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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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Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Picture 1, Travel | 1 comment

Bucharest 1989

 

Nolan Dalla just prior to the Romanian Revolution

This photo was taken in December 1989, just after the Romanian Revolution. I’m standing In front of Casa Republicii (House of the Republic) in Central Bucharest a short time after the fall of Nicolae Ceasescu. Casa Republicii, then under construction, was to be the new government center for the Romanian Communist Party. Ceausescu oversaw its construction personally, which essentially bankrupted the nation. It still stands as the world’s largest office building. But he never saw it completed. He was shot by a firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989.

Note to Readers:  Thanks for coming and visiting my site.  This week, I’m playing in several poker events here in Las Vegas (BARGE 2012).  Accordingly, I’ll be posting an unpublished series of trip reports from earlier this year.  Next week, I’ll begin a new series on the events that led up to the 1989 Romanian Revolution and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.  This will be the first time I have shared my experiences of living in Romania during this period.  I’ll also be posting many photographs, which have not been seen publicly.  Over the next month, look for commentary on politics, religion, and just about any topic this happens to pop into my twisted mind that day.

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Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Travel | 1 comment

Three Dogs and a Mexican (Part 2)

 

It was a Sunday.

Boulevards normally jammed with traffic were less so and moved more freely.  It was a day of leisure.  People were out and about.

The park was busier than the day before.  Children ran in circles.  There was laughter.  Music played.

And, my eighth run began alongside the concrete aqueduct.

Just as the day before, I ran about a mile, and then veered off the right.  I scaled the first wall effortlessly and ran a considerable distance before coming upon the same cinder block barricade I remembered from the previous day.

I had arrived at the blue tent.

But this time, the tent had an occupant.  A small-framed man, perhaps 30 or so, sat upright on what appeared to be a sleeping bag.  I did not want to startle or disturb the man.  So, I quietly made my way over the wall and began to proceed down the path to continue my run.

Suddenly, one of the dogs started barking.  And the other dogs too, joined in unison.  The canine alarm bells had gone off.

I could not see the man’s face clearly.  But, he must have been fearful.  After all, few passersby run along the aqueduct and certainly no one scales over two barricades – on a weekend, no less – to invade the solitude this man had etched for himself in what was a gigantic foreign metropolis.

Alerted by the barking mutts, the man quickly rose to his feet when he saw me.  He appeared startled, and it was easy to understand why this was so.

Seeing a invader passing along the aqueduct, in a place off-limits to pedestrian traffic, had to be a terrifying prospect for this frightened man resting in solace, who was clearly Hispanic, probably Mexican — and almost certainly an illegal alien.

That’s right — an illegal alien.  Chew on those words for a moment.

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Travel | 2 comments

Three Dogs and a Mexican (Part 1)

 

This is the story of a man you will never know.

This is the story of a man you will never see.

Yet, it’s the story of so many who live amongst us – hidden away within the crevices of all towns and cities, invisible to the contemporary consciousness.

Los Angeles’ arteries are not highways — but rather its aqueducts. They are a meandering maze of concrete vessels bringing life to millions. Mostly unseen and largely ignored, they lie burrowed amid a gigantic quilt of industrial parks and busy freeways choked with traffic and frustration, channeling clear water from the snow-packed High Sierras down to valleys, and ultimately to our sinks, bathtubs, toilets, garden hoses, swimming pools, and restaurants.

There is one man  the who calls the aqueduct his “home.”

This is the story of how I came to stumble upon that man and how I became aware of the numerous challenges he faces each day.  It is the story of an unintended series of personal events which reminds us that compassion and generosity are not measured by volume of deeds but rather by the simplest acts of human kindness.

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