Category Archives: Gambling

Scaring the high-tech scarable

Three wooden toothpicks under the hatband forward of the feather leaning backward scares the hell out of them

Three wooden toothpicks under the hatband forward of the feather leaning backward scares the hell out of them

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

During those upsy-downsey times when I was trying to squeeze out a living playing blackjack I picked my casino carefully.  Only casinos offering the surrender option allows the player to throw out the blackjack books and stack the table and the odds in his own favor.  It’s a cause for black looks and hatred from the other players, but deep suspicion on the part of casino security and pit bosses.

Surrender doesn’t exist in a lot of gambling joints.  It allows players, once they see both their cards and one of the dealer cards, to take back half his bet and bow out of the hand.  I’d spent a lot of time on the computer figuring out how to turn this into a slight, but significant bending back the fingers of the house advantage.

One day I was doing fairly well on third base at the Santa Ana Star Casino.  I was wearing the high roller, and I always kept a few toothpicks in the hatband ahead of the feather for easy access during moments of contemplation.

My splitting 10s and not splitting aces at times, not at other times, doubling down sometimes, surrendering others, was working despite the fact it defied the traditions, superstitions and religions of blackjack.

I’d been there an hour or two when the pit boss came over standing beside me, watching.  At one point he bent across the partition during a hand, close to my head.  I thought he was smelling my high roller.  But a few minutes later two security men came and stood with him, watching.

A couple of hands later two more security folks came and stood behind me watching the play.  I didn’t change my strategy, kept getting as much money on the table as I could when the advantage was my way, surrendering when it wasn’t.

When the dealer finished the shoe the pit boss leaned over to me and said, “Would you mind taking your hat off please?”

I reached up and pulled it off, thinking he was admiring my high roller.  He bent over and squinted, along with the four security guards.  I handed him the hat and he showed it around, feather side up.  They all squinted.  Then one of the guards carefully took one of the toothpicks out of the band.

They’re just toothpicks!”  He handed it around so they all could confirm it.

He handed my high roller back to me and shrugged to the security men.  “You can go.”  Then he turned back to me.  “Why do you keep toothpicks in your hatband?”

By this time I’d caught onto their suspicions and concerns.  I was barely able to restrain myself, keep my humor dry.  “Mojo.”

What?”

Mojo.  Three toothpicks brings me paired 10s and more blackjacks.”

Sneering, he shrugged and walked away.  Surrendered and never knew it.

Old Jules

Moving the White House and Congress to Disneyland – A serious proposal

Hi readers.

Representative democracy isn’t working and pretty well everyone knows it.  Potential voters aren’t interestedand most don’t even recognize the costumes candidates wear to disguise themselves.  Citizens have learned from hard experience that they can vote for Snuffy Smith, L’il Abner or Joe Palooka and they still end up with Daddy Warbucks.

Moving the seat of the US government to Disneylandwould go a long way toward correcting that.  Everyone would know the candidates, known them all their lives.   A vote for Mickey Mouse or Goofy wouldn’t get you Scrooge McDuck in the White House.  Everyone is honest in Disneyland, and you get what you pay for.  Drucilla doesn’t get any glass slippers, Chittychittybangbang doesn’t have an atomic warhead and the Lady and the Tramp are all right there where everyone can see the fire hydrants.

The other advantage is that the Powerball Lottery HQ is right there in Orlando, close enough to move the IRS in there with them and do something about how the government can raise money on a more even-handed basis.  They could have billion dollar jackpots and just end their foreign wars a day earlier to pay off the winners.  Hell, everyone would be buying tickets.  And they wouldn’t gripe about doing it.

They could have a drawing every day giving away a billion dollars, all the while cutting off one day in the distant future when they’d end the wars overseas, bring the troops home.  It would assure that someday the past would catch up with the future and voila!  No more foreign military adventures!

Mary Poppins would make one hell of a lot better president than any we’ve had since wossname, Washington.

Old Jules

Getting had by Indians – taking the long view

homeland security2

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Europeans thought they were getting a fairly good deal when the Indians snookered them into paying a bunch of beads and mirrors for Manhattan.  As historian John Wayne once pointed out, “The Indians were selfishly hoarding the whole continent.”  They were in a position to demand unreasonable prices for real estate. 

Later on they demanded even higher prices for the land east of the Mississippi River and so on, always pretending they didn’t want to sell.  Cheating white men and the government every time they turned around.  The Black Hills.  The Rocky Mountains.  Florida.  Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, Washington.  New Mexico, Arizona, Texas.  Those aboriginals were shrewd businessmen, turning white people every way but loose.  Nevada.  Utah. Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, wheeling and dealing every step of the way.

Worse than a bunch of Chinamen.  Those Indians were taking the long view.  What they wanted was casinos.  Tricking white men into giving them choice spots along the highways where they could open up gambling joints.  Trinket shops.  Clay pots. 

And they got it, too.  They still have some nice real estate up in the Dakotas, down in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and other places.  And some of that land has oil, coal, natural gas and other things white people need to fire up the hair dryers, air conditioners and clothes dryers mornings. 

It’s time for white people to realize we’ve been had.  There are plenty of big power companies, mining companies, real estate developers and other white people who’d love to have that land if they could get it for a reasonable price.  Pay for it in slot machine tokens, maybe, or table chips. 

Time to cut off all that free health care and commodity cheese, break up those reservations right down to the pavement on the casino parking lots.  It’s time for white people to quit getting had by Indians.  Those corporations would gladly keep them from selfishly hoarding all the stuff nobody knew was there when the original deals were made to let them stay on that land.

And after all, we’re all Native Americans now.  If we’re not, what the hell are we?

When the Mexicans were selfishly hoarding the whole southwest US we had to shoot a lot of them before they’d give us a reasonable price.  How the hell are we going to stop all those illegal aliens from Mexico  sneaking into the land we took away from them if we keep getting had by other Native Americans?

We need to send some tanks and drones and helicopters to take care of our problems right here at home before we go off to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  There’s nothing on those reservations and in those casinos a few thousand mercenaries and enough explosives won’t cure.

The Visionary President Ronald Reagan wanted to give all the National Forests, National Parks and Bureau of Land Management lands to the real estate developers, mining and oil companies.  But he didn’t go far enough and it serves him right he’s remembered as a failed lunatic.  He had the Army and he had maps of the US.  If he didn’t know where the reservations were he could have asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  White people could have finally gotten a good deal on something.

Old Jules

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking

geiger counter

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Tom, the retired USAF colonel who occupied the office next to me in the bomb shelter of the old National Guard HQ in Santa Fe, NM, should have known a lot about radioactivity.   He spent the entire Cuban Missile Crisis camped under the wing of his B-47 bomber.  Had all kinds of tales about the flight maneuvers a pilot had to perform to drop a hydrogen bomb and come away in one piece.

The New Mexico Emergency Planning and Management Bureau [EMPAC] was all housed in that bomb shelter.  Most of the section chiefs were retired colonels, except my humble self, and Louis, head of Radiation Control.  When nothing was going on there’d always be a few of us gathered in one office or another telling and listening to interesting experiences in our varied pasts.

So when Tom found his travel schedule was going to coincide with the one-day-per-year the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated allowed visitors, we all envied him.  He was gone a week travelling all over the State, and a few days after he returned several of us gathered in his office to hear all about it.

Naturally there’d been a nice dog and pony show at an old ranch house from the time a mile or so away, now converted to oversight center.  Then, off to ground zero.

Tom described how it was all bare sand and soil, how they’d scraped away all the green glass that used to cover the spot.  How visitors were warned not to pick up any of that green glass if they should find a piece. 

So when his glance downward showed him a piece of that green glass peeking out of the sand near his foot, of course he had to tie his shoe.  Slipped it into his pocket.  Gave us all a sly smile when he pulled it out and held it in his palm.

Wow!  A piece of green glass from the first nuclear detonation on earth!  We all wanted to hold it.  Passed it around, all except Louis.  Our Rad Control section head.  He stepped back a pace when his turn came to hold it.

I’d like to put an instrument on that.”  Louis had access to plenty of instruments, had more than a thousand of them spotted all over New Mexico.  Part of the mission of his section was going around changing the batteries on those Geiger Counters regularly.

He was out the door and back while the rest of us waited in mild curiosity.  The glass was back on Tom’s desk and Louis clicked the power switch.  Didn’t actually have to get too near with the probe to peg the needle.  Didn’t have to put on the headset to hear the buzz.  We all heard it.

Louis had a straight shot at the doorway and he was first out.  Followed closely by everyone but Tom.  He just sat staring at that piece of green glass.  Probably wondering what the hell to do with it.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Trinity Site, but I never got around to it.  Even when I was living several years just up the road from it.

Old Jules

The Great Tick Migration – Occupy Texas

Old Jules:

Hi readers. I’m reblogging this because the original writing of it was a direct consequence of the events described in the previous post. J

Originally posted on So Far From Heaven:

I wrote this when I lived in Socorro, New Mexico, but I’d guess it’s as timely and germane today as it was then.

It’s sad, but they have to migrate: there’s no good water in the Rio Grande anymore.  It’s all sewage passed downstream from Albuquerque and other towns. 
 
This was almost home to them. Their ancestors arrived with the first cattle drives from Texas in the 1880s. But finally they’ve had enough. Lemming-like they’ve decided as one to return home, Lone Star Ticks to the Lone Star State, same as those invading Confederate Texas humans had to finally stagger and stumble home when things took a turn for the worst..
 
This far south they’ve just begun to gather; just started to come out from under the grassleaves, the treebark, stragglers still coming out of the brush. The main migration gathering is further north in the Isleta lands…

View original 722 more words

Tequila sunrise

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Old Ms. Niaid managed to off Brother Rattler without any consequences evidently, so she’s going to have to find something else to flesh out her life experience, I reckons. Her long hair’s growing back from the sheep shearing when the hot weather hit, and it’s filling up with beggar’s lice and grass burrs, which might serve to fend off whatever’s around here dangerous to aging bachelorette felines.

Ms. Tabby, on the other hand, has a nose and front-of-her-face of the usual Tabby-summertime variety. Can’t keep her nose out of cactus, or out of the business of something capable of adding color and romance to an otherwise nondescript Tabby face. I’m thinking when we get out of here she might turn out to be a regular-looking cat.

I decided yesterday I’m going to add mothballs to that storage building to get those rattlers out where they can enjoy life instead of bickering and snarling inside that dark storage building. Can’t tell when someone’s going to want something else out of there and the anxiety level trying to find it ain’t worth not stepping on a snake some night going from the RV to the cabin to check my email.

Today I’m going to nurse the Escape Route V 2.51 into Kerrville on three tires on back and have the two blown ones replace with respectable 10 ply exceptions to the rule. Provided the spare on the ground right-rear doesn’t decide to blow the plan. I’ll try to take back roads and get the roadwork done early before the pavement gets too hot.

Keith emailed me a while back he’s planning to be in New Mexico late August or September, and I’m going to tentatively plan on getting out to visit while he’s in the area. Hopefully by then everything will be settled out here and I’ll be able to think of out-there as home for a while.

Maybe get me a nice little piece of ocean-side ground on the east, or west coast of New Mexico, once all the damned ice goes away and raises sea-level to a reasonable altitude. 4000′ mean sea level might be about right. Maybe the cats and I will open a little bait shop on the west coast near where Arizona used to be. Or maybe rig a surfboard and hang ten mornings after we pray the sun up.

I figure the west coast will probably be less jam packed with Arizonians than the east coast will be with Texans because those Texans already all go to New Mexico deliberately to ski and gamble at Ruidoso and Angel Fire. Arizonians and Californians never go to New Mexico deliberately unless they’re just going through it to get somewhere else.

By the time they wake up and discover they’re living in a salt-water swimming hole I’ll have things nailed down on all the corners, wave to them as they swim to shore, or ride in on their bass boats. Sell them some bait, maybe.

Big plans for the future here.

Old Jules

Damned fool dogs that didn’t hunt – Risk taking and priorities

wind sock columbus2

If you happen to be one of those people who goes through life making decisions about the dogs you’ve considered buying and they always hunted you probably believe it’s because you’ve been wise and prudent.  Or purely from ‘hard work’.  It’s certainly tempting for the person with that body of experience to believe it’s true, and maybe it is. 

Who the hell wants to believe, having spent his life scrambling with the only goal being ending up eventually with more money than you can spend, that it was because it’s just how it went?  That successfully accumulating a lot of money through a lifetime isn’t a hell of a lot different from just inheriting money?  That when the kids inherit what you accumulated but didn’t spend, the only favor you did them was giving them a leg up to being dirty rich kids turned adult?  Robbed them of the experience of scrambling and making the hard decisions and compromises you made, learned from, and consider vital to your life?

Alternatively, for people who muddle along staying in the middle of the bell shaped curve, or those who buy dogs that didn’t hunt tend to blame it on someone else, or outside factors.  The government, rich people, or just lousy luck.

Seems to me the problem with all this is the measuring stick, and it’s a disease of modern life.  Something we condition ourselves to early and never do enough thinking about to examine carefully.  So we fret about whether the chips on the table are $1 chips, or $100 ones and let the place they occupy on the value system influence whether we stay, or raise, nevermind the cards we’re holding.

I’m writing this because the game I’m in at the moment seems to be a high stakes one where I’m sitting.  People nearby ain’t saying so, but they believe I’m a damned fool for the buying the Toyota RV, believing what the guy who sold it to me told me about it, not knowing enough to assure it was the truth.

I’m not denying it’s true.  I thought the guy was honest and maybe he was.  He never checked a lot of it out because the guy who sold it to him was a good Christian in his church and he believed what he’d been told.

So I borrowed the money to buy it from a close friend and I’ll be paying him back for a longish time at $100 per month, whether that RV is in a junk yard, or has the coach stripped off and is earning its keep as a hauling cargo vehicle.  The buck stops here.  I’m not going to lie or misrepresent what that truck is and put some other poor bastard into the same position I’m in.  I’ll junk it first and swallow the loss, screw all the yardsticks.

So now I’ve got another RV staring me in the face, all my mistrusting sense organs fired up from the last time I trusted anyone.  Stakes being roughly the same as before, but seeming higher because I borrowed money from another friend I’m going to be paying back $100 per month for a couple of years, win, lose, or draw.

And knowing no matter how much checking I do, how clever I try to be, there’s a better-than-even chance the guy’s lying about something important I won’t be smart enough to catch.  Or maybe he’s telling the truth and buying the thing will be the smartest thing I ever did.

Either way, I’ll still be the damned fool I was before, the only difference being whether I think I was smart, or blame the government, or rich people, or Lady Luck.

Hell of a deal.

Philosophy by Limerick – The Intestinal Parasite

Two political parties, or thrice,
Patricians are fatter than lice.
When bones are scraped narrow
They’ll suck out the marrow,
Turn knuckle-bones into dice.

Old Jules

The TimeWarpsVille Saga – Civilization Arrives

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Visitors Not Having Fun Will Be Prosecuted

Civilization is seeping into TimeWarpsVille, and it’s rearing its ugly head in the Junction City Park.

Rules Carefully Disambiguated

Enjoyment is facilitated by clarifications and footnotes to entrance rules.

Dive Risks Deferred to Others

But who the hell wants to swim at his own risk?

ALL chains must be securely fastened to craft.

Several safe flying saucer tiedowns are provided.

I didn’t feel much like skinny-dipping at my own risk and suspected I was having more fun than the law allows.  Decided it was time to head for the graveyard or one of the museums.  Maybe look over some historical marker sites.

Old Jules

Gamblers, Gambling and Risk-taking

Previously blogged May 17, 2005

Saturday a recently acquired friend and I revisited one of the sites I spent a lot of time puzzling over during the search for the lost gold  mine.  The place was the focus of the ’98 search  and a good many years prior to that.  Sometimes it amazes me how many times I climbed and unclimbed the west face of that mountain, always finding something new and puzzling.  I spent most of a month camped at the top, friends coming in for a week or so, then heading back to their lives elsewhere without finding what we were looking for, but finding enough adventure, fellowship and mountain air for a while and remember as one of the good times.This was Jim’s first time up there.  We went in mainly to look at a rock pillar that’s peeling away from a cliff face.

It’s a formation that fascinated a man I’ve come to know awfully well by his work; a man I never met, but whom I followed around that mountain puzzling over what he did, how he did it and why he did it.  A man who lived and died 150 years ago, roughly.  A man who knew a gamble when he saw one, went into a canyon spang in the middle of Apache country at a time when the best he could hope for if he was a quick death, or if his luck was bad, hanging upside down over a slow fire.

I’ve been wearing the arrowhead that almost certainly killed him hanging from a leather thong around my neck for a decade or more.  The ruin a few charred logs high, a long-tom sluice he carved with an axe out of a three-foot diameter log, a 400 pound rock he chiseled down to use as an arrastra and a hundred or so signs and symbols he made on rocks, along with his various diggings are all that’s left to tell what kind of man he was.

A gambler, he was, gambling on being caught by Apaches, gambling a broken leg in a place where such a thing was sure death.  A man who believed in himself so thoroughly that in that setting that he pecked away at the base of a 50 ton pillar of rock trying to get at what was underneath until it gives a man the fantods even today to walk beneath it.

One of the things I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating as I watched Orion chasing the Pleiades across the night sky to the background music of wind in the treetops is the thought of how a man of that sort would feel about a world where low-level risk-taking is a criminal offense.

A time when edging the nose of  a vehicle onto the pavement without fastening the seat belt probably won’t get you hurt, but it will almost certainly get you a conversation with an armed pair of mirror sunglasses.  A time when risk is defined in how many years it might take you to get cancer from whatever you’re eating or smoking.  When excessive gambling is betting the grocery money at the blackjack table.

I wonder if he’d have played a wheel, or just picked a few numbers that suited him and bought a hundred tickets with the same six numbers on them, going for broke on something he believed in, the way he did in life.

One of the ways we define who and what we are includes what we’re willing to give up to travel around the sun a few more times.  That guy on the mountain wasn’t inclined to give up much.

Old Jules