Oct 19, 2014

NFL Week 7: The Library

As I probably have mentioned a few times, the business center of Guangzhou has been completely
built in 10 years. The central business district was farmland as late at 2000; the city decided to create a new center for the planned growth complete with hotels, museums, and other cultural buildings. This center, called "Pearl River New Town" (or Zhu Jiang new Town), was still under construction when we arrived in 2010, is mostly complete now but new buildings open up all the time.

When we stayed at the Ritz in the first few days of our life here, the new Guangzhou library was being build right next door. It looked like it was going to be fabulous - modern architecture, at least 7 floors, a lot of glass. It was completed in 2011 but we never made a visit until a few months ago.

The first picture is from the inside - the library is two towers that look like leaning books touching at the top. The middle is a beautiful atrium. We walked around and saw that there was an English section!

The library seemed like a college one - tons of young, 20-something people all hunched over desks studying or writing. Eager beavers, apparently!

We just had to make our way up to the English section - it was on one of the top floors, naturally. The section was about 9-10 half filled shelves of ......random stuff.

After 30 seconds it was clear that there weren't any new books in this section. It looked like a collection of old books from someone's closet that was displayed for a garage sale. Books with the binding cracked and frayed. Sun-discolored covers. And it contained the opposite of time-sensitive material .

Here are two books we saw at the library:

1. First, in case you need to send random faxes, here is a fax directory for the entire (?) USA as of 2000! (Does anyone out there still have a fax machine?)

2. Ah, Mr. Chinese student. You are thinking to go to the US for college? Great idea! Here, to do your research....have a list of the top US Universities, as rated in 1995. I'm sure the ratings haven't changed much in 20 years.

Just...fascinating. I have a feeling some Nigerian scammer sold the Fax book to the library after he was done using it to send junk faxes.

The Browns......well, all I can say is that I am terrified of this week's game. We are favored----on the road----by more than a field goal. Wow !  Talent wise, yes, we should win this game by a touchdown, but I hope this team is not reading any press clippings - or looking ahead on our schedule...(Don't do it! Don't look ahead! *cough*Jacksonville*Oakland*cough*Tampa*) Don't project!!!

As for my picks, it looks like I was using an NFL preview guide from the Guangzhou library the last two weeks. What a disaster, especially last week. I got burned by 2 of the game-ending pick sixes last week. On to the games:

Sea 27, StL 13: Seattle has got to be pissed after losing to Dallas and maybe they are in a better mood after the Harvin trade. I watched that Rams game Monday night after their 14-0 lead -yikes.

Chi 24, Mia 13. Gut feeling that the Bears have righted the ship. Can't see Miami scoring enough to stay with the Bears.

GB 30, Car 24. Impressed with Cam and the Panthers' O; the Packers D is loose against the run - another good day for Cam?

Bal 27, Atl 24. Pure desperation game for the Falcons. They have the weapons to exploit the lone weakness of the Ravens - their secondary.

Ten 20, Was 17. Gambling that Locker will start; The Skins should not be favored over anyone by more than a field goal.

Cin 31, Ind 28. Cincinnati has the weapons (running) to hammer the Colts, and this is a good enough D to handle a one-dimensional offense. (although that D has given up 41 and 37 in their last two games).

Buf 20, Min 16.  I see a lot of rushing attempts in this game. Will be played very close to the vest as each team wants to stay close.

Det 24, NO 21. I expect the Saints' D to be better after the bye, and the Lions' D is top notch.

SD 24, KC 23. Chiefs off a bye and have 2 weeks to prepare for a  Chargers team that was exposed a bit in Oakland (at least defensively).

Oak 20, Az 17. I think carr continues to mature as the Raiders QB; the coaching change and the bye did wonders for the Raiders and they will keep improving.

Dal 27, NYG 26. You don't give this many points away in an NFC East clash like this. What's that? You want me to look at last weekend's Sunday Night game?

Den 31, SF 24. Expect to be a close game with the Niners running and trying to pressure Manning to force throws.

Pit 31, Hou 17. The Steelers will be ready for this, as they need to shut up all the critics.

Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 2-10-1 (!!!), overall: 37-46-3

Sea -6 1/2
Chi -3
Mia/Chi under 48
Atl +6 1/2
Ten +5 1/2
Ten/Was under 45 1/2
Cin +3 1/2
Cin/Ind over 50
Min/Buf under 43 1/2
Oak +3 1/2
Az/Oak under 44 1/2
NYG +5
Pit -3 1/2

Supercontest: with my record last week, it's a miracle I went 2-3 last week. Overall: 19-11

Atl +6 1/2
Ten +5 1/2
Chi -3
Oak +3 1/2
Pit -3 1/2

 

Oct 12, 2014

NFL Week 6: Card Playing

Hello from the US! It is 2:45 am Sunday morning and Janice and I can't sleep as we are going through the stress of house hunting. Needed to take a time out and get this post up.

Today's topic is the constant curiosity that the Chinese have on anything Westerners do. This photo is from a plane trip we were taking in China; Freddie and I were playing gin on the ride. The lady next to Freddie was fascinated by the game; she stared at his cards - but did not say anthing - for about 10 mintues. Then the guy in the aisle (in the black and white) came up, and sidled next to me. No drink, not standing in line - just stood there, by my shoulder, looking at my cards.

Freddie and I continued playing; I think he was just trying to understand the game, or is just curious to see how Westerners pass the time. We just kept playing, shuffling and dealing - and smiling to them every once in a while. The guy left about about 5 minutes.
 

This sort of stuff just gets old after a while- the constant fishbowl and lack of privacy. They are geniunely curious but can't communicate to ask questions, so they will just stand there to see if they can understand just by watching. And if they don't get it, they will stand there and smile until they get bored and move along.

.
Anyway, I feel like the Browns are starting to be in this sort of fishbowl. The national media is starting to take a bit of an interest. Are they any good? Let's see if they can beat the Steelers at home. If we win, they will hover around us for a bit longer. If we lose today, oh well, let's move on to the next shiny object in the NFL....hey look, the Jags! . . On to the games: .

Buf 20, NE 17. I think the Bills' defense will attack the front line of the Pats and make life problematic for Brady and the passing game. .
 

Cin 27, Car 16 Car has no running game, and I can't believe the Cam will be able to move the ball thru the air on the road vs. this D. By the way, Chris Myers is doing this game - he was on the red-eye from LA to Cincinnati with me on the flight Thursday night. Why is he flying a red-eye?


GB 23, Mia 20 Just the sort of game that the Packers will struggle with. I can see the Dolphins making a few stops here to stay in teh game for a while.


Min 27, Det 23 Everyone loves Teddy! Ill give the Lions 3 field goals to make up for their horrendous kicking over the first 4 weeks.


Den 24, NYJ 13 I know, too easy. But what has the Jets done on offense to show they can score more than 13 points? Just think Ryan has some things up his sleeve to keep Manning in check.


Bal 27, TB 16 I am impressed by the Ravens defense; their red zone D is awesome. I can't believe that Mike Glennon will solve that problem.


Jax 20, Ten 17 I watched the Browns-Titans game last week 2 times; I still don't know what Tennessee does well. When they needed a few first downs in the 2nd half last week, they could not get it. The Jags have a quietly good defense.


SD 23, Oak 10 Again, is this too easy?


Atl 34, Chi 27 So unimpressed with Chicago's defense. The only way CHicago wins is if the opponent self-destructs; Atlanta will not do that at home in a must-win game for them.


Was 23, Az 20 Just a hunch here. The QB situation in Arizona is too messy and I don't think they will be fluid.


Sea 31, Dal 13 Seattle will be able to stop DeMarco and force dallas to pass - and I like Seattle's defense's chances at home vs. Romo


Phi 27, NYG 24 Absolutely anything can happen in this game - a 30 pt Eagles blowout or a 20 pt Giants win. So I will stay away here.


StL 23, SF 20, OT The Rams usually play the 49ers well, and the 49ers will be looking ahead to next week's game vs. the Broncos.


Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 6-8-1; overall: 35-36-2

Buf +2 1/2

Cin -7

GB/Mia under 49

Det/Min over 43

Den/NYJ under 48

Bal -3 1/2

Jax +4

SD -7

Atl -3 1/2

Atl/Chi over 54 1/2

Was +3 1/2

Sea -8

StL +3 1/2

Supercontest picks: Last week: 4-1; overall: 17-8

Cin -7

Bal -3

Jax +5 1/2

Sea -8

StL +3 1/2

Oct 5, 2014

NFL Week 5: Etiquette

Back to normal now in the Zahn household; we arrived at home late last night at 2 am due to the 1 hour wait in immigration. It is customary to have 15 immigration lines open for Chinese citizens, and only 1 or 2 for foreigners, even when the population of the incoming flights is about 50% residents and 50% foreigners. Also, it's clear they put the trainees in the "foreigner" lanes to insure extra delay.

The Browns are back this week after a very early bye; it's like I have to re-learn the routine again of trying to watch the Browns game while keeping an eye on the other 8 games. On this note, I'll talk about the constant education of the Chinese public of the customs and mannerisms of other cultures.

Attached is a snapshot of a page in the resident's newsletter. This tries to explain to the Chinese on the manners and etiquette of Americans.  I think it's hilarious as to what they highlight and what they choose to ignore.

Go ahead and click on the picture to expand it - you can read the 7 helpful hints given below. Let me take a minutes to explain each point:

1. This may seem over-extreme; we certainly ask people "What's your name?", but the rest of the advice is appropriate. Chinese people will say, to complete strangers, "where are you going? Why?" They are curious - genuinely - but it does come across as obtrusive. Especially after 4 years of explaining yourself.

2. Chinese love numbers, and the number 8; the number 4 is very unlucky in China ("4" is "si", which is the same word as "death"). So they are very interested to hear what other numbers are unlucky in other cultures.

3. This point can not be mentioned enough. "How old are you?" "tell me about Christianity...." "How much do you weigh now?" are common questions heard daily in China .

4. I won't touch this. Got to love the reference to "the black people".

5. Not sure what this one is all about. It's not offensive to shake hands at the end of a party, is it?

6. Toothpicks are like the 4th course in a Chinese meal; 5 minutes are taken after the entrée to clean one's teeth. Just a reminder that's not common in the US.

7. It's sad this needs to be said, but oh so true.

I could add 20 others to the list - like "it's common in the US for women to shave their armpits" - but that would be a post in itself.

Back to the Browns - a big game today to see where we are as a team. If we are an 8-8 team - or maybe even a 9-7 team - then we should beat a below-average Titans team on the road. Will the Titans team from week 1 magically show up to beat us? Willl we have a 4th game decided by a last-second field goal? The answers coming up in 4 hours.

To the games:
Car 26, Chi 20.  Thoroughly unimpressed with the Bears. They are one-dimensional on offense; a good defensive team should shut down a 1-D team.

Hou 27, Dal 20. Love Houston's defense; they should be able to get pressure on Romo, and that could cause mistakes. Also, Dallas has Seattle next week; this is a classic sandwich game (with the Saints last weekend).

Det 31, Buf 16. I think Orton is a bad choice vs. the Lions and their defensive line.

Ind 31, Bal 24. The one weakness the Ravens have is their secondary; I saw this first hand 2 weeks ago. This is the Colts' strength. Now, can the Colts' D handle Flacco?

Pit 27, Jax 23. Pit can't lose again to another horrid Florida team.....can they? Please say yes.

NO 26, TB 13. Can we really trust the Saints to come out ablazing vs. the Bucs? Not sure.

Atl 24, NYG 20. Just a gut feel. I really have no handle on the Falcons, but I don't think the Giants' D is all that good.

Phi 24, StL 13. Talking about teams you can't trust...the only reason why I think the Eagles win big here is because I'm not sure the Rams have many weapons on O.

Den 24, Az 17. Should be a defensive battle here; Arizona's defensive front will cause problems for Manning but can't score enough to win.

SD 23, NYJ 20. The Chargers always have problems with the Jets at home, and the Jets D can make some plays. This is a desperation game for the Jets, who now know they can win the division.

SF 23, KC 17. This is not a letdown game for the Chiefs, since the 49ers are just not that good.

NE 27, Cin 24. In Belicheck I trust  - at least for this week only. Just when you think they are done.....

Sea 23, Was 16. Both teams will try to control the ball and the clock, meaning a lot of long drives.

Best bets: 15 of them. Last week: 5-8. Overall: 29-28-1.

Car -2 1/2
Hou +6 1/2
Det -6 1/2
Ind -3
Bal/Ind over 49
TB/NO under 48
Atl + 3 1/2
Atl/NYG under 50
Phi -6 1/2
Stl/Phi under 47 1/2
Az/Den under 47 1/2
NYJ +6 1/2
NE +1
Cin/NE over 45 1/2
Sea/Was under 45

Supercontest: Last week: 4-1. Overall: 13-7.

Car -2 1/2
Hou +5 1/2
Ind -3 1/2 (there's that hook again)
NYJ +6 1/2
NE +1



 

Sep 27, 2014

NFL Week 4: Sleeping

Hello from the Maldives! China's Golden week is starting, which means the whole country shuts down for a week and the ex-pats flee the country. It's tough to handicap games with a view of the ocean that is teal-green. The one drawback; the internet connection is not great so I'm not able (at this time) to log into slingbox to see the Ryder Cup disappointment. I know, first world problems.


The Browns are on a bye this week, taking a rest, so let's talk about one of the innate abilities of the Chinese population - the ability to sleep anywhere at any time! A lot of Chinese people invest their time into work....it's very common for people to work until 8, 9 at night and every day I get email from the China P&G employees at 11 pm, 12 midnight or later....on a Tuesday. They feel a responibility to work. That leaves them a little time after wotk to rest/relax; when we lived in the city, the river walk was bust every night with noises until 1, 2 am. (It was tough to get a 3-year old to bed at 8:30 pm with all that business outside.

So when do they sleep? Well, anywhere and any time. I took the picture above at noon on a Thursday walking to another building. This is in a public park. The CHinese will sleep anywhere, because many of them are sleep-deprived.

1. Sleeping in public parks is very common; where else is there shade and relative quiet?

2. At work, there was a "gift" from P&G to all empoyees. What was it? A round pillow to be used at your desk. Every day, there are plenty of people sleeping at their desk from 12-1:30, and there are other sleeping at those times in huddle rooms.

3. You see people sleeping in cars (parked, of course) all over town. Again, no better place to get a quick nap where it is quiet.

Maybe this is a direct function of the overcrowding? It is so.... busy? ...at home, that people escape to public places to get some shut-eye. I think the "rule" of 8 hours of sleep is unheard of here, even for kids. Normal bedtimes for Chinese kids, like 8-10 year olds, are 10 pm or later. There is a photo book entitled "Sleeping Chinese" http://sleepingchinese.com/that has pictures of the population sleeping in weird places; I should pick up a copy before I leave here.


Still upset on the multiple missed opportunities for the Browns last week. We should have won that game...only the Browns can throw a 71-yard pass to a wide open receiver - and I mean WIDE OPEN - http://sleepingchinese.com/and have the drive result in 0 points. Argh.

Anyway, on to the games:

Bal 23, Car 16. I still believe in the Ravens' home magic, and they have enough on D to stop the Panthers.

GB 27, Chi 20. Not impressed at all with the Bears. The wins they have are a result of the teams giving them the games (49ers, Jets). This is a desperate situation for the Pack (like the Steelers last week ).

Buf 20, Hou 17. Buffalo ran into a very good Charger team last week; I think they have enough on O to beat a Texans team that still may be overrated.

Ind 30, Ten 16. These games are always close, but it's hard to see how Tennessee has to offense to stay with the Colts in Indy. The Colts should move up and down vs. the Titans.

NYJ 24, Det 17. Not impressed with the Lions as an outdoor team, and the Jets have a good defense. I think this is an upset here. 

Oak 20, Mia 17. Yes, I am biased since Miami laid an egg last week and I am still pissed at that. Oakland has a solid, underrated defense that can stop the Dolphins. What will Miami do on O?

Pit 30, TB 23. Not touching this game from a team perspective. Would love to see Tampa win outright, with Glennon as their QB, but Big Ben has the weapons to avoid it. I am scared that Tampa will be 0-7 when they come to Cleveland in Week 9.

SD 27, Jax 16. I should be bold enough to pick a much closer game here - SD is off 2 big wins and rpime for a letdown, and Bortles will be ready. OK< screw it, I'll pick the close game. How many Jacksonvill games can I get wrong in a year?  (don't answer that....)  SD 27, Jax 20.

Min 20, Atl 19. Minnesota has a very solid D and I don't like the Falcons outdoors. The Bridgewater era begins with an upset.

Phi 31, SF 27. SF is so overrated. Their defense is not that good, and they have a one-dimensional offense dependent on a flaky Kapernick.

NO 24, Dal 20. Rob Ryan will figure out how to stop the Dallas run D, forcing Romo to beat them....and we all know what happens then.

NE 23, KC 20.  I am confused about this game. I don't believe that the Pats are any good - they are a 1-2 team at best, but got lucky with the schedule so far. Does KC have the offense to score in the 20's here and keep it close?

Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 9-5, overall: 24-20-1.

Bal -3

GB -1 1/2

Buf +3

Ind -7

NYJ +1 1/2

Oak +3 1/2

TB/Pit over 45 1/2

Jax +12 1/2

Min +3

Atl/Min under 47

Phi +4 1/2

Phi/SF over 49 1/2

NO/Dal under 54


Supercontest: Last week: 3-2; overall: 9-6

GB -1 1/2

Bal -3 1/2 (hate that hook here)

Buf +3

Min +3

Phi +5 1/2

Sep 21, 2014

NFL Week 3: Money

Money is a strange subject in China. At first glance, you see that China is a communist country - so money would not be very important (or blatent) in this culture. And you would be so wrong.

Here is a sign I saw on one of the cubicles at work - from a local - that sums up the attitude of most Chinese I know. People here believe that money truly can bring happiness. At the very least, the possession of money is important and needs to be flaunted at every possible opportunity.

The questions we get about money are much transparent and "prying" than they are in the States. "How much do you make" is a question I have heard numerous times while interviewing people out of school. In fact, I signed up for the P&G team to run the half-marathon in Guangzhou in November. The application form asked for my blood type (I should know, but I don't) and my salary. WTF?

But the most shocking part of the culture is the fact that you have to appear to have money. That's why the demand for brand-name designer clothes is insatiable - the buyer and then show it off and impress their family and friends. Locals would not be caught dead in second-hand goods. I may have shared this story before - three years ago, Janice's boss left Guangzhou for Singapore, and had a "moving" sale for all sorts of furniture in his house. He made up a 10 page Word doc with pictures of all the stuff he was selling, and passed it around work. The only people to inquire back to him about buying stuff were....other ex-pats. It is beneath the dignity of the Chinese to buy something second hand. It smacks of poverty.

(we got a nice bunk bed out of it!)

This attitude of flaunting wealth carries over to travel, as well. We (our ex-pat lunch group) are convinced that the Chinese travel boom is not because they want to see the sights of the world.....it's so they can say they have seen the sights. That's why they take all sorts of pictures of themselves during vacation - so they can show people they have the money to actually visit this place. See? I'm here! You have to believe me! See, I have money?

They certainly do not vacation to experience the local culture and cuisine, as admitted by Xi Jinping recently.

The relationship between the Chinese and money is fascinating....sort of like the relationship between an NFL team and a good QB. If you have one, you better flaunt it, because in today's NFL, a good QB will bring you success.

Do we have a good (or decent) QB in Cleveland? Well, a game winning FG drive starting from the 4 certainly made me happy last week. Let's see if Hoyer can perform about as well against a much tougher Ravens D.......

On to the games:

SD 26, Buf 23. Both teams could suffer from a letdown; I just feel that I should jump on the chance to get points with the better team.

Cin 20, Ten 17. Ten's run D was awful last week, so they will make the adjustments necessary here and force Dalton to throw. I think Green being dinged up will be an issue, and the Titans may be a classic zig-zag team.

Det 31, GB 24. I am starting to think that the Pack may not be that good - and their D could be 25th or worse. Det moved the ball last week against Car (with nothing to show for it).

Ind 27, Jax 24. Jax can't be as bad as they looked in the last 6 quarters....and the Colts are extremely one-dimensional.

NE 24, Oak 13.  Not sold on the greatness of the Pats just yet. The Vikes gave them 14 points last week (on an INT and a blocked FG), and I'm buying the raiders low here.

NYG 23, Hou 17. Gulp. But the Giants moved the ball last week, and Houston hasn't played anybody.

Phi 26, Was 24. Yes, I'm buying the opinion of the Skins O being much better with Cousins vs. RG III. And Philly will pay for their first-half doldrums sooner or later.....Was can rush the QB, which will mitigate the Philly O.

Dal 27, StL 17. So I'm supposed to think StL is decent after beating the Bucs? How was Tampa on Thursday? I know this is an obvious trap, but I can't help it.....

Az 21, SF 20. Gone round and round on this game. I guess I need to see Colin Kaepernick win a game vs. a good defense before I feel comfortable picking him on the road.

Mia 23, KC 16. I think Miami uses the heat to its advantage well, and will control the lines. What O weapons does KC have ?

Sea 27, Den 24. I expect an instant classic of a game here. Two teams desperate for a win.

Pit 19, Car 16.  I know, this makes no sense, as Carolina is the much better team, but Pittsburgh is desperate and will pull out trick plays and exotic blitzes to stay in the game.

NYJ 24, Chi 20. Who know what the health of the Bears' receivers will be at game time? I was surprised the Jets scored in the 20s at Green Bay.

Best bets: 14 of them. Last week: 10-6, overall: 15-15-1

SD +1 1/2
Ten +6 1/2
Det -2 1/2
Jax +7
Ind/Jax over 45 1/2
Oak +14
Oak/NE under 47
Min/NO over 49
NYG -1 1/2
Was +6
Dal -1
Mia -3 1/2
Pit +3
Pit/Car under 42

Supercontest: Last week: 5-0!!! The holy grail! Season: 6-4.

Ten +6 1/2
Det -2 1/2
NYG +2
Dal -1 1/2
Mia -4 1/2


 

Sep 13, 2014

NFL Week 2: Lawn Care

Well, that was a rough start to the 2014 NFL season. 1-4 in the Supercontest picks (although 1 better than someone I know), a losing record overall, lost 2 of my 3 fantasy leagues, and of course the Browns lose in dramatic fashion. I should have known; I watched the game in Macau where it's now a trend with the Browns losing heartbreakers when I watch the game at the Venetian:

2010: NY Jets 26, Cleveland 20, OT
2013: New England 27, Cleveland 26
2014; Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 27

Oh well. A 3 point road loss to Pittsburgh isn't the end of the world. Let's move to week 2.

We have a picture from 2011 when we still lived in our apartment in the city and came out to visit friends of ours at the Golden Lake housing complex. (In 2012, we moved out to Golden Lake and no are very good friends with this family). Here is their side yard - you can see our boys playing on the trampoline (with Martin, age 3, trying valiantly to get on).

But what's that to the left of the trampoline? That's lawn care in China. There are two workers from the complex on the knees - well, actually squatting - and doing lawn care. I think in this picture they are actually weeding. They spent over an hour weeding the lawn by hand - with one of those hand-held, two prong gardening instruments.

This photo I think shows the dichotomy of China right now . It wants to be modern and more "Western", but still relies heavily on good old man-power to get things done. It's as if the industrial revolution hasn't come to parts of China yet. I have played golf where we go by a bunker and there are 10 ladies - all dressed in hats, long sleeves, and long pants on a 100-degree day - doing a "relay" of sod squares to repair a bunker. 10 people!

It also highlights the rich-poor gap in China. There are insanely rich Chinese people (not counting the ex-pats), and yet, in the same city, we have workers doing hand-weeding as a full time job. I may have a picture of some of the cars in the garage of our apartment (where we used to live) - Bentleys, 4-door Lamborghinis, etc.

I guess this is the result of a society with a low cost of labor........but what happens when the labor costs go up and these manual jobs disappear? I think a lot of economists are trying to figure that out, and are a bit frightened at the possibilities. Some sort of class war will be coming here....not this year, not in the next 5 years, but probably in our lifetime. I don't think I want to be here when it happens.

Anyway, on to lighter things...it's clear now that we have a rich-poor gap in the NFL. Wes Welker can be re-instated, the Doobie Brothers on the Steelers can face no punishment for their pot-smoking hijinks, but Josh Gordon? No way in hell - 10 games for you. It's like we will always be the weeders on the lawn looking up at those ex-pats on the trampoline ....until we get a quarterback.

(Do we have one? This week will tell a lot).

On to the games:

Mia 23, Buf 20. I've been going back and forth on this one - I just am more impressed with Mia's win than Buffalo's. Should be a very close game.

Was 27, Jax 13. How the hell did Jax not cover last week? They could not score at all once Phi stopped turning the ball over - and Washington's defense impressed me.

Dal 27, Ten 24. Romo can't have 2 disasterous games back to back, can he? Don't answer that.

Az 20, NYG 16. Maybe the preseason does matter, after all. My Giants pick last week could be the dumbest pick I have made in a while.

NE 31, Min 20. I'll take this even as the line increases above 5. I refuse to believe that the Patriots are "done", with all that talent. They will score here, and I don't think the Vikes can keep up.

Cin 27, Atl 16. I'm impressed with Cincinnati. Moved up and down the field against the Ravens - who may have a good defense. They will score TD's against the Falcons.

Car 27, Det 24. Again, not sure what to think here. Two evenly matched teams; I don't know if the Lions D is as good as they showed Monday night.

TB 27, StL 10. Banking on a bounceback from the Bucs and a continuation of the mess in St Louis.

Sea 19, SD 17. This is a scary game for the Hawks. They don't usually play well outdoors, on the road, against halfway-decent defenses.

Oak 19, Hou 17. Just a feeling here. Don't think Fitzpatrick can get it done on the road for the Texans.

GB 31, NYJ 17. The Jets will struggle on O - GB has a weak pass D, but how do the Jets take advantage of that?

Den 31, KC 23. Reid will have this team ready on the offensive side of the ball - but Denver is just too much.

Chi 28, SF 27. I don't think the Niners are elite; Dallas gave them the game last week, and Dallas was moving at will.

Ind 30, Phi 24. The improvements on the D side will help the Colts.

Best bets: 16 of them; last week: 5-9-1:
Was -6
Dal +3 1/2
Az/NYG under 42 1/2
NE -5 1/2
Cin -5 1/2
Atl/Cin under 49
Det/Car over 44
TB -5 1/2
SD +5
Sea/SD under 44
Oak +3
GB -7 1/2
KC +12
Chi +7
Chi/SF over 48
Ind -3


Supercontest picks: Last week: 1-4
Was -6
Dal +3 1/2
NE -3
Cin -5 1/2
Chi +6 1/2




 

Sep 7, 2014

NFL Week 1: The Playground



Hello everyone! We are live from the Venetian in Macau for Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season. Spending a 3-day weekend in Hong Kong and Macau with Mike A - otherwise known to some as "Why Not 5" - and others. A Morton's dinner is on tap for later tonight (I will sign the check as Mr. Steve Wieczynski to see if he has an account on file. After that, gambling and then kickoff at 1 am my time.

As many of you know, this will most probably be my last NFL season in China. Details are still being worked out for our trip home - I could be back in time for the home playoff game between the 2014 AFC North Champions Cleveland Browns hosting the wild card Denver Broncos; but nothing is set in stone yet. For the theme this year, we will be focusing on pictures I have that represent the experiences of China. These could be pictures of our family interacting with the Chinese, or just some random pictures I took in the street of daily life. I have a lot of pictures on my phone that I don't think I have published, and this is a good way to share 17 of them.


We start Week 1 with the playground. I don't think I have shared this yet. THis picture was taken in November, 2010, three months into our stint here. The "new"ness had worn off and we were still trying to comprenhend life here. We had been told numberous times that life as an ex-pat in China is like life in a fishbowl. Chinese, especially those from the rural areas, will be fascinated by the "white people" they see from Ohio. We saw it a lot for the first month or two - but life was such a blur for us then we didn;t really notice it. I think this photo is when it hit home.


We traveled to a public playground on the main island in the city - Er Sha - which is very crowded and diverse. Here's Freddie and Warren playing around - and there's a Chinese lady, camera at the ready, taking pictures of them. For what reason? Just to have and say "I saw them! They really do exist!" I had to snap this picture to capture the fascination that the Chinese had - and still have! - on foreigners.


It happened even today at lunch, someone came up to our group and took a picture. This was the first time I realized that the fishbowl would not end here in China.


Kind of like how Johnny Manziel feels in his new city and career! Maybe JFF should head over to China to see how life really is when you are constantly in the spotlight - good training for the 24-hour meaningless ESPN coverage.

(they do realize he is not starting, correct?)

On to the games!
NO 31, Atl 24. I can't help it. I know it's a trap, and I will willingly take the Saints. They have more talent - this is the obvious pick....

StL 24, Min 21. Not sure what's going to happen here. Unsure of Cassel at QB, and I think Hill will be OK running Stl's offense with the conservative Fisher.

Cle 24, Pit 0. Twenty five years ago, the Browns went to Pittsburgh for the opener with a new coach and a QB that got hurt the year before and missed the last half of the season....and this happened. I will suffer for just 50% of that beatdown this year.



Phi 34, Jax 27 - A gut feel here. Bradley had the Jags playing well late last year, and he is defensive coach that should be able to help stop Philly a bit with all this time to plan.

NYJ 23, Oak 13. I think Rex Ryan and the Jets' D will be able to handle a rookie QB at home. Oak turnovers will give the Jets the ball in good field position several times.

Bal 19, Cin 17. Two offensive coordiantors that love to run and eat clock - should be a low scoring game, with the Ravens finding home magic again.

Chi 31, Buf 17. Again, too easy, but I am sooooo impressed with the Bears' offense.

Hou 27, Was 20. Anything can happen in this game - but I like Romeo, Watt and Clowney vs. the shaky Washington O.

KC 24, Ten 13. Kansas City still has a good defense, right? They should shut down the Titans.

NE 30, Mia 27. Mia's improved O line will allow them to score vs.the Pats, but it's hard to see NE lose this with Brady and his weapons. Love to see a shootout here.

Car 23, TB 17. I don't get the Tampa love. What has Josh McCown done? Are we sure Doug Martin is good? Isn't Carolina's D still elite? I know Cam is banged up, but I have faith in Derek Anderson (cough).


Dal 33, SF 30. Dal's weakness is Pass D, and I don't think SF can fully take advantage of that. And Dallas may be playing desperate from the get go in week 1. Love the home dog with the upset here.

Den 34, Ind 23. Den rang up 49 on the Ravens last year in primetime week 1, and the Colts D is not better than the Ravens.

NYG 27, Det 24. Coughlin vs. Caldwell - who ya got? I know the Giants looked horrible, but I have to believe that COughlin will use all sorts of schemes to neutralize Megatron.


Az 23, SD 20. This is the game where I have no idea what will happen. Is either team a mirage - or both? Is Arizona's defense still elite? Will Rivers play ot his form last year, or 2013? Who knows....we will learn a lot from this game.

Best bets: 15 of them.

To recap:
 
Last year: 127-122-6

Overall, 6 years: 1002-916-57

NO -3

Jax +10 1/2

Jax/Phi over 51 1/2

NYJ -5

Cin/Bal under 42 1/2

Chi -6 1/2

Hou -3

KC -3

Ten/KC under 44

NE/Mia over 46 1/2

Car +2 1/2

Dal +3 1/2

SF/Dal over 51

Den -7 1/2

NYG +6 1/2


Supercontest: here we go again! The 5 picks:

Jax +10 1/2

NYJ -5 1/2

Dal +4 1/2

Car +2

NYG +5 1/2

Sep 5, 2014

Let's get ready for football !

Hi everyone :

So this blog is turning into a NFL and Vegas diary blog ?

Anyway, it's the weekend of week 1 of the NFL season - which means it is a trip to Hon Kong ! We are doing the annual day trip in a boat around the harbor. Should be great - weather looks nice so far.

It also means unfettered access to YouTube - and time to scour the archives for old NFL openings !

How about this opening from NBC in 1981 between a huge week 16 clash between Miami and Buffalo ?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jMyGvAJxVUc

Even Don Criqui seemed bored of the annoying theme.  And how about a better tag line, Radio Shack ?

The one thing NBC did right was the beginning for their pregnant show.  Remember these montages ?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BctCHz2iyr4

I don't remember that last game. I was only 8.  This was the year of red right 88 - so more heartbreak was coming. 


May 24, 2014

2014 Vegas Diary - Part 4

And now - the globally-awaited conclusion to the 2014 Vegas diary. Not going to apologize too much for the long delay - just have not found the time to sit down and finish it. Real life getting in the way (like kids baseball, golf, Acapulco-themed Chamber of Commerce balls.....)

Saturday, March 15

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, heading to bed at 3 am Friday night with the TV on half-blast. I appreciate Layup's comments that I am a light sleeper - and I am - but I refuse to believe that normal people sleep through the night with the TV on , with a volume setting of 10 or more. I didn't realize that Layup was really a 75-year-old grandmother that can sleep through anything.

This night was a usual night of me tossing and turning - I was in bed, awake, at 5:00 in the morning. Tried to fall back asleep - but could not. My mind was active, thinking about all the things I had to do - I had to pick up Nike fuel bands for the kids; I have to convince Layup to take me to a US Bank sometime today, since I still have $1300 of checks I need to cash; I need to go to Walgreens for some minor drugs.....

Walgreens! Aren't they open 24 hours? Of course!

After about 15 minutes of arguing in my mind whether to wake up and go to Walgreens, or fall back asleep - Walgreens won. I left the room before 5:30 to head to the LV Strip Walgreens. On the way, I said hi to Ana - who was dealing Pai Gow in the morning in an absolutely dead casino. Also called home to Jeff to see how the kids were doing; it was 9:00 pm Saturday night in China and there was a movie at the clubhouse; all the kids were busy and the conversations consisted of "Hi Dad - I'm fine - gotta go!" So no worries there.

Walgreens on the strip at Friday night at 5:30 in the morning is a strange place - no doubt about it. There were at least 3 people sitting/laying down within the entrance. Alcohol-included slushies were being sold by the register. Everyone was 26 years of age or under....except for, going up and down the aisle for ZZZQuil, Children's motrin, Old Spice Deodorant for Freddie and Flintstones. Got in a nice conversation with Mom and Dad as well while going up and down the aisles. And the 5 Walgreen's plastic bags that I was carrying was a nice repellent for the ladies of the night prowling the strip as I headed back.

Said hi to Ana on the way back - and went to sleep around 6:30. Woke up maybe 9:30 or so - headed downstairs; had to say hi to Ana and play some Pai Gow with her. Most of the crew joined us in the morning; then some broke off for breakfast. Leland and I were left - and the two of us headed to the craps tables to start an epic run. I think we both rolled 4 times each with a total of 1 point made. So much for that.

Got some UTH in during the rest of the morning, then tried to convince Layup to take me to the bank. He was on a good UTH run and didn't intend to leave - so I got the keys for a solo drive. After lunch in the room - I headed out. Took a few wrong turns, but finally ended up at the US Bank for a 10 minute transaction of cashing checks. It took about 90 minutes in total, but it felt like forever.

The lack of sleep was really starting to hit me now, and I was in one of those moods when you have no sleep for 4 days - just a feeling of fatigue? depression? grouchiness?  The group was playing UTH at a full table - well, I wasn't going to join them. I headed upstairs to lay down a bit and then went to the mall to look for the Fuel Bands. Did you know that mall is a LOT further away than it seems? And there is no freaking Nike store in there? I was getting pissed off quickly. Really pissed. A Wendy's bacon cheeseburger and a Frosty helped to calm me down some as I headed back.

It was about 4:00, 5:00 or so when I met back up with everyone. It was an afternoon off that was moderately successful but didn't help my mood too much. We played some tiles - where I think Layup won over $500 or so, craps and UTH. The group wanted an early dinner (since most have not eaten since breakfast), and so everyone (except me) suggested BLT. Fine - a BLT burger and shake will sit nicely in my stomach still full from the Wendy's and Frosty. I'm still working that out.

I felt better during the dinner as my big bet of Iowa State -2 in the Big XII champ came through. Then a group outing to Blackjack switch - why the F do we play that game??? It was about 9:00 or so when we all kind of stood there, wondering what to do next.

I have in my notes that Don suggested Baccarat - why? why do that to us again? One last group session of baccarat ended in disaster again for me. Another run at craps and UTH was indifferent, and half of the group - Don, Mike, and Leland - headed for bed. That left Wiz, Layup and I alone around 11:00 pm. What could we ever do?

Yes, one more trip in the Salon for blackjack. It was the three of us at one of the back tables against the wall - where we could see into a private room that was lit with a single craps table in the middle of it. Our eyes all widened immediately.

"What's that? You actually have that in here? What's the limit?"

Apparently, it's never used - MAYBE it is open once a year. It clearly is a "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" sort of thing. Million-dollar bankroll is required. Wiz now has a long-term goal in his life - to pull the funds together to play there. I say we open up a mutual fund company, get contributions for the fund and use it to play - and then all of us roll and bet the "don't". A guaranteed 35% return!

The blackjack treated two of us well....there were 2 or 3 shoes in a row where Layup and I made money, but Wiz got shellacked. After the last shoe he threw in the towel - he reached is limit. Wiz said his goodbyes and it was just Layup and I for the rest of the night.

We kept doing well at blackjack, so we stayed there. At one of the shuffles, we noticed a $25 roulette table open right next to us. Seriously, I never noticed it ever being open before...but this being Saturday night.....

Layup and I joked during the shuffle. "Nice placement - right next to the blackjack table! Does anyone actually play roulette in here?" The dealer smiled, and said - well, I don't know what he said, since Layup and I got up and went over there. "One spin won't hurt between shoes!!" We put 5 green chips on some numbers, and the ball was released.....the ball bounced in and out of the "18" before jumping to a losing number......

Layup and I had a nice session at blackjack - so, like moths to a light, we ran back to the baccarat table to lose it all. And we did. It was about 2:30 now, and we we're ready to call it a night. Back to the blackjack table!

There's always a theme in these diaries of wacko characters at the craps table on Saturday nights, and this night was not an exception. We settled in for a while; a guy from Columbus was on my end with me for most of the session, and I think Layup had someone on his end for a while. But the oddballs that came in for 3, 4 rolls tops were fascinating.

One guy - drunk, of course - leaned against the rail next to the stick. He constantly kept dropping $5 chips every roll.  "FIVE DOLLAR YO" he would scream. He would win every once in a while. "WHO'S YO IS THAT? THAT'S MY YO!" as he would prance around the table.

There were only 5 or 6 of us at the table, and he would constantly ask the dealer..."Is that MY Yo?" Yes, sir it is. "DAMN RIGHT! THAT'S MY YO!"

The next call: 8, easy eight. Yo comes down.  "Damn it!". He lasted about 20 minutes.

The session was consistently bad until the end - when I got the dice and Layup was down to his last $100 at the table. He played the "All or Nothing at all", as usual, when I rolled (again). I started off hitting the 12 and the 3, and then a couple of points. Next thing I now, I have 8 of the 10 numbers covered for the bet.

I think I needed a 2 for the "all small" - and I rolled it to make myself some money. All that was left was...the yo. My memory is hazy - it took me about 6-8 more rolls before I rolled and ---- the eleven showed up. My second career "All or Nothing at all".

Layup immediately sprinted toward my end of the table like he was a contestant on "The Price is Right" and Rod Roddy called his name. He grabbed me in a bear hug and jumped up and down - sure, alcohol may have been involved, but rolling that "All or Nothing at all" is like a no-hitter in baseball......you've got to celebrate!

That put us even for the session at craps - and, at 5:00 in the morning - gave us the adrealin rush we needed to go some more. Where else to go but - of course - one last baccarat session?

We headed into the baccarat lounge and saw a strange scene. There was one empty table - with a dealer - on one side of the aisle. On the other side, there was a game in progress - a dealer and three Arab-looking men - and one of them was doubled over in pain at the table, with his head in his hands. His friends kept asking him "Are you all right?" "What do you need?"  There was a pit boss over there, looking fairly unconcerned, over the dealer's shoulder.

We sat down at the empty table and stared at the happenings across from us. The pit boss - an Asian American who we got to know well - came over and asked for our cards.

"What's going on over there? Is everything all right?" we asked.
 The pit boss shrugged. "Oh, I don't know, I think he's fine. Want to play? Any markers?"
I was shocked that he has been 15 feet from the whole thing and knew nothing.
"He doesn't look very good- does he need a doctor?"
"Nah- they got the pit boss over there to handle it. Should I get the drink lady for you?"

The dealer offered no information - so we played while continually glancing behind us. After about 10 minutes, the guy hunched over ended up flat on his back under the table. Yes, he was laying down - conscious - underneath the baccarat table. He obviously was in pain, but from what?

I tried to glance over at the chips at the table - they weren't black chips, and there weren't many of them. My guess is he got physically sick at the amount of money he lost. But that's just a guess. That's when we needed a drunk Wiz to go over there and ask the posse: "So, how much are you guys down for the night?"

After about 30 minutes, a wheelchair came and took the man away. I don't think we ever knew what happened - or if those chips on the table were ever colored up. Layup - what was your theory on what happened there?

of course, the session was a losing one - and it was about 6:30 when Don and Mike appeared to say goodbye. They were a bit surprised - but certainly not shocked - to see Layup and I still awake at that time. We said goodbye to them, and then Layup and I headed up to bed.

Sunday, March 16

There was no trouble sleeping that night/morning, and the alarm rang at 9:30 - it took me a good hour to get out of bed. We were packed up and ready to go around 11; I went to the cage to check on my funds I had deposited and wanted to take some of those funds back with me.

The withdrawal process took a good 10 minutes just to get some of my money. It would have been easier to go to the UTH table, get a marker, get the chips, and then go to the cage to cash the chips.

Anyway, we stopped south of town at the Nike outlet to finally get the Fuel bands, ate lunch at Chipotle (yes, I was a little paranoid walking around a local shopping center with a lot of cash on me). In what is becoming an annual tradition, we listened Tommy Tyde and John Thompson release the NCAA brackets at 3:00 pm pacific. I let out a scream when Dayton's name was announced.

I checked in and went to the Delta lounge where it was EXTREMELY difficult to stay awake for 3 hours in the lounge while waiting for boarding. The non-stop MH370 coverage on CNN was not helpful. The plane ride home was smooth; I sat next to two people from Mexico City heading to Guangzhou to start importing product. They spoke no English and (of course) no Mandarin; I was racking my brain to find the Spanish I used to know to translate Spanish to Mandarin for this couple. I slept about 10 hours and really had no jet lag for the next week in Guangzhou.







 

Apr 20, 2014

Vegas 2014 Diary - Part 3

Friday, March 14

Before we get into more of the play-by-play details of the day, I do want to talk about one theme that was present during the trip this year. Usually, when Layup and I room together, the TV is set to ESPN for the entire 5 days - and it doesn't move. We watch repeats of SportsCenter over and over until falling asleep, and the day sometimes begins with Stephen A yelling at us.

But not this year. Every once in a while, a significant news event occurs during the Vegas trip. In 2003, everyone in this group can remember the War in Iraq starting the Wednesday before tipoff of the first round games. That led to many profanities against Dan Rather and CBS whenever they broke into coverage of the tournament.

This year, the MH370 tragedy/search/farce was omnipresent. We had the TV glued to CNN most of the time in the room for any new information on where this plane actually went. Recall that it disappeared the morning of March 8. At this point, it is now March 14 - and this was about the time where the Malaysian authorites were absolutely clueless on which "zone" in the ocean to search. And it was sometime during this trip where it was announced that the plane was still sending signals to a satellite 7 hours after takeoff.

It was horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I know this sounds crazy, but at this time - the most logical answer to "What happened to the plane?" was that it was hijacked and in Northern Afghanistan somewhere. I couldn't get enough of the rumor mongering on CNN, the "unofficial" MH370 24/7 news channel.

Anyway, this Friday was Southern Highlands day - the annual tradition of golfing at the premier course in Vegas that is always a treat. There wasn't much sleep for me again the night before, and the wake up call came around 7:30. Time for the morning Baccarat with Ana!

And this time, Ana treated me well. I was there for about an hour - and I do remember a banker run of about 7 or 8. I kept partial pressing on each win, and Ana would get concerned for me  - "don't get crazy!".  Ana, you want crazy? Let me introduce you to my friend Wiz.

After that session, there was only time for a shower - no breakfast! - and off to the car to play Southern Highland. We got there - and the lack of sleep, food and the Absinthe all were conspiring against me. My head pounded, and I was in no mood for any physical activity. The friendly locker room attendant - the same guy that was been there each year - offered Motrin...I took 4.

Golf was ......well, not good for the first 4-5 holes or so. Then I started to hit fairways with the no-tee approach, and some putts were dropping. The entire foursome started playing well on the 7th, with Mike hitting the flag on the approach; on 9, I hit a drive, bunt 3 wood to 135, and then a thin 9 iron that rolled up to 2 feet.

On to 10 - where I was right of the green in 2, and got up and down. On 11, the turkey burger I had didn't kick in yet, and I held my hands out on the tee box - and they were visibly shaking. Wiz said: "you too, huh?" and his were wobbly as well. The drinking and lack of sleep had caught up to all of us.

11 - a miracle chip from the right of the green to 6 feet, but I missed the putt. (I still regret that). 12 - par. 13 - routine par. 14 - bunker in 2, blast to 15 feet - made it. 15 - the hole I hate - driver, hybrid just over the green; bad chip to 20 feet but I canned the putt. 16 - 70 feet away in 2, and a nice 2 putt. 17 - the 190 par 3 - hybrid to 15 feet, par. On 18 I hit a good drive, but aimed at the creek in the center of the fairway, and found it. A double for a 39. Best nine in Vegas in a LOOOOONG time.
(Sorry for boring you with that, but it is memorable, and I had to put it down in here for reflection...)

After the snacks/pear vodka in the locker room after the round, there was no time for gambling since we had a 6:00 dinner reservation at Lavo - another tradition. We met in the lobby at 5:45 - everyone was there except for Leland. Where is he? Well, no one was exactly sure. The stories came in:
- his phone is ruined as some naked strippers at Bare threw him into the pool;
- he started drinking at 9:00 am and had already passed out for the day;
Leland was ofifically listed as "questionable" for the dinner at 5:45.

Dinner was awesome, as usual. Layup and Ira started to pound fireball shots and beer chasers; that got up to about 4 per person when the entrée came. Leland was downgraded to "doubtful" at 6:15, as we all realized there's no way for us to contact him (and vice versa) with the phone being ruined.

The conversation at the dinner table revolved around naming teams in obscure NCAA conferences. We started with the MEAC - Ira and I challenged each other in a "countdown" style. Keep naming one until you couldn't. We got to the 13th team (I took a mulligan with one accidental repeat) and couldn't name the last one - Howard. Argh!
We did it again with the SWAC - and I won that one.
Last came the mascot game - name the mascots of various NCAA college. This is where my absence from the US for 4 years really showed. I was very rusty on this - and it's clear that Ira was a specialist in the small East Coast colleges. I got him on some of the Midwestern colleges - IUPUI , anyone? - but there were several teams he named that I knew 5 years ago but simply forgot.

After the fried Oreos - I had 4, thank you - We headed back to the Mirage for the night - it was only 8:00 pm. As you can guess, Leland did not show for dinner. First stop back at the Mirage was the craps table - an open one! Three of us went on one end - I think it was Ira, Mike and I - and the other three - Wiz, Layup and Don - were on the other end. Time for Team Craps! Which team would make more points in one round around the table?

Don was not present to begin - so Layup started for the other team. 2 points made. Wiz - Zero. So it was our turn - and Mike saved the day with 2 points to my 0 and Ira's blank.
We kept waiting for Don to complete the roll for the other team - but he was nowhere to be found. Mike informed us that "dinner was not sitting well with him". Mike was going to use the public restrooms on the casino floor for the rest of the night.  Wiz pinch hit, sevened out quickly, and the game was suspended at 2-2.

Then we ran over to the baccarat room. Most of us sat down - can't remember the exact people at this table - and started playing. Most of the others were jumping around - going from banker to player and back haphazardly. I seemed to always be opposite Mike - betting the other way against him - and I could catch no cards. Mike seemed to be on fire against me - a Tiger Woods at the table. I couldn't beat him! And if we did end up on the same side, it was nothing spectacular - some wins, some losses. I lost all the profit from the session with Ana from the morning.

And this is where the trip turned. We all got up, I'm just wandering around the baccarat room, when Mike says "Are you going to cash in?" I usually go to the main cage to change my chips into cash - in fact, I always go there - but Mike suggested we do it there, in the baccarat room. There is a desk in the back where you can go cash in. So I went against my normal routine and cashed in there....and then went to the Salon with Layup and Wiz......

The blackjack session was awful. Nothing went right. Carnage everywhere with the 3 of us. It go so bad that I had 2-2 vs a 7.......and, in a desperate attempt to shake things up, I decided to split.

First card received - an 8. Oh boy, here we go. Now I'm doubling (at least I have 10). I got a 5. Nice.

Next 2 - I receive another 2. I don't believe it. OK, we'll split that too and flush more money down the drain. One of the 2's busted, and for the second 2 - a 7, for a 9 total. Fine, we will double.

I ended up playing 5 units on that hand - and went 0-3-2. So much for shaking things up at the table......the losses kept mounting until I finally had enough and picked up.

It was about 1 am or so, and I should have gone to bed, but.....well,,, the baccarat table started calling again. Layup and I sat down for one more session -and it was quickly clear that we should not have. More losses as I searched in vain for Mike. "Where is he? He's unbeatable! He needs to tell he how to bet......" . At 3 am, we called it a night, and Layup and I went back upstairs where I fell asleep for about 45 minutes......