Thursday, May 25, 2006

My mother the singer

"This is the nicest group of women. As much as I love SaddleBrooke - and I do love it - it was nice to meet women from all over Tucson," Grantham said.

Here's an article about my mother and her singing group (but, from my perspective, mostly about my mother).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Perfect Record

Well, I played in another go tournament today. My record is still unblemished by a victory.

My first game was against one of my opponents from my previous tournament. Since I had regressed to a 17 kyu ranking, and she had advance to 15 kyu, I got a two-stone handicap. It didn't help -- the same result. She cordoned off a massive amount of territory, I tried a desperate invasion, it failed, and I resigned. She ended the tournament undefeated, so I guess I shouldn't feel too bad.

My second game was against a 15-kyu kid. I played more respectably and lost by 32 or 34 stones (I can't remember). I feel like I was a few mistakes away from winning that game.

My third game was something else entirely. I played against a kid who entered at 35 kyu. That meant I had to give him an 18 stone handicap. I didn't even know what that looks like. (The most I had played with online was 10, and the most I had played in the tournament was previous two games.) After some consultation, we came up with the following diagram:

The more observant among you may notice that there are only 17 stones in the diagram. They couldn't figure out where to put the 18th stone. So they decided black could go first (normally reserved for white) as the 18th stone. Now, even if you don't know how to play go, if you recognize that the object of the game is to use stones to surround territory, you realize that black starts with a lot of territory almost surrounded. If I played an 18 stone handicap game against a 2 dan, I'm fairly confident I could pull that off.

But I almost did win despite the handicap. I made one mistake late in the game that allowed my opponent to win by around 30 stones.

The fourth game was much like the third, but this time I had to give my opponent only 15 stones handicap. Once again, I lost by 30 stones. This opponent also finished the tournament undefeated.

So I stand at 0-8 in competitive go. Despite all this (or perhaps because I'm hungry for a win), I am itching to play again. I'll drop to 19 or 20 kyu after this tournament, and I'll have an even better chance -- right?

I've been selling Christina on the idea of spending a weekend in Richmond next month for the Virginia Open. Winning (or losing) is not guaranteed, but a report here either way is.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Border Issues

I thought I had weighed in on this subject before, but Google can't find a mention of it, so I must be mistaken.

I read in a USA Today article that the Senate has pushed back the date by which Americans need passports when returning from Canada and Mexico. I don't have an opinion on the technical details of the timing of this requirement, but overall I'm in favor of this requirement.

I don't necessarily think that this requirement will increase our border security. Conceptually, however, I think it's good for people to use their passports when traveling out of the country.

First of all, it's easier. After I traveled to a conference in graduate school and my non-passport-carrying fellow graduate students (one in particular) got chastised by Canadian immigration, everyone swore they'd have a passport next time they crossed the border.

Secondly, it makes people think about the fact that they're leaving the US. Maybe I'm being naive, but I think having to carry a passport into Tijuana might make a few people think about the fact that they're entering a sovereign nation with a rich history which wasn't just set up to provide them with cheap booze for a night on the town.

Finally, I hope that Americans who get passports for travel in North America will feel, "Hey, now that I've paid for this thing, I might as well use it." I love America, and I love Americans, but some of you guys need to get out more. Especially now that international travel is not that much more expensive than domestic, people can get out and see the world. And they should -- travel has given me a wider perspective on the world, and I think others could benefit from a more cosmopolitan experience.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Millennium Bridge

My trip to England was mostly work, but I did have part of Friday free and in London. London! I like London, so this was cool. I finally got to do something I wanted to do in my 2000 trip there. The Millennium Bridge was built for the millennium (duh) and opened in 2000. It was quickly closed, as resonance from pedestrian footsteps caused the bridge to sway wildly. Well, they finally "fixed" it (there was nothing unsafe about the original design -- it sounded kind of fun) in 2002.

It turns out this is the easiest way to get from Paddington to the Tate Modern and the Globe. I just take the Underground's Circle Line to Blackfriars and then walk across the Thames.

It has quite nice views. To the north is St. Paul's Cathedral...

To the south, the Tate Modern...

To the west, the Tower Bridge...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bristol Marriott Royal

Greetings from the Bristol Marriott Royal. I have the option -- do I pay 15 pounds/day (roughly $28) for Internet access through the hotel? Or do I use the free wireless network provided by a nearby independent cinema? Hmmn...

I have a very nice room. This is a quaint old hotel that has been remodeled recently.

They decided to keep the plumbing as is, which means separate hot and cold taps (I never understood the attraction of that). Also, if I'm running cold water in the bath, I can't run it in the sink. And if I'm doing either of the preceding two things, the toilet tank doesn't refill. Quirky, but reasonable.

Right now I'm waiting for room service. I used to feel like I should leave my room and have more interaction with local culture. But I've had plenty of interaction with UK culture over the years, and I'm going to have plenty this week. Plus, it was raining (trust me -- it started after I took the picture.)

I took the train out here, which was cool. I hadn't taken a UK train in over 10 years -- except for the Heathrow Express, which I also took today. I almost duplicated a feat from years back, when I started to nod off as we pulled into Bristol. Fortunately, unlike years ago when visiting my parents, I did not manage to sleep through my stop. A short taxi ride later, I was here and napping in my room. That's another thing I used to feel like I should avoid...but I've learned that I'm talented enough at sleeping that a nap won't keep me up all night.

Well, the room service is here, so I'm going to go enjoy my chicken caesar salad...