Monday, March 30, 2020

I only played them cos they were suited

Those were the words that my opponent uttered when he flipped over a turned flush, beating my flopped set of Kings. Idiot. I'd raised to 5x preflop from UTG and he'd called from the button with 8-2 suited, flopped middle pair with a flush draw and we'd got it all in on the flop. What a fucking clown. I guess that's just poker but I still want to berate him for being so daft.

But I can't bring myself to do it - I just shake my head, reach into my pocket to rebuy and casually ask him if he's old enough to be playing as he looks like he should still be in school. "You know how old I am Dad" is his reply. He's just won about 85 pence ($1) from me and he's not even going to give me the chance to win it back as he announces that he's leaving with a profit and wants to watch a movie. 

It's the 1st weekend of lockdown and we are having a home poker session just for something different to do - I've only just recently taught Mrs AC to play whilst the boys have been learning for a couple of years so every once in a while we have a game. I never seem to win though - as bad as I think I run in casino games I can probably double that at our home games but at least my losses are only small plus I'm closer to the beer in the fridge. 

So rewind to the previous weekend and when I picked up the boys they couldn't have been in more differing moods - my eldest opened the door looking morose and declared sadly that his school would be shut for the foreseeable future. My younger son was virtually skipping through the house and told me the same news but with a level of glee in his voice that only an 11 year old can have - he was so excited that I thought he was going to explode. I don't have the heart to tell him that the majority of the next few weeks is going to be spent cooped up inside with his brother and mother. 

There's no official lockdown announced at this point in time but social distancing has been recommended. But given most people have read this as "cram yourself into the busiest train possible and go to the pub as usual in the evening" a full lockdown was announced on Monday after I'd taken the boys home on Sunday evening.

The 1st week of lockdown hasn't been too bad as I've actually been quite busy but the next couple of weeks will be much quieter work-wise so I'm not sure how they will go. Mrs AC had run out of meaningful work to do by Thursday so has binge watched an 80s British comedy called Only Fools and Horses - luckily there's another 5 series left to watch so that should fill some time. If you've never seen it I highly recommend it - it's one of the best loved British comedy series and here are a couple of classic scenes and She's also tried to tempt me with daytime drinking but given I've had work to do I've resisted so far - next week will probably see my resolve tested. 

There's a park near my house so we've at least had a touch of exercise most days but I really can't see this subsiding for a couple of months at the minimum - even when this is over I think it will take the rest of the year for the world to feel anywhere close to normal again. 

If we get to the end of April it will be the longest that I've not travelled on a long haul flight in about 6 years but there's a good chance that a large portion of the world's airlines will have gone bust by then so maybe my next trip to the US will be by ship - a couple of days spent crossing the Atlantic seems quite relaxing but I'm not sure how practical it will be for getting back home for the weekend. 

How is everyone else coping with lockdown? 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

It’ll feel just like being in Vegas

This was the sight that greeted me down the beer aisle when I'd fought off the zombie hordes at the supermarket on my return to London - screw getting a lifetime's supply of toilet paper or enough hand sanitiser to clean up even the most germ ridden of children. I wanted booze - Lots of it. I'm certainly not stock-piling or panic buying but the only thing that's going to make an enforced extended stay at home slightly bearable is the thought of getting a few beers in me every evening (something I actually rarely do at home but given I effectively can't travel for at least a month I need something to keep my spirits up). I've also got a cell mate - Mrs AC who decided against travelling back to NY and will probably be here for the duration as well. So booze is going to be the thing that keeps up both sane.

So back to the supermarket - the only large packs of beer they had left was Corona. It seems that the UK has reached peak stupidity as well given everything else has been cleaned out so I filled my trolley with that - I did ask the manager if I could get a bulk buying discount given no one else was touching the stuff but I just got laughed at. Now I rarely even drink Corona in the UK, let alone at home, but it's usually my go-to drink at the poker table - every place has it so I don't have to waste a waitress's time asking what beers they have plus it's not overly strong so I can drink quite a few and still be able to see straight enough at the cards.

So after the kids have gone back to their mum's I'm going to play the video poker app I've got on my phone, tell Mrs AC to put on something skimpy and tip her a buck every time she brings me a beer - it'll feel just like being in Vegas!

I haven't told Mrs AC yet that she's going to role play as a Vegas cocktail waitress for the evening - I might need to ply her with something much stronger in order for her to agree. It's a good job the spirits aisle was well stocked on my shopping trip!

What are everyone's plans for getting through this?

Friday, March 13, 2020

Zombie apocalypse

I don't know if they did it deliberately but a British TV channel aired the movie 28 days later the other evening - quite apt I thought and I ended up watching that plus the sequel 28 weeks later with Mrs AC whilst we were up in Scotland pet and house sitting for my mother.

We then watched Shaun of the dead which I thought was the much more realistic way that the world is going to end - more so given the hero's major plan is to sit in the pub and wait for all the nonsense to blow over.

But given the current state of affairs I'm in a quandary as to what to do - I need to be in the US over the next few months and Mrs AC needs to head back home as well.

I have narrowed my choices down to these options:

A - Stay in Scotland with Mrs AC. Pros: More time with Mrs AC, lowest amount of human contact. Cons: my mother will be home next week, won't see the cost centres, my mother will be home next week.

B - send Mrs AC home to NY but remain in Scotland. Pros: Hmm, not sure but still remains a minimal amount of human contact. Cons: see point A, did I mention that my mother will be back?

C - travel to New York as if nothing is happening. Pros: I'm not sat in Scotland being wittered at by my mother. Cons: 8.6 million potential zombies within 25 miles, not seeing the cost centres, potentially getting trapped when the military blow up the bridges and tunnels and ending up going as mad as Will Smith in I am Legend

D - head back to London and cancel any further travel plans. Pros: I'm not sat in Scotland being wittered at by my mother, see the cost centres, ex Mrs AC might become a zombie and I get to be the one who takes her out. Cons: 8.9 million potential zombies within 25 miles, I'm not sure how much toilet paper I have at home.

Please let me know what you'd do in my situation.

Edited to add the below:

What an absolute clusterfuck. The day after I wrote this they announced that the UK was going to be part of the travel ban - oh fucking joy. Double fucking joy considering it’s a Saturday and neither I nor Mrs AC can get hold of anyone work related to discuss travel and work plans.

The original plan was for Mrs AC and me to fly to NY on Wednesday but this wasn’t possible for me since the ban came into effect for non US residents after Monday’s flights - Mrs AC would have been ok flying back to NY without me but would have been made to self isolate (no idea how this is going to work or even be policed but that’s an entirely separate matter).

So my options were then limited to travelling to NY on Monday or not at all for at least the next 30 days, knowing that if I left the US I wouldn’t be able to return for the same period. We debated a few options but my mind was made up on Sunday after seeing how flights from mainland Europe were being treated to a 6-8 hour wait at CBP and customs. There’s no way I’m getting on a 7 hour flight if there’s going to be that long a wait at the other end.

As Mrs AC would have had to work from home for 2 weeks if she went back to NY she’s opted to stay in the UK for the foreseeable future and we are both flying back to London on Wednesday as anything more than 2 hours with my mother in Scotland would have me going mad, or killing her.

Fuck knows when I’m going to get back over to the US but I’ve got a few stories of poker and drunken idiocy I need to write up so hopefully this will give me the time to get those done. In the meantime stay safe kids - if the world really does go to ratshit the attackers can be stopped by removing the head or destroying the brain. And if you get hungry there’s a Breville out the back and John will do you a toastie.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Inane or insane

I'm a fully functioning adult. I think I am anyway. I might be far too partial to adult beverages and bouts of idiocy following those adult beverages but I'm pretty sure I still qualify as a functioning adult. But there's one person who thinks I'm not - my mother. I swear she thinks I'm 12 - well that is my mental age so maybe she's got one thing right.

Now if you're a regular reader of my ramblings you'll know one thing about her - she's as mad as a box of frogs. Every time she tells me about anything in her life it usually breaks the dial on my insaneometer. Or it will be inane. She'll regale anyone who listens with the most banal story of everyday life as if any trip out of the house is the search for the holy grail. The other day she actually rang me up and wittered about going to the local grocery store with the highlight being that they'd run out of the yogurts she usually buys and she'd bought a different brand.

But despite her obvious insanity she's actually very self sufficient - she lives in the middle of nowhere but has a wide circle of friends and often travels down to London to see my cost centres and abroad to visit family - which is why I'm now writing this up. One of my brothers lives abroad and every year or so my mother travels over to annoy see him and visit friends she's made. This obviously involves booking a flight - which can take her forever as she procrastinates the merits of each individual flight option and regularly rings me up to ask various details about aircraft types, seating options and meals. My usual response is "how the fuck would I know?" because she's asking what meal they will be serving on a 6 hour flight. Now when I travel I'm usually in the pointy end but my mother will only ever book economy (coach) so asking me anything about seats is a waste of time but I'm sure some people manage to survive in the cramped seats without starving to death or resorting to cannibalism. I'm imagining meal times involve some sort of communal trough but that's about the height of my knowledge.

It's taken her 5 weeks of dithering but she's actually worked out what flights she wants and is just about to book it but there's a problem. Her neighbour, who usually looks after her cat and dog when she's away, is away at the same time. Can I go up to Scotland to look after them? I'd already told her that I'd probably be in the UK and I can work from virtually anywhere so fine - I may need to take a day trip or two down to London for meetings but I can work around it.

Normally what I'd do in this situation is fly up to Scotland, coinciding with her southbound flight so I get the absolute minimum of interaction with her and pick up her car before reversing the process on the way back. But this time it's different. She's got some jobs for me around the house plus she needs to show me (in her words) "how things work as I'd have no idea how to work things around her house". This is despite me having been there numerous times over the last 5 years since she moved there, including at least once every year whilst she's been away. Oh fucking joy. Not only is she going to witter at me for 2 days, I've got to do manual labour around the house (come the year zero agrarian revolution I'm the first to get shot as apart from some kitchen burn and knife scars I've got soft hands that refuse to do manual labour).

But it doesn't end there - I've then got to drive her to the airport whilst she witters at me, the last time I did this one of her topics included whether her dog would remember living in the town we were driving through. Fuck knows what actually goes on in her head to have these thoughts but the 1 hour journey feels a lot longer. Hopefully a fuel tanker will crash into us, putting me out of my misery. I feel sorry for the poor sod who has to sit next to her on the plane though - that 6 hour flight is going to feel like days as she doesn't use the excuse of only having met someone as a reason not to witter constantly at them.

I'll at least get a day of drinking under my belt - at the airport, on the flight plus a couple of beers at the station waiting for the train. Then it's a day or so listening to her wittering before I get to do some of her household jobs - hopefully one of them will involve a chainsaw and I can arrange a little accident!

On a more positive note there was quite a lot of booze leftover from our stay at Christmas (which I secreted in her garage) which is probably near its expiry date so at least I'll have something fun to do when I'm up there!

I actually wrote the above earlier this week whilst travelling to the airport but forgot to post it - once I arrived these are the instructions my mother needed 2 days to give me:

How to use the oven - ignoring the fact I cooked Christmas lunch for us all

How to use the tv - it's a fucking tv how complicated can it be? Completely ignoring the fact it used to be mine and I gave it to her when I upgraded mine a few years ago

Tidy up her garage because she keeps falling over things - apparently it's easier to do this than wait for the light to switch on so she can see anything that she might fall over. I did manage to tidy up the beer I'd left in there at Christmas but my enthusiasm for anything more productive waned as soon as I'd found it.

Jet wash the patio and path - this is fine and I've written a message in her path to welcome visitors. I did write a ruder one but didn't think she'd appreciate that - I forgot to take a photo before erasing it so you'll have to make do with the politer version.

Go to speak to someone down the road about their gate letting their dogs out - they probably already know as their dogs go missing

Thank her friend for the piece of cake she sent me - her friend who came to Christmas sent me a piece of her birthday cake. Her birthday was 6 weeks ago and my mother ate the cake. So I have to thank her for a piece of 6 week old cake which I didn't actually see? Fuck right off

Be careful driving her new car because it has a turbo - she has no idea what a turbo is or does but is convinced it makes it faster than an F1 car. Me pointing out it's only a 3 cylinder 1.1 litre with about 100hp apparently made no difference. I don't think I've ever owned a car with less power. I did clean it though - she's had this car for less than a month and it was a health hazard with hair and drool everywhere as she often has the dog in there - I hope the drool was from the dog anyway.

Water various plants - even this was made more complicated by her writing a list of everything in the house and detailing watering frequency. But instead of writing obvious notes such as "blue flower in the conservatory" she's detailed their botanical names as if I'd know what a hydrangea is - she might as well have called them Steve, Frank or Dave for all the help it made.

I've barely had any human interaction since Tuesday but luckily Mrs AC (who I haven't seen since Super Bowl weekend) is arriving from NY on Friday so I'll need to pop down to London to pick her and the boys up - then I'm likely going to be over in LA & Vegas towards the end of the month.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Wild and the Furyous

Having left LA on the Friday after the Superbowl I wasn't expecting to be back in the US for at least a month. I managed 14 days!

I received a call from a client on Thursday evening asking me to get to LA for Monday morning - my initial reaction was to tell them to fuck off but my sensible side realised that they will probably take it badly so I said I'll see what the flights are like. Having looked at flight times and prices I can do better than Monday, I'll be there Friday. Well not LA but close enough - Vegas (flights between business hubs like LA or NY and London are very business traveller heavy so airlines know they can charge a premium if a traveller doesn't meet certain stay requirements (usually a Saturday night for instance) so flights on Monday and back the following Friday were more than double the cost of Friday to Friday). So I've got a last minute trip to Vegas out of nowhere. Which is nice.

Hotels on the Strip are ridiculously expensive given it's last minute and the fight that took place earlier in the week. I think there's also a boxing match as well but surely the true fight is the meeting of overgrown children slinging insults at each other as if they were in the school yard - or politicians as some might call them! (3 nights in Harrahs was coming in at over $1,000! but luckily I managed to book the Signature, which is my usual haunt, but through a travel site rather than directly).

Mrs AC already had plans or I would have invited her to join me so I'm told to be sensible - we all know that's not going to happen don't we though?

So after a last minute ironing and packing job on Friday morning I'm at the airport mid afternoon and tucking into lunch and a few drinks. More drinks on the plane over some work and I end up watching a movie before dozing for an hour or so before arriving just after 7pm. I get the second most unfriendly CBP officer I've ever encountered (the most unfriendly one a few years ago told me he could exert his authority by having me thrown out of the country because I'd put my briefcase in slightly the wrong place) who decides that I've used the incorrect terminology when entering the country and get held up for over 2 hours whilst I'm checked out and my travel records are scrutinised by someone who thinks everywhere abroad should be marked as "Here be Beasties" on his map of the world. So I'm in a great mood by the time I'm officially told to have a nice day and my alcohol level is dropping below the red line so I need to sort that out pretty soon. I'm a bit pissed off with the delay - some might say I'm getting wild.

As I'm in a cab to the Signature I turn my phone on and I've got a voicemail - it's (who I'd booked the hotel through as MGM were showing no availability) informing me that there definitely wouldn't be a problem with my booking. Oh fucking joy - when someone calls you out of the blue and tells you there won't be a negative it most definitely means that there will be one. I will deep fry my own balls if there's not a problem.

I've at least got some good news when I get to the Signature - I don't have to deep fry my balls. There's no record of my reservation and they have really limited availability - I'll need to wait a couple of hours to see if there are any no-shows before giving me a room. They will call me after midnight to let me know so having left my bags I'm in need of a drink. Probably more than one but I can't exactly go nuts given I may well be sleeping in the lobby tonight. I'm on the phone to to tell them I'm furyous and they tell me they will "definitely" look into it. Given their earlier use of the word I doubt I'll hear back any time shortly.

So off through to the MGM I headed, struggling to move against what seemed like about 8 bIllion people all standing around aimlessly. If someone had told me that everyone on the planet was simultaneously in my way that evening I would have believed them - so by the time I get to the poker room it's nearly 11 and I'm gasping for a beer. Having turbo necked 4 beers and played about 2 hands in an hour and a half (extremely card dead and couldn't fight against the 3 guys who were throwing chips around) I get a call from the front desk saying they've got me a room - but I need to come back to confirm it ASAP. Oh joy - at least I've got somewhere to sleep with a below average chance of getting arrested for vagrancy but I've got to force myself back through the MGM against the entire population. I grab another beer on my way back and it's nearly 2am when I finally get into my room. But once I'm all settled in I'm too wired to sleep yet so I head back over to the poker room to let off some steam.

Luckily the nutjobs who were throwing chips around earlier are still at the table and I rejoin just as the waitress is taking orders - things are definitely looking up now. Even more so as there are a few English guys at the table here for the boxing and they are determined to stack each other just to have bragging rights - which means a lot of preflop raising and they are playing any 2 cards. I managed a treble up when I flopped the nut flush and 2 of them went all in ahead of me - I don't think either of them were sober enough to realise I was still in the hand as the guy sitting on my right muttered a few expletives once I'd snap called his all in whilst he was still looking across the table at his friend!

But it was a fun table and I managed to unwind with more than a few beers and the party is still going strong at 6am although I'm now ready for some sleep - it's 2pm back home and I've had an hour's sleep in the last 32 hours! As I'm racking up to leave one of my table mates asks if I wanted a ticket to the fight - 1 of their party had not travelled so they had a spare ticket. Now I'm not really much of a boxing fan and I've never been to a live fight but I was going to find somewhere to watch it as it's a world title fight involving a Brit. Given they only wanted face value of $250 for it and it would have cost me over $100 to watch it in a bar I accepted their offer and we exchanged numbers so I could meet them tomorrow. Fuck - it's not tomorrow is it as it's now Saturday morning!

So after the drunken stumble back to the Signature I pass out at half 6 - I've really got to stop doing this as I'm far too old, at what age does this become unacceptable behaviour? Actually I don't need an answer to that as in my head I'm remaining forever young!

I think I had a dodgy beer as when I surfaced just after midday I was far from feeling 100% so I just take an hour or so to sober up and stop feeling sorry for myself. The day is still young and I've really got to eat something substantial. I'm not sure moving too far is a great idea so I just head over to TAP for a massive burger and a hair of the dog in the form of a couple of beers. I'm feeling slightly more human like by 4pm when my new friends join me and we have a few beers before heading over to the arena about 6pm, stopping off at what seemed like every bar along the way. It's good to see Vegas is still looking to gouge every visitor as I muttered a few expletives at a program seller when he told me it was $100!

We had a couple of beers and watched some of the undercard before the main event - I'm surprised Wilder lasted more than a couple of rounds. If you imagine a drunk girl walking through the casino in 4 inch heels at 5am you'll get the idea of how wobbly he looked! I've since read he claims it was because his walk on costume was too heavy - yes it was definitely that and not being repeatedly clobbered round the head by a massive boxer.

If I thought the crowds were bad the previous evening then the scenes after the fight were worse - I wanted to turn left and head back to the Signature but my new friends were eager to win back some of the cash they'd lost to me in our previous session together. So not wanting to be a party pooper we trudged slowly back through the MGM - I'm a quick walker and can usually do the walk from the Signature to the poker room in about 10 minutes but it must have taken us at least 25 just to walk from the arena to the poker room. Luckily there's beer to enjoy along the way and it's about midnight before we are all sat at a table together. The poker session is a bit of a blur but again a fun and alcohol fuelled time was had. I'm obviously getting a touch more sensible in my old age going by the fact I was in bed by 5am.

I was pretty sensible on Sunday and had some work to do before heading over to LA on an early flight on Monday morning - will be here all week before heading home on Friday. I still haven't made my mind up about taking more work on from the LA client - I'm not sure my liver is looking for a positive answer on that front.

But my next trip is already planned - I've got to pet sit for my mother whilst she's abroad visiting family so as soon as I'm back home I'm heading up to Scotland for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Superb Owl in Las Vegas

I love owls - they are superb. And when I talked Mrs AC into watching the superb owl in Las Vegas I was as excited as an ADHD kid who had forgotten to take his Ritalin. Not only did I have a long weekend of drinking to look forward to, the mighty 49ers (spoiler - it didn't go well!) had made the big game and I was seeing Mrs AC for the first time in 2 weeks since I'd left NY before the MLK holiday weekend.

So on Tuesday (I did something that I've never done before: I'd got it into my head that my flight was on Wednesday and I'd even put Wednesday into my flight spreadsheet, luckily the app sends reminders about my flights so I had a surprise on Monday afternoon when a pop up told me to check in for Tuesday's flight - a good job too as there is no BA flight on Wednesdays) I took the afternoon flight from London to Vegas and did my usual trick of going nuts with the booze as soon as I hit the airport - I'd actually not had a drink since the night of the NFL championship games, plus I'd not been able to partake of any of BA's finest champagne since I'd already had a glass in the lounge on my first trip back to New York after new year. As I'd ballsed up my drinking challenge on that Sunday night and had no reason to keep going I had a couple of drinks in the lounge plus another one on boarding the plane. As soon as drinks were served in the air I had another glass of their champagne, plus at least 3 more whilst I did some work. More wine was drunk over dinner before having a decision to make - do I stay awake for the flight then get an early night when landing or do I have a nap now then get up to some fun once I get to Vegas? I obviously chose the latter, so having had about 4 hours sleep on the flight I'm as fresh as a daisy when I get to Vegas and am checked in, showered and changed just after 8pm. I've got exactly 48 hours before Mrs AC arrives from NY so I'm going to use that time wisely. By wisely I obviously mean stupidly though - poker and beer are high on my agenda.

So off through the MGM to the poker room I went, hoping for a repeat of my session there back before Thanksgiving To say the game was dire was an understatement! It's too early in the week for the weekend crazies to be in town yet but at least the waitress service was good and I managed to hit double figures before calling it a day about 2.30am with an extra $24 in my pocket. I keep hearing about Coronavirus in the news but I'm not sure if Corona is the cause of, or cure to, this problem so it's almost guaranteed that I'm either immune due to my intake or will most surely become another statistic. Given that I'm not writing this via a medium from beyond the grave I'm pretty sure I'm immune.  

Due to my flight date screw up I still needed to do some work so spent all of Wednesday working and I'd tentatively made plans with Flynn & Ollie to meet for a beer or a poker session. But mid morning I received a call from my client in LA asking if I could get to their offices on the Thursday. Oh joy - what is it about employers actually wanting me to do some work rather than enjoy myself? Just what I'd wanted so I ended up booking a 6.10am flight over to LA which put paid to any ideas of poker or drinking so my session the previous night turned out to be the only time on this trip that I got to play - what do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Sorry F&O - I'm sure our paths will cross at some stage. 

I've been awake at 4am in Vegas before but that is usually in some sort of drunken stupor at the poker table or leaving a club - awake and stone cold sober getting ready to head to the airport is a first for me but I'm in a cab to the airport before 5 and surprisingly the place is empty. That's because anyone with a modicum of common sense is still asleep or having fun from the night before rather than heading off somewhere - but at least I get a longer than usual TSA groping as the agent is just happy to have someone to delay. A boring flight to LA followed then I'm at my client's office by 8am and a day spent drinking coffee ensued.

Once I'd finished with my client on Thursday afternoon I headed back to LAX to await Mrs AC's arrival (AA don't fly directly from JFK to LAS at the moment so her flight was via LA) and I had a few drinks in the lounge before she arrived before we took the same flight from LAX to LAS. That's after she'd walked straight past me at LAX anyway - I hadn't told her that I'd meet her, just in case my plans changed, and she told me she thought that I looked like a weirdo trying to hit on girls at the airport as she had her "New York ignore everyone, thousand yard stare" on whilst changing planes. I admonished her for implying I'm trying to hit on girls at the airport but I had to concede her point that I probably look like a weirdo. We made my original seat mate's day when Mrs AC gave up her seat in the pointy end and slummed it to sit next to me in the cramped seats - I can't promise I'd have done the same!

When we got back to the Signature and sorted ourselves out we headed out to pick up some weekend supplies from Walgreens and just caught up over a few drinks and a late dinner in the MGM for the rest of the evening before heading off about midnight - we'd both been up since before 4am once the east coast time difference is factored in.

We didn't really surface until late morning on Friday so after lunch at the restaurant outside Paris (bizarrely missing F&O by an hour or so as I found out later through Twitter) we just did some touristy things along the strip for most of the afternoon. Being from NY, Mrs AC is a fast walker and I'm usually the same but it was quite nice being the ones who got in other people's way for a change as we slowly walked up towards the Wynn and back down the western side of the Strip. Mrs AC said she'd booked us dinner at Fleming's in Town Square (which I'd never been to or heard of) so after changing we headed down there about 6pm for drinks at some fancy bar which I can't remember the name of then a lovely steak and a decent bottle of wine. We headed back to the MGM after dinner and Mrs AC said she fancied a few more drinks so we bar hopped our way through the MGM before crashing out around 2am.

Saturday was spent much like Friday - really nothing blog worthy so I won't waste your time!! But if you ever get the chance head to the skybar at the Waldorf Astoria - expensive cocktails but the view over the strip is very good. We had a very good evening at the Mayfair Supper Club inside the Bellagio - it reminded me of the fancy restaurant that Henry takes Karen to in Goodfellas although when I told Mrs AC that she was as old as that film it made her feel old and me feel even worse! So we plied each other with booze which cheered us both up.

So now it's Sunday - superb owl Sunday and I can't wait to see the owl. But where? Mrs AC is on the hook for this weekend in lieu of us going to the game so she's organised everything except the hotel and she hadn't told me where we'd be watching the game. When we'd last looked at locations together the only places we could find were Caesars' sports book which was charging a ridiculous amount just to sit and watch the game, or strip joints which seemed to be advertising like hell on google. Now Mrs AC is no prude and knows what guys get up to in Vegas (I've told her all about my misadventures with her boss when he took me out last time I was in town but even I didn't particularly fancy watching the game in a strip club.  

So over breakfast she asks me where Silverado Ranch road is. No idea sweetheart - I know the Strip and maybe 4 roads off it. Turns out it's fucking miles away - a good 20 minutes in a cab, which at Vegas prices is probably going to need some sort of government bailout to cover. It's (only!) a $45 cab ride before we arrive at Slater's 50/50 - a beer and burger bar. A very good beer and burger bar as it turns out.

It's ticket only so we've already been guaranteed a seat plus it's effectively an open bar - although I've already been warned that this does not mean I have to get as drunk as a poet on payday. I may have had my fingers crossed when I told her I wouldn't get too drunk!

We shared a table with another couple plus a group of 4 - the latter were 49ers fans as well so they were very pleased when I said who we were supporting as neither of us were in team colours. I can't bring myself to wear sports attire if not actually going to a game - it's just not "English". Actually it is very English - but the people who wear their soccer shirt in everyday life usually look like it's the finest item of clothing they possess and that they'd give themselves a coronary kicking the ball back to the actual players if it ever came their way. The other couple were neutrals but said they'd cheer the 49ers on given that the rest of the table were all fans.

The beer flowed, we made some new friends and we enjoyed the food and atmosphere whilst watching the game. One grievance I do have with American sports is just the amount of dicking about they can do - there's a big debate around the use of video replays in soccer at the moment as it seems to be killing the game, with fans essentially not celebrating a goal until replays have been studied in minute detail for any possible infringement. But American sports do this in spades, meaning a game can take longer than the known age of the universe to complete. But nothing comes close to the level of dicking about at the superbowl - cutting to commercials every 2 minutes and spending 5 minutes to determine the exact blade of grass to spot the ball. But the elongated game just gave me an excuse to drink more beer and by the time the game had finished I think we got good value from our tickets - I later found out these were only $125 or so each which was great value given the quality of food plus the decent drinks selection. If this had been on the Strip it would have cost 3 or more times as much so Mrs AC did a very good job indeed.

After the game we said goodbye to our table mates and headed back over to the strip in a cab - we had a couple of commiseratory drinks along the way through the MGM and crashed out just before midnight.

We didn't get up to much on Monday - we checked out before heading out to lunch and just killed time before heading to the airport at 4pm for the short hop to LA. We had dinner and a couple of drinks in the airport before Mrs AC caught the overnight flight back to NY and I headed off to my hotel, where I'll be for the rest of the week before heading home on Friday.

After this week I've got 3 weeks in the U.K. which is the longest I'll have spent there for about 6 months. Mrs AC is coming for a long weekend at the end of February and then I'll be back in the US at the start of March - but where will depend on whether I've made my mind up about working more for the LA based client. I don't really like being over in the west coast compared to NY (PITA to get home over a weekend, Mrs AC being NY based and my liver can only handle so much abuse) but one client wants me to do a more permanent role, which might be hard to turn down.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The happiness arbitrage

At the start of the NFL season I jokingly promised Mrs AC a trip to the Super Bowl if the Giants made it - knowing full well that there was more chance of me giving up beer than actually having to deliver on my promise. She reciprocated, thinking that the 49ers were just as unlikely to even make the playoffs, let alone make it all the way. She's been sweating since mid season as apart from 3 narrow losses they've managed to win every game - even the game after Christmas against the seahawks was a nail biter as it effectively turned into a winner takes all game for the number 1 seed, a bye and home field advantage versus the wild card route. My own record when watching them during the regular season has only been 4-3 so I was starting to think I'm a bit of an unlucky omen. We only get 5 NFL games on TV during a normal week so it's virtually impossible to watch every game which is why I didn't see them much at the start of the season.

But now they've only gone and done it - for only the second time in my adult life they have made the big game. And I can't wait. But unfortunately they are going to have to do it without me in the crowd - the tickets were just ridiculously expensive, as were hotels in Miami who seemed to have taken a leaf out of Vegas's books and ramped up their prices to gouge anyone who wants to visit - tickets alone were going for 5 figures a pair. 

But we're going to be watching the big game in the next best place - Vegas. It's actually going to be cheaper to fly, stay, eat and drink for the entire weekend than just a game ticket would have cost so it's really a no brainer to spend the weekend where public drunkenness is encouraged (in my mind it's actually illegal not to be carrying an open drink down the strip). Not that Vegas isn't gouging the public to watch the game - Caesars' sports book was charging close to $1,000 for prime seats plus all you can drink (even I can't drink that much to make it financially viable).

Mrs AC is taking care of the details so I don't know where we'll be watching the game but she knows my one stipulation is that there must be alcohol involved and she's told me that she's not going to disappoint me on that front. I'm flying in from London on Wednesday and staying on for another week as I have to see a client in LA, whilst Mrs AC is flying from NY on Thursday and leaving on Monday.

I've already bet on the game - but not for the 49ers to win. I want to lose my money. Mrs AC thinks I'm an idiot - why on earth would you bet on your own team to lose? Now I'm not really much of a sports bettor - I think the most I've ever wagered on a sporting event is £50 ($65) and I don't think I've actually ever bet on an NFL game before (I place the occasional parlay on a few Saturday soccer games to make the afternoon a bit more interesting if I'm watching the games) but when I do bet I rarely bet on my own team to win - not only for the fact that they don't win very often but it's that I'm doubly invested in the result - financially and emotionally. If my team loses then I'm pissed off and I've lost money whereas if they lose and I've bet against them at least the emotional loss is off set by the financial gain - it's what I call the happiness arbitrage. So I've placed £50 on the Chiefs to win at -125 on the moneyline. I did think about betting the spread giving up 1.5 points but that could have lead to a worst case scenario if KC won by a point whereby I would lose the game and the bet.

So in just over a week I'll be spending a weekend doing things that I love - beer, Vegas and spending some time with Mrs AC (if Mrs AC asks that order is reversed) plus the added bonus of cheering the 49ers on. And for once I'll be more than happy about losing money on my bet.

Oh - I ballsed up my drinking challenge the other night. I was watching the NFC championship game at home and had already drunk 4 beers when I opened one of my fancy Belgian beers, as soon as I'd opened it I realised I'd taken a few down to my friends who we spent New Years with and we'd had one on New Year's Day - I just couldn't bring myself to waste such a good beer so I drank it. I made it for 19 days which included 4 transatlantic flights - the highlight being a very good English sparkling wine which I'd never have had if I'd not been doing this. Final tally - 38 different beers, 1 champagne, 16 wines, 2 gins, 4 vodkas & 3 whiskies. Even though some of the wines and spirits were generous pours I'm actually amazed at how little I've drunk so far this month - it's my equivalent of a "dry January". I'm sure I'll manage to boost a few booze makers' share prices next week when I'm in Vegas!!