Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Schizohedron Bullet Points! for 11/1/06

  • WFMU RECORD FAIR BECKONS: Much like last year, I am lending a hand at the WFMU Record and Tape Fair, which should be a beacon of crate-digging and impulse buying for all fans of obscure vinyl and music oddities. All proceeds from table rental, admission, and sales from the cheapo record and FMU swag tables directly and 100% benefit the freeform station of the nation, WFMU 91.1. Get on out there and support one of the last places on the dial where noncommercial radio is still practiced and the wonder of the medium still holds sway.
  • DICKED OUT OF A DOLLAR: Lovely for my bank to charge me a dollar for an unplanned use of a nonnetwork ATM, which by coincidence is more than I earned in interest on my checking account last month. I called the branch to try and get it revoked, but the assistant manager claimed that they were powerless to strike the charge barring mechanical failure of the nearest network ATM forcing me to another bank. I will move up the ladder and write them a note on their website, once my blood cools, to see if they will listen to calm reason. I can only imagine they spend considerably more than a buck a head to attract, sign up, and retain new depositors. Can't say I'll ever use any of their other financial services, though, regardless of whether my apostasy is forgiven. Yeah, maybe it's just a buck, but to them it's a rounding error and a fraction of the budget they allot for lobby candy for the tots . . . and why should I be a sheep and let them take it without a fight?
  • TREASURE THIS TREASURY: Now, you want a satisfying financial experience — and no less, from a Federal Government website? Hit up the TreasuryDirect portal. The Treasury has been selling bonds online for some time, but until recently I hadn't seen their redesigned site. It is an attractive, easily navigable, ultra-secure interface through which you can handle all of your Federal fixed-income transactions. It is now as simple to buy the regularly auctioned Treasury bonds, bills, and notes, and the more traditional savings bonds, as it is to buy goodies from Even more usefully, one can send paper bonds in for book-entry conversion, in my case saving me the effort of redeeming a bunch of savings bonds over the next few years . . . and also sparing me contact with the chiseling schmucks at my bank each time one comes due.
  • HOCKEY SHOCKER: For the first time since around 1983, and only the second time in my life, I am going to a hockey game! My friend Jen sent up a signal flare for interest in an upcoming New Jersey Devils game, and she got quite a response, including yours truly. With the collapse of the Jets franchise, the mighty Felix hasn't been buying his father's season tickets, one of which I would occasionally grab if available . . . so my attendance at fall and winter sporting events has dropped to nil. The only remaining decision is whether I will be stomped for wearing my San Jose Sharks CHAINSAW jersey to the rink. I could always bring along a chainsaw in case anyone gets saucy. . . .
  • POKER OCTOBER SURPRISE: Just when my faith in my poker abilities was beginning to waver, in the midst of a choppy late summer track record at the usual game, I was proud to rack up an October of straight wins. Of particular notice was a sweet win at the Showboat — a trip report that deserves a post here — that indicated to me I can still swim in the casino poker pool. I made many good reads at the local game that saved me money and that I would not have made a year ago. I consider our game to be of above-average skill, so when I — by no means the best player at that table — am able to string Ws across the month, I feel like I have actually learned just a little more about this crazy game.
  • IF YOU BAN IT, THEY WILL COME: In a cowardly parliamentary trick, Congress tacked an anti–Internet gambling rider onto a safe ports act, which passed and was subsequently signed by Dear Leader on — fitting in the eyes of its critics — Friday, Oct. 13. I was never a dedicated or deep online poker player in the 6 months that I navigated the felt seas of the Full Tilt shark lagoon, barely clearing any of the incentive bonus with my low-limit and sporadic play. I yanked my funds months ago for the July Vegas trip and never reloaded. I barely thought about playing online until this push by the Congressional morality class over the late summer. Now that the mode of funding a poker account has been criminalized, I do think about playing, and somewhat miss it. So what has happened is exactly what transpired with the passage of the Volstead Act: Outlaw something, and folks will get curious about it. A piece in today's Wall Street Journal indicated that players are already sniffing about for ways around the funding ban. So are some of the guys in my game. I guarantee that if I rented the shuttered store across the street from my building, painted over the windows, bought three poker tables, hired and trained dealers, iced and greased the local cops and Mob, and put the word out, I could run games 7 nights a week with a waiting list out the door. To Congress I say, as we sarcastically say to the table sucker when he or she hits well: Nice hand.

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