Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hiatus

I apologize for the little hiatus from blogging that I have taken. The trip to Taiwan sorta killed me, then the crazy Vegas life, and on top of that I don't like the conspiracy of $12 a day internet charges in the hotel. I guess that makes me sound a little paranoid but come on, turn a few lights off or something and give free internet!! Alright, that rant is over...down to business.

I have pictures still to post from the tournament in Taiwan and I have lots of pictures to post from Vegas and lots to talk about. Right now I am re-united with my favorite airport of all-time, San Francisco International. Luckily, this isn't another thirteen hour stay. I am headed to Manila, also known as Pool Heaven. The first tournament is the Philippine Open starting on May 27th. Next is the Women's World 10-ball starting on June 1st. After that, I am headed to Shanghai, China for the China Open starting on June 10th. I have to admit, the excitement level for this trip is much higher than the Taiwan trip!

I will be back to doing daily updates and getting caught up. Thank you all for coming back and checking to see if things are updated. I hope the little break didn't scare anyone off.

Keep in mind that when I am doing updates there is quite a bit of time difference. Manila is 12 hours ahead of the US east coast. I will let you mathematical geniuses figure out the time difference with the other time zones.

Catch up with everyone soon!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Filling in the blanks

When I left off last time I had lost my first two matches. Going into the next day I tried to not put too much pressure on myself. That was hard to do since I knew that I could win my next three matches and make it to the top 24. My first match was against the top ranked player in my group, Yun-Mi Lim. I watched her play the day before and immediately I could tell that she trains and plays with Ga Young Kim. They have the same style, on and off the table. The match started out slow for me. I got down quick and made a little comeback. My big problem, scratching on the break. I scratched on the break three times. Not a good thing when you really have to capitalize on your trips to the table. I lost the match 7-4.

Now I knew I couldn't make it to the final 24. I had to focus on winning my next two matches in order to get any money back and finish at least fourth in my group. I really wasn't feeling all that great. My confidence took a huge beating and my sleep was still a little screwy. I started feeling better in the afternoon though. My body started feeling more normal and I felt more awake rather than in a fog. My next opponent was from Venezuela. I was feeling pretty confident and started out strong. Then I don't know what happened. I kind of felt overwhelmed and unfocused. I managed to hold on and win the match 7-4. Right away, I had to play another match. This was against another Taiwanese player. She looked to be pretty strong. I played alright, but I was again making silly mistakes at the end of the rack. I won the match but it was ugly. The final score was 7-5. If I would have played with only a couple mistakes rather than a countless number of mistakes, the score would have been 7-1. I waited, hoping that maybe a miracle would happen and I would make it into the final 24...no such luck. I ended my run in Taipei and came home with $500 usd. I finished 25-32nd. Hey, it's better than last!

After the matches were over, a big group of us were absolutely starving. Myself, Monica, Kelly Fisher, Val Finnie, Joanne Ashton, Allison Fisher and Kristi Carter went for Shabu Shabu again. It is definitely not an everyday meal. One thing that is in the Shabu Shabu that is pretty disgusting in my opinion is condensed duck blood. It kind of looks like tofu for those of you that are wondering, here is a picture...Joanne decided that for $10 she would be the one to try this gross stuff out. What she didn't realize before doing it, the $10 was NT not US dollars. That is equal to about a quarter. Here she is during the act and after...

I thought this was a pretty cool picture. Monica and Kelly were doing something, I'm not totally sure what, but to me it looks like the passing from one Number One to another...
After dinner we didn't really have much to do. It was already midnight or so and most of us had nothing to do at all or until around 2pm. The hotel has a bar but it closes at 11pm. Luckily there is a little store just next to the hotel. That place had to love us! A group of about 10-15 of us had a fun night of catching up, joking, competing at various things and just being plain goofy! Here is what happens when they let all of us hang out...
This is the group of us that made it to the end of the night...obviously after some fun.
The next day, the only ones left to play were Monica and Kelly. Monica had to play one of my new favorite people and players, Rubilen Amit. Kelly had to play Gerda. Monica played well and decisively won her match. Kelly and Gerda played a great match. Kelly was winning 6-1, racing to 7. She looked like the match was going to be a blowout. Sure enough, here came Gerda, creeping closer and closer. The hill-hill game went through a roller coaster of emotions. There was a safety battle, then a shot kicked in and another safety battle. Finally, Gerda got a chance to run out and took full advantage. She would go on to play Jasmin Ouschan. Here is a shot of one of the two television tables.
Gerda went on to defeat Jasmin. I didn't see the match because I was absolutely starving! Ga Young Kim drove us to the dinner party that Mr. Tu was throwing. I have to put this picture up to prove that someone out there does parallel park worse than I do. Sorry Ga Young!
Now we get to the good stuff. One of the only things that I got to do in Taiwan was the night market. There are a few different ones in Taipei. Some have only food and some have shops and food. Joanne and I went the one closest to the hotel that had shops and food. All I can say is that is a smell I don't care to ever smell again. There were so many people there along with maybe 100 different booths with food being cooked. Some of it was totally unrecognizable! There were all kinds of stray dogs running around. I wasn't brave enough to try any of the food. There is just something a little suspicious about food just sitting out in the open air and unrecognizable. Here are a few pictures to give you an example...


Joanne was brave, but not brave enough to try any of this stuff...
Snails anyone??...
My flight is boarding to Las Vegas right now so I will be back later with more pictures, the finals and my thoughts on the trip!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Leaving Taiwan

I'm sorry I left things hanging there after the first day. I wasn't expecting to have so many different types of ceremonies and dinners to go to! I am leaving Taiwan here in about 30 minutes. Then to Hong Kong for about an hour and a half. After that I will give a full update while I am waiting in San Francisco. I think I am going to do multiple posts because I have so many pictures and so much to talk about...any objections??

Good-bye Taiwan. It's been fun! Yes, I realize it looks like I am doing the Star Trek Vulcan signal....it wasn't on purpose.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Details!

Okay, I'm back with the more in depth wrap-up of Day one. Monica and I headed to the venue and as we walked in all I could think was that it was probably the fanciest mall that I had ever seen! The mall is 12 floors! The only bad thing for us is that our tournament area is right across from a kids playground area. We get to hear little kids and whistles and whatnot all day. Here is a view of six of the tables. I couldn't really stand anywhere that would let me get a good view so you will have to use your imagination a bit.

Here is a view from the seventh floor where we are playing down to the first floor.
When I got there I found out I would be playing on the main television table. What a nice way to say Welcome to Taiwan! I was pretty nervous just finding that out. The other funny thing about this tournament is that we have scheduled practice time. When I say that you are probably thinking, Oh cool, probably 30 minutes of practice or so. NOT! We get 10 minutes of practice time and that is it. My match was scheduled for 12:50. My whopping 10 minutes of practice was scheduled for 12:10. I got to the practice table at noon and they told me that I wasn't going to get a chance to practice because the current TV match was almost over. Mistake number one on my part, listening to them. Being naive I just followed along and went downstairs to the TV arena. Then I got to sit for about 40 minutes....gee thanks! So without hitting a ball since I left the States, I started my match, live on TV to all of Asia and the world via internet. I started out alright. I had a 2-0 lead and missed a long straight in 8-ball. After that things went downhill. I started getting frustrated that I didn't get to hit a ball. The cloth is way different than anything I have ever played on and the knock-off Brunswicks are a little funky. Then, to really rub things in, the ref kept calling 10 on me. Now in the States we use a 30 second shot clock, here we use a 45 second shot clock. I've never really had a problem with having the 10 second warning called on me in the States so why was I now? Also, why was my opponent taking a really long time for shots and never getting a warning? I'm not saying something funny was going on since I was playing one of the Taiwan players...but I'm just saying...So I ended up losing the match 7-4. I was really beating myself up about things. This was a match that I felt I had plenty of chances to win and I just let them slip away.
In between matches we were taking the elevator from Basement 3 where the TV arena is to the seventh floor and we happened to be riding along with a pool celebrity...you may or may not recognize him. I had to be a pool fruit and get a picture with former World Champion Wu Cha-Chiang.
My next match was against Karen Corr. I was thinking this was my chance to beat her! Unfortunately, she played well and I didn't shoot much. When I did shoot, I ran out. But I still lost 7-2. I think Karen is by far playing the best out of everyone in my group. After the match I had to have a little talk with Ms. Corr about the beating she gave me...I got my revenge.
Next up, the opening ceremony. You might think "Oh big deal.". Try telling that to about 500 people waiting to get into the TV arena. Pool is huge here. We have people following us and chasing us down to get autographs and pictures. I had to take a picture of the pool papparazzi. I didn't catch them all with their cameras up but just picture everyone in this picture holding a camera as all of the players are sitting on the bleachers.
All of the sponsors of the tournament said a few words. I have no clue what they said considering I don't speak Mandarin. But we did get to find out why we had to do all of the TV stuff the day before. Here is a video of what was played at the ceremony. Sorry, I think I cut off the first two players because I didn't have my camera ready. Also, forgive the shakiness! video
After the ceremony I was finished for the day and Monica had one more match. She is playing really well and won all of her matches yesterday. All of the groups are turning out as expected except for one. The qualifier in the last group is undefeated and hasn't just won, but tortured everyone she has played.

I told Monica that I thought the day of the meeting was the longest day of my life but apparently I was wrong, the first day of play was the longest! We didn't leave the venue at all. That is the picture from last nights post. Monica, Kelly and I were all so tired while we were waiting for our matches!

When the pool playing was done we finally got to change and hang out a little bit. Myself, Monica, Gerda and her boyfriend Dan went to get some food. Keep in mind, although I have traveled, I am new to the authentic cuisine. Last nights adventure was Shabu Shabu. It is a kind of soup that is put on a burner in front of you and then you put whatever meat, veggies, and who knows what else in there to cook. I liked it even though it was a little bit spicy. The best part was that the restaurant only had Coke, beer and tea to drink. No bottled water, no Diet Coke (or Coca-Cola Light as they call it here). So I had this super spicy meal with some really bitter beer to help wash it down. Nice combo there! Here is picture of the Shabu Shabu.
And how am I doing with the whole jet lag thing? I must say that it really sucks. Today I am feeling better but my head has been hurting like crazy, I keep waking up thinking I overslept, and I get tired at the wrong time. It is making me hate the fact that the whole flight thing got screwed up since now I am feeling better, a day late! Oh well, that's life!