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On to South Carolina!

Well, as it turns out, Iowa chose Ted Cruz instead of Donald Trump, and gave Rubio a very close 3rd place, which I was very happy with. I thought maybe *this time* Trump would fade but, despite some bizarre, loser whining about Ted Cruz “cheating”, Trump held on and even expanded his poll lead when the actual voting occurred in New Hampshire. Rubio cut himself with a bad debate moment when Christie attacked him for being robotic and Rubio played right into that by repeating a talking point 3 times. Rubio ended up finishing in a disappointing 5th place.

Final NH results:

100% reporting Delegates Vote %
Trump (won)

The good news is that Christie and Fiorina dropped out, clearing the field a bit. The bad news is that Kasich and Bush did not. Now we are about 9 days away from South Carolina’s primary where the ground may be more fertile for Rubio to have a good showing. And he really needs one, because Trump has some serious momentum with his New Hampshire win. As of today, the polls all say that Trump has a big, double-digit lead, but the polls are all from January, so no one’s really sure what the present state of play is. Most likely though, Trump is leading with Cruz in 2nd and Rubio in 3rd.

For Rubio, the debate this Saturday will be crucial to show that, while he got knocked down in New Hampshire and in the previous debate, he’s not dead just yet. He needs to come out swinging and be more aggressive attacking his rivals. He needs to make the case why people should choose him over someone like Trump.

Of course, I have a lot of thoughts on the Trump phenomena. How can a man this vulgar, this dumb, this inexperienced, this clownshowy be leading the fight to win my beloved Republican Party’s nomination? He’s a crude, fast-talking car salesman and the rubes of America are just eating it up and asking for seconds. Who are these people? Where have they placed their brains, because they don’t appear to be using them? Trump has that “strongman” vibe that appeals to a certain, weak psychological type that is frustrated that the world and their lives are not working out as they planned. There’s a lot of hate, anger, and frustration among Trump voters and you see it come out in social media, especially on Twitter. “Trumpkins”, as I call them, are invariably just as nasty and brutish as their candidate. They hurl insults as if they were going out of style, belittle anyone who isn’t a Trump supporter, and make excuses for their leader’s ever-changing mind by covering for him no matter which side of an issue he’s on. It’s a tough gig, because Trump’s positions are likely to change on a whim. He can be FOR something one day, then AGAINST it the next and Trumpkins will dutifully argue each side of the issue in turn with no cognitive dissonance. It’s a site to behold and indicative of what one might have seen in early 1930’s Germany with the rise of Hitler. People are responding to Trump’s gorilla displays with their hind, animal brain, not the part of the brain that makes humans human and contains the higher functions of the brain.

This isn’t to say that Trump is Hitler. I don’t think he is. Instead, he’s simply a liberal New Yorker, both culturally and economically, and his reign of terror will basically be the equivalent to a third term for Barack Obama. Certainly Trump has none of the conservative bonafides of many of the Republican candidates, including Ted Cruz and, my guy, Marco Rubio. But, apparently, the electorate is not particularly troubled that they’re handing the car keys to a drunk on his own ego buffoon who likes to call people “pussies” and brag about how great he is. Yeah, that’ll work out well on the world stage! America is already viewed as weak and ineffectual. With Trump as president, we’ll add hated to that list!

America has a serious choice to make this election cycle. Are we going to complete the transformation into a two-bit nation that elects Socialists and tv entertainers to high positions? Is spectacle and sensation the only way to reach voters now? Do we need to be run by “stars” now, instead of by professional politicians? It’s a huge legacy each of us has been handed, from the bloody hands that seized this country from its British masters, to the blue-clad troops who saved the Union and ended slavery, to the Greatest Generation who defeated THREE Fascist dictatorships that had threatened to conquer the world. Are we worthy of that legacy or are we a nation in decline, destined to go the way of so many empires, into the dustbin of history, moaning pathetically “this should not be so”?


The 2016 Iowa Caucus

In 3 days, the first votes will be cast in the nomination process of the 2016 presidential election. In the Republican race, which is really the only race I’m interested in, Donald Trump continues his insane campaign to be Wrestler-in-Chief of our new Idiocracy, holding a solid lead in all the polls. Ted “Crazed” Cruz sits in 2nd, a plastic, soulless bird of a man who seemingly has no center, even though he passes himself off as the “consistent conservative”. My choice, Marco Rubio, sits in 3rd, though with some indications of momentum upwards as of late. Rubio’s not the perfect candidate, but he’s young, smart, and driven. You could do worse than that, America (and we have!).

Trump is everything that’s wrong with America, shallow, empty-headed, ignorant, crass, showbiz-obsessed, divisive. If Iowa chooses Trump, a lot of people are saying that the race is over, but I think it’s a bit premature to close the gates on this race. Trump has led for months now, but he’s never been able to get out of the high 20’s to low 30’s percent support range. What this means is that, though he may have a plurality of the votes, he doesn’t have a majority. Only 1 out of 3 Republicans are supporting him. Once the party decides on an “alternative to Trump”, the natural order of soberness among the Republican party should reassert itself. I think that alternative will be Marco Rubio, but he has to perform in order for this to happen.

So far he’s done well in the debates, winning most of them and getting attention for his command of the facts and his inspiring words. But he’s no Reagan when it comes to debate performances. He can be rushed, he can seem over-polished, he can be almost shrill in his “THIS IS IMPORTANT, LISTEN TO ME” urgency. And he doesn’t use his sense of humor, which is pretty good, nearly as much as he could. Still, he’s gained attention as a likely choice for the alt-Trump candidate and hopefully that will come to pass.

However this election turns out, the process, and especially the Trump phenomena, have made me lose a lot of faith in the Republican party in particular and the American people in general. How can anyone think that an obvious egomaniac, narcissistic blowhard like Trump would be of any good to the party or the country? There is a lack of intelligence being displayed here, a lack of understanding the signs of a demagogue, a lack of understanding the dangers of tyranny and the preciousness of our constitutional republic. The only thing I can do is to ensure my children are informed, patriotic citizens who are committed to democracy and capitalism and will fight against anyone who wants to take those things away from the country (like commie Bernie Sanders, for example!).

So what will Monday evening bring to us? Rubio’s floor is 3rd place, which I would be fine with. However, I’m hopeful that he can move further up in the ranks. A 1st place finish may not be realistic (although Trump’s not supposed to have a good ground game), but 2nd is very possible. If we were able to do that, Cruz would probably be knocked out and Rubio would immediately become the anti-Trump candidate. Best case, of course, is just to win it all!


The tide has turned

Well, 17 days into my new diet and, voila, the scale revealed the number 206.6 to me today. That’s 9 pounds lost from my starting weight! The McDonald’s Diet definitely works!

Besides the diet, I’ve incorporated running every other day into my routine. I’m only running about a half-a-mile though, with another half-mile of walking tacked on. I plan to increase that as my lungs get in better shape, but it’s a start!

The diet hasn’t been too difficult to stick to. Sometimes I do get cravings and I generally am able to satisfy them by allowing myself a little bit of the craving in question and cutting that calorie contribution out of my diet by foregoing some other item. The routine of a “Egg McMuffin” in the morning, “Quarter-pounder” and potato at lunch, then a chicken taco at dinner has not really varied much. I did add cereal as an additional breakfast food, because I noticed that I was low on some vitamins and minerals with my diet and cereal is good about being fairly comprehensive when it comes to nutritional value.

I’ve also allowed myself to drink coffee on those days that I really need it. I’ve adjusted though by halving the amount of sugar I put in my coffee, thus saving half the calories it would normally cost me. I also try to limit it to one cup a day, which I have been successful at.

All in all, I’d say I’m happy with the diet, happy with my progress, and I can already see the difference in my face and body as the pounds melt away. Should you try the McDonald’s Diet? You bet your ass you should!

The tide must turn

I got married last year, reached the grand old age of 44, and had my first child. I work at a sedentary, but highly-stressful job and don’t exercise nearly as much as I used to. And my sleep patterns have been sketchy at best, with the new baby and too many things to do with not enough hours in the day.

Thus it was no surprise to me that I gained some weight over the last year. I had always felt I was a bit heavy back when I weighed somewhere in the 180’s. When I hit the 190’s, I definitely felt fat and tried to incorporate weight-lifting as a way to win the battle of the bulge. Unfortunately injuries, lack of time, and, yes, lack of motivation have put the kibosh on that. So when I looked down at the scale the other day and saw the number “215.6”, I was not unduly shocked. Disappointed, sure, but not shocked. I’ve seen that belly growing bigger every day! My wife’s delicious cooking of, mainly, Filipino food accompanied by rice didn’t help matters either!

Therefore I resolved last week that I needed to go on a diet. I was inspired by the Ohio high school teacher, John Cisna, whose “McDonald’s Diet” helped him to lose 37 pounds in 90 days. Of course, he didn’t do what Michael Spurlock did in the famous documentary, Supersize Me!. Cisna actually practiced portion control and had his students design a daily menu of McDonald’s products that kept the calorie count at 2,000 (as opposed to Spurlock’s mightily unhealthy 5,000 calories per day!). In addition to the strict diet, Cisna also walked 45 minutes a day, which helped to burn a couple hundred more calories and ensure that he was building a calorie deficit.

Imagine eating McDonald’s food every day, which I think a lot of us would secretly enjoy, and LOSING weight! I didn’t think it was possible either, but when I looked at their actual menu, I was able to craft my own “McDonald’s Diet” that held the calories to 2,000 per day. Now, of course, I’m not made of money and I couldn’t afford to eat out for every meal for a couple months straight (even though McDonald’s food is fairly cheap). So what I devised is to make my OWN version of McDonald’s food in order to provide the items for my diet.

So far, I’m only 3 days into it, but it’s working out okay. Right now, my current meal plan is my version of an Egg McMuffin in the morning along with a small container of yogurt as a snack. Lunch consists of a quarter-pounder (still perfecting that recipe!) accompanied by a boiled potato. Dinner has been a single beef taco and I’ve avoided having a dessert, as well as largely cutting coffee from my diet. All in all, I feel pretty good, though obviously hungrier for longer periods of time than before. I even noticed that I could tighten my belt one notch more this morning. Pretty quick results for a diet where I’ve probably lost only a quarter of a pound based on the calorie deficit I’ve accumulated (the scientific literature says that you must have a calorie deficit of 3500 in order to lose 1 pound of weight).

I’m keeping track of every meal and calculating all consumed calories as well as my nutritional intake. I’ve noticed that I’m not getting the vitamin intake I need across the board, except for Vitamin C (thanks, potatoes!), so I’m going to start incorporating salads into my daily meal plan because they pack a lot of nutritional punch for little calorie cost.

We’ll see if I stick with the diet over the long term. I have my birthday and Thanksgiving coming up (my favorite holiday), so there may be a cheat day or two here and there. So far, I don’t feel horribly restricted or that I’m missing out on anything, but let’s see how I feel with a few more weeks of this under my belt. The goal is to lose at least 5 pounds by the time we leave on vacation for the Philippines so that I won’t look too blimpish in my swim trunks! I’ll probably lose weight in the Philippines even though I won’t be sticking with the diet there simply because it’s so hot and humid and I will be sweatin’ like a pig. Once we get back Stateside, I intend to resume the diet and, hopefully, get to my ultimate goal, which is a return to the days where I weighed in the 180’s!

But first steps first. The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step and I have started my journey. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

What is a modern man?

Recently, the New York Times ran an article where a male columnist made 27 declarations about what constituted a “modern man”. Now obviously many of these assertions were made with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but many of them also contained the germs of truth of what modern liberals believe to be the hallmarks of the modern man.

Here is my take on the 27 examples of what they think makes a modern man:

1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.

The modern man knows his wife’s shoe size (how hard is it to remember a single number?), but he has no idea which brands run large or small. Keep the receipt whatever you buy for her, because inevitably she’ll return/exchange at least 50% of it.

2. The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.

Pretty much true. Showing confidence inspires others to also have confidence, even if things are going badly. Nobody needs a ninny running around telling you the sky is falling, even if it is. Ok, the sky is falling… let’s deal with it!

3. The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.

False. The modern man eats his popcorn any damn time he wants to, ruckus or not.

4. The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.

False. The modern man does with his steak whatever he wants to do with his steak and if that includes cutting the fat off, then bully for him.

5. The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.

True. The modern man could use the exercise anyways that comes from parking further away from the store!

6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.

False. While sometimes the modern man will plug in a device that’s not his that he sees lying around withering away on its last electronic breath, he doesn’t make it a habit to correct the laziness of other people, because that will only lead to more laziness from them in the future. You want your device charged when you wake up? Plug it in yerself, bub!

7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr. Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.

False. The modern man is a good host and takes his own ego out of the equation when he has guests. He accommodates his guests’ tastes by buying whatever sodas they prefer, but also tempts them to take it up a notch with a perfectly-made mixed drink of the harder variety!

8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example “helicopter”, not “chopper”, like some gauche simpleton.

False, because otherwise the modern man would never be able to scream in his best Ahhhnold voice: “Get to the chopper!!!”

9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.

True, but the modern man learns from his children no matter what sex they are.

10. The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.

Of course this is true. What kind of savage puts wet dishes into a cabinet? A barbarian, that’s who!

11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.

True, although this isn’t exactly something one needs to roar from the mountain tops while pounding one’s chest, eh?

12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.

Whatever brand of soap the modern man uses, he uses it until it the remnants of the bar disappears under the nubs of his fingers. Anything else is wanton waste and dilettante behavior.

13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.

The modern man listens to music he enjoys, not the music that supposedly makes him look like he’s still “with it” or cool. He’s not. Our culture worships youth and the expiration date for his tastes has long ago passed. Live with it and move on.

14. The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.

The modern man uses whatever tool is necessary to get the job done in the quickest and most efficient way possible. If that’s a grocery list in a phone, then so be it. If that’s carving the grocery list into a 2×4 with a Bowie knife, then so be it as well.

15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.

Women and children stomp their feet when they get angry, not men, whatever shoes they’re wearing. As for choice of flooring, the modern man chooses according to his taste and his economic means. If that results in hardwood floors, then good on you, mate! If it’s Formica instead, then that’s fine too. As long as it’s not dirt, you’re ahead of the game.

16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closest to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.

The modern man doesn’t let the intruder breach the perimeter. And if one somehow does, the modern man shoots him dead.

17. Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?

The modern man, again, has whatever tools are needed to get the job done in the quickest, most efficient way possible. If that means a melon baller is required, then so be it. If it’s a dull, plastic spoon, then so be that as well.

18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.

If the modern man wants a shoehorn, he gets one. He doesn’t mope about ruminating on it like a woman. The modern man has better uses for his time.

19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.

False. Most flower and jewelry purchases are to expunge the collective guilt of all the various sins we have committed against our wives/girlfriends, especially if you have one or more of each! 🙂

20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.

False. This reminds me of the movie “Office Space”, when Peter asks his redneck, construction worker neighbor whether anyone at his work ever utters the phrase: “You’ve got a case of the Mondays”. The neighbor looks at him dead straight and then calmly intones, “Nah, man. I believe you’d get your ass kicked for saying something like that”. Exactly.

21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.

Well yeah, good job on not being an asshole for yelling at your child for an involuntary and uncontrollable SNEEZE! Geez!

22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.

False. Do you also wind up your Model T before you go for a drive? There’s something called the Internet that is just chock-ful of news you can use, much more than can be contained in your little paper. Use it.

23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).

False. However, the greatest shootout in the history of movies is contained in his movie, Heat. Horrible movie ruined by Ashley Judd’s whining and the downer ending, but that shootout after the bank robbery… delectable!

24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.

Somewhat true, although not having a fully-charged phone before you go out into the wilds shows a lack of preparation and planning.

25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.

Then that particular modern man, and his family, will be dead if the mask of civilization slips even a bit, which it ALWAYS does at some point. To blithely pretend that our current extremely ordered and protected world will continue ad infintium is the height of stupidity. It is the thinking of a gerbil, not a man.

26. The modern man cries. He cries often.

Perhaps the NYT’s modern man needs some meds! Men should cry only when someone whom they care about dies. It is also permissible during screenings of the movie “Atonement”, which is the height of tragic film-making.

27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the DJ plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.

False. The modern man, if he wants to actually reproduce, learns the basics of dancing and is uniformly competent in whatever is considered as the basic level of skill for current dance moves. Beyond that is pure peacockery or pursuing dance as an athletic pursuit (only the latter is permitted).

Something other than poker

Ok, I admit, I’ve been poker-obsessed lately. I’ve had a lot of fun getting back into the poker world, playing, making some money (ok, not much!). Can’t wait to put my game to the test in the casino and see if my good streak continues. HOWEVER, there is an entire world out there that doesn’t revolve around poker. And one of those things is the travesty that was perpetuated on the Hugo Awards last weekend.

I’m not going to go into the whole issue here, the various sides, the arguments and accusations, but safe to say if you know anything about #GamerGate, you will grok what the battle is about.

On one side, we have the SJW (Social Justice Warriors) who can basically be equated with liberal political philosophy, with a heavy emphasis on encouraging minority and gay authors and stories to be considered and rewarded, sometimes, I would say, at the expense of actual merit. Opposing them are the #SadPuppies, who named themselves as a joke on their “overly emotional” opponents.

Anyways, the SadPuppies used the Hugo Awards nomination process to “stuff the ballot box” so that their preferred list of works were the only ones available for consideration for Hugo Awards this year. Everything was done within the rules, but obviously the SJWs were none too pleased by this, as their set of preferred works, which had been winning regularly in past years, were largely excluded. For myself, I don’t agree with the tactic of ballot-stuffing, but I understand why the puppies did it: the leftists who were running the Hugo Awards had been doing just that for years (even creating a second editor award just so that one of their members could win it!). What the puppies did was wrong, but the SJWs were doing it first, a fact which is acknowledged by no one in the SJW camp.

Anywho, the SJWs united in their anger and decided to vote “No winner” for any category where the puppies had been able to get their preferred works on the ballot, leading to an unprecedented six categories having no award given out. This was obviously done out of spite and to defeat the puppies, no matter what the actual quality of the works nominated (however they were nominated). Some SJWs even bragged about how they hadn’t read any of the nominees and instead were voting purely in an anti-puppy manner.

I don’t cotton to this sort of behavior. The SJWs could have just read the books in question, then picked the best one, but they instead chose to make their votes based on politics alone. Disgusting.

There is another faction of puppies, called the #RadicalPuppies (or #MadPuppies). This faction is led by Vox Day (pseudonym for Theodore Beale), who has some quixotic opinions on race, culture, and gender, but who is none the less a very smart and very popular sci-fi author/publisher. He is the one who has been the loudest and the most non-compromising voice on this issue. The SadPuppies even tried to distance themselves a bit from Vox, as he was seen as a bit toxic because of his racial beliefs (he believes that whites are superior to blacks and other races in intelligence. Of course, he also believes that East Asians are superior to *whites*, so “racist” seems an odd charge). SadPuppies tried to be rational and negotiate with the SJWs. The SJWs, in turn, slapped them in the face by ensuring no one would win Hugos in six categories, even cheering the no votes at the World Con convention (how odd to cheer NOT giving someone an award).

Needless to say, seeing this BS and the triumphal way the SJWs are celebrating their “victory”, I have been building up a big ball of fury that must be unleashed. I have decided that the SadPuppies were simply too nice and too accommodating to the SJW enemy, which wasn’t interested in compromise anyways, only surrender. I will now be joining the mad dogs of the #RadicalPuppies, hoping to put my mark on World Con 2016 (being held in Kansas City) and put my boot up the rear of every SJW I meet (metaphorically, of course!).

I have unleashed the dogs of war and they are very, very hungry!

How to play against good players

I started my poker life after watching the 2003 Main Event, the one where Chris Moneymaker won it all. Though I was personally cheering for Sammy Farha to win it all that year, the victory by the rank amateur, Moneymaker, over the season pro, caused an absolute explosion of interest in poker that the game had never seen before. I was one of those millions who suddenly discovered this amazing, yet very humbling game.

I work at a large company full of very smart people. There were a lot of people who were in the same boat as me, so it was not difficult to find enough participants to hold our own tournaments in various cafeterias on the campus of my company. Of course, playing against these very smart people meant that I was at a bit of a disadvantage. I am certainly smart, no doubt about that, but many of my opponents were absolute geniuses, and some would go on to be successful poker professionals.

I held my own over the years, but I never really “conquered” the tough company games that I and others organized. I certainly learned a lot, but I realize now that I could have made more money by playing out in the “world” at local casinos instead of where I worked. Out there, the average poker player wasn’t quite as smart as what I was facing at work.

Over time (about a decade’s worth), my interest in poker waned a bit. Part of that was my lack of domination of the company games I was playing in. Part of it was just wanting to do other things with my time rather than sitting in a chair for 4 to 6 hours (which I already did quite enough of at work and home). It came to the point where I was hardly playing at all. It was only when I went to Vegas or, rarely, to a local casino maybe once a year, that I actually set down at a table. And you know what? I invariably did very well.

I think the reason I had success even though I hadn’t been playing much was because I played tighter the less poker I played (which seems a bit anti-logical). I think that the more poker you play, the better you think you can play any hand in any position. By sticking to a tight selection of pre-flop hands, remaining aggressive on all streets, and using position as the club that it is, I found myself becoming a regular winning player. But this was against the dregs at the local casino and in Vegas. How would I do against my old friends at the company games?

Well, in a few weeks, we’ll find out, as I’ll be hosting a poker party at my house for all the degenerates who still work at “The Company”. Should I maintain my tight game or is that too predictable for opponents of this skillset? Should I mix it up more, raising out of position and with crappy cards in order to get paid off on my good hands? Should I just rock it up and set-mine?

After thinking about it, I do think I have to remain a tightwad when it comes to pre-flop hand selection. The key will be to ensure that I’m still aggressive post-flop, because without that element, these guys will probably eat me alive. No calling, just raising. If a hand is good enough to call with, it’s good enough to raise with. If it’s NOT good enough to raise with, then just fold. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.