Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Chess Castle

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

HOMELESS AGAIN (10/30)
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.

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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 Shakedown....no, 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!

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Particle

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?

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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.

















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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.

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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!

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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!

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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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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Listening to my first CD ever purchased today

In the years between becoming a reformed Deadhead and seeing Mickey Hart and Bembe Orisha at the Minnesota Zoo--a twelve year stretch--I started buying compact discs. Although I was not going to any Dead-related shows, I still purchased one great Dead-related disc, Deadicated. Between having my favorite band's songs covered by a wide array of musicians and having proceeds from this CD going to the Rainforest Action Network and Cultural Survival, I had to have it.

I enjoyed most of the album, but Suzanne Vega covering China Doll and Cassidy, the Indigo Girls playing Uncle John's Band, and the strange cover of Wharf Rat by Midnight Oil stuck out for me. (The last one is strange because the Dead's music was new to them at the time of the recording.)

It's good to listen to this again and feel the joy of other musicians playing the Dead's music! :)

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Game Seven: A pretty well played draw

I made a comment on Susan Polgar's blog that I wish that game five will actually be played rather than be a forfeit win for Topalov. Like many fans, I am having trouble with the less-than-professional behavior. Over the last couple days I have rooted less for Topalov, although I admire his games.

With that stated, the seventh game was actually a pretty good game. They both played well and although Kramnik was a pawn up at the conclusion, he could not convert that to an advantage and the game ended in a draw.

I am now a bit heartened that they played serious chess rather than mind games with each other!

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Dick Cheney is a dick!

Andrew Sullivan posted this today. The administration seem like a bunch of bullies who can't stand up to criticism of their policies. They have to resort to intimidation tactics like the one they used on Steve Howards. They are a despicable lot!

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Monday, October 02, 2006

An important analysis about the torture and detention bill

I have not read his blog before, but Glenn Greenwald published this excellent analysis about the torture and detention bill.

I think this is the time to carefully read up on the bill (H R 6166), look at how your senators voted on it, and tell them with your vote in November what you think.

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Private web searching

This morning I heard a story on Future Tense about a search engine named Ixquick. Unlike other search engines, this one will not store information, like your IP address. This provides a means for you to avoid having private information gathered about you while you search.

I believe that people have the right to privacy from government and corporations. Those entities should have a policy of consumers and technology users opting-in if they wish to share their information. This right is not automatic, though, and people need to think about their privacy in the digital realm and take practical steps to protect themselves.

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A nice weekend, with apple picking!

This was a very nice weekend; yesterday was sunny and the high was in the low 80's. Melissa has never been apple picking before, so we went to the Afton Apple orchard.

We picked a bag each of Spartan and Cortland. It was fun walking around. Our son kept one apple in his hands for nearly an hour before finally eating it. Our feet were very sore last night, and that felt good to get in plenty of exercise.

It was nice to also disconnect electronically from the world for most of the weekend. I had enjoyed keeping up on the World Chess Championship, but with the problems Kramnik and Topalov were having with each other after game four, it was wonderful to unplug from it and find out that they started playing again today.

With the forfeit win going to Topalov in game five and with a draw today, Kramnik still holds the lead in the tournament, 3.5-2.5 with six games remaining.

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