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Use Your Own Someone Else's Computer

I haven’t been able to post on my blog in a minute and I’ve definitely found a new appreciation for having it. My website is my robot. It can present, calculate, store, connect, and otherwise work for me while I’m, well, not doing that stuff. For me, this is something that has begun to really matter as my [Twitch stream]( has become more popular, sometimes requiring all of my resources. I wouldn’t be able to really sustain without a website of my own, unless I wished to be completely absorbed by something like the network I broadcast on, or the chat program I use. It’s simply not possible to create an environment that supports the user without an “environment” (a computer) that belongs to the user.

Many people neglect to realize that the entirety of their personal photos, for instance, is hosted, for free, by Google. Some people seem to not even realize that storage is a fundamental part of a computer anymore. Backups are afterthoughts. It’s as if people think there really is space enough in the wires of the Internet to allow for storage of information within them — there isn’t. I'm reminded of a sticker you should buy.

Without a space of my own on the Internet I have nowhere to work, play, or communicate with others that isn’t being provided by someone else, and that means I’m either trading some of my own peace of mind or creativity for something as simple as getting an email, for example. Trying to subsist on what’s provided for free, that is, not having a web-facing computer of your own, ends up being a lot like going to the grocery store and deciding “Nah, I don’t need a basket this time. I’m only getting a few things.” Before long you are having to set everything down somewhere that’s less than ideal, walk all the way to the front, get a basket and just hope that no one disturbs the items you selected in the process.

My First Tru Hotel

I really didn’t expect a place that’s listed as competitive with La Quinta to be so nice. Coming here from Home2 — one of Hilton’s other rethought hotels geared towards suites and extended stays — me and my boyfriend didn’t know what to expect from a Tru. But we adore Home2 so how bad could another Hilton product be? Not bad at all it turns out.

Tru offers a very modern, dorm-like experience. The common areas have lot’s of space for meeting, working, and playing! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a pool table in a hotel lobby, or a chess set silk-screened onto outside tabletops. There’s a gas fire pit, palatable modern furniture (none of which was velvy!). It’s so nice and accommodating downstairs that you start to wonder where Hilton makes money, or rather, how on earth is this competing with La Quinta?

The answer is clear when you get to your room. It’s smaller than usual. That’s it. That’s the margin. So you get a very accommodating and professional building to meet or play in, and a sort-of dorm-room to “crash” as the young people say. Don’t worry, it’s equipped with a TV about as big as the room. It has USB outlets on every AC receptacle. And it has a lot of AC receptacles. The shower is a modern, non-bathtub shower with glass door. The mirror has makeup lights along it’s sides. It’s just as modernized as the common areas but smaller than most other hotels’ rooms of the same price range.

Aside from restricting space it seems Hilton relies on innovation, not deprivation, to solve problems. This is evidenced for one in the soap dispensers, which I had never seen. They’re squeeze soap dispensers: a bottle of soap, a bracket to hold it, and a hand to squeeze the bottle. The closet is part of the room, reminiscent of some Japanese space-saving deigns. The only door is to the bathroom, and it works. Home2 has pocket-doors that have proven problematic. Me and Charley figure Hilton learned their lesson and opted not to use them in Tru.

It’s a smart, fun hotel that I hope beats the pants off their competitors. I’m tired of the old, out-dated hospitality models and am ready for more Trus and Home2s to sprout up.

Two Over One Up

I was taught the moves of chess by my parents and some drunken guests at a holiday party we, my family, were hosting at our then home in Germany. I was super excited to learn the moves. I had anticipated this. I even picked up little facts about the pieces from my relentless inquisitiveness. I knew the Queen was a powerful piece. I knew you didn’t want to get her taken. I had also heard that the knight can jump over other pieces. O, and something about pawns moving two squares but only on their first move. “So after the first move I have to move my pawns one square at a time?” “Can I take what’s in front?”

I took the adults instructions easily. I especially remembered that all which governed the knight was that it had to move in an L-shape. Ever since the lady told me about the L-shape move I can’t get my mind off how I’m going to totally win because everybody thinks the Queen is the most powerful piece but I know it’s actually the knight. After all, an L-shape move allows Black to capture White’s king on move one! These fools.

It wasn’t until we were playing that my tipsy tutor noticed I hadn’t quite grasped the rules of the knight yet. The opening I moved a pawn two squares — because that’s obviously what an educated chess-piece-mover would do. I figured people must be forgetting that they can move two squares all the time because of the way that the pawn’s rules were presented to me. I remembered. I won’t forget chess-rule-tutor. I won’t let you down like that. My turn again I picked up my knight and confidently drew an L-shape from b8 to e1, removing my opponents king and brilliantly winning the game.

“O, sweetly, you can’t move him like that, it has to be an L-shape.”

“But it is an L-shape. I drew it for you because I thought you might say that. It’s really an L though I can draw it again for you if you want.”

“Umm, no, that’s not what I mean. The knight doesn’t move the way you think it does. When I said “L-shape” what I meant was...” She reached across the tiny table we were playing at and moved the knight for me. “...two over and one up.” Okay, I thought, all I have to do is remember that. And I did.

I carried that rule with me like a mantra. It stayed with me incubating throughout those dormant years between learning the moves and actually playing the game until I was 14, calculating my first chess position. “Two over, one up; two over one up; two over one up.” Most pieces were easy to visualize moving but the knight, the TOOU (“Two Over One Up”) piece, it was the hardest. It seemed to me that this must be intentional; it must be an imbalance I have to deal with. But that isn’t true.

The knight is not some yoke to hobble the chess players mind. The knight isn’t even a more complicated piece relative to the others. In fact, besides the King, the pawn is the most complicated given en passant, the two-move rule, promotion, capturing, and, finally, moving! The knight is simply poorly described, misunderstood. The L-shape description with the piece jumping is too much. It’s an awkward and vague description. For a while after beginning chess it wasn’t obvious to me that the knight’s moves are symmetrical. And it would seem I’m not the only one as even Grandmasters find themselves surprised by backward knight moves — perhaps indicating that some of them are also TOOU calculators.

The knight is like the bishop but it has a slope of 3/2 and moves one square at a time. We can think of all the pieces like this, being governed by a unique angle(s). This is by far the easiest way. And, I suspect that this is a lost point of view. I think that, in describing the concept of slope, TOOU was used. Somehow, people forgot how the pieces so simplistically relate to one another and all that was left was the TOOU.


US Women's Open closes and National Open begins

Well, the Las Vegas International Chess Festival has so far been very refreshing. The US Women's Open was a tough first-tournament-in-ten-years for me. I finished with 2.5 points. Which didn't quite place as there were so many ties for the first five places. I lost to a player rated 1700 and drew with three players rated around 1300. But, upon analysis these -- all kids -- players were certainly underrated. Everybody is playing so much online chess that we have expert level -- I lichess -- players showing up to tournaments with OTB ratings of 1300.

I haven't been able to stream from the Flamingo as their Internet is uploading like it's 1999. But I have made a few supplemental videos which, since not live, have been uploaded to my Twitch. If they have a theme it's sleep deprivation. I showed up sleepy and continue to suffer a lacking.

Like doing the Womens Open in two days wasn't busy enough I also played the first round of the National Open tonight. I was paired with a tough player. I blundered, then came up with an interesting enough plan it drew a crowd. Anthony He was a piece for a pawn up. So I traded pieces and steered the game into an endgame. I traded rooks, then my last bishop for one of his two knights, leaving it knight and bishop versus knight.

I planned to trade down as many pawns as possible hoping to leave them with a useless bishop and pawn to draw the game. When he saw this and steered away I tried to sacrifice my knight for the rest of his pawns leaving him to force mate with a knight and bishop. When he saw this and steered away I resigned. I must say that while I enjoyed my playing I certainly didn't my opponent's. He gave me a look of detest when we shook hands to begin the game. He constantly fidgeted and looked anywhere but the board. All of this behavior just seemed childish and rude. My fellow women players were sporting and mature and mostly less than 10 years-old.

Let's hope for some better behavior. And let's also hope that all the men stop clearing their throats so much. Please, guys?

The Mechanics Incident

This past Tuesday I went to the Mechanics Institute to play chess and I wish I hadn’t. My boyfriend had gotten me a membership to the library just to play and I was really excited. But, unfortunately, I had an awful experience. I was plainly discriminated against and blocked from entering the tournament for amazingly bullshit reasons.

First, a man refused to move out of my way and thus prevented me from setting down my things. I couldn't believe he literally refused to move! Then, my opponent objected to the “ size of my pieces.” I’ve never, in my life, heard someone complain about using standard, well-weighted and tournament-ready pieces. It was obvious that he detested me and just wanted any excuse to have a problem with me. I couldn’t believe this behavior. Especially because I was given the Black pieces and the Black pieces get to choose what equipment we use. Those are the rules, within USCF standards. And I chose such equipment.

Size. The king’s height should be 3⅜ to 4½ inches. The cross (or other king’s finial) should occupy no more than 20% of the total height of the king. The diameter of the king should be 40 to 50% of the height. The other pieces should be proportionate in height and form. All pieces should be well-balanced for stability and comfortable moving.” — USCF Official Rules of Chess, FIfth Edition.

Read that? See this picture of my set’s two kings? Well you can clearly see that the base fits within the square therefor it’s ≤ 2. And since the height is 4” that shows my diameter to be 40-50% of the height. So, not only does my set fit within all the criteria but the reason I need to use it, “ for stability and comfortable moving”, seems at the core of the rules themselves.

two supposedly too large kings with rough dimensions

I did nothing wrong and was clearly bullied out of an event in a library of which I am a member. The chess set in question was a completely standard set. It is actually called "The Best Chess Set Ever." Ha!

But what is my word worth anyway? How about the words of the bullies themselves? This livestream was going on while they were kicking me out. I’ve linked to where they start talking about the incident. Notice how Judit says

I could see with an opponent who was more open and accepting it wouldn’t of been a problem.

And the guy in the middle, the head TD, he just straight up admits that their kicking me out

actually had nothing to do with chess.

Women are treated as second-class citizens in the chess world. Men just refuse to play me most of the time. They refuse to believe I'm an expert. The female TD who was initially helping me, her ruling was apparently worth nothing as her male superior quickly raced in to support his fellow man! He didn’t reverse the decision. He didn't even try to pretend I was being kicked out for the size of my pieces. He was set on me leaving before he even talked to me. That much was clear. He immediately grabbed my arm without even introducing himself and when I objected he told me I was “ causing a disturbance and need to leave. He ended up calling the police on me. Here I am a member of this private library and the first visit I make they are saying I’m trespassing?! If anyone is leaving it should be the guy touching women against their will for reasons actually not having to do with chess.

Oh Yea, I Stream Chess On Twitch

I recently began streaming myself on Twitch playing chess on lichess it's really been a great experience so far. I'm not usually able to socially connect with so many people; to have something in common with them. But, with chess, I do. I suppose thats why my fourteen-year-old-self found so much solice in the chess club and the coffee shops other players frequented.Thats how I learned to play. I suppose that now that I've been learning and growing again I've both never been so old and so young -- if you'll tolerate my chessy romanticism. For, it's more than a decade later but I've never been so mentally and physically healthy.

For example, I used to smoke at least a pack a day. Before I quit two years agoe I was smoking American Spirit -- not an inexpensive brand at all --

It's only been a few weeks of streaming and already it's been a transformative experience. People are much kinder than I had suspected especially when it comes to my tendancy to emotionally overreact and throw tempertantrums.


I just cleared another group of exercises on Duolingo. I’m hooked. I can finally admit that over the past year I’ve gotten somewhat of a language addiction. I confess I’m even thinking of adding Mandarin and Spanish as I write this.

It started with Norwegian. I spent the summer of 2016 living in Norway, with my ex. I was there for ninety days and didn’t really learn much. I found so many people spoke English that it was hard to learn, or even hear, Norwegian. So when my ex reached out to me, now in California, to ask me to compete with them on Duolingo I knew just the language to pick.

I started out with single exercises a day but quickly upped my daily requirement. I told myself I could stop anytime I want. There’s something very satisfying about learning things. And there’s something satisfying about pushing your limits.

One limit that presented itself to me was the ability to pronounce new vowel sounds that I’ve never really had to pay attention to. In this way, studying Norsk became like studying sound and voice. And I wanted to expand this. If my voice is capable of other sounds, what else is out there?

So, then there was French! I was intrigued to learn to make even more sounds and found French to be the best choice. I’ve always wanted to be able to pronounce, with confidence, French words and phrases. The only thing was the question of whether or not learning two languages at once was wise. And I think it is.

Americans are too uptight about language. They overprotect and plan around the like they were suburban soccer kids. To most Americans languages are these far away tongues immaterial to their lives. But the rest of the world is surrounded by different languages.

European kids grow up in a multilingual environment and it is from that chaos that fluency arises. It’s not that Europeans learn languages /in spite/ of being in a multilingual soup. It’s /because/ of all the noise that they’re able to discern more patterns and connection. One doesn’t ask a musician to put down their guitar and /only/ play piano until they’re a master. Learning multiple languages at once, I hypothesize, is preferable.

I’ve now added Chinese. And I’m thinking about adding Spanish. I just can’t get enough. I’ve made it far enough with Norsk that I’m actually looking for a language exchange partner, or coach, to work with. So far it seems multiple languages hasn’t created a problem. Im interested to know if anyone else found multiple languages easier that they are by themselves. .. @_honeynymph

Bay Bridge Barges

Have you driven west on the Bay Bridge lately? Have you noticed those six barges that are parked, or rather “moored”, north of the bridge; to your right as you drive west. Do you know what they are for? Are they part of the aftermath of the government shutdown? I did first notice them around that time. Do shipping mega-corps just leave shit in the Bay? What are they?

More importantly, how do we find out? Me and my boyfriend struggled to come up with a way to figure it out. Those barges, that world, it seems so distant from us. Especially with the massive, looming cargo cranes that seem to be peaking up, like a herd of giant deer; the Bay is alien and, literally, awesome. So, like all alien things, I'm curious what it holds. There are no markings readily readable on the vessels. They’re more like tiny islands or icebergs. So, what do you even query for? What, do you search Google for "What are those bargges in the Bay?" Well, I did that and came up empty so I wrote this article.

So, I call the coast guard and simply ask: “Hey, what’s the deal with them barges?” After some paper rustling the exceptionally kind and professional man helping me — seriously, nice guy — spoke up “It’s a mooring station for construction of the bridge itself... It’s basically a parking lot.”

Nothing exciting, just a place to put extra stuff. But I do find it pretty neat that there is a team of people dedicated to knowing where and what shit is in the Bay. I just wish I could find them on the damn Internet. :)

I Swoon For DIPs

I took to fooling around with my boyfriend's IKBC New Poker II prgrammable, mechanical keyboard today, I've loved micro-switches for a loooong time, even before I knew what they were, and instead just thought of them as the type of buttons on my fancy Chronos chess clock. The sound, the feel, the certainty of having completed the keystroke; all of this makes them great for timers where a single button-press might really, really matter. Nothing says 'your turn" like that 'clik-clak' -- chess players might recall that player who likes to press it twice, just to be sure.

It's a 60% keyboard. I've never had great luck with these because of the difficulty of engaging the 6 paging and arrow keys. So, I switched out the Fn,W,S, and D keys for some of the blank blue keys that cmme with another IKBC keyboard. Much to my surprise the replacement keys weren't all the same size, with sizes "R1" and "R4" molded into their undersides (I guess the R is for "row"). I'm thinking this will help eliminate the awkward little moment I have when I go to engage the arrow function with the Fn key. This way, everything is blue. Searching is supposed to be a resource intensive action. I remember this from effeciency research. Perhaps this will make the 60% workable.

I wanted to program the CAPS as ESC. There isn't an option for this but there is for CNTRL. I suppose it's possible to setup CTRL as your escape key like ESC is in Vim. I don't know for sure. But I do know that right now I have it so if it's in Pn mode (CNTRL + right SHIFT) CAPS will act as escape. And this allows me to work with Vim commands without my fingertips leaving the home row. The only problem with working like this is that the left SPACE light is always on :/