Friday, November 10, 2017

2017/11/10 - Dear Louie CK

Dear Louie,
You were once my favorite comedian. I loved your jokes. I memorized some and repeated them. I recommended you to my friends and family, including my pre-teen step-daughter.
Then you did the the “Horace and Pete” series. The cast was great, but the story was one one of the most depressing that I’ve ever watched, and you played the leading dark cheerless role. 
The thing is, you were so fucking good at it, so convincing, that I couldn’t believe that isn’t the real you. My opinion of you changed forever and I could no longer see you as being a funny guy. I had the same reaction to comedians Jerry Louis after seeing him drunk on the tellethons, and Michael Richards after hearing him spew racial hate. 
And now this... How can I get this disgusting image of you out of my head? How can I look at you without seeing you jerking off in front of unwilling women. 
You’re a pig Louie. 

Goodby,
Steve

Monday, October 30, 2017

2017/10/30 - Talking to an asshole

So I’m lying here in bed with my new puppy in the dark, watching Standups on Netflix. 
This is so special. I’m holding her close, and wispering that you and I will be friends for life, at least for my life. I’m telling her that you’re the smartest dog on the whole block, and this is just the beginning of a wonderful life for you! You are just starting life, and you so fucking lucky to have me as your daddy! You could be the luckiest dog in the whole wide world!
But as I’m fondeling her in the dark, I realize she was facing the other way!
I was talking into her asshole! 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

2017/10/13 - Fall Foliage


The crazy house. So benign from the outside, who could possibly imagine what goes on inside?

Friday, October 6, 2017

2017/10/07 - Audible.com

I spend about 12 hours per week cycling and I like to listen while I ride. 

Even though I have well over a thousand songs on my iPhone, eventually they get repetitious.

So a couple of years ago I started listening to podcasts. I started with WTF and Stuff You Should Know, and then got into political podcasts like The Daily, Up First, Weekly Roundup, Seth Meyers, and Bill Maher.

But to my chagrin, podcasts started to get just like AM radio, with annoying commercials. At first it seems nice that the podcaster actually reads the commercial script, but since there are only a handful of advertisers that sponsor podcasts, the commercials get extremely repetitious, and the sincerity of the delivery starts to sound more and more like bullshit.

So 10 weeks ago I signed up at Audible.com, and now I can listen to media commercial free. I’m lovin the new option while riding. 

I highly recommend this Google application and I’ve already ordered and listened to all or part of 16 books. For what it’s worth here’s my recommendations:

The Home Front - Narated by Martin Sheen. Excellent account of life in America at home, while the men (and women) were overseas fighting. It was a lot different than any wartime we've seen in America since then. 

The Butterfly effect - Very interesting theory about how the slightest thing could have a huge effect. 

Life - by Keith Richards. Perhaps my favorite so far. Two of the chapters were narrated by Keith. I was so inspired, I actually went out and bought a guitar! He aptly points out that there’s a little Keith Richard in all of us. While waiting for my front teeth, I told my buddy Zeh "This is bringing out the Keith Richards in me".

Mr Mercedes - by Steven King. Great thriller. It inspired me to order anorher Steven King novel. Unfortunately I ordered the unabridged version of The Stand. I soon realized why they cut all those pages out. 

Al Franklin, Giant of the Senate. I love the man. A story about his life so far. He’s both brilliant and funny. He narrates the entire book. I just loved his quote "When most people think of a cruise that is full of shit, they think of Carnival. We in the Senate think of Ted.”

Five Presidents - by Clint Hill. He tells his story about serving as a secret service agent for 5 consecutive US presidents. He was the guy who jumped into the automobile during the JFK assignation. Great insites to the different presidential styles. 

Total Recall: My Unbelievable Life - by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Truly one of the most successful men alive. Mister Universe, The Terminator, and Governor of California all by one poor ambitious Austrian immigrant. The American Dream come true.
   

2017/10/06 - My friend from NYC: Frank

When I was just a wee lad in my 20’s, I had good friend Frank who came over my apartment every Wednesday night to play chess. I was the first in my crowd to leave the roost and get my own apartment. As you might imagine it was a popular hang out.
Frank would show up every Wednesday night around 7:00 PM with a half gallon of Almedin Mountain Rhine wine, and we would play chess until the wine was gone. Then we would go out bar hopping.
Between the hangovers and the memories of the close calls and crazy shit we did the night before, Thursday mornings at work were almost unbearable. We’d both swear, “Never again!”, but the commitment would only last until the next Wednesday night.
One Wednesday night we wound up on Rikers Island, a state prison, with guards yeilding machine guns surrounding Frank’s car. They thought we were convicts trying to escape, when actually we were just two intoxicated idiots lost while looking for Coney Island! 
Frank and I have kept our friendship alive for the past 50 years, and he’s coming out to visit me in Colorado again next Tuesday. We are not the party animals we were when we were in our twenties, but we still play chess!
During his visit last Fall, we invented “Team Chess” (a topic for a future post), and since then Zeh has joined our team, “Team Heisenberg”.
I’m as excited as a kid, and looking forward to a week of mountain biking, good laughs, and of course, chess!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2017/10/03 - An Eight Turtle Day

Sunday during my birthday bike ride with Zeh, we spotted eight large (10 to 12 inch) painted turtles, sunning themselves on the trunk of a tree that had fallen into the still water alongside Clear Creek.
Typically I see only one or two of these turtles here on a sunny day, but one time I saw three and got so excited! So you can imagine how thrilled I got when I saw eight! 
This once-in-a-lifetime turtle sighting can only be explained as Mother Nature giving Steve a birthday gift.

2017/10/02- Treadmill Chess

Another one of my chess inventions is "Treadmill Chess". This idea came from a need to exercize in winter while I was working full-time dawn-to-dusk in downtown Denver. 
Normally I dispise machine exercize, but when I thought of playing an online chess game (against a real person) where each player gets 30 minutes, all the while walking/jogging on the treadmill, that sounded interesting!
And normally I don't have the patience for that long of a game, my "need for speed', typically finds me playing speed-chess, where each player gets 10 minutes. 
As it turned out, the marriage of chess with exercize worked out extremely well for me. The extra time helped my game, and I found it very invigorating to have a release for the stress associated with chess. This probably sounds crazy, but my heartrate is tipically higher playing chess, than when I'm cycling. 


2017/10/01 - Happy Birthday to Me

OMG 67, thought by now I'd be in heaven!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017/09/30 - Contact Chess

Many many moons ago, omg too many too remember, my college girlfiend asked me to teach her how to play chess.
She wasn't technically my "girlfriend" yet, but I was working on that. And believe it or not, I was actually dumb enough too think that she really wanted to learn how to play chess.
So I was using this request as my chance to "make my move", and suggested we take the first lesson someplace quiet and secluded, so as not to be distracted. We chose an oak tree in the middle of a grassy field on campus.
To make a long story short, within a few minutes into the lesson, I stole a kiss and then we spent the next 20 minutes or so "making out", which meant kissing in those days.
When it was time to go to our next class, we packed up the chess pieces and Mary-Lynne said "I think I'm going to like chess!" 
I replied "Me too, and I think we just invented "Contact Chess".
A few years later we got married.

Later,
Steve

PS: Thanks again for the birthday wishes MLH!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017/09/28 - My 125

My 125


This is my prize tank. It's 125 gallons. I love that I can keep two schools of tiny fish alongside much larger schools. This is because the larger fish are vegetarian!
I have: 
4 very large clown loaches
12 very large silver dollars
2 Huge Pacus
25 tiny Cardinals
20 tiny Remmy noses 
2 HUGE places
2 small catfish

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2017/09/26 - Just another day in my life

Today was actually a fairly good day.
I started out the morning at the periodontist hearing that "Everything looks great", but when I asked  "When exactly will I get my 3 front teeth back" (the result of a recent cycling incident), he replied "about 4 months". Wow... I think to myself "This will be an exercise in humility, maybe I should move to Ward Colorado, where half the population is missing at least one front tooth."
So when I get home to my heatless house (my furnace broke down on Sunday) my mom starts bugging me, asking when the repair guy is coming, did you give him any money, if I think it's a scam, how much will it cost, etc, etc. She's like the walking dead, sidling up behind me every hour or so, and startling me. I can't help but get fucking aggravated. I need to put a bell on her.
I tell her there's more important things to worry about, but her only concern is that the temperature has dropped below 73 degrees, and she's cold.  I tell too put a sweater on. She asks for me to stop yelling at her. I reply, "I'll stop yelling, if you stop worrying about the little shit, we've got more important things to worry about".
Then Val calls later and says "Heloisa got in trouble at school"
And I think to myself before I close my eyes to sleep tonight,  "This is what happens when you let the days go by".

Monday, September 25, 2017

2017/09/25 - Nobody

Lately I've been realizing that I'm no longer somebody. I used to be somebody, but nowadays I've become nobody.
Seriously... Years ago I was somebody. Newspaper reporters actually interviewed me! I was the "14er guy", one of a select few who had made over 400 Colorado 14er ascents. I was a professional outdoor photographer. I taught mountaineering and led dozens of trips each year for the Colorado Mountain Club. 
In those days I was somebody that a lot of people knew. I was popular in certain communities. Now I'm just an old guy with an invisible past.
Even at my job at Texaco, I was once somebody. For years I had been the project leader for ESP (the Estimated Sales and Purchases computer system), and had a pretty good reputation as a hotshot application developer. 
Later I created and managed 14erWorld, a popular mountaineering website with thousands of members over nearly 10 years online. 
But nowadays I've become Norman Bates taking care of my elderly mother, while managing the Hoffmeyer House. I've become a prisoner in my house. I've become a nobody. I'm just that old guy across the street that rides his bike a lot. 
I guess when you get older you start to look at yourself in a different way. 
I ride my bike for sanity and little things like having a glass of wine or two after dinner with Val have become great pleasures to look forward to. 
I'm not complaining, nor looking for pity. I love my life and for the most part I've "got it made". I have my health, I'm comfortably retired, I'm able to play chess, take naps, play with my many pets, and cycle every day. 
Maybe I just miss the spotlight. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017/07/19 - When Ambition Turns to Greed

I've always admired Arnold Schwarzenegger. In my mind he represents the American Dream, attaining huge successes in bodybuilding, acting, real estate, and politics. And don't forget that he married into the Kennedy family! Not bad for a child born to poverty in occupied Austria after World War II.

I'm reading his new autobiography "Total Recall" now and I'm blown away by his confidence, ambition, and-self discipline.

But there's one incident in the book that I can't let go of. Arnold had reached the top of his career in bodybuilding. He won all the major titles many times more than any previous bodybuilder and retired the undisputed greatest-ever bodybuilder.

Then in the middle of his movie career, while preparing for one of the Conan movies, against the advice of his wife, he decided to enter the Mr Olympus competition at the very last minute, surprising all the other contestants. He won, but it was the only time it wasn't by a unanimous decision.

Upon reading this, I felt as if his ambition had turned to greed, a selfish act good for Arnold but bad for the sport.

Why couldn't he step aside and let the next young buck get a turn at the crown? I read later that one of the other contestants smashed his award in the parking lot, and another gave up bodybuilding. Arnold admits he made enemies that took years to repair.

But then I wondered, would I feel the same about a boxer, cyclist, or tennis player?

What do you think?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017/07/16 - Lucy

Three of my NYC friends and I were looking for a place to go camping during our Easter vacation (aka Spring break) of 1966. I was fifteen. My uncle Willy knew a guy with 2,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania, most of which was primitive woods.

With all our camping gear and food packed in the belly of a Greyhound buss, off we set for a week's vacation in sunny PA.

After meeting Mr and Mrs Hull, the owners of the property, we set out hiking to find the perfect camping spot, far enough away from houses so we had our privacy, but close enough to water.

As we were setting up camp in a perfect spot near the edge of a cliff for vantage, two beautiful fifteen year old twin girls with long blond hair down to their waists approached our tents on horseback. It was almost like a dream.

Lucy and Margaret were the twin daughters of the Hulls. Never dismounting from their horses, they introduced themselves and we exchanged nervous conversation. After all, we were just young boys, and they were goddesses.

After a while, Lucy asked if we wanted to go horseback riding by moonlight. I quickly accepted, but the other guys shyly declined. Later that night she came back to pick me up.

The Troggs had just released their hit song "Wild Thing". To this day, every time I hear that song I remember kissing Lucy while lying on the thick sheepskin rugs on the cement floor of the "Pot Room" in the basement of her Pennsylvania farm house. The song came on the AM radio and she said "You're MY wild thing". 

Earlier that day, during a tour of the house, one of the boys had asked Mr Hull why he called it the Pot Room? He replied "That's where the kids smoke their pot!", as if it was a stupid question. 

What were the odds of a NYC boy falling in love with a Pennsylvania farm girl? We spent the rest of that school year writing silly love letters and planning a two week vacation in the upcoming summer. 

For some reason Lucy's love letters became less frequent the closer we got to the summer trip, but when the same four "NYC Boys" (as we became known to the Hulls and their neighbors) returned, the reason became crystal clear.

Margaret, Lucy's twin sister came alone to greet us, and sometime during the conversation pointed out Todd, Lucy's new boyfriend who was working in the field trimming trees. My world stopped as I looked at this big tall blond farmboy, with his shirt off and his sweaty muscles glowing in the sun. I was too macho to cry then, but my eyes swell now as I recall the heartbreak a fifteen year old boy suffered that day. 

While unpacking his pack, my tentmate Tony (aka Jaggerdog) presented a fifth of whiskey that he snuck out of his house. That night I got shitfaced drunk and had my first blackout, the next morning not being able to recall any of the drama I caused the night before. But that's another story.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017/07/11 - WHO died?

I just finished reading a Denver Post story of a 71 year old cyclist who died in an accident, getting hit by a car in Loveland. It had great detail, except of course for the most important detail, the person's name.

And this pisses me off to no end. It's like someone calling me up and saying "One of our friends just died". How they died, where they died, or when they died are are not as important as WHO died!

And to be perfectly honest, I'd rather not be teased with the other details, until you can tell me who it is. I don't want to be left wondering who I know that's 71 and rides in Loveland. 

I just wrote an email to the Denver Post reporter. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

2017/07/06 - Mom Before and After

Here's what she looked like when I rescued her:


























And here's what she looks like now (one year and 25 pounds later):


Saturday, July 1, 2017

2017/07/02 - Safety Nets

Years ago, whenever I went hiking solo, I would always pick a route that I knew would have lots of other people on it. I guess you could say that I was selfishly using strangers as a safety net, in case I got into trouble. You would be correct.

I heard a funny comparison today while listening to podcasts during my daily ride.

With the practice of lacing heroin with drugs like Fentanyl (up to 50 times stronger than heroin) and Carfentanil (10,000 times stronger than heroin), opioid addicts in highly addicted communities are preferring to overdose outdoors with the hope that someone can quickly administer Narcan.

2017/07/01 - Mid-Year Results


Friday, June 30, 2017

2017/06/30 - Bunkers

I just listened to a podcast review of the new book: "Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself - While the Rest of Us Die", and found it very interesting to learn about huge bunkers deep in the mountains in the US, the size of small cities, fully functional with 3 story buildings and a capacity for over 5,000 people.

It's comforting to know that the government will survive a nuclear war, comforting for them that is.

What I found humorous is that the 5,000 "chosen" are not allowed to bring their wives and family. That will be fun to watch. Picture a helicopter landing in a soccer field, picking up a cabinet member while he waves goodbye to his wife and children forever. 

What's even more humorous is that they are allowed to bring their secretaries! Humm... Betcha the wives aren't going to like that rule!


Monday, June 12, 2017

2017/06/12 - Sit-ups

Have you ever had an injury that was totally unexplainable?

About two years ago I suffered a severe back injury, involving my sciatic nerve. The funny thing was that it happened during a period where I was getting back into my best physical condition. I was at my college weight, and cycling 100-150 miles a week without much effort.

So why an unexpected back injury during this period? This has been puzzling me for two years now, but I think I've finally figured it out.

Nowadays I'm back at my ideal weigh, back to 100+ miles per week and back to the same mindset I had right before the back injury.

You see, whenever I get back to my ideal weight, I start dreaming of a return of the washboard stomach that I had as a teenager, and I start a sit-up routine.

I'm also stupid and stubborn and I still do sit-ups the way they showed us in the 1950's, which is totally incorrect by today's standards (probably because it caused lower back injuries). Without any foot support, I clasp my hands behind my neck and alternate touching me elbows to the opposite knee, without bending my knees.

So being in the same mindset now, I rememberd that the last time I had started a sit-up routine was shortly before my injury. Doah... Then one morning while bending down to pick up a 3 gallon pail of water, BANG, it felt like someone shot me in the right side of my lower back, sending a tidel wave of pain shooting down my right leg.

I could not walk for a week, and ride for over a month. 

So I'm convinced that there was indeed a connection between the back injury and sit-ups, and have decided to forgo any future sit-up routines.

That's my story and I'm sticken to it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017/12/21 - Yeah/no, No/yeah

When exactly did "Yeah/no" and "No/yeah" become acceptable ways to prefix an answer? Everyone seems to be doing it. Who started it? 

I've been listening closely to people who use them and they seem to be interchangeable. 

Just a stupid observation... Yeah/no, really.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017/06/06 - Things I learned today

- A recent test showed that the average American's attention span is 8 seconds, one second shorter than a goldfish.

- As recent as 1966, the Democratic Party's slogan was "White Supremacy For the Right".

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017/05/17 - Unconditional love

I heard this on a podcast recently, I forget which one, but I burst out laughing when I heard it.

Test for unconditional love:

Lock your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour and see which one is happy to see you when you open the trunk.

Friday, May 12, 2017

05/12/2007 - Solo

I was 9 years old, a fact I just double-checked this to make sure that I'm not under-exaggerating.

My dad got tickets to a musical play called The Music Man, starring Bert Parks at the Majistic Theatre in Manhatten in 1960.

My parents wanted to take me, but they both worked full-time in Manhatten, and didn't have time to come all the way home to Queens to get me.

The only viable solution was for me to travel solo to meet them in Mathatten.

On the Saturday beforehand, dad and I went on a practice run. We walked to the bus stop, waited and took the bus to the last stop. Then we followed the people downstairs to the subway at Kew Gardens. Dad showed me exactly where to stand on the train platform so that I would get on the first car of the "F" train. Then we counted the stops until we reached Rockafeller Center in Mahatten.

I don't remember too much about the day I went solo, except the excitement of standing behind the window of the first car watching the train go through the tunnels and counting the stops. And of course, the excitement of seeing my parents when the train doors opened at Rockafeller Station.

Honestly, I think I enjoyed the solo outing better than the musical.

Later,
Steve


Thursday, May 11, 2017

05/11/2017 - The Cosmic Library

I often wonder if when this test, or exercise, or whatever this is, is over, if we can check out videos in The Cosmic Library showing chapters of our time here on earth.

Because I have a lot of unanswered questions!

For example... There was a time when I was a child that my dad was bringing me to a neurologist and I don't exactly know why. At the time I thought they were trying to put me away. Ultimately it was determined that I had iron defeciency anemia, and they gave me these little green triangular pills that made my shit turn green. 

Now I can't imagine why iron deficiency anemia would cause symptoms requiring a neurologist, but I do remember something that was going on at the same time that could have caused some weird symptoms and I often wonder if there was a connection. And it was something that I would never have told my parents or doctors. 

That's where the video tapes in The Cosmic Library would come in handy. I'd like to see if they were indeed happening at the same time.

The other something was a jar of mercury. I bought a small jar of mercury from a friend whose dad was a chemist. It was so cool, and my friends and I played with it until it was all gone. 

We would fill the palm of our hands, careful not to spill any and marvel at how heavy it was! It also has this wired property, enabling you to coat coins, making them super shiney. 

Anyway we were playing with mercury, which is not exactly safe for children, and I wonder if there was a connection. 

I guess I'll have to wait.

Later,
Steve

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

5/2/2017 - Finally!!!

Finally, after 4 months and 2 days...

As you may know, for two years now my cycling goal has been to average 100 miles/week. I barely managed to succeed in 2016, as it was a struggle towards the end of the year due to bad weather.

This year I've had a difficult time catching up due to bad weather in the beginning of the year. While it is not so difficult for me to ride 100 miles/week, for every week of bad weather that I can only ride 50 miles, that means I have to ride 150 miles another week to catch up. That makes it hard for me.

Today was the day I finally caught up! 


Now my plan is to "make hay while the sun shines" and build up a nice reserve for when the weather gets bad at the end of this year.

Later,
Steve


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2017/04/25 - Execution cost

Have you ever seen the way they kill cows for food? I saw a video showing cows coming up a conveyer belt, only to be shot with a nail gun in the back of the head when the reach the top. They seem to die instantly, without any pain, and they never knew what hit them.

Why can't we do this with criminals who are convicted to death? Nails are even cheaper than bullets! Instead it costs the taxpayers as much as $24,000,000 per execution in the US. 

This is the type of shit that drives me crazy. 

Later,
Steve


Monday, April 24, 2017

2017/04/24 - Bullsnake seen during today's ride



This one was 2 inches in diameter at it's thickest point and about 7-8 feet long. Bullsnakes look almost exactly like rattlesnakes, but without a rattler.

Friday, April 7, 2017

2017/04/07 - Crazy times, or just a dream?

I really need to start writing more in my blog. These are crazy times. I want to stop reading the news, but find myself reading more and more, just waiting for the big news. 

Sometimes I think this can't be real, that it's all a dream, like I'll wake up in a chair surrounded by two scientists, probing my eyes and asking me questions about the quality of my dream vacation, like in the movie Total Recall. 

Seriously, it seems like way too much of a coincidence in timing that life on earth might end near the end of my lifetime, and now that I'm old, the drama is building to a crescendo. 

I've also been way too lucky and have recklessly taken advantage of this good fortune without consequences. I've lived a wild life, for most of my life, and had dozens of close calls that could have gone the other way. I've taken huge risks in mountaineering, and have been way over my head multiple times, but somehow miraculously pulled through. I've been in three head-on high-speed collisions, I've fallen a thousand times telemark skiing, I've fallen out of trees.

I'm not saying that I'm invincible or anything, it's just that I seem to be suspiciously lucky and it's been quite an exciting adventure, almost like a dream.

And now... Any day now we might be at war with a nuclear power. Take your pick! War with North Korea, China, or Russia might be just one silly tweet away. 

Wow... Is this exciting or what? If this was movie, it would be a blockbuster.

And I feel totally helpless, so I might as well just sit back and enjoy the show. 

Later,
Steve 

Friday, March 31, 2017

2017/03/31 - Three little girls

Now that mom is looking like she will be with us for a while, we started looking for another house that had a nice bedroom for her on the main floor so that she wouldn't have to deal with stairs anymore. We also wanted one that was inside the Ralston Valley High School district for Heloisa, and outside the Rocky Flats contamination zone. And oh yea, a walkout basement with a separate entrance would make it perfect. 

I thought I found the perfect house. First I saw it myself with my realtor, then with Val and the realtor, and finally we brought the whole fam damly. 

First we showed mom her room. She was happy! Then we looked at all the other rooms. Everyone was jumping up and down happy. Everyone that is, except mom. All of a sudden she burst out crying, saying "Why do I get the smallest bedroom?"

Eventually we found out that the house was falling down a hill, so we cancelled the deal, but not before mom had agreed to "take one for the team" and go with the smaller bedroom. 

This turned out to be a good example for the rest of us to follow in our future house options. 

But as she was crying, I realized that I have 3 females, from 3 different generations, but they are all the same little girl.

I love them all.

Later,
Steve

2017/03/30 - Number 1 rule on ball play


Keep your eyes on the ball!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017/03/28 - Post Truth Era

I'm in the process of negotiating for a new car. I absolutely love my Nissan Leaf (fully electric), but the range (90 miles) is severely limiting. Running out of power, and needing a tow this winter while taking mom to the doctor's office in Littleton was the final straw. 

I hate talking on the phone, especially with salesman, so when I contacted the dealership by email, I told them I had a speech disorder and could only communicate my email.

Now that we are in a post truth era, I'm taking full advantage. My new motto is "If my president can lie, so can I!"

Later,
Steve

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017/03/23 - Chess

I play a lot of chess.

There were times when I played a lot more, but for the past three years of retirement I've only played 2,818 games according to my online chess club: chess.com. That averages out to about 3 games per day.

They say you are supposed to get worse as you get older, but that's not happening yet to me. In fact, as of today my official Blitz chess rating is the highest it's ever been. 

And oddly, that's part of the reason I'm writing this now, to avoid playing another game and risk ruining my high score. Does that sound crazy? It does to me, but I know two people who have stopped playing rated chess games altogether for fear they will lower their good rating. And these are people who love chess!

So three games a day for the past three years comes to about an hour every day that I devote to this addiction. For me this is like maintenance, because there have been times when I was playing too much and had to quit cold-turkey for fear the stress was ruining my health.

Ah yes, the stress of chess... I like to play speed chess. That's where each player gets a specific allotted amount of time to think about moves. I play 10 minutes games. That's a slow game by speed chess standards. It gives each player ten minutes of thinking time for the entire game. So while a player is thinking about a move, their 10-minute time is counting down, but when they make the move, their clock stops and their opponent's time starts counting down.

In speed chess you can win in two ways. You can win buy checkmating your opponent, or you can win when your opponent's time runs out. Conversely, you can lose in two ways. You can be checkmated, or your time could run out, even if you are winning the game!

I could be a good chess player. This my sound like conceit, but flaws in my personality destine me to mediocrity. Well actually a little bit better than mediocrity, I'm currently at the 80.0% percentile within the club of 486,000 players. 

Unfortunately a combination of impulsiveness, attention deficit, cockiness, and inability to strictly follow a proven thought process keeps me from getting to the 90% percentile. 

And I can forget about getting higher that that. I think that group has a touch of autism.

Friday, March 17, 2017

2017/03/17 - Still Alive and Kicking

Yes I'm still alive. 
But I've been having difficulty writing in this blog, as you may have noticed.
Lately nothing seems interesting enough to write about, but then after enough time passes, so much has happened that I don't know where to begin. And when I finally get motivated, I'll read what I've written and it all sounds stupid. 

My life have been a blur of cycling, taking care of mom, looking for a bigger house, playing lots of chess, cleaning fish and turtle tanks, reading news, playing with the dog, getting the backyard ready for spring, cooking, housework, napping, and blissful sleep, the ultimate escape from it all. 

The saga of Horace, Alex, and Lucile has come to an end, and I really need to wrap up the story soon before I forget the details.

Later,
Steve

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017/02/01 - Certified

I almost forgot... Yesterday, I did a short ride due to high wind. I rode to and around the Golden Bike Park. 

There is this one steep intimidating bump in the bike park that I have always avoided out of fear. Many times I've ridden up to it thinking "today's the day", only to punk out at the last second. 

Well yesterday I finally did it, and as I rode through I had a big smile on my face, and I said out loud "Today you are a certified asshole". 

Later,
Steve

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017/01/31 - Freddie

When I was 13, I lived two houses down from a pedophile. I didn't know he was a pedophile, I just thought he was a cool older guy, about ten years younger than my dad. 

We lived on a busy city street with lots of people, cars, trucks, and busses going by. It wasn't unusual for people to hang out on their front stoops.

It seemed as if Freddie was always sitting on his front stoop smoking cigarettes when I walked by. He was super friendly and before long I was stopping and talking with him for a while. One day he asked me if I wanted to come in his apartment for a couple of beers. I jumped at the opportunity. 

We were on our second beer when he asked if I wanted to see some cool pictures. I was totally blown away! He had an album full of pictures of himself with real movie stars at events like the Oscars. I was impressed, and getting real high from the two beers. 

He was sitting right next to me on his sofa and had the picture album open between us when I felt his hand creeping up my thigh. I jumped up, walked towards the door and said "Freddie I think I need to go." 

He got the hint.

One night, a couple of years later, there was a crowd in front of Freddie's house with men screaming for him to come out. I never got the details, but there was some incident with a young kid who lived around the corner. Now his father, older brothers, friends and onlookers were outside his house screaming and banging on his apartment door. Freddie never came out, but the whole neighborhood saw the incident and soon after Freddie moved away. 

Fast forward 20 years. I was living in upper Westchester County, hours away from my old neighborhood and dating a woman who, at the time had a 16 year old brother, Billie.  

One night she told me that her parents were worried about Billie. He was hanging out with this older guy that owned a bar in Manhattan. Then she said he recently took Billie to the Grammys. That got my attention and I asked if she knew his name. She said Freddie, and I almost fainted. She also say that she had a picture back in her apartment of Billie and Freddie sitting at a table at the Grammies. I couldn't wait to see it. 

Looking at the picture I immediately knew it was him, even though he had aged considerably. It sent a chill through my body knowing he was still out there and still on the hunt for boys. 

Sometimes it a small world. 

Later,
Steve

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017/01/30 - The Little Rich Bully

The year was 1960, the location was Queens, NYC. Tall maple trees lined streets shading the the daylight sun from kids playing below. On summer days the street on my block was like a playground. Girls were jumping rope. Boys were playing ball. Little kids were spinning tops or playing skully with bottle caps. Some rode bicycles, some rode roller skates. Some just drew pictures on the blacktop street with colored chalk. Every once in a while a car would pass, interrupting the activities, but that was okay. Meanwhile parents watched from their stoops and porches. 

This may sound like heaven for kids, but there were also bullies and fights. 

South Ozone Park was a white Italian neighborhood with a mafia element, spotlighted in the movie "Goodfellas", in an era when street gangs were being romanticized by movies like "West Side Story".

I was 9, and my cousin Gary was 11, and we were playing in the street when a group of kids rode up to us on bikes and started a fight. I don't remember much of the fight, except hearing afterwards that Gary gave one of the smaller kids "nuggies" while his friends rode off in defeat. 

But the very next day when Gary had gone home to his own neighborhood, I saw that smaller kid walking towards me with his older brother who was even older and bigger than I was. The younger boy was pointing to me, while his brother started attacking me, saying I needed to "pick on someone my own size". There were street fighting rules. 

So he proceeded to kick my ass in front of the whole neighborhood. I don't remember too much of that fight either, except it ended with me on the ground with him sitting on top of me, holding down my biceps with his knees, freeing up his hands to hit my face.

I remember I kept trying to reach up with my legs to grap around his head, and almost succeeded the first time, but just wore myself out trying again and again. Meanwhile he kept slapping the sides of my face again and again and again, telling me to "give'.  

The funny thing was that the whole neighborhood was watching from the sidelines, kids and adults, and no one even tried to break it up. I deserved that beating, it was sanctioned, and I was totally humiliated. Eventually I gave up, and walked the 100 feet to the front door of my house in shame. In retrospect I realize that beating humbled me and taught me a good lesson about being a bully. 

I thought about the story today as I read the latest Donald Trump news. Ironically the Donald and I are only a few years different in age and he actually grew up only 5 miles away from me. 

I wondered if the little rich bully ever got his ass kicked like that. Probably not. 

Later,
Steve