When I was a younger child, Christmas music started sometime in December and was a constant companion until around New Year's. (Sorry mom, if that's not how it actually was. It is how I remember it though.) The thing is, we had about three Christmas records, so we heard the same songs over and over again. You'd think we'd have all gotten sick of it pretty quickly.

I loved it.

In remembrence of that, I listen to the Holly channel on Sirius XM in my car. Coming home last night I heard

The Eurythmics do Winter Wonderland
Carly Simon doing Night Before Christmas
Seth Macfarlane and Sara Bareilles do Baby It's Cold Outside

and to finish off, David Bowie and Bing Crosby doing a Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth mashup

David Bowie sings with Bing Crosby! How cool is that?
I use a watch with a randomizer app to vary how I play hands. At my level of play, this works great, but experts might notice and object - I'm sure if it came down to it, I expect the house would rule against using the app, though not necessarily against wearing a watch. I did in fact, once have a dealer notice that something was going on, but he thought I was consulting a heart rate monitor. I do try to make things as unnoticeable as I can, but there's no getting around that I look at my watch and press a button a lot.

Yesterday, I forgot to put my watch on - I had it charging in the car. Rather than go back out and get it, I just tried to randomize by volition. It worked out decently for the majority of hands, because I did things sort of by rote. In early position, for example, I'll fold suited connectors half the time, limp a quarter of the time, raise small 15% of the time, and raise large 10%. I just collapsed the last two into "raise something" a quarter of the time, and then let my past history dictate what I did next. Not perfect, but it all worked reasonably well.

I did lose the 1 in a 100 complete bluff plays. At my level I don't think that means I lose a lot - one makes those plays to either exploit too-tight tables or to demonstrate to the observant that you can have anything in any position. $1/$2 are almost never too tight, and it's rare for people to draw any but the broadest conclusions from seeing what you had.

I could have used my hole cards as randomizers. There are 16 suit combinations you, and you could grade finer if you also differentiated whether the first card was higher or lower than the second. The problem with that is that the randomizer is connected to your holding, which means if you don't shift the meaning of combos between hands, you'll end up making the same choice with those (or similar) cards next time that suit combo comes up.

At the end, the big takeaway I got from the experience is that having forced myself to vary my plays by using a randomizer for a while now, I'm more disposed to doing it even without the external aid.
The subject line pretty much says it all - at the low levels at least, self-delusional poker players are common.

I was four hours into a session. I had given a fair bit of action throughout - sometimes with strong hands, sometimes with speculative ones, sometimes where it wasn't clear which category the hand belonged in. A couple of seats behind me was a know-it-all wildman. Because the intervening player got up for a few minutes, he was the small blind when I was the large. 3 people limp in, Wildman raises to 16, I reraise to 60, the limpers fold and he calls.

Flop comes QT6offsuit he raises to 60 I shove for his remaining 150, he calls with KTdiamonds, and explodes when I show AA. It holds up, and he goes into a tizzy about how badly I played the hand.

Now its true that against many players I'll just call the flop bet, and there's one regular I know whom I'd actually fold against, at least sometimes, but this guy fell into neither of those categories. I was quite sure that when I shoved he'd think I was bluffing, and so he did. But what was lost to him was that he went -270 on a hand that he probably ought to have -2 on, or perhaps as much as -20. Let's have a look see.

The preflop raise is certainly not the normal play, but if he wants to take a stab at stealing then I've got no beef with that - varying one's play is good, and if he gets by me, then he has a decent shot of scooping the pot, so let's say he risked 16 to win 10. My raise to 60 is a huge warning bell going off though. I could be semi-bluffing and still ahead of him. Our stacks are way too short for him to call, hope to hit, and then collect out of position. (Though with a wild man, collecting is not so hard - I'd have paid off QT in this case, for example.) I think he want both of us to have 600+ left before calling my 3-bet.

Leading out on the flop with second pair is overly aggressive. And yes, when I put him all in for the rest of the chips, he can probably fold there too, since unless I started with AQ or 99, or I guess JT (unlikely that), I'm going to be way ahead of him. He's getting a bit short of 2-1 on his money for a five-outer plus runner-runner flush or straight where I don't improve more than he does. If I'm bluffing here, it probably should work. Sometimes you can't really recover your hand and position.

Really, the big lesson for the game is to look to yourself before blaming other people. Hard to do sometimes, both in a game, and elsewhere.
Before my cataract surgery, I was left-eye dominant. Now, I can't tell. The normal test for that is to find an object in the distance, frame it between two fingers, and bring your fingers in closer until you just barely have the object between your finger-goalposts. Then close and open first one eye and then the other. The eye for which the picture doesn't change is your dominant eye.

However, now when I bring my fingers in to make the minimal goalpost, I end up seeing two images at the same time, which is mighty disconcerting. Fortunately, it doesn't affect any day-to-day activity, and I suspect it might be one of those things that the brain eventually compensates for to get right, but as I'm going to see an expert of Wednesday, I may as well get an informed answer.
The ophthalmologist looked at me today and proclaimed that everything looked good. My vision in the right eye also tested out to 20/20. I picked up some reading glasses. I decided on 2.00. I could see print just fine with 1.50, but they made me feel cross-eyed.

Walking back from the CVS, I got to notice that some of our roses seem to have no clue that winter is coming, and are in full bloom. The red looks very striking against the purple background of the house.
Omce again, everything seems to have gone perfectly, though I'll know more tomorrow. Sleep now.
The good news is that when senility hits me, nobody will be able to tell.

My cataract surgery is on Wednesday, not tomorrow. Good thing I kept the piece of paper with the information on it, and that Meredith had me check.
People mostly remember William Jennings Bryan as on the wrong side of the Scopes trial, or perhaps as a the Adlai Stevenson of the early 20th century, failing to win the Presidency three times. But he was a tireless campaigner who did a great deal to reshape the Democratic party into a more progressive one.

Apparently, he was also satirized by L. Frank Baum as the Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz.
... and therefore my claims about whether I voted or not should be received with at least some skepticism. If you really want to know, you'll have to go get the info for yourself. I'd start by looking at the how to request a public record page at the Mass. Public Records website.

However, I will say that the Tuscan Fish Stew that I got at the Daily Table Grocery next to my polling place was very good.
Do I go play poker tonight, or come home and watch CNN until tomorrow sometime? Watching the results won't change the outcome (those many-worlds interpretation people not-withstanding), but I'm mildly interested in whether we're in a state of armed insurrection tomorrow.
So I was walking to get some ice cream in Dorchester Lower Mills.

I passed:

1 Charter School (Codman Academy)
1 Nursery School
4 after-school improvement programs - 3 franchised and 1 YMCA after school program

I was certainly impressed by what I could see of the Codman Academy. Large classrooms with small class sizes, what looked liked networked computer equipment, and there were plenty of students around doing things at 16:30. Here's their website: http://www.codmanacademy.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=241628&type=d

Looking at the statistics compiled by the state, they have a lower dropout rate than government-run public schools, 0% excluded return expulsion rate, and 90% impoverished minority enrollment. The curriculum looks excellent, and there seems to be the usual charter school approach in Massachusetts of not simply classroom work, but field trips and larger projects. Looks pretty ideal. Students get in via lottery. They apparently supplement their cash via donations. I may well pony up some dollars after more research.

On my walk, I did see one advertisement which was vote no on question 2. Someone had scrawled grafitti on it saying "The Man is trying to keep us down". I don't know if that is the actual sentiment through the minority community here, but I guess we'll get to see on Tuesday.

I've been thinking a lot about the proposition that charter schools take away the good students and leave the problem ones. While this seems bad on the surface, it seems to me that the major downside of that is teacher morale - they'd have those students anyway, with all their attendant problems, Hopefully, I'm going to manage to read Ghetto Schooling this weekend, to see what the other side thinks the current problems are. But right now, my current conclusion is that in Massachusetts anyway, if you don't like charter schools, then you ought to also not like exam schools or home schooling, as they have pretty much the same effects on the school system.

The one thing I don't get is why the question is up at all. The current law allows for 125 charter schools, but only 80 have been approved so far. The people who ok these things seem to do somewhere between 6-10 a year, which means there's a good 4-5 years before we reach the cap. One worrisome point is if some commercial school franchise is trying to come into the state. So far as I can tell, the reason charters seem so good here is because the founders and staff are stunningly dedicated to building good schools in the community, and a rigid cookie-cutter formulaic approach is not likely to bring that sort of dedication.
The follow up appointment was perfect. My left eye has corrected to 20/20, though I'm likely to need reading glasses for close work.
I'm back from my left eye cataract surgery. Everything is fine so far. Anesthesia is still coursing through my system, and I'm not supposed to be on the computer very much, so nor worries if you don't here from me.
Well, lots of things, really, but I'm only going to talk about something that came up last night.

I'd been playing a little over an hour, and was very mildly up - playing $1/$2 NL I had $230 in front of me, having started with $200. I'm in the big blind, and there are 3 limpers when the button raises to 10. Small blind folds, and I look to see I have AKs.

In general, the button didn't need a premium hand to raise, so I have a decent shot at being the best hand, but it's a hand that's either a mild favorite or a mild dog against most other hands. Plus, being out of position, I'd like to play against as few opponents as possible. I raise to 50, the limpers all fold, and the button raises to 125. Now what?

So again, in general, the raise tells me my opponent has a good hand, but again, it doesn't have to be a premium hand, and because I was in the big blind, it's also possible he's decided to play chicken with me. (If I were in the small blind, my raise would generally have to be solider because the BB hasn't acted yet.) So what am I supposed to do.

I think the one thing I'm not supposed to do is call. I'll have $105 left with a pot size of $253. and if an A or K comes, I'm only getting called if I'm beat or tied, and if it doesn't come, I probably have to call a bet anyway. So I think its just raise or fold here.

If I fold, I get out for 0. (My earlier 50 is already gone. Sunk costs are sunk.)
If I shove, I go either +283, -180, , or +52

Let's look at hand ranges. First, presume there's no crazy bluff here, and that the opponent is moderately tight.

Opponent can have AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs, AKo

I win 28% of the time, lose 42%, draw 30% E.V. = 78.96 - 75.60 + 15.3 = +18.66 making it a clear raise.

AA, KK, QQ, AKs, AKo

Win 23%, lose 39%, draw 39% EV = 64.86 - 70,2 + 19.89 = +14.55 so again shove is the biggest e.v. play

Add in that sometimes the opponent is playing chicken, where I'll either be 48% to win if he has some lower pair or some sort of 64%+ favorite depend on what two cards he has, and this looks like an easy shove. Even more so if he'll raise with AQs/o.

But suppose I now tell you the button was a 65 year old tight player who had the occaisional Crazy Ivan move (which I think he showed everytime it worked) and had won about $200 on the night had racked his chips up and looked like he wanted to leave? Now what are you supposed to do?

Lets say his range is AA, KK, AKs/o

13% win, 33% lose, 54% draw E.V. = 36.66-59.4+27.54 = +4.8 still plus, and I like to give action when I can, particularly because there's still some small chance he was playing chicken.

But what if this guy only makes this move with AA and KK. Now we're in trouble:

23% win, lose 77% E.V. 64.86-138.6 = -73.74 pretty much a disaster. Even if I factor in that 5% of the time he's making some sort of a bluff, I'm still ~-50 e.v.

I raised, he called, flipped over KK and I spiked an ace on the river to scoop the pot. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

The hard part about poker is I don't know if I made a mistake here or not - it all depends on whether my assessment of what the opponent's range was here was accurate. Poker isn't all about the cards, though they're important - its about what you think is going on in your opponent's head, and how your behavior will affect that.
I am, in general, in favor of charter schools. Well, actually, I'm in favor of vouchers and then letting the parents pick whatever school they can get their kids into. I'm pretty sure I've read in James Klock's FB page that the expulsion rate of such schools in Chicago is generally 10x larger than it is in government-run public schools that more or less have to take kids. I honestly don't know what to think of that - it seems similar to the private school I went to as a child - there wasn't a lot of imposed discipline, and the students got a lot of freedom, but the deal was, you flunk a course, you mostly were out. I'm pretty happy with the education I got there, My parents sacrificed a lot to get me there. In my mind, charter schools are a shot at a low-end version of that, and I gather that might well be a naive view. However, on looking at the exclusion rates in Massachusetts, the charter schools seem to be much closer to the government-run norm than James cites (http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/gradrates.aspx).

The major thing I dislike about both sides of Question 2 is that neither of them, to my mind, is particularly telling the truth about funding. The "no" people say that it drains money from public schools. This is patently false, since by the definition in the relevant General Laws,

"A commonwealth charter school shall be a public school, operated under a charter granted by the board, which operates independently of a school committee and is managed by a board of trustees. "

so this bit is zero sum. But the yes people aren't being entirely honest either. They claim that school budgets in the affected districts will rise - but so far as I can tell, that rise doesn't come from the existence of the charter school, but that school budgets in general get larger.

The intent of the laws seems to be to try to improve education in lower-achieving districts.

"Not less than 2 of the new commonwealth charters approved by the board in any year shall be granted for charter schools located in districts where overall student performance on the statewide assessment system approved by the board under section 1I of chapter 69 is in the lowest 10 per cent statewide in the 2 years preceding the charter application."

It's true that the government-run schools in those districts will get less money, but they will also get less students. I gather the argument is that there's some economy of scale which lets schools have additional programs which are going to be affected by the fragmentation of the student body into smaller school sizes. I'd think the question is whether any increased performance by kids who go to charter schools outweighs that or not - I'd actually love to see both sides argue that, but in this day of politics by social media micro-burst, that seems unlikely to happen.

Anyway, I commend the General Laws on the subject to anyone in Massachusetts who is planning on voting on the question:

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXII/Chapter71/Section89

You can see the proposed changes here:

https://ballotpedia.org/Massachusetts_Authorization_of_Additional_Charter_Schools_and_Charter_School_Expansion,_Question_2_(2016)
I wonder why Johnson and Stein don't get together and in real-ish time, insert themselves into the Presidential debates. They go to a hall, listen to the moderator's question over the internet, the techie stops the feed, they answer the question, they listen to Clinton's and Trump's response, they rebut, lather, rinse, repeat. They feed it out to the Internet as they're doing it, and put a copy of the result on their websites and other places.

Or maybe they did just that, and I didn't notice. I still wouldn't have watched the debates, because I already knew whom I am going to vote for.
I've been reading The Mathematics Of Poker, and though I had a cursory, rote knowledge before, I now think I really grok Bayes Theorem
I'm back from jury duty, and per usual, nobody wants me deciding their fate - though this time it was due to a high number in the jury pool and only getting enpaneled for one case.
We've acquired exactly 1200 full-sized candy bars for the coming Samhain celebration. As usual, if you want to come see the spectacle, you're more than welcome on the day (well, evening, really). We start handing out candy at 17:00, and we have yet to make it to 20:00. Light refreshments will be provided, and though we won't build a sacred bonfire on a hilltop as Celtic tradition would dictate, there may well be a small conflagration in the fireplace - you'll have to decide how sacred that is for youself.

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