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.