Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oldest Stone Bracelet Yet Found - 40,000 Year Old Denisovan (?)Writing in the Novosibirsk magazine, Science First Hand, Dr Derevyanko said: 'There were found two fragments of the bracelet of a width of 2.7cm and a thickness of 0.9 cm. The estimated diameter of the find was 7cm. Near one of the cracks was a drilled hole with a diameter of about 0.8 cm. Studying them, scientists found out that the speed of rotation of the drill was rather high, fluctuations minimal, and that was there was applied drilling with an implement - technology that is common for more recent times.Writing in the Novosibirsk magazine, Science First Hand, Dr Derevyanko said: 'There were found two fragments of the bracelet of a width of 2.7cm and a thickness of 0.9 cm. The estimated diameter of the find was 7cm. Near one of the cracks was a drilled hole with a diameter of about 0.8 cm. Studying them, scientists found out that the speed of rotation of the drill was rather high, fluctuations minimal, and that was there was applied drilling with an implement - technology that is common for more recent times. Discovery

Oh, those mysterious Denisovans.  Check out this latest:

Story and many photographs of the wonderful bracelet from The Siberian Times online:

Stone bracelet is oldest ever found in the world

By Anna Liesowska
07 May 2015
Dating back 40,000 years to the Denisovan species of early humans, new pictures show beauty and craftsmanship of prehistoric jewellery.
It is intricately made with polished green stone and is thought to have adorned a very important woman or child on only special occasions. Yet this is no modern-day fashion accessory and is instead believed to be the oldest stone bracelet in the world, dating to as long ago as 40,000 years.
Unearthed in the Altai region of Siberia in 2008, after detailed analysis Russian experts now accept its remarkable age as correct. 
New pictures show this ancient piece of jewellery in its full glory with scientists concluding it was made by our prehistoric human ancestors, the Denisovans, and shows them to have been far more advanced than ever realised.
'The bracelet is stunning - in bright sunlight it reflects the sun rays, at night by the fire it casts a deep shade of green,' said Anatoly Derevyanko, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
'It is unlikely it was used as an everyday jewellery piece. I believe this beautiful and very fragile bracelet was worn only for some exceptional moments.'
The bracelet was found inside the famous Denisova Cave, in the Altai Mountains, which is renowned for its palaeontological finds dating back to the Denisovans, who were known as homo altaiensis, an extinct species of humans genetically distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans.
Made of chlorite, the bracelet was found in the same layer as the remains of some of the prehistoric people and is thought to belong to them.
What made the discovery especially striking was that the manufacturing technology is more common to a much later period, such as the Neolithic era. Indeed, it is not clear yet how the Denisovans could have made the bracelet with such skill. [So why are the archaeologists so certain this is a Denisovan creation?  Read on...]
Writing in the Novosibirsk magazine, Science First Hand, Dr Derevyanko said: 'There were found two fragments of the bracelet of a width of 2.7cm and a thickness of 0.9 cm. The estimated diameter of the find was 7cm. Near one of the cracks was a drilled hole with a diameter of about 0.8 cm. Studying them, scientists found out that the speed of rotation of the drill was rather high, fluctuations minimal, and that was there was applied drilling with an implement - technology that is common for more recent times.
'The ancient master was skilled in techniques previously considered not characteristic for the Palaeolithic era, such as drilling with an implement, boring tool type rasp, grinding and polishing with a leather and skins of varying degrees of tanning.'
Chlorite was not found in the vicinity of the cave and is thought to have come from a distance of at least 200km, showing how valued the material was at the time. [If this is not evidence of ancient trade, I don't know what is!]
Dr Derevyanko said the bracelet had suffered damage, including visible scratches and bumps although it looked as if some of the scratches had been sanded down. Experts also believe that the piece of jewellery had other adornments to make it more beautiful.
'Next to the hole on the outer surface of the bracelet can be seen clearly a limited polished zone of intensive contact with some soft organic material,' said Dr Derevyanko. 'Scientists have suggested that it was a leather strap with some charm, and this charm was rather heavy. The location of the polished section made it possible to identify the 'top' and 'bottom' of the bracelet and to establish that it was worn on the right hand.'
Polished zone of intensive contact with some soft organic material. General reconstruction of the view of the bracelet and compraison with the moders bracelet. Pictures: Anatoly Derevyanko and Mikhail Shunkov, Anastasia Abdulmanova.  Image from article (link in headline).

Viva Las Vegas: The Spring, 2015 Visit

Hola darlings!

Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I know.  I've been an unsteady lover/blogger.  Stop bitching about my long gaps in posting and start reading, please.

Got back late yesterday evening from visiting Georgia a/k/a Isis (with the beautiful Isis swimming pool/yard) and Michelle in sunny and warm (until I got there, that is) Las Vegas.  I spent three full days visiting with my long-time Goddesschess buddy/partner with an occasional nod at uber-busy Michelle (exam time, she's a UNLV senior in finals and going an extra year in 2016 to pick up a second engineering degree).  I arrived the evening of Tuesday May 12 (basically crashed and burned early once I got settled into my hotel room) and left early afternoon on Friday May 16.

Isis and I talked up a hurricane, I drank a lot wine, ate a lot of food, Isis and I shopped together, peed in our pants laughing many times, we did a little barbecue/cooking one evening ( I made dry hamburgers, they did not turn out as good as they have in the past [out of practice since Mr. Don died], and also made Newton style potato salad, which was marginally better), and I picked up a sun tan along the way, got a few twice-overs (at my age, 63, darlings -- INCREDIBLE!), also got drenched by music from a festival (Rock in Rio) that was parked practically right outside my hotel's main entrance.

I stayed at Circus Circus this year:

My first time staying at Circus Circus.  It was an EXCELLENT BARGAIN: a lovely and large, recently refurbished room (a single with a king size bed, non-smoking floor so no cigarette stink), IMMACULATELY clean, excellent staff, with a lovely view of the Las Vegas valley, and QUIET! (well, until Rock in Rio showed up on Friday, LOL!), at a great price, and did I mention I had a MARVELOUS staff looking after me -- well, they were wonderful.  Whether it was Housekeeping, the Information Desk, Checking In/Checking Out, the shop and restaurant people -- all first class people, polite, helpful, utterly engaging.  Even the guests were polite and engaging, and I cannot say that for every hotel I've stayed at over the years in Las Vegas.  I was SO pleased with the experience I will definitely book there again. Thank you, Circus Circus.  And in case of you're wondering, no, this is NOT a paid ad.  I call a spade a spade, and an ace and ace.  Circus Circus is an ace.

Views from my en suite window - this one is looking - I have no idea what direction actually, LOL -- but you can see some of the mountains that encircle the LV valley:

That dark pink glass structure is part of the Adventure Dome added to Circus Circus since my last visit to Las Vegas in spring 2013.  The one sure thing about this city is that nothing EVER stays the same there.

I had a view of the pool and the Adventuredome - above is an early-morning shot from my hotel room window of the pool area.

My room was in the West Tower so very convenient for arrivals and departures and maneuvering around the premises (most of the hotels/casino complexes have gotten good at putting up signs to point you in the direction to get you where you want to go, and Circus Circus was very good at that).  My room was off-Strip so it was quiet!  As a non-smoking floor, I think I dodged a lot of the more serious party-party types too, and Circus Circus is (as far as I am aware) the only remaining hotel on the Strip that caters to families with children. I saw lots of families with children of all ages, and it was wonderful to see them.  And no, there were NO screaming out of control children running up and down the hallways in the residential towers or in the hotel common areas.  (I don't mind kids except when they're screaming in my ear or kicking my seat on a plane, LOL!, and they seem to like me. I struck up a love affair at the LV airport with an 18 month old toddler who was learning to walk while waiting to come back home on Saturday.  He was such a flirt!)  Babies, toddlers and children love to make eye contact and they see the truth in a person, I believe.  If you have a good heart, they know it, nearly instantly.  They can see it in your eyes.

There is a lot to see and do on the Circus Circus hotel premises for the young and the young at heart.  During our last visit together to Las Vegas in 2011, Mr. Don and I had a lot of fun in the Circus Circus mezzanine area where free circus acts are featured and more than 200 try-your-luck games in addition to the uber cool fortune-teller machine!  I beat the pants off Mr. Don in "whack a chicken" (maybe I'm a reincarnated Viking as I seem to be very good at smashing things with a heavy wooden mallet), but he was a much better sharp shooter with the water guns than I was. Drat!  We tried tossing bean bags at milk bottles, flipping coins on to plates for prizes, tried those "crank and grab a prize" machines and played "through the hoop"  bean-bag toss games in myriad variations, and spent several delightful hours there our last trip to LV together.  Oh Mr. Don, how I miss you.  He was like the Pied Piper. He attracted people (of all ages, races, creeds and nationalities) to him no matter where we were or what we were doing.  He was just that way. To paraphrase a line from a famous movie:  He had me at "hello. And he had strangers before he even uttered a word.  I could not see his aura, per se, but it must have been one terrific aura to be able to do that! He was, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, a truly magic man.

My room with bath on the 13th floor (GODDESS number, woo woo!) was cleaner, better maintained and much quieter than the room I stayed in at the former Quad in 2013 when Thelma and I visited LV together.  The Quad (the former Imperial Palace) is now known as The Linq and seems to be in perpetual renovation mode.  It has a great location about center-Strip, but I don't know if I would want to stay there now; they are obviously marketing to the LET US GET CRAZY LIKE ANCIENT ROMANS AND PARTY UNTIL WE DROP DEAD FROM ALCOHOL POISONING crowd.  Not exactly my style these days; well, not ever my style, darlings, not even when I was in my roaring 20s and 30s :)

Isis is doing well, and so am I.  And while I have not been the best of bloggers lately, Goddesschess has funded prizes for chess femmes for some wonderful chess events in 2015 thus far, with more coming up (more about that later), so we are hard at work, peeps, even if I'm not blogging about it constantly.

Absolutely no pics of either Isis or me -- it never even occurred to me to pull out my camera to try and get some photos of us.  Guess I'm getting senile (or smart, har :))  The back yard and pool area are well-kept and lovely, as always, and the plantings Isis and Michelle have put in over the years since they purchased the house in 2008 have filled in beautifully.

One of the cool things Isis and I did during my stay was visit a local charitable thrift store.  Isis revealed to me her incredible expertise in "picking" -- I was just amazed at how quickly she was able to go up and down aisle after aisle of merchandise and zero-in on the good stuff.  I was going to take a photo of our haul (I bought a few items, too) in our cart prior to check-out but forgot all about it, so I took this silly photo of plastic bags filled with our stash instead (after we loaded it into Isis' vehicle):

Here is an original painting she picked up for a great price.  The more I looked at it, the more I fell in love with it:

When we got back to Isis' place, we checked the artist's name on Google and found a couple of paintings of hers being offered on an online auction site for, let's just say substantially more money.  Nice score, Isis.

It was a privilege going through this experience with her.  She is a PRO.  Her mom and her grandmother before her were antique collectors and quietly built up expertise in their field.  They taught Isis all the tricks of the trade.  This woman knows her stuff, peeps.  I was in awe as she rattled off makers/manufacturers and approximate ages of piece after piece that she singled out as we went through the large store.  She ran her own vintage furnishings and antiques shop in LV for many years before the advent of the internet.  These days, she works part-time only, when the mood strikes her, since retiring in 2009 and runs her shop online.

Now I'm back home and recovering from my vacation.  Travelling wears me out, peeps.  And my sciatica was acting up big time during my stay at LV and back here at home. What a pain (literally!)  I managed the mile round-trip hike to the Pick 'n Save supermarket to pick up much needed food and wine supplies earlier today, and despite the constant pain my left leg feels somewhat better now.  When I am laying perfectly still prone in bed, the pain gradually subsides and it is Heaven!  This bout has lasted about 2 weeks now, but I have had intermittent longer bouts over the last dozen or so years, one lasted about 6 weeks in the mid 2000's when I was under a great deal of job stress, working for a super asshole.  These days, no 8:30 to 5 job-related stress, but I'm no longer below 60, either.  Damn damn damn!  Well, I'm going to fight the Good Fight, peeps, to keep my health (such as it is, with evidently genetically inherited bad heart and lungs) as long as I can.  The spirit sure is willing, in any event :)

I arrived home last evening to MUCH Lake Michigan-caused fog (Mitchell International Airport is right on Lake Michigan) but by the time the shuttle got me home (abut 7 miles west) the air was much clearer, although extremely muggy.  With clashing fronts blowing in from the west coast and the Gulf coast, we were forecast to get thunderstorms, and we had a mild bought of t-storms earlier this afternoon with strong winds out of the south and heavy rains.  The storms did not last long, though.  Now it is sunny and mild outside (6:48 p.m. Milwaukee time) and the temperature is slowly cooling down.  Will we get more storms later?  I don't know, I haven't listened or looked at the latest forecasts.  It is still extremely muggy, but right now the skies have cleared and the sun is shining.  The air is very still, though.  Not a good sign.  A crow is visiting me, I just tossed out a new handful of peanuts for it to enjoy and it is bathing some of those peanuts, one by one, in the concrete bird bath that sits at the edge of my large concrete patio (no nicely tree-shaded wood deck at this house, alas).  

Now the church bells are ringing it's 7 p.m.

So funny!  As the Go Rite-Way Airport shuttle van backed into my driveway last evening to deliver me safely home at last, an extremely nosy neighbor three houses to the south of mine was standing in the driveway of (what I hope was) his house and stayed there the entire time it took for the van to do a Y-turn and back into my driveway, drop me off, unload my suitcase, receive his tip, and drive away again.  I mean like, REALLY DUDE?  Obviously this is a man who has nothing better to do with his time.  Holy Hathor!  Seriously, I don't know if I'll be able to tolerate this kind of bullshit spying on my comings-and-goings now that I am retired.

Now I'm tired and have had several glasses of cheap pink boxed wine and just want ot watch t.v. for awhile, so I'm not proof-reading this.  I hope it makes sense.  But you know what - I don't care if it doesn't, LOL darlings!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXI - Final Results for the Chess Femmes

First of all, congratulations to Rachel Ulrich who competed in the Open and finished with two wins and two draws for a score of 3.0/4.  Rachel's performance qualifies her for the U.S. national master title at the age of 14, whoop whoop! 

Rachel has joined a select group of other young chess femmes who have also recently earned national master titles:  Carissa Yip, 11 years old, who earned her NM title this February, and Jennifer Yu, now age 13, who participated in the recently concluded 2015 U.S. Women's Chess Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.  Jennifer earned her NM title in 2014.  Another rising young CF, Apurva Virkud, also earned her NM title in 2014 (age 15 or 16, not sure).

Ninety players participated in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXI; twelve chess femmes made up their number, for an overall female participation rate of 13.3%.  Three CFs played in the Open, and nine CFs played in the Reserve section (rated under 1600).  Here are the final results:

Open (52 players):

  8.    Ulrich, Rachel J (7) .........  WI 2177 W23   W4    D1    D7      3.0
  16.    Ulrich, Susanna G (41) .......  WI 1586 W41   D24   L13   W33     2.5
  43.    Huang, Alena (35) ............  WI 1657 W51   L19   L22   L25     1.0

Rachel earned $120.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Susanna earned $100.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Alena earned $40.00 in Goddesschess prize money.

Reserve (38 players):

  2.    Huang, Sabrina (4) ...........  WI 1436 W6    W17   W7    W12     4.0
 5.    Hoffman, Sandra R (7) ........  WI 1359 L17   W25   W20   W21     3.0
 17.    Wanek, Ellen Ann (16) ........  WI 1171 W5    L2    W33   L8      2.0
 22.    Ball, Salli (25) .............  WI  945 W33   W36   L3    L6      2.0
 30.    Przedwiecki, Alyssa (29) .....  WI  799 L20   L33   L14   W34     1.0
  33.    Gaddipati, Haasa (35) ........  WI  631 L22   W30   L17   L18     1.0
 35.    Romich, Brianna (38) .........  WI nnnn W29   L28   L15   L23     1.0
 37.    Van Oss, Jeanne Marshelle (32)  WI  712 -H-   L6    L13   -N-     0.5
38.    Rice, Dorothea M (21) ........  WI 1052 L23   L31   L29   -U-     0.0

I'll leave it to Robin Grochowski of the Southwest Chess Club to figure out the exact amount of Goddesschess prize money won by each of these chess femmes, but from what I can figure out for myself:

Sabrina earned $80.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Sandra earned $60.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Ellen earned $40.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Sallie earned $40.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Alyssa earned $20.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Haasa earned $20.00 in Goddesschess prize money.
Brianna earned $20.00 in Goddesschess prize money and also gets a USCF rating.

Planning is already in progress for HCCC XXII in October, 2015.  This year's U.S. Women's Chess Championship saw the implementation of the Fischer Award for a perfect score for the women (such an award has been tangling out there like a carrot in the U.S. Chess Championship for several years); Goddesschess is working out details for our own version of the perfect score award for chess femmes in the Hales Corners Chess Challenges. Stay tuned! 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

China Pursuing Water Security? Good luck with that, dudes!

AFP feed to Yahoo News, April 18, 2015:

China's struggle for water security

By Giles Hewitt

Way back in 1999, before he became China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao warned that water scarcity posed one of the greatest threats to the "survival of the nation".
Sixteen years later, that threat looms ever larger, casting a forbidding shadow over China's energy and food security and demanding urgent solutions with significant regional, and even global, consequences.
The mounting pressure on China's scarce, unequally distributed and often highly polluted water supply was highlighted in a report released at the World Water Forum this week in Daegu, South Korea.
Published by the Hong Kong-based NGO, China Water Risk (CWR), it underlined the complexity of the challenge facing China as it seeks to juggle inextricably linked and often competing concerns over water, energy supply and climate change.
"There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to China's water-energy-climate nexus," the report said.
"More importantly, China's energy choices do not only impact global climate change, but affect water availability for Asia," it said, warning of the danger of future "water wars" given China's upstream control over Asia's mightiest rivers.
The Qinghai-Tibetan plateau is essentially the world's largest water tank and the origin of some of Asia's most extensive river systems including the Indus, Brahmaputra and Mekong. The most significant link in the nexus the report describes is the fact that 93 percent of China's power generation is water-reliant.
"Chinese officials are starting to say water security comes first," the report's author Debra Tan told AFP in Daegu. "Because without it, there is no energy security and, of course, no food security."Agriculture accounts for between 65 and 70 percent of China's water use and vast amounts are wasted by inefficient irrigation.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXI

Hola everyone!

There is plenty of time yet to register for HCCC XXI which is this Saturday, April 18th.  Four rounds in one days at the beautiful Olympia Resort in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  There are two sections -- Open and Reserve.  As of this morning, I was notified that there are 75 pre-registered, which is great -- 12 are chess femmes :)

You can find more information here.  There will be walk-up registration tomorrow morning prior to the start of the tournament.

Goddesschess provides prizes for female players in both the Open and Reserve sections, in addition to a gift back to the top female finisher in each section.  All Goddesschess prizes are in ADDITION to prizes offered by the HCCC.

I'll be up to my eyeballs in nut shells tomorrow (spring yard clean-up), but my thoughts will be with you all, and I'll be checking the results from time to time at Southwest Chess Club's blog.

Good luck, everyone!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chess Cheat Caught Using Grody Toilet-Paper Wrapped I-Phone In Men's Bathroom

Oh gag me!

Even worse, the news was disgusting enough to make it onto the front page of Yahoo!  Like chess doesn't already have a quirked-eyebrow reputation amongst the general population?  And now this kind of incident gets world-wide publicity.  Gee, thanks for nothing, Schmuck Nigalidze.  I hope Bobb Fischer haunts your dreams with his own personal pitchfork for as long as you live.

Chess champion caught cheating by hiding an iPhone in the bathroom

A 25-year-old chess champion named Gaioz Nigalidze was recently caught cheating via his iPhone while playing at the 17th annual Dubai Open Chess Tournament.
According to tournament investigators, Nigalidze made suspiciously frequent trips to a bathroom stall where, come to find out, he had hidden his iPhone behind a toilet, appropriately wrapped and concealed in wads of toilet paper.
Nigaldze’s opponent, a grandmaster named Tigran Petrosian, initially became suspicious when he noticed Nigaldze consistently running to the toilet after making a move. Petrosian lodged a complaint which then prompted an “on the scene” investigation, according to a report in The Telegraph.
When the toilet paper covered iPhone was discovered, Nigalidze denied it was his, a plea which comically fell on deaf ears once investigators began poking around and discovered open social networking apps which clearly belonged to Nigalidze. Not helping matters was an open chess app that just so happened to be analyzing Nigalidze and Petrosian’s ongoing match.
Naturally, Nigalidze was banned from the tournament. What’s more, the validity of his entire career is now being called into question. A purported rising star within the chess community, Nigalidze was the reigning Georgian Chess champion for two years running.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 U.S. Women's Chess Championship: Final Results and Standings

Hola darlings!

Here's the poop:

Pairings round 11 

1WIM Ni, Viktorija6.02188WCM Virkud, Apurva3.521321-0
2IM Paikidze, Nazi7.02333WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca5.02235½-½
3GM Krush, Irina8.02477WGM Nemcova, Katerina7.02279½-½
4IM Goletiani, Rusudan5.52311WFM Yu, Jennifer R2.02180½-½
5WGM Sharevich, Anna5.52267WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev5.523221-0
6WIM Wang, Annie2.51901FM Melekhina, Alisa2.522351-0

Generated by Swiss Master for Windows on 12-04-2015 at 18:22

Kudos to Annie Wang for her final game being a win over much higher rated Melekhina whom, I would venture to say, is much out of practice after spending the majority of the past 3-4 years in college.  Well, one has to make a living and one is not very likely to make a good living playing chess, when all is said and done.  Ni secured her victory against Apurva Virkud for 4th place, while Paikidze and Nemcova settled into a share of second/third place money.  I'd say my biggest surprise was Abrahamyan's middling performance. I so want her to win this title -- I think she has the goods!  She has been so fricking close in prior events but has never made that break-through.  I thought this year, maybe she could do it.

Here are the final standings:


1GM Krush, Irina8.5F24772444-0.25½1011½1111½
2IM Paikidze, Nazi7.5F23332366+0.64½½1½½½1½11½
3WGM Nemcova, Katerina7.5F22792368+1.43½111½11½½0½
4WIM Ni, Viktorija7.0F21882345+2.32½00½11½1½11
5WGM Sharevich, Anna6.5F22672301+0.63100½½½1½½11
6IM Goletiani, Rusudan6.0F23112269-0.53½11½0101½0½
7WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev5.5F23222233-1.210011½1½½010
8WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca5.5F22352239+0.08½011½0½½10½
9WCM Virkud, Apurva3.5F21322115-0.351½00100½0½0
10WIM Wang, Annie3.5F19012114+2.2210000½00½½1
11FM Melekhina, Alisa2.5F22352028-2.9201½0½000½00
12WFM Yu, Jennifer R2.5F21802033-2.0601½000½000½
Generated by Swiss Master for Windows on 12-04-2015 at 18:22

Confirming my eyeballing of round by round results, WIM Viktorija Ni out-performed her rating by 157 points; but Annie Wang out-performed by 213 points, woo woo!  Congrats to both chess femmes for showing that ELO isn't necessarily the best measurement of one's true grit when it comes to the game.

It will be interesting to see how the "new kids on the block" perform over the next few years -- will we see some of the names in the lower half of the rankings back again next year?
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