Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chess ratings is a place you'll find me frequenting practically every weekday at lunchtime. I enjoy playing chess. I find the simple fact that few games are ever alike and that it never gets boring or repetitive is pretty amazing.
Around December, I decided to step up and try to enter a tournament. A direct competition with anywhere from 3-10 other people (usually guys) in a best of two games. The winner of the first round moves on to the next. I shocked myself! I played really well, and almost won the 1st place spot! (took second). In addition, my rating sky-rocketed to almost 1700! (I usually am around 1400). I was feeling like I was starting to learn the game!
Well... I am in a rut like you would not believe. Perhaps I just got lucky, perhaps I was trying really hard because it was my first tournament, I'm not sure why exactly, but I can't seem to get my rating back up to how I was playing around early December.
At lunchtime, I play what is called "blitz chess" in that each game lasts 10 minutes (or less) per person (so a max of a 20 minute game, but that's extremely rare). I was up around a 1500 blitz rating. Well, not anymore. I've dropped to just around 1400, and can't seem to break that.
I find myself becoming frustrated, because I felt like I had something before that I can't recapture. I keep trying new tactics where I 'thought' that's what I was doing in December, but to no avail.
As I was re-thinking about all this the other day, I had a different thought. Perhaps the rating system is flawed?!
As a person plays more games, you would think that your rating would even out. But that doesn't seem to be the case. There are always new players joining, who always start off at 1200. So I could be playing a 1300, and loose to this guy who in actuality is really a 1600 player.
If it were a closed system, the ratings should level off, and be fairly accurate, but now I realize that's not the case. (I am still thinking about this, so I may change my opinion later).
I'm curious now if anyone has done a study on this. It seems ripe for study.
If there are any chess players who find this post, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this... do you feel any rating system is accurate? what sort of swing is normal? etc...
Meanwhile, I'll go back to pushing pieces around in the hopes I'll learn something.
If you ever want to play me, just look up cyenobite on

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Unicorns and kittens

I hate to sound like a broken record, because I'm almost tired of hearing it myself, but today was a historical day. I am glad I chose to take a half day off so I could watch the Inauguration. I thought it very interesting, and while I'm not crazy enough to want to go sit outside in 20 degree weather, and putting up with all the crowds, I was glad to be home watching the show up close on my television. I mostly watched the C-span channel as they didn't have a lot of commentary. A few times I flipped over to CNN and FOX but could only put up with their ramblings for about 5 minutes.
I'm also VERY thankful that there didn't appear to be any "incidents". All those people gathered in one spot I thought there might be something negative happening, but so far I've not heard one thing.
I do have one image that I want to post about here that I think was an interesting observation...
I was surprised to see Cheney in a wheel chair. I think I heard someone say that he had recently had a slip or something and had gotten hurt. I hope he gets better. I have to laugh though, as several people in my twitter feed said that all he needed was a big white fluffy cat in his lap (apparently one of the famous James Bond villains was in a wheel chair with a fluffy cat).
Then a little while later, I watched George's father walking down the hallway with his cane. I was a bit surprised how old he looked (he is 84). I later learned that he recently had back surgery, and his balance was a little off. He seemed in good spirits but, he definitely had a shuffle walk.
Then I saw George himself, and he did not look happy at all. There was a certain glumness in his facial expression - and to me, it made him also look old.
So then it hit me... here are some of the key figures of the Bush administration leaving office with canes, and wheelchairs, and literally shuffling off... and making way for a youthful man who is fit and in shape. It made me feel good to see some of the "good ol' boys" network leaving office.
Mr. President... you have a lot on your plate now, and a lot of problems to try and fix. I do not envy you at all... but I wish you all the best, and HOPE we as a country can start to fix some of the problems that the previous administration has left us.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

youtube advertising

I probably should post this when I'm not so tired, but I don't want to forget about it. Forgive me if I'm slightly incoherent.
I was watching a video online today on youtube. (Actually it was several videos).
After the third video, I got tired of the pop up ad that appears in the lower 20% of the screen, and would click it off as soon as it popped up.
Then I got angry at youtube for me having to do this.
I understand it is a business. I understand it gets all (most) of its money from advertising. But c'mon. To throw an ad up in front of the video that I'm trying to watch?! How intrusive and obnoxious can you get? What set me off was at the end of the video... You know how when a video ends and then a few other choices pop up as if saying "if you liked that, you might like this video"... well I saw the title of the second video and I wanted to watch it, but I couldn't there was another ad over top of it, and I couldn't close it, or move it. I ended up missing that previous recommended video. Grrr.
So if google is monitoring their blogger sites for comments about youtube, I hope you read this, and can find it in your business heart to make the ads less 'in your face'. The people (as in the masses) are what makes youtube great. Don't ruin it, by covering up any portion of the video that they worked so hard on to make. It's just plain rude.
k thanks bye.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You know you're old when...

Hey kids... here's a tip...
You know you're old when you start to develop feelings for a grocery store.
Yes... I have a strange relationship with my local Wegmans grocery store. I enjoy going food shopping there. I won't bore you with all the details, because unless you are over 40 you prob wouldn't understand :) Lets just say that when I save a lousy ¢20 on a jar of spaghetti sauce (that tastes good too, and is made with semi-healthy ingredients) it's a good feeling.

But enough about me and my borderline obsession with Wegmans... I really wanted to talk about another reason why I like Wegmans. I feel like they are looking out for the little guy.
Recently, a friend sent me an email that at first glance I thought it was another chain email, or "cute puppy" emails. I didn't put a lot of weight behind it. It said that Wegmans was starting a new plan to GIVE away FREE antibiotics. (yes, you still need a prescription). Wegmans has offered this plan as a way to help those who need it. In the econimic times we live in now, people are struggling financially to make ends meet. It wasn't until I was in the checkout line a few days later when I saw the sign, confirming the FREE antibiotics. Wow.

So, today, I get an email from Wegmans with something that I must admit ran through my mind as well... Doctors are so quick to hand out antibiotics! In fact there are many doctors who warn against this practise and they point to things like these "superbugs" tht have built up resistance to many of the 'standard' antibiotics. So when Wegmans announced their plan to offer free antibiotics, they were met with both praise and thanks to critisim. So what did Wegmans do? The just sent a follow up email, where they published (on their website) a letter from a registered nurse that offered 'common sense' information so as to help people decided when or when not to ask the doctor for an antibiotic.

On a different line of thinking...
I thought it really interesting how the American public can be split over opinions.
Here was a company that was trying to help its customers who may be in hard times financially, and what better way to do it than to help them with medicine - yet, they also recieved criticism for doing the "wrong" thing by those concerned with too much antibiotics. What better example can you offer as to how differently people think about subjects.

I give credit to Wegmans. To GIVE anything FREE to help it's customers deserves a tip of the hat in my book.
I'll try to link to the letter from the registered nurse here:
And here is the general press announcement about this program:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Apple update

I solved my apple monitor problem.
Wed night (I think) I stopped into the local apple store at the nearby mall.
I was surprised how big the store was, and I was surprised how many people were in the store too.
I first attempted to get a "ballpark" price for fixing the old 23" cinema display... I pretty much new the answer before I asked, but hey, it was worth a shot. The answer: I have no idea. The apple "genius" who was about 19 years old said that was not a normal repair he's used to doing. He then went on to try and tell me that if I had the serial number, it would help... translation: He had no idea but wanted to send me away to get the number. I failed to see how having the serial number would help him to 'ballpark' the amount, when I started to push him on this he clearly didn't want me asking any more questions.
So as I am looking around the store, I see one of the "discontinued" 23" monitors. Hmm, that's odd I thought. Usually when apple discontinues something they pull it from their shelves. I had to ask again... to the other 18 year old sales woman... by any chance do you have any of those in stock? She got onto here futuristic bluetooth wireless communicator, and asked someone in the back. A few minutes later, (after she forgot I was waiting for her), she said, "yes, we do, would you like one?"
I was thrilled! But I had to run the $900 purchase past my boss first. I asked her, "I'll have to come back... Can you tell me about how many you have in stock?"
Her response, "No. It's against apple policy to give out stock."
I tried humor, "Why is it like top secret?"
She was clearly not amused.

So next morning I headed up to the store as they opened in the hopes they didn't sell their last one the night before. I had to laugh...
I walk into the almost empty store, and other 18 year old saleswoman greets me and asks if she can help me. I tell her I'd like to purchase that 23" monitor. Great she says... she presses a button on her high tech communicator, and I'm expecting a person to come out from the back... but no... a different 17 year old salesman comes from the back of the store (only about 30' away!). Rather that wave, call out, or even tell me to see that kid in the blue shirt, she used her high tech device to transfer me over.

Lastly... the young kid said "Do you have any questions about the monitor?"
Me: Nope.
Him: Oh, ok. (I totally threw him off). I'll go get one from the back.
Me waiting 5 min.
Him: Ok, here we go...
Me: Um... that's the wrong one. I asked for the 23" not the new 24" LED model.
Him: Oh. (no apology).

While it all worked out, and only minor inconvenience, I have to say I was less than impressed with the attitudes at the apple store. It was a sense of "we're better than you".

I hope to purchase my new computer this week sometime. While I could go back to the local store, I think I'll just order it over their website. I'd rather deal with an impersonal computer, than an impersonal person.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Apple - you've made my S-list

Just a quick rant before I head to bed tonight...
I am lucky to be in the market for a new Macintosh (apple) computer for work. (While I feel lucky to get a new computer I'm also aware of the dread of finding all new bugs and glitches of new operating systems, upgraded programs, etc... it's a love/hate relationship).
So anyway,
I waited until today to make any decisions on which machine to buy due to Apple's usual big announcement at the MacWorld Expo (this week). Only one big announcement really, a new 17" macbook pro - which while exciting, does not effect me since I am going to get a desktop model (Mac pro).
So I start looking at the possible configurations of the new machine and see under the monitors that I only have two choices... a 20" and a 30". Wait... what about the NEW 24" LED monitor that they just came out with a month or so ago?
Long story short...
After a LONG time reading message boards, and reading tech specs, I learned (much to my surprise) that the new 24" monitor ONLY works with the NEW macbook laptops! And by new I mean new as in within the last 3 months! If you bought a macbook 4 months ago chances are it's not compatible.
I can not fathom why apple chose to do this.
You can't (at the time of this writing) even buy an adapter for this new monitor.
So now... I'm in a real quandry about what to do.
I either have to downgrade my current monitor (24" cinema display that just blew out on Monday) to a 20" OR consider buying a third party 24" monitor like a DELL - which I REALLY DON'T want to do.
I'm really angry at Apple right now.
I mentioned earlier to those who would listen to me...
Apple used to be known for simplicity in their machines and products of just "plug-n-play" - I think apple is putting too much time and effort into the latest iphone or ipod, and have forgotten how to make a good computer!
At this point I think I'll be getting the 20" monitor and then use an old 15" CRT monitor as my secondary monitor. Just burns me up.


Friday, January 02, 2009


Happy New Year!

Just a short post as I hope to maybe pick up my blog posts a little more.

I hope I will like 2009 - I do so far, if only for the fact that I like the way the numbers look together. (It's a typography thing).

I started out my new years by sleeping late after a fun new years eve party with good friends.
Stayed up late in spite of being VERY tired to play a new computer game (check it out world of Goo). I think I got home around 2:30am then stayed up til around 4am! ugh.
Needless to say, I slept late on 1/1/09.
Relaxed on my day off.
Then around 8pm, I said 'I'm going to a movie!"
So I braved the 23 degree cold, and ventured out to see "The day the Earth Stood still".
I really enjoyed it. Certainly don't look to Keanu for any Oscars (He plays a great robot/cyborg/alien/anything that needs a perpetual look of confusion). So he was good for this role.
I enjoyed the effects (though the touch screen was a little over hyped). And I mostly enjoyed the storyline... all the way up to the last few minutes of the movie. I thought the ending was really weak. But overall I enjoyed it for a sci-fi remake.
I should have prefaced my mini-review here by saying that I had never seen the original movie. (though it's on my netflix queue now).

Then I finished off the day by starting to read some of the "Watchmen" graphic novel (aka: Comic book). I don't know if I like it yet. Jury is still out.

I hope you started your year off well too with things that you enjoy.