Saturday, February 7, 2009

Susan Polgar to Give Simul

Story from the Peoria (Arizona) Times Saturday, February 7, 2009 Chess Grandmaster presides over Peoria tournament Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar will play 64 opponents simultaneously the evening of Friday, Feb. 13, to kick off a weekend of chess at Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria. On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 14-15, the Susan Polgar National Chess Championship for Boys and the Susan Polgar National Open Championship for Girls will be held at the same location. The weekend events will include prizes, trophies, teaching events and eligible high school players competing for college scholarships. “This is a great event for Peoria and is part of Peoria's commitment to youth education and chess,” said City Manager Carl Swenson. “We are excited to have Ms. Polgar as our guest.” Born in Hungary but now living in New York [actually, in Lubbock, Texas, but SP maintains her chess school in NY], Polgar is one of the strongest female players ever, having been Women's World Chess Champion from 1996 until 1999. In 1986, she made history by being the first female player to qualify to compete in the Men's World Chess Championship. In her Peoria exhibition, Polgar will take on the 64 opponents simultaneously at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 13. Anybody can be one of her challengers. Be one of the first to register and pay a $30 fee the night of the event. Registration will continue until the start of play or until all the spots are filled. Earlier in the day, Polgar will speak at a luncheon in the Development and Community Services Building (First floor, Point of View Room) on the Peoria Municipal Campus. The two championship tournaments will run through Saturday and Sunday, culminating with an awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The deadline to register online is 7 p.m. Feb. 13; phone registrations will be taken until 10 p.m. at 602-482-4867. For more information, visit and

Nuns Died Rendering Aid During Plague Outbreak

The headline of this article is misleading - of course not all nuns were wiped out due to the Plague! Story from Renaissance nuns wiped out by plague Study: Religious orders in France lost lives providing medical care for poor By Jennifer Viegas updated 11:11 a.m. CT, Fri., Feb. 6, 2009 Nuns and priests sacrificed their own lives to provide medical care for the poor in Renaissance France, according to a new study that implicates exposure to contagious plague victims in the deaths of several religious order members. The study is among the first to find that plague, a deadly bacterial disease also known as "the Black Death," can be quickly and accurately identified in ancient human remains. Several recently identified women who died after caring for plague victims were all Benedictine nuns from the Sainte-Croix Abbey's chapter house near Poitiers, France. "The Abbess [Mother Superior] of Sainte-Croix was known to be an extremely generous person who spent all of her life looking after the poor," lead author Raffaella Bianucci told Discovery News. Bianucci, an anthropologist in the Department of Animal and Human Biology at the University of Turin, added that the woman was the Countess Charlotte Flandrina of Nassau, the fourth daughter of Prince William I of Orange. When the countess became a Roman Catholic nun, she sold most of her valuables to pay for food and medical care for the region's poor, many of whom caught the plague from soldiers fighting in the Thirty Years War. "There is evidence of food distribution to the people, and it seems that laymen had free access to the convent's infirmary," Bianucci said. Historical accounts suggest that nuns caring for the plague victims succumbed to the disease sometime between 1628 and 1632. At that time, General Vicar Jean Filleau ordered the remaining nuns to leave the cloister and retreat to a seaside residence. With funding from Compagnia di San Paolo, Bianucci and her team analyzed skeletons of Saint-Croix Abbey nuns whose corpses were found resting on layers of the disinfectant calcium oxide, or lime. The researchers applied an "RDT dipstick test" to the bones and teeth. Similar to a home pregnancy test, the "dipstick" changes color if it detects the presence of markers for Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes plague. The nuns tested positive for the deadly infection, according to the study, which will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. The scientists also performed the test on priests buried near the altar of Saint-Nicolas' Church in La Chaize-le-Vicomte, in central France. The priests also tested positive. Although historical records are less clear about the priests' contact with local plague victims, Bianucci said the men must have been around "the parishioners, as their ministry required, and certainly assisted people who were dying," such as by administering last rights. "It will be most interesting to see it (the plague dipstick test) applied to a wide array of tissues of varying ages in the future," said Arthur Aufderheide, director of the Paleobiology Laboratory at the University of Minnesota's Medical School, Duluth Campus.

Friday, February 6, 2009

2009 Gibraltar - Final Standings

After Round 10, for the Chess Femmes (16, out of 195 players): Rank Name Score Fed. Rating TPR W-We 8 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 7.0 GEO 2518 2675 +2.21 10 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 7.0 BUL 2557 2612 +0.79 11 GM Cramling, Pia 7.0 SWE 2548 2511 -0.23 27 IM Krush, Irina 6.5 USA 2457 2496 +0.69 31 IM Zatonskih, Anna 6.5 USA 2462 2463 +0.20 32 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 6.5 LTU 2497 2458 -0.24 44 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 6.0 SCO 2500 2449 -0.47 50 GM Socko, Monika 6.0 POL 2449 2362 -0.91 51 IM Sachdev, Tania 6.0 IND 2435 2343 -1.03 58 IM Houska, Jovanka 5.5 ENG 2392 2430 +0.53 63 WGM Calzetta, Monica 5.5 ESP 2371 2350 -0.16 95 IM Klinova, Masha 5.0 ISR 2328 2219 -1.29 136 WIM Tsifanskaya, Ludmila A 4.0 ISR 2149 2059 -1.34 153 Carlsen, Ellen Oen 3.5 NOR 1888 2007 +1.25 156 Haug, Marianne Wold 3.5 NOR 1935 1988 +0.57 178 Chidi, Lovinia Sylvia 2.5 GER 0 1819 1819 Considering the odds, the chess femmes performed fabulously! TWO placed in the top 10, with GM Pia Cramling right up there at #11. Our USA chess femmes, Krush and Zatonskih, neck and neck again (just like the were at the 2008 U.S. Women's Chess Championship), had very credible performances. BTW, the event was won by Russian GM Peter Svidler with 8.0. Here is the final rankings table. Won't it be grand to see the upcoming showdown of Krush and Zatonskih in the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - can't wait! Assuming they play...

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! I was actually able to walk home comfortably tonight without my scarf wrapped close about my face and my hood zipped tight against the wind! The weather has turned - as Etta James sang AT LAST.... Speaking of Etta James, she's been having a hissy fit about Beyonce singing "At Last" at one of the Obama Ignaugural Balls. She also evidently does not like the new President, but now says she was just smack-talking and didn't mean anything by it. Personally, I don't think his ears are all that big; they just stick out a little bit. Anyway, Bing Crosby had "big ears" and he was adored by an entire generation of bobby-socks babes back in the day. Now Etta, if you want to see big ears, take a look at sticks waaayyyy out, too. BTW, I've heard Beyonce's rendition of "At Last" and think it's just fine. She's on-tune and has some good inflections here and there, and the orchestration sounds (to my untrained ear) very close to the original. But it will never be Etta's version, which still brings chills to my spine every time I hear those opening notes of hers. So Etta baby, get over it already. There will NEVAH be another you. Here's an interesting article about something I've never heard of: Charles Bonnet Syndrome. It causes one to see things that aren't really there, but is not a function of mental illness, Alzheimers or senile dementia. Hmmmm, are the experts really sure those faces and tiny people and other things that people who have CBS are seeing aren't really there? What if people who have CBS are actually seeing the world as it is? Or maybe seeing in-between dimensions? Or another dimension? Wow! The Hound of Mons. I found this at the Daily Grail, and it is tres spooky! A giant hound with a transplanted human brain at the hands of a "mad" German scientist during WWI? This is taking the legend of Hounds from Hell ONE STEP BEYOND... Unfortunately, not many of those who fought in that war are still living, so it's easy for tall tales to rise up. Who is there left to refute them now? Personally, I have little doubt that some feral dogs and/or wolves roamed among the soldiers in those horrid trenches in Europe where WWI was fought and may have killed many. But - the stories do NOT indicate that the remains were partially eaten which, one would think, if it was a large feral dog or pack, or wolf or wolves hunting for food in a ravished land, the body would show some evidence of having been partially eaten, would it not? Oh yes, Islam is such an understanding, compassionate religion (can you feel the irony dripping from every letter, darlings?) Will they burn these guys at the stake like the sicko so-called Christians used to do hundreds of years ago with "heretics?" All these guys did was publish a translation of the Quran without the Arabic verses side by side, but that's a big crime! Bet the Pope is having a good laugh in Rome, har! Radical Islam is doomed to fail because sooner or later all systems that repress people fail. History has proven this to be so. Sooner or later - let us all hope sooner. Oh, those Imams they are sooooo holy, aren't they. Six hundred years ago they were called Bishops in the "Church." And isn't this a neat way to get rid of one's enemies. Accuse them of being an infidel, just like one used to be accused of being a witch, or a Cathar, or a Hugenot...because someone wants your dog, your house, your land, your wife, or your kids, to do with what they will. A pox on these people, may they die agonizing deaths being slowly stomped to death by those 70 dark-eyed virgins supposedly waiting for them in Paradise.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sweety Patel of India Wins National Child Award

Sweety of Surat gets National Child Award 2009-02-06 05:24:49 Gujarat Global News Network, Surat Sweety Patel [born 1998], young chess champion from Surat, received the prestigious National Child Award on Thursday at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. Sweety is a Class VI student of P P Sawani School at Abrahma in Surat. She was also honoured with the Junior Eklavya Award by Chief Minister Narendara Modi in 2008 for exhibiting overall excellence in chess. Sweety had earlier won the world School Chess Championship (Under 9) held in Greece in 2007. She had also won the Asian Youth Girls Chess Championship (Under 8) in Iran in 2006. In the same year, she won the World Youth Chess Championship (Under 8) held in Georgia. "Her dream is to become the youngest international grandmaster," according to her father Dr Navneet Patel.

IM/WGM Rusudan Goletiani - USA

In case you haven't heard the news by now, at the Dresden Chess Olympiad (November, 2008) the USA Women's Chess Team won a Team Bronze Medal. Adding icing to the beautiful cake, an individual Gold Medal was won by Anna Zatonskih (current U.S. Women's Chess Champion) and an individual Silver Medal by Rusudan Goletiani for their respective board performances. Hooray for USA! (BTW, the USA Men's Chess Team also won a Team Bronze Medal.) This was the second Women's Team Medal EVER won by a U.S. team. GM Susan Polgar led the way for the U.S. Women's Team at the 2004 Chess Olympiad to win the FIRST EVER Team Silver Medal, and GM Polgar earned yet another individual Gold Medal for her performance at that Olympiad. In 2006 the U.S. Women's Team had to settle for 4th place overall, losing a Team Medal by a hair. The U.S. Women's Team came back with a vengence this year! You can read all about it at Chess Femme News. The USCF's print magazine, Chess Life, for February 2009 features Goletiani on the cover, as part of a feature story at its website (you must be a member to access). Now, Jennifer Shahade, one of the ground-breaking chess femmes on that 2004 U.S. Women's Chess Olympiad Team, has a sit-down interview with Goletiani also online at the USCF website that everyone can read (no membership required). Please check out both articles, and learn more about women chessplayers in the United States.

Supporting Local Chess: Announcements

NEW JERSEY: Kids' chess tournament Sunday, Feb. 8, in Madison by Independent Press Thursday February 05, 2009, 2:20 PM MADISON -- A chess tournament will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, at the Madison Community House, 25 Cook Ave. The tournament is for players of all abilities in grades two to six. To register, call 973-377-5877 or email The tournament is part of a Madison Boy Scout Troop 7 Eagle Project that also includes placing picnic tables with chess boards on top of them at Livesey Park on Kings Road. For more information, call or email Andrew Carter, 973-377-5877, SOUTH CAROLINA: From the Charleston Post Courier Library Programs Thursday, February 5, 2009 The Charleston County Public Library will offer the following free programs. East of the Cooper -- McClellanville Branch Library, 222 Baker St.: 887-3699 Chess Club (ages 12 and up): Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. Join group for a meeting of the Mount Pleasant Regional Library Chess Club. Learn how to play the game of chess. Chess sets provided, but you may bring your own if you like. Call 849-6161 for more information. PENNSYLVANIA: From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Allegheny County libraries sponsor battle of the boards By Daveen Rae Kurutz TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, February 5, 2009 Photo: Rachel Gallagher, 9, of McCandless, concentrates on her next move during Saturday's chess tournament. Northland Library typically hosts the largest tournament in the region. Keith Hodan/Tribune-Review Calvin Beideman loves trying to find a way around a zugzwang. Whether he's playing a timed game of chess with his father or giving younger brother Micah an advantage by playing with fewer pieces, Beideman loves the strategy behind avoiding a bad move. "I like strategy games in general," said Beideman, 12, of Franklin Park. "Different people play different ways, and it's fun to get variety and see how others play and figure out what a good move would be." The Beideman boys are among hundreds of youngsters competing in the 36th annual Allegheny County Libraries Association Chess Tournament. Children in kindergarten through eighth grade compete at libraries for the right to advance to the county finals March 28. Chess is a niche hobby, said Kelley Beeson, youth services coordinator for the county library association. Around Pittsburgh, there is a strong desire to play, said Susan Claus, a children's librarian at McCandless' Northland Library. "Even though it's an ancient game, every game is brand new," Claus said. "You're the king of a little army, so it's the best of war games, and anyone can learn it." Kids enjoy the special language of chess, said Jerry Meyers, scholastic director of the Pittsburgh Chess Club in Squirrel Hill. Much of the world might not know what a zugzwang is -- a situation when players can only make a move that worsens their board positions -- but the kids who play certainly do. "If you're outside the community, if someone says, 'I made a barrier, cut off his king and slammed into him from the side with my rook,' to a nonchess player that means nothing," Meyers said. The youth chess circuit always has been strong in Pittsburgh, Meyers said. This year, however, six libraries are not holding tournaments, and registration at Northland, which typically hosts the largest tournament, dropped from about 90 children to 20. Claus did not know why participation at Northland is down but said it is now on par with other tournaments around the region. Interest in chess spiked in the 1970s when Chicago's Bobby Fischer became the only American to ever win the World Chess Championship. "Chess has a certain aesthetic to it, as there are surprise moves, twists and turns," Meyers said. "There's a battle going on between the two armies, and that seems to especially appeal to the boys." Make a move The 36th annual Allegheny County Libraries Association Chess Tournament starts with 34 qualifying tournaments between January and March. Entrants can compete in one tournament in either the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade or the grade-five-through-eight divisions. Upcoming tournaments: Saturday Penn Hills: 9:15 a.m. Crafton: 9:30 a.m. Plum: 9:30 a.m. Dormont/Castle Shannon/Greentree: 10 a.m. Moon: 10 a.m. North Versailles: 10 a.m. Homestead: 1 p.m. Feb. 14 Sewickley: 10 a.m. F.O.R. Sto-Rox: 10 a.m. Upper St. Clair: 1 p.m. Feb. 21 Bethel Park: 10 a.m. Hazelwood: 1 p.m. Feb. 28 Monroeville: 8 a.m. C.C. Mellor Memorial Library: 9 a.m. Hampton Community Library: 9:30 a.m. Lauri Ann West Memorial Library: 9:30 a.m. Jefferson Hills/Pleasant Hills: 10 a.m. Brookline: 10:30 a.m. Carrick: Noon March 1 McKeesport: 1 p.m. Squirrel Hill: 1:30 p.m. March 7 Beechview: 10 a.m. Mt. Washington: 11 a.m. South Side: Noon South Fayette: 1 p.m. West End: 1 p.m. Shaler: TBA March 14 Main Library, Children's Department: 10 a.m. For more information, visit http://www.youthchess.netlib09sch.htm/ Daveen Rae Kurutz can be reached at or 412-380-5627.

Chess News: Andover, Massachusetts

I'd like to see more of this kind of news! Photo: Tim Jean/Staff Photographer Keith Iwanicki, center, watches over his daughters Livia, 6, left, and Anielle, 8, as they learn to play chess. The library held a Learn to Play Chess program on Saturday afternoon that was a big hit. Story from the Andover Townsman Published: February 05, 2009 05:04 am Pawn brokers: Chess club may form at Memorial Hall Library By Judy Wakefield Staff Writer Could a chess club for beginners be forming a Memorial Hall Library? Check, mate! Last Saturday's two-hour "Chess for Beginners" event on Jan. 31 was such a hit that Community Services Librarian Emily Classon said she is considering starting a club for those learning to play. "We had 60 people of all ages turn out, so it was very successful," she said. "There were families with kids, grandparents with kids, seniors and just regular people who came to participate. It was a lot of fun." When asked about the game's appeal, Classon said it's all about challenging the mind. In the midst of this snowy winter, getting out to do that is apparently very appealing. "It's just an interesting game. A lot of different people like it," she said. Classon can be reached at 978-623-8401, ext. 31.

Hales Corners Challenge IX

Hola everyone! My adopted chess club will be hosting THE spring chess event in the Milwaukee area on April 25, 2009! Hales Corners Challenge IX Sponsored by The Southwest Chess Club Saturday, April 25, 2009 Two Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600) FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day USCF Rated TIME LIMIT: Game in One Hour (60 minutes per player) ENTRY FEE: $35 – Open; $25 – Reserve (both sections $5 more after April 22, 2009) Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+: Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won SITE REGISTRATION: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ROUNDS: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking PRIZES OPEN RESERVE 1st—$325* 1st—$100 2nd—$175* 2nd—$75 A—$100 D—$50 B & Below—$75 E & Below—$40 * Prize fund in each section is based on minimum of 25 players in that section; however 1st and 2nd prizes in Open Section are guaranteed Tournament Director: Robin Grochowski Assistant Tournament Directors: Tom Fogec & Allen Becker SITE: Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee—414-481-8000 (formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport) ENTRIES TO: Allen Becker—6105 Thorncrest Drive—Greendale, WI 53129 QUESTIONS TO: Robin Grochowski—414-744-4872 (home) or 414-861-2745 (cell) USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided Half point bye available in round 1, 2 or 3 if requested prior to round 1. Round 4 bye not available. _____________________________________________________________________________ Checks payable to Southwest Chess Club (Please indicate section desired) __Open Section __Reserve Section Name: __________________________________________________ USCF ID#: ________________ Rating: _________ Expire Date: ___________ Address: ______________________________________ City: _____________________ State: _______ Zip: _________ Phone: __________________ e-mail Address: _______________________ 10 GRAND PRIX PTS. WCA TOUR EVENT
NEWS! To promote more chess femmes playing in this event, Goddesschess will once again be sponsoring special prizes just for the ladies. Details to follow! Come on chess femmes! Please sign up and play in this great event. Who knows, I may even show up in person, and you'll see that yes, I am actually a real, live person trying to grow out a mistake-in-judgment haircut, and not just a Phantom (Phantomness?) of the Internet...

Worship at Site of Virgin Mary Apparition Banned

Story from BBC News No worship on 'Virgin Mary' hill By Prime Ndikumagenge BBC News, Bujumbura Page last updated at 22:49 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009 Worship has been banned on a small rural hill in Burundi, where a woman claims to see the Virgin Mary on the same day of every month. The 23-year-old's claims of an apparition have become so widely known that thousands of people gather on the hill at the same time to pray. But the governor of the northern province says the worshippers are troublemakers and they should stop. The Catholic church in the area is also investigating the claims of a "vision". The woman in question is called Euzebie and comes from a rural village known as Masinde, in the province of Kayanza. Sing and cry She claims to see the Virgin Mary on the 11th day of each month. Provincial governor Edouard Nduwimana says people come from all over the country, as well as nearby Rwanda and Uganda, to join Euzebie on the hill. He says they stay for three nights each month, from the 11th to the 13th, during which time they pray, bang drums, sing and cry. "Among the growing controversy surrounding the Euzebie saga, the archibishop of the northern diocese has formally advised worshippers to stop going to see Euzebie while the church investigates to confirm whether or not she has been seeing the Virgin Mary," said Mr Nduwimana, who also comes from Masinde village. Police are to start patrolling the hill in case the request is not met. According to followers of Euzebie, she began to see and talk to the Virgin Mary when she was four years old. Regina Pacis regularly travels for about an hour from another province in the north to see Euzebie. She claims she hears the voice of the Virgin Mary when she talks to Euzebie. But she says only a few people, with what she calls "a special gift", can also see her. Repenting sins Mubiligi is a senior magistrate in the capital Bujumbura. He started to worship with Euzebie last May. He claims he once saw a "miracle" when communal bread fell from the sky into the hand of Euzebie. Both say the message from the Virgin Mary focuses on repenting sins and loving one another. In a written message, the Archbishop of Kayanza, Monsignor Gervais Banshimiyubusa, said that in a country emerging from war, it was normal that people were attracted to a place where they believed they could receive relief for their suffering and mercy for their sins.
This young woman has claimed to see the Virgin Mary since she was FOUR, and the Church is first getting around to investigating NOW, when she is TWENTY-THREE? Tsk, tsk. Can't help but think this smacks a bit of racism. I mean, there is the Mary Shrine at Lourdes, the Mary worshippers at Medjorie (spelling is probably wrong, I'm typing from memory) in Yugoslavia, the Mary worshippers in Guadalupe, Mexico, etc. etc. So, Africa cannot claim it's own Marian visions?

2009 Gibraltar Update

Chess femmes' standings after Round 9: Rank Name Score Fed. Rating TPR W-We 10 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 6.5 GEO 2518 2686 +2.13 19 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 6.0 BUL 2557 2584 +0.37 20 GM Cramling, Pia 6.0 SWE 2548 2469 -0.71 28 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 6.0 SCO 2500 2482 -0.05 29 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 6.0 LTU 2497 2452 -0.30 30 IM Sachdev, Tania 6.0 IND 2435 2370 -0.63 40 IM Zatonskih, Anna 5.5 USA 2462 2460 +0.09 41 IM Krush, Irina 5.5 USA 2457 2470 +0.33 42 GM Socko, Monika 5.5 POL 2449 2364 -0.76 49 WGM Calzetta, Monica 5.5 ESP 2371 2371 +0.14 61 IM Houska, Jovanka 5.0 ENG 2392 2449 +0.67 84 IM Klinova, Masha 4.5 ISR 2328 2220 -1.13 135 WIM Tsifanskaya, Ludmila A 3.5 ISR 2149 2061 -1.18 154 Haug, Marianne Wold 3.5 NOR 1935 2020 +0.88 164 Carlsen, Ellen Oen 3.0 NOR 1888 2015 +1.21 182 Chidi, Lovinia Sylvia 2.0 GER 0 1819 1819

Hou Yifan Article

Chessbase has a feature article on Hou Yifan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours...

Well, at least in parts of Australia right now. I guess the horrid drought that killed millions of animals across that great continent (domestic and wild) is over, at least for the time being. Now flooding is wreaking havoc - I read in an article earlier today that yesterday in one part of Australia over 15 inches of rain fell, and more is expected as a cyclone passes close by. Ohmygoddess! I feel overwhelmed too. Except here, it's not raining, the weather is just fricking freezing everyone and everything to death! This morning I walked to the bus stop in minus 20 F. Even my heavy-duty cold wear did not keep my poor hands warm, which were suffering mightily by the time I got to the bus stop. Thankfully, the bus was already coming over the hill as I was crossing the street to the stop. If I'd have left the house 30 seconds later, I would have missed it - when normally I have a 2-3 minute wait once I get there! Seems it left it's starting point earlier than usual this morning. As it is, I'm outside exposed to these elements between 20-25 minutes every morning, and every night (that doesn't include the extra time if I trek to the supermarket when I get off the bus at night...) What kept me warm a few years ago isn't working any more. What does that mean??? Alright, I know - move to warm, dry. Except I can't - not for 10 more years. Full retirement age and all that - plus like everyone else, my 401(k) had five plus years of carefully garnered gains wiped out by those bastards on Wall Street. Let's bring back firing squads - and each and every one of them who took a bonus for 2008 will be lined up. I'll gladly volunteer to pull triggers! So, I have a plumber coming on Saturday - when I should be at work earning OT pay. And last night, I heard once again something either in the attic or scratching it's way up the side of the house. I've heard it at least four separate times now since I moved into the north bedroom. That means to me that something is now living in the attic - a space I have never seen in the nearly 19 years I've lived in this house. A space I do not WANT to see, ever! That means hiring someone to go up there and check it out - someone to get rid of any critter(s) - and then hiring a separate someone to fix the hole, or whatever the critter(s) are coming through - so it doesn't happen again. I am pretty sure now that the leak that has been slowly spreading a stain over a part of the ceiling in my living room downstairs is from the toilet. Since I called the plumber on Monday I have not used said toilet, and the stain has dried up - leaving a "slit" in the dry wall where it has split and ugly brown marks all over. I disinfected the area with full-strength bleach on a cloth Monday night. Oh Goddess! From what I've read on the internet about such problems, now I'm thinking the ant problem I had back in 2003 may be related to this leak - it must have been leaking all this time. Ants, particularly carpenter ants, are attracted to warmth and moisture. I haven't had the ants since paying $800 to have the house treated - but what if they're still there, living just beneath the upstairs bathroom floor? EEK! What if the floor is rotted out from all the years of water damage? EEK! As if the plumber isn't expensive enough - oh my, I think I'm having a heart attack. Needless to say, all of this is proving extremely upsetting, not to say expensive. All culminating at the worst possible time. It wouldn't be so bad if I could just kick back on the deck at night and put my feet up and enjoy the stars. But to endure this - this - CRAP - during the coldest winter in Wisconsin in the last 20 plus years, that's unbearable. By the way, today I got my combined electric/gas bill - $221 and change. Two months in a row, over $200! I NEVER had utility bills over $200 before - EVER. I HATE THIS CLIMATE. Welcome to global warming. It's totally screwed up the Jet Stream, not to mention the Gulf Stream. It wil just get worse and worse and worse for the next thousand years or so...

"Oldest Human Sacrifice" Found in Africa?

A typical sensationalist story with absolutely no explanation tendered as to why the archaeologists think this burial or burials entailed human sacrifice. When I read stories like this one, I always wonder why the person(s) who provided the information to the reporter neglects to provide pertinent details - is it perhaps that the pertinent details do not exist? Africa's oldest human sacrifice 'confirmed' in Sudan From correspondents in Khartoum February 05, 2009 02:36am (Story from Herald FRENCH archaeologists in northern Sudan say they've unearthed a 5,500 year-old Stone Age tomb which they believe confirms the location of Africa's "oldest human sacrifice". In a graveyard in Al-Kadada, north of Khartoum, the archaeologists have dug up the tomb of a man and a woman facing each other in a ditch, with bodies of two women, two goats and a dog buried nearby. The discovery "confirms'' excavations last year which found traces of the oldest human sacrifice ever identified in Africa, said Jacques Reinold, a researcher for the French section of the Sudanese antiquities department. The unearthed bones date from between 3,700 and 3,400 BC, a period considered to be one of the key stages in the transition from a hunting to a farming society. The Al-Kadada region, on fertile land alongside the Nile, is regarded as one of the cradles of humanity in the Neolithic era. Reinold's team also unearthed polished axes, a millstone, make-up palettes and ceramics at Al-Kadada.
So, who was/were the sacrifice? The couple facing each other? One or both of the women? And what about the animals? Were they sacrifices too? How do the archaeologists know?

Saxon Graves Unearthed

Pair unearth Saxon burial remains 11:32 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009 (Story from BBC News) The remains of a 1,500-year-old Saxon burial ground have been uncovered by two Sussex metal detector enthusiasts. Bob White and Cliff Smith unearthed brooches, a bronze bowl, a spear and a shield from the graves of a man and two women on farmland near Lewes. Mr Smith, of Eastbourne District Metal Detecting Club, said he knew he had found something special when he noticed part of a bowl and a piece of skull. It is thought the family were relatively wealthy and of high status. Mr Smith and Mr White called Sussex Police as soon as they uncovered the items in October 2008 as they were unsure of the age of the grave. Mr White said: "It was a bit scary at first because we were unsure if it was a murder scene." Casper Johnson and Greg Chuter, East Sussex County archaeologists, confirmed they were Saxon burials and decided to excavate the graves immediately to avoid the risk of looting. The most impressive grave contained the remains of a female, an unusual bronze bowl, gilded brooches and silver belt decorations. The male was buried with a spear and shield. The 1,500-year-old skeletal remains and the relics have been sent to English Heritage's laboratory in Portsmouth for analysis. It is hoped they will eventually go on public display at Lewes's Barbican House Museum. 'Marvellous discovery' English Heritage said the site was being protected as a scheduled monument. Paul Roberts, of English Heritage, said: "Our understanding of the graves is considerably better for the careful and exemplary approach taken by the two local metal-detectorists who discovered the site and its subsequent excavation by county council staff and unpaid local archaeologists." East Sussex County Councillor Matthew Lock said: "Our archaeological section is working hard to make sure that the archaeology in East Sussex is understood and cared for. "To do this effectively they need the help of keen people like Bob and Cliff, who not only behaved very responsibly by reporting their marvellous discovery, but were of great help in assisting our archaeologists and guarding the site whilst it was being excavated." Under the terms of the Treasure Act the pair could be entitled to a reward, but Bob said : "Mine and Cliff's name will go down in the history books. "To find the unknown is reward enough. That's priceless."

Objection Raised to Display of 3,000 Year Old Human Remains

I don't understand why any credence is being given to the request for reburial. Is it because the bones are a child's that makes their display in a museum objectionable? Then what of those of adults? If the objection is a moral claim based on respect for the dead and the sensibilities of those still living, isn't displaying the remains of any once living person or animal equally objectionable? Would that not be the logical outcome of applying such a moral objection? And since when are the Druids an "order?" Do they have legal standing in England to make such a request, like Native American tribes do here in the USA? Avebury skeleton debate heats up 6:28pm Tuesday 3rd February 2009 (story from Gazette & Herald) By Nigel Kerton » The eyes of archaeologists across the nation are on the outcome of a consultation that has just ended into what should be done with the ancient skeleton of a child displayed in the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury. Experts from English heritage and the National trust will spend the next two or three months examining all the views put forward about what should be done with Charlie, the name that has been given to the skeleton of a four year old girl. The child was buried at Windmill Hill by the primitive people who inhabited the Avebury area 5,000 years ago. Her remains were excavated in the 1920s by archaeologists led by marmalade magnate Alexander Keiller who financed much of the Avebury explorations. The Council of British Druid Orders has asked English Heritage and the National Trust to have the skeleton reburied as close as possible to the site where it was found. The request by CoBDO is seen as something of a test case that could have a bearing on every other ancient skeleton in British museums and universities. In 2006 Paul Davies, the reburial officer for CoBDO wrote to English heritage and the National Trust requesting that Charlie’s remains – which have been displayed in the Avebury museum for 50 years – should be reinterred. At the time Mr Davies said: “It is morally abhorrent that the long dead child’s remains should be used in this way.” His views are countered by British Humanist Association spokeswoman Naomi Phillips who said: “These remains are of undoubted scientific, historical, educational and archaeological value and they are vital for future scientific and historical research.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2009 Gibraltar Update

a/k/a Gibtelecom International Chess Festival. Chess femmes' standings after Round 8: Rank Name Flags Score Fed. M/F Rating TPR W-We 18 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 5.5 BUL 2557 2591 24 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 5.5 GEO 2518 2645 33 GM Cramling, Pia 5.0 SWE 2548 2433 36 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 5.0 SCO 2500 2452 38 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 5.0 LTU 2497 2433 39 IM Zatonskih, Anna 5.0 USA 2462 2482 41 IM Sachdev, Tania 5.0 IND 2435 2334 43 IM Houska, Jovanka 5.0 ENG 2392 2469 55 IM Krush, Irina 4.5 USA 2457 2440 56 GM Socko, Monika 4.5 POL 2449 2325 64 WGM Calzetta, Monica 4.5 ESP 2371 2341 70 IM Klinova, Masha 4.5 ISR 2328 2234 138 WIM Tsifanskaya, Ludmila A 3.0 ISR 2149 2070 155 Haug, Marianne Wold 3.0 NOR 1935 2006 159 Carlsen, Ellen Oen 3.0 NOR 1888 2066 178 Chidi, Lovinia Sylvia 2.0 GER 0 1872 1872

Memories of Bast

Special from Cats among the ruins 2/3/09 By J. Almon Polk Gazing into a huge, rectangular hole that contains four Roman temples, I'm searching for Nelson, the one-eyed king. I walk along the metal fence surrounding the archaeological dig, which is about the size of a soccer field. Somewhere among the crumbling stones 16 feet below street level, I hope to find the feline modern-day "ruler" of these ancient ruins. Only a five-minute walk from the Pantheon, Area Sacra di Largo Argentina (an ancient Roman Square) rests at the heart of the Eternal City. Behind me, pedestrians bustle, vehicles rev, and mopeds blare. However, below me sprawls a world untrampled by humans. Wild grass grows under Italian umbrella pines, highlighting the travertine brick pavements. Stone steps ascend to the temples' roofless, pillared porticoes. Among them, a colony of cats is resting or playing in the sun. My search for the felines began after seeing some calendars and postcards of Roman cats posing at the Coliseum, lounging near the colossal marble foot of Constantine, and napping atop a fallen Corinthian capital. When Egypt became part of the Roman Empire, the cult of cat-headed goddess Bastet crossed the Mediterranean. Its worship became so popular, overshadowing the reverence of the emperor, that eventually an imperial decree banned all cats. But some survived. The idea that a few of the descendants still live within the imperial ruins aroused my curiosity. Thus I ended up at the largest cat colony in Rome, the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, and to the story of Nelson. At one corner of the ruins, I spot a one-eyed cat. He's perched on an old Roman wall. Near him, metal stairs lead down onto a small courtyard. A few cats saunter in the shade of blooming vines. The sanctuary occupies a cave, an excavated section of a temple buried under the bustling Via Florida. Inside, Daniele Petrucci, an assistant veterinarian, tells me that the one-eyed cat I saw is not Nelson. "We have many one-eyed cats," he says. He shows me a children's book, "Nelson the One-Eyed King." On the back cover is a photograph of a white, long-haired, one-eyed cat that may have had a hint of Persian blood. Nelson died in November 2000. Today, about 250 cats call his kingdom their home. About 14 years ago, Lia Dequel, a retired cruise-ship boutique director, and Silvia Viviani, a retired opera singer, started helping the abandoned cats. Over time, their acts of kindness grew into a nonprofit organization. Now, they work full time, supported by donations and volunteers. Helpers who live in Rome handle the administration, conduct free guided tours of the ruins, and care for sick or injured cats. Other volunteers come from all over the world, some for a few days, some for weeks. They help with whatever needs doing around the no-kill facility and assist visitors. New cats arrive at the sanctuary almost daily. Each is given a name, then photographed, registered, medically treated if needed, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. If it has a right demeanor, it's put up for adoption. Additionally, the sanctuary supports 40 other smaller cat colonies in Rome with food and medical needs. But this main colony may have to move. "We are considered squatters," explains Ms. Dequel, as she prepares a shelter for a sick male cat just brought in. She hangs a plate with the cat's name, Zanche, on the cage. Then she drapes a thick cloth over the top because the cave turns cold and damp at night. "The city has plans to excavate the temple," she says, "and we're in the way." A visitor drops by. Miesa Myrick, a flight attendant, hands Dequel an envelope. A year ago, Ms. Myrick was on a layover in Rome. Not knowing anything about the sanctuary, she walked by Torre Argentina. "I saw a little tiger kitty playing on the stairs of a ruin," she says. "It had only one eye." She adopted the kitten, Durer, and flew him back to her home in Maryland. Wanting to do more, she hosted a toga party. Guests came dressed in Roman garb and were shown videos and photographs of the rescued cats. The envelope she gave Dequel contains their donations. I think that Nelson would be pleased so many people care. He, too, was an abandoned cat. "It all happened 13 years ago," says Deborah D'Alessandro, author of the book "Nelson the One-Eyed King." "A big white cat arrived, its eye dislodged, shot by a kid with a BB gun." His imposing size and gentleness earned him a name derived from Lord Nelson, the famous English admiral. Soon, as he perched on the Roman wall, his furry mane fluffed over his large body, he attracted the locals. Tourists, too, paused to pay homage. "People would come, calling out his name," Ms. D'Alessandro says, "with gifts of gourmet cat foods." Nelson reigned for five years, but then became ill. A German family adopted him, so that he lived his last eight months surrounded by love. Forgotten among the ruins, a white marble slab marks the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated. In time, this obscure marker may well be lost to memory. However, having been touched by the kind-hearted people who carry on in Nelson's feline kingdom, most visitors to Torre Argentina leave impressed by an experience they'll long remember.

It just breaks my heart that people can be so cruel to animals, though what's that when we can be so cruel to each other? I'm not particularly fond of cats, but I take care of and defend (when I can) all animals, wild and domestic, including cats. I'm also allergic to cats (it was a miracle that I had no asthmatic reaction when I visited Isis' and Michelle's new place in Las Vegas at Christmas, they have several cats). When dondelion and I went to Madrid in October, 2002, we visited the beautiful gardens of some King or other - sorry, I don't remember the place name anymore. But about an hour before sunset we came upon a beautiful fountain (photo: Madrid, October, 2002, by dondelion), and near the fountain was a small building made out of brick, probably housing the pumps and storage for gardening equipment. The whole structure was overrun by feral cats. While we were taking in the local scenery and wondering about the cats, four or five ladies arrived carrying paper sacks. The cats, as one, abruptly sat up at attention! The ladies then opened the sacks and tossed and spread around several different kinds of food - some looked like dry chunk cat food, some looked like various kinds of meat scraps. The cats scrambled for the food. The ladies stayed only for a few moments, and then rolled up their now empty bags and walked away as one. It was the most amazing thing to see!

I know dondelion took several pics of the cats, but I don't have any of them saved on my hard drive. This was in pre-digital days, so perhaps he didn't scan any and save them to Photobucket where I grabbed all of my Madrid pics for an as yet unpublished (and very tardy) travelogue!

2009 Georgian Women's Chess Championship

Final standings for the Georgian women (information from TWIC): 1. Lomineishvili, Maia m GEO 2437 7 2425 2. Khurtsidze, Nino m GEO 2421 6½ 2389 3. Khukhashvili, Sopiko m GEO 2416 6½ 2390 4. Melia, Salome m GEO 2422 6½ 2389 5. Paikidze, Nazi wf GEO 2280 6½ 2402 6. Guramishvili, Sopiko wm GEO 2281 6½ 2402 7. Tsatsalashvili, Keti wm GEO 2231 5½ 2342 8. Gvetadze, Sopio m GEO 2377 5½ 2328 9. Mikadze, Miranda wm GEO 2287 5 2300 10. Arabidze, Meri wf GEO 2246 3½ 2207 11. Danelia, Mariam wm GEO 2219 3½ 2210 12. Gaprindashvili, Nona1 g GEO 2376 3½ 2195

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 Gibraltar Update

a/k/a Gibtelecom International Chess Festival. Chess femmes' standings after Round 7: Rank Name Score Fed. Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 19 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 5.0 GEO F 2518 2644 +1.31 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 27 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 4.5 BUL 2557 2552 +0.05 1 1 0 1 ½ 1 0 28 GM Cramling, Pia 4.5 SWE 2548 2430 -0.81 0 1 1 1 1 0 ½ 34 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 4.5 SCO 2500 2476 -0.04 1 0 1 ½ 1 0 1 36 IM Krush, Irina 4.5 USA 2457 2530 +0.83 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 0 37 GM Socko, Monika 4.5 POL 2449 2345 -0.71 1 0 1 ½ 0 1 1 51 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 4.0 LTU 2497 2412 -0.61 ½ 1 1 0 1 0 ½ 54 IM Zatonskih, Anna 4.0 USA 2462 2446 -0.03 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 57 IM Sachdev, Tania 4.0 IND 2435 2294 -1.14 1 0 1 ½ ½ 0 1 60 IM Houska, Jovanka 4.0 ENG 2392 2446 +0.57 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 0 64 IM Klinova, Masha 4.0 ISR 2328 2269 -0.42 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 82 WGM Calzetta, Monica 3.5 ESP 2371 2320 -0.39 0 1 1 1 ½ 0 0 120 WIM Tsifanskaya, Ludmila A 3.0 ISR 2149 2120 -0.39 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 0 155 Haug, Marianne Wold 2.5 NOR 1935 1987 +0.36 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 158 Carlsen, Ellen Oen 2.5 NOR 1888 2068 +1.31 1 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 182 Chidi, Lovinia Sylvia 1.5 GER 0 1854 1854 0 1 0 ½ 0 0 0

Dalits Denied Right to Offer Prayers to Goddess

From Dalit parents denied right to prayer Kantipur Report BAJURA, Feb 2 - Dalit parents were prohibited from offering prayers during a Saraswati Puja ceremony organized by a school at Martadi of Bajura district on Saturday. Priest Dharmadev Upahdyaya, who was invited by Badimalika English Boarding School to conduct the ceremony, denied the Dalit parents from offering prayers to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge. The school had sent invitations to all the parents of children attending the school on Friday, requesting their presence at the ceremony. The Dalit parents, waiting with other parents for their turn to offer prayers to the goddess, were asked to leave by Upadhyaya. “It was an embarrassing situation to be placed in, in front of all other parents,” said Harka BK, a Dalit parent. The mortified parents said that even the school Principal Binod Mishra ignored them when they complained to him about the priest's actions. Priest Upahdyaya and Principal Mishra both apologized for the incident after the Dalit parents, along with Martadi-based rights activists, lodged complaints at the District Administration Office on Sunday. Posted on: 2009-02-01 20:26:13 (Server Time)

Ground Hog's Day: A Goddess Connection

Groundhog Day dares delight February 1, 11:48 PM by Marlena Rich, Spiritual Living Examiner With the terrific 1993 comedy Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray still taking the forefront on this day, there is actually spiritual content behind the celebration. Preceded by Imbolc, one of four festivals of the Irish calendar, Imbolc represents the return of the life-giving forces of spring. [Traditionally, Imbolc was celebrated on February 2, half-way between the the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox]. Originally a pagan holiday dedicated to the goddess Brigid, the goddess of poetry, healing and smith craft. She is associated with holy wells, sacred flames and healing. The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and increasing power of the sun over the coming months. Via Christian influence it was changed to a dedication to St. Brigid and the Virgin Mary. Today we know that the groundhog’s determining the coming of spring based on seeing his shadow or not is 75-90% correct. What will it be this year? Is anyone thinking spiritually? I am personally focused on gratitude for the sacred warmth of the sun working its magic with the coming of spring blossoms and new life.

Women's Grand Prix: Ataturk Tournament

GM Susan Polgar is one of the invitees to this event in the FIDE "Women's Grand Prix." The first I heard of a Women's Grand Prix was reading about it at GM Polgar's blog! Evidently bids were let out in June, 2008 (?): Format of the Women’s Grand Prix 2009-2010The Grand Prix will be a series of six tournaments held over two years (2009-2010) in leading world cities. The bidding process for the final selection of cities will commence in June 2008 and be finalized by Dresden Congress, November 2008. Here are the original qualifiers/invitees: 1. Kosteniuk Alexandra (RUS) WWC 2008 2. Hou Yifan (CHN) – finalist WWCC 2008 3. Koneru Humpy (IND) – semifinalist WWCC 2008 4. Pia Cramling (SWE) – semifinalist WWCC 2008 5. Polgar Judit (HUN) 2709,50 - Oct 07 & 08 6. Polgar Zsuzsa (USA) 2577,00 - Oct 07 & 08 7. Xie Jun (CHN) 2574,00 - Oct 07 & 08 8. Zhao Xue (CHN) 2524,00 - Oct 07 & 08 9. Sebag Marie (FRA) 2521,00 - Oct 07 & 08 10. Zhu Chen (QAT) 2513,50 - Oct 07 & 0811. President’s nominee12. President’s nominee13. Host city nominee14. Host city nominee15. Host city nominee16. Host city nominee17. Host city nominee18. Host city nominee 1st reserve by rating: Stefanova Antoaneta (BUL) 2505,50 - Oct 07 & 08 2nd reserve by rating: Kosintseva Tatiana (RUS) 2502,50 - Oct 07 & 08 3rd reserve by rating: Chiburdanidze Maia (GEO) 2494,50 - Oct 07 & 08 This event is supposed to take place as follows (quoted from SP's blog): Dear qualifiers of the Women's Grand-Prix, The exact dates for Istanbul 2009 are from 6 March (arrivals) to 21 March (departures), as confirmed below by the Turkish Chess Federation. Best regards, George Mastrokoukos FIDE - World Chess Federation 9 Syggrou Ave., 11743 Athens / Greece Unfortunately, the 2009 Individual European Women's Chess Championship is scheduled to take place over the same time period in St. Petersburg, Russia (March 7 - March 21, 2009). Which players who qualify to for the Ataturk Tournament, which last year was a fab event for the ladies, will opt, instead, to play in the European Women's Chess Championship? Will substitute players be added as players drop out - I assume so - but which players? Where is the official website? Where is the final players' list? I am fairly confident that neither of the GMs Polgar will play in this event. After that - who knows? What are the prizes? What are the other events in this Women's Grand Prix??? Are there ANY?

Earliest Use of Chocolate in U.S.A.

Ohhhhh, I could sure use some chocolate right now. i'm tired and hungry (supper is barely started on the stove at the moment). But earlier today I splurged and had a Hershey's special edition chocolate cherry kiss at the office so no more chocolate for me! I've been proud of myself, I hardly ever eat chocolate any more, it's helped with the weight loss, so when I do have an occasional piece of chocolate it explodes in my mouth like Mount Vesuvius! I want that chocolate because I am depressed at the moment. I have an appointment with a plumber on Saturday. There is a leak coming somewhere from the upstairs bathroom that can no longer be ignored and I just know it's going to cost a fortune, besides the first hour at $100. Sigh. CHA-CHING.... I wonder if the Native Americans drank/ate chocolate to make themselves feel better??? New Mexico canyon dwellers were earliest in what is now US to use chocolate By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , Associated Press Last update: February 2, 2009 - 4:01 PM WASHINGTON - Chocolate for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day? Folks may be surprised to know how far back chocolate goes — perhaps 1,000 years in what is now the United States. Evidence of chocolate was been found in Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, N.M., the earliest indication of the tasty substance north of Mexico, Patricia L. Crown of the University of New Mexico and W. Jeffrey Hurst of the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Drinking chocolate was associated with a variety of rituals in ancient Central America, including weddings, but Crown said she is not sure of its exact uses in her area. The discovery, dated to between A.D. 1000 and 1125, indicates trade was under way between the Chaco Canyon residents and cacao growers in Central America. But the nearest cacao plantation would have been more than 1,000 miles away, so importing the material would have been a major undertaking, she said. Chocolate was probably something not consumed often, she said in a telephone interview. It also probably tasted bitter compared with what is available today. Central Americans didn't sweeten their chocolate and sometimes mixed in hot peppers. Crown said honey might have been available in new Mexico but she didn't know if it was used. The research was prompted by a discussion about cylinder jars, when Crown was told the Maya used the jars for drinking chocolate. The new research was supported by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, University of New Mexico and the Hershey Technical Center. ___ On the Net: PNAS:

New Discoveries at Mojendaro

Mojendaro was excavated around the same era that King Tut's tomb was discovered in the Valley of the Kings and Woolley was excavating Ur in Iraq. I think it's high time today's archaeologists went back and took a hard second look! Archaeologists made new discoveries at Moenjodaro Irish Sun Monday 2nd February, 2009 (IANS) Archaeologists cleaning a drain to flush out rainwater from an explored part of the ancient Indus Valley city of Moenjodaro have been pleasantly surprised to come across artefacts and other objects of much cultural value at the World Heritage site. 'We had gone just half a metre down the level of surface of the old structures in the DK-G area and found the material of cultural value,' Dawn Monday quoted Moenjodaro director Qasim Ali Qasim as saying. Well-defined structures of old drains were discovered along with certain old artefacts during the digging, which was necessitated to prevent rainwater stagnating at the world heritage site. An object called an 'elliptical lid' that might have been used for keeping 'holy water' or 'ceremonial water' was also found. Moenjodaro curator Irshad Rid said this was something new for archaeologists.Prior to the current digging, no such object had been found at any site of the Indus Valley Civilisation, he added. 'A miniature used for keeping medicines was also discovered at the site,' the curator said. According to Qasim, pieces of charcoal were found that would help establish the age of the structures.At the same time, he said that Pakistan needed fine and delicate technology to analyse the new finds without which it would be difficult to determine the age and utility of the objects. Asked why the new digging was being undertaken, Qasim said it was for constructing a drain and to study the phenomenon of the 'First Street' of the site. 'The presence of old remains and structures in the area under study showed that it was a congested area, compelling the people to encroach upon the main street and construct houses,' Dawn said. Qasim also said that Unesco wanted to undertake a new phase of excavations at Moenjodaro to understand different aspects of the gigantic pre-historic city. He said he had on Saturday received a letter from Unesco and was now preparing a comprehensive plan for a new phase of excavation. According to Qasim, many questions related to Moenjodaro were yet to be discussed and answered and it was, therefore, necessary to continue work on the site. Curator Rid said E.J.H. Mackay of the Archaeological Survey of India had conducted the last excavation at the present site between 1927 and 1931.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yet More Decorating Redux!

Okay, okay, I know, I'm boring you all to tears with this never-ending stream of photos of my guest room and my room. Today it's my room - it's more finished than not, except for an area rug which I have not yet been successful in tracking down (at a reasonable price). I'm trying to remember the changes I've made since the last set of photos: (1) New print above headboard (2) Swapped out prints on wall between closet and window with old prints I had on hand (my little birds) (3) A sleek new slipcover on the wing chair (4) New lamp on dresser (not shown) (5) Addition of the eyelet embroidered bedskirt over the black ruffled bedskirt (6) One of my Christmas, 2008 photos of Mr. Don displayed above wing chair Changes for the summer season will be a swap-out of curtains (back to my star-spangled semi-sheers, with the red/black/white floral valances added), removal of the wonderfully warm comforter (would be too hot and heavy for summer) and replace it with a solid red spread. And maybe a lacy white top sheet and shams.

Made With Love

Susan Polgar's column at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal this week is a keeper. While I never played chess with my Grandpa Newton (I did not learn to play chess until I was 18, some 5 years after he died), we spent many hours together playing checkers and cribbage and listening to the Cubs and Braves on the radio. Sunday, February 01, 2009 Story last updated at 2/1/2009 - 2:13 am I recently received a beautiful letter from 10-year-old Holly Elizabeth Stone of Lubbock about her very special grandfather. I would like to share it with all of you. "It is Christmas Eve and my 6 cousins, my brother and I have just received a very special gift. Let me see ... I think I'll describe the gift and let you guess what this gift is. "The board is 28" by 28", and there are 32 game pieces on the board. There are two people playing each other at a time on one board, and they are in battle against each other. The game represents two countries in war. Do you know what I am talking about? "Well, if you don't let me tell a little bit more about the gift. Hmmm... there are 16 people to a country. Your most valuable people are your king and queen. The goal is to get the other king into a check mate or kill everyone else from the opposing country. If the only person that is left is your king, you win! Now do you know what I am talking about? If not, I'm talking about chess. The very special gift was a large wooden chess set made by my grandfather and hero, Winston Waggoner. "Winston Waggoner is a retired teacher. He taught high school Spanish in Dimmit and at Petersburg. He also taught elementary school in Friona and in Dimmit. He grew up with six siblings 10 miles south of Dimmit and ran a farm. He and his wife have moved to Lubbock to be closer to their children and grandchildren. His hobbies are wood working and drawing. He also carves ducks and other animals. "He was in the National Guard when he finished the first chess set in 1962. The other seven chess sets were started and finished after the year 2000. "In 1955, Mr. S.T. Newman, his high school principal taught him to play chess at the age of 17. When I asked him what his favorite part of making the chess sets was, he said 'I enjoyed making the men on the wood lathe.' "It took over 900 pieces to make all eight chess boards and pieces. He used a table saw, square, lathe, jigsaw, wood gouges, chisels, dremel, carving knives, and a hand sander to make the chess sets. The wood came from Arkansas along the Fouche River, where my great-grandfather cut down the trees. He used 12 different kinds of wood including cherry, ash, wormy white walnut, cedar, and Bois d'arc to name a few. The boards were designed with two different kinds of wood, for example my board and chess men are cedar and Bois d'arc. "My grandfather has taught most of the grandchildren to play chess. My favorite part of playing chess with my grandfather is when he laughs. I have enjoyed many hours of playing chess with him. The chess set is special to me and I will keep it forever."

2009 Corus - Final Standings

All I can say is - WOW! Caruana and So ruled the day. Final Standings: Group B: 1. F. Caruana 8½ 2. N. Short, A. Motylev, R. Kasimdzhanov 8 5. A. Volokitin, F. Vallejo Pons 7½ 7. Z. Efimenko 7 8. D. Navara 6½ 9. Y. Hou, D. Reinderman 6 11. E. l'Ami 5½ 12. H. Mecking 4½ 13. K. Sasikiran, J. Werle 4 Group C: 1. W. So 9½ 2. T. Hillarp Persson, A. Giri 8½ 4. D. Howell, A. Gupta 7½ 6. F. Holzke 6½ 7. D. Harika 6 8. F. Nijboer, E. Iturrizaga, A. Bitalzadeh, M. Bosboom, R. Pruijssers 5½ 13. M. Leon Hoyos 5 14. O. Romanishin 4½

Treasure Trove!

From BBC News (I believe this is a repeat of a story I blogged about earlier - the photo is the same one) January 19, 2009 Iceni coins worth £500,000 found A hoard of 825 coins that belonged to a member of the Iceni tribe before Boudicca led them against the Romans has been found in a Suffolk field. An anonymous metal detector fan found the gold coins valued at up to £500,000 near the village of Dallinghoo. Landowner Cliff Green said he was stunned to think the last time they had been seen before they were spread out on his table was 2,000 years ago. Suffolk's county archaeology department dated the coins. Once the treasure trove has been verified Suffolk Museum plans to launch a campaign to keep it in the county. The exact location is being kept secret. [Smart move!]

Update on Circumnavigating Africa Recreation

Story from Sail Phoenicia Expedition - Six months waiting for wind Just like the Phoenicians, we will have to secure the ship and wait for the prevailing winds which will turn in August 2009.' These are the words of Philip Beale, leader of the Phoenicia Expedition which is recreating the first circumnavigation of Africa, believed to have taken place some 2500 years ago. However, Beale and his multi national crew are still on course to beat the original Phoenicians - Greek Historian Herodotus recorded that the original voyage took nearly three years to complete with mariners planting crops enroute and waiting for the harvests. The organisers of the Phoenicia Expedition have announced they will put a six month break in the voyage in order to meet the crucial 'weather windows' for rounding The Cape of Good Hope as well as getting out of the Gulf of Aden. In a 70 ft replica of a 600 BC wooden ship which was built in Syria, the crew have sailed to Yemen which is where the boat will stay for the next few months. Expedition leader Philip Beale said: 'Given the delays during the first stage of the voyage we cannot now sail out of the Gulf of Aden.' Most of the delay was caused when they made changes to the boat in Port Sudan. They had planned to stay for just 15 days, but it took two long months to make the changes to the ship that they thought necessary to continue the voyage. First, they wanted to rebuild the aft end to insert a new and much larger thwart (a transverse support spreading the gunwales) to take the rudders. They also wanted to look at putting a small engine that would enable them to be less reliant on tows in and out of harbours. Compared to the ancients, the crew is quite small, and they lack the numbers to adequately row the vessel. The crew overcame many challenges and frustrations during their time in Sudan but finally the new rudder housing was securely in place and a marinised 180 HP engine was installed into the ship to serve as an emergency/security back up and also help the crew to manoeuvre in and out of ports. They left Port Sudan and sailed south through the Red Sea successfully to Yemen. However, as sailing is ruled by the seasons, they realised that time had run out for the onward leg. Beale is philosophical about the delay, 'The whole point of the exercise is to discover how Phoenician mariners could have achieved this circumnavigation and it is only through a process of experiencing the problems and challenges of such a vessel that we can begin to realise this. 'However one thing is becoming clear and that is that the Phoenician’s voyage some 2500 years ago must rank as one of mankind’s greatest voyages of exploration, such are the complexities and difficulties involved.' For further information on this expedition go to the website by BW Media 4:00 AM Sat 31 Jan 2009 GMT

2009 Gibraltar Update

a/k/a Gibtelecom Chess Festival. Chess femme standings after Round 5: Rank Name Score Fed. Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 12 GM Cramling, Pia 4.0 SWE 2548 2523 -0.08 0 1 1 1 1 22 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 3.5 BUL 2557 2560 +0.07 1 1 0 1 ½ 28 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 3.5 GEO 2518 2628 +0.84 1 1 1 ½ 0 30 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 3.5 SCO 2500 2471 -0.05 1 0 1 ½ 1 31 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 3.5 LTU 2497 2456 -0.12 ½ 1 1 0 1 33 IM Krush, Irina 3.5 USA 2457 2511 +0.47 1 ½ 0 1 1 36 WGM Calzetta, Monica 3.5 ESP 2371 2452 +0.63 0 1 1 1 ½ 48 IM Zatonskih, Anna 3.0 USA 2462 2446 -0.01 1 0 1 1 0 50 IM Sachdev, Tania 3.0 IND 2435 2335 -0.55 1 0 1 ½ ½ 54 IM Houska, Jovanka 3.0 ENG 2392 2488 +0.68 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 78 GM Socko, Monika 2.5 POL 2449 2267 -1.08 1 0 1 ½ 0 86 IM Klinova, Masha 2.5 ISR 2328 2181 -0.89 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 114 Carlsen, Ellen Oen 2.5 NOR 1888 2172 +1.66 1 0 ½ 0 1 127 WIM Tsifanskaya, Ludmila A 2.0 ISR 2149 2084 -0.51 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 164 Haug, Marianne Wold 1.5 NOR 1935 2011 +0.41 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 171 Chidi, Lovinia Sylvia 1.5 GER 0 1963 1963 0 1 0 ½ 0
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