Tag Archives: cards

The Feel Turd Moment of the Year

Ebony and Ivory.

Ebony and Ivory.

The holiday season is upon us. This may be a festive time of year but sometimes it’s important to slow down, focus, center, be present, and remember our roots.

For me, today, that means pausing to pay homage to the poop tag.

“Roll the crap. Action!”

Once upon a time a company made a game called Cards Against Humanity. It was mildly cute but a blatant rip of Apples To Apples. They lost points on that.

But now, I’m happy to say they have more than redeemed themselves. The Christmas spirit is very much alive. So much so, you might say that I’ve been moved.

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Survivor: Abyss Island – It’s All Over Except For The #TMI

Teaser: House of Cards challenge.

Teaser: House of Cards challenge.

As I write this it is early Wednesday morning on Day 40. Survivor: Abyss Island is over. It feels surreal to be back in what most of you call “civilization” and totally take for granted. Now is my time to feel morally superior.

Day 40. The heady stuff of legend. A day that all true Survivors, like myself, dream about until our poor little heads feel funny and oogey.

Right now, in the kitchen, I’m using a thing called a “coffee maker” to make an entire pot of coffee. Wow! What will they think of next? I’ll be damned but it actually feels weird. Luckily I haven’t forgotten how. I had just enough leftover reward coffee in my stash so I gleefully dumped it all in the machine. To think; I actually used to hoard this stuff! Ahhhh. Civilization, warts and all, apparently has some advantages.

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You know, this is – excuse me – a damn fine cup of coffee. I’ve had I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee in my life and this, this is one of the best.”

Yeah, after 39 days on a metaphorical island I am wont to talk to myself. It’s a dirty thankless job but someone has got to do it. I mean talking to myself. Are you even listening to me?

With my new Survivor-heightened senses, I’m ready to go out and take on the day. Everything is bigger, better and bolder than it ever was before. I do not wish to commit the irrevocable sin of over-sensationalism so I will strive to remain subtle and employ my usual deft touch.

Flavors are bolder. The air is airier. Time is timier. Meaning is meaner. Touch is luxurious. The scents in the air are dreamier. Everything is so goddamned delicious. I’ve picked up the habit of licking everything in the house. Mmmmm… Lead paint!

My God!!! I’ve never felt so alive!!!

This experience has quite literally changed my life. Nothing will ever be the same again. Ever. The old Tom B. Taker is dead. I am the new me. This just might be the next step in human evolution. I’m poised delicately on the cusp of leaving this mortal body behind and transforming into an ethereal being of pure energy and light.

See? I can do subtle. Big time subtle.
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Mini Eat My Ass – B of A edition

Bank America ATM ClosureMy first ever blog from the car using my iPod.

Bank of America is rumored to begin charging $5 a month for debit cards.

I’ve been warning about this for years. Step one is get you hooked and step two is to shove it up your ass.

So long B of A. Closing my account is going to feel great!

Update: Added picture and the following text.

Now that I’m home I can add a few additional details about the colonoscopy sponsored by Bank of America and other financial institutions across this great land of ours.

In Bank of America’s scheme, the account holder will be charged a $5 monthly fee if they use their debit card a single time in a given month. The fee is scheduled to begin early in 2012.

Other banks are joining in. Wells Fargo and Chase are “testing” $3 fees. I wonder what that means? A focus group of consumers to find out how much they like it? Doubtful.

Regions Financial plans a $4 fee starting next month. SunTrust is apparently already charging a $5 fee.

Tom’s Law #42
Let the banking customer beware.

Okay, that’s not really a law. Sorry. I lost my interest. I could fix it, but I’d have to charge a fee.

Other fees are a hippin’ and a hoppin’, too. The fees that some banks charge for “non-network” ATM usage will be going from $2.00 to $2.50 per transaction.

Some other fees I’ve heard about:

  • $1.00 – saying hello (friendly) to your banking representative
  • $42.00 – saying “fuck you” to your banking representative
  • $1.00/hour for parking in the lot or $10 for a 24-hour pass
  • $8.00 monthly surcharge for printed statements
  • $5.00 monthly surcharge for access to online banking
  • $2.00 for printed receipts
  • $5.00 for phone calls (first 15 minutes), $3 for each additional 15 minutes
  • 12 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts per parking lot use for non-profit car wash fund raising events
  • $3.00 to check account balance
  • $1.00 rental fee for pen usage when filling out deposit or withdrawal slips
  • $4.00 fee to check your ID when conducting transactions with a teller (non-robotic only)
  • One percent interest fee on all savings accounts
  • One percent deposit fee
  • Three percent transfer fee
  • Five percent withdrawal fee
  • $8.00 fee per money order
  • $25.00 fee per cashier’s check
  • $84.00 fee for insufficient funds transaction
  • $800 processing fee to fake signatures on loan foreclosures
  • $30 per incident to wear sunglasses inside a branch office
  • $7.99 to ask a bank employee the location of the bathroom
  • $10.00 to use the bathroom
  • $8.00 for toilet paper (optional)
  • $12.00 for soap to wash hands
  • $8.42 for water to use the soap
  • $4.00 for towel to dry hands
  • $20 fee for attempting to transfer money to WikiLeaks

That’s all I can think of right now. I wonder if they have any current openings for Fee Designer. I could go for a career change. B of A execs – call me! I’m cheap!

In late December [2010] it was announced that Bank of America had bought up more than 300 Internet domain names in a would-be attempt to preempt bad publicity that might be forthcoming in the anticipated WikiLeaks release. The domain names were such as BrianMoynihanBlows.com and BrianMoynihanSucks.com as well as similar names for other top executives of the bank. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones ridiculed this effort, saying: “If I owned stock in Bank of America, this would not give me confidence that the bank is prepared for whatever Julian Assange is planning to throw at it.”

Source: Wikipedia

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Right now, you’re probably asking, “Yeah, but what about the rainforest?” You ask, I deliver!

Rainforest Action Network Statement on Bank of America’s New Emissions Commitment

May 18, 2011SAN FRANCISCO (May 18, 2011)—Today, Bank of America announced a new greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitment covering its ‘operational’ emissions coming from the company’s global facilities. The announcement can be found here: http://mediaroom.bankofamerica.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=234503&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1565219&highlight.

Amanda Starbuck, Energy and Finance Program Director at Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement in response:

“While we welcome Bank of America’s continued acknowledgment that reducing greenhouse gas emission is critical to combating the climate crisis, the bank must move quickly to address the much larger carbon footprint coming from its role as a lead financier of the coal industry. RAN estimates that Bank of America’s financing climate footprint is to be one hundred times larger than the size of its operational carbon footprint.

Source: RAN.org

Thanks for the reminder to check up on all the B of A controversies. All publicity is good, right? You guys sure have that nailed.

So, what does an outfit like B of A teach us about something like the free market? The takeaway (for me at least) is that they are expert practitioners of the mythical win-win voluntary fee market transaction that many hold so dear. Ooops. Dear me. I meant free market, of course.

In this sort of transaction, one side says, “Yes, I’ll conduct business with you, but only if I can rake you for every penny you’ve got. I can fee you for anything. Naturally, you can’t fee me for jack shit, no matter how ineptly and rudely I do what I said I’d do but massively failed.”

If I treated my customers the way B of A treats theirs I’d have to live in a box. I could probably get one from B of A for a $12 fee.

Abyss brings the greetings

I’ve decided to expand my operations. There are big changes afoot. No longer will I wallow in the pitiful mediocrity of my words. Blogging is passe and busted. No more blog posts from me. Today I boldly leap into the exciting, glamorous and fast-paced world of greeting cards!

Since the market is over-saturated and rife with competition, I’ll need a way to stand out from the crowd. I prefer to be left standing in my field. That’s just the way I roll.

So I will specialize in negativity cards. I haven’t mapped out all the sub-genres yet, but we’ll cover pregnant maids, wood chipper accidents, death threats and many passive-aggressive themes. Our aim is to bring a touch of gritty realism to a product that is normally syrupy-sweet and overly upbeat. And, as an added bonus, in addition to tired greetings, each of our cards is handcrafted in the Abyss and tells a gripping story. Enjoy the narrative!

Welcome to the Abyss Greeting Card store!

Card – Front

Card – Inside

Home game poker drama

Ah. A friendly game of poker at home. Such a fun relaxing way to spend an evening.

We get together with friends about once every two months for a friendly little game of poker. We meet at 6pm for a potluck dinner then by 7pm it’s game on. There are usually about 6 to 9 people playing.

The game is structured as a mini-tournament. The game is Texas Holdem no limit. Each player starts with $1,500 in chips and the blinds start at $5/$10 and escalate slowly every 15 minutes. The blinds grow slowly to $10/$20 then $15/$30, $20/40, $25/50 and so on.

The “no limit” variation was adopted at my insistence. Bluffing is almost impossible when you can only make a minimum raise and everyone would call and invariably someone would suck out. Argh. And the games could go past midnight. Argh.

With our blind structure and no limit in effect the games typically last 3 to 4 hours. That’s much more doable for us. Our routine is pretty consistent now. Break for a snack at 9pm then finish no later than 11pm.

It’s a friendly game but to keep it interesting we all chip in $20. The prize pool last night was $140. We award that to the top three finishers. Third place gets their money back, second place gets $50 and first gets $70. Personally I’d rather go $80, $40 and $20 but I got outvoted. We almost never make it to an official winner since when it gets late the people still in the game start offering deals to each other. “If we quit now I’ll split the pot with you 60/40″ and stuff like that. If the offer is accepted we can all go home. If not, we keep playing. If we keep playing, usually the final two (if they have approx. the same amount of chips) will say, “one more hand to determine the winner.” If agreed, there is no betting. All cards are dealt face up. It’s basically a coin flip to end the game so we can call it night.

The tournament structure means that anyone can be knocked out on any hand. Some people go home if they get knocked out. Some stick around and graciously assume the duties of dealer. For those that don’t go home,  however, they can get a little bored and pouty because they are out of the game.

The players include my wife and myself, another married couple, our aunt, a friend of ours and her daughter. Occasionally we’ll have random guests, like our friend’s husband, a tag-along friend or someone’s kid.

The married couple is where the action is at. I’m going to call them the Johnson’s. (Not their real name.) They both enjoy gambling a little too much. The formation of this little group was basically their idea. Mrs. Johnson can be a little bitchy. Mr. Johnson is a hardcore gambler and has been his whole life. He loves poker and considers himself quite good. He deals poker at a local club a few times a week for part-time money. He’s a great guy to have around when the chips and pots get all confusing and stuff.

He’s also pretty silly at the poker table. Flashing his cards, making comments, acting out of turn, etc. He thinks he’s the best so he gets pretty grumpy if he gets knocked out. I imagine it’s hard for him to get beat by us amateur idiots. He also doesn’t seem to do well after the dessert break. He gets all tired and cranky. Sometimes he’ll stick around and deal for us and sometimes he’ll stomp out of the room.

On top of that Mr. and Mrs. Johnson will peck at each other all night long. They’ve been married 45 years and have a rhythm to their interactions. The drama ebbs and flows between them much like the tides.

At last night’s game all was well up to the dessert break. No one had been knocked out yet – everyone was still in the game. It’s always nice when that happens. After the break, though, things usually start to happen pretty fast since the blinds are getting large.

My wife was knocked out first. Then went our friend and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. That left me, my aunt, and our friend’s daughter (who is actually quite a good player).  Aunt was the chip leader, I was a strong second, and daughter was on the short stack.

Mr. Johnson was dealing and was grumpy as hell. He hasn’t finished in the money for quite some time. So he was speed dealing and was rather impatient. You’d have some cards flung at you and he’d bark, “bet, check or fold!”. We’d be given about two seconds to make our decisions.

Daughter started to build a come back. Aunt was losing her chips. Mrs. Johnson kept bitching at Mr. Johnson to slow the hell down. You could see it was getting to him.

Finally we arrived at an important hand. Daughter had climbed to #2 in chips and aunt had dropped to #3. She had a big decision to make. Mr. Johnson was impatient. Mrs. Johnson made one last comment. FLING! He tossed the deck of cards at her and said, “Fine! You deal!” and stormed out of the room. It was the biggest incident we’ve seen between those two so far.

After things calmed down Aunt went ahead and finished the hand. She called an all-in bet from daughter and lost the hand. She was knocked out of the tournament. We all felt a little bad since we are playing for real money and that was an unfortunate way to go.

I was now the chip leader and daughter was pretty far behind me. We played a couple hands then we made a deal to split the winnings 5o-5o. I was the winner since I had the most chips when the deal was made. $60 for each of us and $20 for the aunt.

Even with the drama I still had a good time and somehow managed to kill a bottle of Pinot Noir all by myself. Oops. But I don’t think everyone had as much fun as me. (Winning does that.)

Why does there have to be the drama?

Rivering the stone cold nuts

This is the tale of a Texas Holdem “miracle card” on the river.

I had playing conservatively and pushing hard on solid hands. When I was called I generally took the pot with a strong hand, and if I lost a showdown it was generally because I had the best hand at the turn and was beaten by the river. So the players at this table could generally assume I was a pretty tight player who only moved in when I had the goods.

Unfortunately this screen shot doesn’t show the action that led up to this point. I had limped in and called weak bets all the way to the river. Both of my opponents were weakly playing the two-pair they had flopped. I called a weak bet at the turn hoping to see another diamond, thus getting a nut flush draw. That wasn’t mean to be.

Again they bet weak and I called, hoping to see a jack that wasn’t a diamond. (A jack of diamonds would mean there would be a potential flush on the board and I wouldn’t have the stone cold nuts.)

The odds of a non-diamond jack were about 6.5% in that situation. (That is three cards desired divided by the number of cards still unseen. Or 3 / 46 = 6.5%.) Bingo! I rivered that card for the stone cold nuts. An ace-high straight AKA “Broadway.” No other hand could beat me! The worst thing that could happen is someone else was holding KQ, too, and we’d split the pot.

Now these two players woke up and bet hard. Eventually they ended up all in and I had them both covered and every chip in the game was mine. Mwuhahahahaha!

It doesn’t happen often but when it does it is sweeeeeeet! 🙂

Personally I think flopping two pair can be extremely dangerous. You really need to bet it hard to get people away from their drawing hands. What you’re really hoping for is the board to pair aces or sixes and give you the full house. I’ve seen two pair on the flop end up losing way too many times. I almost consider it a jinx. I also consider it extremely dangerous to flop a straight, too. The danger is that the initial excitement of hitting something big can tie you to a losing hand. You have to be extremely careful.

Now please excuse me. I have to go count my chips. 🙂

Tales from poker night

One of my favorite diversions is Texas Hold’em Poker. About once a month we get together with friends, potluck it, and have a friendly little Hold’em tournament. It’s usually just six or seven people and a pretty short game, so it’s mostly about fun and luck and less about skill. I place in the money more often than not.

Last night there were six of us with $20 each in the pot. First place paid $60, second $40 and third $20. I came in third. Not too shabby I guess. 🙂

For such a short game, we do see some pretty weird stuff. The most spectacular was a hand I wasn’t involved in. One player had “fishhooks” (pocket Jacks) and another player had “cowboys” (pocket Kings). In a short-handed game pockets like that can seem huge. So it wasn’t surprising they both went all-in. The player with Jacks had more chips than the Kings, which meant Kings was at-risk of elimination. At this point Kings were a strong favorite to win.

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