Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gooooooo Carl

I forgot to put this in my post yesterday but Carl was 13th in chips with 27 left in the Reno WPT event. The winner of this event gets just over one million dollars. There are now only 20 left and he's somewhere in the middle of the pack. Barry Greenstein is a frikkin cardrack and he's knocking people out left and right but Carl is surviving so far. If he makes the final 6 I think I'm going to fly to Reno to watch the taping of the final table. My favorite sites for updates are PokerWire and Cardplayer.

GOOOOOOO CARL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE------1 PM:

From Cardplayer:
"Barry Greenstein raises to $25,000 preflop and both Jason Stern and Carl Olson call. The flop comes Kh-10d-4s and Olson checks. Greenstein bets $50,000 and Stern folds. Olson moves all in and Greenstein calls. Greenstein shows Ks-9s and Olson has Ad-Jd. Olson catches his gutshot straight on the turn in the form of the Qh. The river is the 8d and Carl "colson10" Olson doubles up."

He's so good it's scary. Hahahaha.

New chipcount:

Place Poker Player Chip Count
1 Barry Greenstein $ 1,140,000
2 Tom Schneider $ 600,000
3 Carl Olson $ 530,000
4 Burt Boutin $ 360,000

UPDATE------------1:50 PM

15 left, Cardplayer says that Carl has $430K and is in 6th place but he called during the break and told me $330K which would also be good for 6th place right now. Something tells me that Cardplayer is wrong but let's hope he forgot about a 100K stack somewhere.

UPDATE------------2:35 PM

PokerWire has Carl in 9th place out of 14 left. He has 260K chips with blinds at 6/12K. Plenty of time to find a hand and suck out on Barry. Thanks Sarah and Daliman for the comments. Gooooooooooooo Carl!

UPDATE------------2:36 PM

Whoops. Now he's 14/14 with 139K chips. Still enough time to suck out on barryg1.

UPDATE------------3 PM

Barry is gross. Must really be painful sitting at that table. Here are the updated chipcounts from Pokerwire:

Place Poker Player Chip Count
1 Barry Greenstein $ 1,400,000
2 Kevin Song $ 770,000
3 Jonas Norrman $ 530,000
4 Tom Schneider $ 510,000
5 Gary Jacobi $ 505,000
6 Greg 'FBT' Mueller $ 350,000
7 Burt Boutin $ 327,000
8 Michael Simon $ 315,000
9 Jason Stern $ 290,000
10 Fang Tian $ 250,000
11 Fabrice Soulier $ 175,000
12 Carl Olson $ 111,000
13 Dan Schmiech $ 110,000
14 Paramjit Gill $ 80,000

Sweating Carl online is extremely painful so I can only imagine how much it sucks sitting at work and sweating my sweat. Suck. Out. On. Barry.

UPDATE---------------3:40 PM

From Cardplayer:

Carl "colson10" Olson moves all in preflop for his last $98,000. Burt Boutin moves all in behind him for about $45,000 more. Everyone folds and Olson shows Ac-9d. Boutin flips over Kc-Jd and will have to improve. The board comes 9h-5c-2h-7c-4h and Carl Olson doubles up.

Fun times. The other guy looks crippled and might go out soon in 13th. That would mean Carl makes about $5700 more. I don't think he's too worried about that right now but ya know, $5700 is $5700.

UPDATE----------------3:47 PM

11 left. Here are the chipcounts:

1 Barry Greenstein $ 1,775,000
2 Kevin Song $ 760,000
3 Gary Jacobi $ 690,000
4 Tom Schneider $ 640,000
5 Fang Tian $ 530,000
6 Jonas Norrman $ 435,000
7 Jason Stern $ 350,000
8 Greg 'FBT' Mueller $ 310,000
9 Michael Simon $ 265,000
10 Carl Olson $ 120,000
11 Paramjit Gill $ 65,000

Here is the payout structure:

1 $1,052,890
2 $529,300
3 $256,115
4 $142,285
5 $113,830
6 $85,370
7 $71,145
8 $56,915
9 $42,685
10-12 $28,455

As I'm writing this, Carl doubled up again. Details to come.


This is why we call him "Coinflip Carl"
From Cardplayer:

"Barry Greenstein raises to $50,000 preflop and Carl Olson moves all in for $149,000. Greenstein calls and shows 7d-7c. Olson flips over Ac-8d and the board comes 8h-3h-3c-5h-10s. Carl "colson10" Olson doubles up to over $300,000 chips."

Barry still has all the chips. I'd love to see him give $500K to charity and let Carl take home the Mil ticket.

Update---------------4:02 PM

Pokerwire has the following chipcounts:

Place Poker Player Chip Count
1 Barry Greenstein $ 1,600,000
2 Gary Jacobi $ 780,000
3 Kevin Song $ 710,000
4 Fang Tian $ 680,000
5 Carl Olson $ 430,000
6 Jonas Norrman $ 400,000
7 Tom Schneider $ 385,000
8 Greg 'FBT' Mueller $ 365,000
9 Jason Stern $ 310,000
10 Michael Simon $ 275,000
11 Paramjit Gill $ 40,000

This event is over, they just don't know it yet. I have to run and get Renee a birthday present before we meet at 5:30 for dinner. I'll wait for one more update then I'm outtie. Let's go Coiner.

UPDATE------------4:19 PM

Carl just called. They're down to the final table of 10 and they're going on dinner break. here are the chip counts, courtesy of Pokerwire:

Place Poker Player Chip Count
1 Barry Greenstein $ 1,264,000
2 Gary Jacobi $ 790,000
3 Tom Schneider $ 600,000
4 Kevin Song $ 570,000
5 Jason Stern $ 560,000
6 Michael Simon $ 486,000
7 Fang Tian $ 428,000
8 Jonas Norrman $ 406,000
9 Greg 'FBT' Mueller $ 400,000
10 Carl Olson $ 390,000

Cardplayer has him with a few more chips but this looks more reasonable given the fact that Barry just doubled up 2 people. He said on the phone that he hasn't seen any big hands the entire tournament so let's hope he's due. They're probably close to hitting 10/20K so some big hands soon would be clutch. I have my friend Nordberg texting me if anything big goes down while I'm at dinner. Gogogogogogo Carl.

UPDATE-------------7:50 PM

Can you say chipleader? 9 left and he just had a huge doubleup with KK vs KQ. Here's Cardplayer:

"Gary Jacobi raised from late position and Carl Olson reraised $150,000 more the small blind. Jacobi pushed all in and Olson called. Jacobi flipped over Ks-Qc while Olson showed Kd-Kh. The board came 9d-2d-4d-8h-7d and Carl Olson doubles up.

"Colson10" is now the chip leader with over $1,100,000."

Carl just called, I guess they're on break but he said that the guy in the SB was a major donk and he was positive that the guy was pushing the whole way. Awesome awesome awesome. Apparently the guy just crippled himself by limping with KTo then insta-calling a decent sized push so apparently the donk may be gone soon. I think he has enough chips now to bust Barry. Let's find AA vs KK and let the AA hold up, OK?

Wow. I'm so damn excited right now.

BTW, dinner was fantastic. We went to Etta's instead of Campagne because Campagne's wasn't taking reservations and Etta's was higly recommended on the 25 for $25 website. They had this cornbread pudding that would have made me cry if I wasn't such a badass. BOMB.

FINAL UPDATE--------------11:30

Well I'm done crying so I can report that Carl went out in 7th, taking home $71,145. It's a weird day when that kind of money is a disappointment but such is the world of tournament poker. Good job Carl. As a silver lining, you saved me from having to buy a $350 plane ticket.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Breathe Again

Thank god UConn lost. I couldn't even bear to watch that game and I found it really difficult to follow any of the Elite 8 games. I just didn't care. Now that UConn is out I feel the excitement rushing back into my veins. I really hope that George Mason completes this run but I'm scared that they might suffer a letdown now that they've reached the Final Four. Luckilly my predictions have been unbelievably wrong this year so GMU will probably come out and kick butt. I'm intrigued by the LSU story and it would be really nice to see them knock off UCLA. I don't want to see Bill Walton chanting U-C....L-A ever again.

Something I really need to do before recapping the last few days is pimp some blogs. One of my favorite things that I do in the morning is logging onto bloglines and seeing what my favorite bloggers are up to. I never give anyone any credit and never post links so I'm going try to start doing a better job of that. This last weekend, a bunch of poker bloggers got invited to the Playboy Mansion to cover a celebrity poker tournament. Getting an invite to the Mansion is one of the main reasons why I'm playing in 17-20 WSOP events this year. I want make a TV tgable on ESPN and be cool enough to go to one of those parties. Anyway, about 8 bloggers lived the impossible dream, including two of my favorites, Dr. Pauly and Sir AlCantHang. They both have great write-ups already and have promised that their stories will be continued. They also have links to some of the other bloggers who got to go along. I haven't read those stories yet because the internet is excruciatingly slow here at my grandma's but I'll read them when I get home tomorrow. It's funny because I can read their blogs through bloglines but when I try to go to their real webpage, my Grandma's internet blocks them because they're listed as "pornography" sites. Awesome.

Two other great blogs are my friends Scott and Robert. Scott always has fantastic pictures from his life as a teacher in Japan and Robert always has fantastic stories about his life as a teacher in Africa. Scott's blog is more for the visual learners and Robert's is for the heavy readers. Check them out because they're both really really fanastic.

Like I said earlier, I'm going to try to do a better job of pimping the good blogs out there. There's a lot of really cool stuff that I read about every day and I'm going to try to make all your lives a little less productive. Hooray.

On Saturday, Renee's mom had a huge Korean feast for her birthday. About 8 of us went up to Lynnwood and ate until we were comatose. I'm at my Grandma's place right now but there are some good pictures of the spread that I'll try to post on Wednesday. We went back to Seattle and tried to go out but no one had any energy. It's really strange to know how crazy we are then watch us sitting on our asses, sipping beer, while our bodies tried to digest all the ribs and kimchi. A few people tried to go out but I just dropped them off and drove myself home because my entire body was sore from falling out of a tree on Friday night and landing directly on my tailbone so I couldn't handle being in a crowded space.

On Sunday I played in some huge poker tournaments and only cashed in one, making an $88 profit on Paradise. That didn't quite offset the $1K buy-in on Stars but that's life as a tourney player. I had a tough hand to go out in the 1K. It's in the middle stages of the tournament, blinds are 100/200 with a 25 ante and I have a pretty good stack of 8400. I raise in EP to 600 with JJ and only the BB calls. The BB has me covered. The flop is 643 with two hearts, he checks, I bet 800 and he shoves his entire 13,400 stack in. I don't think I can fold here so I don't but alas he has QQ and I'm gone. It always feels weird to commit 40 blinds with unimproved JJ but in these online tourneys you can't pass up on spots like this. Blinds rise too fast and his range is too wide. Oh well. $1K down the drain.

On Monday morning I caught the train down to Vancouver to help my grandma and mom move some heavy boxes and stuff. They needed help from a strong man but Cliff was busy so they had to settle for me. If you learn anything from this blog, learn this: DON'T LIVE YOUR LIFE AS A PACKRAT! THROW STUFF AWAY! DONATE STUFF TO GOODWILL! FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR GRANDCHILDREN! PLEASE!!!!!! It is absolutely unreal how many boxes I've hauled to Goodwill. 5 VCRs, 3 TVs, an ungodly amount of coax and phone wires. I love you Gramps and I miss you dearly but man my back is hating a right now. It doesn't help that my body's still sore from falling out of the tree on Friday. Yuck. Anyway, we've gotten rid of most of the stuff and my grandma's place is looking good. We're heading back to Seattle tomorrow to take the stuff that we want to keep back to my mom's house.

On the way up to Seattle I was supposed to pick up my Honda Odyssey but the deal fell through. I was trying to get the guy to give me the van for $6200 even though the BlueBook was $6400 because it looked like the tires might have to be replaced. He actually wanted $6500 because the van had custom rims. We were negotiating a bit when he got a call from someone else who offered $6700 for the van so he sold it to that guy. The ad on Craig's List was asking for $6995 so the guy probably thought he was getting a good deal by offering $6700. Bah. I was arguing over $200 frikking dollars and I lost out on a good van. I spent more than that drowning my sorrow on Friday night. I'm leaving for the trip in exactly on week so I better find something else soon. I'll definitely keep you posted.

Tomorrow is Renee's Birthday so i'm taking her to Cafe Campagne for dinner. There's a promotion called 25 for $25 that I'm going to take advantage of tomorrow. Basically there are 25 nice restaurants that offer a semi-fixed menu for $25 and you get an appetizer, entree and dessert. $25 seems a bit pricy to get all excited about but Campagne is a really nice French restaurant and you'd never be able to eat there for that cheap under normal circumstances. Cafe Campagne trip report coming soon. GO GEORGE MASON!

Friday, March 24, 2006


00Seriosuly. I wrote that weird post from the bar but the emotion behind it stands. Someone, anyone, who watched that game, please explain to me why we lost. If you log on with an excuse, the officials must be a secondary reason, I'm a person who will ALMOST never blame the officials. Before today the "almost" was unnecessary because I thought I'd never blame the refs but after today, I change my mind. I'm disgusted by the way that the game went down and I can't believe how bad we got jobbed. Call me a whiner, call me a sore loser. I'm really upset.


I dare yoy to ask me about thod goame the woisrst officiating I've ever seen. good god can the officials be more in love with uconn. this is bullshit. fyi.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Go Dawgs

Well here's the weekly first paragraph apology: I'm sorry I don't update my blog more often. I'm a bad person and I don't deserve having anyone reading it. I really want to blog every day during my road trip and I need to get in the habit now. I'm going to try to enter something every day for the next two weeks, even if it's just what I had for lunch. Enjoy.

First off I'll answer Mr. Anonymous' question about food on the ship in Antarctica. The food was awesome and everyone ate way too much. They had options that ranged from King Crab Crepes to Salmon fillets to Ribeye steaks. There was a salad bar every meal with different soup options and fresh fruits. There was a dessert every night, usually some sort of fruit or pie with icecream. My favorite was the dulce de leche crepe. Dulce de leche is probably the greatest concoction of all time. We ate really well on the ship and most people gained a lot of weight. I hope that helps you a bit.

I'm in Seattle, finally. It's really nice to be home for good. It was quite the challenge, packing up the little Prius with all my belongings, but I found a way to do it. Obviously I left my bed, desk, and shelf in Carlsbad but they were all the cheapest stuff from Ikea so it isn't that big of a deal. Renee flew one-way into San Francisco and it was nice having a co-driver for the long portion of the trip. She tried to drive but got tired after 40 miles and had to switch back. She drove from Chehalis to Olympia, exit 69 to exit 109.

I love the NCAA tournament so much. After the Super Bowl, sports goes through a 6 week lull and then, BAM, the tourney jumps up and slaps us in the face with great college basketball games. I love college sports because these kids play with the emotion that I remember having when I played sports. Pro athletes always have that pretentious air about them and you can really feel the business side of things.

This weekend should have some great games. Today we have LSU - Duke and Gonzaga - UCL as the marquee matchups. I think LSU could pull off the upset but I think JJ will pull through when they need him. I despise Duke but he's just so money. My heart is pulling for the Zags but, man, UCLA looks really good. If Morrison is off again the Zags don't stand a chance. If he's dominant, I think they can beat anyone. I can't wait for these two.

Tomorrow is the big Huskies-Huskies matchup and as much as I love my Dawgs, I just don't see how we can beat these guys. Their front line is just too strong and I think we're going to get worked. I still don't have any faith in Jensen and I feel like the Illinois game was more of a knock on Augustine than it was an atta-boy for Jensen. Call me crazy but I won't let 10 minutes of defense erase 4 years of boneheadedness, if that's even a word. I wish we could put Bobby Jones on their point guard to make it difficult for him to throw entry passes but I think we'll have to put him on Rudy Gay since Dentman can't guard anyone but Marcus Williams. UCONN scares the crap out of me but I'll be at the bar tomorrow night in my Husky purple. GO DAWGS!!!

My favorite part of this year's tournament is the success of the mid-majors and the failure of the Big Ten. In 2000, at the Rose Bowl, I was getting continental breakfast at my Pasadena motel before the game with one of the worst hangovers of my life, wearing my Husky purple when two Purdue fans came up and asked, "Do you guys really think you have a chance today?" My eyes bugged out of my head and I was like, "A chance? You guys went 8-3 and got into the game because you haven't been in 30+ years. We're 10-1! We beat Miami! We're the favorites here, what the hell are you talking about?" He replied with, "Well, who have you beaten besides Miami?" I said, "WTF!!! We beat Miami, another 10-1 team! Do we have to list all our wins? What 8 teams have YOU beaten?" Finally he simply said, "Well, we're from the Big 10 so we're going to win." Unreal. Since then I've always relished in the Big 10's failures. Screw those arrogant bastards.

That game featured the greatest trash talking moment of my life. Purdue hadn't been to the Rose Bowl if like 35 years, and they were all excited. The Rose Bowl had the fans from each scool divided into sections and I was sitting right on the edge of the Husky section next to the rowdy Purdue fans. We had a stifling defense and Marques Tuiasosopo and we kicked their butts. In the 4th quarter, we ran the clock out by just smashing the rock down their throats, getting 4-yards on every carry and demoralizing the team and its fans. On one of the last first-down runs, the one that made it clear that the game was over, I turned to the silent Purdue section and yealled, in my obnoxious hungover Schaefer voice, "SEE YOU IN 30 YEARS!!!" The "oooooohhhhhhhhhhhh" from the Husky fans helped and there was nothing the Purdue fans could do but bow their heads and cry. You know you got someone good when you feel really bad afterwards because the person you're making fun of looks suicidal. Good times, I don't think there were any reports of Purdue fans killing themselves so I can feel good about it.

Poker has been going pretty poorly since coming back to Seattle. I feel like I'm playing well but the cards aren't cooperating. When I lose I don't feel like playing but I need to play to earn money for travel. Let's hope I stop losing soon.

I looked at a 1998 Honda Odyssey today and I'm probably going to buy it. It looks clean and has a new transmission so it shouldn't break down on me. It sure would suck to have a busted ass van in the middle of Texas or something. Texas....*shudder*.

The games are about to start. I'd like to see Duke lose and Gonzaga win. GO DAWGS!!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


My mom wrote her own recap and since she's a better writer than me I'm just going to post that here. She keeps a great journal wherever she goes and it's a great resource for trip reports. I should learn from those wiser than me but unfortunately I've always been too lazy to update my journal when I've tried to keep one. Without further ado, here's mom!



I'm actually writing this message from the States. I'll be here until mid-April, then I plan to resume travels in South America until mid-May.

Two days into our Antarctic cruise, as Brandon and I were both bedridden with a severe case of seasickness, a crewmember came to tell me that I had a phone call on the bridge. I wasn't even sure what the bridge was, but eventually I groped and stumbled my way to the top deck of the ship and into the captain's quarters. The Russian crewmembers didn't even notice my presence, as they were keeping an eye on the rough waters which resembled a scene from the movie "The Perfect Storm". The only phone that I could see was a small plastic unit mounted to the wall. The receiver was dangling, so I picked it up and said a tentative "hello". After a trans-continental, trans-oceanic pause I heard a voice at the other end. It was my sister-in-law Kimberly, who had miraculously tracked me down in the middle of the Drake Passage. She was calling via satellite phone to tell me that my father had just passed away. Unfortunately, there was no possibility of Brandon and me returning to land before the ship had completed its 11-day cruise, so we spent the next week wishing we were home, yet completely captivated by the wonders of the southernmost, highest, driest, coldest, windiest, most remote continent on Earth.

So let's back up a few days. We flew into Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is the Yamana word for "bay that opens into the west". It is one of the windiest places in the world, where the indigenous people wore little more than a loincloth because it was so rainy that any clothing would get wet and lose its protective qualities. They smeared seal oil on their skin to keep them warm. And they had constant wood fires that gave this land its name, Tierra del Fuego, meaning land of fire. Fortunately for us, we arrived on the most pleasant summer day of this season, sunny, just barely warm, and not noticeably windy.

Our first morning was spent visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park, taking in the scenery and learning about the peat moss and three species of beech trees that grow there. At the bottom of 10-meter layers of peat moss there is coal, and Ushuaia is also rich in oil and gas. The Panamerican Highway, originating in Alaska, runs north/south through the Americas, ending here at La Pataia. The Andes also end here as they tumble into the sea, somewhat reminiscent of the Alps plunging into the Mediterranean in the South of France.

We soon boarded our "home" for the next 11 days, the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy. We had selected a tour that utilized a small ship, as we had been advised that the experience is much more intimate, with more frequent landings and Zodiac excursions, meaning more interaction with animals. The Shokalskiy has a capacity of 49 passengers, but there were only 25 of us on this trip, with 23 Russian crewmembers, a "hotel" staff of five, two naturalists, and our expedition leader/Arctic historian rounding out the count.

The first evening was pleasant enough, sailing out of the Beagle Channel toward the Arctic Peninsula, spotting seabirds along the way. Then came the dreaded Drake Passage. This stretch of ocean is notorious for rough seas, and we were "lucky" enough to experience the most severe storm of the season, which our crew characterized as a full-force gale with winds up to 60 knots per hour and waves, as I mentioned above, reminiscent of a Hollywood disaster movie. Our expedition leader later rated this storm as 11 on a scale of 1-12. I tried valiantly but in vain to remain "all natural" in coping with seasickness, by chewing ginger gum and munching on ginger altoids. But this was no 3-hour joyride to the Great Barrier Reef, this was a 2-day ordeal in a serious storm in the open ocean. I could tough it out in Australia with mind over matter, but was no match for the 45-degree swaying of the ship in either direction, first starboard, then port, and the rhythmic churning of my stomach acid and brain juices. Though it was hard to drag myself out of bed, let alone up the stairs and down the hallway, I went looking for the ship doctor to admit that I was ready for drugs. An innocent little adhesive patch of scopolamine helped immensely, though the nausea continued for another day.

The crew utilized the 48 hours through the Drake Passage to provide lectures on Arctic wildlife and history. I appreciated the good attitude of one of our naturalists who began his talk by inviting us to feel free to jump up and run out of the room if we needed to vomit. He said that happens frequently during his lectures, even those that take place on dry land (ha ha).

Then one day we awoke to the realization that we had crossed the Drake Passage. As if that weren't good enough in itself, we hopped into Zodiacs and had an early morning landing on a nearby island. Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins littered the shore where we landed...and stayed there as we hopped out and began to walk around. I can hardly describe the magical feeling of a place where animals have not learned to fear humans. Images of the Garden of Eden come to mind. And I can hardly begin to describe the absolute cuteness of these creatures in their black and white tuxedoes, surpassed in adorableness only by their chicks adorned in the finest fluffy down.

Then there's penguin behavior. The chicks were still somewhat dependent on their parents for food. Upon the parent's return from a fishing trip, the baby would act like any baby bird and beg for food. We must have caught the penguins during the weaning process, as the parent sometimes ignored the chick, resulting in the chick chasing the parent, which ended with the parent running from the chick. Try to visualize the comical image of these big, clumsy, tuxedoed birds running down snow-covered hills, tripping and sliding, and alternating between running and tobogganing (sliding on the belly). The parents were quite inconsistent and would end up positively reinforcing the seemingly undesirable behavior. After being pursued and chased and pecked by the chick, the parent would eventually relent and regurgitate some food. I'm sure there's an important adaptive reason for this behavior, but personally I would never regurgitate a jellyfish or a bit of krill after telling my kids 'no'.

A few more days and a few more landings later, we had spotted a variety of animals on the beach and on ice floes, including crabeater, Wedell, leopard, elephant and fur seals; Gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguins; skuas, terns, cormorants, albatross, snowy sheathbills, and other seabirds; and, most notably, whales! Not just the occasional spouting or dorsal fin far in the distance, but pods of curious and gregarious humpback whales that inspected our Zodiacs up close. So close that we were drenched by the water spouted by the whales, startled as the whales would disappear for a few minutes under the water and resurface no more than five feet away from our boats, and privileged yet somewhat grossed out to learn first-hand that whale breath is exceedingly unpleasant, conjuring images of a sewer in a waterfront neighborhood. We were absolutely mesmerized for more than an hour as the whales inspected us and cavorted around us. Words alone are just the tip of the iceberg in conveying the thrill, the excitement, the sheer bliss of spending time with these amazing giants of the open ocean. I am convinced that they trusted us, treated us gently, and enjoyed gawking at us. They could easily have capsized our Zodiacs, but they chose not to. What I can't understand is how whalers could have hunted and killed these intelligent mammals, these sentient beings, these gentle giants. But, then again, I'm a vegetarian, so there's a lot that I can't understand about hunting and killing...

The next morning it happened again, a close encounter with friendly and curious whales. This time the biologist guides absolutely flipped out, as in addition to humpbacks we spotted and cavorted with a Southern Right Whale, which is never found in these particular waters. All I can say is that it was just as playful as the humpbacks.

As if the animals were not enough of a highlight, there was the ice! Vast mountain ranges dripping with glaciers! Calving icebergs creating mini tsunami waves --sometimes right in front of our Zodiac! Spectacular sculpted icebergs, mind-boggling in size with amazing surface patterns! Vast expanses of ice chips covering the water surface after a recent calving! Glacial blue, glacial green, clear ice, dirty ice, whiteness! 70% of the Earth's fresh water is held in Antarctica in icebergs and glaciers! There is a glacier in Ross Bay the size of France!

I could go on and on about all that is spectacular and unique about Antarctica, but I have to stop somewhere, and you have to get on with your lives. Antarctica is so much more than "just the seventh continent", an item on the checklist of the Type-A traveler. It is endlessly fascinating, it is vitally important, it is almost absolutely pristine, it is inconceivably vast, it is stirs the imagination, and best of all it is real! And it was a privilege to have visited!


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Going Going Back Back to Cali Cali

First off I want to thank everyone who posted their condolences. I really appreciate them and things like that do mean a lot to me. Thank you very much.

It's been a great weekend and I'm ready to go home. The Celebration of Life ceremony was really nice and I got to see a ton of family that I hadn't seen for a long time, 20 years in some cases. We decided to start some sort of annual or bi-annual family reunion so that it doesn't happen again. We're all on the West Coast or Hawaii so it shouldn't be too hard to put together. My vote is for Hawaii in '07.

I'm sorry for the jumbled bunch of pictures I put up over the weekend. I usually sort them into one post and talk about them but I've been using my grandpa's dial-up connection and words can't describe how frustrating it was to put them up even in the crude form that they're up now. I have no clue how people used, an continue to use, such a slow connection. I swear, I'll get a full Antarctica trip report up eventually.

I was planning on moving back to Seattle next weekend but I might put it off until the following week. I didn't realize that San Diego was hosting the NCAA tournament and now the Huskies are opening there so I pretty much have to stick around. Also, the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic are next weekend so I might try to snag a ticket there. The WBC has been pretty cool and it's been successful in whetting my appetite for (a) the MLB season and (b) soccer's World Cup. I think national pride is rather petty in most cases but I think it's awesome in sports. I can't wait to chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in Munich. If anyone wants to fly down to San Diego it should be a fun sports weekend and I'll even drive you back to Seattle if you can only afford a one-way ticket.

In other sports news, Steve Hutchinson signed an offer sheet with the Vikings, giving us one week to match the deal or let him go without compensation. They way overpaid for him but I'd like to keep our lovely o-line intact. I'm sure Mr. Ruskell has his reasons but I'm baffled as to why they gave Hutch the transition tag instead of the franchise tag. Can someone who knows more about NFL free-agency let me know what's up? I'll do my own research tomorrow but tonight I refuse to surf using this satanic dial-up. The bottom line is that I have full faith in our player personnel guys and I think they'll do the right thing but to me the right thing is keeping Walteria and Hutch together.

In other sports news, the Sonics suck. In Mariners news, Mr. Beltre is en fuego at the WBC and he looks like he's in great shape. Let's hope he keeps ripping the ball during the regular season and he shows us the .330 batting, 49 dinger, MVP candidate that we signed up for. He was the NL MVP that year(2004) among non-Frankenstein candidates. I'd really like it if Bonds never played another game. By some cruel twist of fate I have the Giants 3 or 4 times in the first few weeks of my baseball road trip and I'd rather not lose my voice showering him with boos.

I've been looking on craigslist for my tough baseball tickets and I found a post from saying that additional tickets were released so I logged on and bought Red Sox-Yankees tickets and Orioles-Red Sox tickets at face value, a major coup as far as I'm concerned. Those games were both sold out and I figured I'd have to pay a premium for tickets. I also found a Mets fan to go accompany me to Shea. Matt Matros is one of the main guys that I try to pattern my tournament game after and I've learned a lot from his blog, his book and some of his other strategy posts. I was lucky enough to meet him in Vegas last summer and I'm glad we've kept in touch. I saw the blog comments from him and now I fell all sorts of added pressure to put out somthing of quality in this blog. Sorry in advance for the meanigless drivel that I provide.

I'm also looking on craigslist for a good minivan and I found a few Honda Odysseys for $6-7K with around 100,000 miles on them. They're great vans but people are overpricing them because a lot of people don't check the BBV before buying. I'm going to try to negotiate for a cheaper van and I'll definitely let you know when I but one. I'm going to feel pretty lame driving around in a minivan but it really makes sense since I'll be on the road for 2 months and 11,000 miles. I took the Prius to Spring Training a few years ago and it's just too small for an extended road trip. I guess my new nickname can be Brandon "soccer mom" Schaefer.

I played some tourneys today and busted out pretty early in all of them. I played like crap for the most part and got a little unlucky in some spots and that led to no cashes. Full Tilt was especially frustrating as I got my money in with AA vs TT on a J87x board and watched a 9 fall on the river. There were still 300 left but I would have been 3rd in chips had I won. 2 hands later I still have 15 blinds and get it in preflop with AK vs AJ and a KQT flop sends me to the rail. It's funny because my grandma thought, when I told her that I was going to play some poker today, that I was going to sit for like 30 minutes and play. She was getting increasingly agitated as I tried to explain that I couldn't just get up and leave. About 2 minutes after busting from Full Tilt, my last tourney, she almost raised her voice for the first time ever and said firmly, "It's time for dinner, get off the computer!" The poker gods sure know how to make my grandma happy.

I think that's all for now. I'll try to bang out something about Antarctica tomorrow. Brandon "soccer mom" Schaefer, out!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back to Reality

Antarctica truly feels like another planet. The animals are ridiculously tame and don't know that humans are evil. The scenery is so beautiful that it almost feels fake. The water and air are so pure that they can't possibly share this same polluted earth with the rest of us. I'll respond to all my email and post a full write-up at some point but this post is just to say hi.

Obviously the trip was unreal but we were informed on our second day that my gramps passed away. I'm still, a week later, pretty depressed about the news and I'm looking forward to calling my brother and going to see my grandmother. I arrive in San Diego tomorrow(Wednesday) at 9 AM and then fly up to Portland on Thursday morning in time for the "Celebration of Life" ceremony on Friday. I'm really grateful that my grandma decided to push back the ceremony so my mom and I could make it. It's not a tragedy because old people do pass away but it felt ridiculously sudden. I saw him on Christmas and again between the Redskins and Panthers playoff games and he was his old self, harping at me to go back to school and take care of my little brother. I think spending the weekend with family will do a lot to help me get over it and I'm really looking forward to hugging my grandma. It was really, really, REALLY frustrating having 8 days left in the trip and absolutely no way to talk to anyone. Ah well, it'll be OK soon.

I'm flying back down to San Diego next Monday and packing my things. I'm going to be back in Seattle by next weekend, hopefully by Sunday. I'm excited to be coming home and I kind of regret the fact that I didn't spend much time in San Diego but the travel that I've done has obviously been worth it. I'll try to post some pictures from Antarctica tomorrow before heading up to Vancouver.

R.I.P Mitsuru Yoshimoto. I´m going to miss him.