Sunday, January 20, 2008

Geocaches save lives

Two happy ending stories:

A pair of experienced climber on Mount Hood got caught by a storm, so aborted their attempt to summit the mountain, and then missed their turn on the way down. They built a snow cave overnight, and when they woke up, they spotted a piece of flagging tape in a tree, connected to a water bottle with this cache inside -- with its own coordinates. When they warmed up their cell phones and got a call from the sheriff, they were able to tell exactly where they were. (CNN video, NW Cable News.) KOMO, as usual, botched the story and instead says they found a GPS hanging from a tree.

A woman and her dog are in an off-leash park in High Bridge, New Jersey. The dog falls through the icy lake, and the woman goes in after him. She gives up and runs to the empty parking lot looking for help. Just arriving: a cacher looking for this cache. While the woman goes in after her dog again, he calls the park police, who save the dog and the woman.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fourth best night ever

Back in the summer of 2006, the heyday of bonus hunting, before the UIGEA scared off all the online casinos from taking US players, I had some good winning days:

  • $900 from Vegas Strip Casino (it took 15 days after wagering was complete to get the money in Neteller)
  • $790 from Prism (which took five weeks to extract from their accounting department, and they've spammed me incessantly ever since)
  • $610 from Silver Sands Casino (which showed up a couple days later)
But since the UIGEA, it's been slim pickings out there. This week, though, I played the Wednesday bonus at PlayersOnly, and netted +$504. This is better than the $400 I made from the same casino last November.

Now that's a good start for the year. They limit me to one withdrawal a month, and I did one January 2, so I'll need to wait a couple of weeks before I get cash in hand. I hope they stay in business that long.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cache Machine roundup

My daughter and I got 47 caches in Vancouver this weekend, starting in a group of about 30 people at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, then in and between groups for the next seven hours. We took a brief rest at the hotel, then hit the road again to get three more before dinner at 5:15. We had about 60 people at dinner, and I got several e-mails and talked to a few people who wouldn't be making it to dinner. I'm guessing roughly 75 people attended.

I haven't decided whether I like lamp post micro-caches less or just slightly more than micros in the woods, which I hate. This cache machine had a lot of them. Unfortunately, when my goal is to get to as many neat places in a day as possible, if a microcache is there, I want to go there, too. And it's tough to tell what spot might be neat (e.g., a 180-degree view of the Columbia River and the Portland Airport, but the cache is a film canister under a trash can) and what spot might not be (e.g., a Humane Society office with the non-stop whining and barking of several soon-to-be doomed dogs, but the cache is a large ammo can next to a tree.)

More importantly, I spent a very nice weekend with my daughter, just her and me, exploring, laughing, picking on each other, and enjoying each others' company. I'll remember this weekend for a long time because of that.

The event got mentioned in another cacher's log, Rose Red.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy Days are gone again

On Wednesday, I wrote, "Happy Days is back to their ask-at-the-cage 2x$10 match plays for January. Apparently, I will be, too." Wednesday evening, I went 0-2 in blackjack match plays, down $20.

On Thursday, I showed up to a sign on the locked door with three words: "Casino is closed."

Today, the News Tribune reports:

Employees stunned by casino's abrupt closing
A minicasino in Lakewood, Wash. suddenly closed its doors Thursday after a vendor reclaimed equipment and some unpaid employees angrily confronted the owner, who later locked them out of the building.

Owner Jerry Bolser said he lost $3 million to $4 million and won't reopen because it would be "throwing good money after bad.

"Am I disappointed?" he said. "You bet."

Some employees, who hadn't been paid in weeks, had words with Bolser on Thursday just before a planned 11 a.m. opening. One manager, Jeff Young, said he shouted at Bolser, demanding that his employees get paid before they did any more work.

He said Bolser walked into his office and shut the door. Bolser said he needed to talk to his lawyer on the phone.
The minicasino had paid $167,000 in back gambling tax payments in November, but still owed the city more than $29,000 in interest and late payment penalties. Lakewood officials moved to revoke the minicasino's's business license, but it remained open while owners appealed to a hearings examiner.

Happy Days also violated a settlement agreement with the state Gambling Commission by failing to make a payment Thursday. The minicasino owed the state agency more than $24,000 for failing to disclose financial statements.

The business signed a settlement agreement Dec. 17 and paid about half of the amount then, said commission spokeswoman Susan Arland. The second payment of $12,082 was due Thursday and wasn't made, she said.

Happy Days workers last week filed 38 complaints with the state Department of Labor and Industries about not receiving paychecks.

I've got $35 in chips. I've e-mailed the state gambling commission to see what the chips are good for, other than selling to collectors on Ebay. I'm also really curious about their $50,000 player-banked poker jackpot. That's supposed to be distributed somehow.

My guess is that the big money will be donated: WAC 230-15-415, Removing a player-supported jackpot from play says, "(2) If licensees stop operating card games or fail to maintain a valid card game license, they must immediately distribute all PSJ funds to the Washington State Council on Problem Gambling."

(Hey, it's not like I didn't have an inkling of this risk last June.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Grab bag: sober poker, cache machine, and the wrong side of SD

It's been a couple of weeks. Time for a few bullet points to catch up:

  • Sober players make bad opponents: I played at Palace again just before Christmas; several of the players were home on Christmas break from college or wherever, they brought their A game, and they weren't drinking. I was up about $70 after two hours, then the deck ran cold, I ran into a set, and walked away from the table down $100. Bah.
  • Cache machine is Saturday: I've got the plans and route finalized for the Vancouver (WA) Cache Machine event, and this one feels like it's gonna be one of the better ones of the 14 I've organized. I got a call from the Vancouver PD today in response to a couple of questions I had about parking locations, and they were happy to be aware that we were coming to town. The route seems like it's pretty solid, the caches seem doable, and it's a good mix of micros, pocket parks, and quarter mile trail jaunts, with some history lessons tossed in. Should be fun.
  • Bad bell curve. No biscuit: I played through my December $200 bonus at PlayersOnly last night -- and lost $250. I don't have my spreadsheet with me right now, but that's close to being 2 standard deviations off of the expected result. I'm OK with that, because even when you're gambling with a positive expectation wager, you're still gambling. Sometimes, rarely, the coin will come up heads 10 times in a row.
  • Back to Happy: This month's Gambling Journal says that Happy Days is back to their ask-at-the-cage 2x$10 match plays for January. Apparently, I will be, too.
  • ...and taxes: I closed down my 2007 spreadsheet last night with a third year of profitability. If you add the the PlayersOnly bonuses and the Happy Days match play bonuses together, that's pretty much my profit for the year. Everything else seems to be a wash: poker wins, poker losses, $30 on the ponies, a few bucks at charity bingo. Not as good as 2006 or (/me gets a dreamy look) the pre-UIGEA 2005 year, but still, it's in the low positive 4-figures for the year. It'll pay for a family vacation. Taxes take a small chunk of it, but tax on fun money hurts less than tax on money I really worked for.