my consulting work. One of the areas I want to focus on with Jared Tendler in an upcoming lesson is how to motivate myself more during a session.
I find myself bored intellectually by tournament poker. There seem to be fewer and fewer discoveries to stumble upon each day. Surely, I want to believe my arrogance and laissez-faire approach to poker  is leading to this, so for the first time in my career I’m hiring other coaches to look at my game. I can’t wait to hopefully be proven dumb.
Motivation is fleeting. When I was younger the game was newer and more exciting, but even then my intellectual pursuits didn’t lie in poker. It was something I was good at that made me money. I watched training videos, read books, but at an embarrassingly early age I began watching foreign movies, reading, and writing in my free time rather than studying.
What has this produced? Next to nothing. Well, a blog that spans almost a decade. In my opinion, it’s the most comprehensive written piece on a professional poker player who came of age in the 2000s. I have to believe in the future it will be of worth, as more and more people around the world play poker for a living. But monetarily it’s result has been indirect. A tournament player with scattered results but with a passion for learning propelling into the top coaching spot is surely a testament to the power of a blog’s self promotional value.
The greatest battle is the feeling that I’m doing nothing, that I have done nothing. It’s a preposterous assumption to be sure. I’ve built a home and a (so far) stable marriage around my career. I’ve seen the world. I’ve opened my mind. But major titles: I have none. Books completed? None. Another blogger typing into the ether because structure challenges him, makes him contemplate his inferior writing acumen.
I have so much respect for sites like Fluent In Three Months. The man has a specific niche and he’s nailed it. His articles on language learning are passionate and informative. He puts in work with his reader base, writing back to any reasonable question or comment. He has excelled in what he professes to teach. He deserves to have the successful blog he possesses.
But was that why I started this site? No. I have never even branded advertisements on my blog. I make enough from consulting, from working with my reader base. There is great joy in work that results in my making money and their making even more money. As such, I have always applied my focus in that area.
It has always been about the titular head rush to me. It is the reason I gave up drugs and alcohol, although I loved them from a very early age. It doesn’t compare to when you are moving in a thoughtful cloud, connecting your ideas rapidly. I have sought the most potent flow, because I get a quite literal high from it. It is hard to focus in one area for the same reasons it is difficult to keep getting high from the same strand. Books, movies, music, blog writing, novel writing, freelance magazine writing, travel…all of these provide a more potent hit when they are varied. They are all more compelling than the traditional MTT now, unless I’m talking with the people I play with or doing it for a Pocketfives Training video. Then the euphoria is robust again.
That is what I seek. I try to make it new again. I blew my life out seeking money before. There is nothing in it. Once you become a professional player and know the most successful in your community you realize not one of them is happy. It is the great joke! If you’re dissatisfied with life before riches all you will attain with a full bank account is more responsibility you are aggravated to handle.
But good coffee, the right radio station while your cooking, a compelling book, an idea imparted upon you in a good conversation, the loving embrace of a devoted spouse, a deep breath of fresh air in a new country…this, this has sway, inherent healing, gravitational pull, a currency no one can devalue or take away.
I would not describe myself as a “happy” person. I know few people who are like that. But I do feel blessed to have had my heart opened. I do feel like I see where life is now, and it was not where I put stock in for years. I feel alive. I see meaning, even when I am in pain.
Josh Waitzkin’s The Art Of Learning touched me so deeply because it made me realize what moved me was never attaining a goal. That is a byproduct. I was disturbed for years about why I didn’t feel more content having done what I’d done. No, even the trainer of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant admits real overachievers feel little to nothing in the moment of victory. I’ve done what I set out to do in poker. I never cared about being the best. I wanted a stable life, security, and a home of my own. Home, not house.
To the innocent bystander Waitzkin’s book doesn’t seem to really focus on how to learn more effectively. It is semi-autobiographical. But anyone who has pushed themselves in intellectual games for a living will admire the joy he creates with his mind as he pursues fractions of a percent of continued mastery in endless complex problems.
It is the process that is the reward not the spoils of victory. The championship is the exclamation mark. It is the proof to Joe Average that your thought process gets results. But really, is this what you’re after?
The ultimate victory is enjoy the work. A great stress is derived from the writer constantly thinking, “this will never get done. I will never get all these ideas out of my head.” The professional poker player will worry about never having that great large win. He drowns himself in negligent thinking, “I will never be recognized.”
What is greatness if it must be activated by other people? What is mastery really worth if someone else needs to see it?
The answer lies in the contentment of formation. The real pleasure and true gift a writer receives is any time to be able to put pen to paper. How many artists didn’t get the chance to go unheard? How many lost themselves to drink? How many were never born? How many willingly grinded themselves down in a job they hated, and never found the energy to develop?
The peace a poker player can find is that he even gets to play. How many people were employed from a game before poker? A few thousand from professional sports is spitting in the wind compared to billions on Earth. Most of us “professional” poker players do not possess the physical gifts to have been successful in sports. So where would we have turned thirty years ago? Chess? That game employs few.
No, getting to play at all is the real endowment.
The focus in common society seems to be designed to help you fail. Popular TV shows and news reports focus on the phenoms, not the people putting more in the hours. Surely, a teenage success story is interesting, but is that all there is? Public schools tell you that you ought to feel special without having done a damn thing. The work load that separated Kobe Bryant from Allen Iverson is so seldom mentioned.
When one puts their focus on only the end product they surrender the lessons of their labor. Even when they achieve their goals they are left feeling empty.
Focusing on the joy of learning is the only way out. You can not make money every time you play poker. You can learn every single time you sit down.
If you love the process of mastering yourself you will find much to love in this game. If you want easy money you will want to kill yourself.
Study and training is how we connect to the world. To stay in one discipline or vein of thought is to stay on page one of your life’s tale. Getting to move forward has to be the real reward, not money, not notoriety.

The Stats: April 16th, 2014

San Jose
I am back from my trip to San Carlos for a few days without internet. I hung out by the volcano, enjoyed hot springs, banged my head around in some unregulated water park, and walked along rope bridges. It was good fun. Now back to documenting days of nothing.
Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search For Meaning discussed how a satisfied man could look back at a calendar full of days he documented and regard it as time well spent.
Alternatively, I’ve always loved the fake/not-so-fake statistics Revolver runs at the bottom of their magazine.
Role-Playing Video games were always addictive as a kid because I felt like I was collecting something.
Number of times in my life that I have successfully chased down an evading trash collector’s vehicle after being roused from a deep sleep: 1
Number of times in my life that I have tomahawked a full bag of trash into a trash collector’s vehicle: 1
Day That Occurred: Today
Hours Slept: 7.5
Annoyingly Awful Typos Found In My Latest Bluff Article: 1 (which has been changed). http://www.bluff.com/magazine/playing-people-22136/
Original Title Of My Bluff Article: Be A Dumbass
What They Changed It To: Playing People
More Interesting Title: Mine
Do They Ever Keep Mine?: No
Which Is The Better Title?: Debatable
How Many Cups Of Coffee I Must Have Had Before Writing That Scatterbrained Article: 3+
Breakfasts Cooked For Wife And I: 1
Days I’ve Spent On The Mild Food Poisoning/Extreme Weight Loss Plan: 2
Shits Given About Latest Phil Ivey News: 0
Number Of Trained Dogs I Own: 2
Number Of Those Dogs Who Inexplicably Decided To Pee All Over The Entryway, Minutes Before Wife’s Patients Arrived: 2
Number Of Dogs Currently Tied Up Outside: 2
Number Of Individual Dog Shits Collected From My Yard: 7
Time Spent Writing In Neverending Novel: 1.5 Hours
Words Written In Neverending Novel: 2,208
Number Of Times I Have Picked Up A Phone During A Writing Session And Later Thought “That Was A Great Idea!”: 0
Wolves In The Throne Room – Two Hunters Album Score (1-10): 6.5. Enjoyable listen to fans of spacier mostly-instrumental metal, but even a diehard like myself has to admit there isn’t much of substance here:
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Under The Running Board EP Review: 10. One of the first insane “math” metal discs I heard. Still one of the most manic and enjoyable.
Number Of Books Added To My Kindle Today: 334
Hours I Wish Were In Each Day For Me To Read: 506
Time I Spent Finding The Books I Downloaded To Load Them On Calibre/Kindle: 20 minutes
Number of Phone Calls Received Before Noon: 4 or 5.
Number Of Times Per Day I Fantasize About Getting a Cabin In The Woods Without Internet Or A Phone: Several
Minutes I Spent Driving Today: 5
Minutes I’ve Spent Driving My Entire Life: 20
Emails Responded To: 29
Emails Asking Me To Work Without Pay: 2
Reason I Would Do Such A Thing?: Unknown
Minutes On Phone With Main SCOOP Investor: 65
Paychecks Sent Out: 1
Snacks For The Day: Almonds and prunes.
Hours Spent Studying Spanish: 1.5
Time Spent Staring at Hootsuite Feeds Doing Not Much Of Anything: 20 minutes
Time Spent So Angry I Couldn’t Think: 10 minutes
Hardest Thing For Me To Do: Stop working in poker world when I’m cooked mentally
Pages Of The Bible Read: 2
Time Spent In Physical Therapy For My Back: 10 minutes
4400 Episodes Watched: 1
Will I Continue Watching 4400?: Unknown. Enjoyed the concept and I’m a lover of cheesy science fiction, but the rampant Star Trek plot steals and wayward pacing have really bored me in season 3. Considering going back to a book while my wife watches this.
Law and Order SVU Episodes Watched: 1
Game Of Thrones Episodes Watched: 1
Was It Awesome?: YES
Is Game Of Thrones The Best Television Has To Offer Right Now?: Yes.
Pages Read: 10. (Pathetic).
Cups Of Coffee Consumed Today: 1
Cups Of Water Consumed Today: 8
Espressos Consumed Today: 2
Overall Satisfaction With Day: 8
Stress Level For Day: 4

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Special Topics In Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsSpecial Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up. My ignorance made me appreciate it so much more. If you would like the same experience, please stop reading the review now. I can say that if you're female, a reader, liberal, like coming-of-age novels, insufferable, or enjoy open-ended foreign cinema this will be right up your alley.

I picked up this book because it was an award-winner from 2006. I knew it was about a girl in high school. Since I graduated high school in 2006 as a man, and because I am trying (emphasis on trying) to write a book about a kid in high school in 2006, I thought Pessl's entry would be a good choice to round out my view.

Well, this book is not really fantastic for high school hijinks. Pessl tries to inject Breakfast Club cliches. As a socially retarded male I will never understand why women such as Marisha Pessl and Tana French find groups of people so fascinating, as if a colored group is some unbreakable force of love. The main character's friends are like cardboard cutouts designed by someone who has watched too many 80's movies. Largely, I was bored with them, and was not entertained by the overtly long passages on her adventures with them.

I didn't feel it developed the main character well at all. Most of the dialogue hangs awkwardly on the page. All the students blur into a liberal yuppie mess, with vocabulary and witticisms that make Juno seem modest and without pretension. I couldn't believe any character. I was bored frequently with the run-on dialogue that revealed nothing, other than the author has alactritous love for language that nobody speaks. A true connection between characters is not established, making many of them laughably forgettable, and dulling some of the finer plot turns of the book.

Pessl's difficulties do not end there. Her book worm heroine frequently digresses to book references, some of which don't actually exist. At times, it is informative and eye-opening. Much of the time it is annoying. Her rambling goes on forever, and oftentimes doesn't illuminate much at all.

It is endearing in an American Psycho way, in that I'm sure this is actually how a book lover in this kind of family would think. However, it is pretty tough to deal with. This book could have easily have been half the size and lost little substance.

Now, how could I enjoy a novel with so many faults? I chose to put the good parts at the end of the review, because if you can't stand my writing about them you will be absolutely infuriated should you try to read this novel.

The book eventually breaks down into a murder mystery, but sadly it takes 400 pages to get to the point. Up until that time any man who is reading will feel as if he's progressively growing a vagina.

God help you if you did not know this was a murder mystery. I went in assuming this was a slice-of-life entry akin to The Center Of Everything, and the first 80% of the book did little to dissuade me from that notion. Time and again, I wondered why I was still reading.

But once things (finally) pick up Marisha Pessl pens one of my favorite endings of all time. If you enjoy foreign movies, like the nauseating name-drop list she has in the book (which she even hysterically brings attention to at the end as if we'll be dazzled by her references), or open-ended endings with so much to figure out, you will love this.

The entire beginning of the book finally lines up, and so much makes sense. You'll get giddy putting all the pieces together, as Pessl does a spectacular job of giving you just the right number of clues to put together a great picture.

Even her Holes-esque ending where the narrator talks to the reader about the mysteries left in the form of a pop quiz comes off as charming. This a great book to read with friends (I imagine) because there's so much to discuss. In repeated readings I'm sure there is a ton to pick up on.

Whether she intended to or not the cleverly crafted ending really helps you give her the benefit of the doubt with her character writing. While her dialogue is cheeky, perhaps it was on purpose? Everyone, including the main character's father, comes off a caricature of the people they represent by the end. If you take it in that spirit it makes the read much more enjoyable.

Pessl is a little insufferable, but she has the talent to get away with it. Passages of this book are breathtakingly well written, and others paragraphs serve to teach us that, "it's okay to kill your darlings."

I think the ending was so interesting it made up for the books many flaws, but others would rightfully disagree. Make sure you have a passion for whodunnits and questions without answers before delving in.

My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, contact me for lessons at assassinatocoaching@gmail.com, see other stuff I write with my friends at www.pokerheadrush.com, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato

View all my reviews