Poker pro challenge on cards

November 30, 2011

Published at 08:58, Saturday, 12 November 2011

AMATEUR poker players from across Cumbria will pit their wits against one of the best at a unique event.

Northern Poker Stars brings the Black Belt Poker (BBP) Academy to The Hallmark Hotel, Carlisle, on Saturday, February 25, hosted by top professional player Neil Channing.

This is the first time a BBP Academy has been held outside of the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London.

The academies are held on a ratio of 15 players to one poker pro, so if there is the demand Neil will bring along some of his fellow Black Belt pros.

After the academy, he will be going up against the county’s amateur poker players at a Northern Poker Stars L25 Double Chance event at The Ukrainian Club in Carlisle.

For a place at the academy or a seat in the poker tournament, contact Ken Johnston on 07860697204 or .

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Poker pro challenge on cards

11 Disney World brides think 11-11-11 is most magical wedding date – A Mom and The Mouse – Orlando Sentinel

November 30, 2011

On Friday, if you catch a glimpse of a bride outside Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and then you see a bride by the Boardwalk Inn and later at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Walt Disney World is hosting 11 weddings across the property on 11-11-11.

“11-11-11 means a lot of different things to a lot of different couples. Some are choosing it because they want the date to be symbolic,” said Korri McFann, marketing director for Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons.

“One of the couples is actually traveling all the way from Hawaii to get married at Walt Disney World. They see 11 as the combining of two 1s to make one number in 11. One of our couples from Pennsylvania mentioned that it was a significant date because it is their grandparents’ 56th wedding anniversary. Another couple always make wishes at 11:11 and then he proposed at 11:11 at night, so that was definitely a significant number for them.

“People have definitely thought about the number and are excited to be getting married that day,” she said.

One such couple is Melanie LaValley, 28, and Eric Gocinski, 26, who met several years ago when they both worked at the Studio Backlot Tour attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. He was in the Disney College Program, and she was his trainer. And although they moved to Las Vegas for a short stay, they found themselves longing for the Mouse and his special brand of magic.

“Eric said we’d regret it if we didn’t have our wedding at Disney,” LaValley said. “And on the roulette table, when anything hits double 0, you always throw money down on 11. But it’s also always been my favorite number. Eric really liked it, too. He said, ‘I’m never going to forget an anniversary.’ ”

LaValley and Gocinski will tie the knot at 10 a.m. Friday — so they will already be married at 11:11 a.m. — on the Croquet Lawn at the Boardwalk Inn. After they are pronounced husband and wife, their 85 guests will toss some very special rose petals.

“I’ve been keeping all the petals from all the roses he ever bought me in the three years we were dating because I knew he was the one way back when,” the bride said. “I put them in little organza bags for the guests to throw at us as we walk out.”

The two, who have recently moved back to Orlando, are waiting until after their wedding and honeymoon to apply for their dream jobs at Disney World. “We both want to work at Disney the rest of our lives,” she said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to either one of us. We were gone for two and a half years, and there was not a single day that we didn’t think about Disney.”

Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. About 1,000 couples per year say their vows at either Disney World, Disneyland or aboard Disney Cruise Line.

11 Disney World brides think 11-11-11 is most magical wedding date – A Mom and The Mouse – Orlando Sentinel


November 30, 2011

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Travel Diary: EPT Loutraki

November 30, 2011

I had never been to Greece before this European Poker Tour event in Loutraki, but obviously I had certain expectations of ancient, colossal monuments and amphitheaters all around the place. Sadly, when I arrived at Athens airport it was pitch black and I was unable to see much, but at that point I was just happy to be alive as our flight had several screaming passengers after a little turbulence on our landing. To say it was windy was an understatement.

As soon as our taxi driver showed us outside to the car, I thought I was going to be taken away like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz in a tornado of Grecian air! Even in the car on the way to the hotel, we could feel the car swerve due to the wind blowing and it was all quite exciting, if not a little terrifying. Not sure if it’s just me who seems to get excited when my life is in danger a little bit. So once we arrived at the Hotel Casino Loutraki it was bedtime immediately and we woke early the next morning to find that, no, the wind had not subsided. The other video crew we were with had already told us they weren’t going to walk down to the centre of Loutraki (about 1km away) in the wind, but my cameraman and myself felt like we should at least try.

We had been outside for a matter of minutes and already both of us were crying our eyes out. We weren’t sad, the wind was just so strong it was making our eyes stream, my ears were also becoming painful as the cold wind whistled through them. We thought about going back for a moment or two, especially after a gust had taken off my shoe and sent it hurtling down the road. I did eventually find it and we did eventually get to the centre of Loutraki, which wasn’t very big, but did have a few bars and restaurants, a scenic coastal view and some quaint little gift shops.

If you want a laugh at me trying to fight against the wind, check out this video:

I’m sure there must have been a Greek god for winds and hurricanes and whoever they were, they were really showing everyone else who was boss that day and the following day.

We knew Loutraki would not be the busiest of EPTs, due to other tournaments going on and the economical crisis in Greece, but we were surprisingly happy with the turnout of 336 players after Day 1A and 1B were over. Most of the Team PokerStars Pros who began the tournament were busto by the end of Day 1. We saw Vanessa Rousso, Arnaud Mattern, Richard Toth and Marcin Horecki all hit the rail before Day 2. Romanian Team PokerStars Pro Toni Judet became chip leader at the end of Day 2 and into Day 3. We also kept the rail going for Irish Team Pro Jude Ainsworth who we interviewed nearly every day up until his bust out on Day 4. No luck for the Irish that day, however he did take €7,500 for his efforts. This was me catching up with Jude about half an hour before his jacks were dominated by another Greek players queens:

Midway through the tournament, the hotel put on a fabulous party for all the players and media. It was good to see some of the more serious players let their hair down on a night out. I, however, needed no excuse to let my hair down, it was always down! I caught up with some of the Team Pros at the party, in amongst the entertainment from a female Michael Jackson impersonator, a sexy fire-eating lady and a dancing trio on stage. My night ended a little hazy with some new friends at the roulette wheel in the casino. Needless to say I didn’t win so the less said about that, the better! Here’s the video, before we got to that part:

I did a little research on the Greek gods before coming to Greece and had forgotten how interesting mythology could be. I wrote down a list of 12 different gods and what they represented to find out from our poker players, if they could be any one, which one would they be. After the party and being the last to leave, as usual, my choice for myself was definitely correct.

It was Day 4 that went by quite quickly as we saw, literally the biggest name in poker, Charalampos Kapernopoulos (get it?) maintain his chip lead all day, despite being an amateur player and Greek doctor. It only took me a few times to master the pronunciation of his name.

Towards the end of Day 4, our hope for a Team Pro to take the title vanished into thin air as Toni Judet, our last remaining contender got blasted away by poker’s biggest name. However his run-good from the Greek gods was to peter out by the end of Day 4 and he went into the final table near enough the short-stack.

Zimnan Ziyard from the UK went into the final table with the chip lead and 2.7 million in chips. He accumulated most of these chips when he knocked out his friend and former university pal, EPT San Remo champ Rupert Elder. Rupert was visibly devastated at going out in 13th and we saw all hopes dashed for a double EPT winner. The final table was heavy with German players and PokerStars qualifiers, with no big names making it through.

The day started a little slow as the shorter stacks kept doubling up instead of busting, so we stayed eight-handed for a few hours. Then suddenly, all within two hours, we went from eight players to three.

It was left between British PokerStars qualifier, Zimnan Ziyard, German PokerStars qualifier Hauke Heseding and Greek blackjack professional John Taramas, who was the short-stack and who was kicking up a bit of a furore up in our media room, as he had been taking so long to make decisions and prompting the other players to make a deal. However, it wasn’t to be for Taramas and after a long three-handed battle, he finally got sent to the rail, much to the disappointment of all his Greek railers.

Heads-up play began between both PokerStars qualifiers and they seemed glad to have Taramas out of the way after hours of grueling play. Tiredness and fatigue was showing in both players and the chip lead went back and forth a few times. It really could have been either of them who won this. But it was British Zimnan Ziyard who came on top victorious. Here is the winner video I did with him.

Loutraki made its debut stop on the EPT and a successful one it was. I have enjoyed the Greek way of life for the last week or so, (especially the food) and it was good to have seen so many others enjoy it as well. The wind had stopped blowing by this point, too, so as we stepped foot inside our taxi on the way to the airport, the Aegean Sea looked peaceful and calm with the sun shining. And onto the next stop, home please!

Travel Diary: EPT Loutraki

2011 Global Gaming Expo, Part 5 – RGT Online

November 30, 2011

2011 Global Gaming Expo, Part 5 8 November 2011 By John Grochowski

Leading Edge Design has made its name with its creativity in electronic games. It was Leading Edge who designed the Gems Wild Tiles cascading reels game and Multi-Strike Poker, both licensed and distributed by International Game Technology.

But at the beginning of October, as the casino industry was preparing for the Global Gaming Expo, Leading Edge was shifting perspective from the slot floor to the table pits. Steven De Mar, the director of business development and brother of founder Larry De Mar, was at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Casino, helping oversee the installation of Leading Edge’s first table game, 7-14-21.

“The Hard Rock is our second install, and it’s very, very exciting,” said De Mar, the director of business development and brother of company founder Larry De Mar. “Our first was the Palms, where we went into field trial in June. It did great there, and that’s what drew the attention of the Hard Rock.”

For its entry into the table games market, Leading Edge initially looked at licensing the game to a bigger company. That model has served the designers well in placing their electronic games with slot giant IGT. But while IGT does manufacture and distribute multiplayer electronic versions of table games, games with live dealers and real cards aren’t really in its bailiwick. Leading Edge explored options with other companies before finally deciding to distribute 7-14-21 itself. The company is approved and licensed in Nevada.

The game itself is easy to deal and to play. Each player and the dealer get six cards, and must sort them into three two-card hands. The object is to get one hand as close to 7 as possible without going over, one hand close to 14 and one hand close to 21.

You win on any hand that’s closer to the targeted total than the dealer’s hand. Ties push. The house gets an edge because on any hand in which both you and the dealer bust, the house wins. A loss on one hand doesn’t affect the others, though. If you bust on 7 and 14, you still could win the 21 hand. And the player gets a 4-1 payoff on a “perfect hand” in which the three totals are exactly 7, 14, 21.

Dealers make their best 21 hand first, then their best 14 hand, with the remaining two cards as the 7 hand. Players don’t have to follow the house way. In fact, the card distributed by Leading Edge recommends that players first try to arrange the hands so that none bust, with second priority being the strongest 7 hand, then the strongest 14. That leaves a house edge of 7.78 percent.

You can do better than that. On his site, Michael Shackleford details a power rating system that he says takes the house edge all the way down to 0.59 percent. That would make it one of the better bets in the casino, as well as being a fun new way to play.

The 7-14-21 game comes with an optional bonus bet with payoffs that start on even money if you win two of three hands, then increases to 7-1 for winning all three, 16-1 for a perfect hand of 7, 14, and 21, 50-1 if all cards are the same suit, 100-1 for a perfect hand with all red or all black cards, or a 2,000-1 bonanza for a perfect hand with all six cards in the same suit. The house edge is variable, because your sorting decisions could be affected by whether you make the side bet, but we’re basically looking at something between 2.5 and 3 percent.

ROLL ‘EM: One of the new table games on display at Global Gaming Expo was Brill Entertainment’s Scossa, a dice game with roots in roulette. There are no multi-roll wagers as in craps — every bet is decided in a single roll, except for a Triple 7s Bonus Bet that pays 200-1 if the shooter rolls three 7s in a row.

You can place your bets on single numbers, just as in roulette, and you can make roulette-like split bets by placing your chips between numbers. For example, there’s a long space for a two-card total of 6 just above the long space for a 2. A bet on 6 pays 6-1, a bet on 2 pays 34-1, or your bet can straddle the line between the two and get both numbers for a 4-1 payoff.

Hardways — two dice of the same number — are available 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12, and all pay 34-1. And there are range bets on 3-4-5-6 and 8-9-10-11 that pay even money.

The layout is clean and without the complication of multiroll wagers, Scossa is easy to learn.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network, John Robison managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network.

2011 Global Gaming Expo, Part 5 – RGT Online

Blue day for Andre

November 29, 2011

Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping Mr Abramovich can show a little patience

On Sunday it was Glen Johnson who returned to Chelsea to haunt an ex but Andre Villas-Boas will be well aware it is another old flame that is more likely to extinguish his time in the capital.

It is an open secret that Roman Abramovich still feels Guus Hiddink is the one that got away and with the Dutchman now footloose and fancy free after an ill-fated spell as coach of the Turkey national side, Chelsea’s current incumbent is right to sit uneasy in the dugout after a third defeat in four Premier League matches left his side 12 points shy of league leaders Manchester City.

The Portuguese remains bullish in his insistence Abramovich remains right behind him but as his predecessors will attest, this is of course the ideal position from which to stab someone in the back. With the stubble, boyish good looks and tailored suits Villas-Boas looks tidy on the arm but it is Hiddink’s photo the Russian carries in his wallet. First loves and all that.

November is no time to judge a manager’s capabilities but then it’s probably not the time to dress as an elf in an attempt to flog Toblerone either. It’s a mad old world out there and whether it is bravado or naivety, Villas-Boas’ post-match appraisal of the situation after a second successive league defeat at Stamford Bridge seemed loaded with presumption.

“It’s not a question of the owner having patience. We have set out to do something new at this club, and the club is committed to taking on what we’re building to the future. The owner didn’t pay €15million (in compensation) to get me out of Porto only to pay me another fortune just to let me go again.”

Three years ago Abramovich paid £43million for Francis Bacon’s Triptych, if Villas-Boas thinks a compensation clause in his contract will be enough to save his own a nasty surprise lies on the horizon. On the same day he acquired his Bacon he spent a further £17million on a Lucien Freud; it doesn’t take Sigmund to work out he’s not afraid to spend big to get what he wants.

Villas-Boas is justified in claiming the brief he inherited differed from those that went before him, in that he was also charged with rejuvenating a squad which was living proof the ravages of time wait for no man, but he also concedes ‘given the dimension of our club, you cannot forget that your fans expect you to win titles’.

Under Abramovich’s reign Chelsea have dispensed with the services of Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti for failing to deliver the Champions League. As it stands they may struggle to even qualify for next season’s competition. With both Manchester clubs expected to finish above them, Arsenal having rediscovered their mojo, Tottenham on the up and, going off yesterday’s performance, Liverpool starting to click into gear it’s not unfeasible to suggest Chelsea may be busy on Thursday nights next term.

The obvious fly in Chelsea’s ointment lies with a back four that has conceded 17 goals in 12 games, that’s two more than they did in the entirety of Mourinho’s first season at the club. Mourinho also oversaw a run of 86 matches unbeaten at Stamford Bridge; Chelsea have lost twice there already under Villas-Boas.

On Sunday David Luiz was so kamikaze at times the Japanese FA will have been looking into whether the Brazilian is eligible to represent them at international level. Gary Neville’s assessment that Luiz appeared to be ‘being controlled by a 10-year-old with a PlayStation’ was given short-shrift by Villas-Boas and rightly so. Most 10-year-olds these days with access to FIFA 12 have a pretty solid grasp of defensive systems and would find Mr Neville’s off the cuff remarks patronising, if not a little offensive.

Credit must go to Kenny Dalglish for picking a side that best chipped away at Chelsea’s Achilles heel on Sunday, with the inclusion of Craig Bellamy alongside Luis Suarez ensuring a backline that hates being turned was persistently facing its own goal. Had Liverpool elected to start with the lumbering Andy Carroll it would have played into the hands of John Terry but against his old pal Bellamy, the England man was forced into areas of the field that will have made the watching Fabio Capello wince.

“In his first season Ancelotti got the balance right as his side had the solidity of the Mourinho years, while unlocking the manacles that had chained too many of Chelsea’s creative players to the Special One’s training ground rulebook. Ancelotti titivated it, Boas-Villas has torn it up.” Quotes of the week

Ashley Cole was not as his best either but claims he is a fading force appear premature, for it is on the other flank where Chelsea have real problems. Branislav Ivanovic is what he is; a centre-half playing at right-back.

Luiz was supposed to be the cultured Yin to Terry’s bruising Yang but for all his capabilities in terms of carrying the ball forward, the panic he induces in those around him is invariably counter-productive. Indeed it is his presence in a porous backline that best illuminates the shift in Chelsea’s core philosophy. Mourinho’s mantra of ‘pragmatism means points’ ultimately led to his downfall but Villas-Boas is in danger of going too far the other way.

In his first season Ancelotti got the balance right as his side had the solidity of the Mourinho years, while unlocking the manacles that had chained too many of Chelsea’s creative players to the Special One’s training ground rulebook. Ancelotti titivated it, Boas-Villas has torn it up.

Given their similarities, for all his protestations to the contrary, it is impossible not to draw parallels between Villas-Boas and Mourinho. From being schooled by the late Sir Bobby Robson to being given their respective big breaks at Porto (not forgetting their time together at Chelsea) their careers will forever be intertwined. At the moment Chelsea have the look of side suffering an identity crisis; it’s as if Villas-Boas’ desire to prove he’s not the same as Mourinho has precipitated a vision that his players are not yet ready to realise.

To be fair to John Obi Mikel better players than him would not have welcomed the ball Petr Cech bowled out to him in the build up to Liverpool’s opening goal, but that will not disguise the fact the Nigerian is ill-equipped to be an integral cog in a side gunning for both domestic and European titles. Mikel’s game is far too arbitrary in the modern era to be charged with orchestrating from deep, demanding possession from the back four and being the centre point of a compass from which attacks are built from either side.

If Chelsea really do want to adopt a system of patiently building from the back, to ape the in-vogue philosophies of Barcelona and Spain, then further changes in personnel are needed. They will need to dispose of an archaic view, which cuts through the heart of English football, that a ‘defensive’ midfielder needs to get ‘stuck in’. Grand master Xabi Alonso recently ruminated on the art of the ‘quarter-back’ role and nearly spat out his tea when asked what role tackling played in the position.

“I don’t think tackling is a quality. I just don’t understand football in those terms. Tackling is a [last] resort, and you will need it, but it isn’t a quality to aspire to, a definition. It’s hard to change because it’s so rooted in the English football culture, but I don’t understand it.”

For Villas-Boas to get Chelsea to play in this way he’ll need to demonstrate enough confidence in his players to allow Juan Mata to come inside, rather than labour on the flank, and give him licence to dictate. And get on the phone to Claude Makelele. As for further up the field, a problem called Fernando would take up an article all on its own.

The party line coming out of the club is a united front and given the project in West London clearly needs evolution rather than revolution we can only hope one of Europe’s brightest young coaches is given the necessary time to complete a job, let us not forget, that is just 12 league games old. But with Hiddink having helpfully confirmed ‘the relationship (with Abramovich) was, has been, and will be good – very good’ and that he is ‘always welcome, in Cobham, or at the stadium’, we advise the Portuguese sleep with one eye open.

After all, there only tends to be one winner when you play Russian roulette with six bullets in the chamber.

Blue day for Andre

Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas will close in January

November 29, 2011

The Western Hotel’s glory days were long gone, its hotel rooms shuttered.

The casino floor remained, touting $1 craps games and $1 snacks.

But owner Tamares Real Estate on Tuesday put the final nail in the Western’s coffin, announcing that the casino is shutting its doors Jan. 16 after 41 years of operation.

The closure may not be permanent. Tamares’ director of Las Vegas properties, Jonathan Jossel, said in a statement Tuesday that the company will “review redevelopment plans” while the downtown property at 899 Fremont St., is closed. Tamares earlier this year oversaw $35 million in renovations at the Western Hotel’s sister property, the Plaza. The company also owns the Las Vegas Club.

“We remain extremely confident about the long-term success of downtown Las Vegas,” Jossel said. “The closure of the Western does not change the commitment Tamares has to the area. In fact, just the opposite is true.”

The Western Hotel’s 90 employees may be able to find work at the Las Vegas Club or the Plaza, Jossel said. All workers were notified Tuesday that they could be unemployed in the next 60 days.

About 38 Western Hotel employees are members of the Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165.

“It’s sad to see the Western close,” Culinary President Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement.

Arguello-Kline said the union will encourage Western workers to attend training opportunities at the Culinary Training Academy.

“We will do everything we can to support members through this tough time,” the union president said.

Tamares said the Western’s closure was a result of “decreased demand at this location,” but some downtowners fear the closure could negatively affect downtown’s resurgence.

Michael Crandall, business affairs director for the Siegel Group, a company that counts the Gold Spike downtown among its holdings, said the closure would be a blow to the area.

Among the worst potential consequences, Crandall said, is that a darkened Western Hotel will choke off economic growth in the burgeoning Fremont East entertainment district.

“I think it is bad for that area it is closing,” Crandall said. “That is a big piece of property to be dark.”

However, Crandall said the area doesn’t draw the customer base needed to generate the kind of business it would take to pay for the millions of dollars it could take to make the Western Hotel viable.

“No matter what that place needs money,” he said.

If the Fremont East Entertainment District spreads further east, the Western Hotel could stand to benefit if reopened, said David G. Schwartz, director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research.

Schwartz said the Western Hotel’s closure may push its customers to other neighborhood casinos.

“Traditionally, it’s just been a little isolated there (on Fremont Street),” Schwartz said. “Some people who might have been going there might end up going to the El Cortez or other Tamares properties.”

The casino, located on Fremont Street between Eighth and Ninth streets, was built by Jackie Gaughan and Mel Exber in 1970. Barrick Gaming acquired the property, along with the Plaza, Gold Spike and Las Vegas Club, in 2004 and planned to turn the Western Hotel into a Latino destination resort, the company at the time told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Barrick in 2005 passed control of the property to Tamares. The company contracted PlayLV to operate the Western Hotel.

No redevelopment plans were ever put into place.

Contact reporter Caitlin McGarry at or 702-387-5273. Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report.

Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas will close in January

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Humming for the Holidays

November 29, 2011

So, you got through Thanksgiving – but you’re not done yet. 

From here until the New Year, there’s a whole lot of potential entertaining coming your way. Be it the cookie baking you do for friends, family, and the poor, beleaguered UPS guy, the annual holiday cocktail party for which you’ve become oh-so famous, or those unexpected, “Surprise!” holiday overnights guests who show up to ring it in with you and yours, now is a great time to get your kitchen appliances in tip-top shape.  It can save you time some cash to boot – and who doesn’t need that this time of year?

Below, are a few easy tips for keeping things humming—and toasting, and whirring, and chilling—along, so the heart of your home ready for anything, come what may. 

Keep Your Percolator Perky No mere mortal can make it through Toys R Us in December without a good caffeine fix, so keep your machine clean with some easy maintenance. Oils from coffee beans can gunk up the inside of coffee makers and pricey espresso machines, rendering them no good to the last drop. 

“It’s just like a car. Just because you have a $100,000 Mercedes doesn’t mean you don’t have to change the oil and check the brakes and tires,” says Scott Kopin, president of the National Appliance Service Association. For espresso machines, Kopin recommends for daily use, clean out all removable parts every day and run a plain-water rinse cycle (e.g., without coffee) to push hot water through all the valves to flush out residue. Also, he says, make sure your purge and wipe off the steam wand after every use so milk doesn’t harden and block the tip. And if you have hard water, invest in a $10 box of descaling liquid and run it through your machine monthly for high-use; quarterly if you just sip weekend cappuccinos. For drip coffee makers, run a once-a-month solution of 1 cup vinegar mixed with 2 cups water through a brew cycle (without coffee, of course). Allow to sit for about 20 minutes after the cycle is done, and then run at least two more plain-water cycles to make sure any residual vinegar aroma is flushed. Vinegar also works double duty to get rid of any scaling (e.g., chalky residue left by lime scale in hard water). 

Show the Little Guys Some Love Small appliances like toasters and blenders can work better and last a whole lot longer with some simple, easy care. To keep your toast from becoming a charcoal briquette, unplug the unit every week and, using a damp paper towel, gently wipe down the heating coils to remove any stuck-on crumbs. Remove the crumb tray, discard any residual bits of toast, and wipe that down, too. Also, says Kopin, avoid stuffing too-big items like super-thick bread slices or bagels into a too-small slot, and whatever you do, don’t jam a knife in the toaster to remove stuck substances. Not only is it dangerous, but you can irreversibly damage the heating coils. Instead, pick up an inexpensive, safe pair of bamboo toaster tongs for about 3 bucks. 

For smoothie fanatics, Kopin’s says you can extend the life of your blender by filling it up halfway with water after you’re done using it, and then hitting the blend button. “The fast-moving water gets the out-of-reach junk out of the blades and base, and then you won’t have any gunky leftover residue hindering the machine’s function.” 

Read It and Keep Is your ‘fridge sounding fritzy? Your oven temp seem a little off? The best source of information for how to keep your appliances humming along—the manufacturer’s manual—is often one of the hardest things to find when you need it. If you can’t find your appliance’s manufacturer instructions, check out Home Appliances Manuals for a free download of over 600,000 appliance manuals. 

Give a Disorganized ‘Fridge the Cold Shoulder Professional home organizer Crystal “Cluttershrink” Sabalasky swears by putting the most-used items toward the front within easy reach, as well as grouping food and condiments into like categories. “I tend to put all salad dressings together, all marinades together, all jellies and small-jar stuff together, etc., because I find that if you just randomly put things in there, it becomes a jumbled mess. If you keep things separated like this, it’s a lot easier to find what you’re looking for, and it’s especially good if you have little kids—then they know where things are.” She also buys clear plastic bins (Sabalasky favors stackable Fridge Binz; $8-$15, available at The Container Store) for grouping thing like yogurt, cheese, etc.. They easy for family members to find, and you never wind up with that stray month-ago expired Yoplait pushed to the way back. 

Look First, Shop Later Sabalasky is a big proponent of cleaning out the ‘fridge before grocery shopping so you can spot any foods on the verge, and make sure you don’t accidentally double up on things you already have (which happens oh-so often at holiday time when you’re trying to juggle way too many jingle balls). That way, you’re not just skipping the wild goose-liver-paté chase when you open the door later on, but avoiding unwitting science experiments, spills, mold, and your general, run of the mill ‘fridge mayhem. Finally, she urges her clients to “keep all leftovers on one shelf and in glass containers. That way, you can see through it so you know what’s in there and you don’t have to dirty another dish because it’s safe to re-heat in the microwave [or stove]. Some even go right from the refrigerator to the stove to the dishwasher.” 

Grease Is the Verb Unless you’re buttering a pan, kick grease to the curb with some simple, monthly maintenance. Range hoods keep strong cooking smells at bay, and for gas stoves they also pull the residual carbon monoxide produced by your burners out of the air. Keep a clean, healthy environment by removing the metal filters from your hood and soaking them in a mix of 1 quart hot water and 1 cup vinegar (for tougher grease, add 1 cup baking soda to the mix). For the stove top, sprinkle baking soda directly on grease stains and use a damp non-scratch sponge or cloth to scrub away stuck on residue. Also, says Sabalasky, avoid muck on small appliances by storing them out of splatter distance from your stovetop to steer clear of unnecessary grease and oil build up (and extra clean-up hassles).

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Humming for the Holidays

Pa. should ban sports gambling

November 29, 2011

Gambling revenue at Atlantic City’s casinos has plummeted ever since Pennsylvania also became a croupier for the gambling industry. There is no doubt that the commonwealth’s casinos substantially have diminished Atlantic City’s prime market.

According to the industry’s report for October to the New Jersey state government, Atlantic City’s 11 casinos saw their winnings slip to $262 million last month from $284 million in October 2010, a 7.9 percent decline. Monthly gambling revenues for the Atlantic City industry have decreased every month since August 2008. That coincides with the growth of the Pennsylvania industry.

The industry, its legislative patrons in Trenton and a majority of New Jersey voters know just the answer: more gambling. By a wide margin, voters approved a referendum Nov. 8 that would authorize full-fledged sports betting through casinos akin to that in Las Vegas.

That doesn’t mean that Atlantic City casinos soon will have their own sports books. A federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (sponsored, ironically, by former New Jersey senator and basketball star Bill Bradley) precludes sports wagering in all states except Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware, which already had authorized some forms of it. The referendum means that New Jersey will mount a constitutional challenge to the 1992 law, arguing that the 10th Amendment puts gambling authorization under state, rather than federal jurisdiction.

Pennsylvania has not yet joined New Jersey in the effort to expand gambling as a primary generator of government revenue. But history indicates that it will do so if it means keeping as much gambling revenue as possible in-state.

Politicians who favored gambling across the commonwealth, after all, argued that it simply would be a case of bringing back to Pennsylvania the money that commonwealth residents spent on gambling in New Jersey.

And there are standard arguments for sports wagering. People bet on games anyway, the argument goes. Legalizing it would eliminate their criminal risk while generating revenue for the state rather than illegal bookies. (No word yet on whether New Jersey will decriminalize illegal addictive drugs for the same reason.)

Sports gambling already is an epidemic on college campuses, indicating that adding it to the roster of available gambling at casinos will simply provide the industry with a new generation of problem gamblers. The objective should be to shut down offshore Internet gambling sites, not to convert sports gambling addiction into a larger government revenue stream.

Pennsylvania, regardless of what New Jersey does, should move now to ban sports gambling on grounds that the state already is too heavily reliant on vice as a revenue source.

Pa. should ban sports gambling

The Reel Life doesn’t pay for grades

November 29, 2011

  The Reel Life doesn’t pay for grades 17 November 2011 The Reel Life had some great teachers when we were growing up, and also had some not so great teachers. However, we never had any teachers who would sell grades. According to WINK News, a high school teacher in Florida is being investigated for grade-changing for money. Charlotte High School math teacher Jeff Spires has admitted to selling grades to students. A student at the high school told the principal that he “paid coach $40.00 cash for this quiz. I paper-clipped two 20.00 dollar bills to the quiz.” An investigator wrote in a report that Spires admitted to taking $60-70 from an eleventh-grader twice, in exchange for good grades. Why would a teacher need to sell grades? Well, Spires told investigators that he “financial straits due to bankruptcy, arrests, and jail time.” Those arrests included DUI, driving with a suspended license and probation violation. It is unclear if Spires will be charged with any crimes, but The Reel Life believes he should at least be charged with stupidity. Not because he was selling of grades, but because his method of collection was so obvious. Paper-clipping twenties on a quiz? Come on. Get in the fast lane Grandma, this bingo game is ready to roll! Thais don’t go to the dealer While playing a game of Bingo 90 Bejeweled at Jackpotjoy, Robert B saw that he had won the jackpot. That jackpot win turned out to be a staggering £108,867! “(I am) delighted, shocked and very happy with my win,” he said. “There must be someone looking down on me from up above.This win has made it all better and is helping me pay off the whole mortgage and getting me settled when I move over to Thailand!” he said. “I am so happy and thankful for my win. I’ve been playing for over six years and won a few here and there but nothing like this. I can’t wait to get back on the games too.”

The Reel Life doesn’t pay for grades

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