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Go! PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 16 October 2016 13:46

ell, like I needed another hobby. I have model railroading, reading, writing (and blogging), astronomy, cycling, and now Go.

So what is Go? Essentially it's an Asian game of strategy. Black and white exchange placing pieces, trying to surround the other forces and claim territory. But it's amazing the way the patterns flow in this game. You might stalk your opponent for a capture, only to find that he is working to capture you. Astounding. While I love to play (and just purchased my own board and stones) I've got a long way to go before getting any good.

The thing I like about Go? It awards efficiency. It allows you to judge how risky or defensive a placed stone will be. It mirrors life - to the most efficient goes the spoils. I see a lot of the concept of Go in my normal life - in how people drive, in how they talk, in movies and stories. You don't have time to waste. In fact, you can't even waste momentum. Going from sente (forcing your opponent to respond) to gote (giving away the initiative) is so true of purpose, be it economic, military, or even relationshipal (is that a word?). Every scheme, every plan, they all have aspects of Go in them.

So I've been playing. I'm sliding back and forth at about 18 kyu (a novice level of play) against the computer. At work, I'm realizing that in a passing game (when my opponent and I place carefully deliberated moves, once every couple of hours) I can rule. But the faster game I'm not quite up on things yet. And I've organized a tournament for work - three people so far, but I know two more who will join. There is even a club in town I'm tempted to go to (except that it's on Tuesdays, which lands between model railroad work sessions (Monday) and model railroad club nights (Wednesdays). And I also get a call from my best friend that night. So maybe I'll wander over and play a game or two on smaller boards (I'm too chickenshit to go full 19x19 yet). But I'm thinking - yes, it's good to have another hobby to be half-assed at.

No, I'm not going to make another separate area for this. Rather, I'll just post it to general and see how it goes.

BTW, recent articles about my interest are as follows...

Some stories of writing and Go...

Go!

Offstage epic

And one of books I read on playing this crazy game (the next review, for Beginner's Go, will post in a couple of weeks)...

Go Fundamentals

So we're going to have to see how this all plays out.

>>>WHEN NOT PLAYING GO OR TRAINS OR STARS, I'M WRITING. HERE'S THE COLLECTION. LOOKING FOR SOME FUN, TRY THIS LINK TO MY AMAZON OFFERINGS!<<<

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 October 2016 14:17
 
India - Day Nine – Liquid Death in all forms PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:06

oday was our trip to the Ganges. “But wait,” you say. “I’ve already read this.” No, this time it was to see the sun coming up over the Ganges, a time of prayer. But in starting the day off I got two pieces of bad news. First, my sister had explosive Ebola-level liquid death (likely from that Air India sandwich she ate on the short flight out – two other people were down for similar reasons). And then a good friend, Ed Rieg, had passed away. So I had a lot on my mind when we pushed through traffic (human, vehicular, bovine and beggerish) to get to the Ghat (the landing where we would launch from).

We pushed out into the sluggish water and slowly rowed up current, watching to the east. Eventually a low red ball burned its way up through the haze like a smelted coin in a bucket of ditch water. Still, it was lovely in its Indian way, just glowing over the eastern sandbars, the boats and their worshipers.

So I stood up in the boat, faced the sun, and prayed for my sister and Ed. It seemed like a fitting thing to do.

The sun rises, met by our prayers

Then we were attacked by river pirates – two boats latched on to either gunnel and started selling us stuff. I bought some beads for a friend and JB picked up some stone elephants. Once we landed, we saw a huge stone map of India and toured the Banaras Hindu University. All nice.

JB works her way through the piles...After pushing our way home, we got to eat breakfast and then walk next door to a silk manufacture. Watched the whole show, listened to the pitch, and had JB buy a couple of nice scarves for herself (I could tell she really wanted them) – otherwise, she’d have not done it and then regretted it (verbally) for the rest of our lives. But when it comes to buying things, we hardly have much at all, couple of scarves, couple of dresses, some trinkets (two bead strings, six tiny elephants (two divine, the others standard)) and that marble table. But considering some of the members of the tour who are hauling out trinkets in bulk, we’re pretty modest.

Then our final tour – went over Sarnath, the holy city where Buddha originally preached. They even have part of the banyan tree (through cuttings and regrowth) off the original he sat under. Walked through an old temple complex (again lost, again discovered by the curious English (“Jove, yet another lost city, wot?”). Also toured a Hindu/Buddhist museum full of things recovered from that site. Then home in time for our final dinner.

And we’re pretty much done at this point, other than the travel (I’ll blog anything of significance besides my aching ass and red-eyed endurance). But I’m dreaming of sedate traffic, quiet surroundings, blue skies and juicy pizzas. Yes, it was a trip of wonder and amazement but it’s also a trip that took a great deal of endurance to complete. I’ve seen India, loved it, understand my coworkers a little better, and will be all too happy to be home.

Thanks for reading.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:14
 
India - Day Eight – Love and Death PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 29 February 2016 00:00

kay, so, Khajuraho Temple – looks like those temples out of the Jungle Book (yeah, already made that comparison). But that’s where the G-rating ends.

I might not know art, but I know what I like!Whoever the natives were, they were very open-minded. Their temples showed all manner of court life (unclothed court life) and all manner of sexual configurations (69, three-somes, voyeurism, bestiality).  So yeah, I got a lot of pictures. Really, there is something (as an occasional writer of erotica) that these stone-masons of 1000AD captured, the saucy cant of a woman’s hip, her come-hither expression, all that. And did they ever catch it. Honestly, much of it is repeats of earlier scenes in the other complex; one woman adjusts her henna markings (and twists back a leg so erotically) yet you see the same moment captured over and over (woman with a thorn in her foot, woman needing help with an ankle bangle) that you rather get the idea. Still, some moments of raw sexuality there. Worth a look.

Then a rush to the airport to pick up a flight to Varanasi. No problems with the flight – oh, it was rinky-dink with the banana-republic security, the rolling boarding ramps, all that, but a 30 minute plane ride tops a 12 hour bus ride.

This afternoon, we drove over to the Ganges for our special tour of the river by sunset. It was a bit of a problem that the cars had to drop us twenty minutes’ walk away. This doesn’t sound like much, but Varanasi is an Indian city – you must see traffic to believe it. We pushed along a flood of humanity, stepping over deformed beggers, dodging hawkers, shouldering along with natives, all to the singing horns of the traffic. Pushed our way down to the river bank – a hazy purple in the late afternoon glow, the ancient steps packed with worshipers and watchers. Picked up a couple of flowers from a boy, a cup, flowers and a candle in each – these were for sending wishes along the Ganges.

Okay, so two swarthy river-rats loaded us into their old wooden boat draped with orange flowers, backing us under long ore/poles into the main body of the slow moving river. We eased north along the bank, threading past boats out to see the night’s happenings. Further along, pyres were bursting against the evening gloom, one, two, three… five – even more. Cremations were taking place all along one section of the bank. Kites fought against a half-mooned evening sky, bats fluttered, mosquitos hummed, the riverboys calling out to each other, clearing down port and starboard.

Crazy, yes, but better than some gray funeral.We held station off the cremations, watching new bodies being brought down, new pyres flaming high. Tiny candles were lit in their cups and set off with a wish. Got mine and JBs lit and we launched them together, watching them flow north, riding into the darkness where all dreams go. A defeated kite fluttered down with a tiny splash further out. Boats rode easy, not two alike.

We poled our way back up to the launching point, only to find a line of Brahmans performing some religious line dance on a lit stage, all the river’s vessels pressing close to watch. The alien music floated over the waters. Tea-boys walked from boat to boat, selling steaming drink by the cup. I looked over my shoulder and saw a female Indian boat girl facing away, tending to an oar. She turned to reveal that she was in advanced pregnancy. I realized that at that moment I was looking at true India.

Eventually we got ashore – then came the crazy walk back, the scooters, auto rickshaws and cars flooding past uncaring pedestrians. Once again we had to push through intersections so clogged with honking cars that one had to turn sideways and slide between scooters, rubbing against the drivers. We got to the curbing – the woman before me (one from our tour) stopped dead. Just off her line-of-march, a shadowy patch of muddy ground, a dead dog lying there. There we stood, traffic chaosing past, and she’s locked up over the dog. “Keep moving,” I said firmly and gave her a gentle push. I didn’t want to lose sight of the guide. That would be death. I’d never get home.

But I did, following a crazy drive home, including a dust-roostering shortcut through a slum. Finally we made it. Retired to the hotel restaurant for Fish and Chips, too much beer, then back to the room. As I write this, fireworks are banging from a nearby Indian wedding and car horns ring in the night.

We’re going to see another Ganges tomorrow, hopefully a calmer version, when the sun rises.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:13
 
India - Day Seven – Steel Rails to Jhansi PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 28 February 2016 14:27

errible start for the day (the usual 3am bing awake deal). Turns out JB had some sort of mango tea drink for dinner. Either that or something else dumped her guts. I’m lying in bed, trying to will myself to sleep, and I’m hearing say that her bowels are dumping, that she’s got a throbbing headache, that she’s sick as a dog, and my mind whirls on the logistics of three hours on a train and five more in a bus. Told her to pull the ripcord and take the anti-diuretics, aspirins, everything. Bomb bay doors open. Salvo.

Within ten minutes she was snoring. The next morning (two hours later) she was perfectly fine. Since I’d prayed for Ganesh (the elephant god and supposedly the deity of travel) I now owe him something. I think I’ll visiting the Hindu temple when I get home and toss and offering his way.

So.

All Aboard for Jhansi!On the platform after breakfast to catch the Shatabdi Express for Jhansi. Since I’ve got a clinic to present to the train club in a week, I decided I’d do one on traveling on Indian railroads. And I’ve got a lot to go over.

You have scant minutes to throw yourself aboard. Of course, our tour group went in the right carriage door, another one in the left door. Turns out all our seats were on the other ends of the car, so a lot of bulky tourists with big carry-ons trying to get past each other. Anyway, eventually the train was off and I was shooting pictures out the window.

Saw sacred cows lying on nearby tracks. Saw derail tracks in stations (I thought it was some sort of trailer unloading station but there was no way to get a truck in – then I realized it was a safety precaution). I people-watched in the stations, and train watched at the sidings. We ended up cooking along at a cool 80mph. Yes, the trains are beat up around the edges but this one was comfortable, on time, and better than a day’s bus travel so I’ll take it. Pulled into Jhansi on schedule.

Strange area around Jhansi – unlike Agra and Delhi, the Jhansi drivers drove quietly – you hardly ever heard a horn. The city is also neat and tidy (compared to the rubbish of Delhi and Jaipur). Once we got out on the roads, it got a little more honky. Worse, it was a long drive to Khajuraho (our next overnight). We were on the road five hours. We stopped for lunch and got to check out the old tombs of Orchha overlooking the River Betwa. They looked just like King Louie’s ruins in Jungle Book. Then another couple of hours, with a piss stop in a small restaurant with a gift shop. Looked for something for a friend, and found neat Ganesh statues carved out of camel bone. Got one for my friend and one for me (I owe Trunk-man my thanks for setting things good with my wife’s cold). But really, it was a drag of a ride. Read a bit, slept a bit, and wished my fellow travelers would quiet down and please, stop sneezing (I don’t want JB to catch something else).

Anyway, I got the erotica day wrong. Tomorrow. I promise.

Gateway to Heaven - so quiet and peaceful...

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Last Updated on Monday, 29 February 2016 15:12
 
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