Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A stacked deck

In the Fulton County jury waiting room.

When I returned back from Chapel Hill on Monday evening, I had to check on the jury summons I received about a week ago.

I had to call into an automated line to see if my group number would be required to serve. Of course, it was.

I made my way down to work, parked, then walked over to the courthouse. When I got to the jury waiting area, it seemed it had changed since the last time I was called for jury duty five years ago.

First, it had wi-fi, something I didn't realize. People were there with their laptops and power cords and I just had a travel book on Sydney (this gave me a bunch of time to research the first and last day of our honeymoon!).

They ran a pretty nice introduction video by the State Bar of Georgia on jury service. Then names were called out when judges needed jurors. My name wasn't called out in the first pool of 60 names. But it was #6 for the second. The 48 of us went up to our courtroom.

I've been summoned to jury three times so far in Atlanta and once when I worked in Little Rock, Ark. Because I'm a reporter, I've never had to serve on a jury. Lawyers typically don't pick us because we cover so many topics and easily could have previous knowledge of a case, particularly criminal ones.

In 2006 when I was called to jury duty, I primarily was excused because I had covered court cases and had interacted with the district attorney. Before that, in Little Rock, I was excused because I'd written articles on drug cases.

This time seemed a little different. It was a civil case, which meant the bulk of my excuses working on criminal cases was out the window.

Another thing that was different was an indication of the times that we live in. The judge had to tell us to not Facebook, tweet, or do anything else in social media related to this case. We didn't have this warning the last time I was called to jury duty.

I did have a few outs that potentially could disqualify me from serving on that jury -- I have an extensive background as a health reporter, having worked the beat in three states.

But the trump card came when one of the attorneys asked me what my fiancee does for a living. The case involved a person who works in that industry.

Although I would have fulfilled my civic duty as a juror if picked, I was honestly relieved when my name ultimately wasn't called to serve for that five- to six-day trial.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Carolina: Two decades later

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Life is pretty interesting in that you never really know where you're going to end up next.

When I left Chapel Hill nearly two decades ago, I was just a young cat headed to new adventures in Japan. It wasn't that I never wanted to come back to campus, I just never needed to. Plus my parents moved back to Chicago from Winston-Salem when I was overseas.

So it's kind of crazy I'm back now. My fiancee has her pediatric boards here and I jumped at the chance to explore a setting of my past.

Sure, everywhere you go, after a while things won't be exactly like how you left them last. I'm constantly amazed at how much Atlanta has developed in the eight years that I've been there.

But the essence of my experience at Chapel Hill has remained. I remember what it was like cutting through the quad or the arboretum on my way to/from class and to Franklin Street, the main drag. I ate a chicken and cheddar biscuit at Time Out. I saw my freshman/sophomore dorm trying to find a place to park.

Being here also has reminded me of my days as a pretty neurotic college student eager to explore the world.

Opportunities like this make you take a step back and review your life like nothing else. There are a lot of things I can be proud of -- my marriage in 40 days to a young doctor, my streak of more than 1,500 consecutive days of running, the friends and travel that are in my life.

And being here, thinking about my past, makes me think that nothing is set in stone. I thought back then that I'd be a lawyer when I was all grown up. Every day is a new page. Turning 40 allows me to look forward to the next two decades ahead.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Sunday, time for grilling and poker

Back on the deck again grilling some split chicken breasts and some turkey brats while of course playing a few tables.

It's nice to get this down to a routine now that the weather is a lot nicer.

Live poker is definitely more of a possibility in the future -- because of the natural disaster in Japan, we decided to change our honeymoon destination from Tokyo to Sydney.

Even though the Aussie Millions is played at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, there is one official casino in the Sydney suburbs. With any luck I'll get to pay it a visit!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

No high pair but the better hand

An interesting low-stakes hand. I liked having overcards, the gutshot and the 4-flush.

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 5 players - View hand 1219104

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

SB: $13.89

BB: $26.95

UTG: $37.18

Hero (CO): $25.00

BTN: $6.01

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is CO with A of clubs J of clubs

UTG calls $0.25, Hero raises to $1.25, 1 fold, SB calls $1.15, BB requests TIME, 1 fold, UTG calls $1

Flop: ($4.00) 7 of clubs 8 of clubs T of spades (3 players)

SB checks, UTG bets $2, Hero raises to $10, SB raises to $12.64 all in, UTG raises to $35.93 all in, Hero calls $13.75 all in

Here's what the odds turned out to be on Cardplayer's odds calculator:

Turn: ($64.14) 9 of diamonds (3 players - 3 are all in)

River: ($64.14) 4 of spades (3 players - 3 are all in)

Final Pot: $64.14

SB shows A of diamonds T of clubs (a pair of Tens)

UTG shows T of hearts 9 of clubs (two pair, Tens and Nines)

Hero shows A of clubs J of clubs (a straight, Jack high)

Hero wins $21.31

Hero wins $39.83

(Rake: $3.00)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Beating the computer in Roshambo

The New York Times today has an interesting interactive that pits you versus a computer that throws Roshambo.

This, of course, is something that's irresistable to me, both as a poker player and as someone who loves randomization.

Here's how it stacked up:

Round 1: Computer 1, Cat: 0. Having an aggressive strategy to Roshambo, I throw rock. The computer instantly sums me up and throws paper.

Round 2: Computer 1, Cat: 1. The computer doesn't realize how aggressive I am when I go back to throwing rock. It throws scissors.

Round 3: Computer 1, Cat: 1. I go with paper now, and it does too.

Round 4: Computer 1, Cat: 1. I throw rock. It does, too.

Round 5: Computer 1, Cat: 2. I change it up and throw scissors, just when the computer thinks that I am the most aggressive person on the planet and throws paper to foil what would have been my fourth rock in a row. Not in the real world, compy.

Round 6: Computer 2, Cat: 2. I mix it up at the wrong time and throw paper when the computer throws scissors.

Round 7: Computer 2, Cat: 2. I throw paper again and it matches.

Round 8: Computer 2, Cat: 3. I dare it to throw paper again but this time my rock beats its scissors.

Round 9: Computer 3, Cat: 3. I throw the scissors and it foils me with a rock.

Round 10: Computer 3, Cat: 3. Not to be undaunted, I throw scissors again. it does so.

Round 11: Computer 3, Cat: 4. I throw paper now when it throws rock, possibly picking up on my three-throw pattern from the opener.

Round 12: Computer 3, Cat: 5. It's close-out time, so I throw a rock and it follows with scissors.

The interactive says you need 20 rounds to post your results, so I continue.

Round 13: Computer 4, Cat: 5. I throw scissors when it decides to go rock.

Round 14: Computer 4, Cat: 6. I do what it did and throw a rock when it throws scissors.

Round 15: Computer 4, Cat: 6. I throw another rock for the set-up, but it does the same.

Round 16: Computer 5, Cat: 6. I throw paper now, but it responds with scissors.

Round 17: Computer 5, Cat: 7. I throw scissors and it decides paper is, right, possibly thinking that after throwing paper I have gone with rock three times in this series.

Round 18: Computer 6, Cat: 7. I throw paper now, not realizing I've done this after scissors twice already. It's ready with the scissors.

Round 19: Computer 6, Cat: 7. I throw scissors for the set-up, it matches.

Round 20: Computer 6, Cat: 8. FTW. It doesn't know that I like to close out with rock, but I do it anyway. It decides to throw three scissors in a row for the loss.