...never judge a book by its movie

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Live Blogging the Poker Stars WBCOOP Main Event at 3 PM Eastern today

All right! So THIS is the BIG one, folks! So far, here is my WBCOOP history:

Event 1: I forgot about it
Event 2: I could not get Poker Stars to open up the tourney until after I was blinded out already
Event 3: By the time the tourney table opened up for me, it was about 40 minutes in, I was seriously short-stacked, and I bottomed out quickly, leaving at about 918th out of about 1800 runners
Event 4: I played well enough to get to the final table as the short stack (very short) with railbirds telling me to "all in every time". I did NOT follow that advice, only playing one hand badly enough to cause me grief, and ended up placing a respectable second, scoring a $215 SCOOP tourney ticket.
Event 5: This was an 8-game, and although lasted through the first hour, I was out in the second hour at about 618th out of about 1400-1500 runners.
Event 6: Again, I forgot about it (the time for the others was 6:00; this one started at 3:00, but I thought it started at 5, so at 4:30, when I opened the Poker Stars software, it was already over for me :(
Event 7: TODAY! AT 3 PM!!!

I've finally figured out that I can avoid the tourney table freezing as it opens if I already have a table (any table) open - the freeze happens only on the first tourney table opening, so maybe today I won't have to sit here for 20 minutes waiting for the tourney to appear. I don't know, I've uninstalled and reinstalled, and it's only been happening for 2 weeks, but it's pretty irritating. I get even more irritated when it happens during cash games.

The WBCOOP twitter feed will also be integrated into the postings, so you will be able to see other participant's commentary as we go. I'm only blogging my own participation, so when I'm out, the blog feed is over!

Right now, 1977 peeps are signed up. Out of those, only 153 will place, with the placement structure as follows:

64th thru 153rd - $22 SCOOP entry
37th thru 63rd - $55 SCOOP entry
10th thru 36th - $215 SCOOP entry
2nd thru 9th - $2100 SCOOP entry
1st - $3150 SCOOP entry

Not bad 'tall for a freeroll, eh? So wish me luck and join me back here at 3PM to see if No Limit Hold 'Em will be good to me today.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Live Blogging WBCOOP Event #5 at Poker Stars at 7 PM EST tonight

As usual, it looks as though I will be a 'sitter' for at least the first 10 minutes of this, as I haven't figured out what the heck is causing Poker Stars to freeze at the start of any tourney, including SNG's, that I play for at least the past 2 weeks.

I also haven't figured out how to add screen shots to the live feed, so none of those tonight either.

I HAVE figured out how to add the Twitter feed for #WBCOOP, so you'll (hopefully) see the other players' remarks as well as mine.

OK, so this one is going to be 8-game, which includes the following games:

T - Limit 2-7 Triple Draw
H - Limit Hold’em
O - Limit Omaha Eight or Better (Hi/Lo)
R - Razz
S - Limit Seven Card Stud
E - Limit Stud Eight or Better (Hi/Lo)
H - No Limit Hold’em
A - Pot Limit Omaha

Now, most grinders like me play only Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha and it's variants. I have tried all of the other games, and I do ... well, OK ... but not like tops in the universe. I anticipate that there will be players who have NEVER played any of the other games, so there will be lots of action because they'll be playing games they are not used to and trying to make up for their losses when "their" game comes up. I'm hoping to stay in long enough to at least get a low ticket, so I don't embarrass myself. Wish me luck!!
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Poker Stars WBCOOP Event #4 Live Coverage

I will be live blogging my participation in the Poker Stars WBCOOP tournament this evening starting at 6 PM Eastern time. Stop by and see how I do!

I came in a respectable 2nd, after calling raises twice on a hand that I should have been out of when the flop came ... taking me down too low for any kind of comeback. I get a $215 SCOOP tourney ticket for my efforts ... tune in tomorrow for Event #5.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Live at Poker Stars WCOOP Event #3

So, I couldn't get into Poker Stars for the first event, and I failed miserably yesterday.  Hopefully, I'll do better today!

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Wordless Wednesday

My youngest daughter Autumn the year before last at drama camp:

I know she's mine, but she's so friggin' gorgeous!!
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Send in the Clowwns

This has nothing to do with the blog, but I saw this today and both times that I watched it, I went into huge belly laugh territory.  WARNING:  If you are scared of clowns, this video is not for you!!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Giveaway Roundup

So, it's early Monday and time for me to start what I hope will be a Monday tradition for this blog.

One of my hobbies is sweepstaking, which is entering sweepstakes and contests.  I have won some awesome prizes, including trips to places and events that I could never have gone to, cash, merchandise, gift cards, and more.  I've been doing this for maybe 8 or 9 years, ever since I had my own retail website and began to run a monthly contest on it.  For a few months, there were very few entries, then suddenly, the entries rocketed up.  I followed my webstats program and found the referring website, which was a sweepstakes forum where people would list sweepstakes they found.  I followed the discussions, asked questions, and started entering myself.  In my first year, I won 2 pairs of very nice snowshoes, 100,000 airmiles, $1000, and lots of smaller and very nice items.  So color me hooked.

I only enter for items that I would really like or that I know a close friend or family member would really like (think birthdays and Christmas!).

There are quite a few blogs out there that run giveaways for companies in exchange for reviews of products or for other compensation or sometimes for no compensation at all.  Hopefully, within a few months (after a blog redesign and getting some know-how in), I can start doing some giveaways for you on my site.

In the meantime, each week, I'll highlight giveaways from other blogs for you.

First off, if you haven't heard of Flirty Aprons , they have the CUTEST aprons imaginable.  My favorite:

Isn't it cute?  Anyway, there are a couple of blogs running giveaways for your choice of a Flirty Apron:

Go to their websites; check out their reviews and enter for yourself.  I know that in my case, if I can't WIN one, I DEFINITELY want to buy one!

Here are quite a few more from Sweeps 4 Bloggers:

A set of pillowcases from A Perfect Thing for 3 winners - you have to check out these pillowcases - they are so unique and the choices are so varied that there is something for everyone.

A $25 gift certificate to Chocomize for 2 winners - another very cool site - you get to customize your own chocolate bar - from the type of chocolate to the types of ingredients to include.

A Head Organics Hair Care kit for 5 winners - organic hair care at it's best.

Kenzoil extra virgin olive oil for 5 winners - not just any olive oil - olive oil infused with herbs and flavoring - a good gift for a foodie like me!

Your choice of umbrella from Kidorable - if you have young children or grandchildren, you know that they are tickled pink (or blue) when they have their very own umbrella. Kidorable is a great site with not just umbrellas, but raincoats, backpacks, boots and other items to match.  My favorite umbrella from Kidorable is this awesome Lotus umbrella:

Choice of organic perfume from Tallulah Jane - 3 winners will get their choice of the 3 signature scents in the Tallulah Jane line - yummmm!

Last, but not least, James Patterson is one of my favorite authors, from his classic mysteries to his Maximum Ride series.  Sweeps 4 Bloggers has a giveaway where 5 people will win a copy of his new book, Worst Case!

So, get on over to these blogs, enter and win!  While you're there, stop to visit the homepages.  You'll be pleasantly surprised by some of the helpful recipes, info and reviews you will find there!

Peace and Blessings.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A tale of two (well, actually 3) retail stores: why one has lost my business for good and two have made a life-long customer

Now that the Christmas season is over (was that a collective sigh of relief that I just heard?), it's time to take stock of our shopping and customer service experiences.  The following are tales of just three of the many stores that I and my daughters paid our money to this past season.

FASHION BUG - In December, I bought two coats at two different times through their online website for my older daughters,  They arrived very quickly (within 2-3 shipping days), which was awesome!

Both coats were the same style, but I bought one in black for my middle daughter and one in a silver-gray for my older daughter;

On Christmas Eve, we all get together: children, grandchildren, friends and their children, at my house.  After playing, laughing, and eating together, before everyone packs it up for the night to spend Christmas Day with their family the next day, everyone gets to open ONE present.  My middle daughter picked the package with the coat.  When she opened it, she was happy happy, because she did not have a good winter coat.  When she tried it on, it was too small, which was a disappointment, but I told her to leave it here and I would exchange it for her.

I went to the website within a couple of days to see if they had the same coat in a larger size available.  They did not.  I looked around the site and could not find a coat in a style that she would like at a comparable price that was the correct size. 

I read their return policy, which states that shipping will be charged for a return.  It also states that you can exchange or return items to a brick-and-mortar store, as long as you have your original invoice and the credit card you used to purchase the item.

The following Saturday, I rode with my older daughter (who had to return an item to a different store - tale to follow), who took me to our local Fashion Bug.  I spoke to the manager and she and my daughters (my two youngest children were with me as well), looked around the store for a coat in the right size.  We found one that she would like at a price slightly higher than the price I paid for the original, however, there wasn't one in the correct size.

The manager called around to a couple of other local stores for me to see if THEY had one in the correct size, but they didn't.  She ended up taking the coat for a return (she told me that it would save me shipping, which was great).

End result:  Although we ended up not purchasing a coat at the store, the manager impressed me so much (she walked around with us trying to find the correct size and style for a 21-year-old for at least 15 minutes, was very pleasant and very helpful), that although I've never really shopped at Fashion Bug, it will be one of my first stops for clothing from now on.

My older daughter LOVES the coat I bought for her and says it's totally warm.

TOYS 'R US - A little background:  In October, my older daughter separated from her soon-to-be-ex and moved in with me in my teeny tiny apartment with her two little ones for about 3-4 weeks until she could pull together the cash and find a nice house to move into.  She moved out of my house in November.  She is a full-time student and mother and had been using her student loans to help pay for bills at the house she shared; however, she had just used most of her check to play catch-up on bills that had gone unpaid since her last loan.  She got a job as a home health aide in November, and that small paycheck along with support from her first daughter's father, was just enough to pay bills and keep gasoline in her car, so when Christmas came around, she was very sad, because she had no money to buy presents for her children.  The one thing she wanted to buy for her older daughter was a Disney Princess Magical Talking Kitchen:

My granddaughter's name is Amira, which means "princess" in Arabic, and she has tons of Disney Princess items, so this would fit right in.

I don't have very much money, but I DO stock up on giftcards that I may win throughout the year and save up my Amazon gift certificates and MyPoints so that when Christmas comes around, I have enough to get presents for everyone.  My son's father sent us extra money for Christmas, so about two weeks before Christmas, I gave my daughter $100 to buy the kitchen for my granddaughter and a couple of small presents for my younger granddaughter.  She called around, and the only place that had the kitchen in stock was a Toys 'R Us about 20 minutes drive from the area that we live in, so she drove out there and purchased it.  Actually, all three of my girls went shopping together, taking my son with them so he could buy a present for Mommy at the mall across the street from the Toys 'R Us.

She kept the kitchen in the box until Christmas Eve so that she could put it together and stick a bow on it for her daughter to see on Christmas morning.  As she was putting it together, she came to the fourth piece, which was a sink.  The sink was cracked, which meant that if her daughter wanted to actually put water in it, it would just run out.  Disappointed, my daughter put the pieces back into the box and just stuck a bow on the box.  On Christmas morning, she explained (to a two-year-old) that she couldn't play with the kitchen yet because it had a bad piece and needed a new piece to make it work.

The Saturday of my trip to Fashion Bug, we went to the Toys 'R Us, which had a separate entrance and line for returns/exchanges.  While my older daughter stood in line, my youngest daughter and I went to the area where the kitchens were and brought the very last one to the front area (by then my older daughter was at the register, digging through her purse for the receipt).  My daughter couldn't find her receipt, so she went out to the car to see if it fell out there.  When she came back, she still hadn't found it.  She'd paid cash, so the clerk asked her for her telephone number to see if she could look it up that way - she couldn't.  My daughter always gives her telephone number to the cashier when they ask for it, so apparently, the original cashier hadn't asked for it.  They refused to exchange it for the EXACT same item.  At the same time, I heard the customer in back being told, "it's not the exact same game, so you can't exchange it", although the customer had looked and been unable to find the exact same game (apparently, this was a gift that was bought for the wrong console type).

I explained that the store was a pretty long drive, and that all she wanted was to have a working kitchen for her daughter.  (My daughter was very frustrated, because the clerk was very blah and the manager was just plain rude, so I tried to reason with them).  The manager stated that if we could find the receipt, we could even return it to a different store that she named (we're multiracial, so I guess she figured that we must live on the side of town that more black people live in - I don't know).

When I got home, I wrote to Planet Feedback for my daughter (no response from Toys 'R Us yet) and also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (no response yet, but from their "F" rating, I'm not surprised).

So no more Toys 'R Us shopping for my son or for my 4 grandchildren; there are just too many other stores with the same items and better prices and service.

OVERSTOCK.COM - On how a store goes above and beyond and beyond to provide superior service.

This is a superquick synopsis:

I buy older daughter a set of starter pots and pans from Overstock for Christmas (I had gone to her house and seen the state of her mismatched, no tops for them pots and pans and just HAD to do SOMETHING, kitchen freak that I am!):

Daughter opens box a couple of days after Christmas and pulls out a pot to use, but doesn't pull them all out and put them away.  A couple of days later, daughter decides to finally put them away and finds that the knob on one of the lids is broken off.  Daughter calls me.  I look at Overstock's return policy, which basically states that returns must be in new, unused condition and figure that I may be out of luck (remember, one of the pots has already been used), but shoot an email off to Overstock anyway to see if I can get a replacement lid and explaining the situation.

Overstock emails back:  what is the model no., part no., size of pan lid fits, etc.?  A couple of days later (My daughter hadn't given me the info yet on the size of the pan yet), I get a phone call from Overstock asking if I'd found the info yet (shock and awe!  They actually CALLED for a follow-up!?!?).  I call my daughter again and when she calls me back later, she tells me it is for one of the Dutch ovens and gives me the size.  I shoot off another email to Overstock with the info.  Overstock emails back that the warehouse will look for the part.  A day or so later, another email from Overstock stating that they are shipping a replacement; keep what you have and don't worry about returning it, as it is not your fault it was defective, UPS tracking number included.

Really?!?!  I don't have to ship everything back?!  Awesome!!

Last week, I get a box from Overstock.  I open it.  Wow!  They shipped the whole pot AND lid!  Yay!  Pull off the bubble wrap ... there's a pot, but no lid.  So NOW we have TWO lidless Dutch ovens!!!

Another email to Overstock (very nice, because I am appreciative of the effort they are making).  The second email back states:  we are sorry; we can't find a replacement part in the warehouse, but we stand by our guarantee, so we are refunding your credit card.

Wow!  Yay again!!  The credit showed up on my account on Sunday.

Yesterday, I get another box from Overstock.  Very heavy.  Open it up - there's a whole 'nother set of pots and pans.  Compare the tracking numbers - THIS was the replacement referred to in the earlier email that included the tracking number.  Apparently, there's been some type of miscommunication; however, you can't fault Overstock for trying to make it right.

So now I have TWO sets of pots and pans (one without a lid for one of the Dutch ovens) and another Dutch oven without a lid.

I don't feel right having a credit for an item that I actually now HAVE, so I will be writing to Overstock to see if they can reimburse THEMSELVES for the extra set.

Bottom line:  Overstock customer for life.

UPDATE:  Right after I posted this, I shot an email off to Overstock.  BOOM!!!  Less than 20 MINUTES after the email, I got another phone call from them.  Michelle:  "Sorry for the mixups and the mistakes.  Don't worry about it; keep both sets and the refund".

Overstock.com ROCKS!!!!

Peace and Blessings.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Introductions are in order

Let's introduce my family.  Each day for the next week or so, I will introduce you to us.

First, I am a mother of four.  My girls are 26, 21, and 16 and my son is 9 years old.  I am also a (gasp!) grandmother (Gigi) to four adorable ones - 4, 3, soon to be 3 and soon to be 1 years old, all girls except for the oldest.

I will start with my children, youngest first.  My son James:

Of course, this picture doesn't really capture the gorgeousness of him.  He is bouncy, athletic, smart, loving, and huggable (yes, still ... he hasn't reached that, "Ugh, Mom....all that kissing and hugging is for BABIES!" stage yet). 

He is also autistic.  I will probably go into the story of his diagnosis and subsequent treatment in depth in another post; however, for the purposes of this intro, although I was told that he would never be mainstreamed, he is in the third grade in a local charter school without an IEP (our journey through the public school system is also probably a good topic for another post).  He plays soccer, football, baseball, and takes karate lessons twice a week.  He loves his school, has lots of friends, and gets very good grades.

My "surprise" baby is a true joy and having him around makes me happy.  He chose the right family, as all of his older sisters spoil him and he is surrounded by love.

Next, you will meet my teenager.

Peace and Blessings.

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So why have I let my blog just sit here?

I started this blog almost a year ago with the intent to post updates on my life, knitting, and observations.

But I haven't





So ... starting today, I will be talking to you. About .. well, everything. My life, family, and self. Hobbies, cooking, reviews, and tips; whatever strikes my fancy that day. :) I will always tell you the truth, albeit a subjective one, like all truths.

What do I mean by that? Well, for instance, right now, I've been basically unemployed for over two years. That means that we are really really really broke. I lost (in storage) or sold almost all of my prized possessions (for me, that means most of my kitchen stuff - my Pfaltzgraff dinnerware, my stemware, my stand mixer, my lovely Calphalon pots and pans! I miss them every day!) I had to move into an apartment smaller than any I've ever lived in, and we have just enough money coming in to pay for basics and no extras. That means no cable (I really really miss MSNBC - love Keith Olbermann - he's over the top sometimes, but he rocks my socks. I also miss Nancy Grace, who was a guilty pleasure of mine ever since I stayed at a friend's house in Washington, D.C. when I was attending or presenting or both [I honestly don't remember, because I've visited often, but never even had a chance to sightsee] a series of workshops on various social issues: minimum wage, etc. I watched Nancy Grace with her, and, somehow, I just got hooked).

Now, I COULD say, "Our life is horrible right now. We're really really poor and I live in a crappy apartment in a crappy neighborhood. I did what I was supposed to (go to school, work my butt off, etc.) But now, when I should have been settled and financially stable, I struggle to pay for the basics, and life sucks." (and, the truth is, that sometimes I DO feel this way, but then I slap myself out of it).

Right now, we have downsized to just the essentials. I'm hoping that when things swing back together, I'll finally have the sense to set aside enough money each paycheck that if I need it, it will be there. If I've been able to get by for this long with this little, I can find a way to put money aside. I'm about 98% certain that I can do that (but, that first paycheck .. forGET it! Hoo, baby! I'm heading out to Marshall's or T J Maxx and buying myself a gorgeous outfit and then some shoes, accessories, jewelry and a purse to go with it. I'm tired of living in stretch pants and tee shirts :)

But, the truth is, my own actions and inactions are what put me in this position. There were doors opened that I didn't walk through, and opportunities presented throughout my life that I didn't take. I lived paycheck to paycheck because I wasn't sensible with my money, and when live threw me a curveball, it hit me dead in the face and I fell to the ground, because I wasn't paying attention.

The truth is, that even though we don't have much money and our apartment is teeny tiny, it's a decent apartment. The neighborhood we live in is not one I would have chosen before, but it's really not a horrible neighborhood. We always have food (although there was a period of time when I was going hungry to make certain the kids ate - I can make $10 in food last for 3 days - no lie!), there's soap and bathroom tissue and dishwashing liquid - we don't go without anything that's absolutely necessary.

Could I have pictured us living this way three years ago? Well, no .. but I look around and see people who are MUCH worse off than we are. And then I look at people like our Haitian neighbors, even before the earthquake .. and realize that it's all relative. It really IS in how you look at it.

So, now that I've done all that rambling, I will leave you for tonight and come back in a day or so.

Peace and Blessings.
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