Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

All My Pilgrimages Involve Gasoline

I fell asleep quite early last night, after finishing "Finding Nemo". This afternoon, I went to my brother's house in order to play my nephew at some chess. My wife went with a former co-worker to a movie.

My nephew is eleven, and is at that stage in which his skills increase by leaps and bounds each time that I play with him. I practiced up on the Free Internet Chess Server this morning, where I am starting to realize how I used to win games back when I used to win games. I still make far too many rust-covered errors, but I am hopeful that I can cut down on those.

We played a "serious" set of casual games, so that my nephew (who has played in two "real" tournaments, and is still acclimating) could play using a clock and move recordation. In the first game, I played the white pieces. I assayed the Colle System, a rather simple yet subtle strategy based upon developing a solid, quiet attack. I thought around move 12 that I had set up one of the "textbook" bishop sacrifice positions, and gleefully threw my bishop at his h pawn. I had miscalculated, though, and soon found my attack fizzling, at a material disadvantage of a bishop to a pawn. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to create a "perpetual check" situation, and took my draw and ran. In the second game, I had the black pieces. I answered his e4 with the ultra-solid Caro-Kann defense. He dropped a pawn in the late middlegame, and I ground out a simple win by just trading everything away and moving the pawn in to make a queen.

This is the way I usually win any game--or anything competitive--seize a slight material advantage, or a strong positional advantage, and grind it out. Sometimes, when I am fortunate, I get to launch a mating attack, but this is the exception rather than the rule. More frequently, I face withering attacks, but I am good at holding on for dear life, trying to keep everything safe. Usually, I pretty much bore my opponent to death.

I notice that while my internet blitz ratings are still phenomenally low, I am doing much better overall. I am going to get back to strength in a matter of months. I am beginning to look longingly at playing in either the Dallas Class Championships next weekend or playing in the National G/10 championships weekend after next.

I looked at the Dallas Chess club website and see that they only have been drawing a half dozen or so to their weekend tournaments. They run a nice tournament, so this surprised me. I hope this does not bode poorly for my January chess tournament. Participation in live chess has really dropped off as the internet chess sites have grown. Of course, nobody here on LiveJournal will be able to imagine the use of a cyber-reality as a substitute for actual play, so I will pass over the topic for fear of traversing unfamiliar yet boring ground.

I drove around a bit after leaving my nephew's, and stopped at a new park in Plano which has a nature trail. It didn't seem fully open yet, but I really enjoyed the woodland there. Then I began to drive back to Allen. Unfortunately, I failed to put gasoline in the tank when I stopped at the convenience store a few moments prior. I ran out of gas in a residential area on Jupiter Road, some forty minutes' walk from the gas station. I had been contemplating where to go hiking, but my carelessness made the decision easy. I hiked to the convenience store at the corner of Bethany and Greenville.

On my way, I passed by a pasture filled with tall grasses now turning brown in the chill weather. A few had seedpods, a few Fall flowers. Horses wandered about, giving the place a sort of rural serenity.
A tall sign in the corner of the field offered the 15 acres for sale, assuring the buyer that the site was ideal for a convenience store or restaurants.

I made it to the shopping center where the convenience store with gas was found. I passed by the former used paperback and used software place "Software Etc.", which went out of business.
A sign from the owner said that she had gone to find a job, and would be gone for ___ minutes. the place where the ____ minutes was found was crossed out and instead said "forever!". A more business-y sign said that the store had gone out of business after 16 1/2 years.

I gassed up my car, and then ran to the station to get more gas. Then I came home, to find that the Dallas Cowboys were grinding out a win over Buffalo.
I have made it a point to cut back my TV football watching, and I seem to be gaining from the experience. I watched the last few moments of the game.

This weekend we experimented with avoiding eating out, trying to manage budgets and caloric intake more wisely. This simpler approach worked quite well, although I believe I may have "snacked" too much. Oddly, though, even after snacking too much I think I come out ahead of restaurant food, health-wise.
I suppose I should run out of gas more often, as the
walk seemed downright invigorating.

I ran out of gas once on Thanksgiving morning, on a rural stretch of the interstate between Texarkana and Hope. A nice man carrying turkey dinners on paper plates to shut-ins from his church gave me a ride to get gas. I missed my family's Thanksgiving dinner, and I remember being cold and embarrassed as I sat down belatedly at the table. It was an interesting morning, though, hiking in the cold towards Hope.

When I microwaved my lunch today, I thought of the microwave-save little plastic meal-container my Aunt Jean gave to me. Then I realized that I lost my Aunt Jean to cancer a year or so ago. In her ranch-house front yard, tall pine trees covered with cicada shells provided play area during many a family gathering. She had dachschunds, a long succession of them. They were all named Carrie. She had a stuffed swordfish on her living room wall, a trophy of a fishing trip to Mexico. Her husband, my Uncle Colbert, died when I was a young boy. I remember my Aunt tearfully embracing us when we came to the funeral. My Uncle Colbert had served World War II in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and hid under metal sheeting when the Japanese bombed there early in the war.
I do not remember what he looked like--I vaguely remember the feel of his beard during a hug.

I once ran out of gasoline during a trip to Dallas, between Texarkana and Mount Pleasant. I began walking down a country highway, because my theory, usually proven valid, is that every five miles in east Texas there is a town with a gas station. This time,though, I went into river bottoms country, into the middle of nowhere. It was a long walk. After many miles, I finally got someone to give me directions, which essentially came to "return to the freeway and walk one mile". I told myself I learned a lesson that day.

Tonight I placed my new plastic gas can in the garage, by the numerous other, similar cans I own. I thought about lessons learned, and yet repeated.

Once, when I was riding on a city bus, in Monterrey, Mexico, where I'd travelled one April weekend on a whim, I saw a man stand in front of the road during the red light, and "breathe fire", a flame of combustibles flying like a plume into the sky.
He made the fire fly, and then he went back to the side of the road. Later, a little boy cried when I did not buy a chiclet from him. On the bus ride between Laredo, Texas, and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, I asked a German tourist on the crowded bus "what time is it?" in German. He told me, in needlessly elaborate German I barely understood, that it was probably five minutes after our original bus departure, which had been scheduled for eight a.m. I believe he was making fun of me, but my German was not good enough to tell. I cannot remember why he did not look at his watch. I left my efforts at friendly German behind, and watched the yucca plants passing by outside the window. I remember once in Colmar, France, asking directions, to a man who elaborately gave us nonsense directions. He seemed shocked when we profusely thanked us. My wife speaks reasonably good French, having taken in school for xsomething years straight, but we are never quite sure when someone is trying and when someone is making fun. I think this myopia is not all bad.

When I was a kid, my brother and I put sugar in our dad's Toro lawnmower. It never ran sweetly again. I don't remember doing it--I only remember that the deed was done. I wonder why we did it--I wonder what we thought we knew. I still do not know all that I know about gasoline, and making a run on empty.

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