Thursday, November 30, 2006

Die Fledermaus

Pictured: Easy Eddie (Woodstied on PSO) somewhere in Montana

Belated Happy Thanksgiving to all! I'm sorry I haven't had much time to post during the past week. It's been a jungle out here....

I don't know how many people have played in a poker tournament in the morning and attended an opera the same evening. You can add me to the list. In a lifetime maybe? Anyway, after the Nov 18 tourney I took Eddie to lunch at the Manchester Family Inn overlooking the Seattle skyline. On a clear day, you can also see Mount Rainier. I met up with Chef Billy for dinner in Bremerton where we enjoyed a live performance of Die Fledermaus.

Chef Billy is introduced to Conductor Leone Cottrell-Adkins by Kitsap Opera Treasurer Claire Shearer. A day later we met a different kind of conductor, courtesy of Amtrak.

We purchased four seats (with dinner included) for the performance. Easy Eddie declined to join us in order to get some much needed rest. We wanted to offer the other to Lovely Natasha, one of Billy's childhood friends. Tash lives in the Seattle area and is employed as Delilah's Editor. She had a procedure done on her foot a few days earlier and would not have been able to make it. So two of our four tickets went unused. At least we had plenty of leg room for the show.

Die Fledermaus (The Bat) is, in its disguise of comedic assumed identities, a picture of Vienna in the 1870's. The story centers around the Eisensteins who are part of the rapidly growing "Noveau Riche", a new level of society throughout Europe starting with the Industrial Revolution. These people are anxious to rub shoulders with any of the often aimlessly drifting Royalties such as the Russion Orlovsky. Johann Strauss, the younger, was the most popular composer of the time, keeping Vienna in a constant whirl of waltzes. Nevertheless, his ingeniously constructed party music was greatly admired by the profound composer, Brahms, and later by Mahler. One can't help but laugh at the absurdities of this domestic comedy of errors. It was nice to have Chef Billy nearby to explain some of the nuances. Bill has performed in Die Fledermaus on more than one occasion. The fact that it was in English was a definite plus.

The Kitsap Opera Company has a website:

The Admiral Theatre is a 1940's vintage downtown movie theatre, quite similar to the Ideal Theater in Milford MA where I saw my first movie (Pinocchio) with my Grandfather Flaherty more than 50 years ago. Speaking of grandparents, Grandmother Niro's given name was Rosalinda. I always thought the name was pretty but never heard of another person called Rosalinda...until this opera. Nana was born in the 1890's so perhaps there is a connection. I'll have to ask my brother Ray about it. He is an Opera expert and well versed regarding the family history. In addition, he has been back to Italy to visit the old family village in Foggia.

The part of Rosalinda was sung by Soprano Meg Daly. Ms. Daly is a local talent, having graduated from Gonzaga University and University of Washington School of Music. Currently she is the Pastoral Assistant for Music at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Gig Harbor WA. I was able to shake her hand and offer personal congratulations on her great performance. But I ruined the Kodak moment by accidently stepping on the train of her gown when she tried to turn around to acknowledge a friend. I quickly lost the courage to ask for a photo (probably a wise choice). Sigh.

Next year the Kitsap Opera Company will present IL TRAVATORE. We will get the tickets early and, hopefully, fill all four seats next time. Tash has the right of first refusal on one of them. By the way, the meal was excellent.

The next day, November 19, Chef Billy dropped Easy Eddie and me off at the Amtrak station. We were able to upgrade to larger rooms (thankfully) on both legs of the trip (Seattle-Chicago and Chicago-Albany). It's a nice way to travel if you have 73 hours to spare. The only glitch was a freight train derailment ahead of us between Toldedo and Cleveland that spewed UPS packages all over the tracks. We were re-routed 180 miles to Erie and Buffalo by way of Ashtabula OH (not kidding).

The good news is that my Sprint PCS card worked east of Minnesota and we had Internet access at 70 miles an hour. I have to thank Freddie Meyers (Delilah's CPA) for the great suggestion. I have no excuses not to answer e-mails any longer....except maybe spending too much time blogging.

We arrived in Albany on Wednesday, 6 hours late. At least it was the same day. Despite many miles traveled during 2006, I wound up sharing Thanksgiving Day in exacly the same way as in 2005. An early glass of wine and some turkey with the DiSorda family in Lauderdale Lakes NY, followed by dinner for 25 with my surrogate brothers at Easton Mountain. Chef Billy flew out from Portland to join us. All in all, it was a centering experience. I truly have a lot for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Guest Weblog

I'm a little embarrassed to post this. But Easy Eddie asked me if I would share his trip report from yesterday with those who may be following his progress through my blog.

Photo above is Easy Eddie (left) and Chef Billy at the Seattle Amtrak station 11/19/06.

What A Wonderful Day!

Waking up at 5 AM is not something most people like to do. But today, Tuesday, November 28, 2006, I was up several times during the night in anticipation of the day ahead.

Frank (ChessSafari) flew me to Seattle last week and three days later boarded me on a train for Albany NY. He invited me to share Thanksgiving dinner with friends at a place called Easton Mountain Retreat in Greenwich NY. 3,380 miles of railroad (not including the extra 180 to go around a derailed freight train near Cleveland) and we arrived.

Frank has had one wonderful surprise after another for me since I arrived. Today was no exception. He had been trying for several days to find us a ride to the East Coast Poker Championships at Turning Stone Casino in Verona NY, about 135 miles from Easton Mountain. Finally he arranged for Kirk to give me a ride and agreed to sponsor me in the $400+$40 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event. Meanwhile, Frank stayed back in New Paltz NY to meet with Jami, his book editor, and successfully reclaim some dry cleaning that he dropped off last March.

So I was out of bed at 5. Frank got up as well to cook scrambled eggs and wish me luck. Kirk was about 45 minutes late but arrived in time to bring me off to see the “stars”. Frank mentioned that folks like Phil Ivey, Phil Gordon and Humberto Brenes had attended this event in the past. I started out a bit intimidated. We arrived 15 minutes before game time.

Once in the casino, I encountered staff members with “attitude” and, as a result, it took several attempts to locate the tourney sign-up table. I gave them my $440 buy-in and asked where to go. The tournament room was in a different building. The woman raised her arm and pointed to the sky while saying in a loud voice, “it’s over there!” I told her that I have never been here before and didn’t know where exactly was “over there”. Once again the arm went up and the mouth yelled “right past the exit sign over there”. At that point I almost asked for my money back and used the exit to depart. One would think that staff members of a big casino would be a bit more customer friendly, especially to newcomers who they would presumably like to have come back again one day.

But I didn’t leave. I finally found the Oneida Room somewhere beyond the exit sign, as promised. Frank had pumped me up on whom I may see in the tournament room. What I saw was a room full of rednecks right out of a Budweiser commercial. There were 128 entries on 13 tables. My receipt directed me to table 12, seat 7.

I sat in my seat and counted the 3,000 starting chips, then went for a quick cigarette. I returned from my smoke to find someone in my seat. I showed my receipt to the guy and he got up and moved to seat 5. It wasn’t the last time I would have to deal with him. Then came the call to “shuffle up and deal”.

I spent most of the first hour folding hand after hand, unable to get a face card. Then came the break, a cigarette, a coke and a quarter pound hot dog. After the break we went back to work.

Three hands in, I finally got to see a flop when I caught K-6 of diamonds in the big blind. The button (that guy in seat five who tried to swipe my seat) threw in a standard raise. I knew in my gut that he was now trying to swipe the blinds. So I called. The flop came K-6-9. I checked my two pair and he moved all in. I called. He showed K-9 off-suit. Another 9 came on the river to seal the deal and end my day.

I thanked those at the table for a wonderful experience and left with my jacket in tow. Yes, I busted out. But this was my first significant buy-in live tournament. I’ve played live before but never lasted this long. The experience made me feel more confident.

I wandered around the casino, played some blackjack, and stopped in the poker room looking for a ring game. Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer was doing promo sit-n-go’s for $125 a pop. I passed. I played some slots and finally made my way to the bingo hall. They made each person play a minimum of 18 cards simultaneously. Fortunately, an African American woman nearby helped me mark my cards.

Bingo was four hours long. One lady won $29,600. I didn’t win, but it made for a nice completion to a wonderful day. The lady who helped me loaned me her cell phone to call Kirk for a ride home. She was low on cash and wanted to play the evening games. She couldn’t afford it so I took my cue from Frank (I’m sure it is what he would have done) and handed her a twenty-dollar bill. Then my day at the Turning Stone Casino came to an end.

All-in-all, this has been a truly wonderful trip. I’m looking forward to getting back to Seattle next week, where I hope to find an apartment and a new job. I am sure that during the coming year, Frank and I will be seen at PSO Live Events around the country. I am looking forward to meeting many of my Poker School friends in person along the way.

When I read about what a generous person ChessSafari is, both in the PSO forums and in Delilah’s newsletter to her listeners, I thought nobody can really be that nice. But I decided to accept his generosity and let the chips fall where they may. I can honestly say that I have never met someone like Frank in my entire life. I thank God that I have been led through PSO to Frank. He is for real. He is a wonderful man and I am proud to call him my friend.

We haven’t played chess yet. Nevertheless, it has been a wonderful Safari!

ED (Woodstied on PSO)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Inner Donkey

Just another day on Delilah's farm as Joni and Rick get Gus (or is it Guts?) ready for the Halloween Party.

Note for non-poker players: LAG is an acronym for loose aggressive players who play lots of hands and like to throw raises into the pot. Donkey LAGs are the loosest of the LAGs, often referred to as 'maniacs'.

Easy Eddie smiled today, and it made me cry.

Woodstied, ChessSafari and Metalmania walked into a bar. And the bartender said, “OK, who brought the maniac?” I know it’s an old joke. But sometimes I wonder if I need to get in touch with my ‘Inner Donkey LAG’.

On Saturday morning Easy Eddie (a/k/a Woodstied) and I played in a $25 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament on the Suquamish Indian Reservation in northwest Washington. I offered Eddie a $50 ‘last longer bonus’ and put $100 bounty on my own head. “Play tight,” I said. “And don’t bluff off your chips.” I was confident that the $150 incentive would encourage him to be patient. It can be distracting when two players go to a tournament together and one busts out early. My intention was minimize that possibility.

29 players entered the tournament Technically it was a re-buy event, but they allowed everyone to purchase their $5 one-time re-buy and $5 add-on at the beginning. So it played like a $35 freeze-out tournament. There were 15-minute rounds with 25/50 initial blinds and 3,000 starting chips. Five places were paid with a top prize of $380.

Midway through the second round the first player busted out. “Seat Open. Table 2, Seat 8”, I heard the dealer proclaim. The number rang a bell. As I looked up, Eddie headed for the rail. “I thought you were going to play tight,” I remarked. “I did,” he said. “I was down to my last 450 chips and got pocket queens. So I moved all-in and was called by a guy who made trips on the flop.”

“Well OK,” I responded. “But how did you get down to 450 chips to begin with? I’ve played my blinds twice and still have 2,800. Oh, never mind. Tough break. We can discuss it later if you want.”

The bottom line is that we both won the same prize: zero. I hung around waiting for a big hand while getting blinded down to about 1,100 chips. Toward the end of the fifth round I decided to make a move. Either I had to get lucky soon or go home. A short stack with about 500 chips (200/400 blinds) pushed with pocket tens. I was on the button with AQ of spades. Everyone folded to me so I re-raised all-in to isolate the raiser. The big blind called with AK. What I thought would be a coin flip was now a 3 to 1 losing proposition.

The flop was J-9-8 with one spade. It gave me a few additional outs but took away my live queen. There was not much hope since two of my potential straight cards were in my opponent’s hand. My chances of survival were now 9 to 1 against. The turn was a 3 of spades, improving my chances to 24% with one card to come. The river brought another nine sending me to the rail in 12th place.

After that, Eddie and I played in a $4/$8 ring game for about an hour. He grabbed seat 5 and I sat next to the dealer in seat 9. Easy Eddie wanted to get his money’s worth and did so by raising with virtually any two cards pre-flop and pushing his hands hard to the river. He picked up a couple of nice pots early as people folded to his apparent strength. They soon caught on and pushed back, but Eddie refused to change gears. So I tried to stay out of the hands he was in.

At one point I made Broadway on the river with AK and won a monster pot. Six players had called my pre-flop raise. I had the odds to chase the whole way and got paid off. A few hands later I was dealt pocket kings in early position. I raised and Eddie made a cold call from the button. The two blinds assessed their odds as sufficient to remain in the hand. I assumed that one of them was holding an ace.

The flop came A-K-4 hitting my set and encouraging an ace to play on. Small blind (who I know to be a rock) bet. I raised and Eddie re-raised. The rock and I called. The turn was a six putting two clubs and two diamonds on the board, with $68 in the pot.

Now things got hairy. The rock checked, I bet, Eddie made it $16 to go, the rock called, and I re-raised to $24. Eyebrows lifted around the table. Most of the players in the game had seen me before and generally respected my play. All they knew about Eddie, however, was that he came with me. I could sense them wondering whether this could be a whipsaw ploy by two friends to drive everyone out of the hand. This is a known and universally despised tactic commonly found in Internet cash games.

My thoughts flashed back to the movie Sting and then quickly to the brawl scene in Rounders. In all honesty, making a graceful exit was more important to me than accumulating chips. “Maybe Eddie has aces!” I thought to myself. That would be poetic justice (and a lucky break) about now. Eddie and the rock called, sweetening the pot to $140.

The river was the six of diamonds completing my full boat. It also gave the rock an apparent flush as he led out with a bet. I raised and Eddie re-raised. The rock folded (mumbling under his breath that his non-nut flush was probably toast). I re-raised again and Eddie folded, allowing me to take down the pot.

I rarely show my cards when I’m not required to do so. But this was one time I found it absolutely necessary. I said “nice lay down” and flipped over my two kings. The table breathed a collective sigh of relief…me included. “I knew you had it,” Eddie said glibly.

On the next hand I was dealt pocket nines. Taking a deep breath I calmly whispered, “raise”. Eddie, now in the small blind, called. I’m not even sure he looked at his hand. Rock called for one bet from the big blind. The flop was J-6-4 rainbow. The blinds checked. I bet $4 and they both called. The turn was an eight. All three of us checked. There was no way I was going to get into another raising war with Easy Eddie. The river brought a deuce. Eddie checked, Rock bet and I called. Eddie raised and Rock called. Sensing defeat at the hands of one or more jacks, I folded.

Eddie turned over 4-3 offsuit (!). He had hung around with bottom pair on the flop. Rock showed A-6 to win the pot. “Dammit Eddie, you pushed me off the best hand,” I said. “You know how I play,” was his response. “Nice hand,” I said to winner. Everyone at the table smiled. Eddie smiled too. It was the first time I had seen him smile since he got off the plane two nights earlier. My anger melted away and a few tears came to my eyes.

“Chris, please bring me three racks,” I shouted to the floor. I racked my chips and we headed home. Together we made a small profit for the day. And we each made a new friend.

Later that night I checked the PSO Forums to find that Eddie had posted the following message (Edited slightly for form at Ed’s request. The content remains unchanged.):

“Yes I did arrive safely. Frank has been wonderful. He has seen that any need I may have has been met. On meeting me at the airport he took me to the hotel, which he had pre-reserved for me. Once there he gave me pocket money so that I would have anything I needed. He has been really super in this and I have cried at times because I feel so wonderful about what he is doing for me.

Tomorrow we get on Amtrak to go all the way back to Albany NY to have Thanksgiving dinner at a retreat he likes to go to there. I am really looking forward to it.

Today we played in a live tournament on the outskirts of Seattle. I went out rather quickly when my large pocket pair was beaten by someone who tripped on the flop. We then got into a four/eight ring game. I dropped a hundred Frank gave me to play with. He got it all back plus forty dollars more. So we had a great time rather cheaply.

I think we may be going to Turning Stone or Foxwoods while in New York. It is great to be around Frank as he is so much fun to be around, in general, and you can learn so much just talking to him. And yes, Frank, I know you are going to be reading this. LOL.

But for real he has treated me quite royally ever since I have been near him. I am looking forward to playing poker with him online on the train to learn more. He is encouraging me to take Hazy’s course. I know it is good and I am looking forward to improving my play.

If you want to follow the adventure, it is going to be on Frank’s blog: .
It will be updated all this week when we can get Internet access.

Keep in touch now. It is nice to hear from family and friends. And here at school I am with my family and friends.

Ed (Woodstied on PSO)”

Easy Eddie cried today. And it made me smile.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Easy Eddie

Easy Eddie was born May 21, 1951 in the Washington DC area. At age 6, he witnessed his mother being murdered. He was abused during the fall of 1965 in a way that profoundly affected his personality and his choices for years to come.

I first encountered Easy Eddie (known by the screen name ‘Woodstied’) approximately three years ago in an online poker tournament. He was the first consistently loose-aggressive player that I ever struggled with at the poker table. Learning to play successfully against his type was a key hurdle in my growth as a tournament poker player. I owe him for lessons that he never knew he gave me.

Woodstied is one of many friends I have had the pleasure to meet through pokerschoolonline. Pictured above are {left} Sailor Moe (Leon) and Bhat (Larry) and above them are {left} Expatcr (Bill a/k/a the Costa Rican bandit) and thehazyone (Aaron). These were taken during my trip to Minnesota in October 2006.

Ed made his living as a carnival operator and occasional telemarketer until a stroke slowed him down in the summer of 2005. Neither of those jobs, nor his occasional visits to the underbelly of society, resulted in any health or disability benefits beyond the standard V.A. package available to U.S. military veterans.

About a year ago a woman named Karen made an online appeal on Ed’s behalf. I responded at the time, but was left with the lingering thought that I needed to do more to help him. Last month I was fortunate to win some prize money at Canterbury Park (Minnesota). The result was an opportunity to help a friend in need. So I contacted Ed with a proposition.

Two nights ago Easy Eddied walked off a plane at Seattle-Tacoma airport and I met him face-to-face for the first time. His one suitcase held all of his worldly possessions. Chef Billy and I took him to his hotel room and yesterday was spent shopping for shoes, clothes and other essentials. Today we will play in our first live poker tourney together. I put up a $50 “last longer” prize and a $100 bounty on my own head. My advice to him: “Play tight and don’t bluff off your chips.” We’ll see what happens…

Tomorrow Easy Eddie and I will head from Seattle to Albany NY via Amtrak. I have no idea what might be in store. Stay tuned.

Here is Karen’s original post (edited slightly):

September 2005

(note: PSO here and elsewhere stands for an wonderful online learning site known as "pokerschoolonline")

Hi all,

I am not sure if anyone knows about PSO member, WOODSTIED, or Ed (real name) who had a stroke in July and is recuperating but monitoring his blood pressure checking it every hour because his Doctor told him he can expect having another stroke in the near future. Ed also has a debilitating condition with his legs. With all his health problems he also suffered damage from Hurricane Ophelia that hit the Carolina's before Katrina. A tree smashed down on the house crushing his bed, which by the way I would like to mention here that Marion a/k/a Buschman sent Ed some money to replace his bed, not the Red Cross, not FEMA. No, it was a fellow PSO'er that did. Very nice of you Marion!

The reason I am telling you all this is because I am hoping some of you will join me and chip in to collect enough to buy Ed an annual membership to PSO. Ed's current membership is about to expire. Here's the thing. Ed is a Vietnam Vet and this is the part that makes me very angry, because of his health problems he is unable to work and has no income, well except $46 a month I think, but other then that he has nothing while he waits for a decision about SSDI benefits. Dealing with the government can be a very frustrating and time consuming nightmare! For Ed, it has been just that and he is being told that it will take at least 120 days, that is 4 months before they can process a decision for SSDI benefits, They do not care that he recently suffered a stroke. They don't care he has a leg disability and cannot work. And they really could care less that a Hurricane caused damage to their home, and so on and on this goes.

This is unbelievable to me that our Military personnel, retired or otherwise, who in this case put his own life on the line for this country & was in a WAR, would be treated with such disregard! It is wrong and it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is the reality. I am hoping to change that a little. You see, PSO and playing Poker had been a form of therapy for Ed during his recovery process. His Doctor thinks it is a good thing for him and his health as long as he enjoys it and he stays calm. So I was hoping we could help Ed out during this bump in the road and pay for his PSO membership. I can find out from Tina what the best way to do this would be. For those who want to help, thank you and just post here. I will contact you will the details.

It is hard for me to express myself when it comes to pen & paper and I hope I have said it here in a way that is proper and tactful to Ed and his situation. Thank you for listening and I hope you will join me in helping a friend, one that does not deserve such a heavy cross to carry.

Bless you & yours


(Note: Ed’s membership was extended at no charge by PSO owners Tina and Mark. Subsequently, more than $2,000 was transferred to Ed from PSO members – Frank N.)

My response at the time (after offering to pay his membership and getting some positive feedback):

October 2005

There's a reason I am willing to pay Ed's membership in PSO (several actually) and I do not wish to be compared to those not in a position to give more or to those who can offer a whole lot more. It's what I wish to do for him. I believe he would do the same for me if situations were reversed.

I have never met Woodstied in person but I feel like I know him well. During mid 2004 I saw him hour after hour, day after day on the PSO tournament tables. Ed is, among other things, a retired carnival worker. He shared stories about his carnie days which made me chuckle and remember my few road trips with the local carnival as a teenager...sleeping on the back of the Ferris wheel storage trucks and, well, I digress…

Later when I read Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven I immediately thought of Ed. He has touched my life, and if/when you read the book you will understand why. After my 1997 stroke my doctors also told me to beware of another episode. It took six years but eventually a heart attack diverted me from my fun position as Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Federation and landed me here in Poker School Online. What a blessing in disguise!

Now I am writing my own book of inspirational stories. Surely my carnie memories, thanks to ED, will take up a few paragraphs and I will be certain to mention 'Woodstied'.

Best wishes,

Until two days ago, Easy Eddie was living a small community called Hubert, North Carolina. With his permission, and for the benefit of his friends, you will probably be able to follow his transition here. Next stop: The Suquamish Indian reservation in Kitsap County, Washington….in about three hours. Shuffle Up and Deal!

Friday, November 17, 2006

On the Road Again

I’ll be heading east this weekend for Thanksgiving. It seems like I just returned from my October trips to Minneapolis MN and Eugene OR. Actually, it doesn’t seem that long ago since my trip across the country (by way of Booneville MO) to get to Seattle. But it has been 7 months already since Carolyn and Dave were married in the Ozarks. Here is the link to my report about their wedding and my trip to get there:

Ozark Mountains PSO Wedding

Photo above: PSO members Metalmania, MissouriDave, Dream_Catcher, ChessSafari and PapiW at Dave and Carolyn's wedding in Missouri 4/15/06.

A teaser paragraph...
that´s how I got invited to the wedding. And I wouldn´t have made it if not for the help of my friend Delilah who encouraged me to take a side trip to Missouri on my way to visit her in Seattle. I´m heading out there to stay while I finish my book. When I told Delilah of Carolyn and Dave´s wedding, she said, "You should go. And take as many beautiful side trips along the way as you like." So I did.

While in Eugene, I picked up Chef Billy who will be planning and coordinating the opening of Delilah’s new restaurant in Port Orchard. Not only is Billy a professional chef, he is also an accomplished opera singer!

I haven’t heard Chef Billy sing (yet), but I can vouch for the quality of his culinary talents. Two weeks ago tonight I had dinner at the Savoy Truffle in downtown Eugene where Billy is part owner and head chef. The smoked prime rib was the best I have ever had. No doubt it will be one of the choices on the menu at Delilah’s new place.

Since Chef Billy arrived here we have been visiting and sampling the menus of the potential competition. It hasn’t been good for my waistline but it HAS been educational and fun. Besides that, I have been getting to know another of Delilah’s great friends. I bought him a plane ticket to join me in Easton NY for Thanksgiving dinner on November 23. The same evening you will be able to hear him on the radio being interviewed by Delilah from Iraq. You can find the station nearest you here:

The name Savoy Truffle will sound familiar to Beatles fans. Their 1968 White Album contained a song by that name with these lyrics:

Creme tangerine and montelimar
a ginger sling with a pineapple heart
a coffee dessert yes you know it's good news
But you'll have to have them all pull out after the Savoy truffle

Cool cherry cream and a nice apple tart
I feel you taste all the time we're apart
Coconut fudge really blows down those blues
But you'll have to have them all pull out after the Savoy truffle

You might not feel it now
but when the pain cuts through you're gonna know and how
The sweat is gonna fill you head when it becomes too much, you'll shout aloud
But you'll have to have them all pull out after the Savoy truffle

You know that what you eat you are
but what is sweet now turns so sour
We all know ob-bla-di-bla-da
but can you show me where you are

Creme tangerine and montelimar
a ginger sling with a pineapple heart
a coffee dessert yes you know it's good news
But you'll have to have them all pull out after the Savoy truffle
Yes, you'll have to have them all pull out after the Savoy truffle

The Savoy Truffle restaurant in Eugene does not, unfortunately, have a web site. You can find it a block north of the post office on Willamette Street, a short walk from the convention center. It is tucked in the back and definitely worth looking for. Tell Angela and Ashanti that I sent you.

Chef Billy and I surveyed the competition again last night. We stopped at the Margarita Beach Café in Purdy WA and learned that they changed menus and décor five weeks ago. Then we headed to the airport to pick up Easy Eddie on his arrival from North Carolina (a/k/a Woodstied for those of you who are members of PSO). Neither of us ever met Easy Eddie before. Let’s just say he has had a colorful past, and leave it at that…for today.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What rain?

For many years I have heard about the rain in Seattle. So I was pleasantly surprised when it only showered once from Father's Day through Labor Day. Lately we have been hit with a veritable deluge....more, I'm told, than the usual dreary autumn season along the Puget Sound.

But, hey, I grew up in New England! I have lived three years in upstate New York. Two years ago I slipped on ice and dislocated my shoulder. It took 6 months to recover full range of motion. I'll take the rain any day.

The last few weeks have been spent thinking about the mission of Delilah's non-profit organization: PointHope, Inc. It is named after a place in Alaska. I checked via Internet this morning - it is 10 degrees and snowing there. So, yes, I'll take the rain any day.

For those interested, here is the history of PointHope, Inc. I recently drafted this for inclusion in a business plan to manufacture blue jeans in Africa. You will hear more about this project at another time.

PointHope, Inc. was founded in 1993 by Ms. Delilah Rene. At the time, Ms. Rene was a radio personality on station WMGK in Philadelphia. She was touched by the needs of mothers with small children who were suffering due to homelessness, illness, addiction, abuse and poverty. Initially she provided food, clothing and toys to a homeless mother and child on the streets of Baltimore, MD. Soon thereafter, out of a heart driven by her faith in God, Delilah founded a ministry called PointHope.

Subsequently, Delilah personally handed out food and clothing to homeless individuals in neighborhoods surrounding Philadelphia, PA. She recruited some of her listeners and close friends to volunteer their time and to donate money. She conducted an art sale of her personal paintings raising thousands of dollars, 100% of which went to support the activities of PointHope. Among the friends she recruited for PointHope in Philadelphia were Donna Sperone and Fred Myers. Both are still members of the PointHope, Inc. Board of Directors in 2006. And both still volunteer their time and resources to support the mission and programs of PointHope.

Later, Delilah relocated to Boston, MA, from Philadelphia. Not only did she continue the PointHope activities, she expanded them. She built an addition on her home in Massachusetts to help individuals who needed a boost by giving them a place to stay. She provided a safe haven and other necessities like food and friendship. The result was often a means of escape from abusive, addictive or enabling situations.

In December 1995 Delilah was dismissed from her radio position by a station that was changing its format. Despite having a family to support and no job, she continued to give whatever resources she could muster to those in need. The following year, 1996, Delilah syndicated her nightly radio program. At first there were 12 stations. Then there were a few more and, later, many more.

Today, Delilah is on more than 250 radio stations in the United States and Canada. She has a nightly listening audience of nearly 8 million. She has also produced a number of CD’s and written a best seller called “Love Someone Today”. As her resources have grown, Delilah has expanded her personal financial commitment to PointHope and its mission. In 2005, the annual budget of PointHope was in excess of $300,000.

Over time, PointHope has enlarged its scope to include a national platform and to work internationally in reaching areas of desperate need. PointHope remains a ministry of compassion offering help, hope and healing to those in need by providing support, services and resources. The initial vision has evolved into an organization seeking to be a voice for forgotten children. PointHope seeks to raise awareness and champion the cause for vulnerable children everywhere. PointHope endeavors to circumvent denominational, racial, geographical, generational and political boundaries in the process of offering hope to people in the world who are suffering.

The national platform of PointHope relates to the programs for adoption and foster care in the United States. Both programs are weak and in need of strengthening. Delilah has advocated extensively for families associated with adoption and foster care. She has received numerous awards and recognitions on behalf of PointHope for her work in this area. Most recently, she was invited to speak on the subject of foster care at a reception given by New York Governor George Pataki in May 2006.

PointHope’s international involvement and outreach began in 2003 as a result of one refugee reaching out to Delilah for help. The refugee was based at a settlement of Buduburam near Accra, the capital of Ghana. Officially there are 42,000 people living in Buduburam, which was originally built for 4,000. Unofficially there are at least 80,000. These Liberian refugees fled their war torn country because of the very real danger of losing their lives. Many are traumatized and in poor health while some are crippled, handicapped and orphaned. Elderly widows are destitute. There is no running water or electricity. Sanitation is poor, and toilets are few and far between. There is an insufficient supply of food and water. Many children do not survive because of the contaminated water.

Delilah has personally visited the refugee camp in Buduburam on three different occasions. On each visit she has become more resolute to provide resources to help lift these people, especially the children, out of their poverty. In short, to give them hope. PointHope has purchased 22 acres of land in Buduburam for a school, an orphanage or children’s home and recreational areas for constructive youth activities. A medical clinic has been established, with a licensed physician on duty, to provide health education, capacity building and preventative medicine.

PointHope, Inc. was reorganized in 2004 to become a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Approval was granted by the IRS in May 2005 (EIN 20-1216129). As such, donations to PointHope are now tax exempt for federal income tax purposes. PointHope is eligible for a wide range of governmental and non-governmental grants that will be of assistance in carrying out its mission.

A few words about the name PointHope: During the summer of 1993, Delilah tried to break up the monotony of a long summer spell, consisting of sweltering heat and oppressive humidity, by “staging” her show from a place called Point Hope, Alaska. She located a tiny 6-square-mile spit of land on the Arctic Ocean at the furthest northwesterly place in the continental United States. The Eskimo name for this location is “Tikeraq”, meaning “Point of Hope”.

The show was not actually broadcast from Alaska. But Delilah had most of her listening audience convinced that the radio station had sent her 4,500 miles away to escape the summer heat. For many generations, native Eskimos in Point Hope have survived in the harshest conditions imaginable, living in ice houses in 50 degree below zero temperatures. They did so mostly by fishing, hunting and trading.

The program that evening was very entertaining, as Delilah’s nightly show often is, but the thought of people living their lives in peace and happiness despite unimaginable obstacles gave Delilah great inspiration and admiration for all people seeking to overcome life’s challenges. If the people of Point Hope in Alaska can make the best of their situation, she thought, then why can’t the rest of us accomplish the same?

Sometimes all someone needs is a little boost to get things back on track. The boost might be financial, a place to gain respite, basic necessities like water and shelter, or simply the encouragement that comes from knowing that somebody else cares. PointHope was founded with these thoughts in mind. At the time, the right name for organization seemed pretty obvious. Thus, PointHope was born.

Former PointHope Executive Director Andrew Caple {left} with the organization's founder, Delilah, and current E.D. Michael T. Bell at the 2006 PointHope Annual Meeting in Seattle.

Mission, Vision & Core Values

The Mission of PointHope is to create a healthy, loving community for every child. In accomplishing this mission, PointHope seeks to identify, equip and champion initiatives that create nurturing environments for children wherever they are. This is so that the most vulnerable receive assistance that cultivates independence; the capacity of local communities are built to deal with the challenges facing children; and, the governmental, educational and religious sectors are mobilized and engaged for cooperative action.

The Vision of PointHope is a voice for forgotten children, advocating healthy communities for every child.

The Core Values of PointHope are as follows:
- Involvement with discernment
- Always fostering stability through authentic relationships
- True transparency in all matters of business
- Ten year vision and planning horizon
- Never fail to communicate
- Effective deployment of resources
- Fostering capacity to transform communities out of dependency cultures
- Systemic solutions
- Partnering and collaboration that honors the sharing of success
- Working alongside established local efforts, where possible

Governance & Organization

PointHope, Inc. is a non-governmental organization organized in the United States as a public charity. It was formed in the state of Pennsylvania in June 1993, reorganized in the state of Texas in August 2004, approved as a charitable organization exempt from federal and state income taxes under section 501(c))(3) of the Internal revenue Code in May 2005. PointHope was re-incorporated in Ghana as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the Registrar-Generals Department, registration number G.16.716 dated 17th November 2005 as Point Hope Ghana. Point Hope Ghana was also registered with the Ghanaian Department of Social Welfare, No. D.S.W./2721 on 2nd February 2006.

The corporate offices of PointHope are located at 10010 14th Avenue SW, Seattle, Washington (USA) 98146. The phone number is 206-766-9700 and fax number is 206-766-9704. The web address is .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Death of a web site

My web site is now closed.

For privacy reasons, my children have asked that I take their pictures off the web and, of course, I honored their request.

My previous blog: "ChessSafari's Poker Blog" is superseded by this one, and incorporated here by reference. All blog entrie (whatever the subject) after November 1, 2006, will be posted here.

Best wishes to all,
Frank Niro (a/k/a ChessSafari)