Friday, July 19, 2019

Man On The Moon, 50 Years Ago

July 20, 1969.

I was a teenager when our whole family gathered around the family TV (it was still black and white back then, but it didn't matter, the pictures from the moon were also in black and white) and held our collective breaths as man walked on the moon for the first time in the history of universe.  It was the one moment of my life when you knew that everyone in the country--no, everyone on the planet--was doing the same thing you were.

Having grown up on Twilight Zone and Star Trek (the original, folks, in the first run), having read science fiction and comic books, it was just the most exciting thing I could possibly imagine.  Was man actually going to conquer the moon?  Was American ingenuity going to to triumph over the dreaded Soviets and get there first? The Cold War was in full bloom and the "Space Race" was a big part of it. 

Of course, the space program had been a part of my life ever since I could remember.  I had vague memories of the earliest Mercury flights, and I probably watched each blast-off and each splash down.  There was a time there where I could recite the names of all the astronauts and each of their missions in order.  Yes, I was really into it.

But whether you loved the space program or couldn't care less about it, on that day, you were watching.  You were transfixed.  You were holding your breath wondering if it was going to be successful, or if perhaps it would end in disaster.

I doubt if anyone who is too young to have lived through this unbelievable day will be able to understand what it felt like at that singular instant in time.

It was truly an epic moment, the most incredible moment of my life.  I suppose when I think back on it, it still is.  There were no VCR's, DVR's or anything like that back then.  I tried taking photos of the first pictures back from the moon right off the TV screen with a crummy camera, and of course they didn't come out.

Of course back then, when I could barely comprehend the magnitude of man walking on the moon, I didn't envision something called the "internet" would come along and I'd be able to easily find all the pictures of man on the moon I could ever want.

The memory of Walter Conkrite taking off his glasses, and, with tears in his eyes, saying, "Man on the moon," is one I will take to my grave.

It wasn't until later that we learned just how great a pilot that Neil Armstrong had to be to pull off the landing without crashing or aborting.  Armstrong was a true hero, beyond any doubt.  Much later, Armstrong didn't think what he had done was so special, once saying, "I just went where I was sent."

I figure that's got to be the understatement of all time.

If this post reads a little familiar to you, that's because I posted the original version on August 25, 2012, the day Neil Armstrong died.  It was a tribute to him.  I have edited it now for this purpose, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's most famous stroll.

It's a shame Armstrong isn't around to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his historic walk.  Fortunately the other Apollo 11 astronauts who were part of the mission, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, and Michael Collins, the command module pilot, are still with us.  By the way, I always felt bad for Collins, to have gotten that close to the moon, and to see the other two crew members walking on the moon, that he never got walk on the moon himself.  His role was vital of course.

I must say, knowing that it was fifty years ago makes me feel old.  I guess there's a good reason for that.

"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Starting hand distribution is weird, right?  You know, if you play an infinite number of hands of hold'em (which by now, it seems like I have), you should end up being dealt the proper distribution of starting hands.  I mean, you'll be dealt pocket Aces just as often as pocket deuces, and you'll get Ace-King off just as often as you'll get 7-deuce off.  But in the short run, it seems like you are seeing the same bad hands over and over and hardly ever get to see the same good hands.  You have sessions where it seems like there must be extra 8's and 4's in the deck because you see 8-4 over and over again.  Every now and then you run well, and get to see some premium starting hands more often than you should.  Very rare, but it happens.

Saturday I was dealt exactly five pocket pairs, but I got two of the pocket pairs twice each, and in order.

It was 2/3 in Ventura, and I bought in for the $300 max.  I was still waiting for my first hand to play when I looked down at King-Queen off in the big blind, by far the best hand I'd seen this day.  There was a raise to $16 and a call.  I decided to call as well, because, well, position.  The flop was King-Jack-X, and when it checked to me, I bet $25 and took it down.  This was quite a victory.  The previous week, I was so card dead (didn't both writing a post about the session) that I won only one pot—a big blind hand where no one raised, no one bet until I bet a back door straight I completed on the river and didn't get a call.  It was a $6 pot.

I got my first pocket pair of the day, 7's.  I called a reasonable raise, it was multi-way, and the flop came King-Queen-Jack.  Not exactly a great flop for my 7's.  I folded as fast as it was legal to do so.

My next pocket pair—also my next playable hand—was Jacks. I believe I called a raise over a straddle, and pretty much was done when the flop came Ace-King-x. There were four players in the hand, and there was already a bet and a call when it came to me.

It was a long time before getting another hand to play.  Finally, I got two Jacks again.  Sweet.  I mean how many times do we finish a session complaining about not getting dealt pocket Jacks enough?  I opened to $15 and only had one caller.  The flop was Ace-Queen-x, two diamonds.  I did not have the Jack of diamonds.  Nevertheless, I decided to take a shot with a c-bet.  I put out $20 and after a long tank, my opponent folded. 

Another long spell of getting nothing.  Then I finally not another pocket pair, this time one better than Jacks—Queens.  There were a couple of limpers and from the cut-off I made it $18.  I got three callers.  The flop was Jack-high, two diamonds.  I didn't have the Queen of diamonds.  I bet $50 and after a couple of quick folds, the last player tanked for a long time.  But he too folded.

Then after a bit, those ladies returned to me.  I was under-the-gun and made it $15.  Two players called, than a short stack shoved his last $55.  I strongly considered raising to get it down to heads up and get any weak Aces to fold.  I suppose that was the right play.  But I decided to just call.  One of the two remaining players also called. The flop was Jack-5-5.  I liked that flop and bet $100.  The other guy folded.  Too bad.  The turn was a Queen.  The river was a brick.  The all-in guy said, "I have a Jack," and showed Jack-10.  I said, "I have a boat," and took in a decent pot.

No more pairs, no more playable hands came my way.  I left booking a $105 win.  It was just weird that the pairs included Jacks twice and Queens twice, and all the pairs came to me in rank order when you think of it.

For once, the ladies were good to me.