Friday, February 22, 2008

Green Aces

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker, 32% Other]

I do not want them on my right.
I do not want them in my sight.
I do not like them in the blind.
I do not like them of any kind.
I care not for them here or there.
I care not for them anywhere.
I do not like green aces against my bluff.
I do not like them, I’ve lost enough.
Big Slick Seuss

Monday, February 11, 2008

Las Vegas Real Estate Auction

[Content Disclosure: Poker 0.3%; Real Estate 77%; Economy 19%; Life's Ups and Downs 44% or 4%]

Many of my readers have no idea what I did with my life before poker. While I have had several incarnations as far as employment goes, my most enduring profession was real estate. I was an agent in Los Angeles, then I taught real estate for several years and finally I co-owned a mortgage company in Manhattan Beach for most of the '80's.

With the current downturn in the market I have been following the distress sales here in the Las Vegas valley and attending a couple of foreclosure auctions each month. I am both attempting to gauge the bottom of the market and searching for a place to live, as I will be relocating this summer. I can attest that the blood is not yet flowing in the streets of Las Vegas but the situation is not good if you are on the builder/seller side of the equation.

Yesterday, there was an auction of 83 condos from the bankrupt developer to the public. These were new, mostly unoccupied condos in northwest Las Vegas (Summerlin). The auction was held at the Palace Station with 400+ registered buyers (to be a registered buyer you needed to show up with a $5,000 cashier's check). The opening bids ($89,000 for 2 bedrooms, $119,000 for 2 bedrooms) were all quickly opened from the "investor's table". Two bedrooms actually started at $125K and threes began at $150K. Despite the fact that these condos had been previously listed $75K to $100K higher, the true extend of the "deals or steals" being made were unclear as the sale ended. The value of these properties will be based on the first resales but it is clear that if you bought any of the other 120+ units in this project at anywhere near the "list prices", yesterday you took a big hit in your equity position.

Real Estate auctions are interesting social phenomenon. They really do use a fast talking auctioneer, they have tuxedoed staff out in the audience clapping and cheering on each bid. They have a side room for immediate loan qualification and at least a dozen "sold" properties came back to be sold again after the high bidder was unable to supply credible documentation for the purchase. Most notable in the midst of the noise and stilted auction frenzy were the two sullen gentlemen seated at the front of the room marking down each auction bid. Say hello to the developers, nary a smile all day from these gents.

I ended the day by heading down to the Palace Station poker room and playing through a rake of whites. It was a tight $4/$8 game with a whole lot less gamble than those folks upstairs at the real estate auction.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Upon the Occasion of Becoming Sixty

Until I was forty most everyone thought I was much older than I chronologically was. Leroy and I easily drank at "old men bars" in Kalamazoo when I was a mere nineteen. As my olde college friend Bob has said: "You have the advantage in our waning years that back when we were twenty, you looked like you were sixty." Now a lot of this has to do with hair and not improper carbon dating. Hair being a physical attribute of which I have been devoid since, well, forever. But somewhere around forty, the eyes of the world misted over or perhaps it was just I never actually matured sufficiently but for the last twenty years, most estimates at my number of rings have been well below actual my calendar progression. This will mean that some occasional readers of this blog will be agape and agog to discover that yesterday was my sixtieth birthday.

But I am not the first to reflect upon the incident of aging nor the last of my generation to see themselves as "not looking my age", either in my daydreams or my eHarmony profile. Others, however, have perhaps reflected more eloquently:

"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations." Anais Nin
My day was occupied as it usually is with this laptop and several writing projects. But as synchronicity would have it, Bob, the aforementioned olde college chum, was in town on business and we met for dinner. Aside from the old geezer talk about aches and pains we have acquired and the fact that we "were never this old before"; there was some trenchant analysis of the politics of today. Both Bob and I were political science majors back in the Sixties and he has spent the last 30+ years in Washington DC. He had some truly enlightening perspectives on the phenomenon of "Hillary Hatred", which seems to arise from the unlikeliest and darkest of places. The single topic I recall most clearly ended with the mutual agreement that "moral fanaticism is a cancer on this country."

After exploring our aged perspective on the state of the universe; please note at "our age" we neither offer solutions nor solve any of the staggering array of the human malaise. However, being true children of the Sixties and being that someone had left Bob an extra ticket, we ended the evening with Cirque de Soleil's Beatles tribute "Love". As usual Guy Laliberte's gang has constructed yet another Cirque level experience. With the Beatles they did take on a world wide icon and despite the constraints of time and song selection, it was a most entertaining show. There is just too much of the Fab Four to contain in the space and time of the Love theatre at the Mirage but we both recommend the show to our aging comrades and their offspring.

The Cirque Love ends, of course, with All You Need is Love (video), so shall I.

Age does not protect you from love, but love to some extent protects you from age. Jean Moreau

Friday, February 01, 2008

Observations on the Digital Screen

[Content Disclosure: Poker 0%, Television 101%, Delirium 14%, Nyquil 17 ounces]

I recently had a week long bout with evil viruses and germs, which made sitting here in front of my laptop a less than rewarding experience. Not only was my head full of cerebral cotton but my insight was reduced to the level of Mayberry RFD. So I took to my cave and brought out the couch comforter, the two super-sized bottle of Nyquil (one green and one red) and the remote control.

Where I reside these days there is a monster television screen and literally dozens of stations I have never explored and several score more I never knew existed. These are my reflections on a short week of Dextromethorphan infused exploration of television--January, 2008.

Not only are most adults not Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, most fifth graders aren't either.

Apparently Brittany Spears is more significant to the welfare of the country than either the presidential race or the looming recession.

If you are considering buying a home and spending $30,000 to remodel it so you can "flip it" in 30 days.... Don't!

Forensic Science has a lot to do with cutting the heads off of Q-Tips.

Oh and on that same subject, I know where all the disco lights from the 70's have gone; they are now installed in CSI labs all over the country. My cold got better before I could discover the exact reason for this but it may have something to do with the highlights in David Caruso's hair.

I thought I understood Hugh Hefner all these years but "The Girls Next Door" has given me new insight into his personality and now I am very, very confused about the Playboy Philosophy.

Many grown men and now several women still talk for two weeks about one football game, as if millions of people were listening. Oh and on this same topic: history is not made, never has been made and never will be made in a football stadium, at least not by anyone on the field.

The first half of the show "Intervention" is often compelling programming. The second half is not much more than Jerry Springer. On that same note, I believe the last time I took this much over the counter medication and watched this much television, I concluded that Jerry Springer was the sign of the End Times. Clearly I was wrong but that the human species will actually find a way to debase itself in worse ways is mind-boggling.

The most dramatic portion of the new wave of game shows seems to be when the host announces a commercial break, which for some reason surprises and distresses the contestants.

Politicians are saying what they have always said. This is neither political cynicism nor apathy; they really are saying exactly the same words they have said time and time again. Change, tax relief, a critical time for our country....

Digital Television really is much clearer and in many cases this is not a good thing. See Jerry Springer reference above.

In its nineteenth season, The Simpson's remains the most coherent commentary on life in the United States, rivaled only by the short-lived The Osbourne's and the Home Shopping Network, which may be the new sign of the Beast.

No cable news network is middle of the road, much less neutral but at least Fox News admits to being right wing.

Finally and seriously, it appears from all of the news shows I watched that the war in Iraq has either been won, lost or put on hold because they have stopped reporting on it. Remember when the "Vietnam War during the dinner hour" pushed many to question the government's policies in SouthEast Asia. Now, it seems, the corporate news conglomerates have simply stopped covering a war. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?