So I had a great PR day on Saturday. I
completed five ladders of five with the 24
kg kettlebell, after only being able to do
3 ladders of 3 just four weeks ago. My body
has been making dramatic progress and I
couldn't be happier.
Then a Mr. Philip Davis had to come along
and put up a video of him completing 202
snatches with the 32 kg, and all of a
sudden my new focus became the snatch side
of ROP. On Sunday night I thought, "Well,
since I'm doing so well and breezed through
the ladder side, the snatch side should be
no problem. I'll do it tomorrow." There's
mistake number 1. Monday was supposed to be
a 50% day. A take-it-easy day. But if Mr.
Davis can make it through with the 32,
surely I can do the 24, right? Two days
after completing the ROOP ladder challenge
(followed by a heavy swing session for 10
If you still don't know where all the
foreshadowing is leading, you are probably
a bigger idiot than I was this morning. I
was doing 10/10 snatches on the minute,
which gave me a 15 second rest. Going along
until minute six when I start seeing stars
and coughing. So instead of stopping, like
a wise person would do, I just lowered to
5/5. So I got 150.
Not bad, but not great. And here's where I
plunge off the cliff of stupid: because I
missed my goal, I thought, "Well, I guess
I'll just go ahead and do what I was
supposed to do for my ladders today." And I
thought, "Yeah, and my rest periods were
too long on Saturday, so I should probably
shorten those, too." So I went from four
minutes of rest between down to two.
I got through four ladders and realized
that Pavel's advice to do presses BEFORE
swings/snatches is a GREAT idea, and that
having a test day TWO DAYS after a test day
is a BAD IDEA.
I'm stiff and I feel like I just played two
hours of no-pads tackle football.
So, kids, listen to Pavel and STAY ANCHORED
TO THE APPROVED PARTY PROGRAM!
On the same day as my quest for chalk, I
committed two small acts of civil
First act: I had just purchased about $50
worth of stuff from Fry's (which is a huge
signal of self-restraint on my part) and
there's the guy waiting by the door with
highlighter in hand. Three people are
queued waiting to show their Day Pass at
the door so that they can get back into the
Free World. I refuse to be a part of this
rampant act of unnecessary (and completely
unwarranted) act of detention. Did I steal
anything? No. And even if I did, I haven't
actually stolen it until I leave the store
with it, and even then you have no right to
detain me (if you're a security guard)
unless you witness me performing a felony,
which shoplifting is not. So, you want to
see my receipt? Take down my license plate
number, call the cops and report that you
were witness to a crime (which you weren't
because I didn't steal anything) and file a
case with them. They'll say, what's the
crime? And you'll say, not showing a
receipt and the cops will laugh at you.
They'll laugh at you just like I do as I
walk out the store to my car.
Second act: I'm going to get an oil change.
She asks for my name, then my address, and
I say, "Look, this is just an oil change.
I'm not giving you all my personal
information." And she points at the
computer screen (like the computer is the
fucking boss) and says, "My system won't
let me finish this transaction until I
enter your information." I say, "OK. 123
Wonder Ave., Las Vegas, NV, 89114." Just
then, a manager comes walking by and he
says, "Sir, our computers require a real
address." Now I know that's a bluff. You
think their computer system is going to
check that address against a database? No.
So I say, "OK, tell me your address so I
can have a real address." He says, "I'm not
going to give you my address." I just
smiled and shook my head. He turned to the
cashier and said, "Just put in something."
Score one for anonymous oil changes.
And I hear you saying, "Why do you even
bother? It's not worth the trouble!" Yeah,
that's the problem. Everyone just goes
along and accepts "the way things are" or
"the computer won't unless I..." and that
makes the problem worse. More and more of
our freedoms disappear slowly until we wake
up and we can't go from state to state
without showing a national ID card. Or
without applying for travel papers that
document your reasons for traveling and how
long you'll be staying in the next state
over when you go to visit your mom for the
weekend. And they'll get so bogged down
trying to analyze all that information for
terrorist patterns, that it will take 4-6
weeks for them to issue the papers you need
to go to Thanksgiving dinner at mom's
When I was in elementary school, the Iron
Curtain was in place, the Berlin Wall was
guarded by lots of gun-wielding guards and
Soviets had to apply for traveling papers
to go from city to city. And we thought
that was horrible and sad and a symbol of
everything wrong with Communism. Now, our
government has tools the KGB and the
Communist Party would have killed for, and
all we can say is, "Well, everything's
different after 9/11. This is a different
world now." Yes, it's different. It's worse
because the people who are really causing
harm are doing it with good intentions and
with your permission. But here's the rub:
relying on the government to protect you
makes you more vulnerable to attack.
I'll emphasis my point by starting another
paragraph. Relying on the government to
protect you makes you more vulnerable to
If you rely on some entity outside yourself
to protect you, you let your guard down.
You relax. You don't pay attention. You
don't take care of your body or take any
self-defense class, because we can rely on
the government, right? Did you happen to
forget that this is the same government
that "helped out" after Katrina? They
thought the Iraq war was a good idea? That
can't even make a decent road anymore?
Can't educate your kids beyond what used to
be a fourth-grade education (but is now
called a high school graduate)? These
people are incompetent. The tools they have
for detecting terrorism are blunt and
ham-shaped. The amount of data they have to
mine is mind-boggling, which makes finding
true threats exponentially more difficult,
and you're telling me that if they gather
more data, watch more people and have more
power that somehow they'll be better at it?
And next time you're walking out of that
box store filled with Chinese widgets and
sub-grade food, breeze right out the door
guilt-free and excited to be leaving with
your newly-purchased goods while the rest
of the unquestioning, obedient, fearful
citizens stand in line and act as another
symbol of a dying free America.
It's really starting to get hot in Vegas,
even in the early morning, when I work out.
I exercise outside, so that means my hands
start sweating by just thinking about the
kettlebells, let alone when I'm in the
middle of a snatch workout. I quickly
realized that chalk would be essential if I
wanted to keep up the outdoors workouts
without throwing a kettlebell through a
I stopped by a Big 5 Sporting Goods store
on my way home from work one night. They
looked at me like I was crazy. Mind you,
they had lots of pilate equipment, yoga
bricks, and Under Armor all over the place,
but the heaviest dumbbell they had was a
35-pounder, so that should tell you
Today was my day off, so I tried a couple
of other Big 5's with the same result. One
guy recommended Dick's Sporting Goods in
Henderson, so off I went. In a huge
two-storey building, they did not have
chalk either. However, Sports Chalet,
across the street, had chalk!
I was so excited about finally finding
chalk, I came home and did 36 on, 36 off
for 12 rounds with the 16 kg kettlebell.
And the chalk made a HUGE difference!
I had most of the day off on Sunday, and I
was itching to get out of the city. The
heat and the traffic were getting on me. I
called Banu and said, "Where can I find
some trees without driving clear to Cedar
City?" She recommended Mt. Charleston,
which is about a 45-minute drive from where
After turning left off highway 95 and
heading up highway 157, elevation started
going up dramatically. Signs along the way
let you know just how thin the air is
getting. The trailhead I chose (Cathedral
Rock) started above 7000 feet. Perfect.
Temperature went from 95 in the valley to
73 when I got up to the trailhead. Felt
I hike wearing these.
They're a little odd, and I found them when
I wanted to get some moccasins for hiking.
These were the closest I could find to what
I was looking for. Here's a picture:
I love how they feel, and my body has
adapted well to essentially going barefoot.
I normally really enjoy these for hiking,
but the trail at Cathedral Rock had long
stretches of hard-packed gravel that was
slightly larger than golf balls, and sharp.
I avoided these stretches completely on the
way up by taking some hidden back-way game
trails, and the shoes were great. I came
down the main trail, however, and my feet
were definitely sore on the way down. I
think there's a reason why white people
didn't find gravel trails everywhere when
they showed up in North America: gravel is
hard on the feet when you aren't wearing
mattresses strapped to your feet. On
natural trails, I zip along with the
fastest hikers, but on gravel, I was forced
to pick my steps carefully and I moved as
quickly as I could to end the pain. The
good news is that as soon as I found a spot
to get off the gravel trail and back to
pristine forest floor, the pain quickly
subsided and I was back to my quick stride.
Overall impressions of Mt. Charleston: a
lot of people were up there because it was
a Sunday afternoon. Harleys could be heard
frequently in large thunderous packs that
climbed around the windy mountain roads.
Everyone I met on the trail was very
polite, but if you're looking for solitary
forest time, you'll have to venture far
from the trail.
I found two springs in my explorations and
drank heartily from them both. I am
grateful for the media scare campaign
regarding mountain spring water and giardia
because it means I don't have to share one
of nature's most enjoyable gifts with a
bunch of yahoos from the city. As I was
dipping my hands in the water for a drink,
some guy asked me, "Is the water safe to
drink?" I said, "Not if you're from the
city. It will make you very sick. You
should stick to bottled water." He bought
it hook, line and sinker. I felt no ill
effects and appreciated the refreshment of
natural mountain spring water that can only
be fully appreciated after an hour and a
half of hard hiking in warm weather in full
I will head back to Mr. Charleston again
soon, but next time I'll try to find a more
remote area to explore.
Day 11 of the World Series of Poker.
Lunches eaten in Poker Kitchen: 11. Pretty
sick of crappy sushi and Caesar chicken
wraps. And here are the drink choices: Red
Bull, Diet Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Diet
Mountain Dew, Lipton Tea, Lipton Green Tea,
water. Yep, that's it.
Total hours so far: 131. Workouts: 9. Bags
of free peanuts eaten: 17. Brownies eaten:
half a pan. Loads of laundry washed: 0.
Days slept past 7:00 am: 1.
Times new video site has been wrecked by
database problems: 4. Light bulbs blown: 1.
Tapes used: 32. Compliments on new site:
legion. Complaints about new site: they
were in another language, so I couldn't
Poker hands played: 0. Hands of blackjack
played: 0. Alcoholic beverages quaffed: 0.
Drunk guys messing around on the mikes in
an empty conference room: 3.
Our new video player has finally launched!
. I couldn't be more proud. When I
came to PokerNews, the videos were
difficult to find and the player had some
severe limitations. All of our video was
hosted on one server in the United States,
so if you lived somewhere outside the U.S.,
the load times were unbelievably long.
We came in with quite a few goals and
expectations for a new player, and while we
haven't met them all yet, we're a lot
closer than we were when we started. We'll
be adding search and comments soon, and
we'll be rolling this out in other
languages soon, as well. You can link to
your favorite videos, and they're a lot
easier to find.
Please take some time and check out what
we've been working on since January.
Most people think that all vodka is made
from potatoes. Those people would be
uncircumcised Philistines, to use an Old
Testament phrase that means "uncultured
idiots". Most vodka is made from grain or
grapes. That actually makes a very
profitable prop bet because everyone "just
knows" that vodka is made from potatoes.
This prop bet must be executed properly so
as to not scare away the mark with
overconfidence (which, by the way, is the
skill that lies behind any good prop bet),
Potato vodka is fairly difficult to find,
but worth the hunt. Why? No nasty
aftertaste, and more importantly, no
hangover the next day. The advice to drink
potato vodka and eschew grain vodka came
from my dad, who has more experience with
alcohol than most groups of five people. I
asked my favorite bartenders and liquor
store clerks about their preferences, did
some of my own testing, and came up with
the list below. Enjoy!
Ordered from best to still pretty damn
Chopin Vodka (Polish vodka from potatoes) -
Luksusowa (pronounced Luke-suh-SOH-va)
Polish vodka from potatoes - $17
Blue Ice Vodka (American potato vodka) -
Teton Glacier Vodka (American potato vodka)
Russians usually bite a lemon wedge, then
drink a shot of vodka. You can also mix it
with tonic or soda. And vodka is best if
it's kept in the freezer with chilled shot
The last post sounded like your mom sending
you a letter of advice, so I thought I'd
share a few more tips that you may find
Between cocktails, drink a bottle of water.
I ran with some pretty serious alcohol
imbibers during past WSOP's, and the only
way I could keep up was to stay hydrated.
This will also help minimize your hangover
the next day.
"Talking with the ladies" is a great
buzzkill. You will go from having a great
time to feeling like Sigmund Freud
twiddling his thumbs in the space of about
five minutes. The fact that you're in a
strip club means you've got some kind of
confidence or insecurity issues. It's no
different for the strippers. It may even be
more rampant among them. That's a brutal
and competitive culture, and it's cutthroat
for some of them. One girl said that after
she would ask guys if they wanted a private
dance, another girl would come along and
say, "You probably don't want a dance from
that girl. She has herpes/AIDS/STD/insert
other repulsive disease here." So if you're
out, drunk, at 3:00 a.m., do yourself a
favor and enjoy the lap dance without
asking about where the girl is from and how
long she's been in Vegas. That's the door
away from fantasy and towards the brutal
reality of where you are and what you're
doing. And whatever you do, leave the place
before they turn on the lights.
I hesitate to share this, but only eight
people (and my parents aren't included in
that number) actually read this site, so
I'm just going to throw this out there: the
$4-$8 Limit game with a half-kill at the
Gold Coast is the best game in Vegas for
low-stakes players. Period. I have
officially retired from playing poker and
from any casino gambling, so I'm not afraid
to share this secret with my friends.
The Japanese restaurant in the Palms
(Little Buddha) is a great place for sushi,
and the Mexican restaurant there is pretty
damn good too. But if Mexican is your
thing, go west on Flamingo and five minutes
away from the Rio is a local secret called
Ricardo's. Have a margarita and think of
me. Better yet, invite me!
Alcohol and special enhanced brownies do
not mix. Well, at least for some people. Do
not try this blend at home. Could ruin your
The late show at the Palms is a good way to
unwind after a long work day. I enjoyed the
self-aggrandizing owner of the place that
has his picture with some celebrity in
every other ad before the movie.
BJ Nemeth is the source for all arcane
poker-related knowledge. Well, between
Nolan Dalla, BJ Nemeth, Jen Creason, Dr.
Paully and Change100, I don't think you can
stump them. Those are my go-to sources for
information about all things poker. I'm not
talking about gameplay. You can find better
teachers than these guys! But for anything
about the history, culture and mythos of
poker, those are the people I'd want on my
$50 for a massage once a week is money
I may come up with more WSOP survival tips,
and if I do, you'll be the first to know.
This is the fourth World Series of Poker
that I have worked. A few of the people I
met that first year are still lurking about
the Amazon room, and we all look at each
other with the knowing look that only
people who have worked together in
difficult and stressful conditions
When I first started, I tried to live the
"Vegas lifestyle" in addition to working
14-hour days. This included all-night poker
sessions, drinking and general carousing
and rabble-rousing. (Yes, that was
intentionally vague.) I have mellowed
considerably, due in large part to quelling
the flames of my OCD, and learning to see
the "Vegas lifestyle" for the mirage in the
desert that it really is. Many people in
Vegas are lonely or bored, and seek all
kinds of self-destructive ways of quieting
that voice in their head that says "There's
something wrong here."
That got heavy. Sorry! I just wanted to
post some tips about what I do to survive
the World Series of Poker. These are
hard-won strategies for dealing with a
high-stress environment over a seven-week
- Drink more water than you think you
should. Vegas air is already dry, and air
conditioners remove humidity from the
air. I am currently working in a room
that has three air conditioners (it's a
server room) and I got a cold on day 2 of
the World Series because my throat was so
- Get sleep. Under stress, cortisol and
adrenaline are released into your system,
which causes all kinds of problems over
time. Sleep helps repair the damage of
these hormones, and really helps your
focus through the day. I find it much
easier to stay calm when I've gotten
plenty of sleep the night before. This
may mean you have to say no to that drink
after work or just playing poker "for an
hour or two." Get home and get some
- Exercise. I wake up, answer the
urgent emails, and head outside in the
sun for a workout. This has two great
effects: the obvious benefits of
exercise, and I get my daily 30 minutes
of sun exposure that helps my body make
vitamin D and fight off disease. Humans
have only spent the majority of their
time indoors for the last 100 years or
so. Don't ignore 100,000 years of
- Eat less than you think you should. A
lot of people around me grab junk food or
eat huge buckets of food and say, "Hey,
it's the World Series." You don't need as
much food as you think. Really.
- Go outside. I talked about this in
number 3, but I don't want to scare you
away if you "just aren't into exercise."
At least go outside in the morning. Eat
breakfast or lunch outside where you can
get some sun. "But the sun is dangerous!
It gives you cancer!" Not getting enough
sun is just as dangerous. Reference
- Don't shoot video of players playing
in the Amazon room. Ever. For any
Do I follow these every day? No. Do I get
upset and disappointed in myself? No. I
just notice that I'm slipping off track and
re-focus on doing what works and avoiding
what doesn't. Late nights and drinking
don't work for me when I need my full
attention and focus throughout the day.
Exercise and sleep help sharpen my focus
and ability to remain calm, so I'm sticking
If you come down to the Amazon room, give
me a call, or drop me a note on Twitter,
and I'll grab some sushi from Miranda's
Kitchen with you!
Third day of WSOP action behind me. Here
are my stats for the World Series of Poker
so far. Total hours so far: 35. Total junk
food so far: One Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream
Bar. Total throat lozenges eaten today: 21.
Number of Vice Presidential candidates
interviewed: 1. Number of 1-liter bottles
of water quaffed: 13. Number of videos that
have been put up, pulled, corrected, and
re-posted: 7. Number of text messages
received: 314. Number of times accosted by
creepy carnie-like massage therapists in
the hall: 4. Number of bags of free peanuts
eaten: 9. Number of workouts: 2.
And the level of multitasking required to
be a manager/team-leader-type person is
amazing and right on the edge of what I can
keep in my head. Small things slip through
but I have been relying on using
iwantsandy.com to send me reminders, and
that's helped a lot. But this manager stuff
is a whole new ball game. Scheduling?
Coordinating equipment needs? Making sure
everyone is happy? A lot more challenging
than I thought it was going to be, but my
team has definitely gelled a lot faster
than I thought they would. Everyone has
stepped up, learned quickly, and we're
turning out some damn fine videos already.