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playing poker and teaching science: July 2008

playing poker and teaching science

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle school science teacher, wrestling coach, poker player, scuba diver, aikido black belt, amateur writer, and student of life. I also try to give back a little by volunteering for a month or so each summer at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Perspective

God gave us an interesting organ when he formed us from the dust of the earth and breathed into us the breath of life: He gave us a brain.

The brain is singularly unique. We use it every day and yet it is so misunderstood that people, intelligent people, still cling to the notion that we only use a scant ten percent of it. One look at a MRI shows just how many areas of the brain are in operation at any one time. As stimuli vary, the brain will show the areas called upon, and the scan will light up like a distant thunderstorm on a dry summer night.


Yes, some people ACT like they have only the ten percent capacity, but the potential is nonetheless still there.


I think new thoughts and experiences are stored in the brain by a little old man left in charge of a filing system he doesn't quite understand. He stores them here and there to the best of his ability, but then he'll get the notion that he's mishandled something and look back into one filing cabinet or another. Suddenly a thought springs to mind and you have no idea where it came from.

Occasionally the little old man takes a handful of caffeine, or Benedryl, or perhaps Viagra... Things speed up, slow down, or.... okay, he often strung out on Viagra, but that's another post.

Sometimes he just opens file at random.


This past weekend I took a wonderful little mini-vacation with my lovely wife. We enjoyed the beauty of southern Indiana, did our own little pub crawl in Bloomington, and then spent the night in a 200 year-old hotel overlooking the mighty Ohio River.


We also stopped at an outlet mall.... again, fodder for another post.

I was enjoying a fine dinner with a view of The River when the demented little file handler spilled a folder: Now I'm left to ponder how much I miss having rice and beans several times a week, and how much I appreciate the fact that I DO know where my next meal is coming from.

One of my duties at The King's Home in Belize was to help pack up lunch for the grade school kids into small plastic containers and to transport them to the school at exactly noon. Their lunch consisted of a little helping of rice and beans, with maybe a small piece of stewed chicken or perhaps a hot dog slice or two.


Sometimes they would finish and still be hungry and I didn't didn't have anything else to feed them.


Whenever the Keeper Of The Files lets that memory out, I truly appreciate everything I have in my life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I found a lucky penny.

Everyone who’s anyone knows that if you spot a penny lying on the ground that you immediately receive good luck the second you scoop said coin into your grubby little paws. *

*With the proviso of course that the copper coinage of providence is lying with Abe’s shining countenance facing upward and not hiding itself in the mess and muck of Mother Earth.

I thought about that coin when I called the pre-flop raise by an old guy in a hat. I had Big Slick and received for my call a flop of King, rag, rag. I am happily bet into and raise. I’m sitting at the Argosy Casino in Southern Indiana waiting for my beloved Omaha 8/b game to get enough players. I bought in for $200 and had chipped up about $80 with good cards and bad callers.

Old guy with hat calls.

Huh?

He’s seems to be a solid player and the hands I’ve seen him table have been worthy of play. Why would he call? He either has AK, KK, or AA, right?

Another rag. Check. Check.

A river rag and he bets $100 into a $120 pot.

I didn’t have to think long. There are only two logical hands that can beat me and I figured that we would chop the pot.

He turns up aces. I lose $175.

“Nice hand.”

Can I play this any differently? Heads up with AK and flop top pair top kicker. He would have played the hand the same way if HE had had AK I believe

In a cash game I know I’m not good enough to lay that hand down with a totally unconnected and unsuited board. Maybe I will be one day, but as long as a have a couple more bullets in my pocket, I don’t think I will.

The blinds go around a few more times and I look down to find AA in the small blind. It folds around to the old guy with hat on my right on the button and he raises.

Cha-Ching!

I flat call and the big blind re-raises.

DOUBLE CHA-CHING!

Old guy folds and I push all-in. He calls with KK.

I’m back to nearly even money. Two hands later I win a small pot, the Omaha game opens and I bid farewell with my $4 profit. In the Omaha 8/b game I play for two hours, don’t scoop a single pot, and win $130.

Lucky penny.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It’s nice to be home.

The Central American country of Belize is a beautiful place to visit, and the work at The King’s Children Home is so very rewarding on a number of levels, but living in the third-world for almost a month does take some getting used to.

Along the coast of Belize there is a ever-blowing wing that bravely confronts the humidity and keeps it at an underwelming level. In the capital city of Belmopan however, there is no coast. One does not simply breath the air, but rather wears it like a winter coat made of the thick fur of the exotic perpetually perspiring Panamanian puma. While standing in the shade of the KCH bus one day, I stuck my hand out into the sunlight. It felt like I stuck it into an oven.

It’s hot. Africa hot.

There was also a story I shall not share of getting stung on the ass by a scorpion.

KCH graduated four students from Standard Six, the U.S. equivalent of the eighth grade, this year. They will all advance to high school. Some Belizian children are not as lucky. The Belizian system of education is a little different from what we enjoy, and what is so under-appreciated, by students in The States.

I Belize, when you finish Standard Six you take the PSE, a national exam. If you do not pass the PSE, you are DONE with public education. You do not go to high school. You do not go to college. You enter the work force at 14 years of age. You MAY have the option of going to a trade school to be training to work a trade, such as a laborer at one of the country’s large chicken farms.

Also, there’s no free education. You pay tuition every year. You supply your own books. You supply your own required uniform.

Take a minute today to slap a couple American children in the head and let them know how good they have it in the good old U S of A.

*Please don’t really slap a kid*

At the King’s Home (http://www.kingschildrenshome.org/) Leonie raises all the money for her 50 children’s books and tuition and sews their uniforms herself.

Okay…. A few kids I know could stand to be slapped.



Last year I discovered that the children had never had either chocolate chip cookies or blueberry muffins. Those sad truths were quickly laid a sunder as Betty Crocker and I worked our culinary magic. I can now join the small group whose claim to fame is the ability to make bread, cookies, and muffins for more than 60 individuals.

I can also shower from a bucket.

It’s nice to be home.