Friday, December 25, 2009

Almost like twitter - but of course, an uber post

I just wanted to do a quick update. Not sure why. I've been wanting to blog a lot more but I'm busy between unpacking the boxes, tidying up my new apartment, work, trying to meet more people, squeezing in a workout, etc...

Let's see... to recap, this past week, I did go run on Bayshore which apparently is America's longest uninterrupted sidewalk... you're running along the water which is gorgeous. Anyways, from the area called Hyde Park Village to Channelside (another fairly known but boring/touristy area) is about 3 miles so I did a quick loop to there and back for a quick 6 miler... the first time I ran since my half marathon. I ended up running with this other guy I just met and we came in at 46min... we were literally hauling ass. Apparently, he was running with a bunch of other people that he met up with so I ended up meeting a few people through him. I was invited to go out but I turned it down since it was a Tuesday night and I already started working.

Wed night, a neighbor of mine and I went out to an Irish bar which had a huge outdoor deck... since 65 degrees is "cold" in Tampa, they had those outdoor heater stands... kinda funny... they also served beer in a 35oz cup so I had two of them and felt a bit groggy the next morning but obviously, I still went to work... it was only half day though since it was the 24th so no big deal.

The rest of my time, I've been spending just unpacking and stuff. My apartment is definitely liveable even though it still has some cleaning up to do... but really, if I didn't do anything else, it would just be a messy apartment... doesn't look like I just moved in anymore, which is nice.

As I'm going through bunch of my stuff, putting a lot of things on craigslist, I always find it funny that I find stuff I forgot about. I am generally not one to throw things away. Old photographs, greeting cards, letters, junk, etc... whatever it is, I tend to keep. I guess it's because they are all part of me. Of course, when I went through my box of cards, I did throw away a lot of Christmas cards that I've kept (I mean I had some from people I can't even recall who they were, I had one from our mailbox lady, my dentist, etc... I told you, I keep everything). So, the ones from people that don't mean anything to me, I threw away.

But as I was going through them, I also found a bunch of letters... I hate dating myself like this but I'm not gonna lie... I miss the days where you had to write letters to keep in touch. I believe that was maybe my first two years in college (94-95). We just got email but not everyone had it and especially in Japan where phone lines are charged per minute of use, the internet boom didn't hit Japan as quickly as here... and since most of my friends that I would want to keep in touch with over email were in Japan at the time, I still wrote a lot of letters... and in return, I got a lot of letters from them. And I kept them. Every single one of them. It's always very interesting to read them. It just takes you back to those days, and you reminisce the feelings that you were going through, etc etc. I remember when my grandpa passed away, my mom asked if I had any of his letters that he sent me (my grandparents never had a computer/email) and of course, I kept every single one so I was able to share all of them with her. Those are the times I'm glad I never get rid of anything.

The letters from 15 years ago are still in great shape. There were letters from some people I no longer keep in touch with, unfortunately, but it was still nice to see them. Of course, I couldn't throw them away so I put them all back in the box.

With emails, facebook, twitter, etc, the only time we send out greeting cards are during the holidays. And even then, you don't really write stuff anymore. You let the cards do the talking. It's so easy to keep in touch now and that's great... but I sure do miss writing letters... even if it was a pain in the butt sometimes... because at least with letters, you always have something tangible to hold on to.

Man, do I sound old or what?

Well, I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season. For me, Christmas was just another day of unpacking (of course, I did sleep in till like almost 1pm) but unpacking in a 75 degree weather on Christmas day was actually pretty fun... and it seems like bunch of bars and clubs around my apartment are all open tonight so it looks like I'll be going out. Guess it's time to start cooking dinner so I can head out in time to catch the football game (I have no cable and internet in my apartment - I will have internet starting the 28th but I won't get cable since I don't watch enough TV... and I was gonna steal someone else's wireless but they turned on the security so the only one I can access is a very weak signal and super slow - which is why I'm typing this from our apartment's business center).

Seriously, I meant for this post to be a quick, twitter like update. ha ha ha ha... I guess not.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Vegas recap

You know what? If I recap every detail, I would have like a 5 part post... and I am starting to see other bloggers do their recaps in one post... so I'm just gonna make this my final version and cram a bunch of shit in. Apparently, I lack the ability to keep things short but I'm gonna try. And also, sorry for the lack of links but at this point you know who these people are.

On Friday, Schaubs, LJ, and I went to play poker at the Venetian since I wanted to be in the vicinity of the Palazzo when Bayne checked in. His flight was to arrive at 7 and since Schaubs and I were mooching off his comped room at the Palazzo (seriously, how good does this guy run!?), I just wanted to be around when he came so I could drop off my luggage and stuff before things got out of hand. Poker at the Venetian was like a joke... so many soft spots and people donating me money... even weirder was when our table broke, LJ, Schaubs and I were still able to be play at the same table... where I ran into a friend of mine from college that I hadn't seen in 11 years. That was completely random. This was also the table where Schaubs made an inexplicably, jaw-dropping fold after he check-raised the flop and bet-out the turn... I'll let him recap the hand if he wants to but after finding out what he had, I think I shat myself a little. Ha ha, ok, I'll stop, we gave enough shit to Schaubs about that hand already.

Well, as planned, when Bayne got in, we went up to the room for yet another awesome experience... I mean I knew that all the rooms were suites (I've stayed at the Venetian before) but still, when I walked in, I was amazed... Just check out the pics...

And check out this lame, poorly taken video. I should never do a video blog...

Nevermind... I tried uploading a video but it failed... ha ha ha, anyways, it was a pretty crappy video of the blinds automatically going up and down with the remote... yes, I'm easily entertained.

I missed all the action at Hard Rock and the MGM but Bayne, Schaubs, and I threw some dice at the Palazzo... the $15 minimum is pretty vicious. We played there for a few hrs and I think both Bayne and I took like a $500 hit... (and NOT because I threw poorly) - there goes my poker profit for the week. Thank god for the earlier session at the Venetian. We grabbed some late night munchies at the Grand Lux Cafe at the V and then went to bed... my god, the best sleep I had in a week. Love the Palazzo.

Saturday was the blogger tournament at Caesars. This year, I really haven't read up on the blogs... so, even when the winter gathering details came up, the only thing I knew was that it was the weekend of 12/11-12/13. Aside from that, I just assumed that there was another blogger tourney but like in other years, I thought it was at the Venetian. That's how clueless I was... I was also aware that there was some sort of a last longer side bet by teams... and the only reason I know that was because I was on a team... I didn't even ask to be on a team or look for interest by other bloggers. One day, Bayne pops up on my chat and asks if I want to be on the team with him and Gnome. Since I didn't really care, I accepted. I didn't know what the prize was or whatever but I figured it wasn't much since it was a side bet and I had no good reason to turn it down. My only concern (which I told LJ) was if I felt too lazy and didn't make it to the tournament... of course, that thought went away when Gnome told me about how psyched he was about our team when he saw me on Thursday. He was clearly our team captain, coming up with team names (even though he choked under pressure and told CJ that we were "Team Spewmonkeys"... we later corrected him as the appropriately named "Team Roach").

Well, little did I know that so many things had to go right for us to put together this solid team. Initially, it was Schaubs that apparently wanted to put a team together. He had asked around and so the team was initially going to be him, Gnome, and Bayne (clearly, a "B" level team). Schaubs then displayed his love for his country by opting to go with Team Canada which was supposed to be with himself, BamBam and Fag55. Sadly, Fuel bails on the trip and so the Canada team took a slight hit... of course, Fuel was replaced with Pebbles so in terms of number of team members that love men in team Canada, that was unchanged. (Clearly an inside joke, hopefully, none of this offends anyone reading this)

So, since Schaubs abandoned the then unnamed team, Bayne hit me up. Upon my acceptance, we went from an unnamed team to an "A" level ballah team (obviously). What? You want proof?

How bout them apples!?

Oh wait, what's this? An email from Stars?

Hello Dirty Vizzer,

Congratulations on your performance in the WPBT Winter Tour 09 Luckbox Last Longer Challenge, your account has been credited with your prize money.


PokerStars Marketing

Ha ha ha, yeah, we won... the appropriately named Team Roach roached our way into the lowest combined total amongst three players with Bayne busting in 22nd-ish, me busting 17th, and Gnome final tabling at 5th for a combined 44 points which apparently was 22 (?) spots higher than the second place team. Damn we're good*.

*these are obviously written in jest as I've said numerous times that I suck at tournaments.

So, in total, each of us got $120 in cash, $500 in our PS accounts (as good as cash) and the kick ass trophy. Funny thing is, that side bet totals more than the 5th place cash that Gnome got which was like $512 or something like that. Good times. And before I forget, thanks to CJ for putting this together. You are the man.

Sunday, my flight left at 6:30am so I stayed up all night and left the Palazzo around 5am after finishing a late night/super early morning breakfast with Bayne and Schaubs. I missed out on what seemed like a great time at the Palazzo sportsbook on Sunday but at the time I booked my flight, I still had a job that I would have had to go back to on Monday. Wow, when I think of it that way, how things have changed so much in such a short time.

To all of you in Vegas, it was great seeing you again. It's always a pity that we don't get to spend more time together but nonetheless, I had a great time. It's amazing how little we know each other in person and yet whenever we get together, it's like old friends reconnecting. I look forward to seeing you all in the near future. Till then, I'll be basking in the sun... even in January.

Yours truly,
the Asian Floridian

I'm from Florida dammit! (part 2 of Vegas recap)

Now that I have unofficially transplanted to Tampa (I am in VA today surrounded by boxes that the movers packed - still have internet though!!), when I was asked "where are you from" by anyone in Vegas (usually the bartender/waitress/dealers), I answered "Tampa, FL" (like they wouldn't know that Tampa is in FL). And I will say... that gets a much nicer response than saying "Richmond, VA." Let's see... usually, when I say Tampa, I hear "ooooh, nice" followed by some variation of how nice the weather must be now or how they've been there before and loved it. When I say Richmond, it is usually followed by a polite "nice" with an automatic bobbing of the head up and down like they approve it (to clearly mask that they really know nothing about Richmond) or for those that actually are more familiar with Richmond would say something like "that's close to DC right?" It's so much nicer when you're associated to something nice as opposed to just some remote city near DC...

So, by Thursday, I didn't even hesitate to answer FL to the often asked question. I usually don't play table games aside from craps because the last thing I need is an addiction to more -EV games. Well, Thursday is when all the bloggers get in and since I pretty much never play poker with them anymore, I decided that I should at least sit at the same tables and enjoy games, drinks, and the conversations. It's year 3 of blogger gatherings for me and I still didn't know how to play Pai Gow or Let It Ride. And I'm still trying to shake off the "ice man" title that was unfairly given to me (such a small sample of throws - statistically irrelevant, yet reputation wise, devastating) from the craps table. But anyways... that is neither here nor there.

BamBam summons me over to the Let It Ride table, telling me that this is almost +EV because you don't really lose much money per hand and yet you get "free" drinks so you know, if you hit a few hands, and break even gambling, then it's obviously +EV because you're getting your "free" drinks. I roll my eyes at the "free" drinks because there were countless times in the past that my friends and I would opt to gamble for the "free drinks" and it would cost us like $100 per Miller Lite... Well, anyways, so I did get to learn how to play this game called "Let It Ride" which was basically BamBam's way to sucker me into yet another table game where the attempt to get "free drinks" turns into, in this case, something like 5 drinks for $100... unless you run like Drizz in which case you get paid to drink (quadzilla in LIR? Really!?). Freakin luckbox bloggers. At least the weather in Tampa is 75 degrees now. (yes, I realize I am sitting in my empty house in Richmond - details, details) What you got, Minnesota/Canada donks?

So anyways, we're playing this game and having a good time when at some point, the dealer asks all of us where we're from. So, each of us answer and when I say "Tampa, FL" BamBam wasted no time in calling me out asking me how long I've been there. Dude... Well, that's ok because I take this newfound FL fury and I take it out on bloggers at the blogger tourney on Saturday but that brag post will be for part 3.

I also did mingle at the Geisha Bar but as is the case in all these gatherings, you don't really get to talk with anyone for too long. I mean I talked to Gnome for a little while longer since I've known him now for a few years so that was cool but unfortunately I wasn't able to talk to Peaker as much as I had hoped we would. OhCaptain also came up to me and in my defense, he looked really different from how I remembered him from last year so I didn't immediately recognize him... and then he called me out on the fact that I no longer read his blog. (Hey, my bloglines now shows 2100+ unread posts total... and I only have like 80 feeds... so it's not just your blog that I haven't read) Well, anyways, he lost like 35lbs (sorry if I'm wrong, maybe more?) so yeah, I didn't quite recognize him. Apparently, he's on his way to losing more so good for him.

So Thursday was like just a mass chaos of people arriving. I write this like a total afterthought but I also did dinner with LJ and her friend Augie and then Schaubs came in and we... shit, I don't even remember what we did. Thursdays are always like a blur, not because of all the drinking/gambling but because that's the night you talk to so many people and see so many different people that in order to recap it accurately, I'd have to have this post written on Friday... I just know that I was in bed by the time Schaubs called it a night and then when I woke up, Schaubs was getting ready to go play golf... in shorts... in a 30 degree weather (yes, Vegas gets cold during the winter time). Fawkin Canadians. (apparently, later, he wussed out and put his rain pants on)

I'm gonna abruptly stop this post now because I realize this is starting to become long...

Recap Part 1 - Post race/Pre blogger weekend

*Warning* - if you are only interested in the blogger weekend portion of the recap, you can skip this and wait for my next post.

Isn't this always the same theme every year? Where to begin, not enough time to meet/talk to people you wanted to, wanting to stay longer but exhausted nonetheless, and now, it's time for the recap and you go on a more than usual reading spree of everyone's blogs to see what you may have missed out on even though you were in Vegas at the same time.

I have already been in Vegas since the Friday before the blogger gathering. I had the half marathon to run and I had two of my friends from Richmond run the half also so we got to spend some time together. My parents also came to meet up with me/watch me run so until Wednesday, I was pretty busy in a different way and actually hadn't had much chance to play poker or gamble it up at the craps table. You all saw my post regarding the half as evidenced by a lot of you coming up to me with the joking disapproval of my time in the half. I expect nothing less! :)

Well, one thing I did notice is that Vegas is big enough that unless you actually try to coordinate your activities, it's actually hard to meet up. Since I wanted to do some stuff during the day with my parents, I figured my buddy from Richmond and his gf and I would drink/party in the evening but in the end, I think we only did that once (even though we've been in Vegas at the same time for 4 days). They stayed at NY NY and of course, I stayed at the IP and so in the end, we just never really did much together. Now I've always made it clear that while I don't consider IP a great hotel (because it's not), it's not the flea bag motel that many people make it seem like. The casino is a dump and there are many little annoying things (like the seemingly world's slowest elevators, very confusing maze-like design of the different towers, bath tubs that don't drain well, etc etc) but then again, how much time do you spend in the room when you're in Vegas? The room itself is actually decent as I'm sure Schaubs will vouch for, now that he's stayed with me at the IP. (I will neither confirm nor deny that we slept in the same bed together) Personally, I'd rather save some money and stay at the IP rather than cough up extra bucks to stay at NY NY or Treasure Island or any of those mediocre hotels that I don't consider as much of an upgrade when it comes to rooms. My total bill from the 7 nights at the IP was like $329 or something like that... I mean really... unbeatable. Well, almost unbeatable. Bayne, shut up. You'll get your props.

Anyways... for the pre-blogger gathering part of my Vegas trip, my definite highlight was taking my parents to the Jersey Boys show at the Palazzo (does it count as "taking out my parents" if they paid me back for the tickets though? prob questionable). The show was amazing. I have always loved Vegas shows. No matter which ones I've been to, I was always amazed with how good a show they put on. Jersey Boys was no different. It was a show about a band named Four Seasons... apparently, they were big in the 50s-60s? I didn't know but this just happened to be the show that my dad showed any interest in (and he's generally not interested in shows). So we go and sure enough, the show was fantastic. Even if you don't know Four Seasons, you definitely know their songs if you were like me and had to endure countless hours of listening to your parents' favorite tunes growing up during long car rides for family vacations. And it was just an awesome show that was funny, touching, and just simply amazing. But as great as the show was, the best part was that you could tell that my parents absolutely loved it and were touched because of all the memories that I'm sure all their songs brought back to them. I think I was the youngest in the crowd by at least 20 years... but I would highly recommend the show to anyone.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's official... (click on pic to zoom in new screen)

So I didn't quite break 1:43... instead I came in 1:43 flat. That sucks. I mean I'm happy with the time but to be so close to being on the 1:42's and not getting there blows. Even worse... see where it says "AgeGrade"? (you will if you click on the picture dammit)... well, I'm at 57.6% which no matter what you're talking about or what it means, anything in the 50ish percentile can't be good. Sure enough, this is what it says about the AgeGrade...

Age-Graded Results

"AGE-GRADED" results are calculated using tables developed by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (the world governing body for masters track and field, long distance running and race walking). These tables were first published in 1989 and are frequently updated. The tables can be used in two ways: first, by comparing your time to a standard for your sex and age, you can determine your Performance Level Percent. These percentages can be interpreted as follows:
100% = Approximate World-Record Level
Over 90% = World Class
Over 80% = National Class
Over 70% = Regional Class
Over 60% = Local Class

So in other words, I'm not even local class... awesome. Granted, I'm not even in the top 10 percentile of men (685 out of 6505) so clearly, I have some work to do. Man, I never shoulda pulled up the official results. I was fairly content with what I got but now, I feel belittled. Fuckin runners.

I did get a cool finisher's medal though... it's heavy! (really is, actually kinda impressive)

Popping my half marathon cherry

Whenever I tell people Vegas is cold in December, they don't believe it... or they think it's cold "for Vegas." Like it would be 50+ degrees or something... this morning, around the race start time, it was 35 degrees. That's fuckin cold. I want to write a detailed recap but I'm starving now so I'll do it later. I did want to post something though. I don't know what my official time is and I botched my starting of my watch and the stopping of my watch at the end...

So, knowing that I botched my start a bit (don't think it was more than 15 seconds but I can be wrong), the following were my mile splits:

mile 1 - 7:31.73 (I looked and thought I need to ease up a bit, so I did... only to discover that I eased up waaaaay too much... see mile 2)
mile 2 - 9:13.33 (ha ha ha ha ha ha)
mile 3 - 8:00.75 (I'm a rookie at this distance... pacing, not my thing)
mile 4 - 7:42.02 (finally, what I was looking for)
mile 5 - 7:40.20
mile 6 - 7:50.47 (uh oh, I better pick it up slightly)
mile 7 - 7:37.55
mile 8 - 7:45.00
mile 9 - 7:45.45
mile 10 - 7:52.37
mile 11 - 8:03.15 (this surprised me a bit. I thought I still felt solid but obv in the last 2 miles, my pace slowed a bit and I felt my calves tightening/threatening to cramp a bit... so I slightly altered my running to be less strenuous on my calves. I knew I could go strong the rest of the way)
mile 12 - 7:46.09
mile 13 - 7:26.94 (I was booking it. I don't think I had much left after this one)
the last 0.1 mile - still going... just kidding. But this is where I failed to stop.

Unofficially, according to my watch, it comes to 1:43.38. I have to believe the time was slightly faster. I hope. We'll see when the official results come up.

Not bad for my first one but if I didn't screw up mile 2, I would like to think that I would be flirting with the 1:40 mark...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Goodbye Richmond, Hellooooooo Tampa!

Wow, where to start... I'm gonna do my best to not make this an uberpost since I have so much to write but I don't want to overload the readers with details. I believe last time I wrote (I can check but I'm lazy), I was either torn about taking this new opportunity in Tampa or maybe I already announced that I took it... well, in case I left it at "decision to be made," I took the job. There were tons of people involved in the decision making process and to all of them who are both readers and nonreaders (ie, they don't even know this blog exists), I am extremely grateful.

So, once I decided to take the job, I started looking for places to live. The relocation package that my new company gave me was basically a killer lump sum that allowed me to do whatever I wanted in terms of making apartment hunting trips, actually moving, etc etc. So, initially, I was planning on going on an apartment hunting trip. 2 days prior to actually doing it, I decided that I should just drive down and fly back to Richmond to take care of business. So, on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I made the ~13hr drive down to Tampa. I checked in to my hotel and on Wednesday, started my apartment hunting trip.

Now, when I was searching for apartments online, I had a few places in mind. My top choice was this one:

I mean, I'm moving to Tampa so what better than a place right by the water? Close to downtown Tampa, Ybor (major party city) and Channelside (area that some people mentioned was cool), I figured this was a great location. Once I got there though, I immediately hated this place. For Richmonders, think Short Pump. Literally, a community that was developed and everything was built for that community. Totally convenient, definitely upscale, and completely isolated (it's out on its own island). I hate the fuckin suburbia now, why would I move to another? I pretty much immediately nixed this place. However, this place played a big part in choosing my final destination. When I was talking to the guy who worked at the rental office, he mentioned that this property was close to Hyde Park. I didn't know what that meant but I do remember nixing the apartment properties in Hyde Park when I was searching online because I didn't think the area was all that awesome.

My next stop was a high rise apartment in the heart of downtown Tampa. It's a building that really stands out in the skyline of Tampa (which is just as impressive as Richmond... ha ha ha, seriously, downtown Tampa blows). Anyways, here's the entry way to the apartment that on the inside is very impressive...

Basically, it's a modern condo turned apartment. 24hr concierge service, dedicated parking deck, and magnificent view of Tampa are clearly the selling points of this place. The rooms were very impressive. I mean the layout was cool and the views were definitely cool... the thing is, these were the condos that were built in the peak of the bubble... and when the economy hit the tank, no one was buying them (which is why they turned it into a rental property). As such, there are tons of retail space available on the ground floor... presumably from when this was built. No one was moving into downtown Tampa... seriously, it made downtown Richmond look awesome... after being impressed with the apartment, walking around this area made it easy for me to lose interest. Of course, this is very close to Hyde Park but close as in few miles away... few miles is a long way to go when you're drunk. So, sure enough, when I went to Hyde Park (since both locations mentioned "close to Hyde Park"), I immediately fell in love with the area.

Hyde Park area is essentially where it includes Bayshore Blvd (allegedly, the longest sidewalk in the country and as the name suggests, right along the bay), Hyde Park Village (outdoor mall - Richmonders, think Stony Point), and Soho (short for South Howard Ave) which is the home of the area's most popular bars and restaurants (Richmond, think the Fan but slightly better, according to my biased opinion). And here, I found the apartments that are essentially your typical, non-fancy, normal rental housing as you can see in this picture.

From what I saw, these apartments are mainly filled with mid 20's young professionals... a bit younger than me but I party like a mid 20yr old so I think I can get by. Literally a stumbling distance away from the bars and a crawling distance away to brunch for some hangover recovery food... in other words, perfect for me and a great transition from the hell hole of suburbia that I am in... now let me clarify that I don't hate the suburbs... except I'm single and all my neighbors are families with dogs and 2.5 kids...

Anyways, I loved the area so even though I didn't "love" the apartment (at least not the way I felt about the apartment downtown), it was definitely good enough for now. So, here I am, filling out the app for the apartment.

Sorry, this became an uber... I had a feeling it would.

One thing that sucks about Tampa... it's freakin November and it was 80 degrees today... I'm gonna die in the summer time.

One more thing... naturally, I would have the tendency to compare things to Richmond. I believe I mentioned this before (I know I have but I'm not sure I did on the blog) but I felt that Tampa was like Richmond but in FL and right by the water. After being down here for a week exploring, I believe my assessment is fairly close. Of course, it's got a major sports team (if you can call the Bucs as such but then again, my team just lost to the lowly Chiefs and then to the hated Ravens) and it's right by the water so there are things that make it better but in terms of the city itself, it's clearly not the metropolis that I was hoping to move to in the near future (think NY or Tokyo). But, it was a good time for me to leave Richmond (18 yrs in Tokyo, then 15 years in Richmond!? I mean seriously...) and this gave me the opportunity to do so and explore a pretty cool city in the meantime. I will miss all my friends and everything I had built up in Richmond but I am really excited for the new opportunities to come in Tampa.