Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas Vacation

The last week was a very pleasant one. It started with a solstice celebration last Thursday night, and it continued with a trip to the mall for a Santa photo, a five-day trip to Ohio, and a few days of quiet time at home, including today.

So much went on, I thought it would be best to summarize the time with some potential posting headings: How I Lived Through Solstice Evening (from a two-year old's perspective), I Think Our Son Hates Santa Claus, Lazy Time in Ohio, Family Time, The War Against Christmas (Shopping), Solving Chess Puzzles with my Dad, I Really Appreciate Dates: Melissa and I See "The Good Shepherd," A Review of "The Chess Artist," and I Love Being Home Again (both here and Ohio).

We took down our Christmas tree yesterday. Today I started looking through my books and have a small pile I want to share with my friends, sell, or give away. I'm not sure. I thought quite a bit about the clutter issue I mentioned in my earlier post, and I am serious about making some small changes to see where they go.

There is much on my mind and heart, but I don't feel the capacity to write too much at the moment. I wanted to let my friends here to know I'm back. If you are interested in any of the potential topics above, comment and I'll expand on them.

I wish everyone a good new year!



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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I caught the tail end of this Emory Lovins interview

Monday after playgroup I was driving in the car and caught the last five minutes of this interview with Emory Lovins of MPR. He ended with an optimistic tone on the challenge of weaning the United States off of oil. This echoed the optimism at the end of one of my classes at the U in the Spring, Energy and Life: From Cells to Civilization. (I just found one of my classmates' blog on the class.)

This was a fascinating class. We discussed energy and systems. All systems depend on energy to prosper. Ours is awfully dependent on oil. (We read The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies.) Oil is both a scarce resource and a source of global warming carbon dioxide. Although we discussed some weighty topics, I felt that we took an outlook on the future much like others have--we can overcome the difficulties with technological and lifestyle changes.

EDIT (October 22, 2008): Many people come to my blog via searching for Emory Lovins. I wanted to point people to a recent article in the Economist I thought would be of interest, The frugal cornucopian. Enjoy! Joe

This season...

The Modern Humanist posted this article, Happy Chrismakwanzukkah, which discusses a humanists point of view on this time of year, which is a very positive outlook. It stresses joining, community, and reflection.

I'll add to the notion of reflection. Today is the last day of Fall, and tomorrow is the celebration of the Winter Solstice. I celebrate both Christmas and Solstice with family and friends. Solstice is important to me as there is an emphasis on this time of year as a time of change and reflection. I tend to be more introspective and hibernate more during this time of year than any other. The beginning of Winter and the beginning of the new year are two events that demand my attention. I don't normally make any resolutions; rather, I start to look at gradual change in my life.

I've been looking around our home and there is clutter. I work well within the clutter, but I know there is stuff that I need to either recycle or share with others who would get more use out of it. I think that will be a useful exercise in imaging life in this next year's trip around the sun. I have been busy with my search for new employment, chess, shopping for loved ones, my graduate studies, and some reading. With the exception of shopping, which is thankfully nearly finished, all the other areas need tending, in some cases a fresh look. I look forward to balance in my work and home life, my time with friends, and time to develop myself. I want to have a fulfilling year all around, so I can meet both challenges and joy with an open mind and heart.

Tags: Winter, Winter Solstice, reflection

Monday, December 18, 2006

A happy holiday weekend!

This was a wonderful weekend! Our friends, Jeff and Tiffany, hosted a party on Saturday night. It was a kid-friendly time, with a third of the entire party being kids. Some of the guests we only see once a year, so it is nice getting together with them. There was plenty of good food, good drink, and good conversation!

I made this dish. It turned out well, which complimented Jeff's awesome ziti and lasagna. There were tons of chocolates and cookies. I think I ended having cookies before, during, and after dinner! :) The kids were well behaved, and I don't recall any of us parents having to raise our voices. It was a good time.

On Sunday I went to St. Paul for a performance at The Center for Irish Music. It featured Sherry Minnick singing. (My daughter accompanied her for one of the songs.) That was a world of music I don't get to experience very often, as much of this traditional music is simply passed person to person.

This reminded me of some of the work Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead has done in trying to preserve music, both American and world music. There is so much amazing music out there. Most of it cannot be measured by record sales; rather, it is important because it helps to tell parts of our world's history.

Tags: friends, holidays, music, traditional music

Friday, December 15, 2006

Good time last night!

Last night one of our friends got a group of us together at the Uptown Bar and Grill to see a good metal band, Niobium. I hadn't heard of them before, but I took her recommendation that they would be good, especially since they had a didgeridoo player!

I was impressed with them. The lead singer had the metal growl down and the didgeridoo blended well with the music.

It was also nice to take the bus last night. It was a quick ride, and I had a couple of beers without the worry of driving home in even a slightly impaired state. I wasn't out very late either, which was nice as well.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Good spirits!

This has been a busy week. Monday our son and I went to a local play group in the morning. In the evening, we all went out to pizza with my friend, Janet and her family for her birthday. Tuesday evening the Minnesota State Chess Association had a board meeting. Yesterday I had a couple of job interviews. Today the weather is pretty nice, and we took a walk with our dog in the neighborhood.

The weather has been so nice, it barely feels like the holidays. It is moving much too fast, but I feel like we are keeping on top of the gift-buying, which fortunately is not outrageous. :) I feel like we are enjoying this time of year without the huge amount of stress.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'm a bit fried after a busy week!

Starting with last Saturday, I have spent four out of the last eight days heavily involved with chess. Last weekend was the Minnesota Class Championship, last night was round four of the Twin Cities Chess League, and today I helped out the Harrison's with the computer work for their scholastic tournament. When I got home this afternoon, I felt very tired!

Last night was a good night in the TCCL. We had a change in our lineup this month, as John, our board three, was absent. Will, a past regular at the Chess Castle, was playing last weekend in the Class Championship. I asked if he would be able to fill in, and he was. As his rating is over 1800, he became our board one. Kelly and I were each scooted down one board, to boards two and three, respectively. Blaine had board four.

We played Slackers, composed of Matt, Paul, Skyler, and Jeff. Matt was rated similarly to Will. Paul, unknown to us at the time, is also near 1800, and Blaine and I were each rated above our opponents.

My game was the first to be decided. I was Black and had an even position with my opponent out of the Caro-Kann main line. However, he blundered a piece relatively early, and he resigned at that point.

Blaine had a good game going next to me. As I finished mine, I watched his quite a bit. He had a strong Queenside Pawn majority. Jeff left one of the key pawns in his chain unprotected on a move, and Blaine worked that chain apart. At the end of the game, he just pushed a Pawn to a6. Even with a sacrifice of his Rook at that point, there was no way for his opponent to stop that Pawn. Well played, Blaine!

I was a bit concerned with the board one game. Will was a piece behind in a tactically-complex game. It was a tough position to hold, and Matt was able to take advantage of the position to cause further piece loss and Will's resignation.

So far, we were assured the minimum of a draw. Kelly had a materially even but very energetic game going. I hope to get a picture of one of the late middlegame positions, as it was quite exciting. He played well with a Rook, his Bishop pair, and a few Pawns on his Kingside to erode Paul's material equality. They were down to nearly a minute each when Kelly mated Paul.

It wasn't until after the game when we were talking in the hallway and we discovered that Paul was 1800 strength! Great job, Kelly! Great job, Tal Tales! I'm very proud of our team!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

A crisp, Winter day

Today is one of those sunny but very chilly Winter days. The temperature this morning was 0 F with a wind chill around -25 F. Brrrr!

I just saw a few creatures at work. The first was an albino squirrel who quickly picked up the piece of bread I tossed out the door, as our son was finished with lunch. I then saw a few birds, including a woodpecker trying to get insects out of a neighbor's tree. The wind had died down and I could hear the pecking. It didn't take long to spot it.

There is wonder to behold, even on days when I don't feel like venturing out of the house.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Twin Cities Chess League this Friday, Round Four

Just a reminder for those who are reading this from any of the TCCL teams.

(I'm glad I have a few days of rest between last weekend's tournament and this Friday!)

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Game Five

Continuing my final round story...

Yesterday I ended my last post with the beginning of my last round game. It started out 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.Bc4 e6 8.h4 h6 9.h5 Bh7. This morning I was taking a quick look at Neil McDonald's book, "main line Caro-Kann" and was pleasantly surprised that we two class D players started out with a position similar (not exact) to some high level games. Bc4 is not the most common, and there often is an exchange of White-squared Bishops via Bd3, Bxd3, Qxd3. However, it is a solid position for each of us.

(I have avoided the commercial route, but if people are interested in chess books such as the one I mentioned above, sets, clocks, or other related items, please check out Wholesale Chess. Thanks!)

We continued with 10.Ne2 Bd6 11.Nf4 Qf6 12.Rh4 O-O-O 13.Be3 Ne7 14.Qd2 Nd5 15.O-O-O. As the f4 Knight was well guarded, and I could not capture nor chase away the f3 Knight guarding the Rook on h4, I tried a luring move to change his Pawn structure. 15...Bb4 16.c3 Bd6.

Chris changes the dynamics of the position with 17.Bd3 Bxd3 18.Nxd3 Qe7 19.c4. I consider my next move a critical error in my play. 19...N5b6?

19...Nxe3 would have been fine, but I invited complication for myself with Chris having a great attack.

20.c5 Nc4 21.Qb4 Nxe3 22.cxd6!!!

This was my first move in the whole tournament where I felt a sense of panic. The best thing to do in this situation is to calm down as much as possible, evaluate the threats and the likely continuations, and think of your own defense and possible counterplay. The Pawn on d6 was a nasty Pawn, and his Queen was also well placed. I knew I had to keep my eye on that Pawn and hopefully kill it before very long.

After an eleven minute think, I played the logical 22...Qf8 keeping my Queen trained on the Pawn. Of course he plays 23. fxe3. I play Nb6 training two pieces on the Pawn now. He plays 24. Nde5. I play Kb8 to avoid 25. d7+ with the possible capture of my Queen which is keeping me alive.

Looking at the game now, I didn't quite get his 25th move, e4. Perhaps it was a waiting move. I play Rxd6 quickly (I'm down to 45 minutes, with Chris at almost 72), and he springs the excellent Nxf7 on me!

26...Qxf7? would lead to Qxd6, for which I would be down a Rook instead of the Knight I lost earlier. I quickly found 26...c5. The result was 27.dxc5 Rxd1+ 28.Kxd1 Qxf7 29.cxb6 Rd8+ 30.Kc2 Rc8+ 31.Kb1 axb6 32.Qxb6 Qd7!, with the threat of 33...Qd1#. I was happy to have turned my situation around, even though I was still behind by a Knight and a Pawn.

He prevents the back row mate, but I keep the pressure on. We get to this after 33.Rh1 Qd3+ 34.Ka1 Qc2 35.Rb1 Qxg2 36.Ne5 Qd2 37.Qxe6 Rc1 38.Qd5.

I couldn't find a perpetual here to save the game with a draw, so I proceeded to finish by exchanging Rooks, Queens, and get into a Knight and Pawn endgame.

After 38...Qe1 39.Qd3 Rxb1+ 40.Qxb1 Qa5 41.Nc4 Qxh5 42.Qe1 Qc5 43.Nd2 g5 44.e5 Kc8 45.e6 Kd8 46.e7+ Qxe7 47.Qxe7+ Kxe7, we had the following:

Well, in this game, victory went to the young. I had ten minutes left to finish the game. We played out eleven more moves before I resigned.

I shook Chris' hand with the best handshake and smile I had, as I realized I won to a very good player. Though I lost this tough game, I felt good that we fought it out the way we did.

Here is the entire .pgn. It's in play-by-play mode in this posting.

[Event "Minnesota Class Championships, Class D"]
[Site "Radisson Conference Center, Plymouth, MN"]
[Date "2006.12.3"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Chris"]
[Black "Joe"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.Bc4 e6 8.h4 h6 9.h5 Bh7 10.Ne2 Bd6 11.Nf4 Qf6 12.Rh4 O-O-O 13.Be3 Ne7 14.Qd2 Nd5 15.O-O-O Bb4 16.c3 Bd6 17.Bd3 Bxd3 18.Nxd3 Qe7 19.c4 N5b6 20.c5 Nc4 21.Qb4 Nxe3 22.cxd6 Qf8 23.fxe3 Nb6 24.Nde5 Kb8 25.e4 Rxd6 26.Nxf7 c5 27.dxc5 Rxd1+ 28.Kxd1 Qxf7 29.cxb6 Rd8+ 30.Kc2 Rc8+ 31.Kb1 axb6 32.Qxb6 Qd7 33.Rh1 Qd3+ 34.Ka1 Qc2 35.Rb1 Qxg2 36.Ne5 Qd2 37.Qxe6 Rc1 38.Qd5 Qe139.Qd3 Rxb1+ 40.Qxb1 Qa5 41.Nc4 Qxh5 42.Qe1 Qc5 43.Nd2 g5 44.e5 Kc8 45.e6 Kd8 46.e7+ Qxe7 47.Qxe7+ Kxe7 48.Kb1 g4 49.Nf1 Kf6 50.Kc2 h5 51.Kd3 h4 52.Ke4 Kg5 53.b4 h3 54.Ng3 h2 55.a4 Kh4 56.Kf4 Kh3 57.a5 1-0

(Finally, I ran the endgame through my chess computer. It was a drawn endgame! Arghh, but I suspected that with my talk with my opponent after the game. I had to attack his last Pawns instead of trying to promote one of the kingside pair.)

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Minnesota Class Championships, Class D

This weekend I played in the Minnesota Class Championships in the Class D section (USCF ratings from 1200-1399). We had a solid 14 people compete in our class, with a total of 70 people for the entire tournament.

As it states in the link, we played at the Radisson Hotel Conference Center in Plymouth. I did not play in the Northern Open, so this was my first tournament here, but it was my second time in the Minnesota Class Championship. I played last year with an anemic 2-3-0 finish. I enjoyed the games I played last year, but I could tell that I have grown much in my chess since last December.

The pacing for the class C, D, and E players is fairly brisk on the first day. We play three games, each with a 90 minute time control. I don't think that is a bad time control, but it is still fast. (Chess at my level can be a bit like two people scrapping. The chess is far from perfect, but there is a lot of energy in our games. Few draws!)

So Saturday was definitely that kind of chess. I summarized it as this:

Game 1) I won a losing game. My opponent played a solidly good game; I felt he had the tempo going in his favor most of the time, and I had to play defensively as White. However, he made a blunder that gave me the win.

Game 2) I lost a winning game with an excellent opening, mostly good middle game, but left the one weakness in my position unminded in the late middle game, and I overextended my attack and my opponent got in the necessary counterpunches for the win in the endgame.

Game 3) My opponent and I had a good even opening coming out of the Scotch. I was White, and by early middle game a pair of Pawns and both pairs of Knights were off the board. I created a weakness in my opponent's position that later that cost him a Rook, or else mate.

So, by the end of Saturday evening, I felt okay, happy with my 2-1 start, but didn't feel like I played my best chess. I didn't play badly, but three rounds in a day can be quite exhausting. I need to balance my level of energy and eat well without eating too much, I need to keep my nervous energy to a moderate level, despite how intense the games are, and I most of all need to keep focused. If I played in a tournament like this every month, I would have no problem with the regimen here, but I only play two or three of these events per year, so I forget those mental lessons.

Anyhow, Sunday morning was interesting. I didn't have to get up early and get to the site for registration like I did on Saturday, so I had time to eat a good breakfast and think through the last day and what was to come today. I haven't had this good a start in any tournament, so I was in unfamiliar emotional territory. "I actually have a chance to win this, if I'm paired up on the higher boards," I thought on my drive in. Also, on Sunday we have only two games, each with a time control of two hours.

When the tournament director posted the round four pairings, I was delighted! I was on board 2, playing an opponent who had two wins and a bye for the third round. Of course I was a bit nervous, but it felt great playing!

I played Black against my opponent's 1. e4. I played my Caro-Kann and had a good opening rich with many interesting variations. I gave up a Pawn in the early middle game, but I earned that Pawn back with an exchange sacrifice of my Rook for his strong Knight and a Pawn. I had two good Knights and a powerfully-placed Queen that more than compensated for the Rook. It was a delicious attack that eventually led to my opponent's resignation.

Lunch in between rounds was nice. I went out with one of my friends who was also on the top board for his section. We talked chess over a good lunch at the Tea House Chinese Restaurant. I got back about fifteen minutes before the last round, and I was so excited to be sitting at the first board for my section! This was a first for me, and I felt honored just to make it so far!

I was now the top player with three points, 3-1-0, ready to play the top overall player with a perfect score of 4-0-0. I'll call this student, "Ironman" for playing such great chess. I didn't get to watch him play very much, since I was concentrating on my own games, but I took notice during my fourth round game in case I would have to play him. He played a solid game and had great focus.

I sat down a couple of minutes before 2:30 to set up the set and the clock. Once I had myself set with scoresheet, iPod ready to play the Hydra show I went to last year, I shook my opponent's hand and wished for us both to play a good game.

I had Black for the second time in a row. I played the Caro-Kann again, but this time we didn't play the advanced, but instead it was the classical 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6. This was the start of a very exciting game...

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I had my 1000th site visitor today!

I was looking at the Site Meter stats since I began keeping track, and 1000 people have visited! Thank you all of you for checking this site out, whether it's those who get here by the referral bars, or those who are regular visitors. (However, I especially enjoy those who stop here often!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

I started a new blog for the Chess Castle

I want to bring more people out to play chess at the Chess Castle as we move to our new location in January. I thought one way to spread the word would be for regular members of the club to post and discuss their games.

In order to make this possible, I started a blog for the Chess Castle this week. I encourage those who both like to play and to discuss their games to join me in this interactive forum.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Supreme Court in Massachusetts v The EPA

There is an interesting and important discussion going on at the Supreme Court in the case of Massachusetts v The EPA. Massachusetts, eleven other states, and other organizations are suing the US EPA for not regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

There is an account of yesterday's court proceedings here at Slate. I was watching the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last night which featured a discussion between Vickie Patton of Environmental Defense and an attorney from the Reagan and first George H. W. Bush administration.

Stay tuned for these proceedings.

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The Chess Castle has announced its new location

This information regarding the Chess Castle appeared in the most recently published Northern Chess News (NCN):

"The end for the Second Ave NE location of the Chess Castle has finally arrived and we will be moving to the Bridge Center 6020 Nicollet Avenue South for the foreseeable future. There will be an organizational meeting for the Chess Castle for ALL INTERESTED PARTIES at 12:15 p.m. before the round on Sunday 17 December 2006 during the weekend of the Chess Castle Club Championship."

Thank you, Kevin, for leading this! I plan on playing in the Thursday Knighter in January. I encourage any other Twin Cities metro area chess player to check out the new space.

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Tom Waits on The Daily Show

I just found this beautiful.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I finished the Immortal Game yesterday.

My friend, Jeff, loaned me his copy of The Immortal Game by David Shenk this weekend. He enjoyed this as well as I did.

The book is based on the double meaning of the immortal game: one to represent the 1400 year old game, in general, and a specific game played between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel
Kieseritzky on June 21, 1851.

Chess has been a part of so many cultures, and the metaphor of chess has been utilized by religious, political, and military leaders throughout the ages. Shenk explains those metaphors and how they relate to our history and the human mind.

From my perspective as a chess player, I enjoyed reading through the analysis of The Immortal Game which hails from the Romantic era of chess.

However, I think even if one has only a passing interest in the game itself, the story of how chess relates to our history and the human brain is a fascinating story. I give David Shenk great credit in bringing this delightful story to us!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Prison Break season finale

Well, that was a plot twist I sort of saw coming, and it certainly is one that keeps this story gripping! I cannot wait until January 22!

(I left out any details in case someone who has taped this episode hasn't watched it yet.)


Join in the fight against cancer

I was reading my online friend Terra Praeta's blog and checked out the webpage of one of the commentors. His website includes a link to an agent:

"The Grid MP Global @ is a virtual supercomputer that can be harnessed to power computational research and analysis projects on a massive scale. By combining millions of online CPUs worldwide to work on extremely large computational projects, problems can be solved more quickly and less expensively than by conventional methods. Now any networked computer can help fuel research and projects that previously may have required a bank of supercomputers or a hundred years to complete."

I decided to join because I have a family member who just successful fought cancer. I also spent a year of my life at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo during the 90's as a graduate student. I saw children struck with cancer, and that has left a memory, although it is distant in time and geography.


Help spread the gift of information... those who are not allowed to access it.

I was listening to this story on Future Tense this morning about a technology known as Psiphon. With it, a trusted individual in a country with free access to information on the Internet could aid a family member or friend in an information-restricted country to access material not allowed under those governments and regimes.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Vanished has (mostly) vanished...

Although it has been nowhere near as engaging as "Prison Break", Fox TV's "Vanished" has captured enough of our attention that we caught every episode this season (thank goodness for DVR technology, or we would have had difficulty). However, it has recently disappeared from the airwaves, and is now going to be finished at a web page over on myspace.

I thought it was an okay show, but I thought it would be canceled outright. I just found out about the recent development with this article.

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A wonderful holiday weekend!

I had a wonderful time with family and friends this long weekend! The highlight was Thursday, when my daughter's household came over for a celebration of turkey, dessert, and good times. We prepared a 19 pound bird that came out well. My daughter made a sweet potato casserole that was delicious. (Our son didn't try it right away, but once he had a bite, the rest disappeared quickly!) Carillon made two desserts, including a pumpkin cheesecake that was simply marvelous!

We had some very busy times with furious cooking and preparing plates, but much of the day was relaxing, including spending time outside blowing bubbles and kicking a soccer ball around. We had our share of warm days this weekend which is helpful considering snow should be on its way soon!

Friday my buddy Jeff and I caught up. We both have had busy lives recently, he especially with his new son, but we had some time for coffee, chess, and conversation! It was a very good time.

Saturday and Sunday we were involved with setting up a holiday tree. We bought a fir on Saturday, decorated it with lights that evening, but then we had my daughter come over Sunday to help us finish the work. It looks very nice, and I have to say that I love the smell of the oil from the tree.

Today has even been a bit busy. My son and I went to a play group this morning, and he is now worn out and napping while I type this.

I have a bit of time today to read some of David Shenk's "The Immortal Game: A History of Chess" that Jeff loaned me this weekend! It is a very engaging read so far!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

A triple Thanksgiving year!

One of the things I am very thankful for this year is to have a great group of family members and friends. One of my friends pointed out that I will have had three Thanksgiving celebrations by the time the end of the week hits.

Melissa, our son, and I went out to Colorado Labor Day weekend to see her family. It was nice to get so many people together (we had to rent out a small hall for fifty people!)

Yesterday morning one of our good friends calls and invites us to an impromptu dinner for last evening. That was enjoyable!

Thursday we will have a small gathering of friends and family at our home.

With all the business of life, I am going to take time to count my blessings. Thank you all!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Analysis of game three

I have been playing the Caro-Kann for a few years as my primary defense against 1. e4. I had tried a few different systems, including 1..g6. (I played the latter way past its usefulness for me!) One game I decided to switch to the Caro-Kann, and I had more pleasant results. I played it a few more times, and I was getting draws and wins with it on a regular basis. Apparently, this system works for me!

Last night my opponent and I played a Caro-Kann in the Twin Cities Chess League (all game in 90). This game was a bit different than one I played a few weeks ago in which I was fighting to break out of my position for quite some time.

It started out with 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Bd3 Bxd3 5.Qxd3 e6 6.Nf3 Qc7 7.O-O Nd7 8.Be3 O-O-O 9.c4. Hmmm, that was the first move to which I needed to spend time for the response. I did not like the idea of playing dxc4 and disrupting a pleasing pawn structure. I decided to leave this intact and played 9...g6.

This was an okay choice, as Steve did not plan to disrupt my pawns, either, with 10.c5. I quickly played 10...Bh6, offering him to trade Bishops for some mobility for my g8 Knight.

Instead, we aggressively pushed pawns with 11.b4 f5 12.a4 f4. He retreated his Bishop to d2, and I continued to press with 13...g5 and 14...g4.
This came with a time deficit on my side, as Steve had 77 minutes while I had 64 after our fourteenth moves. My last move was preparatory for some middle game fireworks.

After his 16. b5, I decided the time was right to strike. 14...g4 drove his Knight back to e1, which then removed one piece of protection from the e5 square. I felt the pressure building up on my Queenside, and since I castled to that side, I counterattacked!

16...Nxe5! 17.dxe5 Qxe5. I gave up a Knight for two pawns, but this opened up many opportunity for tactics in the middle game.

He played 18. Nc2 to presumably open up the e1 square for a Rook, but I would have none of it. I promptly played 18...Qf5 resulting in 19.Qxf5 exf5. The wonderful part of my sacrifice on move 16 was to allow my d-pawn to advance and cause trouble for my opponent. I played 20...d4, causing him to play 21. Nd1. (Obviously not Ne2 which would have allowed 21...d3.)

This set up 21...Bg7 with d3 as the threat. He moved his threatened Knight to b4, and I responded 22...fxg3 23.fxg3 d3. We traded off Bishops and his two Knights were in synchrony with each other.

We danced around the d2 square with 26...d2 27.Rad1 Rhd8 28.Rf2. At this point, Steve was kicking my behind on time. He had 49 minutes, I was down to 20:37. I again took some time on my next turn with 28...a6. I wanted to determine the fate of those pawns. After 29.bxa6 bxa6, I caught a break with 30. Nb1. I took the a4 pawn.

The pawn was traded back with 31.Rdxd2 Rxd2 32.Rxd2 Re4. He made sure I did not win the c5 pawn with 34.Re2 Kd7 35.Re5.

I played 35...h5 with 4:48 on my clock. After his 36. Kf2, I very quickly played 36...h4 to get my Rook to the f4 square with check. He had 23 minutes on his clock while I was now just over 3!

The last of the recorded moves for either of us were 38.Kg1 Rf3 39.Ne2 Rh3 40.Ng3 f4 41.Nf5 Nxf5 42.Rxf5 f3 43.h5 Ke6 44.Rf4 Rh4 45.Nc3 Rxh5 46.Rxg4 Rxc5. I had 0:36 seconds on the clock and moved without losing much time, thanks to the time delay.

There were enough dangers on the board that it took all of our attention to get to this final position (White to move) with 0:08 left for me and 0:09 for Steve. This was an incredibly intense game that might have been one of my best since I started playing tournament chess.

Here is the .pgn file for this game.
[Event "Twin Cities Chess League"]
[Site "Roseville Skating Oval"]
[Date "2006.11.17"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Steve, Metro Chess"]
[Black "Joe Erjavec, Tal Tales"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Bd3 Bxd3 5.Qxd3 e6 6.Nf3 Qc7 7.O-O Nd7 8.Be3 O-O-O 9.c4 g6 10.c5 Bh6 11.b4 f5 12.a4 f4 13.Bd2 g5 14.Nc3 g4 15.Ne1 Ne7 16.b5 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Qxe5 18.Nc2 Qf5 19.Qxf5 exf5 20.g3 d4 21.Nd1 Bg7 22.Nb4 fxg3 23.fxg3 d3 24.Bc3 Bxc3 25.Nxc3 Rd4 26.Nba2 d2 27.Rad1 Rhd8 28.Rf2 a6 29.bxa6 bxa6 30.Nb1 Rxa4 31.Rdxd2 Rxd2 32.Rxd2 Re4 33.Nbc3 Rc4 34.Re2 Kd7 35.Re5 h5 36.Kf2 h4 37.gxh4 Rf4+ 38.Kg1 Rf3 39.Ne2 Rh3 40.Ng3
f4 41.Nf5 Nxf5 42.Rxf5 f3 43.h5 Ke6 44.Rf4 Rh4 45.Nc3 Rxh5 46.Rxg4 Rxc5 1/2-1/2

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My game

TCCL, Round Three: Yes, my Caro can...

Last night Tal Tales played Metro Chess in Round Three of the Twin Cities Chess League. We were outgunned rating-wise on every board.

Metro Chess: Dale (1875), Steve (1798), Matt (1707), Kent (1609).

I had Steve on board two in this game.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Round Three, Twin Cities Chess League, this Friday

I am looking forward to this Friday. In the last three tournaments I have raised my rating by 89 points, such that I am back on the verge of being rated as a Class C player again (1400-1599). More importantly than the rating itself, I have been playing better chess. I have played with more confidence in complicated positions, and I am expecting that to carry through on Friday.

Of course, I won't be doing this alone. I am hoping for good results from our whole team, Tal Tales!

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More on instant runoff voting and Minnesota politics

I caught a short amount of today's Midday show in which Gary Eichten was speaking with Tim Penny about the Independence Party in Minnesota. One of the questions asked by the phone-in audience was whether ranked voting (aka instant runoff voting) is an important tool to avoid "the wasted vote."

Tim answered that he thought it was important, as it allows people to vote for the best candidate that they believe in without taking away votes from their secondary candidate in a tight race. I agree, and I hope that broader adoption of IRV will allow other parties a fighting chance to bring new ideas to debates and hopefully even seats for their candidates.

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Sometimes you just need to feel the burn!

My son and I went out earlier today to a park. I was hoping we'd kick the soccer ball around, but he was more interested in picking up dirt. :( After that ran its course, we went to the Longfellow Grill for lunch.

As it is one of those overcast days that typifies late fall here, I was in the mood for something to liven up my mood. I ordered one of my favorite items, the burrito nuevo. Although I order this breakfast item for lunch or dinner fairly often, it had been at least a month since I've had it. I was delighted! The salsa was smokier and spicier than the last time, which was already good, and it was even better this time. I balanced this out with my fourth cup of java for the day and split some sweet potato fries with my son. (He was more in the mood for coloring than eating lunch, though.)

I am glad we stopped there today, for my mood is definitely better than before we left the house.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Minneapolis approves Instant Runoff Voting

One of the two issues I had the choice of voting on last week was whether or not to approve Instant Runoff Voting for Minneapolis elections. It passed remarkably well, featured here on the Minneapolis Better Ballot Campaign website.

"The proposal to use Instant Runoff Voting for Minneapolis elections won by a 2-to-1 margin on Tuesday. The victory and its size surprised many long-time political observers.

Besides the 65 percent "yes" vote, the breadth of support across the city was equally impressive. "Yes" votes outnumbered "no" votes in every ward. Further, "yes" votes prevailed in nearly every precinct -- 127 out of 131. The proposal came within 116 votes of winning every precinct in the city."

This is a great step forward for our electoral system, which often has low turnout for primaries.

Afternote: Using these handy Technorati tags, I found this good post on IRV in Minneapolis.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Phish and chess

I never saw Phish, but one of the things I heard about them was that they played two games against their audience in 1995. However, I am not having any luck finding the moves. Anyone out there a chess fan who saw any of these shows and recorded the moves? If not, were they good games?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It's the afternoon after the morning in America!

I am so thrilled that the nation has corrected itself by voting in a Democratic House and a near-even Senate. Rule by one party is dangerous for the country, especially when that party appears to be accountable only to its members, or even worse, when it is only accountable to its special interests. Rumsfeld has resigned, too, so the effects of the election are being felt almost immediately.

We are the people! We have to all work together to solve problems that help all of us. Solutions will have to be bipartisan now, thank goodness.

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Midterm Elections...

I was looking for this yesterday, but didn't find it until now. The sentiment is funny, but proved quite untrue yesterday! (Hooray!)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More on Particle

I was searching for some relatively recent shows of Particle on The Internet Archive, and I found this incredible show from 2003! The first set is their interpretation of many Pink Floyd songs! I downloaded this yesterday and am listening to some of the music today, including Interstellar Overdrive. This shows their flexibility and their innovative sound.

Pink Floyd was the first band I really got into, right before the Grateful Dead. In the last few years I have picked up a couple of great CDs that interpret Pink Floyd's music, including Luther Wright and the Wrongs covering The Wall in bluegrass, country, and honky-tonk stylings, and Easy Star All-Stars Dub Side of the Moon in dub and reggae.

It is great to see their music live on!

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Chess Castle's progress

Dan updated the Castle site yesterday.

I was able to play in Saturday's El Alamein Tornado. I don't normally play on Saturdays, but I wanted to help out with the move and the meeting after the event. (I did alright in the tournament, finishing 2-3. I lost to three players with 1816, 1941, and 1993 ratings, and won against two players with 1532 and 1145 ratings.)

The move went well, and we had a productive meeting afterwards about possible new locations for the club and to whom the new responsibilities will fall.

As Dan said, stay tuned for details.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Particle at The Cabooze, Thursday November 2

I wrote most of this the morning after the show, with sore feet and sleep-deprived brain (coffee, don't fail me now...).

I can envisage a new world in which society has a way for there to be music, whose function is to get you high, that's the sort of thing we're hammering at.
To get really high is to forget yourself and to forget yourself is to see everything else; and to see everything else is to become an understanding molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. That's why I think it's important to get high.” -- Jerry Garcia

As I was walking to the light rail last night before the show, I was thinking about this Jerry Garcia quote. He mentioned molecules, but particles seem likewise appropriate. To be high is to be out of duality and to understand the flow of energy in the universe.

I have found Particle's music to be music that gets me high, and to see the faces and bodies of others dancing wildly to their music is just further evidence that I am not alone in this search.

I had a pass for the show because of promoting their show with handbills and posters. I got to the doors shortly after opening, and I met another individual who was also there because of his promotion. He was setting up his taper gear for the show.

I found it interesting to be in the room, which was nearly empty with a couple of dozen people, workers included, at the beginning of the night. I met a group of people who drove up from La Crosse who are also catching the show tonight in Milwaukee. Theirs was a spur of the moment decision, and I am glad that they made it for their mini-tour. (That reminded me of my youth when I got to see a couple Dead shows at a time).

I talked for a couple of minutes to the guy mixing Particle's sound. He found it both challenging and enjoyable. I bet!

After a while I didn't talk too much, but I just enjoyed seeing the flow of people into the club. There was a mass of people arriving at the announced show time of 9:45, and I was quickly losing good dancing space. Steve Molitz walks in a few minutes before 10, and people cheered his arrival. He smiled and waved briefly, then disappeared.

The level of anticipation was rising in the room. Particle fans are intense fans, much like the STS9 fans that I met in mid-September. They are here to dance and groove. I have to admit that my bones are not quite as limber as most of theirs, but I too had single-minded purpose to have a good time.

Finally the guys take the stage. Within a minute they start playing and the first song is vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it until they began singing Radiohead's “National Anthem”.

After two or three songs, I was in a throng of people and I moved to a less crowded spot in the bar. I enjoyed the rest of the first set, and during it I ran into an acquaintance. Although it was a cold night, I went to the smoke area and chatted with him while he enjoyed his cigarette. (It felt good to be in the cold air, despite my sore throat today).

It was energizing to be outside, but it was time to come back in. I commented right as they were preparing to start again that the first set was just a warm-up set, incredible as it was. The band and fans were incredible, seeming to pull off just as good or even better set than the first.

I ran out of juice three-quarters of the way through the second set and I sat for a few minutes of rest and a Red Bull to relax my arm and leg muscles which were very sore by this point. I perked up for the crescendo-building second set finale of “Sun Mar 11.”

Keeping an eye on the clock (not wanting to miss the light rail), I got my coat and bought the last Particle work shirt. I said goodbye to a couple of people, but stayed as long as I could during the encore, “Double Helix” and “Axel F” before I got my behind out the door and onto the train. I walked home in the cold evening air smiling from the good night.

I was so excited to see these guys again. I try to listen to the music as a whole, but I am entranced by Darren's polyrhythmic drumming and Steve's amazing keyboards and apparent conducting. I enjoy the music because it is complex, organic, and very danceable. Even the songs that seem to have a bit more rock influence, though not received as well as the cosmic pieces, are great pieces of music.

I've had a few conversations with people who have not enjoyed that direction, as in the years before I saw them, 2000-2004, they were known for playing shows of great length and almost totally spaced-out jams. And although there was definitely a certain different quality in sound between the two shows I saw in 2005 versus the two I have seen this year, I recognize that this is a band that is challenging themselves to evolve. That course may not be what everyone enjoys as much as the older days, but as a fan of music who tries his best to listen for new sounds, I am enjoying Particle's journey in the short time I have been seeing them. A few hundred dancing, smiling, sweating people each night will agree!

I am thankful they played The Cabooze again, and I am certain they will be back a couple times next year.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Particle Gear

This is my tired ass this morning. I went to Particle last night at The Cabooze. Great show! Here's the setlist:

I: National Anthem (Radiohead), Road's A Breeze (@3AM), Mind Over Matter, Crash And Burn > Ed + Molly, The American Dream

II: Launchpad, Howl At The Moon > Eternity > Robots > So Much To Tell, Sun Mar 11

E: Double Helix, Axel F

Review to follow soon.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Chess Castle

I was reading the Chess Castle website today, and the following has been posted:

Yet another dark cloud over our venerable Castle.
Today we were informed by our landlord that the chess club must vacate our space by the end of November. We have been on thirty day notice ever since the Lander Group took over the building from the defunct Polish While Eagle Insurance Company some years back. I found their conditions unsettling back then, in that the new owners would not offer us our old year long lease, but only commit to month-to-month. I believe they wanted flexibility with tenants, as they hoped to either sell the building or rent the whole thing to one customer. Well, we have gone on a long time in this uncertain state, but the end for Second Ave NE has finally arrived.
They would actually like to take over our club space right away, and have offered us the use of the large first floor for the next month in exchange. If this area is usable, I may take them up on the offer, as the rent would be free for November, money we need to weather a re-location. And there might be the chance to use that area for some weeks into December. Their might be a problem with lighting. And one would still have to go up the stairs to reach the only bathroom in the building. There could well be no on site phone service during our remaining days.
Keep an eye on this space for further developments. Note in particular possible changes in the schedule for November. We may try to fit in the club championship early to be sure it gets held.
Also note: there will be a meeting Saturday night, after the last round of the Tornado. This should be around seven o’clock. I would insist that only those who are either club regulars (or their managers!) or those who are willing to contribute more than just opinion and ideas. The last group are encouraged to stick with the Minnesota Chess Yahoo group. It could well be those who show up will be drafted to move our stuff down to the first floor, but it should be very short work with even only several people. Of course, anyone with experience in organizing or running chess events, or with rental property markets in general, would definitely be welcomed.


I have loved playing at the Chess Castle since 2002, and I am, of course, concerned about these changes. I hope we pull together with our ideas and energy to make a good transition.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Community and commerce

I've been reflecting the last couple days on the relationship between community and commerce. I have been going to businesses in my neighborhood to leave posters and handbills for Particle, who is playing at The Cabooze this Thursday. (I am listening to their April 14, 2005 show from the Quest Club as I write this.)

I feel comfortable approaching those people and businesses that I have because I have established a relationship with them by supporting their businesses as well as have gotten to know the owners from visits.

Two of my favorite places are Lisa and Dave's Fireroast Mountain Cafe and Scott's Twisted Groove studio. I have gone to Fireroast many times for my weekly supply of beans or to drop in for a cup when I need a little pick-me-up. I visited Scott's studio for the first time a couple of days ago while he was in the middle of working on some tie dyes. He's a very nice fellow with some great clothing on display. I will definitely be going there again.

I find it fulfilling to get to know the people where I shop, because it makes the experience more than just a simple transfer of money for goods. When you get to know people who are doing what they love doing, it is both refreshing and recharging.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Oh, the joys of composting

We bought a compost container for our yard and food waste about a year ago. I did my best to add the correct mixture of green and brown waste, to keep it well circulated, and to keep it appropriately moist.

Today I pitchforked out the bottom one-third of the container to make room for next year and to use that amount to the current garden areas in the yard. The compost was very soggy and stinky. I mixed it up with some sticks right now to let it dry out a bit before I add it to the garden. Live and learn.

Here's an online guide if anyone is interested in doing it the right way.

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Humans are living at a pace that is beyond the planet's means

Yesterday I read this article in Yahoo news referring to this World Wildlife Fund report that humans are using up the resources on the planet in an unprecedented rate over the last 20 years. The United Arab Emirates are using up resources at a faster rate per capita than the United States and Canada are. Australia is also high up on this list.

I think this quote is the most important from a moral position on how we as a global community are using these resources:

"The choices we make today will shape the possibilities for the generations which follow us. The fact that live we live beyond our means in our use of natural resources will surely limit opportunities for future generations that follow."

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Ratdog at the Fitzgerald Theatre

Last night was a wonderful evening. For the second weekend in a row, our friends watched our son for us so that we could go out on a date. I was very excited that our date was going to be an evening with Ratdog at the historic Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. This was our first time going to the Fitz, and I was excited to see what it looked like inside, although I was afraid that the seat description given to me when I ordered our tickets online would be way back in the balcony.

So we walked in a few minutes before the announced start time of 7:30 to get seated. The lady usher looked at our tickets and asked another usher to place us. He told us that our seats were these two loose seats...right up on the railing not more than 50 feet from the stage! Holy smokes, I tripped on that for quite a while, and smiled hugely! I gazed at the first level with some seats still vacant, but filling quickly as it got to 7:40. I started making a few notes in my notebook at 7:41, then the lights went out!

Ratdog took the stage and quickly got into a weird little jam. The first couple of minutes really didn't give me any clue. Then it started developing into a little sleazy funk, and I was pretty sure that they were going to break out into, no, no, once the smoke of the opening jam finished, it was Feel Like a Stranger!

I always loved when the Dead started their shows with this. A long, long, crazy night this will be indeed. (I'm smiling again as I write this...)

After Stranger, they began Easy Answers. I've only listened to this song a couple of times, so it hadn't quite grown on me, and it started out a little slow and lazy. But as the song developed, Ratdog got into a cool groove in the middle of it. I said to myself that this is what it should be like. I was very pleased.

Bob Dylan's She Belongs to Me was next. Jeff played some nice piano in the middle of it.

Three songs in, I was digging the feel of the show. The band had a good energy, although their were not a lot of people dancing in the first balcony level. But I'm there on a mission, so my dancing continued. Then they brought it up another notch as they break into Walking Blues. Something went “Pop!” during that song, and I scribbled “Smokin!!!” I KNEW that the rest of the set would be fantastic.

And I was right. They played the always beautiful and jam-a-rific Crazy Fingers. Damn! That songs brings a glow to my heart and energy to my dancing. They finished that and went into Brown-Eyed Women. The audience went nuts when the “roof caved in and Delilah Jones went to meet her god.” That is a strange combination of devastating sadness and a rocking moment that leads to the rest of that great story.

They stopped for a few seconds and started Easy to Slip. This was the second time I've heard them play it live. I think it is a sweet song. Kenny's sax sounds very nice in last night's version. It is a gentle song with a slow buildup. They finished and went into the Supplication Jam! I wasn't expecting that, and it was great. But to top it off, they went out of Supplication back to the end of Easy to Slip! Wow!

The crescendo of the first set's energy was Big Railroad Blues. I was floored by this set and said to Melissa that they had brought their A game and that the second set should be fantastic.

A fellow fan came up to us after the set ended. He was disappointed that there wasn't much dancing on our level, and he noticed that a couple that had come to dance with us after they were asked to sit down when they began dancing in their seats. I found this shocking and sad. Anyways he said he would join us and the couple of other dancers back on our side after break. I said that would be great!

We took a break outside for about twenty minutes to cool off and feel the fall air. I stood outside with my jaw hanging open for a minute or two just reeling from that energetic set. I'm not good at guessing set lists, but I knew that second set would also be very good.

They started out with an acoustic version of El Paso. Melissa is pretty new to all this music, but recognizing this old standard, she got up with me and danced. Out of El Paso, Jay kept the drums going as Mark switched from acoustic to electric guitar. They played a heavy version of Dylan's Masters of War. Kenny's sax went very deep to emphasize the emotion. Bob reminded us to get out and vote!

The band went fully electric again after Masters to play Jus' Like Mama Said. This is new to the repertoire, and it was a good tune. Gerrit Graham, who penned Victim or the Crime, also wrote this.

Our new dancing pal tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what was next. It took me a good ten to fifteen seconds to realize it, but then I heard the intro to The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows. The only other time I had heard this was at the Dead's Alpine Valley show in summer 2004. I love this song. I went off on a tear.

Out of TNK came the Sunday night special, Samson and Delilah. Could this get any better? The once slow dance section in the middle of the balcony was off dancing, too! What a great time!

Jay started drums out of Samson, and then the rest of the band, sans Bobby, contributed to the percussion. Bobby joined back in for “Stuff” before he quieted the band down for Ship of Fools.

Next was China Cat Sunflower followed by I Know You Rider. I didn't hear the “Wish I was a headlight verse” and I was slightly disappointed with that. However, the band and audience sang a capella “I Know You Rider, I will miss you when your gone.” The band left the stage!

I was grinning from ear to ear from such a special moment. They came back on, and we were singing it again. After a few repeats, the band finished the show with Touch of Grey.

I was so glad to be at such a good show. It has been 18 months since Spring tour '05 when I was at the Minneapolis and Chicago shows. I don't have a lot of free time for shows, and almost never have time to travel out of town for music, so I won't turn down an opportunity to see someone I love hearing so much.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Traveling on the light rail today...

Our son and I met Melissa for lunch downtown today. I realized how much I enjoy traveling there via the light rail. I enjoy eye contact and smiles with a wide variety of people versus the interaction that you get between drivers of different cars--either none at all, or else the finger and/or horn. (I'll cop to giving and receiving both. I definitely don't enjoy either!) Also, you get to hear little bits of people's stories. It makes me feel much more connected to humanity than traveling in the car.

We went to the library, briefly, as he was close to meltdown. On the steps of the library when we were leaving was Miss Richfield 1981 doing an interview with random people. She is great!


Thursday, October 19, 2006


I have just recently joined the street team for the techno-jam group, Particle, who is playing the Cabooze on Thursday, November 2. Today I have received my promotional posters and handbills which I will be distributing to help bring people to the show.

I am psyched about seeing them again--this will be my fourth time. My first time was in April, 2005 when they played with Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead in an arrangement known as Hydra. They blew my mind! I am definitely hooked on their music. Their keyboard, Steve Molitz, is incredible!

If you are a fan of either electronica or jam music and love to dance, please check them out. You will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The brouhaha du jour

I don't normally care to comment on items like this, but as this sort of thing is becoming a pattern, I think I will comment today.

In this story, a Metro Transit bus driver has been allowed to avoid driving buses that feature ads from Lavender Magazine, a local magazine which caters to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered communities of the Twin Cites area.

My wife and I have discussed this, as well as the recent refusal of Muslim taxi drivers to carry passengers who have alcohol on board, and the all-too prevalent stories of fundamentalist pharmacists refusing to assist customers who have need for contraception.

My take on this issue is the following:

I think these individuals who are making these choices need to reexamine their consciences and think about the lines of work that they are in. Perhaps they are all being way too sensitive and are not in the correct lines of work. They are proselytizing on the company's time.

I know that if there is something I am not comfortable with on a job that is not a legal issue and bothers me that much, I will need to work doing something else rather than ask my job to accomodate me. Isn't that fair?


Monday, October 16, 2006

Expansion of the plans for an international carbon market

As described in this news item, Governor Schwarzenegger is expanding the carbon-trading program with the European Union and seven states in the United States Northeast. (I posted about this program back in July.)

Carbon trading is a means for entities to be rewarded for reducing their production of greenhouse gases. The idea behind it is that innovation will spur economic benefits for those companies who can improve their processes.

Although not a universally-lauded concept, it appears that it will be an important tool in the world's management of the production of carbon dioxide.

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Ratdog plays the Fitzgerald Theatre this Sunday!

Tickets? Check. Sitter? Check. Anticipation? Hell yes, check!

Last night I had a funny dream about the coming weekend's Ratdog show. In my dream, I was chatting with Bob Weir before the show about what I thought their setlist might be. (I'm guessing an opener of Big River.) The show was held in my old grade school gymnasium, and very few people were dancing.

I woke up this morning grinning that the show is coming soon. Melissa has seen Ratdog once, and that was when she was pregnant. So, we will get a night out for music without our son, which should be a fun time.

Today Bob turns 59! Happy Birthday, Bob!

The night before the Fitz show, Ratdog is one of many bands who are helping with the humanitarian effort, Rock For Darfur. If you are inclined to see any live music this coming weekend, please check out the link.

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It was a very nice weekend!

I was feeling run down last week, so the weekend couldn't come quickly enough. On Saturday night, Jefe organized yet another great get together for Oktoberfest in NE Minneapolis at Gasthof zur Gem├╝tlichkeit. This was my second time and Melissa's second time there as well, although it was our first time there together. We saw old friends, met some new people, and drank lots of beer and ate lots of German food. I especially appreciated when Jeff started the cheering for me to finish the first boot of beer. I did! :)

Joe Erjavec v Shawn Mize

Here's the game from Friday night. Shawn definitely schooled me on this one! This demonstrates how not to play the Alekhine and how one should be punished for an opening mistake.

This browser is not Java-enabled.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Twin Cities Chess League, Round Two

On Friday night, Tal Tales (Kelly, myself, John, and Blaine) took on Isolated Pawn Storm (Dan, Shawn, Matt, and Duane) in the second round of the TCCL. As I referred to in earlier postings, we were outgunned rating wise on each board.

Board One: Dan (
1949) v Kelly (1295)
Board Two: M
e (1287) v Shawn (1900)
Board Three: Matt (1525) v John (1106)
Board Four: Blaine (provisional) v Duane (1521)

I half-jokingly told John and Blaine that it was going to be up to them for us to get a draw in the match, as boards one and two would be a really bitch for Kelly and me. (Dan is Kelly's and John's coach.) I've played Dan and Shawn before, and they are tough players. I knew what we'd be in for.

Duane had the shortest game and lost to Duane within the first half-hour. (The matches are G/90). Kelly and Dan had a pretty interesting game. Dan played the exchange version of the Ruy Lopez (C68). I did not have a chance to pay attention to most of it, but it looked like a good battle. However, Kelly resigned.

So now it was up to me and John. I had a rough game against Shawn. He played the Alekhine's Defense against my 1. e4. The beginning went 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 4. Nf3 d6 5. d3??? (I've played against the Alekhine's before, so I don't know why I played the horsecrap d3. There is no way I should play the sharp c4 followed by the passive and weakening (to my position) d3. d4 is a key square. By not pushing to d4, I left a big hole in my position for Shawn to take advantage of, which he did. (I'll post the whole game later.) Anyways, that game ended up as a miniature, with Shawn checkmating me in 22 moves.

So, with my game finished, we have lost the match. John, however, is undettered, and is playing a great game against Matt. He remained focused, had at least 12-15 minutes more on his clock than Matt, and had a sweet position. I was pretty sure he would win the game if he kept it up. I watched for a little bit before following Kelly out in the hall.

I said, "Win or lose, John is playing like a m--f--ing stud!" We were talking about the game with Dan and Duane, trying to figure out which way their game was going to go. I said that I thought John would win, although he played a sub-optimal move that could have given Matt a chance to recover.

However, John kept his grip on the board, Matt had severe time trouble, and John mated him. Great game!

I am really proud of our team, despite losing 1-3. I am not sure yet who we will be playing next month, but I feel like we will have a good match.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Kramnik is the World Chess Champion!

The big event is finally over. Kramnik and Topalov were tied 6-6 yesterday, and they had to play four shorter games today to decide the winner. Kramnik won those, 2.5-1.5.

As Kramnik was playing this tournament under protest, I am happy to see that he won and no suit needed to be filed after this event.

Here is a link to Chessgames with the games.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Twin Cities Chess League, Round Two today

I'm up analyzing my game from earlier this evening at the Chess Castle. I lost this one, but it was a pretty interesting game.

Later today is the second round of the Twin Cities Chess League. We won last month, but that will be easy compared to what we face tonight. I am on board two, and I think I am likely going to be playing Shawn Mize, a player currently rated 1900. (I'm at 1287, although I will game some points for last month's Thursday Knighter.) Regardless, I'm sure I'll have a tough game, so I hope to be at my best.

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South Park last night

Trey and Matt took on the 9/11 conspiracy theorists in last night's episode. I thought it was a particularly funny episode, but that is due in part that I don't believe the 9/11 conspiracies. (I was listening to an excellent discussion on R U Sirius' show a couple of weeks ago about this very subject.)

I don't think this way because I think the present administration is a good one--I think they are one of the worst we have ever had. However, I think the simplest explanation of events is the correct one. Bush and Co. abused it, to be sure, but I don't think they caused it.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

He's Lincolnish, he's superstantial, and tomorrow...

Stephen Colbert has Andrew Sullivan on his show! That should make for a good interview!


I did not realize that this was under serious consideration by some, but it was reported on the morning news that neither Jon Stewart nor Stephen Colbert are going to run for the White House in 2008. LOL!

Robert Anton Wilson

In the last few days, I have found out that Robert Anton Wilson is dealing with end-of-life health care issues that are quite painful. I hope that this part of his life goes as well as possible and that he passes on gracefully.

I have been rereading my dog-eared copy of The Illuminatus! Trilogy in the last couple of weeks. I picked this book up during the summer of 1989, and I think this is my third or fourth read through it now. It is a delightfully crazy read that deals with many historical conspiracies in a unique way.

He is one of those modern writers that not enough people are aware of, and in my opinion, that is unfortunate. He was written some other great works, including the Cosmic Trigger series, Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, and others. He challenges mainstream thinking between his fiction and prose. He was one of my favorite writers in my early 20's and continues to be one of my favorite writers today. I never met him, but I thank him for his contributions!

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Monday, October 09, 2006

My human-machine interface

This morning I had a long overdue eye appointment. Part of my checkup was to get a retinal scan with a new machine that takes a picture.

Sticking my nose close up to the machine, they took two good pictures of my right eye. However, something did not feel right when they took the first picture of my left eye. I had tensed up and got faint from the combination of my awkward posture and the light being shot into my eye. Things were fuzzy for about two minutes before I could see normally again.

This is pretty damn funny to me, because I've had this reaction to other tests over my lifetime. I need to relax more, but I often forget!


A somber weekend

Although I had time to write this weekend, I did not feel up to it at all.

On Saturday, I attended a funeral of one of my professors at the University of Minnesota. Her class was the first one I took in my program, the Master of Liberal Studies, in the summer of 2003. My major output during that time was my paper on teaching chess in the classroom that I have published on my website and on the Minnesota State Chess Association's website.

Jill had been sick for a couple of years with cancer. Since she was a person I did not see very often after the class had ended, I did not know that she was going through this ordeal. I had found out by e-mail this week that she passed and the arrangements for her funeral.

I stayed through part of the reception and talked to one of her friends, a fellow musician. We talked about losing loved ones. (I lost my brother in January of 2004.)

I felt okay during the time I was at home that evening, but I woke up tearful in the middle of the night from a strong dream dealing with Michael's death. I hadn't felt that way in quite a while, and although I shouldn't have been surprised considering that I was at Jill's funeral earlier, it still caught me off guard.

I spent the rest of the day both sad and tired.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

I've reached a small milestone with blogging

I started blogging three months ago, on July 5th. This technology is fairly new to me, but as I enjoy writing, I have taken to it. I am learning more about my writing style as it evolves in this space, and I am learning about the community of people who read and create blogs. I have enjoyed my established friends' blogs, while enjoying the work of new blog friends.

I have enjoyed two aspects of this. I enjoy the diary-like reflection of blogging, in which I may post something that does not necessarily get read or commented on. It helps capture a certain mood or thought of a particular day. However, if it were only for that, I would be journaling offline and not publishing.

What makes this technology interesting is creating conversations over many miles with people I don't see very often or will never meet. As I enjoy conversation in general, I enjoy those people's blogs who engender a space for discussion. Recently I have been reading and commenting on Terra Praeta's blog, and I enjoy the conversations there.

I think that this technology can be wonderful if we use it wisely to bring important issues to light, wherever we are in this world. We are a complicated planet of people living in a complex time. We are interdependent on each other, whether we are fierce individualists or live in strong communities. We need to bring our voices and our best thoughts together to create societies that will prosper and promote the best of humanity. Despite our many shortcomings, we are a marvelous species that has learned much, but still has plenty to learn. I think this is a place we can use to help us learn more about each other and help create a good future.

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