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MGM Grand Detroit poker room

to get to the poker room, you have to go past a bouncer and up an elevator where both the poker room and one of the night clubs exist side by side.  There's enough separation between the two that it's not a big deal, when i was playing i never really noticed any outside noise.

The room itself holds 9 tables.  The tables are laid out pretty spaciously - they could have fit a few more tables in there, but i'm not sure what sort of demand there is at that room since out of the nine tables there were only five games running on a holiday thursday evening.  It took me about 25-30 minutes to get an actual seat.  I should have called ahead.  For some reason even though they used the Bravo system, their information didn't show up on my Bravo app.  I'm not sure why.

The dealers were competent at their job but they were generally pretty quiet.  not unfriendly, but not very talkative or social.  There was one exception, but he pretty much talked to just one person who he knew outside of work, and he was a pretty bad dealer in his unprofessionalism.  He was only half-focused on his job as dealer, the rest of it was focused on watching the baseball game.  Dealers at Harrah's New Orleans will glance at the tvs sometime, but they only ever glance.  This guy was blatantly watching, with his eyes glued to the tv while he was shuffling and while action was going on.  He also didn't have great customer service skills.  He asked me when i first sat down (he was the first dealer) if i wanted to post my blind to come in right away, and when i said no, he said, "um, okay" in a way that felt judgmental.  He made similar sorts of commentary to other people every now and again when they would do things that felt strange to him.  nothing big and not for too long, but it was clear that he didn't really like the job or was in a super bad mood and couldn't "keep it off the field" (in band/drum corps terms).

All of the tables were 1/2 (there was an interest list for 2/5, but that game never started) and on my table all of the players were horrible.  There were four players that were super tight nitty - if they ever invested money in the pot, you fold, period.  There were three player who were more aggressive and better players, but they were generally pretty easy to read - strong means weak and weak means strong.  there was one person in particular who always overbet the pot when he was on a draw, every time without fail.  he busted before i got a chance to exploit that knowledge on one particularly stupid hand where he flat-called when he flopped trips and then tried to bluff-bet the river when the board paired again (Q66, 3, Q) when it was clear the other player had a Q.

a lot of the hands i was getting were trash, so my image was fairly tight.  in the span of 1.5 hours, i played maybe 4-5 hands, and in all situations i never had to show my cards to anyone.  only one of them was a semibluff, where preflop i reraised a $15 bet to $65 with KK intending to ship the flop if it was heads up because the guy who initially raised had a super wide raising range.  Board had an A, and i shipped the turn and villain folded.  all of the other hands i had strong enough and monopolized on my image and my understanding of the players.  One guy bet on a K board when i had KQ which to me meant he likely had air or he had a weak kicker, so i raised his turn bet so that if he called he'd likely check the turn and i could check behind (in the offchance that he had a monster which was less likely but still possible), and he mucked when i raised.

All in all it wasn't a bad experience and i wish i could have stayed longer, but i have a prediction that the casino across the street, Motor City, would have been a better room.  if i go back to the detroit area any time soon i'll give it a try and see what happens.

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Edge of Tomorow (2014)

I wanted to go see the X-Men movie, but Megan had already seen it, so we watched this instead.  The only thing i knew about the movie was that Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt were the headliners, the former of which i generally dislike and the latter of which i like quite a bit.  In that, my expectations were met.  Tom Cruise was very Tom Cruise and i internally rolled my eyes a lot at how Tom Cruise he was.  Emily Blunt was very Emily Blunt, which translated in my mind as being generally pretty bad-ass.

The cinematic style of the movie made me have to close my eyes some of the time because the beach action scenes and a few other action scenes were shaky camera which makes me feel nauseous.  For the beach scenes this didn't bother me because i found those action scenes in general to be pretty annoying even with the cleverness of some of the variants involved.  i know that that's a personal preference of mine; those scenes were all about flash and fast-paced and chaos of battle, and i've always been much more about focus, subtlety, and "less is more", which clearly reflects in my own creative work.

As far as the movie itself, i'm pretty sure i liked it.  It had a decent mix of serious vs light-hearted moments, the pacing was very solid, and despite the fact that it had some nagging issues both small and big, that didn't detract from me being captivated by the movie.  In general, i measure how much i like or dislike a film or television show/episode based on how much the issues i recognize are a) things i recognize right away versus things i recognize more after the fact and/or b) whether or not those things end up distracting me from the movie itself as i'm watching it.  There were only a few moments in this movie where i felt like a poorly scripted line or a poorly executed idea truly distracted me, so i think i walk away from it thinking it was a success.

As far as some of the nagging issues that surfaced after watching it and thinking about it:

spoilersCollapse )
All that said, i still think the movie was pretty entertaining and all of those quibbles are minor.  I probably would have liked it better if the main protag would have been, say, Nathan Fillion or something, but you take what you can get.

Pretty sure it fails the bechdel test, but i'm still getting used to looking for that specifically when i watch movies (which isn't often).  There's one other female character that i can recall had a speaking part other than Emily Blunt, but the two of them never interacted.

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quick update (and ties).

Things have been stupid busy since i've been all motivated and stuff with my LEAP Motion project, things are ramping up at Tulane, and the first leg of my summer travel starts tomorrow.  It's actually been making my sleep schedule habits all weird because i work best at night, so my habit has been to get home from work, crash and take a 3-6 hour nap, and then get up and do a bunch of work until 3-5am until i take another nap before having to get up for work.

It's made it so that i've fallen off of the map on here again in some ways, both backed up as a friends feed lurker and as a writer, but i guess only by maybe 3-5 days.  There are a couple of backlogged entries that are still in draft form somewhat inspired by belenen that maybe while i'm at home i'll take the time to write or at least get more complete, but i actually anticipate that a lot of my spare time is going to go towards programming and music-writing more than anything else.

The one anecdote that i'll relate at present is one concerning ties.  I have a weird relationship with ties.  I used to hate ties as a concept because i felt like it got in the way of my preferred formal neck ornaments which was usually one of my pendants/necklaces.  Now i kind of like them, but i'm incredibly picky about the color and the style.

Two weekends from now i'm going to be officiating a wedding.  The official colors of the wedding are a sort-of aqua blue and various forms of peach.  I decided that for the officiating i wanted to try to find some sort of white tie with a peach tint to it, and it's amazing how many hours i went around various local shops (because i don't trust online shopping as it relates to exact color all of the time) and found nothing even remotely close to what i wanted.

I'm going to try again when i'm home to find one, and if i can't find one that i really like after a few hours of searching, i think i'm just going to go with a white tie.  I think that for the future, i may try to find an online store in which i can be assured of the quality of the tie itself and i can basically create my own design being very specific about the colors down to the hexadecmial values and how one value could pattern or gradient to another.

For a frickin' tie.

Because i'm absolutely ridiculous sometimes.

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great talk about violence against women.

a lot of this talk has always been fairly obvious to me (which is one of the big reasons why although i have no issues with curse words, i very consciously try to avoid using the word "pussy" to imply weakness or "balls" to imply strong because those are gender biased), but it's nice for the issue and its potential long-range solution to be articulated so well.  Here's one of my favorite quotes that happens in the last couple of minutes:

"we know so much about how to prevent domestic and sexual violence.  There's no excuse for a college or university to not have domestic and sexual violence training mandated for all student athletes, coaches, and administrators as a part of their educational process.  We know enough that we can easily do that, but you know what's missing?  The leadership.  But not the leadership of student athletes, it's the leadership of the athletic director, the president of the university, the people in charge who make decisions about resources."

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LEAP Motion variables

so i mounted the LEAP motion on a clamp to put it sideways and discovered that it works okay, but there's a reason why it's better the way it's meant - because you don't get false reads from things like your elbow or your body depending on how far away you are from the device itself.

still, once i was able to mess with it a little bit and make some adjustments, i got the sideways thing to work okay, we'll see what happens as the piece develops. In my head, i now want the LEAP to do four things:

  • Simply trigger a sound when a hand enters the motion field (already programmed)
  • Trigger a sound when a hand enters the motion field, then pause-but-still-play-the-sound when the performer's hand closes into a fist and then continue when the hand opens up again
  • Trigger a sound when a hand enters the motion field, pause-but-still-play-the-sound when the performer's hand closes into a fist, then stay frozen and allow the performer to place it anywhere within the octophonic space using the motion field as a map.

That visual mechanism for the last thing i'm unsure about. I could make it so that opening the fist in those specific instances does that, but i want something to be visually different about that circumstance (even though the triggers themselves won't be free for all, i'm not going to leave that to chance based on some of the hand/fist tracking issues). Maybe i could do a single finger visually and put that on the performer to know when to put the single finger out for controlling that sound.

i'm not sure if the piece really needs anything else for the LEAP motion to do. If i add a bass pitch to the sound halfway through that could complicate things, but i'm sure i could figure it out. Right now i just want to program the other two things first and start to actually put the first part of the piece together along with figuring out the UI and the cueing mechanisms and the cuelist.

life this week - and this summer, really.

Since this past weekend, my life has been predominantly about three things: music writing for Tulane, LEAP Motion/Max Programming at home, and poker. I think my summer - even when i'm traveling - will be a lot about those three things.

The past couple of weeks have been generally semi-low key in a lot of ways - things were busy, but i was taking a middleground to background approach to both Tulane and personal projects.

That's changed drastically in the past couple of days. I decided yesterday that i needed to revamp the drumline exercise packet sort of from the ground up to follow the model of what's practical for our rehearsals. I've also been ramping up some revisions to our databases in response to some stuff (long story) that happened last semester.

I get home from work and i immediately want to start programming. On Monday, Mark and i got drinks after work which always makes me super tired, so when we were done i crashed and took a nap for 3.5 hours and got up at 22:00. As soon as i got up, the first thing on my brain was, "i want to go into the electronic music lab." So i did and ended up working in there until about 3am. Yesterday, i got home from work and basically started doing Max programming straight when i got home for about four hours, pausing only to eat some leftover chicken curry i cooked on sunday for dinner. I probably would have kept programming for the next few hours, but Mark's cousin is in town, so we went out to grab drinks and chat.

Both of those things are occupying my headspace so completely right now. All of my time is spent thinking about them in a foreground, middleground, and background space. As soon as i wake up, i'm thinking about it. In the shower, walking to the car, walking to get tea, all of it. Some of it is mind-wandery, but most of it is very focused.

Everything else right now is fading away. Well, aside from friends. Friends and people in general always come first. Reading my livejournal friends list has come back into my daily routine even though sometimes i have to skim and i don't comment much. But some of the other things that have typically distracted me in the past, things like FTL or reading that book again or watching episodes of my favorite shows over and over again or devoting myself to more than just causal Ingress, that stuff has already fallen off of the map and been reduced to such a degree it may as well not exist.

And it feels great. To have that focus, to have that drive. It's a natural drug, a caffeine and a high that is like nothing else.

Poker will continue to occupy my weekends. That's my release valve and slush fund, it's a lot of instinct that's borne of me taking poker somewhat seriously for the past few years. I get to meet a lot of strangers and casual acquaintances, i have fun hearing their stories, and then i do my best to take their money, not even necessarily for the income rewards but for the pleasure of the game itself and its complexities.

For those that don't follow me on other social media, i've been vlogging about my LEAP and Max stuff. Once i get the new trigger modules programmed i'll probably do another one. Here's the main one that i've been sharing a bunch:

LEAP notes

so i bought a LEAP motion a while back, but it's been collecting dust not doing anything until today when i plugged it in, downloaded the aka.leapmotion object for Max/MSP and started to fiddle with it for the purpose of my new project. When i get my Google Glass replaced, i'll be doing some video logs, mainly for myself, but also for others to follow along with my journey with the device and how i want to potentially use it.

My initial playing around with it makes me think that my initial conception for its use isn't going to work because the control field is too small - it's great that the LEAP can control/detect individual finger movement on an x/y/z plane as accurately as it does, but the way i want to use it has much more to do with grand sweeping gestures, full arm movement, and that doesn't seem to be the LEAP's forte. I could use it that way at a basic level, "detect when entering field to trigger this", but more complicated things may be, well, more complicated to control.

still, it has potential enough that some basic experimentation to see if i can make it work for this project is worth the time to create an interface for it - if it's not useful for this particular project, it'll be a good way to set it up for something i want to do in the future. look for some video documentation soon, starting when i get my Glass back.

fly by

i've been doing that neglecting-of-the-friends-page thing again. to be fair, i've fallen off of the map of social media reading in general, facebook and g+ have been fairly neglected too.

I skimmed the friends page a bunch today, but i have a friend visiting from out of town, so i need to stop and actually Do Things.

But in general things are less crazy than they have been, and i'm going to put some sort of sticky or something over my Steam icon or something as a passive way to tell me to prioritize LJ like i know that i want to and used to and try to keep up every day. and i'll tell one of my good friends to slap me (well, virtually, since she's not a local) if i don't. Even on the WSOP tournament days in the coming weeks. Well. Unless i don't go home at all and am not by a computer.

so sorry, LJ, particularly new people. i'll do better. because what i skimmed today is a good reminder of how awesome you all are, and i shouldn't neglect you even if social media in general has fallen to the wayside for me.

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cassette decks in action

a couple of weeks ago, i got a parking citation for being in a spot for longer than two hours in a two-hour zone when i had actually left for lunch and come back to the same spot. It felt worth a trip to downtown to try to dispute it. I took the day off today to take care of a bunch of errands in preparation for the drumline party tonight and Carl's arrival tomorrow, and this was one of the checklist items.

i didn't win the dispute because i didn't keep a receipt of me going to lunch so it was basically my word against the officer who issued the ticket. i could have fought it, but it would have required going to a hearing at a specific date and time in late may that didn't seem worth it, so i said, "i'll just pay the ticket."

That's not what this blog entry is about. What the blog entry is about is the process they have in place to deal with these disputes.

The front desk person had a computer at her desk, but she didn't use it except for a brief moment when i gave her my information. When i handed her the ticket, she wrote down my information on a paper spreadsheet in which my information was a single line below about fifteen other entries. She wrote down the date, the ticket number, my car information, and then asked me for my name and address before handing me a couple of papers to sign.

I watched this happen and thought, "this seems outdated. i know that this information is already present in a database somewhere because i have the ability to pay this ticket online. if anyone would want to find this data later, it would be a huge pain in the rear unless they have someone data-entrying all of this after the fact, but if that were the case then why don't they just do it from the outset? I could definitely find ways to make this whole process more efficient."

Then i waited for a very small amount of time before getting called back to a back office to plead my case. I walked into the office, the guy in charge said, "sit in that orange chair," which was on the opposite side of his desk. And on his desk sat two honest-to-god cassette decks. p> like, the relatively small rectangular kind where the speaker was a square, the cassette tape mechanism is right below that, and the row of buttons is below that. tech that i haven't used in any degree of seriousness for over twenty-five years.

The guy hit play and record at the same time. He spoke out loud a summary of the case, he made me raise my right hand and pledge that i was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me god. We went through it, and at the end of the whole thing he hit stop.

i wanted to ask all of these questions. how many of these tapes do you have in archive? how many do you actually ever go back and listen to again? do you index each case in a way that makes it easy to find on a tape if you have to? Isn't that cumbersome? I guess you're low on the totem pole for an increase in budget or a one-time budget to move all of this to current technology and this is just how you've been doing it for the past 25 years?

I didn't ask any of those questions. not because i was afraid to, but it's a busy day for me and i was also running out of time on my parking meter. So i just said thanks, paid my ticket at the payment window (the only window that seemed to actually use a computer for a bulk of her job and this process), and left.

It was fascinating. And something that i wish i or someone else could be brought in as a consultant to fix. with how many of these cases that they have to deal with, they deserve better data recording and collection methods to make their job easier and to serve the city better. And if that division is outdated in that way, i shudder to think what else in this city could be the same way.

birtthday 2015

it was six years ago that i unveiled my birthday date after roughly 20 or so years of keeping it a tightly-held secret. The reason why i kept a secret and why i stopped is outlined in this livejournal entry of 2008.

When i turned 35 in 2010, i gave an open-invitation to have anyone and everyone come visit me in New Orleans for a party. I'd say that roughly 10 or so out-of-towners ended up coming - less than what i wanted, but i discovered that aside from it being a difficult time for people who were educators or workers to jet out of town, it was difficult for people to justify the cost and/or time-off of taking a trip like that in a context that wasn't a wedding or a funeral because it doesn't come across as being as important or as momentous.

Any time that i travel, it's typically to see people as opposed to seeing places. I have so many people scattered through the US and a few international that i care about pretty deeply and i make it a point to try to see as many of those people as i can within a reasonable budget. When i go home for the holidays, i typically go for a week and a half to two weeks, and my days quickly fill up with all of the people that not only are willing to see me but want to see me. More and more those times are becoming important to me.

So i've started this grand scheme for my 40th birthday in 2015 to do a multi-city traveling tour in late may after school ends, basically try to host venue-parties in a few major cities, maybe visit a fringe city or two, and invite everyone who is local to that area. Kind of like a hybrid of what i tried to do for my 35th and what i *do* do for my travel - create a conduit and a context in which i can bring people together for good food and good drink either in a one-on-one context or a group context and just see what happens.

in my head, there are a few key places that are a must - doing a crawfish boil here in New Orleans will happen around my actual birthday time in April. When i do the tour in May, i want to have one party in the philadelphia area, one party in the portland area, and one party in the SF Bay area. And i want to do it Right - rent a venue or find a park, hire a caterer or something similar, maybe have a band or a DJ play.

I also kind of want to take a visit to Cincinnati and Chicago. *and* i want to take a trip to Alaska so that i can finally say that i've set foot in all 50 of the United States.

A lot of the scale of this will depend largely on the budget. I don't want to charge anyone for this, although i'm not opposed to taking money as birthday gifts that will basically go back and fund the trips. But i know that i could easily spend way too much money for this sort of thing even if i limit it to Philly/Portland/SF.

But we'll see what happens. Some time in the next few weeks i'm going to put feelers out there to see if it's something that people would be interested in and what the possibilities are for venues that would be affordable but still good for what i want.


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July 2014