Friday, July 31, 2009

Top 10 things you forget on Vacation

Vacation! Who doesn't love a good vacation? Well if you don't. If you're one of those workaholic-take your laptop to the beach so you can check your emails-drives around till the blackberry is in range sorts, this blog post is not for you. I believe that it's very important to be actively engaged in your work. But it is at least as important to be actively engaged in your relaxation. If you can't do this, then something is not right. I don't care if you love your work. That's no excuse. Life is like a good meal. there are several courses and between courses you must cleanse your palette in order to appreciate the next course. Vacation is like this. You must properly remove yourself from your prior life so you may return to it with renewed vigor. Well, enough about that. you workaholics know who you are and right now you are justifying your lack of life and about to go back to your email to see if someone needs you (because you are SO indispensable)

So I am, as we speak, on vacation. Or more to the point I'm at a pre-vacation staging position. Without going into detail. Lets just say that there is a point at which you are no longer at home, but not quite on vacation. You are in the hotel or condo or tent but you haven't done anything that differentiates you from your regular life yet. You are in vacation limbo. It is at this point that you slowly let go of your regular life and prepare to buy a 8 dollar churro. It is also at this point that you take stock of all the things your forgot. No matter how well you prepare for a vacation you forget stuff. It's as constant as the sun's morning rise. You can make your checklists all you want. It's the execution that's the problem. So here it is. 10 things you forget on Vacation. This will also include things you forget WHILE on vacation that because I need 10 things.

10. Locked the Door - You spend your life working to put things into a house that you've bought and when you go on Vacation, you leave those things. Some would say that being able to spend some time with those things would equal a vacation as well, but that's a different story. You are in the middle of doing things that you would never do and in the rush to 'get out of Dodge' you forget, or you forget IF you locked the door. You don't make this realization until you are a long enough distance away that it is a lot of trouble to go back and check. They say that if you do this on a regular basis, that it's the beginning of some kind of mental illness. Well warm up the straight jacket.

9. Tickets - A wise vacationer NEVER pays rack rate for anything. Thanks to this handy invention of Al Gores, we can all get great deals to myriad attractions and events. Well if you are going somewhere important you usually have many tickets to keep track of. Along with this category is passports/special identification. If you end up going to Southern California, you are going to have to remember that we haven't anexed Tijuana yet. Personally the only reason I would go there is to buy good vanilla. When it comes to tickets, the thing you wonder if you remembered is not the main event ticket, but rather the tickets to one of the supporting events. Like the shuttle ticket to or from the airport. or maybe the parking passes, or something else that isn't enough to ruin your vacation, but it IS enough to put a dent in your self image.

8. Socks - I say socks, but it really is any sundry clothing item that you take for granted being there. somtimes it's socks, sometimes it's underwear (only one section if you wear 2 pieces of underwear), sometimes it's the relaxing shoes (sandals etc.). Usually you only forget this stuff once. after that you are cured. But after that. You'll bring extras. Better safe than sorry.

7. Utilities - This is on the same order as locked the door, but it's the different utilities that you have in the house. Did you remember to turn off the lights (except that special one that scares away burglars.) Did you remember to turn off the oven? (because you cooked yourself a large country style breakfast before you rushed off to the airport). The other thing that falls under this category is the mail. did you forget to turn off the mail delivery? or have a friend check it for you? So many things to remember and if you did them early enough in your exodus, you may think you forgot them.

6. Your sense of economic well being - This is what you forget when you are actually ON vacation. If you are going to enjoy yourself, you are going to have to turn off your inner miser. You know, that guy that tells you not to buy things like a drink at lunch or dessert at dinner because you are not being prudent. Well I've heard it said first by a local radio personality and continued by countless voices, 'Moderation in all things, including moderation.' Give yourself a little leeway. If you are more liberal in your spending in your regular life, maybe you should go the other way on vacation and turn into a cheap skate, but I think it works better the other way around.

5. What you do for a living - If you have taken a vacation properly. when you come back to work, you are not really certain that you have any idea what you are doing. Perhaps you have been faking it the whole time? It should take you a good couple of days to get back into the swing of your regular work a day rut.

4. Money - I think most of us live on credit cards. I know I do. Don't get me wrong. I don't use them for credit, I pay the balance every month. If everyone were like me, the credit card companies would have to really stick it to the retailers. But there are cases when you really do need cash. My dad was a BIG proponent of cash. so much so that he was often the target of people that would endevor to relieve him of it. But he used to say 'Mark, there are some deals that can only be made in cash' If you watch cops, you realize that this is true. But there are other more legal goods and services that are also done in cash. few people accept tips in credit card form unless you are adding it to the meal ticket. You need to carry a healthy stack o ones for tips, and tolls. Cash also tends to be a faster transaction, and on Vacation there are many times when speed is of the essence.

3. That one bag - You've got it all, you've prepacked a few weeks in advance and your bags stare at you with all the anticipation of a dog waiting for you to give the word so he can snap up that biscut you put on his nose. If you do that far enough in advance, you will invariably miss one bag. Or better yet you didn't miss a bag at all...or did appear to have everything, but it seems like there was a bag that had OTHER things in it and you really needed it to ... oh no, never mind, it's here. Or was it that one after all...grrr.

2. Toiletries - This is different than the one bag because any one of your nightly routine tools can go missing and it instantly becomes more important than all the rest. Toothbrush, floss, comb, brush, shampoo, conditioner (my hippy hair really needs it). Just to name a few. If you forget one. it reminds you every night and you end up going to the local woolworths that you were banned from for fighting in order to pick up that one item that you lack. You will pay through the nose for it and it won't quite be the right one because they don't have the one you use.

1. Power - In our personal gadget lives we must have easy and ready access to power. some of our devices like cameras and personal music players require regular charging and if you don't have the cord that you forgot, that device will become a loadstone within 2 days. Other devices need batteries. The batteries you bought in bulk at home, but now you are willing to pay through the nose for in order to make sure you have.

Well, i'm sorry if it isn't up to snuff, but I'm on vacation! leave me be!

(not really, thanks for reading, tell your friends)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Top 10 50/50 bets

There comes a point in every persons life where they have what those in the philosophy field call a null choice. This means that either way you choose, based on the information you currently have, you will have an equivalent value for an outcome. Lets take for example Saturday early morning TV. When I was a boy this was when I was excited enough about the new cartoons coming out that I woke up particularly early to make sure I didn't miss a one. Well on the occasion that I was VERY early, I would have the choice of 2 test screens (one with an Indian and the other with a standard color pattern in grayscale) or the Farm Report or Car auctions. I would watch the Farm report sometimes and Car auctions the other times. Both of them were about as interesting as the other. So I would just choose one and watch until the REAL tv began. But how to choose? when faced with a bunch of equal choices how do you commit to go with one or the other? Now in these days of remotes, you just flip back and forth so you don't really see either one. But back in the day, that clunky channel changer (went up to 21 but you didn't need near that many) was liable to break a young boys fingers from overuse not to mention wake everyone else in the house.

I present to you the top 10 ways to pick a 50/50 choice.

1. Flip a coin - This of course assumes that you have a coin to flip. This method has likely been around as long as there have been coins which is a VERY long time. At least back to ancient Rome if not to the Phoenicians. Every coin of course has what is termed as a heads side and a tails side. The head of course would be some revered public figure. The interesting thing about that is back then they would certainly be alive, but now most certainly would not be. The coin flip is so universal that it has been the subject of Twilight zone episodes (where the coin actually landed on edge) to comic books (remember Two Face? he wasn't just in the movies). Not a very interesting method, but infinitely recognizable.

2. Nearly any opening casino bet. - I consumed an early blog with the subject of my favorite casino bets, but this is more based on favorite bets of the casino. Remember, when you win, the casino wins. As a result, the games that have 1 to 1 payoffs (double your money) are the ones that the casino likes because many people are willing to play them. This includes a hand of blackjack, a passline bet on craps as well as the field or big 6/8, red or black (or any other number of roulette bets), or my latest favorite Paigow poker. Each of these bets will double your wager with a win. They are considered 50/50 (of course they really aren't, but that's my other blog). If you are new to gambling, or more specifically new to table games one of these bets will likely be your introduction. Slot machines ARE NOT in any way 50/50 bets.

3. Jan-Ken-Po! - That's what they call it in Japan. it's common name in the US is Rock-Paper-Scissors or more recently Rochambeau. It involves pounding your fist on your open palm 3 times and then showing the sign of Rock, which beats Scissors. Paper, which beats Rock, I'm not sure how exactly, or Scissors which, more obviously beats paper. This was the first REAL method of determining who get to ride shotgun or who gets the last licorice whip in the box. This method is so popular that it has become the design methodology behind MANY games that people enjoy on the computer. More elaborate yes, but definitely derived from this humble beginning. Once you embark on judgment determined by the Gods of Jan-Ken-Po, you were immutably bound by it's decision. No crying, No complaining. Fate, and your hands, have spoken.

4. Shooting odds or evens - Popular as math became more of a factor you would shoot or stick out one finger or two after both parties shouting 'one two three SHOOT' the sum of the fingers would then be summed up, and if your total count is odd then the person that picked odd wins and so on. This method like Rock paper scissors starts to affect your psyche in that you start to believe that you either can be read or can read your opponent. This of course is nonsense because how can you read an odd or even amount of fingers based on disposition? I suppose there are trends based on mood or something, but I think the elements involved would be so subtle that it would be impossible to quantify. Very popular because of it's quick nature, it is usually done in a best 2 of 3 contests to make sure everyone has a chance. Sometimes known to decide who can get that sweet apartment.

5. Eeny Meeny - This is the first method of choice when you are making a choice that DOES mean something to you. The eeny meeny method goes as follows. You say the eeny meeny rhyme and as you point in turn each of your possible choices (there could be many) to the beat of the poem until at the end of the poem you rest on your choice. There is a problem with this method in that there are several versions of the poem and the propensity to ad-lib phrases in the poem in order to fix the choice being made makes it an easy one to give up in the face of any of the other options. The poems goes roughly like this:

Eeeny meeny miney moe. Catch a Tiger by the toe. If he hollers let him go. Enny meeny miney moe.

In some variants you would then end with a change in cadence and phrase My mother told me to pick the best one and you are IT. There are many interchangeable phrases that were used in the place of certain lines, one of them banned in the late 70's on school grounds but continued still in the underground, the deep south and northern Idaho. Also the last line could include any number of VERY's in front of 'best' which prompted the Nevada gaming commission to ban the eeny meeny method from being used in any official wager.

6. Pick a hand, any hand - Maybe the first 50/50 game it involved your mom and a treat. she would put the small treat in one hand then put both hands behind her back and come out with two closed fists and ask you to pick one. if you picked correctly...TREAT! if not. Crushing defeat. Most kids were happy enough at this age to simply be given the choice. the treat was just a nice surprise. Later this would become a method for kids to flim flam each other as treats were put in back pockets or simply dropped offering the friend picking a choice of nothing or better yet, nothing. In underworld variants of pick a hand, both hands are kept behind the back of the person thus allowing for a quick switch after the choice has been made. Take it from me, if you see someone offering you a pick a hand in this fashion, take your money and leave the casino!

7. High card cut. - Normal every day life finds the cutting of high card used usually to begin a friendly poker game. High card starts the deal. A variant of this method is still used in casinos today. When your chip denominations are colored up in a poker tournament, the left over chips are then given to the high card dealt at the table. This was the favorite 50/50 method of film noir the cutting of a deck of cards to reveal a high card was usually used to determine who had to perform a difficult or undesirable task. The best part of this is in the movies the cutting of cards would nearly always involve the Ace of Spades. The dramatic value of that particular ace could not be overstated.

8. Stop watch odd even - This one is personal. When I got a digital watch that had 100ths of seconds. I would turn on the stopwatch and stop it after a moment and see if the last number was odd or even. it worked fairly well and gave me a great opportunity to show off my cool watch.

9. Thinking of a number - This way required one impartial arbiter of the contest. Usually a parent of at least 2 siblings. I am thinking of a number between 1 and X where X is an improbable number and never the number chosen by the initiator. The inherent problem with this method is that people tend to gravitate to certain numbers. Number in the high 30's and in the mid 70's are most popular in the 1-100 and once you gain this little tidbit, you only need to know the individual's preference in high or low. With so many more fun methods of impartial choosing of equal choices I'd rather give each child a club and let the field of honor decide.

10 Spin the Racquet - Once again a personal choice. Whenever you start a tennis match, you have to decide who Serves first. This is actually a pretty big benefit because if you start with your serve that means that if the match is close, you will always be serving to add pressure to your opponent and your opponent will always be serving for the match if they lose. This is always started with the spin of a racquet and the other player calling up or down. the racquet is stopped and the logo on the butt of the handle will show the outcome. I have seen this protocol broken by someone asking odd or even on the number that is printed on the balls. novel indeed, but tradition is tradition. I've never participated in a tournament large enough to know if there is a difference at the pro level, but I doubt it.

I nearly forgot this episode, nearly.

Thanks for reading! Tell your friends.