Friday, August 12, 2011

Beyond Repair

'I must have gotten too close to it at one point with the mower, thereby hurtling a rock about 15 feet or so in the car’s direction...'Yesterday I mowed our lawn. As I did, the air turned cool and the sky dark. Moments after I’d finished we were hit by one of those late afternoon showers that’ll often happen during the summer months. I went inside to do a little work, then when the weather cleared I got in the car to take a short drive over to the grocery to pick up something for dinner.

I was nearly at the store when I heard a weird crunching sound coming from behind my head. Took a quick peek back as I turned into the parking lot and noticed the small back window on the left-hand side in back had been shattered. Not the big one that can be rolled down, but the little triangular one behind it.

Took me approximately one second to realize what had to have happened. We have a gravel drive, and I must have gotten too close to it at one point with the mower, thereby hurtling a rock about 15 feet or so in the car’s direction and breaking the glass.

The shamus in me did note there didn’t seem to be any water inside the back seat along with the many irregularly-shaped pieces of greenish-edged, tempered glass. But actually only about half the small window had landed in the seat there, meaning the opening was hardly big enough to allow much water in anyway.

Shattered glassFeeling sheepish, I drove to the far side of the lot and parked with the broken window facing away from the store. Got out and spent a short while examining the damage there, then after returning home spent some time clearing out the remaining glass and disposing of it, then fastening a plastic bag in the space.

The car is an old 1998 Saturn. Has about a million miles on it. And has been through it all. The power windows are only partially functional, and the locks don’t really work, either. We routinely travel with jugs of coolant as from time to time it’ll overheat. Additionally, the car still bears scars from having been rudely sideswiped once while parked on the street. Had to replace driver’s side mirror after that, I recall. In fact, I believe the car was technically totaled following that incident, the cost of repair (with which we never bothered) exceeding the vehicle’s worth.

The Saturn has long been demoted to second-car status. Really third-car, as we have an old diesel Ford truck available to use that’ll surely outlast it. So while I wasn’t thrilled to see what I’d done to the window, I was hardly broken up about it (pun intended).

Pocket FivesLater on yesterday evening I listened to Adam Small, co-founder of Pocket Fives, be interviewed over on QuadJacks. I used to listen to the Pocket Fives podcast (which Small co-hosted) quite regularly, and was intrigued to hear him narrate his experiences with online poker and P5s (which launched in January 2005). (They’ve already archived the conversation over there at QuadJacks, if you’re curious.)

Most interesting were his comments about the whole affiliate/rakeback model and all of the problems that (in his view) were caused by many sites’ poor decisions regarding it. As we all know now, there were a host of serious problems/issues with online poker in the U.S. dating back to the industry’s earliest days, all of which together helped cause the wreck it’s become today.

Small also talked about how he and his colleagues had thought about selling Pocket Fives shortly after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was signed into law. “We were kind of at time uncomfortable with the direction the industry was going and our place in it,” he said. They did end up selling the site to PokerSourceOnline (or Protos Marketing) in 2007, I believe, though it was a long-term payment plan and Small ended up moving to Costa Rica to work with Protos, meaning he was never completely separated from P5s.

Then came Black Friday, after which it was decided that Protos would stop with the payments and just give P5s back to its original owners. Then, about a week ago, P5s finally announced it was no longer going to advertise traditional (i.e., rakeback-based) U.S.-facing sites. Commenting on that latter decision, Small noted how significantly the situation for online poker in the U.S. has changed over recent years.

“It’s gone gradually -- with a few big hits -- from a situation where five or six years ago everyone felt extremely confident about putting money into and taking money out of poker sites... [to] nowadays, in the U.S. at least, it’s a very uncomfortable process for most people to go through....”

StopgapAs Small spoke, I found myself thinking about the Saturn. I thought about how, like when it was sideswiped a couple of years ago, we might not even bother to repair that window. I suppose we’ll probably at least find out what it would cost to do so, but I’m guessing when we do we’ll likely decide it’s too much.

In other words, we’ll keep driving the thing. But we ain’t fixing it anymore. No, when the time comes, it’ll have to be replaced altogether with something new.

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