Friday, August 28, 2009

Up Close with Vouchers

As some of you know, my oldest son started kindergarten a couple of weeks ago. with this, there have been a lot of information sessions at church about activities related to his class, to the school, and to being involved in the parish more heavily as parents as well as parishioners.

One of the more interesting meetings, which I attended on Tuesday night, was a meeting to learn more about something called the GRACE Scholars Program. In 2008, Georgia passed a law allowing the diversion of tax dollars which would have gone to general purpose activities to specific Student Scholarship Organizations such as Grace Scholars. There have been about 15-20 of these specialized groups set up, and GRACE Scholars is directed at students who are attending and entering Catholic institutions.

It was an interesting presentation. It highlighted how it would help the church with general operations (by freeing up funds for other needs thanks to replacement funds arriving). It highlighted how students would benefit, as more students without the means to pay for Catholic school would be able to attend thanks to such donations.

Lastly (and most importantly for us), it highlighted how donors to the program would benefit, as all contributions made would qualify as charitable contributions. Since these SSO's are set up as non-profit organizations, any contribution to them can be included in itemized deductions on your tax return, thus decreasing your overall tax liability. Furthermore, once the forms are filed with the Department of Revenue, the amount of tax you wish to be redirected away from general coffers will be directed to programs you may care much more about, especially if one of your kids is attending such a school.

It was a very interesting presentation. Georgia is currently one of only a few states which has passed laws that authorize vouchers and a version of school choice available to families who would otherwise not have the resources. Georgia has set aside $50,000,000 of its expected tax revenue to be allotted to these sorts of programs, so hopefully there will be a lot of people who take advantage of this option.

We had about 60-70 people at the presentation Tuesday night, and there were a lot of questions, but it was very well received. Hopefully it means more of a benefit to taxpayers and to parishioners, while also enabling better access to such forms of education for those who may not otherwise be able to access it or afford it.

For me, it's one more reason to be glad to live in Georgia instead of back in the north - even if school starts about three weeks earlier here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Real Technical Help Flowchart

H/T Skidoo.
This method has worked for ages upon ages of tech support and bad service calls.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Can you name the U.S. Presidents?

Can you name the U.S. Presidents? - sporcle

Shared via AddThis

See if you can beat 1:27.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Time flies when parenting

At lunch today, we saw a baby that was not quite two months old. She was not able to hold up her head yet, and was still a tiny little thing.

It was quite adorable.

I remember when Alex was that size, and how we would always be constantly holding him in the same way, and how tiny he was then. We even talked about how he (and we) would always fall asleep in the rocker while putting him to sleep or feeding him

Today was his first day of kindergarten at St. Joseph's. No nerves or tears from him while we were there, but instead easgerly meeting new classmates, comparing Spider-Man backpacks, and already making new friends.

Time flies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I need a map

It now looks like I won't be returning to New York until middle or late September, when I'll really think I should be back in school.

I was able to get the necessary paperwork to transport my mother's ashes back on a plane. I'm shocked that it took only a couple of weeks to move through the NYC Department of Health. They advertise a response time of eight to twelve weeks, so getting the needed paperwork in only 2-3 weeks seems like a minor miracle.

There's one problem, which I found out late last night...

No one knows where in the house the ashes are. It's still pretty stuffed, and it'll be difficult to find some things throughout the house, so I'll be spending a good couple of days helping to clear out as much of their stuff as I can while trying to find the urn.

I've been a bit tilted since this little revelation, but I think the folks up north finally understand why I've been pushing so hard to get back up there to help with a lot of cleanout.

Some closure would be nice.

Sorry for the rant and (aside from that) the lack of posts - I've just not been feeling it a lot lately, and most things I've been finding have ended up being re-posted on Facebook or shared on Google Reader instead of being re-posted here.

Beyond that, hopefully I can see some friends when I do finally make it to NYC, even if only for a little while.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Vegas Recap III

Click here for part 1 and part 2. I'm combining the rest of the trip into one entry, otherwise I won't finish it until September.

I woke up at the gawdawful Vegas time of 9 AM. I didn't want to oversleep, so I actually set an alarm clock and woke up to it on the first try. As my family can tell you, that never happens.

I strolled over to the Venetian, and registered for the $550 Deep-Stack Extravaganza event around 10:30. Having some time to kill, I grabbed some brunch before the tournament started as I watched the registration line queue further...and further...and further, until it was out into the 100-degree heat.

Turns out the Rio stuck to its guns, and did not re-open registration Saturday morning, so anyone who had been looking to play in the WSOP was left out in the cold. A couple hundred of them came over to the Venetian to register, so instead of an expected field of 550-600, there were 780 people in the field.

I got my card and went to Table 89, Seat 9. My table was about as far off to the edge as possible, so it was a bit more on the quiet side. The others who were playing (a friend from local games here in Atlanta, Hoy, and Chad) were much closer to the middle of the floor, and I'm sure had a much better view of things from their tables.

The first level went very well, as I turned a flush on one hand and rivered a boat on another to quickly jump over 23,000 in chips from the starting stack of 15,000. However, it's generally not a good sign when the good hands hit in Level 1 - because the good hands don't show up in later levels when on display early.

That's exactly what happened here. By the first break at the end of Level 3, I'd slipped back to an average stack, as my table was playing very loose - almost no hands were won pre-flop.

I found out at the break from CK that Chad busted in the first couple of levels, and I found out my friend from here also busted.

I continued to not get many cards in levels 4-6, and even when I tried to steal blinds and antes had no luck pushing anyone off a hand. My stack continued decreasing in relation to the blinds, until just before the second break. With blinds at 300/600 and a 50 ante, I had a stack of about 11000 - a decent enough stack to come back with, still, but less than half of the average. The pushmonkey on my right, in middle position, raises to 2100. I re-pop it to 4500, and the rest of the table folds back aroiund to the push-monkey, who thinks for a few seconds and then decided to move all-in, having me covered.

I call instantly, knowing I am probably way ahead as he likes to play any ace.

I flip up my two black queens to his king-jack offsuit. Yes, JacKing Off, not even a raggy ace. I am way ahead.

The dealer must have played the Mookie previously, because the three-outer hits with a King on the flop.

I manage not to punch the dealer in the face as I gether my things to leave.

I went to cool down at Tao with a nice bowl of noodles. I met up with Matt and another of his friends who was also playing (and had busted).

While we were talking, I saw one of the craziest things I've ever seen in a poker room. One of the chip leaders is involved in a very loud dispute with another player and the dealer, and the floor has come over to investigate the situation. Apparently, another player had mucked his cards, but on top of the chip leader's hand (which was probably pocket aces). After about fifteen minutes of deliberation and review (including consulting the tape for a decision), the floor decided that he had not protected his cards - at which point, he pushed his chips all over the table, onto the floor, and into all the other stacks in one fell swoop before storming off.


The dinner break began immediately, as the staff went to the tape again to try to reconstruct the other player's chip stacks and remove the one stack from play - since the dumbass-in-questions was ejected from the tournament.

I managed to shoot the shit outside with Hoy for a little while on the break, before play resumed again. He went on the chop for second-place money, which is far better than what any of us were able to do.

I spent the rest of the night at the cash tables at the Venetian and the Bellagio. I played the mixed game again for a little while, then moved to the Bellagio. Despite going to Vegas numerous times, I had yet to play in the Bellagio's poker room.

I only cashed out up about $10, but I did end up getting to see a whole bunch of players who had already left the Rio. Chau Giang, Barry Greenstein, and Erick Lindgren were playing Chinese Poker in Bobby's Room while Phil Ivey was playing against a couple folks I didn't recognize at the $4,000/$8,000 level. Marcel Luske was in the main poker area at the $30/$60 PLO table.

There may have been other notables there, but none were notable enough for me to recognize.

On Sunday, I got a message from Tuscaloosa Johnny that he and a couple others (including 1QueensUp1) were going to play at Binions in a $150 NLHE event which was starting at 2 PM. I decided that, instead of spending a bunch more on another cab ride (which i was sick of by this point) that I would take the monorail to Sahara and then cab it from there - since I probably wouldn't have another chance to catch the monorail and I'd never done it.

I ended up sharing a cab to Binions with a couple of already-drunk coeds (yes, on Sunday, at 2 PM, but it's Vegas) and making it to Binions just before the end of the first level. This game, unlike the Strip games, was full of mostly locals and regulars.

Nothing much to report from this tournament, as I went out early thanks to being crippled by aces being cracked AGAIN (#5) by A-10 offsuit with a runner-runner straight, and being out shortly thereafter. Meh.

I headed back downtown, got my camera, and walked around to snap a lot of pictures of the touristy stuff and record what shows I could - the kids really liked being able to see the Bellagio fountain show as well as the Mirage volcano show and a few of the couple hundred other pictures I managed to snap (yes, they were all suitable for younger eyes.)

I headed back to the Rio for one last session, which ended pretty quietly for a small loss of about $20. I decided to head back to the IP, pack up, and get ready for my early morning flight cross-country.

Unlike the trip out, we left on time and I made it home around 4 PM - just in time to turn around and be back at work sixteen hours later, after putting in about thirty hours at the poker tables over this trip.

It was time to go back to the grind...for a grand total of three days, before we packed up again and headed north. Since I've finally got pictures off my camera, that'll probably go up over the weekend, along with a photo and video dump from this trip.

So when is the next one?