I have a problem.

I’m a writer who doesn’t write.

I mean I do write, but I don’t do it enough.  It took me some time to figure out why this is, but I think I’ve got it figured out, and I think I may have a solution.  Or the beginning of a solution.  Or the beginning of an idea of a solution.

Well, we’ll see, anyway.

It started five years ago when my father died.  I had a great deal of trouble writing while grieving, which is natural.  But having gotten out of the habit of writing at least 1,000 words a day during that time, I never really got back into it again.  Sure, there’s been distractions, and I’ve had to do other things to bring money into the family—but that’s always been true.  The real problem for me is that the brain and the body are a two way street.  And having ceased working my fingers on the keyboard for so many hours a day, my brain has decided I can’t do it anymore.

But as many problems turn out, the solution is contained within the problem itself.  The brain and body are a two way street.  To get my brain working again, I’m going to get my body working again. And, you, the readers of this blog are going to suffer for it!

Free Writing –

I’m going to begin free writing in this blog.  In fact, I’ve already begun.  This whole entry is the first in what I hope to be many more free writes to get my damn brain thinking in stories once more.  I need to exercise the writing part of my brain—not the editing part, not the planning part, not the idea-ing part.  Just writing.  It might not be pretty; very little therapy is.  But I hope you’ll all bear with me as I try to rehab and get back on the active roster.

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WordPress Plugins

I do a lot of WordPress installs, and though I use a variety of different plugins, there are a certain number that I pretty much automatically install into every site I do.

  1. Widget Logic – This plugin allows you to easily place widgets on pages/posts according to a vast array of rules without complex coding.
  2. PS Disable Auto Formatting –  Stops WordPress from crapping all over the code you’re trying to put in the html box.
  3. Theme Authenticity Checker – If you’re using themes from anywhere other than WordPress.org then you need this plugin.  Checks for static links and encrypted code in all your themes.
  4. Asynchronous Google Analytics for WordPress – Just what it says.  If you’re not using Google Analytics to track your site’s info, then this plugin is no use to you.
  5. Strictly Tweetbot – Allows you to automatically tweet to a number of accounts when you post a new blog.  If you were alerted to this entry through one of my tweets, you know what its output looks like.
  6. Strictly Google Sitemap – Creates and updates a Google sitemap for you.
  7. Tweet Meme and Like – Places retweet and like buttons on, below, and/or around your content.
  8. Datafeedr Random Ads V2 – Real easy to use random content rotater.

A couple of plugins I’ve used and liked, but aren’t on the auto-install list since not everyone needs them:

  1. LiveJournal Cross Poster – Cross posts to LJ. Remember, you can import from LJ without the use of a plugin.  Just go to Tools -> Import.
  2. WP Jquery Lightbox – WP image links open in a plain page.  With this plugin, they open up in a nice lightbox overlay.
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Went with the family to Ovo in the big top outside the Mall of America today.  Like all Cirque de Soleil performances, the physicality was absolutely inspiring, and it was nice to see that even after so many shows (most of which I have seen), they can still innovate.  Some standouts from this performance:

  • The Deconstructed Trapeze Act — Trapeze without the trapeze.  Not sure how else to describe it.  Inventive and amazing.
  • Escher’s Trampolines — Two long trampolines set perpendicular with each other combined with a climbing wall and primary colored costumes for an astounding display of acrobatics and artistry.
  • The Red Spider — This is a performer rather than an act.  Though she was never a featured act, she seemed to be in all of them, climbing over the trampoliners hanging on the walls, contorting with the contortionist—even doing a comedy bit with the clowns!

Overall, the performance was excellent.  I was not as enthralled with the music as I usually am at a Cirque show, but it accented the high points of the individual acts fine, and didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment too often.  And it was loud enough to drown out Mr. Chatty and his three friends behind me if I leaned forward, so I have to give it high marks regardless.


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Upcoming Poker Events

For all my poker playing brethren: a couple of upcoming events I want to let you know about.  The first is a free webinar on transitioning to live play that is happening on Friday, May 6th at 9PM Eastern.  (8 for my MN friends) It’s going to be an hour with my business partner, Chris “Fox” Wallace, on live strategy and an hour by Dr. Al Schoonmaker, author of Your Worst Poker Enemy, on the psychological aspects of switching to live poker from online.  With the current state of online poker in the US, I think this is going to be a very useful and important seminar for all of us.

The second event is for my local poker buddies.  Chris and I are doing monthly seminars out at Running Aces starting May 17th at 6PM.  These are not free, but they are limited seating, intense workshops, designed to teach you a massive amount in a single session. We’ve both been teaching poker for a long time, and I feel we’ve developed techniques that show amazing results and that no one else is doing.

Check out ProPokerSeminars.com for testimonials from the participants in our Reno seminar, and to sign up for both of these offerings.

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Selling used books can be a little painful…

…but Uncle Hugo’s helped make the experience completely fucking miserable. I can understand a little bit of surliness–I’ve certainly been guilty of that at times–but the owner’s complete lack of even elemental human politeness goes beyond the pale.  He is rude, demeaning, and when I said, “Thank you, have a nice day,” I got absolutely zero response.

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Good news from the DoJ

At least I can get my money out it seems.

“the United States [has] entered into domain-name use agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, two of three online poker companies named as defendants in an April 15 civil money laundering and forfeiture Complaint (the “Civil Complaint”), alleging bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. The Complaint, a related Indictment, and a related Restraining Order issued against multiple bank accounts utilized by the companies and their payment processors do not prohibit the companies from refunding players’ money. Nevertheless, this agreement will facilitate the return of money so that players can register their refund requests directly with Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker.

No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player’s deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.

Under the terms of the agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the companies agreed that they would not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located inthe United States to engage in playing online poker for “realmoney” or any other thing of value…. The agreements do not prohibit, and, in fact, expressly allow for, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to provide for, and facilitate, players outside of the United States to engage in playing online poker for real money.”

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Feds Bust Online Poker Sites

Today, the Feds went after the biggest online poker sites, seizing their assets and blocking their websites.  I have a prediction based on this action: the US Government will legalize online poker within the next year.

A few months before Canterbury Park opened, the local police busted out a number of local games, one of which I was a regular player at.  Lucky for me, I was not there when the cops showed up, but a number of people were charged with misdemeanors.  This feels like the same thing.  Pay the authorities to get rid of your opposition and then move into the void that’s created.  Now, it was silly at the local level. Canterbury Park provides a level of experience and number of games that no home game can expect to compete with, and all the home games were going to dry up anyway shortly after the cardroom opened.  The billion-dollar industries of Full Tilt and PokerStars would be a little more difficult to beat coming to the game so late.  The government attempted something similar when they tried to pass the law that would have closed all sites to US customers for 18 months so that US companies could catch up.  Naturally, US poker players were not particularly thrilled with this prospect, and the bill died.  Apparently, the government is still interested in getting into the market unopposed, and has decided for a more “rough wooing.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out during the coming months.  Strange that this happens on the same day that the District of Columbia takes steps to legalize online gambling, no?

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Runner, Runner

I’d best not complain about bad beats ever again.  Just got it all in against top set with bottom two pair and caught runner, runner straight flush.  My Donkey Fu is strong!

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Novel almost done…

Took a trip with the family to Wisconsin Dells for their Spring Break, and as usual on these trips, Bets drove while I worked.  On this occasion, I worked on the approximately 115th draft of an epic fantasy I’m working on, tentatively entitled “Duster.”  And it’s nearly done.  This time for sure!  I filled in some key sections, and cleaned up the language some more.  I just have one more intersticial section to write, then I have to add in some names of very minor characters and locations, clean up the language some more, rewrite the most recent passages, clean up the language a little more…

Ok, maybe it’s not ALMOST done.  But it’s for sure NEARLY done.

Oh yeah, and then I have to find a publisher for it.  One of the reasons this book has taken so much longer than others is that I had to continually take time away from it for paying gigs.  Of course, that just makes it even more a labor of love.  And I’m at the stage where I do love it and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, rather than the stage where I hate it and all the characters in it and am wondering why I ever thought the book was a good idea in the first place.  Anything I write usually alternates between these two states several times before it is finished.  Naturally, the “I love it” state is much more fun to write during, but oddly the I hate it stage often produces better results.  Perhaps I’m a better editor when I hate the material?

I’ll have to start using the writer’s group rules and start with something nice when I critique myself…

“Nice font, Adam.  Now why does your prose suck so bad?”

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Poker is OK again!

After a rough start to the year (and another rough night last night), finally cut a deal for second in a PLO tourney, that has turned my attitude and my year around.

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