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Monday, November 13, 2006

I Am A Born Again Sports Gambling Virgin For the Fifth Time This Year

I would like to announce my retirement from gambling for probably the fifth time this season and the first time on this here site. Unlike Ray Bourque, David Robinson, or Jerome Bettis I am not going out on top. This most recent retirement was due to a tremendous second half bedshitting by Louisville on Thursday night. I have enjoyed betting on football for a few reasons.
(1) You get the same rush as you get when cheering for teams you actually care about during the game, then you can go back to not giving a shit about them after it's over--win or lose.
(2) When you guess correctly, you get money. The previous two years I had done so well that it was almost like having a second job.

What I'm getting sick of is the penny-wise, dollar-foolish lifestyle that goes along with being a gambler. Now that I have a mortgage, extra dollars disappear extremely quickly. I roll nickels, dimes, and pennies (quarters are for laundry). My refrigerator contains beer, hot sauce, and sometimes a rotting half of a vegetable. One thing that I want to maintain is being able to go out for drinks and food any night I want. This assumes that some nights I will want to just stay home where I can live cheaply. But as a single male, I need to have the ability to go out into the world to at least be in position to interact with females if I'm feeling up to it. If I continue doing this and keep gambling and having bad losses even occasionally as I did on Thursday night, it just keeps Citibank's grasp on me tighter.

Another option that I want to protect is being able to go away for a long weekend to visit friends once every month or two. One such trip took place this past weekend, when I went to New York to visit some folks. By Amtrak the trip would have been around $170. By plane it would have probably been $200 or $250 I think although I just made those numbers up. Had I just steered clear of that bright shiny Thursday night game, I probably would have retained enough to have had an escort-filled limo take me to and from Union Station (with happy beginning and ending to the trip) where I could have had an actual reservation and an estimated time of arrival. Being the idiot I am, I decided that the best way to get there was the Chinatown bus for $35 round trip. The bus I took was run by Washington Deluxe, which I selected because it stops three blocks from my apartment.

It was a crime of passion. I'm a very passionate woman.

Like people, the NY/DC bus has pluses and minuses. The plus is obviously the price. Every other aspect of traveling by these bus lines is a big fat minus. On their web sites the companies publish a "schedule" of when the buses will be departing. However, if the buses are "scheduled" to leave every hour, you need to get to the stop location about an hour before the departure time you are targeting and wait in line for about two hours before a bus shows up. Then even though you have a "reservation" for a bus that was supposed to depart an hour ago, the bus that gets there becomes full of the travelers that were supposed to depart two hours ago. The company sites have enough sense to not specify an arrival time. They give the expected trip time is four hours, but the time to destination probably follows a truncated Cauchy distribution, cut off at 3.25 hours on the low side, peaking at 5, and continuing on to infinity on the high end. For readers of this who are not named Mike Taylor, the most notable thing about this distribution is that it is that it is so volatile that the mean and variance are not defined. So if you took the times of one million bus trips and took the average of these trip times, you still could not estimate the true average trip time. What the bus companies should say on their sites is that about half the trips take five hours or less. This only happens when traffic is close to ideal.

DC to NY:
Arrive at pick-up location at 10 AM on Friday to get on the 10:30 bus, hoping to arrive in NYC around 2:30 as the travel would neither involve DC nor NYC rush hour traffic. Two buses were sitting at the stop full of passengers. The driver said that another bus would be there in ten minutes. I quickly went to get a sandwich and then got in line for that next bus. At 12:15 the bus arrives. Waiting for it sucked, but oh well, we would still get there by 5 or 5:30 at the latest, so no problem--this is to be expected for a $35 round trip. Due to a massive slowdown from construction in Delaware and hitting the New York area at the peak of rush hour, the bus didn't get through the Lincoln Tunnel until around 7Pm. I luckily didn't end up sitting with a psycho, which is a highly probable circumstance on these buses. I ended up next to a nice female from Vietnam about my age who was in the middle of a one month vacation in the US. Some things I learned about Vietnam from her:
- Still communist, but entered into the WTO in November
- Vietnamese will eat anything that walks
So I ended up getting to NYC in one piece but almost five hours after when I had hoped to get there.

NY to DC:
I left Jake's Saloon in Chelsea around 4 PM where I had been watching the 1PM games to try to get onto the 5PM bus and if I couldn't, I'd at least probably get onto the 6PM bus, which I had a "reservation" for. When I got to the stop by Penn Station I got in line and hoped I wasn't too far back to get onto the empty bus that was about to start boarding. I had been drinking beer at the sports bar and really had to piss. Somehow I made it onto the bus despite them checking reservation times (note: if you get into this situation, your chances for getting on the bus improve if you treat them with way more respect than they probably deserve. These drivers get shat on constantly so they are pretty shocked when you say please and thank you and don't yell or swear at them). The bus was almost full when the guy waved me to board the bus. No beautiful women with an empty seat next to her at that point. My options were both terrible:
(1) sit next to a grotesquely fat guy near the middle of the bus.
(2) go all the way to the back, next to the lavatory.
Since I had to pee really bad I decided to go to the back. Everyone on the bus must have been out drinking beer or Mexican tap water before getting on the bus because there was a nearly constant stream of passengers going into and out of the crapper. As the trip went on the center of mass of the bus shifted further and further back with the smell getting worse and worse every time someone opened up the door. One woman made four visits in about 30 minutes, where she twice went in to do work, left but only got halfway to her seat before turning around for an encore. It was horrible. The trip ended up taking 5.5 hours.

I hope that this was my last bus trip to New York, but I'll probably be back on it again, just like I'll probably be back betting on football. I just can't foresee myself cutting out the betting until there is a wife to yell at me and take away sex when I place wagers.

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  • At 6:11 PM, Blogger Michael said…

    We like our probability density functions (pdfs for those of you in the cheap seats), the way we like our women, heavy-tailed.


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