The Chess Improver: How not to play with the Bishop pair

For The Chess Improver, I wrote “How not to play with the Bishop pair”.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year at Tram's Kitchen

Welcome to the year of the horse! Although Abby and I don’t regularly celebrate Lunar New Year (most prominently called Chinese New Year), I figured that we might as well do something this time around, by going out to eat Asian food. Lawrenceville Lawrenceville Since it was warm out (over 40 degrees Fahrenheit!), I decided we should go out for an urban hike and end with a meal. Read On →

First time in my life not eating cookies or cake at a party

I was at a birthday party. There were cookies of various varieties around. Also, there was a birthday cake. I did not eat the cookies or the cake. I have to say this was a first for me. Usually, my rule at parties is “anything goes”. But it was time to admit that this rule caused many problems. If I load up on junk food at a party, I end up feeling crappy afterwards: maybe bloated, maybe sleepy, but in any case, I end up being a worse guest to be around. Read On →

The Chess Improver: 9 lessons to learn from Bill Gates' 9 move loss to Magnus Carlsen

For The Chess Improver, I wrote “9 lessons to learn from Bill Gates’ 9 move loss to Magnus Carlsen”.

My no-cookie rule: a photo update

Two weeks ago I vowed never to eat a cookie again, unless I took a photo of it and posted it. I was at a party tonight, and originally saw no cookies, so I thought I was safe. I was wrong. After hours of eating a lot of pretty good food, I saw that cookies were brought out and place next to the coffee in back. I paused, remembering my promise, but then thought, “what the heck”, and “carefully” chose just two cookies, photographed them, and ate them. Read On →

My first time at an English country dance music jam

Relatively recently, a new English country dance music jam in the Pittsburgh area has been organized by Maro Avakian, whom I first met through joining in playing for the Holiday Ball two years ago. I was unable to make it to the first couple of meetings, but finally, on a nasty snowy Saturday, my schedule happened to be open, so I went. I’m not completely new to English country dance music. Read On →

How Pittsburgh meetups changed my life

Meetup logo

Recently, I was informed by the message board of the Pittsburgh hiking meetup group that there was a recent local article about Pittsburgh meetups, and it quoted one of the organizers of the hiking meetup, Jennifer Braun (who happens to be one of us participating in a beautiful New Year hike led by Gary Byrdman that Abby and I went on):

People should try new things, because it can change their life," she says. "It sounds kind of happy sunshine, but hiking changed my life. And I never knew until someone told me to try it. Find the thing that you love -- hiking, biking, quilting -- it's just everything you could think of. Once you're in one group and start looking around, you can really meet new people and do new things and get more out of life.

I was really moved by what she said, because my own immediate thought also when thinking about Meetup is that it changed my life. How so?

Read On →

Don't believe the hype about not believing the hype

An article came my way with the title, “Don’t believe the hype about behavioral economics”. I don’t have any comments on the article itself. Instead, I have a comment about the article title. I don’t like it when people tell me “don’t believe the hype about X”. I find this way of speaking to be problematic on many levels: It is often a disguised way of saying “believe this other thing Y”, and in fact very often is a disguised way of saying “believe what I consider to be the correct, the status quo before this new kid on the block arrived”. Read On →

The Chess Improver: Giving up a fianchettoed bishop to win a pawn may not be worthwhile

For The Chess Improver, I wrote “Giving up a fianchettoed bishop to win a pawn may not be worthwhile”.

Cold but pretty winter hike in Wingfield Pines

Less than three weeks ago, Abby and I went on a great hike in Boyce-Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair, led by Gary Byrdman.

Today we went on another hike with Gary, very close to the Boyce-Mayview Park, but in a neighboring park, the Wingfield Pines.

Read On →