March 28th, 2021

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Streaming Bullets

I went into my office yesterday and got some work done. I left about 2 p.m. After getting a lunch of fish and corn at Chicken Express, I drove to Story Park in Allen. There I walked around the school three times, noting the common backyard bird species that I saw. I drove from there to Brockdale Park on Lavon Lake. The weather looked mildly foreboding, but its portents proved benign. I saw someone kayak with an inflatable Kayak. I want to get an inflatable kayak, a kayak paddle and a life preserver. Forster's Terms flew above the lake.   On the road to Brockdale Park, I saw two Greater Roadrunners. I also drove to the parking area near Highlands Park along Lavon Lake. I saw an Osprey in flight. Ospreys do not nest or winter here, so we see them only as they migrate in Spring and in Fall.

During my walks, I listened to two different podcast interviews with chess players who earn an income as content creators streaming on the chess service. Alexandra Botez explained how she went into streaming after launching and failing at a start-up business just after earning her university degree. She explained the meaning of the term #BotezGambit. I had seen the phrase and wondered which of the obscure gambits [i.e., opening strategies involving surrendering material during the first few moves--usually a pawn--for an attack] had been recycled into the #BotezGambit. I learned that the phrase referred to mistakenly losing one's queen during the scramble of one-minute-per-side bullet chess, and then declaring the blunder to be the #BotezGambit.

Anna Rudolf explained how she ascended in traditional chess tournaments to earn a place on the Hungarian womens' chess olympiad team, which permitted her to not only meet but befriend her idol, the super-grandmaster Judit Polgar. Anna reached the traditional title of International Master (IM), one notch below a grandmaster (GM). I think to be an IM must be amazing fun, but on the other hand, I can imagine the pang of being a very, very strong chess player, but falling short of being a GM, much less the kind of super-GM who can earn a living from chess. Anna explained how she studied to be an English teacher, but found that employers did not want to hire a Hungarian immigrant to teach English. Anna explained how she instead went into content creation, where people were eager to watch her play chess. Her boyfriend is a gaming Twitch streamer and Youtube creator as well. Her infectious good humor and sense of humility suggested to me that any school would be fortunate to have her as a teacher.

This morning I watched a stream of Anna Cramling playing bullet and blitz chess on I knew of Anna Cramling because I am aware of the great chess career of her mother, the very strong chess GM Pia Cramling. Chess' resurgence is fueled in part by the Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit," based on the Tevis novella, the story of Beth Harmon, a female chess prodigy playing in the 1960s. No female player had the kind of career in her era that the fictional Beth Harmon had. But if one were hunting for interesting Beth-Harmon-like stories, one might look to Vera Menchik and Judit Polgar, both from eastern Europe, and the Swedish GM Pia Cramling. Anna Cramling is not a GM, and is perhaps unlikely to become one, but it cannot hurt one's chess to have Pia Cramling as one's mother and Spanish GM Roberto Bellon as one's father.

On her Twitch stream, Anna cheerfully explained her thinking while she moved as she played 1 minute and 3 minute games against opponents, keeping her bullet rating hovering just under or just above 2100. My own bullet rating is till a bit over 1000, while my blitz rating is a bit over 1400. I had always puzzled about the idea of watching someone play a game on Twitch, but now perhaps I understand a bit better. I should go watch some of the super-GM feeds, like world champion Magnus Carlsen or American super-GM Hikaru Nakamura.

The Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team edged out Cinderella team Oral Roberts University to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, term "March Madness." I did not listen to the game, but I am pleased for them that they won.

We ordered Thai from Thai Pan, which made a good meal, but the meal had some soy sauce spread. The restaurant courteously packed the little plastic meal boxes in extra covering, but this mainly created plastic bags with extra soy sauce.I stopped by Tom Thumb supermarket yesterday afternoon to pick up some things. I was impressed how, one year later, there is no shortage of bathroom tissue or paper towels, unlike the outset of the pandemic. Instead, so many brands were in stock and ready for action.

I liked the yellow-and-blue sunset yesterday.

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Monarchs are Free

We woke up in the pre-dawn and re-watched the movie  Kramer v. Kramer on television. We each first saw the movie when we were university age. The movie wears fairly well, a thing of its time and yet a timeless story. I believe the film proved to be Meryl Streep's breakthrough role. The workings of family court then and now are not my base area of knowledge, but the trial result always troubles me a bit in that movie. Nowadays I suppose a family study would be done to bolster the record a bit.

This afternoon I walked on the Ridgeview Trail. I saw my first Collin County Loggerhead Shrikes of the year. My Collin County count stands at 70 species so far this year. The coming of Spring migration means that almost any walk can be walk in which I see something new. I saw more Monarch butterflies today. My hope is that this will be a good Monarch butterfly year.

We have warm weather predicted for Monday and Tuesday, followed by a cold front on Wedneday. I am reminded of the Arkansas Gazette columnist of my childhood who wrote about the Annual Jonquil and Snow Tire Festival--and how there was a truth in that.

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