Friday, March 30, 2007

Poker Power

About two years ago or so my brother was in town over Labor Day weekend and we went to hang out with some of his friends. They were playing Texas Hold'em poker. I hadn't ever played before and didn't know a whole lot about it. The only card games I was proficient in were War, Go Fish and Solitaire, none of which help much in learning poker. Instead of just sitting and watching I paid my buy in and got initiated by fire.

We played at a friend's apartment in Chicago. It was a typical (or to me what seems typical) bachelor's pad. There was no air conditioning unit and it was crazy hot. I will always remember this as my first poker experience.

I belong to a book club with a bunch of girlfriends and when I found out that some of the husbands and other guy friends got together to play poker while we were discussing our books I quickly found my way into their group. It is quite comforting to me that they treat me like one of the guys. They don't hold anything back just because there is a girl sitting there at the table with them. Whether it be swear words, belching or passing gas. Everything is fair game. I have always appreciated that they have taken me into their group and don't treat me any different than they would another guy.

I simply like to play poker. It's fun and interesting. I do like to win but I mainly just enjoy it as a social thing so it's okay if I don’t play well. That being said it is quite an exciting thing to win. It's like a high when you get great cards! I love to play and feel like I am going through withdrawal if I don't get to play about once a month. My hands crave holding and shuffling the cards.

A friend turned me onto a book called Positively Fifth Street by James McManus. This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. I took it with me everywhere I went just to try to squeeze in a page or two whenever possible. McManus was writing an article for Harper's magazine about women playing in the World Series of Poker at Binion's Casino in Vegas and wound up turning the trip into a book. He decided what better way to cover the story than to enter the tournament himself. The book is the story of him playing in the tournament, a bit of history of cards and poker and coverage of the Ted Binion murder trial.

I was loving this book so much that as I was halfway through I thought I would have to write the author and tell him how much I loving it. Then a light bulb went off! He teaches a class at the Art Institute of Chicago! Maybe he would come to the library! I tracked him down and indeed he is interested in coming to speak here at the library. I am really hoping that we will have a great crowd for when he comes.

His most recent book is Physical and is about his check up at the Mayo clinic and healthcare in America and is also very good.

I am so excited for Jim’s visit and I don’t know if I will be able to hold out until September 25, 2007 when he plans on coming to the library.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Filters in Space

My 5 1/2 year old son, Andrew, is fascinated with space and the solar system. His uncle shared with him DVD footage of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon the other day and it's nice to know that nearly 40 year old space footage still has relevance to a child born in the 21st century. I was somewhat disappointed to learn that Pluto, recently demoted to a dwarf planet, is still being referred to as a planet in Andrew's kindergarten lesson plan on the solar system. Perhaps his school needs some updated books on the planets? Like most kids, Andrew also has a certain fondness for Mars. We talked a little about NASA's Mars explorer program and this is especially exciting to him. He got a telescope for Christmas and it's amazing to him what can be seen with the naked eye versus what he can look at through the telescope. I love to see kids excited about science! Andrew says that he's going to go to the moon someday and that he won't be scared at all. I explained that he needs to study very hard and do very well in science and math. My husband and I want to nurture his love of science and hope to see him receive his PhD (Magna Cum Laude, of course) from this school (approved by his uncle).

Another subject that Andrew takes great interest in is voting. On Election Day back in November, Andrew and my infant son came with my husband and I to our polling place to vote. I explained to Andrew what it means to vote and offered a very simple explanation of the electoral college. Andrew was also very fascinated by the voting process and wanted to know "how many sleeps" before he could vote. Quite a few, thankfully.

Speaking of voting, you may have heard the buzz about House Bill 1727 on Internet Filters in Public Libraries. You can read a summary of the Bill and its full text here. The Kankakee Public Library doesn't rely on software to filter pornography and graphic violence from the public internet computers. We use something far more powerful and effective – the Library Staff! The Kankakee Public Library Staff is 100% committed to keeping our children and teen users (and all users) SAFE.

And furthermore, if you wanted to read this blog post on a computer with filters, you'd be disappointed because the bolded words would have been filtered out since they are deemed "inappropriate" by most or all software filters. (The only one that may need some explanation is the "Mars exploration" – ending in the letter "s" and the next word starting with the letters "ex" hence forming the word "sex.")

Allison Beasley
Head of Adult Services