Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thanks, and I need your help

I can't begin to thank all of you for your support during this time of grief.  We had the memorial service this past Thursday, and the most telling comment came from our Senior Pastor (who has been our family pastor for the past 24 years), "People are lined up outside the doors.   I don't think we're going to start on time."  I thought I knew how special my mom was.  As it turns out, I seriously underestimated it.   Not just the quantity of people who came, but the personal stories that just about everybody shared about her.  Family members are returning to their own homes, and now it's going to be just me and dad ( little sister lives in the Memphis area) (and DAPGF, obviously).  Seeing the outpouring of support here in the blogosphere, I know that we'll be able to make it.


And I wish that this was the end of the grief, but a blog friend of Shane Nickerson (and if I dare, myself) needs prayers of support and comfort far more than I do.  Please click here.


(cross-posted at The Randomness and What Happened)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cancer sucks

Some of you may be aware that my mother has been battling cancer.  I may have mentioned it in a post or two, but I've also mentioned it in comments to others' posts when they've lost a family member, including Pauly, Falstaff , and Wil Wheaton's friend, Annie. 


Anyway, my mother underwent a radical, experimental surgical procedure (hyperthermic chemo perfusion) back in April 2004, where after the cancer is surgically removed, heated liquid chemo is basically poured into the body cavity and all internal surfaces are "washed" to directly kill any remaining cancer.   When she was diagnosed in January 2004, they told her she had 6 months without that surgery.  With the surgery, they gave her a 50% chance to last another 2 to 3 years.   So she had the surgery.  Just over a month in the hospital to recover, 2 rounds of follow up chemotherapy, and not quite a full year to get her strength back.   After that, she went back to work…as a hospice nurse!  My mother, who spent the last several years of her career working with the terminally ill, decided that since she'd beaten cancer back that she'd go back to working with the terminally ill.   She was that kind of a strong and caring person.  So after a year of working, she and my father retired.  Her regular tests were showing some recurrence of the cancer, so they decided to take the time to enjoy life for themselves.  They did some traveling, they saw relatives, they had fun.   During this time, the cancer was reestablishing itself.  According to the doctors who would read her MRI scans, the cancer was "slow-growing" but it apparently WAS growing.   Finally, her last scan showed that it was spreading from her abdomen up to her chest, including starting to compress the main aorta coming out of her heart.   So a second round of surgery, similar to the first one was scheduled for Thursday, April 19. 


It was going to be a 10 hour or so procedure, and I took the day off and my sister flew in from Memphis.  Everything kicked off around 7 a.m.  She had been tired, in pain, but seemed in good spirits, so we weren't too worried.   I mean, she came thru the first surgery just fine…why should this be any different?  So my dad gets a call at 3:30 in the afternoon.   The surgeon said that there had been some complications, that when they were removing the cancer from around her liver, some of the cancer had gotten into the main artery that fed blood to the liver and that the artery had torn.   They worked into the night to stabilize her, and finally at 8 p.m. the doctor came down and told us that they had the bleeding under control, she was on a respirator, and that they'd go back in first thing in the morning on Friday to try and repair the damage and finish removal of the cancer.   So we all show up at 7 a.m. again, and the oncology surgeon and the vascular specialist he'd called in Thursday afternoon met us and told us how extensive things were, and told us that her chances were slim, but it was possible that they could repair the damage.   We unanimously said to go for it, and the doctors headed up to the SICU.  Around 9:30 a.m. we got the call.  They couldn't control the bleeding, and she'd gone into cardiac arrest.  They did open heart massage for about 10 minutes, but couldn't revive her.   My mother died at 9:20 a.m. on April 20, 2007.


We had 3 years that we hadn't expected to have, she's in a much better place, and no longer in pain.  Don't tell me that the cancer won.   She fucking beat cancer!  It can't get her anymore!  We all miss her terribly, but to know that she's in heaven and no longer in pain is worth the pain that we all feel.   I wanted to include a picture, but all my digital pics are on my computer's hard drive and it is still a non-functional pile of electronic crap.  Sorry for the downer nature of this post, but I had to get this off my chest.  Tell your parents that you love them.  Tell your loved ones that you love them.   And watch out for cancer.  It fucking sucks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The one in which we give up, and yet start anew...along with a Wednesday Pimp

I've given up. Yep. I'm done. I can't go any farther. I can't fix my computer problems. What, you thought I was giving up some combo of poker and blogging? I may not be the best at either (hell, I know I'm not that good or consistent at either!), but I enjoy them and occasionally can find the time to do them. No, it's my computer problems I'm giving up on. Lord knows I've tried. New power supply. New motherboard. New power switch. New case. Fugg it. I'll survive on my work laptop and thumb drive (again, thank you Hoyazo for asking whether you could run a poker client off of a thumb drive) for the next couple of weeks, until I can figure out what to get and how to pay for it.

Now, about poker. My game has been decidedly mixed, trending towards crappy. But last night gave me a slim bit of hope. I recently reread Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book and am rereading Harrington. I got onto FT last night, but didn't want to play a $1 SNG. I wanted to have a shot at winning something for my efforts, so I found the 9 player $6.50 SNG. I jumped into it and rolled over the table. At one point, UTG popped a 5x raise preflop. The cutoff, being somewhat shortstacked, shoved. I look down, only to find rockets! Woo hoo! I shove, UTG has me barely covered and calls. I'm up against QQ and KK respectively, and nearly tripled up for my efforts. It was that kind of game, until heads up and I couldn't win a hand to save my life. The final insult was getting Kings, only to have my luckbox opponent wind up with Aces. Still, 2nd place was a good start to the evening. Then I thought I'd play a peep-sex token 18 player SNG. I got bounced out of that in 13 th place, when I woke up to AKc in the BB. MP raised preflop, I reraised to chase out the others in the pot, MP shoves (I've got him barely covered) and I call. He's got A7o, The Tourist, and I'm loving it. Until a 7 spikes on the river. Well, now what to do? The next peep token was taking a while to spin up, so I figured I'd do another $6.50. Again, I freaking pwned the thing. The few races I got into held up, and even when I was a strong underdog, I'd get flops like this:

How could I lose? Exactly. I didn't. I won, and got my bankroll back over my last deposit amount! Over my entire poker career, super in the red, but for now, I'm in the black, baby! Don't forget, The Mookie is tonight, so show up for the donk fest. Hell, you might even see me there!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Teh one in which we build a computer

And now the latest in the saga of Hoff's dead computer.


As I previously pimped, the guys at were super helpful in giving me ideas as to what might be wrong with my computer.   The two big issues were the Power Supply and the Motherboard.  A few enterprising commenters thought they'd be clever in suggesting that I reflash the BIOS or do a hard CMOS reset.   Minor problem with those…I can't get the fugging thing to turn on!  You kinda need that capability to work on either the BIOS or the CMOS, so those suggestions were dismissed.


So the first option tried was (obviously) the easiest…replace the PSU.  Now, my POS eMachines rig is classified as a Mid-Tower ATX configuration, but it looks a helluva lot shorter than my old rig.   My old computer I built myself, ordered all the parts, assembled them all, and had a pretty sweet machine for probably 5 years.  And it was all in a Mid-Tower ATX case.   So when I'm at my local Electrode Hut (points to anybody who can name the reference), I'm looking at the PSUs and thinking they're all too big.   So I find a Micro-ATX power supply unit, buy it, and run home and install it.  Or rather attempt to, because it's too damn small.   So back to Frys to exchange the micro for a regular one.  Dash home and install.  Plug everything back in, close the case, plug in all my back panel crap (monitor, wireless keyboard/mouse transmitter, USB cables for camera, mp3 player, printer, and Palm Pilot, mic and headphones for the girlie chat, and speakers), and hit my switches.   Nothing.  Pulled the computer out of the CPU space in my desk, unplug everything, and take the box and a different power cable and plug it into a different outlet on a different circuit.   Still dead.  On a whim, take the old PSU, plug it in to the wall directly and I can hear a hum.  So it wasn't the power supply.   So let's take the unnecessary PSU back to Frys and try the next option.


Motherboard!  First of all, what kind of board do I need?  eMachine's website told me some weird name and model number for the factory mobo, but nobody but eMachines seems to carry that particular brand.   Besides, they want like $180 for a replacement, when other Celeron D compatible boards are going for less than $100 retail.  So let's see what boards will fit my processor.   I know I've got a crappy Celeron D 340, so when I go back to Frys to return the PSU, I go over to the display board where they have memory, CPUs, and mobos, and see what I need.   All the Celeron D chips they've got are Socket 775, so naturally I select a Socket 775 board and take it home.  First thing I do is unplug all the internal crap and remove the existing board.   Then I undo the cooling fan, heat sink, and the actual Celeron chip.  I go to set it onto the chip tray on the new board, and realize that the thing doesn't fit.   So, I fire up the laptop and go to Intel's website, to see why my Celeron is retarded.  It turns out it's retarded because I've apparently got an early one.   The early ones were designed to fit the same mountings as the older Pentium III chips, which is called a Socket 478 connector.  The Socket 775 configuration was established with the first Pentium 4 chips, and Celerons made by then were reconfigured for that.   So back to Frys to find a Socket 478 board.  Zero in stock, because apparently nobody makes them anymore.  Frys does have 1 board online, but it's backordered and will still take 5-7 days to ship.  Let's fire up Al Gore's inter-web tubes and see what we can find.   Lots of sites must have bought up old stock of those boards, because I found several sites that carried them.  After comparing prices, shipping, etc., I settled on one from  Preliminary major pimpage to them.   Their price was the lowest I found, their shipping costs were the lowest, and their warehouse was located in LA.  So Wednesday afternoon I placed the order, and selected standard UPS Ground for shipping.   Checking their site at the end of Wednesday, I saw that not only had the order been placed, it had been picked up at the warehouse in LA AND received at the distribution point here in San Diego.  So Thursday morning I see that it's out for delivery, and it actually gets delivered to Casa de Hoff before noon!  Less than 22 hours from my placing the order, I actually received the correct shipment!   Major hell yeahs to


So now we pray that this fixes the problem.  Pull everything out of the case again, and start the install.   Remove the existing back panel fascia (trim for all the ports), and slice open finger trying to maneuver the cheap tin replacement into place.  Mount the board, plug all the little connectors in, install the wifi card, and gently drop the CPU onto the proper Socket 478 tray.  Place the heat sink and fan onto the Celeron chip, and lock it all down.   Close up the case, optimistically plug in all the back panel crap, and hit the power switch.  And, we got nothing.   I stare in disbelief at the case and jam my finger into the power switch.  It lights up!  The fan starts!   And then nothing else, just like the first time I had the problem.  Power got to the system fan, but nothing else.  And now in addition to being frustrated, I'm even more confused.


I'm down to one more thing to try.  Power switch.  Of course it's not something that I can easily get to, with my decorative eMachines corporate-faced case.   So fugg it.  I'll go to Frys and if I can find a remotely affordable case, I'll buy it.  I'll transfer everything over to the new case and see if that works.   If so, I'll RMA the motherboard back to NewEgg (and hope that the excellent service carries over to returns), and get back to computing.  If not, I'll take everything back and start looking for a new rig.   Wish me luck…


Also, I played 4 SNGs on Tilt the other day.  All $6.50 9 player NLHE turbos.   Horrible bad beats took me out of two of them early (all in my AK, called by A7, rivers a 7 and then all in my AQ, called by T9s, rivers a T), 3rd place in one, and I won the last one.   So I was up $10 or so for the evening.  Could've been worse, I suppose.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Teh one in which we attempt to explain our lameness

I.  Am.  Lame.  There.   I said it.  I haven't posted in a while, and I am scum for it.  So much of my little corner of the universe is conspiring to keep me out of the blogosphere.   Not sure why…my blogs aren't anything spectacular, but they certainly don't suck as bad as some other stuff that's out there.  Nonetheless, I find myself facing obstacles to getting blog posts out.  


First, there's my computer priorities.  I do enjoy blogging, but my "unmolested" computer time is pretty limited.   So when I get a large chunk of free time (i.e. when DAPGF is teaching), my first instinct is to fire up an SNG.  The turbos with 45 or fewer players usually take just over an hour to play.   So on nights that DAPGF teaches, by the time I get home from the gym and throw some groceries down my neck (points to anybody who can name that reference), I can get 2 or 3 poker games in before GF gets home and my time is no longer my own.   The only other time I can typically find a large enough block of time when I'm not likely to be bothered, is after she goes to sleep.  Unfortunately, this means that I'm lucky if I'm done with the SNG by 1:30 a.m., so the early evening hours tend to get devoted to poker.


Then, we have my "after-hours" life.  DAPGF teaches two nights per week.   So the other nights of the week, we spend together doing whatever.  Maybe we go see a movie, maybe we sit and watch TV, maybe we take the dog to the dog park.   In any respect, it does not typically involve me getting to spend time by myself sitting on the computer.


In my more prolific blogging past, I did most of my blogging at work.  My previous job left me a lot of flexibility in the office.   Most of what I did in the office involved time on the phone, looking over sets of construction plans, and waiting for people to give me said plans to review.   As such, I had a fair amount of time that was free enough that I could keep up on my blog reading as well as my posting.  I also had my own office and didn't worry about corporate IT Nazis throwing a hissy-fit about my visiting non-work related websites.   Now most of my time at work is spent reviewing and writing environmental review documents, drafting City ordinances and laws, and writing proposals to hopefully get more work.   So my in-office time is much more packed.  Combine that with the idea that our corporate masters have an idea that we should have an "open" work environment to encourage teamwork and such, and our IT overlords have IP tracking software on all of our computers.   There have actually been emails from our CEO telling us to not go to non-business related websites, because for each employee hour wasted while surfing, it costs the company X number of thousands of dollars each day, blah blah blah.   So I am understandably reluctant to spend hours with Blogger open, either posting or simply checking out others' blogs.


Finally, the ultimate frustration is the fact that my personal computer died.  I take my work laptop home with me every night, just so I can check my email and such, but even then I don't have all of my music, photos, poker hand histories, and other crap that I usually find blog-worthy.   And to top it off, our IT overlords have installed synchronization software on all of our laptops, which synchronizes the hard drive to our network every day when we log into our intranet.   So I do what I can to delete my temp files, internet history, file/application history, etc. before I shut it down (it syncs on shutdown), but I'm not a full blown computer geek (I just play one on TV), and I'm sure that there's something I'm missing that could tell the overlords whether I've been visiting Beastiality . com or something (I don't, it's just an example…besides, zoolover . com has a much better library of mpeg files!   I kid!  I kid!).


So I'm trying to be sneaky and type this post up in MS Word, and then I'll sneak into Blogger and doublecheck my "Post by Email" address, and fire it off.   Hopefully it will work, because I'd like to get back to being a mildly popular member of the blogosphere again, as opposed to a guy with two blogs that nobody reads.   Wish me luck.