Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Poker Post

Every Wednesday night for the last two years I have been gathering with an ever-changing group of friends and playing poker. I'm not a gambler per se, and I do not enjoy going to casinos. However, Wednesday night poker has been the highlight of my week ever since I started going. So, I am not going to regale you with stories of the games, since poker stories are only interesting to other poker players, and only moderately so at that. Instead allow me to describe the social network that has sprung up from this weekly gathering.

Our game is a game among friends. The stakes are low: $11 a week with all the beer you can drink until it runs out. The winner gets most of the money, with a little going to second and sometimes third, depending on how many are playing. The winner is then given the honor of buying the beer for next week's game. So even if you lose, you still come away with something.

This week we had 15 players. I managed a fourth place finish. The best/worst part of the night likely can be traced back to my insistence on quality beer. My friend Natan won last week, therefore he was charged with buying the beer. Natan is from Israel, so he was deprived of growing up in the drinking culture of Wisconsin. He would much prefer coffee to beer, and has on more than one occassion threatened to bring trays of lattes in lieu of the suds. I also give him a ride to the game, and the only repayment that I ask is that when he wins I get to pick out the brew. There have been many unfortunate occurrences of Coors Light at poker night, something that I simply cannot abide by. So I selected a variety of micros, both domestic (Wisconsin) and imports (MN, CA, NY, OH, Canada). The consequence of this was that those people used to the effects of a near-beer such as the Silver Bullet were in no time shitfaced. The aftermath: a certain truck-owning individual whipped several shitties, as the kids would say, in the muddy lawn and another person mistook Drive for Reverse and drove into the car in front of her.

Now you know why I keep coming back.

Addendum: I left soon after the game ended, so I did not witness all of the aforementioned fun. I have been getting emails and calls all day filling me in on the events. The latest little tidbit is that apparently the person who was run into also got into some vehicular mischief herself. She was trying to back out of the driveway and ran over a decorative iron wagon wheel, tearing it from its concrete foundation. And before MADD gets all over my ass, the folks that had these mishaps WERE NOT ALLOWED TO DRIVE HOME! We may not be responsible, but we aren't stupid.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Brief Explanation

A few months back I was conversing with my blogging mentor about the seemingly remote possibilities of me starting one up myself. If I recall, I cycled through a series of excuses ("I'm not interesting, the internet doesn't work at home, I don't own a digital camera...") but I knew the eventual outcome was all but decided when I came up with the name. Shotgun Knowledge. At first I wanted it to be all mysterious and I fantasized that I would get barraged with questions as to its meaning. Realistically, I believe the average citizen would come to the assumption that I shoot skeet. This is not the case.

So I feel I must ruin my own private joke and explain it. They say that if you have to explain the joke it isn't funny. So be it.

Why Shotgun Knowledge? Because I am really good at trivia. I am that annoying guy who shouts out answers to game shows on television, ruining it for everyone else in the room. I can't help myself. If I know something I feel it is my duty to tell the world. I just can't keep it in. Now, I don't by any stretch of the imagination consider myself an intellectual giant or any type of genius. I consider myself of above-average intelligence. I just have an inordinately good capacity for remembering what you might call "useless facts."

So, again, why Shotgun Knowledge? It is not because I hold a wealth of shotgun-related trivia in my head. I actually know very little about firearms. This phrase is something that I came up with several years ago to describe why I can carry a conversation with virtually any person I meet. At the time I thought it was quite apposite and I gave myself a mental pat on the back for being so erudite. I do this when I use big words, too. As I said, I am by no means an expert in any field (except cellular communications towers - my profession and passion). However, I do have little snippets of information (news stories, half-understood processes, etc.) that I can draw upon to keep a conversation alive. Most people, including me, start to feel a bit uncomfortable when a conversation becomes a lecture. So then both parties revert to silence or worse, talking about sports and/or the weather. As a general rule, I am interested in what other people do, so I try to keep them talking to me as long as possible.

Here's the good part. My moment of intellectual glory came one night at the bars on State Street. After a long night of drinking delicious beers and conversing with anyone within earshot, a peripheral female acquaintance asked me how I can talk to people about so many different subjects. I responded that while most people know a lot about their specific fields, I happen to know a little about a wide variety of subjects. To illustrate this in terms that any female would understand, I said that while most peoples' knowledge was like a rifle, focused on several points on the target, my knowledge was spread all over the place, like a shotgun blast. I was so pleased with this that I am still using it to this day.

There you have it. 500 plus words explaining the title of this blog. This is what you have to look forward to, folks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

In the midst of the holidays

I apologize for not being very prolific in the last week, but I am sure most can understand. Unlike others I have not been around the greater Madison metropolitan area for the last few days. I spent Friday and Saturday down at my parents' and Sunday and Monday in Illinois with the extended maternal family. Good times were had by all.

The big news I have to report is my newly acquired iPod. I'm finally becoming one of the cool kids.

I'll try to write more in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Shrine to Lt. Randall R. Ramm

This friendly-looking fellow is my good friend and roommate Randy. He is one of two people that are responsible for this site. While he may not have provided the inspiration/hectoring that caused me to begin (your tribute is forthcoming), Randy did provide the technical expertise to allow me to get online from home. Allow me to elaborate:

Randy and I completed moving in together at the end of August. Prior to this Randy was in helicopter flight school and I was living by my lonesome. In the year and a half I lived in my nice little apartment I had never subscribed to either cable or internet. I didn't even have a landline telephone. And I was O.K. with it. Randy didn't want to live my spartan lifestyle and immediately had cable and internet hooked up at the new place. However, I never bothered to connect the old college laptop to the internet until about two months ago. It didn't work. I messed around for an afternoon and decided that the situation was hopeless and I would simply have to bite the bullet and purchase a new machine. I was immediately courted by the Apple devotees in my inner sanctum and as of this weekend was in the process of working out the details of buying a new iBook.

Let's bring this back to Randy. I arrive home last night feeling pretty good following the beer tasting at Smokey's. Randy is standing next to the router with my laptop, speaking with someone on the phone. Randy had told me multiple times that I should call tech support to sort out my problems with the computer. I found the prospect of just buying a new computer slightly more appealing. Within ten minutes Randy had the laptop online. His only request was that I put a few Grain Belts in the refrigerator for him.

Go ahead Randy, you earned it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Let's get the party started

Well, here I thought I would have to join the masses and buy an iBook. Sorry Sarah, but my genius roommate Lt. Ramm managed to get the ol' hp a workin'. So, fulfilling my promise to get this up by October (and much quicker than the '06 deadline you gave me), here is the first post of my career. I am still consumed with fear of this new adventure, but history is written by the winners. Be a winner, someone once told me. So here goes...