As my contribution to tilt was well received, and I promised to node some more poker, here is a hand I played recently that I will analyze for you. I hope you enjoy it.


This hand was played on Ultimate Bet, at a $.50/$1 Hold'em Kill table. The $.50/$1 here refers to the stakes. The blinds, the two forced bets which start each hand, are $.25 and $.50, the bets preflop and on the flop are $.50, the bets on the turn and river are $1. In limit hold'em, which this is, the betting is capped at four bets per turn. That means that the maximum a person can put in preflop and on the flop is $2, the maximum on the turn and river is $4. As I mentioned above, however, this is a Kill table. On a Kill table, whenever somebody wins two pots in a row, the stakes double the next hand while they are forced to put in a blind (on this table that'd be a $1 at the new doubled stakes) regardless of their seat position.

Preflop:
                                 Carol
                                $53.85

                  Bobby                          Dave
                 $40.05                        $40.85
                                           $1KB
           Alan                                           Erin
         $25.25                                         $49.65
                                 $1.50
          Jason  $.50BB                                  Frank
         $41.90                                         $67.50
                       $.00SB
                 Isabel                        golFUR (has 6s 8s)
                     $0                        $44.25

                                Harold
                                $45.25

So, Isabel lost her shirt on the last hand and can't afford to post the small blind. Jason posts the big blind and Dave, having just won two pots in a row, posts the Kill blind. When the action gets to Dave he will still have the options of folding, raising or checking. Notice that even though the stakes doubled, the original blinds are untouched.

I have been at this table long enough to have fairly good reads on the players. Dave, for instance, is fairly reckless with his preflop selection. Alternatively, he is responsible for more Kill pots than anyone else. Playing more hands, and more types of hands, made him the best Killer that night.

Pre-flop: Alan calls.               Bobby raises to $2.     Carol  folds.   
          Dave re-raises to $3.     Erin folds.             Frank folds.

The action is up to our hero. I am sitting on a 6♠ 8♠. Generally, this is a garbage pocket. With two raises in front of me, I am almost certainly beat. What should I do?

          golFUR re-raises to $4.   Harold folds.           Jason folds. 
          Alan calls.               Bobby calls.            Dave calls.

I capped the betting here with two thoughts in mind. The first thought is, if I win this pot I want as much money in there as possible. While I am almost certainly behind at this point, the flop may come through for me. A call would be justified by this logic as well - I am behind and should fold, but this is a kill pot so I'll just call. The other reason I chose to raise was to disguise my hand. By capping the bet after two other raisers I am telling my opponents I have a big pair or a suited AK or AQ. If the flop comes with low cards they will be less likely to put me on a hand.

Flop (board: 4♠ 3♥ 2♠):
 
          Alan checks.              Bobby bets $1.          Dave calls.     
          golFUR raises to $2.      Alan folds.             Bobby calls.   
          Dave calls.

On the flop, Bobby bets and Dave only calls. Recall that they both raised preflop, now Dave is slowing down a little bit. My initial read is that Bobby has a big pair and Dave has an A. Bobby is leading out into two raisers, this would be a really unlikely play on this board if all he had was a pair of 8s or an AK. Dave, on the other hand, calls. My decision to put him on an A is relatively arbitrary. His actions to this point would just as easily explain a medium size pair, somewhere between 77 and TT.

I raise again. My raise here is also for a few reasons. First, I have lucked out by catching two draws. I have a gutshot straight draw, any of the four 5s in the deck would make me a straight. I also have four to a spade flush. Statistically, my straight is a lot less likely than my flush and my flush is only about 35% likely to fill before the river. There are 12 cards in the deck which would make my hand, out of 47 cards I haven't seen yet. Given that I get two chances to catch one of those 12, I'm not in terrible shape here. Another reason I raise has already been stated, I want more money in the pot. We lost a lot of people preflop so I need these two to put more money in while both of them are still here. The last reason I raise is for informational purposes. I need to know if Bobby is hoping to put still another bet in, or if Dave is doing some weird slowplaying with a made straight or set. As they both only call, I relax a little and maintain my previous reads.

Turn (board: 4♠ 3♥ 2♠ 4♣):
 
          Bobby bets $2.            Dave calls.             golFUR calls.

Bobby leads out again, even though I raised him on the flop. This pretty much confirms my read that he has a big pair. Dave only calls again, he may have an AK and be hoping for an A, K or 5. He may have a middle pair and be hoping to make a set or hoping that Bobby and I are full of it.

Here I choose not to raise. I did not hit my flush or my straight. More though, the board is now paired. On a paired board a pocket pair is that much stronger. Either one of my opponents could make a full house on the river, or indeed have one already, and I would be unaware of it. By my previous logic I should probably have raised here again but I was nervous about missing the river like I missed the turn, and besides, there was a fair amount in there already given that these are doubled stakes.

River (board: 4♠ 3♥ 2♠ 4♣ K♠):
 
          Bobby checks.             Dave bets $2.           golFUR raises to $4.   
          Bobby calls.              Dave calls.

Bingo, my flush comes through. Bobby checks out here, which again confirms my read of a big pair. His bet on the turn said that he felt he was probably still ahead at that point, which he was. He knew also, though, that with the two of us still in it and able to read on our own, we must be drawing for something. That K♠ on the river could mean that someone just made a set of Ks or that someone just made a flush.

Dave bets for the first time since preflop. Now I have to wonder, is he betting on the K or the ♠? My flush is only 8 high, it can be beaten by quite a few better flushes. But no, if he had had a big flush draw he would have been raising in the early rounds, not calling behind. I raise it again and get both of them to call. Showdown time.

Showdown:
 
     golFUR shows 6♠ 8♠.
     golFUR has 6♠ 8♠ 4♠ 2♠ K♠: flush, king high.
     Bobby mucks cards.
     (Bobby has A♥ A♠.)
     Dave mucks cards.
     (Dave has K♥ A♦.)
 
     $1 is raked from a pot of $40.50.
     golFUR wins $39.50 with flush, king high.

I was right, Bobby had a big pair and Dave did not have a bigger flush. More specifically, Bobby had the strongest possible starting hand and Dave had the third biggest starting hand. I beat both of them with junk. After the hand was over, Dave was able to laugh about it and get on with the game. As I noted earlier, he is a bit of a reckless player, he has probably won more than his share of pots with starting hands similar to mine. Poor Bobby didn't take it so well. He griped a bit before taking off. Understandable.


So, who was right and who was wrong? Who made the most mistakes and how could the hand have been played better? What does this hand illustrate?

Now that we know who had what we can run the numbers on the hands and make some better determinations. Using the hand calculator at twodimes.net we learn that Bobby had nearly a 70.6% chance of winning preflop, golFUR had a 22.45% and poor Dave only had a 6.2% of taking it by himself. The remaining fraction of a percent is our various odds of splitting the pot. So, Bobby was a clear favorite and I had about a one in five of stealing it from him. With $16.50 going in preflop Bobby was obviously justified paying his share, poor Dave certainly didn't belong, we can't guess what Alan looked like and I was near enough, 25% on the money, 22% on the hand, that my gamble isn't too bad there.

When we get to the flop the numbers change pretty drastically. Bobby is reduced to a 56.7% chance of winning, I have a 43% chance at it and misguided Dave has less than half a percent chance. He actually has better odds of splitting the pot three ways with us than he does of winning it by himself. At this point Bobby and I are clearly making the right decisions, Dave is paying for our gamble. Though Bobby is ahead of me in odds, with the money already in the pot and my money being matched by two players instead of one I am justified to put in as much money as I can.

At the turn the board paired. As I stated above that is good for pocket pairs. The numbers show this very well. With only one card left to draw, Bobby is now a 73.8% favorite to win the hand. I have the remaining 26.2%. Dave is drawing dead without even the 1% hope of a split pot. Recall that at this point Bobby bet correctly and I only called. I had wondered above whether or not a raise was proper, it turns out that calling was correct, a fold would definitely have been a wrong move on my part. With better than a 1 in 4 chance to win this, I am paying only $2 to pick up the $26.50 in front of me.

There are no numbers on the river of course, there is only a question of saving a bet versus keeping someone honest. That Dave believed himself to be ahead at that point was almost certainly a mistake on his part. I appreciated it a great deal, of course, as it meant an additional $8 for me. Given that Bobby had to call my raise before Dave's action, I am now 'kept honest' and Dave can again consider a fold. He, probably rightly, doesn't and tosses the last bet in.

The first, incorrect, lessons that people want to draw from a hand like this are: 'any two can win' and 'you should always see the river.' These are probably the two biggest mistakes that new players make.

One of the things that made my hand playable was that Bobby and Dave were in there together and that they shared cards and outs. Were I up against either of them individually I'd have had much worse odds. The second thing that made my hand playable was my position on the raisers. With them acting before me in every round they are giving me information I can use in that round. Had I missed the flop, or had Dave been as aggressive as Bobby, I would have got out of the hand early and only spent a few dollars speculating. The third thing that made this hand playable was my ability to read my opponents and do fast math in my head. As we can see from the numbers available after the hand, I was putting bets in when they were matched or better than the math on my hand. I called when my odds were not as good.

Had Dave been better at reading hands he would have got out of that hand either preflop or on the flop. Without his bets in there it would not have been worth as much for me to chase my hand down. Had Bobby been better at reading hands he could have reraised me on the flop and put some real pressure on me. I can't say now, what I would have done then, but - given Bobby's odds in the early rounds, it was certainly the right thing for him to put as much money in there as he could. If he'd made it more expensive on the flop I might not have felt as if I had as much control, I could have had my guess of a big pair confirmed and I might have laid my hand down on the flop or the turn.

All in all, Bobby and I played the hand about as well as could be expected given what each of us could see. Bobby had to slow down just a little bit with both Dave and myself acting after him and both of us preflop raisers. The relative weakness of my hand preflop was mitigated by my position and experience. Once the flop came, I was justified in either raising or calling. Dave is the only one who comes out looking bad and it is hard to fault him for it when you recall that he was looking at big slick.

What happens after the hand is one of the things that separates experienced players from beginners. Bobby got rather upset, spewing abuse into the channel before leaving. Dave took it rather better - perhaps because he had just won two pots, had won pots similarly to that one or because he'd been playing long enough to take it all in stride. Experience really is the key in keeping your cool at the table, and keeping cool is best for your game. When you've seen every bad beat half a dozen times you learn to take them easier.

If I recall correctly, I did win the hand after this one to start a new Kill game. I ended up getting terrible cards during the Kill game, and given that I'd just won two pots, I let them go preflop. This particular hand came about an hour into the session. I ended up playing for about four hours and cashed out at a little over $100 in profit (having bought in at $30). Those are better than typical results, but they sure fit the character of the night.


1 - This is not the handle I use on Ultimate Bet. Their handles weren't the only ones changed.

I went outside for the first time in years today.

Well, not exactly. I have been outside many times in the past few years but I've not gone out solely for the purpose of enjoying the grass and the dirt and gravel and sun in a long, long time. Today I put a dress on over my pajamas and left the house barefoot.

What a treat that was!

I walked down the street to a lake, burnt my feet on the asphalt, watched geese, tried not to step in too much goose shit, burnt my feet on the asphalt, and went to a park. I was sad to learn that swings are not made for people as big as I am. After today I am tempted to set up a tire swing from the crabapple tree in my backyard. I hung half-off the swing for a little while and let it go. The breeze felt wonderful.

On my way home I burnt my feet on aphalt and saw a sprinkler that was barely hitting the street but I got a bit wet. A man who I assume lives there saw me and said I could play in the sprinkler if I liked. I did like. It was wonderful. I had taken off my dress about a block after I left my house due to the heat and I put it a bit out of reach of the sprinkler. I got soaked. It was great. My hair got all wet and frizzy and my eyeliner washed off. I must have looked like a little kid again walking home trying not to hurt my feet on rocks.

Once I got back on my street a Jewish lady asked me if I had hurt myself. When she saw that I simply hadn't worn shoes her attitude changed and she was kind of being critical of me to the other lady who was with her. I attempted to explain that not wearing shoes is a perfectly healthy thing but seeing as how I had quite obviously caused myself some (good) pain, she didn't seem to believe me.

All in all, I now have 2 bug bites, burnt feet, 2 or 3 blisters, and dirty soles.

I also had an awesome time.

Worth it?

Very much so!

in which Sam interviews for a graduate position at Data Connection

After only being able to get to sleep at 2am, Wednesday began badly. After breakfast I was feeling intensely ill. Not quite throwing up, but not feeling right by a very long way. Was feeling too bad to do much more than pack. Had intended to take the bus to the station but my Mum took me instead. I could hardly step out of the car.

I began to feel better after a few hours of alternately milling about in stations and slouching boredly on trains. Like the fool I was I'd neglected to specify "avoiding London" in my route so I ended up in St. Pancras. By this time I was feeling better, and now my attention was focused more on figuring out the London Underground. Apparently you put your gate pass in the bottom of the machine. The place was very busy - however, there were enough maps for me to find my way to the train I needed. Tube trains are fast, dark and bumpy - and London is bigger than I imagined, so I got worried I'd hopped on a train direct to the end of the line at one point. Still, it worked out. On the fourth and final leg to Enfield I was sat in front of a seat which had a bag of empty hamburger boxes on it. It occurred to me that a hamburger box would be an excellent disguise for a bomb, but it didn't seem to be ticking and there were chips on the floor so I decided against hurling it out of the window.

I'd been told to turn up before 5pm on the day, which I assumed was because they were going to give me directions to the hotel and start everything the following day. No such luck. I waited in the canteen, then we had a test about lifts, then we were driven to a four-star hotel for further stuff. When I say "we", I mean the four graduates they were interviewing, and when I say "hotel", I mean it was a nice place - our rooms were being charged to the company at £99 per night. More free stuff than you can imagine: flannel, soap, shampoo, biscuits. I didn't nick the towels but I did take the complimentary teddy bear (!) and the rubber duck. I have never in fact owned a rubber duck. Trouser press and fold-out ironing board in the room. Wireless internet which I couldn't take advantage of, but still pretty cool. Very swish indeed. "Further stuff" was putting our stuff in our various rooms, then coming down for dinner with four Data Connection employees.

I had been eating strangely and feeling ill (ish) the entire day by this point. I was ravenous but at the same time I could barely eat anything. I had duck, which was delicious, and banana ice cream, also lovely, although I couldn't completely finish a single course and hardly touched the extraordinarily well-crafted but unusual-looking vegetables for fear of destroying my own stomach. We chatted. We got to know each other. There was wine. It was cool. We were warned cheerfully that one of us was going to have the £400 dinner bill on his tab when he signed it the following morning. The DC folks went back to their various homes. We graduates stuck around in the lounge for a chat and a pint. I nicked a box of matches on the way back to my room. I finished the large, hardback book which I'd unwisely brought with me, and couldn't get to sleep until 2am, for the second night running.

Since a cab was collecting us at 8:15am I got barely five hours of sleep. For breakfast I ate grapes, a banana and some apple juice. "Continental" is probably how it was listed on the bill. Complimentary newspaper. Swiped a complimentary bottle of water on the way out. By the time I was in the cab with the others, being driven back to DC, I was beginning to feel properly ill again - the same pattern as yesterday. I took painkillers but they didn't help much - I wasn't in pain, I was tired and stressed and nauseous. There was a group exercise where we pretended to be a student representative committee - I don't think I performed very well at all, on account of feeling sick and being unable to concentrate on the briefing we'd been given. After that was the interview follow-up to the group exercise - which I'd done badly in - and the lift problem, which I'd had lots of time to think about and as far as I know, I absolutely aced, by which I mean, I explained my solution to the guy and he asked me absolutely no follow-up questions, so infer from that what you will. There was a technical test whose subject matter they asked me not to discuss, so I won't, but that went badly too since I was still feeling horrible. I nibbled at lunch. I started to feel better.

I met their CEO - he was a nice guy, but about half our meeting got lost to a phone call and then he asked me tricky questions like "tell me about social fabric" which I - if such a thing is possible - failed, by badly understating my social life. Although, to be fair, I just left uni - my social life is now spread over many countries and almost entirely conducted via email, so can you blame me? He also made me late for my presentation, which I think went okay but we got no follow-up on, so all I have to go on is the fact that the interviewers for it didn't ask nearly as many questions as I'm told they asked some of the other graduates. Sigh. Then there were more interviews, a graduate chat (which I'd had already during the interview for the internship) and lastly a final interview where I think I basically killed myself. The guy asked me if I'd ever been abroad - I admitted to never having stepped outside the United Kingdom for the past decade, and only being vaguely interested in visiting Australia/America, not worried about exotic locales at all. The guy asked me if there was anything I hadn't told them - like I'd been keeping secrets. Which I had. All this guilt crashed down on me and I admitted I'd gained a low 2:1 and told him why. Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Didn't realise it at the time. I realise it now.

Ate my lunch - which my sister had prepared for me the previous day - while waiting for the train home. Complete lack of litter bins in British train stations these days, so I just had to drop litter. London was busier but the Tube seemed amazingly intuitive now - there were huge numbers of police around the place, and I saw one guy with a big black machine gun which I think is the first time I have ever seen an automatic weapon for real. I mean, in America every cop has a gun: in the UK, you can go your whole life without seeing a real one. Pretty scary. Got home. Mum picked me up from the station. Unpacked. Told all.

My home network - in perfect working order the day I left - seemed to have broken. It was later that night that I managed to check my email. I hadn't got the job. They said they weren't totally convinced it'd work out. They thought I wouldn't "flourish" enough.

Which kind of turned what could have been a lousy experience with some significant redeeming factors - i.e. a trip to a nice hotel and a job - into basically the worst two days of my life. Illness. Wasted time. Wasted effort. All smiles and handshakes and friendly hospitality and nothing to show for it afterwards except another closed door. That night - last night - I felt very ill. I had very little idea what to do next and a dwindling quantity of money to do it with. I watched Mulan and went to bed at 2am for the third night in a row.

I thought that as a Cambridge graduate I could do anything; that the world was my oyster. Well, I can't, and it isn't. You need a social life and an interest in sport and a desire to travel to get somewhere worthwhile in the world, or that at least is my understanding from this experience. Pure brain won't get you anywhere. The other thing I've realised is that since I was born my life has basically been guided on rails from the right place to the right place, all the way up to and over the edge of graduation. And I'd become complacent. Not everything always works out, and it was too much to expect that I could come out of university and drop straight into the dream job.

The doctor says I have a virus of some sort and if I rest and drink water it'll go away. I ate a full meal today for the first time in three days - surprised I can still walk, to be honest, after eating so little recently. Fixed the network. Changed my library books. I'm not a student anymore: just plain unemployed. Now what?

<angst>

We never see our 'friends'. This is obviously completely untrue, or at least hugely exaggerated, but I'm going to stand by the statement. We never see our friends.

When I suggest we go out and see our friends, if we get out at all, we go and see the same one or two. Or maybe three or four, or possibly including one or two who may be "our" friends, but really aren't my friends. It's as if these token outings are a salve: as if I ask because I need to see people, any people, for the good of my own mental health; and having seen one or two of them, I'll be all better. Fixed. Not so. I miss each one of my friends painfully and individually.

Of course, I can't say this. Not only would it feel like a betrayal (one friend isn't enough?) but the guilt it'd inflict would make me feel even more guilty.

Instead, I apologise to them incessantly for never coming out (though I feel I have no say in the matter), and for being crap. I apologise and bluff it off, because I'm unable to face the greater fear: that fundamentally, I'm no longer relevant to these people I still call, whether it's accurate or not, my 'friends'.

</angst>

And now, the news...

New al-Qaeda video

Following Thursday's video of Ayman al-Zawahiri, news has emerged that a new al-Qaeda video is to be released shortly. Osama bin Laden is expected to put in an extended personal appearance on the tape, which will offer encouragement to his followers around the world. The tape, provisionally entitled 'Sheikh It All About', will be a fitness and exercise video. According to Usman al-Talib al-Jihadi, an Iranian follower of bin Laden, many would-be terrorists have been wondering how they can acquire the Sheikh's lean, ascetic physique. 'Rumours that the Sheikh owes his figure to a long-term digestive disorder are utterly false,' al-Talib stated. 'He is a master of meditation and is as fit as when he was 25. And now, by following the advice in this instructive video, his followers can gain the same gaunt, sinister look.' When asked what distribution method would be used, al-Talib said 'We thought about using the Internet, but, you know, the Internet is full of perverts and weirdos these days. So we'll do what we did before the American election, and send it to al-Jazeera in an unmarked envelope. That should get it on every network TV station in the world within 24 hours.' The White House is thought to be preparing a statement in response, which should advocate cycling and a diet of pretzels.

Bush backs 'Intelligent Design'

US President George W Bush has stated publically that he feels the theory known as Intelligent Design should be taught in schools. Speaking at on a visit to an army base close to his Texas ranch, the President spoke out on education. 'I've always said, throughout my presidency, that we should ask, "Is our children learning?", and I feel that in many godless schools up and down this country, they isn't. This is a nation founded on self-evident truths, and I think it's self-evident that everything complicated must have been made that way by someone. I find the theory of evolution complicated, and Charles Darwin made it that way. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is very simple. You don't even need to read the Bible to understand ID, because it isn't supported by Scripture. So all of our children, even right here in Texas, should be able to understand it." Richard Dawkins, the British biologist and atheist, reacted vigorously to this announcement. 'Here Bush goes again, trying to use his position to advocate the evil of religion. He's no different to the Taliban, you know. Religion is all about blowing things up and opressing people. I know this, because I read it in my own book, "The Bland Watchmaker". Every liberal should agree with me that religion is poison and should be banned.'

Church of England condemns 'gay marriage'

The Church of England will not tolerate practising gay priests registering their relationships when the Civil Partnerships Act comes into effect this autumn. The Archbishop of Canterbury's spokesman, Dr Alexander Ganymede, made the announcement at a press conference in Lambeth Palace. "All gay clergy will be instructed not to register their relationships, and not to tell their bishops the truth about anything. Allowing homosexuals to pledge lifelong fidelity and stability clearly undermines the sacrament of marriage. With this in mind, we expect gay priests to ignore traditional church teaching on chastity, and continue to have multiple illicit flings with their pastoral assistants and curates. And any gay priest who is put forward for the episcopate will be denied this preferment, because he will be unable to express the same level of commitment which heterosexual priests can." Priests will also be forbidden to bless civil partnerships, although gay couples would not be prevented from attending the Eucharist, or other church ceremonies such as pet services, Christingle, or other blessings. As well as these matters, the next meeting of the General Synod will also consider a government request to update the rite for the blessing of a nuclear submarine in line with the proposed replacement for Trident. Roman Catholic priests will not be allowed to participate in civil partnerships, firstly because of the long-standing priestly discipline of celibacy, and secondly because choirboys are generally minors.

Blair denies retirement rumours

Prime Minister Tony Blair has moved to quash rumours that he is planning to withdraw from politics at the end of his third term as PM. Mr Blair is thought to have confirmed that he will cease to be Prime Minister at the projected 2009 general election. Gordon Brown is expected to succeed him as PM in the event of a Labour victory. However, Mr Blair has emphatically stated that he will not be retiring at that point. Although he will probably not take up a post with the European Union or the United Nations, as some have suggested, he does have a clear objective. 'I'm really pleased with the way that the reform of the House of Lords has worked out over the course of New Labour's time in power,' Mr Blair was quoted as saying. 'But I think we still have some way to go in overcoming the old traditions of hereditary privilege. And I especially feel that, as times are changing, it's no longer appropriate that the highest position in the land should be allotted in this way. So we will be replacing the monarchy with one which will be reformed along the same lines as the Lords have been. We will call it the Presidency, and although it's early days yet, I hope to be able to contribute to it in a very real sense.' The news was greeted with approval by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, who was at university with Mr Blair. 'Hopefully this means my job will be made permanent, and I can get on with bossing people around and looking important, and not have to worry about any of this tedious law stuff any more.'

Egyptian girl's case to go to House of Lords

The House of Lords is to consider the case of Egyptian-born schoolgirl Zuleida Ebygum, who brought legal action against her school in Bedfordshire when it banned her from wearing traditional dress. 15-year-old Zuleida was suspended by the Abdurrahman Community School, Leagrave, when she began coming to school wrapped from head to toe in embalming bandages. Zuleida's family and supporters claimed that the school's action was an infringement of the girl's human rights. The case has been the subject of several court cases already, and has now been taken to the House of Lords as the highest court of appeal. The Ebygum family spokesman, Rashid bin Hamid al-Aswani, said that the use of all-enveloping bandages was one of the oldest documented customs anywhere in the world, and Zuleida's school had no right to interfere in her freedom of expression. A spokesman for the school pointed out that Miss Ebygum had attempted to perform a chemistry practical whilst swathed in her bandages, and had nearly caught fire on her bunsen burner. 'Additionally,' the school's spokesperson continued, 'the school has a very liberal uniform policy, permitting the hijab, the shalwar kameez, yarmulkes, turbans, clogs, and woad. The Ebygum family and their supporters, the Union for Obscure Traditions, must have tried very hard to find something which was outside the policy.' Matrix Chambers lawyer Cherie Booth QC, acting for the family, said 'I expect my husband's government will have to concede defeat in this case, even if Tony's old flatmate is presenting the opposing side. In any case, these fundamentalists are paying my bill, so we can all go for a break in Tuscany when it's over.'

World’s Food Expo 2005 To a gourmand and a budding culinary arts professional the experience of attending WOFEX ’05 can be best likened to a kid set free in a candy store, but truly it is ineffable.

The HACCP seminar which I intended to attend was rescheduled to 17:00 from the original schedule of noontime and I thus decided to spend my time networking and getting to know what’s new in the world of food, food manufacturing, and other such related industries. The free samples given were enough to make me purchase a couple of items which were given at a considerable discount. I met a few people whom I have had pleasant encounters with before, in particular the owner of the Rai Rai Ken chain of Japanese restaurants who personally handed me a tomodachi card when I had lunch at their Malate branch with some of my closest Japanese and Korean classmate from CSB SHRIM.

The most interesting part of my afternoon at WOFEX ’05 involved a German lady, named Marlies Grumbach, who was singlehandedly manning her booth which, for some reason, was not attracting so many people. I approached the booth and took a look at the bottles of fine wine and learned from the labels that they were Riesling wines of German origin. I then approached her and said “Guten Tag”, which is more or less all the German I know. All was well though because she also had a very good command of the English language.

I automatically asked to buy one bottle but, alas, she was still looking for an importer and was thus not even able to give a price but assured me I could have as much as I would like for free. I learned that her company, Wineland GmbH, sent her over to the Philippines to create a presence for their products. After properly nosing and tasting about 7 different varietals of their finest Riesling, in Teutonic amounts I might even add, I told her that I liked one particular vintage over the others. To my surprise, it was not one of their top end wines and only costs 3 euros in Germany, the most expensive wine they had on hand was a 7.5% alc. semi-sweet variety which sold for 18 euros. I can hardly wait for WOFEX 2006 and maybe, just maybe, seeing Marlies again.

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