Friday, February 11, 2005

Texas Hold 'Em Fun

I was delighted to get an email from LP Central Committee District Rep Chris Ward, asking me if I would join him at a Texas Hold 'Em tournament. You bet I would! Best part of all- no buy-in cost.

Barley Island brewery in Noblesville is hosting the event every Thursday in the hopes of drumming up some business. About 40 people played. The atmosphere was very friendly. After all, there was no buy-in, so nobody was losing the rent.

This was my first tournament play of any size greater than one table, so I was pleased enough just to not be the first thrown off the island. I made it past the first third of eliminated players, but not much further. Again, I was pleased.

I only had about five hands to really play, and fortunately, two of them were very good hands. The first was the opening hand of the night, so I was set up to play for a long time as long as I didn't get reckless. After the blinds were raised the first time, I was in with my table's chip leader for a big pot. I had the big hand, with a full house, Aces over 8's. That hand stood up as the best hand of the night. Where I did lose big was on a hand where I had a flush, but another player had a better flush. After that, the blinds ate me up.

Chris did very well, surviving into the final third of players. His girlfriend Beth did even better, finishing 4th. I think she knocked him out of the game, which should have made for some entertaining banter on the drive home.

I'll be looking forward to playing again at Barley Island next Thursday, but also to using Hold 'Em tourneys as fun team-builders in the campaign.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Priority Number One?

I was pretty involved with the campaigning throughout Indiana in 2004. As a county chair of a political party, I had my eyes and ears open on issues, looking for an angle to supply my candidates. As a secretary of a state political party, I often submitted letter and op-eds to newspapers across the state in response to positions taken by high-profile candidates, such as those running for governor. I even attended one of the two gubernatorial debates. Overall, I have a pretty good feel for what the candidates from any party were running on.

Here's my ranking for issues, as they were discussed on the trail.

1. State Budget.
2. Jobs.
3. Education.

These three were miles ahead of everything else. Here are the also-rans.

4. The extention of I-69.
5. Daylight Savings Time.
6. The future of the Indianapolis Colts.
7. Same-sex marriage.

Also, many legislators and legislative candidates took No New Taxes Pledges.

So, it has been fascinating to watch Governor Daniels make DST the first issue out of the gate; to watch the Legislature propose myriad new taxes; to watch same-sex marriage and the future of the Colts leap-frog jobs in terms of public discussion; to watch I-69 and education fade from discussion; and to watch the Legislature propose a slew of new traffic laws.

Traffic laws? Nobody even campaigned on this. Why is it now priority #1?

A Bill would allow the installation of cameras at intersections, designed to nab red light runners. Another would increase the speed limit. Another would ban the use of cell phones in vehicles. I'm missing some others.

Whatever happened to priorities? How about legislating in accordance with the campaigns? Is this too much to ask?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Report Card Is In

Governing Magazine issued report cards on the governments of all 50 states in their February 2005 issue. It is an interesting report, but prepared to take it with some minor grains of salt.

No state was given an overall grade lower than C-. No state was graded higher than A-. That's a pretty tight set of results. Shouldn't someone have gotten an A+ or an F? Grades at a glance.

But overall, the analysis looks very sound, especially in light of this highlighted sentence that summed up state government:
"Historically tight-fisted Indiana got in trouble when it continued spending as
if the recession hadn't happened."

Preach it! Indiana was graded an overall C+.

Notably, 20 categories were spotlighted and ranked "Strength", "Mid-Level", and "Weakness". Indiana was assessed "Weakness" in 10 categories, (including Long-Term Outlook, Structural Balance, and Budgeting Performance) and "Strength" in just one (Intergovernmental Coordination). More data and analysis.

So what are they focusing on in the Statehouse? Traffic laws, gay marriage, and smoking. Amazing. Pathetic.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Boredom Follow-up

The NFL's choice of a halftime performer was designed to reduce complaints to the FCC. Mission accomplished. According to Fox Sports:
"Last year, Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" resulted in more than
500,000 complaints to the Federal Communications Commission.

This year, Paul McCartney's halftime performance resulted in just two ...
by viewers who found the show to be far less titillating than last

Boring. Boring, dreadful, dreary, and awful. Last year's show was dreadful and awful, but at least it was interesting.

Lamest Ever

I've watched many Super Bowl broadcasts over the years, and I have to say that this one was easily the least interesting. The NFL has regained the rights to the moniker No Fun League.

It was the lamest close championship game I've ever seen, in any sport. New England is masterful in allowing a game to look close on the scoreboard without the oppostion, or any viewer, ever believing that a comeback is possible. There was no tension whatsoever.

The commercials were the least entertaining in the time I've been aware of them. Only once did I laugh out loud (the guy holding the cat in one hand, the knife in the other, and the red sauce on the cat and the floor). Not once did I go, "Ooh! Wow! Cool".

In an attempt to not repeat the Janet Jackson incident from last year, the Super Bowl chose Paul McCartney to perform. Amazing- in the 60s, the Beatles were the fore of the counter culture, unpredictable and daring. Today, McCartney is safe as milk, predictable and boring.

The broadcast team of Buck, Collinsworth, and Aikman make a graduate course in statistics seem exciting. The commentary might have been more exciting if stand-up comic Richard Wright gave his deadpan delivery. Only adding Pat Summerall could have made the team more dull.

That's four hours of my life I'll never get back. At least I got the laundry done.

You can't even hate the Patriots' dynasty, due to the austere, team-oriented nature of all involved. These aren't the evil Yankees or even the juvenile Red Sox. You almost want Tom Brady to brag that he's never lost a playoff game. It ain't braggin', after all- he's done it.

Way to go, NFL.

Most innovative use of lost time by a TV network: Animal Planet aired something during the game called the Puppy Bowl. It was merely a playpen for about 8 puppies, with six different cameras. The puppies played, and a different camera angle was shown about every 10 seconds or so. Cute and cheap to produce.