How To Save Money By Planning to Leave Home

As our Poker Pilgrimage draws closer we’re finding that the mere plan to leave our home in four years is saving money today. We save money in a variety of ways that are all related to this long-term goal. When we devised our country-wide travel plan, we considered how much money we would need to save for it. We thought of the costs of travel and of working less than full-time. And of course, for us, the costs of playing poker.

What we didn’t realize was that we would save money in the years leading up to our journey. Just knowing that we’re planning to leave our home has saved us from buying things that we would otherwise “need”. Along the same lines, we’re no longer planning home improvement projects (remodeling, redecorating, gardening), as we know that we’re a few short years from handing our home over to another family who will have their own tastes and interests. It has also inspired us to sell some of our things rather than paying to store them while we travel. As we near our departure date, we’ll ultimately be selling, donating, and recycling most of our stuff, including our house.

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Lakes Region Casino Poker Room

Lakes Region Casino Poker Room Review

The Lakes Region Casino poker room has perhaps the prettiest setting of all of the New Hampshire poker rooms.  Nestled about a half an hour above the state capital of Concord and 15 minutes below Laconia, this poker room sits on a hillside surrounded by trees. “Bucolic” is an understatement. The Loudon race track is just a few miles down the road, so things get crowded when events are happening there.

Route 106 which passes in front of the casino is a gateway to the Eastern Edge of Winnisquam Lake and the southern edge of Lake Winnipesaukee.  So the summer and fall vacationers provide some traffic. But mostly the Lakes Region Casino provides a relaxed country setting for players in central New Hampshire.

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How to Meditate

How to Meditate to Reduce Stress

In my ongoing campaign to reduce stress and anxiety, increase my levels of gratitude, and embrace optimism, I have taken up meditation. Actually, I should say that I have taken up meditation again. I have long been aware of the reported benefits of meditation. I first learned how to meditate in a college course on “Stress and Health”. At the time, my professor emphasized both the emotional and physical benefits of meditation. However, when I gave meditation a try as part of a homework assignment, I had a panic attack.

That experience stuck with me for a long time. I finally gave meditation another shot a couple of years ago, when life events sent my stress levels off the charts. I knew I needed to reduce my stress and anxiety or I was going to be heading to the doctor. This time around I had a much better experience, and have been meditating at least semi-consistently ever since.

So I learned how to meditate, downloaded a couple of meditation apps, and started practicing regularly. I have since reaped the benefits of meditation. My stress levels are definitely lower now that I meditate. Despite juggling three  jobs, two teenagers, and the financial challenges posed by a child heading off to college. Meditation also helps me to sleep better and think more clearly.

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City of Chicago Skyline

4 Fabulous Days in the City of Chicago

Last month my daughter and I visited the city of Chicago in celebration of her high school graduation. While I had been to the city of Chicago twice before, both were very brief trips.  I have always considered Chicago one of my favorite US cities.  However, my impression was based largely on walking around the Loop, visiting the Art Institute, and taking the architectural boat tour. Fortunately, my limited experience held up upon further experience.

Chicago is America’s most miraculous achievement: a business, artistic, intellectual and cultural mecca 1,500 miles from any ocean. There are so many great things to do in Chicago. The museums, attractions, and experiences are as great as those in any American city. The number and variety of restaurants is impressive. And there are numerous places to stay, from budget to luxury. I’m happy to say that my daughter and I had a fabulous time in the city of Chicago. And if you follow in our footsteps, I guarantee that you will as well.

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Keene Casino Poker Room

Keene Casino Poker Room Review

The Keene Casino poker room lies on the periphery of the New Hampshire poker room scene.  Located in southwest New Hampshire, Keene draws  a completely different player-base than the highly competitive central-eastern region. Unsurprisingly, this gives it a distinctive character.

Unfortunately, we visited Keene Casino on a very slow Saturday (it was a very nice day in June).  We registered during the first level and were the 6th and 7th people to do so. Although management assured us that people would continue to buy in, the tournament maxed out at 9 entries.  No cash tables started while we were there. A couple of people wandered in and played blackjack. There were a lot of staff milling about with little to do. So this review should probably come with an “incomplete” stamp.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

The journey to Keene provides a pretty, bucolic ride. There are no major highways that run through Keene, so you’ll approach from one of the smaller New Hampshire country highways. Keene itself has about 23,000 residents and is the seat and largest city of Cheshire County.  As with many former mill towns of New England, the area swooned with the manufacturing declines of the 20th century.

Keene has successfully recreated itself into an artsy, bustling destination. It is now a quaint college town (Keene State College and Antioch University New England are located there) amidst the scenic Monadnock mountain region. Although there are signs that Keene is still in transition. Several storefronts on Main Street are looking for tenants, and social services buildings abound.  On the other hand, there are a number of interesting restaurants and clearly an active arts culture.

The Keene Casino poker room is housed in an attractive brick building a half mile west of Main Street.  Directly across from the front door is the Elm City Brewing Company. Inside, the poker room is no less attractive, with a brick interior and skylights in the ceiling.  The 4 table cash area is on the first floor, has an all glass sunroom with roulette and blackjack tables. Upstairs is on open loft with a 6 table tournament area. The wood beams further the rustic warm appeal.  It is definitely the sunniest card room we have ever played in. However, the random clutter propped up against the walls does distract from the positive feng shui a bit.

There was space for a restaurant and bar.  But there was so few players, and little eating, that it’s hard to assess food quality and service issues. A waitress did not visit the table at any point during our play.

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