Sunday, March 10, 2013

Diana Radford Goes All-In With Poker Career

She glanced around the table, searching for familiar faces. Years of preparation had brought her to this moment. Diana Radford had finally made it to the final table in the Wildhorse Casino Women's Poker Championship.

One-hundred and seventy women had been battling for over nine hours and now the top ten had been decided, including Radford. Familiar with many of the players from years passed, she felt the pressure to prove herself and to represent her fellow dealers.

“As poker dealer, you get to see the highs and lows of poker, but the emotion behind it is so much more magnified when it's your money, your future, on the line,” says Radford.

Over the span of her five-year poker career, Radford has experienced the thrill of winning, as well as the shock of losing, thousands of dollars at a time. She understands the important role that money plays in her profession and how she cannot afford to play recklessly with it.

As a former dealer, Radford was used to seeing people turn a few bucks into small fortunes. This evening however, was her night to shine in the spotlight.

Having studied human psychology in college, Radford had an advantage in her ability to read people. She sat back in her chair, folded her arms, and began observing her nine opponents, trying to figure each of them out.

“Poker players have different patterns they generally stick to, just like in everyday life,” explains Radford. “If you can figure out those betting patterns you can figure out what cards they are probably holding.”

After about forty minutes into play at the final table, Radford was dealt a hand that she was willing to risk it all with. Carefully covering her cards, she glanced down at her hand to find a pair of twos, a considerably weak hand. However, she was running low on chips and knew she had to gamble with any pair she was dealt.

As she pushed her chips in and proclaimed “All-In,” the crowd rose to their feet. The five community cards fell, giving Radford a full house.

Winning this hand propelled her to third in total chips and significantly boosted her confidence. She now felt like an actual contender and strongly believed she could win the tournament.

In what seemed like no time at all, three players were knocked out of the tournament. That’s when Radford moved through the table like an unstoppable force, knocking out the last remaining six players to win the championship in unforgettable fashion.

“I guess this is it,” Radford bantered to her final opponent. “This is the hand that decides it all.” Once the two women revealed their cards, Radford's friends erupted in celebration as the dealer declared her the winner. Radford breathed a long sigh of relief and smiled sheepishly. She had won her first major tournament.

After winning the Wildhorse Casino Women's Championship, Radford knows she needs to focus on her next big battle. She takes pride in how far she's progressed and looks forward to a bright future.

New Album from Eclectic, Energetic Brazilian Musical Artist Jovino Santos Neto Slated for Spring Release

SEATTLE, WA: Spring 2013 will bring the latest and greatest from renowned musician Jovino Santos Neto. Following his 2011 release Current, three-time Latin Grammy Award nominee Jovino Santos Neto introduces Adventure Piano Masters, Volume 4, which is his first ever solo piano album. Santos Neto recorded the entire album from memory and even created several short, on-the-spot improvisations that were inserted in-between tracks, weaving them all together.

Adventure Piano Masters, Volume 4 features an hour of original music that was recorded on a magnificent Fazioli grand piano in New York City. Various tracks are short; others are jazzy, but perhaps the most intriguing is Jovino Santos Neto’s own take on the classic Beatle’s song “Black Bird.” The album will be available for purchase this upcoming spring on Santos Neto’s website at, as well as from several digital music providers such as iTunes, Amazon, and Xbox Music.

About Jovino Santos Neto

Jovino Santos Neto is a multi-talented musical artist who began his life and career in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the age of thirteen, he learned how to play the piano and has been mastering the art ever since. Additionally, Santos Neto plays the flute and composes, produces, and arranges music. Santos Neto’s mentor is world-known Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal, who he worked with for fifteen years. Santos Neto expresses the major influence Pascoal has had on his music. When describing Pascoal as his inspiration, Santos Neto explains, “He is the tree that I am a branch of.”

In 1993, Jovino Santos Neto moved to the Seattle area and has remained there since. He is a professor at Cornish College of the Arts where he teaches music. Santos Neto has won several music awards and has also been nominated for the Latin Grammy Award three times. He positively believes that he will be nominated for more. Playing music is always a joyful experience for Santos Neto and he has a strong appreciation for music in general. “I love music that breathes and has motion to it,” explains Santos Neto. Furthermore, Santos Neto describes himself as an artist who likes to think outside the box, while insisting that he is not some kind of a musical genius. “Music is a craft,” he says, “and I am a good craftsman.”

Sunny Day Brings Family and Friends Together

Outside, the sun shines bright on an unusually warm winter afternoon, while music blares through the stereo speakers. Smoke bellows from the barbeque, as ribs, chicken legs, and burgers sizzle on the hot grill. Friends and family members congregate and participate in happy conversations, with each person holding their beverage of choice in their hand, taking sips and gulps in between sentences. A young boy picks up a slimy, yellow chew toy and throws it as far across the backyard as he can; a chocolate Labrador races after it. Both appear to be wearing smiles, stretching from ear to ear.

Inside, the kitchen counter is packed with plates and bowls containing delicious food, not an inch of table space remains. People line up to scoop huge mounds of potato salad, coleslaw, and beans onto their already overflowing, flimsy paper plates, grabbing handfuls of chips and Cheetos as they move slowly through the line. The overwhelming aroma of freshly baked cornbread spreads throughout the house and into the nostrils of the many people inside. In the backroom, six individuals circle around a table playing cards, with serious looks on their faces. In the living room, people squeeze together onto the two couches, while others lay on the floor. All of them have their eyes fixated on the television, apparently caught up in an intense action movie.

At the end of the evening, people hug and say their goodbyes. When the last car drives away, the house is remarkably quiet. All that remains are piles of dirty dishes and empty cans of beer and soda, reminders of the happy moments that occurred earlier in the afternoon. The inhabitants of the house spend about an hour cleaning up, returning the rooms to their original form. The barbeque was a memorable experience, making it a success. Being surrounded by good friends and family, while swapping stories and drinking throughout the day is one of the best ways to spend a weekend afternoon. Without a doubt, there will be more as long as the weather permits.

College Student's Decade-long Journey Nears Its End

Graduation is right around the corner. It’s been a long, bumpy road and it actually feels surreal that I have the finish line in my sights. Being an on-again, off again student for over an entire decade isn’t something to be too proud about. I suppose persistence is a trait that could be derived from it but things definitely turned out differently from what I had originally planned on doing with my life. Yet, here I am, eleven years and four colleges later, and so close to having something to show for my hard work and determination. June can’t come any sooner.

By any means, balancing work and school is no easy task. In order to do so effectively entails being well organized and requires extensive time and sacrifice. When I first enrolled into college, I showed none of these characteristics. I would enroll in a full schedule and quickly fall behind, resulting in bad grades or dropped classes. There was a time when I became frustrated with my repetitive, irresponsible behavior and began to question whether continuing college was the right choice for me. I decided it was time to start acting like an adult and do whatever I needed in order to turn things around. I started by repeating every class in which I received a poor grade, working extremely hard to raise my GPA. I managed myself better as a part-time student and enrolled in online classes whenever possible. I successfully turned myself around and graduated from Bellevue College in June 2011 with an Associate Degree in Arts & Sciences.

During my last quarter at Bellevue College, I felt confident and comfortable enough to apply to the University of Washington. To my excitement, I was accepted and couldn’t wait to begin. I was honored to be a husky and I still am, as UW is a university with a brilliant reputation. As a UW student, I have fully committed myself to every one of my classes, impressively maintaining a 3.5 overall GPA. I am currently on track to graduate this spring with a Bachelor’s of Arts, double majoring in communication and social sciences.

Graduating from the University of Washington will be a great accomplishment and milestone in my life. I know that my degree will open more doors for me and allow me to find a job that I actually enjoy doing. By slacking off early in my college career, I created an overabundance of additional work for myself and almost gave up hope of graduating with a degree. Not being able to accept the embarrassment and letdown of it all, I whipped myself into shape and got back on track. With hard work and determination, almost anything can be achieved. Take it from me, I never expected to be where I am today.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Employees Rush Home, the Work Week in Their Rearview Mirror

On late Thursday afternoon, roads fill up with cars as people hurry home from their busy work day. For most of them, they know that there’s only one more day of work between them and the weekend. However, bumper to bumper traffic prevents them from getting home quickly, as the roads become even more condensed with cars. Horns blare and people begin to curse, as they exercise different methods of expressing their frustration and sharing them with the rest of the world.

Once on the freeway, the pace begins to pick up. A motorcycle cop parked on the shoulder of the carpool lane has his radar gun aimed at the oncoming vehicles, causing people to nervously tap their brakes. As cars, trucks, and motorcycles zip by, he keeps his aim steady, like a sniper with a target in his crosshairs. Suddenly, he lowers the radar gun, turns in the direction of his bike, and with the flick of a switch, the red and blue lights begin to flash, making the motorcycle light up like a Christmas tree. The police officer flags down an unfortunate speeding motorist, waving his arm in a slow, steady motion, directing them towards the guardrail.

As they get farther away from their workplaces and closer to their homes, drivers exit the freeway. During this time of day, traffic clogs the city roads, causing cars to bunch up tight. Stoplights change from red to green but the vehicles stay put, their engines idling quietly. As they slowly creep forward, drivers pass the time by playing their music loudly. They tune in to their favorite radio station or pop in their favorite cd, simply trying to distract themselves from their own frustrations. For most drivers, this process is part of their daily routine and they understand the importance of patience. Although being stuck in traffic is stressful, they know that they will be home soon enough and that tomorrow is Friday. Everything is better on Friday.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thousands Flock to Emerald City Comicon

It’s a cloudy Saturday morning and thousands of people are lined up outside of the Washington State Convention Center, patiently waiting in the cold, breezy weather. Most individuals are casually dressed, sporting typical weekend wear, but others are dressed up as their favorite comic book or video game character. It is the second day of is the 11th annual Emerald City Comicon, a three-day event that has become more popular with each passing year. This year is the biggest of them all, occupying all six levels of the convention center.

Over the weekend, Emerald City Comicon will feature several celebrity guests. The 6th floor is reserved specially for them so they can sign autographs and take pictures with fans who are willing to pay the price. This year, Christopher Lloyd from the Back to the Future trilogy will be attending. Also appearing are Patrick Stewart from Star Trek, Gillian Anderson from the X-Files, and Adam West from the Batman television series.

On the 4th level, comic book panels are spread as far as the eye can see; artists and their booths take up the whole floor. Fans flip through large albums of original artwork, purchasing their favorite sketches. Some booths give away free comics and posters, mostly new artists trying to spread the word about their work. Others sell t-shirts, buttons, and jewelry. People stand shoulder to shoulder, squeezed together as they move from booth to booth.

On the 2nd floor, magnificent creations created entirely out of Legos are displayed on tables, as both children and adults stare in admiration. The most outstanding of them all is an amazing gigantic construction of Hogwarts, the castle from the popular Harry Potter series. A woman explains how the piece required over two-thousand hours’ worth of work, spanning over the course of eighteen months.

Whether it’s their first visit or eleventh, the attendees leave the Washington State Convention Center with new stories and memorabilia. Emerald City Comicon is an awesome experience, especially for those who have never been before. Comic books are a large part of popular culture, as several of them have been adapted into television series or movies. By visiting the many booths and exhibits at Emerald City Comicon, you’ll reconnect with your inner child.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Impatient Football Fan Anxiously Waits for Next Season

Waiting for the next NFL season to start is agonizing. As a big Seahawks fan, I wish I could watch them play year-round. I’m never ready for the season to finish and the way that it ended for us this year makes it especially frustrating. The Seahawks fell to the Atlanta Falcons after making what would have been the most impressive comeback in NFL playoff history. It makes me wonder what would’ve happened if they had been able to hold on to the lead for just a little longer. Regardless of the loss, the team looked significantly better this year and I have high hopes for the near future.

Becoming a Seahawks season ticket holder was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve always enjoyed watching Seahawks games on television, but being there in person is an entirely different experience. The enthusiastic screaming fans, with their faces painted blue, white, and green, wear the jerseys of their favorite players. They truly believe that they have an impact on the game, and as a fan, I do too. It’s the reason why we stand up every time our opponent is on third down, making as much noise as humanly possible. We take pride in being the loudest fans in the NFL, statistically speaking, since Century Link Field has logged more false starts than any other stadium for the past several years.

When game day arrives, the energy in downtown Seattle is unbelievable. Fans arrive many hours before the game to tailgate. Burgers and hot dogs sizzle, creating a wonderful scent that cause passersby to salivate. People pass around footballs, share favorite football stories, and discuss what they feel is most necessary for our team to finish the game with a win. The environment is so pleasing to me and it’s almost depressing that I’ll have to wait another six months before experiencing it again. I just keep telling myself, “At least you have something to look forward to!” September needs to get here faster!