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Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 2 comments

Pet Sounds

 

Nolan Dalla Cat

Alex — Our 11-year-old stray adopted from a shelter in Washington, DC

 

A few years ago, a famous Italian winemaker came to the United States on a mission.  He was determined to open up a new restaurant in the Seattle area.

The winemaker and aspiring restauranteur was in the process of hiring his staff.  While conducting job interviews with each applicant, he made it a point to pose one rather unusual question to each of his prospective employees.  It didn’t matter if the position was for manager, cook ,waiter, or dishwasher.  The question was always asked.

“Do you own any pets?”

Pets?  This seemed like a very strange question.  Especially for a job interview at a restaurant.  After all, the applicants weren’t applying for jobs in a pet store.

But the winemaker had his personal reasons for posing such a seemingly oddball question.  Immediately after asking about their pets, he watched the eyes and monitored the expressions of all those who were sitting across the table, eagerly hoping to be part of his new restaurant.  He listened carefully to the way each applicant spoke about their pets.  Were they excited?  Were there expressions of love in their voices?  For those who did not own a pet, was there a desire to get one someday?  For those who no longer had a pet, did they grow up with dogs and cats?  If so, how did they feel about them?

Naturally, this was a curious thing.  The winemaker was asked what any of this had to do with owning and operating a successful restaurant.

“Why do you ask every applicant if they own a pet?” he was asked by the person who told me this story.  The winemaker’s answer was intriguing.

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Posted by on Aug 9, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Politics | 3 comments

Meeting Richard Nixon — A Shakespearean Tragedy

 

RIchard Nion in San Clemente

 

IF WATERGATE DIDN’T HAPPEN, WOULD WE NOW HAVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE?

 

Thirty-eight years ago tonight, President Richard Nixon resigned from the most powerful job in the world.

August 9, 1974 was a particularly muggy night in Washington, fitting for the national tragedy that was the final tortured two years of Richard Nixon’s doomed presidency.

Everyone in America knew what Nixon was going to say on television that incredible night — announcing to the world that he would become the first and only president in American history to resign from office.  But until we actually watched it for ourselves, until we witnessed it, until we heard the President tearfully utter the fateful words, “I shall resign the presidency,” no one really contemplated the full force of gravity that was the tragedy and sorrow of that memorable night.

I was 12 years old when I watched Nixon’s resignation.  During the spring leading up to that night, in school classrooms we watched the Senate committee hearings on Watergate, which were carried live on all three major networks.  This was long before cable television, so everyone knew what was going on politically in this country, since that was all that was shown.  And what grand theater it was — the nation’s first real reality show, with an astounding cast of characters, entwined in the gravest of controversies.

By the summer of 1974, just about everyone in America loathed Nixon — even Republicans.  His job approval ratings hit an all-time low of 12 percent.  Resignation was inevitable.

Richard Nixon was a divisive figure, to be sure, and very much remains so.  He’s arguably the most vilified American political leader of the 20th Century by those on the left, and in the judgment of many.  Perhaps, even deservedly so.

Yet behind his utter disregard for the U.S. Constitution during the crisis, and the crimes which eventually became known as the Watergate scandal, was a highly-accomplished man of tremendous intellect and great potential.  Indeed, he very well might have gone down as the greatest LIBERAL since FDR, had his executive agenda not been diverted by the massive cover up and all-consuming series of events that led to his downfall.

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Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Blog, Featured, Personal, Picture 1, Politics | 4 comments

What I Saw: Photo Essay of the 1989 Romanian Revolution

 

Nolan Dalla in Bucharest Romania

Romanian Army forces during the 1989 Romanian Revolution

 

The Romanian Revolution took place in December 1989.  I lived in Romania at the time and was assigned to the American Embassy in Bucharest.

Few Americans or Westerners lived in Romania during that period.  It was one of the East Bloc’s most repressive regimes.  Media were not allowed into the country, and so there remains relatively little coverage of one of the most extraordinary political upheavals since World War II.

Romania was one of the final Eastern European Communist dictatorships to collapse, following a series of relatively peaceful revolutions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany — which had taken place during the preceding months.

However, aside from the aftermath of Yugoslavia’s demise in the early 1990s, Romania’s “revolution” was by far the most violent.  Thousands died in the bloody street battles between the dissidents aligned with the Romanian Army and dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s private military forces known as “Securitate.”  In fact, a series of demonstrations and riots plagued Romania over the next six months leading into the Summer of 1990.

I’ll be writing a series of narratives about these experiences in the weeks to come.  In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of some photography (most of it mine, which is why it’s of lesser quality) which has not been seen before.  Most of these photos have been kept in my garage.  Keep in mind these photos were taken before digital cameras.  Moreover, film was very difficult to obtain in Romania at the time, which makes photographs (and especially video) of the revolution somewhat rare.

 

Nolan Dalla in Bucharest Romania with Romanian Army

Nolan (in white) with officers in the Romanian Army

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Posted by on Aug 5, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 0 comments

Trip Report — The Final Chapter (Part 5)

 

Note:  This is the fifth and final installment of a trip report I wrote (unpublished) from February and March of 2012.

 

XV:  MONDAY: FINAL DAY OF WSOP CIRCUIT AT CAESARS ATLANTIC CITY

I rarely discuss working at the World Series of Poker in any public forum, other than comments related to my official role.  I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment here or anywhere on what goes on behind the scenes nor infuse my personal biases into what I do.  So, those of you looking for that in this blog — you will be disappointed.  I consider it a great honor to work for the WSOP as long as I have and I simply do not betray confidences entrusted in me.

But I’ll break protocol somewhat in this report, with some activities that take place on the thirteenth and final day of the WSOP Circuit at Caesars Atlantic City.  Today will be a brutal workload, with THREE final tables to cover, which means three full written reports, the most important of which is the Main Event Championship.

I must admit some of these reports are like industrial writing.  It’s like grinding out a new chapter in a giant tech manual each day.  Occasionally, there’s a good story here and there.  But how in the fuck do you make a 22-year-old college dropout winning $26,183 compelling reading?

There’s also data entry for all results to do, which is what I’ve been reduced to at age 50.  A fucking data entry clerk.  That’s what I am.  Only, instead of typing in social security numbers and addresses, it’s poker players and chip counts.  Now, I know why insurance salesmen are the heaviest drinkers.  Monotonous mind-numbing repetition must be doused with some extinguishing excitation.

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Posted by on Aug 4, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 0 comments

Trip Report — Trump Taj Mahal Atlantic City (Part 4)

XII:  SATURDAY EVENING:  AT-LARGE BANQUET

Speaking to any audience in the poker community is a challenge.  Think about it.  Most poker groups are full of novice recreational players — unsophisticated star-struck newcomers who pretty much salt lick any speaker’s ass and chomp any poker tidbit like its a carrot dangling in front of a mule.  But this group I’m with tonight has a considerably higher threshold of expectation, which is precisely why some of our past BARGE speakers were misfires (including yours truly).  Bottom Line:  It’s not easy to entertain as well as inform a group with some of the brightest and most experienced minds in the game.

In short — it’s hard to hit a triple crown with any speaker at a poker gathering, which in my view consists of:  1. A speaker who “gets us,” 2: A speaker who is informative, and 3. A speaker who is entertaining.  If we hit on two of those cylinders, that’s a double.  Three is a home run.

I was pleased when I initially heard that John Pappas would be this year’s speaker.  For those who do not know him, John serves as the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).  It’s an organization to which I give a mixed grade, which would probably be a “C” mixed with an “I” for INCOMPLETE.  But I certainly respect the fine work John has done and I am eager to hear his latest from the political front.

I thought John hit a solid single on at the banquet with his speech.  There was nothing earth-shattering nor newsworthy about it.  But, he essentially covered all the bases with the latest with what’s happening in poker at the moment, especially with regards to online poker legalization.  I do think John could have been a little more revealing about the work he does, and would very much have liked to hear some behind-the-scene stories about what he’s seen an experienced.  I can only imagine the roadblocks of ignorance he’s up against with the clueless whores we elect as lawmakers.  Some candid revelations about what happens in the trenches of lobbying could have been entertaining.  But, you can’t fetch the winning hand from the muck and so this too shall pass.

Now, let’s move on to what you are waiting for — the ballbusting.

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