Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's Hard Out Here for a Gambler

My sleep schedule has been really messed up of late, which is the main reason for the lack of posts the past couple of days. It also has to do with my neuroses that I don't really want to talk about too much and I won't air my dirty laundry here, but I suppose if you ask nicely one of these days we can discuss it. If I miss a few days in a row, these are likely the two biggest culprits for my absence and not me being hit by a bus.

I woke up yesterday at 3pm. I had been up all night and allowed myself about six hours of sleep that day. It took me about a half hour to decide, but in the end I went to the Hilton to place a bet. I don't like spending a lot of time on this topic as many think it rather unsavory in their souls even if they support my attempts at making a few bucks at it. For those people, you can stop now as this post will be entirely about gambling. it's unavoidable for me to mention it from time to time as that is one of the reasons I came out here. The main reason, my writing, has suffered this week due to my lack of sleep, but I still have a chance at reaching my 4000 word goal for the week if I put forth a solid effort today. I will try on that account and that is the best I can do for that.

Anyway, I made another money line bet on the Phoenix Suns. They were playing the NJ Nets and were favored by 6.5 in NJ. This meant that if I wanted to bet with the spread, NJ would be getting 6.5 points added to their final score. Phoenix is by far a better team, so the spread is there to encourage people to bet on NJ. I opted out of that type of bet and laid $600 to win $200 on the money line. So I had to pony up some cash to buy out of the point spread.

When the Hilton makes a point spread, their goal is not to try and predict that actual point differential of the game as one might think, their goal, is to produce enough betting action on both sides of the bet. On these types of bets, one must bet $11 to win $10. With this happening on both sides of the bet, if there is even betting action, then the house will win, regardless of the outcome of the wager. Obviously, the goal of the gambler is to choose the winning side. So, in reality, the two goals are not the opposite of each other and that is why one can exploit the situation and make a little money.

With this being a Saturday during March madness (the National college basketball tournament that decides the national champion) the sportsbook was packed. I knew it would be busy and that was one of the debates I was having with myself in going to place this bet. Did I really want to deal with the crowd? Anyway, I was pretty sure Phoenix would win this game, but I felt the spread was about right. That is, I really felt the Suns would win by 6 or 7. That's why I was willing to lay the extra money on the money line. Paying that extra amount allowed me to bet on the Suns straight up, so it didn't matter by how much they won the game, all they had to do was win.

The funny thing about the average/amateur gambler is that they still bet on the favorite most of the time, even though the spread is always against them. And in a lot of ways, that is understandable. I doubt anyone in the room gave the Nets much of shot at winning the game, even if they knew it might be close. Of course, the house knows this and they make their spreads accordingly. You need to factor this into your betting if you're going to be serious about betting on sports. Of course, you don't want to think too deeply about it. At the end of the day, the goal of the house is to get equal action on both sides of the bet. The reason I say this, is because I like to read other people's opinions on the games and some of them are really out there! They talk of "Las Vegas Line Traps" all the time. Where they think the house is trying to get them to bet one way because the house knows the other side will win.

Let me tell you. The house doesn't know which side is going to win any more than you! They just have great statisticians working on this and they are better at it than you are. End of story!

I don't go through a lot of statistical analyses for the games I bet on. I don't think it means much most of the time. I have always been a competitor. I understand the mentality and I understand what it takes to win. When I see that in a team, I am more inclined to bet them. I actually play the psychology as much or more than the statistical trends. Yesterday, I felt the Suns were primed to win, so I bet them.

So did an entire row of bettors. I came late and had to stand in the back. I could see there were 4-5 guys in one row who had money on Phoenix. For a quick recap of the game: NJ went up by 10-12 early in the first quarter and I was mildly worried. It's always nice to see your team jump out to the early lead. But basketball games usually have an ebb and flow to them with one team making points in streaks and in the second quarter, the Suns came back and led the game at halftime by a point, 52-51. In the third quarter, the Suns broke out to a 12-15 point lead and I was feeling very good. As the game started drawing to a close, NJ made a final push of their own and started coming back. Going into the last couple of minutes, the Suns were up by 5-9 points. They couldn't put the final nail in the coffin, but NJ could seem to come back either. I still felt pretty good. In fact, I had very little to worry about, but keep in mind the spread of 6.5 they were hovering around.

Going into the last minute, NJ was down by 5 and started fouling. Basketball teams will do this so they can try to make up a few points at the end of the game. Phoenix managed to hit the free throws and rather than NJ making up a few points, Phoenix increased their lead a few points, they were up by 8. That's how I could tell this row had money on Phoenix. Every time Phoenix hit a free throw and went up by 7, they went nuts and when they were only up by six or less they were on the edge of their seats. In the final seconds, Phoenix just let NJ waste the last bit of time. A NJ player ran the length of the court and put in a layup, completely unopposed, with less than a second on the clock. Time runs out and Phoenix wins by 6.

That entire row was stunned silent. They basically had lost their bet, because Phoenix had no interest in covering the spread. They were just looking to win. Which is another reason I prefer to pay the extra money for the money line. Teams want to win. They have a vested interest in winning. Covering the spread is completely unimportant to them. In gambling parlance, that row of guys were beat by "the hook".

I now have 5 wins and a tie for the month. With 6 bets in 25 days, you can see I pick my bets carefully. I have now won $700 for the month. Enough to pay my rent of $600 and replenish that little bit of spending cash I like to keep in my pocket. It is important to note, that I will lose eventually. You cannot buck the odds forever, at least, with as little money as I have at my disposal. If I were to have any hope of surviving out here indefinitely, I would likely need $50-100,000, not $10,000. Even this month I have lost money for the month since the only bill I covered was my rent.

But, the extra money doesn't hurt.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days where you have a number of plans to accomplish, but somehow none of it ends up working out. Still haven't made it to the DMV or the Post Office, but I guess they are pretty low on the priority list all things considered.

I went to the Hilton yesterday because there were a couple of bets I was considering. In the end, I should have made them all as they all won, but I played small on my most favored and it pains me that I didn't bet more because it was over in the first quarter. Oh well, I won a hundred bucks so I won't complain.

While there, I had dragged my laptop with the intention of doing some writing, but I was beginning a new chapter and couldn't quite figure how I wanted things to go. Perhaps I was a bit sluggish from my corned beef sandwich. It was the first meat I had eaten in 10 days, so maybe it clouded my thinking. I should have had a nice caffeinated soda while I was at it. That would have gotten things going.

I came back home, quite tired because I hadn't slept well the night before and was all ready to call it a day at 7pm even though I had gotten up around 11am. I couldn't seem to get my internet running terribly fast and I wasn't sure why. In the end, I decided perhaps my computer was being used as a spam relay or something similar. For those that don't know, a spam relay is an action taken by people who move illegal content around on the web. Like in the movies, when people bounce their internet signal off a number of servers to hide their actions. Spammers move their spam through other people's IP addresses to protect their own.

I have no proof that this is indeed what was happening, but since I never bother to run with a firewall it leaves my computer open to such abuses. It happened to me at the Knickerbocker once, but back then, all I did was simply unplug from the internet for the night.

My solution was to finally install a firewall. I've been meaning to, but just never cared enough to get right on it. I installed Comodo personal firewall, it ran a scan and quarantined a back door into my system. My first virus in like five or six years. Well, technically not a virus, it's a trojan, but whatever. This action caused the backdoor to lock down my system. I couldn't access much of anything.

But those that know me, know that I am prepared for such eventualities. In fact, I am surprised it took this long for it to happen since I run with absolutely no protections on my system. Must be the Knickerbocker internet is as charmed as it is slow. (Ha! Ha! Ha!) Anyway, I have my drives partitioned in such a way that I can reinstall windows at the drop of a hat.


A half hour later all was right with the world again. It took another hour to download and reinstall my most prominent programs, but I was due. I hadn't installed a fresh set of Windows since January '07, so this is the longest I have gone without one since I bought WinXP Pro. I have been itching to do a fresh install. I get fed up with all the extra crap that I install over time but never use. This gets rid of all that junk.

I went with Zone Alarm as my firewall the second time around. It was nothing against Comodo, I am just more familiar with it and if I have to run one to protect myself in this area of the internet I want it to be the least annoying.

All in all, not a bad day...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Silence is Golden

When I was younger I was so in tune with my body. I always seemed to know how far to push it and then go that little bit more to surpass the boundaries without breaking them. I no longer feel that way. I feel as though years of ignoring what it has to say has taken its toll and there are many times I just can't understand it anymore. Or perhaps, I am still ignoring what it's saying and I haven't learned a thing.

I am trying to rectify this problem. I am trying to pay better attention but it is hard. I'm not used to forcing it to go beyond itself anymore and I really need to change that. My spare time over the next couple of days will be spent working on this problem. I have some ideas on how I want to go about it and we'll have to see what falls out of the thought process.

In the mean time, I have to find a post office. After I get done writing tomorrow morning, I have two objectives. The first is to send out a couple of packages of my own. Sorry Kim, it's not your turn as yet. They are for Matt and Moose, but your turn is coming soon. After that, I will be in search of the DMV. I need to get a Nevada State drivers license. I would be a fool not to get one as the locals here get a lot of benefits. For starters, every restaurant at the Hilton gives a 25% discount to people with them. That's a good enough reason right there.

Anyway, back to listening to my body. Sunday night I felt as though I were ready to start eating again. Just to make sure, I waited until Monday night. I had some Ramen noodles. I must have been craving the salt, something seriously lacking in these sweet juice drinks I have been consuming. I generally crave salts and fats much more so than sweets. Not that I don't eat my share, but I prefer the former to the latter as a rule.

I'll leave that as my parting thought. How much do you ignore your body?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Week One

I hope everyone had a pleasant Easter. I figured no one would bother reading any posts this weekend due to the holiday, so I didn't bother writing any.

A big thank you goes out to Kim for sending me a basket of candy for Easter. I am currently looking for some homeless people to give it to. Just kidding. If I wanted to do that, it would be easy as there are several around the neighborhood that I am starting to recognize, though I haven't learned their names. Kim, don't be surprised if I haven't finished it by the time you and Charles visit in June.

I did not finish my first week with the 4000 words that I wanted, but I did manage just over 3800. Considering that represents 95% of my goal and giving myself just the slightest consideration because I had a migraine for three days due to fasting, I will call that goal a push if not a win.

I am still drinking nothing but juices, which means I am taking in about 500-600 calories a day. If that worries you, consider the fact that most of my caloric intake is usually nothing but garbage foods and ask yourself if 3-4,000 calories of junk is better than 500 calories of fruit and vegetable juices? Yeah, that's what I thought! I look at it as simply cutting the garbage out of my diet. Take heart, I am sure I will go back on solid foods soon. I'll start with my famous vegetable soup and then move on to the famous jambalaya eventually. When I make the jambalaya I will be sure to write down how I made it and post it here for Cullen and Vicki. Too bad Kim's basket didn't include any of that yummy creole seasoning from the Hannaford dollar store. I'm almost out.

I didn't place any bets this weekend. Probably a good thing as the bets I considered were a mixed bag of results, so I don't know if I would have ended in the positive. There are two bets I like for tonight, but I am hesitant, which means no bet. We'll see how they pan out in a couple of hours.

As for me, my weekend was fine, if not a little dull. But I kind of like dull and have been enjoying the quiet. Hope everyone is well!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reading this Blog? Your customers are too! Maybe...

I have never gotten so many advertisements in my life. Everyday my mailbox has some sort of advertising in it. Twice I have had pizza places leave delivery fliers on my door. Which is amazing! How did they know I was coming to Vegas and that pizza is my favorite food? Too bad the pizza out here isn't that good. I still miss Jack's...

Three times I have had sets of fliers left on my welcome mat, or rather, the place where my welcome mat belongs. Not that I don't welcome people into my home, I just don't know anyone right now. Except Al up on the third floor. The guy who helped me moved my mattress last week.

Speaking of Al, I spoke with him again today. He was heading up to his apartment as I was standing in my doorway drinking a glass of OJ. He said I had, "A look as though everything was going just fine." I thanked him and told him that things were indeed going just fine. His small talk was primarily comprised of complaining about the inconsistency of the mail delivery around here. Not that stuff didn't arrive, but that a letter from Chicago would sometimes take 2 days, but has taken as long as 10 days. That does seem a bit inconsistent.

Now I've complained about truth in advertising and stupidity in advertising enough to have annoyed most of my friends at some point. My sister had to endure my rants on crappy ads the week I stayed with her for Christmas. Bless her for enduring a week of me complaining about stupidity. Something I don't deal well with. Fortunately, our DNA is similar enough that she usually has the same complaints.

Now how come there isn't a delivery service out there advertising to someone like me. I just want the straight talk. I want a pithy jingle that rhymes, "We don't really care, but it'll get there!"

I want the pizza places out here to advertise, "Hey, we try our best!" You know, that's really all I ask of anyone anyway.

I want lotto ads proclaiming loud and proud, "Buying a ticket doesn't statistically increase your chances of winning, but a little bit of the money goes to a good cause. So why not!"

Okay, that needs a little more pith, but you get the idea. All I ask is that they tell me what they're offering and for how much. Do I really need all the flash?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cloudy With Some Fog

Of course, I am not talking about the weather....

Yesterday was not just my third day of writing, it was also my third day of juice fasting. My last meal was Sunday evening, I don't recall the exact time. All I consumed Monday and Tuesday was a quart of orange juice. Well, a quart each day and a shot of 5 hour energy for some extra vitamins. I actually consumed about twice as many calories as when I did the lemonade cleanse.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was a tough day. My brain was cloudy and I couldn't focus as well as I would like. The third day is usually the toughest for me. I tried to write but I didn't even make out fifty words so I didn't even count it. I spent the whole day watching episodes of Naruto. And I mean the whole day! I wish American cartoons were as sophisticated. So, yesterday was a very cloudy day and because I couldn't seem to get myself going, I didn't even allow myself the quart of OJ or the 5 hour energy. So it was only water.

Today, only a bit of fog. I wrote a bit more than 500 words, which puts me more than half way toward my weekly goal of 4000 words, but I'll need to pump out about 650 words a day over the next three days to not fail to make my first real goal in Vegas. I also went for long walk for maybe an hour and a half. Another quart of OJ for dinner and I am feeling much better. (I had the 5 hour energy for breakfast.)

So I am certainly not making it easy on myself, but then, I don't accept laziness as an excuse for not getting my work done regardless of how it comes about. I will be extra focused tomorrow now that the fog is lifting.

I know most, if not all of you are wondering why is he fasting yet again? Well, I'm sick of explaining it. Let's just say, I can finally do this without people constantly throwing food in my face and pestering me about it. Every time I tried to fast in Albany it seemed to garner way too much attention and I never understood why. It just isn't that big of a deal. Just think of it as another one of those weird things that Patrick does from time to time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Good Day

After writing this morning, I decided to go for a long walk. On the way to the Hilton, I noticed a bush with small purple flowers, not unlike a lilac bush. The scent was faint, but it smelled of a candy I remember eating as a kid. I don't remember the name of the candy. I mention this not because I have a fondness for horticulture, nor any interest in making them think (you're welcome Cullen), but one of my neighbors said he'd move back east in a second because everything here is brown. I think he is just jaded. I like knowing that when I get up in the morning, even before I open my one set of window blinds, that the sun will be shining. I am so over the "seven months a year gray" that is New York.

I walked past the Hilton (after making a bet for tonight) and on down the north end of the strip past the Stratosphere and The Sands. It was a pleasantly warm day of about 70 degrees and lots of sun. This was the first time that I have bothered to venture over to the strip, and it wasn't even the good end. Nevertheless, the walk took a couple of hours and was nice enough.

I was a bit tired this evening so I relaxed and watched more basketball. I know most of you aren't interested in the NBA, but I can't help but like it more and more than college ball. In fact, I didn't even watch a single college game this season and I can't say as I am all that thrilled about the NCAA tournament. I highly doubt I'll be placing any bets on those games since I am too unfamiliar with the teams. I'd go on a rant as to why I like the NBA better than college ball, but I must remember my audience. I will say for one thing, the NBA games are easier to bet!

Tonight, I wagered on the Phoenix Suns to beat the Portland Trailblazers. I didn't like the spread of -4, so I played the money line of -180. Which means I had to lay $180 to win $100. Actually, I played $360 to win $200. I fully expected the Suns to cover the spread as they have been playing well the past couple of weeks and they have a lot to play for given the tight playoff race in the western conference, but I was worried they might win in a close game. As it turned out, I need not have worried, the Suns won quite comfortably making my bets 3-0-1. For now, I am $400 ahead.

I am not in love with any of the games for the next few days, so I will likely take a break from the betting until this weekend.

Busy Afternoon & Evening

I didn't want to make last night's post too long, especially since I wanted it to be solely about my focus on writing, so I made a separate post for the rest of the day and I'll publish it first thing in the morning.

The rest of the day began about noon and was pretty eventful in that since I figured it was my first day of work, I ought to shave. Granted, it was after I was done writing, but nevertheless, I shaved my head because my hair was getting out of control. After that, the UPS guy delivered my new power supply for my computer. The fan was dying and it sounded like a small aircraft was taking off in my apartment. I installed that with minor difficulties. Fortunately, I still had the driver disk to my motherboard so that I could check out the manual. I missed something because my floppy drive doesn't work, but then, I don't even own any more floppy disks; they didn't survive “The Purge”, so I'm not too worried about that. Now my computer sounds like a computer ought to sound.

Immediately after that, I raced down to the Hilton to place a last minute bet. I didn't stick around to watch the game though, I came right back. As it turned out, that bet won and the game played out almost exactly as I had expected. That is, my team won, but it was close until late in the fourth quarter. That was one of the reasons I hadn't wanted to watch the game. I felt it could be too close and I didn't want to get my nerves in an uproar. Again, I wagered $110 to win $100, so that puts me $200 ahead. For now....

As I was whiling away my evening, I downloaded and installed an open source program called Audacity. It is a sound editor. I wanted to install it so that I could create my own podcasts. Well, maybe not anything that fancy, but I figured if I had a story that was best told in a 5 minute .mp3 file as opposed to an insufficiently short blog entry, it might be neat to upload an audio entry for people to listen to as opposed to a written one.

Of course, it is an open source program and these are a mixed bag in my opinion. I think they are great theoretically, but they can require some TLC. The particularly nice thing about open source programs is that they are free and can be used on most platforms. This means my Mac using friends can use this program as well. Anyway, it didn't work after install, so I had to troubleshoot. Always a perilous task since you never know what the underlying problem is. I wasn't sure if it was the software or my hardware. It took about an hour of finagling, of which, I had to stop for an hour in the middle to field a phone call from my friend Cullen. In the end, I managed to get it working. It seems the program was trying to use the sound on my motherboard as opposed to my sound card. A simple setting change and it was fine. Over the next few days (after I get done with my writing) I'll play with it and see if it is a worthwhile program.

In case you missed it, that was your “new thing” for the day. I have been trying to introduce people to some of the things that I am enjoying and exploring whilst online, but I am sure many of you are looking for my ribald wit. As I get more comfortable with this style of writing, I am sure it'll be coming eventually.

Off to do the second day of writing....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Day One

The title “Day One” may seem strange to you, so I will explain. Today is Day one of my new “job” while out here in Vegas. I have been here for close to two weeks and I was under no delusions as to there being a settling in period. I felt two weeks was a fair amount of time to arrive and get my house in order. This weekend I finished 99% of the unpacking procedure, so I no longer have any excuses to not start working on the projects that I said I'd be working on while out here.

The main project, of course, is my writing. Ultimately, that is what I feel my job is while staying out here. Today was the first day of that job and I will be requiring certain levels of performance from myself. A minimum of 4000 words per week. That works out to about 12-15 pages of writing. It doesn't sound like a lot, but for anyone who has tried to write, or any other sort of creative endeavor, it is very hard to force creative productivity. Writing about 500 or 600 words a day is about 2-3 hours work, and again, this may not seem like a lot, but it is very taxing mentally. If you think about how much “creative work” the average person does in a typical eight hour shift, it probably isn't even close to 2-3 hours.

This morning I started writing for the first time in close to two months (not counting the half hearted attempt I threw in here and there). I wrote 786 words in about 2.5 hours and none of it involved the actual story. All of that time was spent updating my character sheets. Even though it did not progress the story itself, it was necessary written work. I hadn't updated the character sheets in about eight chapters and for a story like mine, this is a definite no-no! By the end of the fifth section, I had introduced 41 characters by name. Most of them, obviously, were mentioned only in passing, but for a story where I plan on having a couple hundred characters by the end, I need some way to keep track of who is who. It was also a nice way to go back through the last few sections to refamiliarize myself with the story. I will begin writing chapter 20 tomorrow.

For the record, I will state my goals for 2008. I am actually writing two books, a duology, that may see its way to being a trilogy, but the main arc of the story will appear in the first two books and this is what I need to get written. My first draft doesn't need to be pretty or even terribly good, but first, it needs to be written. I don't want to get bogged down with reworking the story until I get sick of writing it and then I never get it done. My first priority is to get it done.

Before arriving in Vegas, I had just under 78,000 words completed in the first book and I am guessing that that is about 70-80% complete. At 4000 words per week, I expect the first book to be done sometime in May with 110-120,000 words. I want to have the second book finished by the end of the year. By mid-December would be better, so that I can take a break for the holidays to visit family and friends, but that is still too far into the future for me to know where I'll be at that point.

Of course, while doing all this, I expect to keep up with my daily(ish) blogging and, hopefully, winning the occasional bet to keep my money from draining away too quickly. I'm not sure if I say it enough, so I will say it again, thanks for all the support my friends and family have given to me. Without them, none of this craziness would be possible.

This Weekend

I had meant to write this entry last night, but was too tired. I hadn't slept well Saturday night So I ended up going to bed early last night. It is Monday morning now and as I start this, it is about 8:30am. A pretty typical time for me to get up since I have arrived here in Vegas. That's a far cry from my last couple of years in Albany!

Yesterday was a good day. In fact, the whole weekend was pretty good in that I managed to get in a few phone calls to various friends. I get into stretches where I, for whatever reason, can't seem to pick up the phone and call people. I spent just about all of last year avoiding the phone, so I am trying to do much better. Just note that if I don't call you in a little while, call me and tell me to get on the ball!

Anyway, back to yesterday. I went to the Hilton again to place a bet. I took $2500 with me and I was fully prepared to place it all on the Dallas Mavericks to beat the Miami Heat on the money line. Basketball is like football in that the games have a spread and the Mavs were favored by 15.5. Basically, they were not going to lose this game and I knew that. The money line is a bet where you play the game straight up, that is, with no point spread. In essence, the Mavs needed only win the game, they did not need to win by 16. The downside to the money line is that in a situation like this, you usually have to lay a lot of money to win a little and I was expecting to lay about $2500 to win $100.

Alas, the line was -4000, which meant I had to lay $4000 to win $100. If I had had $40,000, I would have laid it to win $1000. That's how sure I was that the Mavs would win this game. As it was, I felt it silly to lay the $2500 to win a mere $62.50, so I went with the spread in the first half. The Mavs were favored by 8.5 in the first half of the game and I expected them to put it away early, so I laid the standard $110 to win $100 because my goal was to win $100.

After placing this bet, I talked on the phone with John (from South Carolina) for a while and after we were done I came in to check on the game. I missed the first six minutes, but was pleased (not surprised) to see the Mavs had started the game on a 19-2 run. Things had started pretty much as I had expected them to start and now I just had to wait for the first half to end to collect my bet.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I really don't like clutter on the floor. I am quite okay with stacks of things as long as they are on shelves and temporarily on tables, so I can't understand those who takes weeks to unpack their boxes after moving. I feel things are going slow, but at least it is progress. I have more shelf space than I know what to do with, alas it is not bookshelf space. I may have to keep my math texts in one of my plastic bins and tuck it away somewhere.

One of the things that is slowing me down is that I am trying to arrange things optimally on the first try. We all develop routines in the way we do things and I am trying to set things up according to what I know my routines are. In the kitchen, for instance, I use 2-3 pans more than anything else so I made space for them in one of the more convenient upper shelves where you would expect to find plates, bowls, cups, and such rather than down in one of the lower shelves where one would generally keep pans. All in all, I think I have been pretty successful in setting things up in a way that is convenient to use rather than in a way that is convenient for me now.

I have always been good at setting up my living arrangements to be most efficient for my own needs. My last apartment in Albany was very utilitarian and very obviously set up as a “bachelor pad” because it couldn't really accommodate guests socially. I had space where someone could sleep on my air mattress and spend the night, but I couldn't invite a friend over to watch a movie without one of us siting on my bed. I am trying to set up this apartment in a very different manner. I am hoping to set it up in such a way as to open up the space where at least two , if not three, people can sit around my table and socialize comfortably. I think I have been successful and, in a nutshell, the secret was not letting my bed be used as my couch any longer.

I leave this topic now to allow people to contemplate how efficiently they have their living arrangements set up for themselves. In lieu of anything more intellectual than that, I have the following:

The last couple of nights I have been watching NBA games on my computer. I had a discussion with the cable guy about how I've never owned a TV. (He had alluded that the TV feed was probably still going to come through even though I am not paying for it.) I told him that the only thing I miss on TV is sports, and I know most of my friends don't really watch sports, probably due to the large percentage of which are female, but many don't realize that most sporting events have live feeds online. Mind you these are legal video and audio streams and aren't limited to American sports. I have seen Asian table tennis, Canadian curling, and other European sports with live feeds at the following site:

Though I use the site for sports feeds, there are links to all kinds of video content. Even regular TV shows. Not all of it is free, but it may be worth a look if you want to see where the future is heading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I wanted to keep this information separate from my daily(ish) post, so be sure to read the post that follows this one if you hadn't noticed that that is a new one as well.

Anyway, I promised people I would keep a lookout for Southwest Airlines having particularly cheap specials and it appears they have a very time sensitive deal going on now.

From their website:
__________________________________________ Nationwide Sale
$49 to $99 one-way!

Book 14 days in advance and by March 20, 2008.
Travel April 1 through June 25, 2008.
Travel Tuesday or Wednesday only.


Obviously a very strict travel conditions, but at $99 one way, it can't be beat. I flew here last week under a $99 special and the grand total was $108 after all fees.

Get it while it's hot!

New Life!

Yesterday, I waited all day with giddy anticipation for my Relo-Cube. It didn't arrive until almost 3pm, which I suppose I should have expected, but I was hopeful that it would arrive much earlier. I can praise the Lord in that I was left with the perfect parking spot to put the cube. Anyway, I unloaded for about 3 hours and called it a night as the sun was setting. I resumed first thing in the morning and it only took a couple more hours to finish unloading. One of my upstairs neighbors offered to help, but I was mostly finished so I only took him up on his offer in so far as to be able to get my full sized mattress through the door. That is the one thing I own that I just can't carry by myself without simply dragging it and who wants to drag their mattress over the ground?

So the dumping of the stuff into my new apartment went smoothly. I broke for lunch and stopped at the 7-Eleven for a few choice items, where I was amazed that I could get some cheap plastic table cloths for this afternoon's project. That's right. The first thing I had to do was to put my Command Center together. I think most of you, except my friend John down in South Carolina, have seen this monstrosity of functionality. This time, I decided to cover the chip board with the tablecloths to make it look nice. Anyway, I have that all set up and it is good to be sitting in a nice soft chair in front of my computer typing this to you all now.

I have said this so many times, I may as well mention it here. Everyone knows that I am not a good tourist. I go places, even Europe, and I have little tolerance in looking at old shit. I can do it, but not for long. Rather than rushing hither and thither trying to squeeze in as much crap as I can on a vacation, I would do just as well sitting in a park reading. Perhaps relaxing at an outdoor café with my travel companions and talk the afternoon away. I like to take in the ambiance of the situation rather than try to overload my senses with things that will be quickly forgotten.

The reason I mention this, is that I almost always follow that discussion up with a discussion about how I can't stand to be away from home for much more than a week. I always say, "I miss my stuff." I am in many ways a homebody, but it isn't because I like being home, I like being around my stuff. I find them familiar and relaxing. I have found the past week to be very disconcerting and uncomfortable. I have been complaining about not having any furniture, and believe me that sucks, but I really have just missed my stuff.

I can finally call this home. I have my stuff.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I am still undecided as to whether or not I'll be posting my blog on the weekends. I imagine off and on depending on how busy I get. I didn't bother posting this weekend because there was no point. I swear I am in purgatory. I managed to get internet access this weekend. The cable company is just amazingly responsive or I continue to be the luckiest person on the planet. In either case, the result is the same. I have the biggest time waster/amusement in all of history and I can't get comfortable enough to play with it. It has been awful moving around my apartment all weekend with nothing to do but use my computer and I can only sit on the floor so long. I can only stand at the kitchen counter for so long. I even sat my suitcase up as a table and used the toilet as a chair for an hour! That's what I mean by there not having been any point to me posting this weekend. Undoubtedly, I would have just whined about not having any furniture.

Needless to say my productivity was well below par this weekend. I didn't do enough writing toward my goal to even claim I did any, so I will say I did practically nothing and leave it at that. My intentions on moving here was to avoid all gambling the first two weeks while out here. I didn't want to get involved with that scene too quickly. I finally threw that plan out the window because I didn't want to sit around my apartment yet again trying to find a comfortable position while reading online or watching old episodes of M*A*S*H.

I made today graduation day. I went down to the Hilton and placed my first bet and graduated into an old warn out degenerate gambler. I played it tight and made only one bet. I should have made more bets, as most of my other leanings won. The one bet I did place resolved in a push. Thus, I am officially a non-winning and a non-losing gambler.

It was nice to get out of the apartment for the evening, but it seems strange as it feels as though the evening is over and it's only 9pm. Sports just starts way too early out here.

My last comment will be in regards to my Relo-Cube. I received a call today and it has arrived in Las Vegas. It should be delivered tomorrow between 12 and 4pm. So if I skip my entry tomorrow, it is because I am still unloading crap into my apartment. Once that is done. I think I will truly feel like I am out in Vegas and not purgatory.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I was debating on whether or not to make a post about today. Not much really happened today and there comes a point when I have to decide if I am posting for myself in hopes of that legions of blind followers sychophantically praise my name or if I am posting for more noble reasons. I finally decided my friends were neither legion nor sychophantic. You're welcome.

I checked out the clubhouse for the apartment complex. I can't imagine it gets much use seeing as it is only open from 9-5, but I have to admit it is well designed for socializing. The knickerbocker had its fine social scene, but we'd run around like kindergarteners in a room like this. I haven't sought out the billiards room or the fitness room yet. I am especially looking forward to the latter once I get my stuff and can set myself up with a routine.

With any luck, I'll have permanent internet access in my apartment by Saturday morning. The local cable company is Cox Communications and I can only say, "WOW!" If only Time Warner had customer service and response times like this company, they might be as well liked as Apple's Ipods.

I also walked to the mall today. This is the next block past Von's grocery store, so it is pretty far away. All I needed was a shower curtain, but I was grateful for the excuse to leave my furnitureless apartment for a couple of hours. For all my talk of wanting to purge myself of possessions and trim the fat off my lifestyle, I decided today that that does not include chairs. I am already sick of sitting and laying on the floor and I'll have to endure it for another 3-4 days yet. I think I'll get into that more tomorrow.

Okay, enough whining. I have decided to set my first goal. Since I won't get my stuff for 3-4 more days, I figured there was no reason to not get a few things done. The goal is to write 3,000 words by the time my stuff arrives. Mind you, not all of it will be in the form of chapters. I need to catch up on my character sheets and timelines. So there will be a fair portion donated to materials that only I will ever get to see, but it is necessary for the development of the book.

Since I'll probably have to take 3-4 days off once my relo-cube arrives, if I can reach this goal, I will be happy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Movin' In!

I feel as though the day is pretty much over. I know it is only 4:15pm as I start this, but I fear my body is still thinking East Coast style over West Coast. Not to mention the fact that I woke up at 6:30am; an hour that I am used to looking forward to, not back upon.

It has been a reasonably productive day. I showered first thing and all I have to say about that is any engineer who makes a bathroom exhaust fan exhaust back into the same room is simply making a noisemaker for noise's sake. Not something I wanted to listen that early in the morning. I will give props to the engineer who thought up the idea of making curved shower rods that bow out from the tub. It is very nice to shower without the curtain sticking to you. That engineer deserves a Nobel Prize in cool.

Eventually, I waste enough time so that I can get into my new apartment. The layout is not ideal, but adequate. There are two doors leading into the bath's ante room and the closet that overlap. I was contemplating taking them both out and stuffing them in the closet, but it occurs to me that if someone actually visits and stays with me, I'll want a door on the anteroom. (So will they!) I can't say much other than it really needs my stuff in it before I can call it home.

A couple of blocks down the road is a McDonald's. A "restaurant" I abhor under normal circumstances, but it was getting late in the morning and I hadn't eaten yet. Actually, the only draw was the Shamrock shake signage in the window. So I indulged my childhood memories with the shake and wasn't disappointed. I look forward to eating there again - next year.

After eating, I looked to my cell phone to note that it was time to find a proper grocery store. That's 11:15am for those that didn't know. I was told by one of the ladies in the leasing office that there was one "real close". After approximating this in terms of a suitable unit of measurement, I would guess that "real close" translates to just under a mile and half. I bought enough for sandwiches for a couple of days. I suspect that I'll want to make more trips buying just what I need because I certainly don't want to be carrying a large load of groceries that far! Fortunately, there are a number of delis that are much closer and I intend to check them out soon enough. Also, for the simple stuff, the McD's is sandwiched between a Spee Dee's and a 7-Eleven so there are plenty of simple and quick solutions nearby.

Eventually, I get home and while I put away my groceries and my two suitcases, I listened to a podcast that I had downloaded before leaving Albany, entitled “This Week in Science”. I enjoyed it for the most part, however, I nearly pulled my own ears off when they started talking about 10 raised to the negative 18th power as 10 with 18 zeros after it. For those of you that don't realize that that statement has two separate problems with it, this show is for you.

I bring up the podcasting, not to rip on “This Week in Science”, but to bring the medium to the attention of everyone who will get around to reading this blog. For those that don't know, podcasts are short radio programs that can be downloaded and listened to at your convenience on your computer or for those lame enough to own one, an Ipod or any other .mp3 player.

I am really starting to enjoy this medium. You can tell it is still quite virgin territory as the shows are not produced with a Hollywood sheen. They can be a bit rough or hokey, but it is all about the content. The point isn't to dazzle the listener into not realizing they just sat through something with no substance. The point is to actually create a dialog with meaningful content. I find it very refreshing and encourage everyone with a computer to check some of this content out. As I get more into the “scene” I will undoubtedly have recommendations. For now, so that people don't think I complain about everything, I can recommend a podcast that Moose first introduced me to called “Slice of Sci-fi” located on the web at:

I am a bit over my word limit for the day, but as I said, it has been a busy enough day...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Travel Day

So today was the day. Moving day. I am fortunate that I have so many amazing friends. Matt, Cullen, and Kim all came to the airport to see me off and as much as I hate modern airport security, I am lucky that it prevents them from hanging with me at the airport too long. It took a lot of restraint to avoid crying (too much) and I hadn't much I could say. After all they have done for me, a "thank you", just doesn't seem to cover it.

The flight, despite the weather on the ground, went smoothly. The head winds delayed the flight enough that my first night in Vegas had to be in a hotel. Apparently, my new apartment complex doesn't allow move-ins after 4pm, but in any event, I wouldn't have been able to make it to the office until 6pm which is when it closed. I managed to find a room within walking distance for $59 for the night and that includes free internet. Obviously, since I am making this post.

I would like to say something clever, but it has been a long day and I am quite tired. Mostly, I am posting just to let people know I made it here okay. Perhaps in the morning I'll have something clever to post. Until then, all I can say is, "Thank you", to all of my friends. Not just to my friends in Albany, but all of my friends everywhere that have gotten me to where I am today. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't currently be the richest man in the world.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Penultimate Day in Paradise

I don't think I'll have anything too thought provoking today. I leave for Vegas tomorrow, so I have a number of last minute things I'll need to attend to. Not the least of which is cramming in those last few activities with my friends. Last night was drinks with Cullen, Jill, and eventually Matt, which means I am a little hung over today. Not terribly so, I imagine I'll be fine after a few hours. Today, I'll be going to see the movie "Jumper" with Moose and tonight I'll likely be going to see "Vantage Point" with Kim and anyone else who tags along. I also have a few phone calls to return and I have no idea when I'll get a chance to do that.

It is a shame that there is nothing in Albany for me aside from my friends. It is very comfortable living here amongst such a great crowd of people, but there is no future. It is too comfortable. There are no challenges and nothing to force me to progress as a person. Will I find such things in Vegas? Lord knows, but it will be a new venue to explore.

There are always challenges to moving and one of the things I like about it, is the opportunity to reinvent oneself as a person. Do you really need to pack up your bags and move cross country to change? Absolutely not, but when you have found that you are stuck in a rut, a complete overhaul of the scenery makes it particularly easy.

I am looking forward to that. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of butterfly emerges from the chrysalis that has formed over me while living in Albany these past 8 and a half years.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Inaugural Entry

Being the inaugural entry to my blog, I suppose some explanations are in order. Not the least of which, who the heck am I and why would you want to read about anything I have to say? The short answer is, I am nobody and you wouldn't. But once we get past that, we get the long answer (located at the beginning of the next paragraph; feel free to skip ahead) and maybe, just maybe, I could say something that might be remotely thought provoking. At the very least, I have thought provoking friends, and if they say something of the sort, I'll write about it here and take credit for it.

Who am I really? First off, my name is Patrick Brown, and I really am a doctor. Just to make sure there is no confusion as to what kind of doctor, I have a PhD in Mathematics. So I have no license to practice medicine, but I do seem to act as though I have a license to be a pain in the ass, and those who have listened to me for any length of time know that I am well past the stage of practicing. I graduated with my degree in May of 2007 and rather than going straight into the grind of getting a “real job”, I decided to work on “other things”. I put those words in quotes to essentially let the reader know that I plan on getting into these things more specifically at a later date, so as to not be too verbose in this first entry. I wil often to use twelve words, when three will do. It's a curse. It can, however, make me entertaining to listen to, so hopefully that will be sufficient enough reason to continue reading.

Anyway, there is a reason this blog is entitled, “Roughing it in Vegas” even though I do not live in Las Vegas. You get one guess. That's right. I plan on moving to Vegas. TA DA! And while I am there, I plan on seeing how long I can go without getting a job. That's the roughing it part. Obviously, without a job, I will need to do whatever I can to maintain a minimal lifestyle. What do you “need” to have if you wanted to “rough it” for an extended period of time? Those topics, among others, will likely get a lot of discussion these first few weeks.

For those that feel beguiled by the name of the blog and the fact that I am not living in Vegas, need not feel wounded for long. My stuff is already packed and ready to be shipped and my flight leaves in two days. The first few entries will go smoothly, but I may miss a few in the coming weeks as I settle into my new surroundings. Of course, once I get internet access I will have no excuses and plan to write entries about 5 days a week. I'd like to leave most of my entries with something reasonably though provoking, so I'll start with:

Holding oneself back.

It's not in the dictionary. It should be. Either that or there should be a section in every dictionary for important expressions like this one. Alas, dictionaries hold themselves back by defining one word at a time, just as people hold themselves back in their day to day functions. Clearly this can be necessary. There are all kinds of morally questionable things people need to hold themselves back from doing lest they create utter chaos in society. The point isn't to think about those sort of actions, the point is to observe that people don't usually stop there.

Right now, I'm holding myself back. I could write about this topic, and most of the topics I'll be blogging about, for two or three pages. Of course, no one wants to read about a jobless loser ranting for that long about being a jobless loser and certainly not every day. Thus, I plan to keep these entires to about 400-600 words. Something that can be read in just a few minutes. Anything more than that, and people will quickly lose interest. For the astute in the crowd, yes, this first entry is well over that limit, but I do need to set the stage don't I? I will work hard to keep my future entries brief.

Anyway, back to the topic. I know I hold myself back all the time. I even sit back and question why from time to time and the answer is usually laziness or fear. Sadly, I don't use fear as an excuse very often. I have taken to heart Churchill's sentiment that all we have to fear is fear itself. Why is this sad? Well, it obviously means that my number one excuse for holding myself back is laziness. Who wants to be considered lazy?

So how do I hold myself back?

I get into ruts where I don't set goals for myself and if I do have goals, I stop working towards their end. This is a bit abstract, but as a mathematician, my training was in pure abstraction and I like to pass it on when I can because I like to think it helps other people to reflect in broader terms when I present things that way.

Here is a concrete example of what I mean. In the middle of last November, I finished up a writing goal and decided to take a break until after Thanksgiving. This was fine, I know I need to break from time to time to refresh the creative juices. Alas, after Thanksgiving, I never set a new goal and didn't end up writing again until after the new year. I should have set a new goal as soon as I had decided to take the break.

How do you hold yourself back?