I'm tired and bunged up with cold, so I just want to go to bed. I'm looking forward to an extra hour there in the morning with our clocks going back.
Very little of note has happened since I last wrote. Dad arrived in the UK safely; while New Zealand is experiencing an Indian summer, Britain is the midst of whatever you call an everlasting winter. My brother has just got back from Brunei where he had the final stages of his SAS selection ordeal. Unlike most of those who start out, he got all the way to the end, but unfortunately (for him) didn't get selected. From what I gather, they had a small number of places and the final decision was something of a lottery. I'm very proud of my brother for getting that far; I personally couldn't think of anything worse. Apparently he's contemplating coming out of the army in the next year or so, perhaps concentrating on his parachute instruction which he currently does as a sideline. One of my top priorities on my trip is to catch up with him, to see him properly. Since I left the UK at the end of 2003, I've seen him just once, and that was only briefly. We've drifted apart, which is a real shame because although we're very different I think we'd get on well. Who knows, maybe I could even get a jump with him.
I spent this afternoon with Richard, and a very pleasant afternoon it was too. We chatted in a café in Mt Eden and then climbed the mountain itself. It was the first time I'd been up it. It was a great vantage point; looking out from the summit gave me some appreciation of Auckland's geography, which although I've lived here for six years, isn't great. I liked the map they had there; distances to various overseas cities were marked on it. It was nice to be reminded that the world is actually a big place; my world seems to have shrunk since I lost my car.
This paragraph will be nothing but online poker, so you may want to skip it. Next month PokerStars will be having its annual Spring Championship of Online Poker, or SCOOP for short. For each of the 38 events in the SCOOP, there are three tournaments (with low, medium and high buy-ins) that run alongside each other. The low badugi event has a $16.50 buy-in, and fortunately it's one of the first to run, so I'll be able to play it before I go away. I'd planned to pay for the buy-in out of my bankroll, but I realised I'd accumulated some frequent flyer points and wondered if I could somehow make use of those. For 70 points I could enter a turbo no-limit hold 'em satellite which gave entry to an $11 tournament for the top 10% or so. As the name "turbo" suggests, these satellites are all over in a flash, so I was able to have seven or eight goes at them without wasting too much precious time. I managed to qualify twice, but instead of entering those $11 tournaments, I unregistered and took the $22 which I could use to buy into any tournament I liked. Satellites to the SCOOP badugi had a $3.30 buy-in, so my $22 would give me six bullets to fire at those. My first attempt never really got going and I busted out around half-way. Yesterday I tried for a second time; I made an even worse start this time and my chip count was in three figures for nearly an hour. Staring elimination in the face, I survived by hitting a T42A badugi on the last draw when my ultra-aggressive opponent had a king. He liked to draw rough, so unusually for me I drew one card to the ten, figuring it stood to be the best hand if I could make it. My read was good but still I got lucky. That was the turning point for me. I then ran hot, and with the top three making it through, I soared up the leaderboard to second place where I stayed for the remainder of the tournament.
That all sounds rather convoluted (and I'm sure if Richard sees it he'll laugh - he's one of the few people I've told about my poker exploits, if that's the right word) but in short I've now got entry to a $16.50 tournament and have $15.40 I can use for other tournaments, all without dipping into my bankroll. And I've still got more of those frequent flyer points up my sleeve.
Yesterday was Good Friday - in New Zealand the same debate comes up year after year about whether shops should be allowed to open on that day. Contrary to popular belief, shops are allowed to open - they just have to pay a $1000 fine which in many cases is nothing. Although I'm not religious at all, I find it refreshing to have a day when people can't buy bathroom tiles or LCD TVs.
Next stop bed.