Tuesday, December 15, 2020

It’ll be lonely this Christmas

Just a quick note to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah or just a celebration that the days will be getting longer if your gods are happy with the yearly sacrifices - in which case it's probably best to throw a couple more virgins into the volcano as something seems to have pissed them off! It's been a funny sort of year which seems to have dragged on for eternity on one hand but actually sped by when I consider that I've not actually travelled for work since February.

But it's finally happening - Mrs AC is leaving. Despite arriving in early March for what was only meant to be a 10 day stay she's been here over 9 months, but she's finally had enough and is travelling back to the US. I can leave the toilet seat up and walk around my own house scratching my balls as much as I want.

Now I've only got a limited period of time to enjoy my freedom as she is actually coming back, but this time on a more permanent basis. Due to the current situation and my inability to travel to the US coupled with a 2 week period of self isolation each time she could do the transatlantic trip she's accepted a job in London. But before she starts that there's some paperwork, admin and immigration documents to sort out which can only really be done from NY. She also needs "to pick up a few things from home" which will probably necessitate us having to move to a bigger house (when she first came to London I think she brought more things for a 2 week trip than I actually own!).

The only practical solution to having to quarantine in NY is to travel over the Christmas period - her apartment is going to be empty so it's either do it then or spend 2 weeks in a hotel room which would see anyone going crazy and drinking their own body weight in booze. Oh, didn't I do something similar last year? But at least I got a modicum of exercise, human contact and fresh air rather that sitting in a hotel room on my own for a fortnight!

It's also not my year to have the cost centres since I took them to family in Scotland last year. So it'll be lonely this Christmas - although my mother has decided that she's not comfortable travelling due to the current situation so every cloud has a silver lining!

Anyway - I'm off to leave the toilet seat up for the next few weeks. "What's that Mrs AC? I promise not to leave the toilet seat up - just don't beat me again! Aargh no, not the face...."

Monday, September 28, 2020

A family divided

Mrs AC is having a fit. We're just about to watch my mighty 49ers trounce her beloved Giants and she's not a happy bunny. Firstly because we should have been at the game (which would have been my first game on US soil as I've only ever been to the London series games) but secondly because my eldest cost centre has just announced that he wants to support the Jets. "You could have mentioned this a week ago when we trounced you" I said. "Also - Why in fucking bejesus would you want to do that?" Mrs AC and I both enquired simultaneously. We already support one mediocre football team (real football with the round ball) in Norwich City so you've got a lifetime of despair to look forward to in that I told him. Why not choose the 49ers or Giants so he has someone to cheer along with? Or at least someone who might be on TV more than once a season so you've actually got a chance of watching a game - we only get 5 games a week (3 of which start well after midnight) and apart from the main Thursday, Sunday and Monday night fixtures which are chosen in advance the U.K. sports channel mainly revolves around teams with a winning record.

"Well that's the point" was his reply. "I didn't get a choice in picking a team - you did it for me". That's the way it is with football - you don't get to pick your team and you can blame me for the rest of my life I told him. It used to be about geography and where you grew up - everyone just supported their local side albeit I haven't lived anywhere near the football club since I was a teenager. But nowadays the local playing fields are full of Man Utd, Liverpool and Man City fans who probably couldn't locate their teams on a map and have likely never been to a live game. I gave the kids options when they were younger - support my team and we'll go to games or support someone different and we won't. Luckily they chose the former although we do attend games lower down the leagues involving local sides.

But back to the original question - why in bejesus do you want to support the Jets? Well one of his friends at school does and he wants to show solidarity with his friend. He then declared he could side with another friend who is a Patriots fan - dear lord no and we're both quite happy for him to support the Jets!!

Luckily we don't have the same issue with my younger cost centre - he's only just started watching the sport but he'll happily watch a game, especially when an American level of snacks are provided. Mrs AC asked him who he was supporting for today's game and not wanting to disappoint either of us he replied quite diplomatically "I'll support both teams". But he's got a Machiavellian streak in him, especially when it comes to food or money so when Mrs AC offered to make him some popcorn whilst we watched the game he thanked her by declaring that although he's still supporting both teams he's supporting the Giants a little bit more!

Monday, September 14, 2020

A farewell to the queen

From the moment I saw her I was besotted. It was more than love, it was lust. She looked so good and I can remember every minute that I've ever spent with her. She's never complained that I've spent quite a lot of our time together working, drinking or sleeping but she's getting old and the competition is younger, lighter, quieter and far more economical. It's time to say goodbye - unfortunately I never got to plan one last ride as it's all happened so suddenly. But I'll always have my memories of the queen of the skies - the Boeing 747, which British Airways have just announced the retirement of.

Now I'm not one to look at the past with rose tinted glasses - one of my favourite activities when I spend time with my mother is asking her to name one thing from the past that is better than the present day (the nights are long and there's no pub in her village). She came up with diseases! Yes, polio sounds like a wonderful way to have spent a childhood. Modern diseases are rubbish by comparison. Who wants to benefit from modern medicine and vaccines when we could all be worrying about catching something preventable that will kill or maim vast swathes of the population? But it's not like there's anything going on at the moment that's relevant is there? Oh. Hang on.

But due to the current situation BA have worked out that there's going to be a drop off in demand for global flights, especially in the premium sector of which their 747s are pretty heavy caterers to.

Now I'm lucky enough to usually sit in the pointy end of an aircraft when I fly - it's a necessity rather than a luxury really as I often need to work on flights and I'm just getting too old or useless to be able to miss a night's sleep and be slightly productive after an overnight flight. And one of the most special places to sit on any plane is upstairs in the bubble behind the cockpit. It's solely business class but on a nighttime flight I actually prefer it to sitting downstairs in first class as the bed is just as easy to sleep on and there's a lot less noise and foot traffic.

There are other aircraft that do the same job for lower fuel and maintenance costs but none of them feel as special as the 747 - most flyers won't notice the difference but I certainly will. So next time my mother tells me that everything was better in the past I can add the first item to her list.

On a more positive note I have actually booked some travel - it's not until next year but there are some amazing fares at the moment but I have no idea if the travel restrictions will have been eased by then so I'm not getting my hopes up too much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A spanner in the works

Well that didn't go as planned! Literally the day after I'd organised the trip the U.K. placed France on the quarantine list meaning we'd have to self isolate for 14 days as soon as we got back home (Belgium was already on the list but according to the rules I think we'd have been ok if all we'd done was stop to pick beer up and not been close to anyone, as we'd planned to do). But a stop at a large supermarket and wine merchants in France would have seen us having to quarantine for 2 weeks at home - which given we were only planning to be away for 2 days seems out of the question.

So the plans got changed - Mrs AC still needed to leave and re-enter the country so we either changed our plans to travel to a country that was exempt from quarantine (which meant foregoing the beer that I'd already paid for) or we elongated our stay in order to justify doing a 2 week quarantine upon our return. Eager not to lose my beer, I mean to spend some time out of the house (we've not been away from home since we arrived back from Scotland in mid March) I chose the latter and arranged to spend a few more days in France and I've arranged a tour of the famous Champagne region of France for a few days, with obviously a few tastings along the way. Then we'll be driving down to Italy (which had been our original summer holiday plans all along) for 2 weeks for a quick tour of some bars with maybe the odd cultural site thrown in as well. This is using the 2 weeks in Italy as our U.K. quarantine as it's exempt so as long as we don't stop off in France on the way back then we can arrive back in the U.K. with no need to spend 2 weeks stuck at home. Not that we've been going out a lot anyway and all our plans to return to the US are on hold until I can enter the country again - I really can't see this happening any time soon though and Mrs AC will need to repeat the exit & re-entry palavar in another 6 months so maybe I should order more beer now!!

Now I haven't told Mrs AC yet of the extended plans as it will be a nice early birthday present for her - but given when I just asked her if she regularly reads my blog her response was "do I look that bored?" there's no way she'll find out before we leave on Friday. She also added her pet name for me so hopefully I'll be getting lucky tonight as well!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Killing two birds with one stone

We have a problem. We Brits are a pretty stoic bunch and we don't like to cause a fuss but I can promise you that it's something major - I've run out of booze! I've just finished off the last of my fancy Belgian beers that I bought last year https://ayecarambapoker.blogspot.com/2019/10/im-just-going-outside-for-some-beers.html?m=1. You can only buy 48 small bottles at a time so I've done quite well getting them to last nearly 9 months, although it's not really a "session" beer and I don't think I've had more than 1 in any given sitting. 

We also have another problem - Mrs AC has been here for nearly 6 months and needs to leave and re-enter the country in order to renew her visitor visa, otherwise it will cause all sorts of problems if she overstays. When she arrived in the U.K. in early March it was only meant to be for just over a week and we obviously had no idea that it would be this long before we got to travel again. But she's been keeping Jeff Bezos's net worth high and my cardboard recycling bin full whilst ordering anything she's needed for the changing seasons. 

But anyway - Mrs AC is a grown up and can sort herself out. There are plenty of relatively cheap flights within a couple of hours from London so I'd originally suggested she take a day trip just to get the necessary exit mark and a new entry stamp. But hang on. I am a genius, maybe not a stable genius but a genius nonetheless. Why not combine a solution to both problems and kill two birds with one stone? Get Mrs AC to pick up some beers on her trip abroad! I suggested this to her and asked her what time she'd need to be at the airport. Her answer was her usual pet name for me. I think she's shy of using English when being affectionate so she uses Italian, "fottuto idiota". I think it means "my intelligent, handsome sweetheart", but I could be wrong! 

Mrs AC's suggestion that we take a trip together probably makes a bit more sense to be honest - it would be pretty hard for her to carry that much beer through an airport on her own and we'd run the risk of getting a few broken bottles at baggage reclaim. Plus we've been cooped up at home for so long and our summer holiday plans have been put on hold so it will be good to get out of the house, even if it's only for a short time. 

So next week we'll be having a day out on a booze cruise - driving over to Belgium and France to pick up some beer with a stop off at a wine merchants so that Mrs AC can spend whatever money she has left that she hasn't thrown in Jeff Bezos's direction. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

It’s just not cricket

Here in the civilised world we have an expression of "it's just not cricket". Which has nothing to do with actual cricket (Ace https://adventuresofanace.blogspot.com/?m=1 has uttered a sigh of relief as I know he's not a fan).

It's a bit hard to describe the true meaning of this expression but it essentially means that something just isn't right. Not that it's necessarily illegal, immoral or even against any rules but it's just not right. An example would be taking a fine Trappist Belgian beer and diluting it with lemonade, putting pineapple on a pizza or, to quote a blogger who has recently celebrated his 2 millionth page visit, putting mayonnaise on a hotdog https://robvegaspoker.blogspot.com/2015/03/who-hell-puts-mayonnaise-on-hot-dog.html?m=1 (congratulations Rob on the number of views, an achievement I can only dream about). 

But what isn't cricket I hear you ask? Well, football isn't. Not at the moment it isn't anyway. Now anyone who has read my ramblings for a while probably knows that I like my sports and my first love is football - the English sort with the round ball although I am a fan of what the Americans call football as well. And football is back - there's been none played in England since the start of March but I never got desperate enough to have watched the Belarusian Premier League which was the only league to have remained playing in Europe over the last few months. 

If things had gone to plan we would be sat here watching the European Championships where England would be sure to hype themselves up before crashing out to some lowly underdogs (it happened last time around where we lost to Iceland who have a population of 360,000!). But because everything has been on hiatus for the last few months we're now resuming the season with 9 games to go, plus the culmination of domestic and European Cups with the national tournament postponed until next year. 

I don't hold out much hope for my team in the league (even less so given we've now lost our first 2 games since the restart) - we were bottom of the Premier League at the enforced break and looked set to be relegated (I'm pretty sanguine about this to be honest as we are effectively a yo-yo club bouncing around the top 2 divisions) but I was more excited about the FA Cup. Just before the break we'd won entry into the 1/4 finals of the competition and we are 2 games away from the final - an achievement we've never managed in our club's 118 year history so every fan held out a small bit of hope that maybe this would be our year to win some silverware. Being part of an FA Cup final crowd is an amazing experience (I've been once before but as a neutral being hosted by a corporate client but I want to do it as a fan) but there's no hope of that happening. Not because the odds are stacked against us but because all games are being held behind closed doors with no fans in attendance. 

To me this is wrong - most sports are about the fans. I'm not naive enough to say the fans pay the players' wages or that the fans should have a large say in the running of clubs but without fans then sports are essentially meaningless. Even watching on TV is different with no fans in attendance - it's like a kickabout in the park being televised for all the enjoyment I'm getting out of it. There have already been 3 goalless games in the opening 14 Premier League matches (a small sample size I know but the long term average is around 8% of games remain goalless) so it's as if the players know that without the fans they don't need to care as much as well. I can't even imagine the apathy I'll feel if we manage to make it to the FA Cup final and there is no one in the stadium celebrating, no spontaneous acts of joy or beers shared with strangers after the game celebrating a win or commiserating a loss. It will be like it's just not happened, so it may as well not be happening. It's just not cricket! Talking of which, the cricket season is starting soon and I'm more than happy watching that on TV, with or without crowds in the stadium. 

What about US sports though? Are these going to be the same with empty or mostly empty stadiums? 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Girls just don’t understand football

Quite a few years ago (I just looked this up and it's 29 years ago - how time flies) my older brother took his girlfriend (now wife) to our football club for her first ever game. She didn't have fun. She spent the entire time not being able to see (she's quite short and people were standing in front of her) and our team suffered its worst home defeat for quite a few years. She's not been back since so a family joke is that she's effectively been banned from the ground ever again.

I've been going to watch my team since the mid 1980s and the cost centres love going to watch as well but it's a bit of a pain as we're 2 hours drive away and they get bored in the car. I usually take the kids a couple of times a year but I often go with my grown up nephews, but we usually take the train which means we can grab some beers and relax before having more beers before the game, more beers on the train on the way home and the football plays second fiddle to a day's drinking. It's also fun going to away games when we are playing in London as the reduced travel time means these are effectively home games for us.

But I've had awful experiences taking girlfriends to games - we've never won a game when I've taken a girlfriend and I even had one try to start an argument with me at halftime then act surprised when I told her she could make her own way home (we both lived a 2 hour drive away and she'd not thought ahead enough to actually think this might not have been the best of ideas).

But a few months ago Mrs AC decided she wanted to go to a game. Brilliant. It's been lovely knowing you Mrs AC but I'm not sure our relationship is this strong - the last time we'd watched a match together was at 8am in a Vegas hotel room where we suffered our worst home defeat in 10 years. Plus she banned me from drinking at 8am so it wasn't the best of omens. What is the world coming to when you can't open a beer whilst still in bed?

It's also an absolute PITA to get tickets - our capacity is only 27,000 or so and we have over 20,000 season ticket holders meaning tickets are rarer than hens' teeth. But I managed to get 4 - not quite adjacent but we managed to switch seats with our neighbours and all managed to sit together. 

Before the game Mrs AC got her own team shirt plus other paraphernalia from the club shop - it looked like she'd been covered in glue then rolled through the shop. We all had our usual pre-match ritual of a meat pie (you really have to be British to appreciate this) and Mrs AC "borrowed" my favourite scarf (which is actually only 3 years younger than she is) - a scarf being the only item of the club shop that hadn't stuck itself to her when she was in there. 

Mrs AC is not one to watch sports in ignorance so she's constantly asking questions about the game. This isn't so bad when we're watching on TV but live it's pretty irritating. Luckily my oldest cost centre is a bit of a know it all so regales Mrs AC with each player's statistics, rules of the game and even teaches her the words to our songs (we actually have the oldest known song in world football at our club https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Ball,_City). 

Now if this were a Hollywood movie we'd have won the game and we'd all live happily ever after. 

We didn't. We got thrashed. We were awful. If they had announced that they needed substitutes from the crowd my boys would have volunteered, with the exception that I'd have said my boys were too good for this standard. The score line of 1-3 flattered us, we conceded 2 penalties (both of which were missed) and we only scored our consolation goal in the last couple of minutes when the game was already dead. 

To be honest we were never expected to win - the prematch odds on us were +300 as we were playing Manchester United. Now even if you don't follow English football you've probably heard of them (they've won the Premier League more times than any other team) but our mood was sombre on the way home (on the flip side I took a Man Utd supporting colleague to this game about 15 years ago and he sulked all the way back to London after we'd pulled off a shock 2-0 win). 

Our mood is lightened by hearing this story of a Southampton fan on the radio - having travelled 4 hours to his first ever game they got thrashed 9-0 at home https://talksport.com/football/620992/southampton-fan-st-marys-leicester/

I dropped Mrs AC at home before driving the boys back and as she said goodbye to the boys she told them to look on the bright side as at least we'd seen them score. It's on the short drive back to the boys' house that we discussed the game and the youngest piped up with "that's exactly what mum is going to say, what does it matter that we saw them score or not if we lost? Girls just don't understand football". I told Mrs AC about this comment when I got back and she laughed whilst promising to give my youngest a friendly telling off next time she saw him. 

So now fast forward to New Year's Day - we spent the previous evening with friends in a town called Torquay which is about 200 miles south west of London. We were staying for another day so after a pub lunch and a couple of drinks we decided to watch my friend's local team - Torquay United. This is as far removed from the glitz and glamour of the Premier League as you can imagine - they play in the 5th tier of English football so the footballing standard is not overly great whilst the grounds and facilities can only be described in one word - spartan. Most clubs at this level have old school terraces where spectators stand rather than sit (these were banned in the upper leagues about 30 years ago following various incidents but most famously at Hillsborough stadium where 96 Liverpool supporters were killed during a crush in 1989). Quite a few of these terraces are also uncovered so you're open to the elements - luckily it's quite a mild day so we're not getting cold and wet but that didn't stop the girls from moaning that we had to stand. We jokingly told them they weren't worth the extra £2 ($2.60) it would have cost to sit but I actually prefer to stand at these sorts of grounds as it adds to the atmosphere. For the entire match they chatted to each other and they didn't talk to us apart from offering to get some coffees during the game. My friend is a semi regular here and never usually brings his wife but she agreed as she had someone to chat to. The opposition had a man red carded after 10 minutes but that didn't stop them from beating the home side 2-0. It was only at the end of the match that my friend told us that they'd lost 6-2 to the same opposition only a week or so before. After the game we headed back into town and as we sat in the pub Mrs AC asked a question about the match "what was the score?"

Now we've all been at the same match so we just looked at her for a bit before my friend's wife said "oh, I wasn't paying attention either so I can't tell you" before my friend tells them the score, shakes his head whilst turning to me and saying "girls just don't understand football". I chuckled at this and Mrs AC told my friend that it's not the first time she's had that said about her - but that the last time was by a 12 year old boy! 

Friday, April 24, 2020

The new normal

There are a few ways that the current global situation ends - the most extreme is that civilisation falls, the infected turn into zombies after they've spent too long injecting themselves with bleach and inserting UV lightbulbs up their arses in a futile attempt to cure themselves and spend their days seeking out the healthy in order to crack their heads open and feast on the tasty treats inside. Those who remain uninfected spend their days avoiding the zombies and trying to scavenge enough food to make it until the next day. There are no farms, utilities or power because .... well, civilisation has fallen. At least the zombies will be easy to spot if you have a UV sensitive camera or happen to be a bee (which can see in UV) because the zombies still have a UV light stuck up their arses. Fuck knows what any invading alien species will think when they finally invade and find millions of corpses with UV lights lodged in the bodily remnants of the fossils they find.

The other extreme is a return to normality. At the moment, without a vaccine and without knowing whether recovery from infection provides lifelong immunity this scenario is just as unlikely as the first.

I think we'll see somewhere in the middle. This may take far longer than most people think - I'm guessing sometime towards the end of this year but it will certainly be measured in months, and not days. It will become the new normal, at least for a while anyway - but anyone expecting things in Vegas to change will be in for a very rude awakening. I've read numerous tweets, blogs and news stories about Vegas in the last few weeks and they all have one thing in common - what will Vegas be like when we get to the new normal?

The consensus is that things will change: room rates will decline, resort and parking fees will be dropped and everything will be done in order to entice people back into town. This is rubbish, in fact I think they'll do quite the opposite - rates will increase, more fees will be implemented in order to squeeze every last dollar (forget nickel and diming now, they want paper money not pocket change).

"What the fuck have you been smoking?" might be your response but hear me out. The new normal is where economics is turned on its head - I mentioned a few blogs back https://ayecarambapoker.blogspot.com/2019/12/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics.html?m=1 what I do for a living so I (sometimes at least) think my thought process is rational and I might be on the right track. 

In a normal situation there is one thing a supplier can do to stimulate demand - reduce price. It's a basic tenet of supply and demand that demand increases as prices drop (there are certain situations where the opposite is true but these are called Veblen goods - think fancy perfume or celebrity endorsed goods, if the price of smelling like Britney Spears's Snatch is $2 then no one wants it but increase its price to $100 and it's suddenly more desirable). 

So let me get back on track - in the new normal there are still social distancing restrictions meaning that tables can only seat 3, 1/2 the slots are removed or kept dark and restaurants and bars are only allowed 30% occupancy. In short - Vegas doesn't want to be full. Far from it. They don't want 100% occupancy in cheap as chips rooms when people can't drop a few hundred bucks a day into slots or on table games. They only want to attract 2 types of people - the first being the total degenerates who come to gamble away every dollar they have and have missed the place so much that they don't care about the price (we call this price inelasticity) and for the second group we're talking about whales, Moby fucking Dick. These are the guys who will keep the lights on in the new normal. They don't want people like me there (to be honest did they ever want me there in the first place? But I wouldn't want to be a member of any club who wanted me to join!) as I don't fit into either category. So they won't try to attract people like me, if you find yourself being targeted by Vegas you're either the Moby Dick (in which case congratulations and can I please borrow a few quid?) or you've got one hell of a gambling problem. 

But I'm just a monkey throwing darts at a dartboard, what do I know? 

Please let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Chekhov’s gun

I alluded to this story a few posts ago - I was out with Mrs AC and I was telling her about something stupid which then prompted me to tell her about this blog - here is the story that I was telling her. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts I travel a lot. Now to some people (cough, Mrs AC, cough) any form of travelling involves packing 2 or 3 massive suitcases to the brim then struggling to move them at every step of their journey. Not me though. I usually travel pretty light and I can usually have a few weeks away with just a regular sized carry on plus a separate briefcase. This saves me time at airports, avoiding check in queues and waiting for bags to be delivered which can sometimes take longer than the actual flight. It also allows me to use public transport to and from airports if that's more convenient to me.

On every trip I have my list of essentials such as laptop, chargers etc but sometimes I have to get some laundry done mid trip – this isn't as much as a PITA as you think it might be though as I usually find a hotel that has a laundry room or even a public laundry where I'll drop my things off, head for a couple of beers and return a couple of hours later. No sweat. On some trips I have to pack a few non essentials like a dinner suit and shoes but I still manage to get away without checking bags. I'll scrimp on a spare pair of shoes or not take gym kit if need be if only to accommodate my one absolute, definite, must have item. But I've not always packed this item – I only started doing so in the last few years – and I'll explain why now.

A couple of years ago I'd returned from Spain and was staying in a small hotel in London for a couple of days before heading somewhere else. I'd never needed this particular item before and it certainly had never crossed my mind to have packed it, in fact I'm not entirely certain that I owned this at the time.

It's the middle of the night and I'm slowly waking up in unfamiliar surroundings because I'm busting for a piss – I'd had a few beers the previous evening with a friend but it certainly wasn't a heavy session. As I come round I'm trying to work out where I am and where the bathroom is, but for the life of me I can't find the light switch on the table next to the bed. In fact I can't find the table which should be next to the bed and I'm not actually in bed at all. I seem to be on the floor. I also seem to be in a corridor rather than in my hotel room. And still busting for a piss. Really, really busting for a piss. Did I mention that I'm naked as well? Suddenly busting for a piss doesn't seem to be so important now.

So having come to my senses I need a plan. I stumble through the corridors to find my room, desperately hoping that my door hasn't slammed shut behind me but I'm way out of luck. The hotel isn't big enough to have any need for a phone on each floor and there's no bathroom anywhere without going through the lobby. I'm glad that it's 4am as the chances of anyone other than hotel staff being around are pretty minimal.

It's also pertinent at this point to come back to a very minor detail that I explained earlier in the story – that I'd just come back from Spain. This invokes the principle of Chekhov's gun that every minor detail included in the telling of a story must be relevant or discarded if it's not necessary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov%27s_gun. Where I'd been in Spain had plenty of mosquitos and I think every single one of them had taken a bite out of me during my stay there. I mean every single one as I've got dozens and dozens of bite marks over my body – bizarrely none on my face or head but my torso is literally covered in bite marks. I'd been back in the UK for a few days – earlier in the week I'd probably have looked like a plague victim but now I just look like I'm recovering from the plague. So I'm naked, busting for a piss and look like I've recently had the plague. And I'm locked out of my hotel room in the middle of the night. 

Luckily there are a couple of room service trays outside a few of the rooms on my floor and I fashion a makeshift modesty protector out of two of them. I head down to the lobby and poke my head out of the lift to make sure that the place is deserted before I go to the reception desk. I explain that I've been sleepwalking and I'm in room 1234 and I'm handed a replacement room key. I'm shocked. I've not been asked for any ID so surely anyone could pull this trick to gain entry!! 

I head back to the room and I put my case against the door to try to prevent me doing this again – hopefully I'll fall over and wake up before getting out of the room if I have another unplanned walk. 

So the one, must have, unforgettable item I now pack is a simple pair of pyjamas – I've not found myself in this situation since but if I do manage a repeat at least I won't be naked.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

That’s mature

If I asked you to guess something personal about me I can virtually guarantee that no one would predict what I'm about to tell you - I make my own cheese. I've been doing it for a few years now - not overly regularly but one thing I do when I'm bored is learn something new. And a few years ago I learned how to make cheese. I've had a few hits (mozzarella, cheddar) and a few misses (a Brie which ended up harder than a hockey puck and one which I left in the garage to age but forgot about and by the time I found it had produced a swarm of flies and maggots of biblical plague proportions) over the years.

Last week I went to the supermarket for the weekly shop (just to get essentials and with no thoughts of buying 30 pints of milk) and they had an absolute fridge-load of full cream, non-homogenised (that's important - you can't make cheese with homogenised milk as the fat globules are too small) milk so I decided to pick some up and make some cheese as I've got quite a bit of time on my hands at the moment.

So when the cost centres went home after the weekend I told Mrs AC that we were gong to spend the day making cheese - stilton in this case. She initially thought this was hilarious and that I was joking - nope. You get to be the cheese maker's assistant I told her - chief job being timing and pouring the wine. The wine having no relevance to the cheese making process other than making it more fun!

We ended up making these 2 beauties - unfortunately I didn't have any different culture so had to make 2 Stilton rather than waste the milk.

So now the waiting begins - the book says to let them mature for 6 to 8 weeks but given the current situation I think we’ll still be in lockdown by the time they are ready.

What’s the weirdest activity that you’ve been doing whilst in lockdown?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Honesty is the best policy

When I'd just started seeing Mrs AC I told her I needed to make a confession. Her immediate reaction was that I'd lied and was actually still married and was using her as a bit on the side given I travel a lot. Nothing that bad I told her - I've never understood why people want to run the stress of a double life, one woman in your life is hard enough work but 2 would be a complete nightmare (I did once casually date 2 girls at the same time but it was made easier by them having the same name).

The previous night we'd been to watch basketball with a couple of friends of hers. Of all the sports in the world basketball must be near the bottom of my list that I'd choose to watch. I'd rather watch paint dry. There's a central Asian sport called buzkashi (not what you think it is!) that is higher up my list - it's a bit like polo but uses a goat carcass as the "ball" - I've never actually watched it but it sounds better than basketball. It's not that I don't appreciate the skill or athleticism of the players - it's that there's too much scoring. When 1 score can be worth less than 2% of your total then each individual score has a diminished value - what's the point of cheering a 2% increase when it means nothing - just play the last 5 minutes and let everyone go home. Even the crowd know this as no one really gets excited until the last couple of minutes. If I was given the option of only watching basketball it would be a bit like offering me unlimited beer for life - but the only offering being Bud Light, I'd honestly rather have none. But anyway - I'm rambling.

Mrs AC asked why I was happy to go out to watch the game. Firstly there was beer available and secondly (I might have reversed the order when telling Mrs AC) it's because I told her I wanted to spend time with her - even now (I wrote this pre lockdown and we've now spent 3 straight weeks together and she hasn't murdered me yet!) we still don't see that much of each other and I told her I was prepared to go through the tedium of watching basketball if it meant I got to spend time with her. She thought this was sweet. So since then we've always had a policy of being honest with each other - if one person asks a question then it has to be answered honestly, however embarrassing the answer. Neither of us is the jealous type and she's laughed herself silly hearing my stories about being pounced on by cougars and my drunken adventures in Vegas (especially when someone she knows was in town and took a few of us out drinking for the weekend).

Which is why I'm writing this up now. I've told Mrs AC about this blog. It's not that I'd deliberately kept it from her but that it had never come up in general conversation - it's probably not top of any questions to ask people when you get to know someone.

But just after Christmas it came up over dinner - I was recounting one of my stupid stories (bizarrely not poker or even booze related but I've promised to write it up) and Mrs AC asked whether I'd thought of writing any of my escapades down. Errr. Yes. I already have! So I showed her.

She read a few entries and laughed at some of them before telling me that I was a bigger idiot than she already thought I was - given that this is her regular friendly insult for me I know I'm not in the doghouse!

I've deliberately kept this blog anonymous (albeit there are a few very subtle clues along the way - stories that involve beer obviously!) due to the nature of my work, on the off chance of a client coming across this I might find myself with a bit too much spare time on my hands if I'm easily identifiable.

So welcome Mrs AC - you'd better behave yourself from now on otherwise your drunken idiocy might get recorded for all of 4 people to read about. But is anyone interested in the time you came in from a girls' night out and I found you asleep in the bathroom at 3am? Then proceeded to admonish me for "not paying you enough attention" the previous evening despite me not having been out with you!! It seems I've got a challenger in the drunken idiocy department - game on 😍

I wrote this a couple of months ago and now it seems the end is nigh - there's no sports on TV! First English football postponed their fixtures, shortly followed by F1, NHL and the majority of sports across the globe. I hadn't realised how much sport I watch but it must be a lot given how much I'm missing it - and that's only going to get worse as it looks like there's going to be nothing on for the foreseeable future. I miss sports so much that at this moment I'd actually watch basketball - but only if the world paint drying championship is not being televised at the same time!

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 https://youtu.be/ZZj3BY3186I and https://youtu.be/63rcdLeXiU8. 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 booking.com (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 booking.com 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 https://ayecarambapoker.blogspot.com/2019/11/4-bucks-in-his-pocket-and-hes-still-got.html?m=1. 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 https://flynnandollie.com/ 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 https://ayecarambapoker.blogspot.com/2019/11/pray-for-mojo.html?m=1) 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 https://ayecarambapoker.blogspot.com/2019/10/im-just-going-outside-for-some-beers.html?m=1, 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!!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Two nations divided by a common language

There are many anomalies between the British and Americans - chief of which is our supposedly shared language. The obvious ones include Americans' inability to use the letter "U" in common words (colour, valour etc), putting a "Z" where a Brit would use an "S" (notarized for example). As an aside a "Z" is pronounced Zed, not Zee, the famous rapper is definitely Jay-Zed!!

But whole words or phrases can have completely different meanings as well, telling a British girl that you like her pants is liable to see you getting slapped as, to her, pants are underwear. What an American knows as pants we know as trousers (or rubbish, describing an item as pants means it's rubbish, at least that's what the cool kids tell me).

Well, having an American girlfriend is a constant source of amusement (for me, not her - she thinks I'm an idiot!) when we're discussing things as we can often have no idea what the other is talking about. "The faucet is broken" followed by "what the fuck is a faucet?" or "I'm only going out for 2 drinks" being misinterpreted when any Brit would know that it actually means "I'm coming back at 3am and passing out on the bathroom floor with my head in the shower" being recent examples. Don't even get me started on Cockney rhyming slang - Mrs AC gets confused with it being the non rhyming part that is said and the obvious rhyming part remains unsaid (taxi becomes sherbet in CRS, the cockney part being sherbet dib-dab) so I'm trying to teach her a few phrases so she can sound like a Londoner when she's here albeit I may as well be trying to teach her Swahili. If you can translate "I went down the apples to use the dog and order myself a ruby" from CRS to real English in the comments below I'll buy a beer to whoever gets the best result.

But what we do share is our love of sports - Mrs AC likes sports as much as me and is more than happy to attend a live event, which we do quite regularly when I'm in NY - our favourite (note the "U") being hockey. I've been watching hockey for the past 20 years or so and bizarrely it came about through my love of beer - I used to live near the arena in London when they had a team and it was actually cheaper to go to hockey and drink rather than spend an evening in the pub. I've also been watching the Rangers play since I first came to New York in the early 2000s, albeit the tickets and beer are much more expensive than I'd ever paid back home.

I've always had a routine when I go to hockey, when I arrive I get a drink, watch the first period then I get a couple more during the 1st interval to last for the rest of the game to avoid the awful queues that generally plague MSG if the place is more than half full. And so I continued this routine when I started taking Mrs AC to games - she doesn't always want the 3rd drink but I've always made sure that it's found a good home. But at a recent game she said something that will live in my memory forever. I'd just arrived back at our seats carrying a tray of 4 drinks when she asks "Why do you always want me double fisted at the hockey?"

I've almost lost half a beer spat down the back of the guy in front's head. "What the fuck? I've done no such thing."

She continues "why don't you just get 1 drink and we'll get another during the next interval?" She then asks why I'm giggling like a schoolboy.

I tell her that what she said means something completely different to us Brits - and you definitely wouldn't want your girlfriend announcing it in public (if you're unaware of the British interpretation don't google it at work, or on your partner's phone unless you know how to clear their browser history).

I was actually told this recently in Vegas as well - a waitress brought me a beer then she insisted that she take the bottle in my hand even though it was 1/3 full and she told me "Sorry hun, we're not allowed to let you get double fisted here" which to my British mind is absolutely fine but if I'm thinking like an American I really don't like it at all.

Drinking challenge update:
9 Jan - 4 beers
10 Jan - 3 wines, 2 gins
11 Jan - 6 beers whilst watching the 49ers win. Go 9ers! (I also watched the 1st half of the Ravens/Titans game but it was 2.30am on Sunday, I'd only flown in from NY at 9am Saturday morning and I had an evening flight back to NY so really couldn't stay awake any longer)
12 Jan - 2 beers, 3 wines
13 Jan - 12 beers, 4 vodkas (took my heavy drinking client to see hockey and this was my hardest day of drinking although a walk in the park compared to our last event in Vegas, although flights are becoming a pain now as they've not changed their menu this month yet)
14 Jan to 15 Jan - None
16 Jan - 2 beers, 2 wines

Flying back to the UK for nearly 2 weeks today so after tonight's flight the only time I'm going to drink for the next couple of weeks will be watching the NFL championship games on Sunday night. Good luck to Ace's Titans and hopefully they'll be playing the 49ers in a couple of weeks in Miami. I keep hearing about these Superb Owls but for the life of me I can't figure out what it means