Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Rusty Blade: 2012 WSOP Preview

This weekend I am driving to Las Vegas for an eighth World Series of Poker. I’ll be playing just about every day for the next six weeks.

I’ve played poker once since October. Rarely have I watched others play the game, on TV or the internet. I couldn’t tell you who has won 2012’s majors. I haven’t discussed hands with friends or thought about them in my own time. This is not the recipe for success in today’s competitive landscape.

Unless, of course, things like health, disposition, experience and confidence matter in this game. I’m an old dog with fresh legs. I’ll be living with some other crusty vets in a mundane home off the 215. It’s all old hat at this point. I even struggled to come up with a gimmicky analogy for this annual post and write more than a couple hundred words.

But I’m excited. Very excited. World Series runs neck and neck with pocket aces as the most stimulating two words in the industry. I always get up for the WSOP. How could you not?

Maybe I’ll get lucky. I am so fortunate to be in this position, to have this opportunity to play a full schedule on my own dime at an eighth World Series of Poker. There are few players in the world who have been able to do that over the course of their careers, just a handful who have been able to do it before the age of thirty. Perhaps I’ll take advantage. Or perhaps I’ll strike out, then go back to being one of the most fortunate people on Earth.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I want to sit in my house and eat all day long, every day. Wash it down with beer. Every second of every day, I think about food, about gorging myself into unconsciousness, because every second of consciousness means wanting more. True decadence is the desire to combat it.

I never want to sleep. So I don't much. I sleep two thirds what I did six months ago. I'm more awake than I was then.

It's dark eight and a half hours a day here, now. It's light fifteen and a half.

I like everything. Everyone.

I want everything. I want to consume. Regurgitate. Recycle.

I constantly wish I was in Ethiopia. I'm constantly grateful I live in Colorado. I think I live in the second-greatest place in the world.


The mountains are staggering. The sky is breathtakingly blue. The snow is whiter than a mzungu. Air is ambrosia. I want to suck it in, hold it, possess it, be it. I want to be the air.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I got a lot of advice on how to deal with the re-entry blues, but I couldn't avoid them. I didn't realize Boulder would be the same place. I was shocked to find I was the same person. It feels like I was gone a couple weeks. I'm stunned by how quickly and naturally I've resumed old ways.

In Africa I thought about all the vintage things I'd do when I got home. Most of those things have disappointed. It's an unexpected mix of new/wondrous and old/stalwart things that delight:

Self-serve frozen yogurt
Meeting new people
Of Monsters And Men
Game of Thrones Season II

Game of Thrones                

I panicked for a week. It felt like the walls were closing in, that inexorable forces were making me into something terrifying that I've always been. But there are differences. I do have the power to change some things. It's a mesmerizing battle between old and new, what I do now and what I thought in Africa I should be doing now. I don't always know which side to root for.

Saturday, May 05, 2012


I have a dirty little secret I never told anyone in Africa. It runs contrary to the beliefs of many of the benevolent mzungus there. It clashes with religious doctrines ingrained in the culture. It calls humanitarian theory into question, directly challenges the missions of hundreds of NGOs, fundamentally opposes the nature of the species.

I believe there should be less people on the Earth, not more. I believe those who wish to make the world a better place shouldn’t try to save lives. I believe epidemics and other public health calamities serve as checks and balances on the teeming human population. I believe the Earth is going to capsize under the load of civilization if we don’t soon change our behavior as a species. And nowhere is this more obvious than it is in East Africa.

Everywhere I went, there were so many people. The cities are overflowing. You go to the country, and all you see are more people. There is nowhere I encountered where there weren’t tons and tons of people all the time. So many people. So many children. So many babies.

The post “baby-boom” United States has a population density of 87.4/sq mi. and a median age of 36.9.

Ethiopia has a population density of 194 people per square mile and a median age of 16.8. Half the people in the country are less than seventeen years old. Kenya has a population density of 174.1/sq mi. and a median age of 18.9. Uganda has a population density of 355.2/sq mi, four times that of the U.S., and a median age of 15.1, the lowest in the world.

The population of the continent has been exploding, but soon it is going supernova. Ethiopia had a population of 31.7 million in 1971, 51.5 million in 1990, and now has about 83 million residents. It’s estimated that this number will be over 210 million by 2060.

The exploding population is oblivious to their effects on the Earth. They have bigger fish to fry. There are no emissions standards in Addis Ababa, a city where cars only appreciate in value. There is no recycling. Waste is perpetual but seen as inconsequential.

I live in one of the most environmentally-conscious cities on Earth, but wasn’t nearly as conscious myself until I went to Africa. I went looking for More, but the answer I found was Less. I am so much less than I thought I was four months ago. All my attempts at increasing things, searching for elixirs and additions to my life, have always failed. It’s never more. Don’t eat until you’re full. Eat until you’re not hungry. Don’t drink until you’re drunk. Drink until you feel it. Sleep less. Masturbate less. Talk less. Buy less. Always less.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

April Top 15

15. The Beach Boys - Sloop John B
14. Jimmy Buffett - Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
13. The Verve - Noise Epic
12. The Verve - Columbo
11. Blur - Tender

10. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - 40 Day Dream
9. Coldplay - Yes
8. The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony
7. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Om Nashi Me
6. The Verve - Valium Skies

5. The Rolling Stones - Laugh, I Nearly Died
4. The Verve - Sit And Wonder
3. The Verve - Rather Be
2. The Verve - Space And Time

Song of the Month: The Verve - Love Is Noise