Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Latest Developments in Chess-Playing Algorithms in Artificial Intelligence - Scares the Crap Out of Me!

Hmmmm...  I find this article frightening.  Rather reminds me of the beginning of the Borg, or "The Terminator."  I don't want to end up worshipping a frigging computer like it is "Goddess" and switch off my brain.  We have far too much of that already.  Just look at what's living in the White House, and what it's got us.   Article at The New York Times.

One Giant Step for a Chess-Playing Machine

The stunning success of AlphaZero, a deep-learning algorithm, heralds a new age of insight — one that, for humans, may not last long.

By Steven Strogatz
December 26, 2018

In early December, researchers at DeepMind, the artificial-intelligence company owned by Google’s parent corporation, Alphabet Inc., filed a dispatch from the frontiers of chess.

year earlier, on Dec. 5, 2017, the team had stunned the chess world with its announcement of AlphaZero, a machine-learning algorithm that had mastered not only chess but shogi, or Japanese chess, and Go. The algorithm started with no knowledge of the games beyond their basic rules. It then played against itself millions of times and learned from its mistakes. In a matter of hours, the algorithm became the best player, human or computer, the world has ever seen.

The details of AlphaZero’s achievements and inner workings have now been formally peer-reviewed and published in the journal Science this month. The new paper addresses several serious criticisms of the original claim. (Among other things, it was hard to tell whether AlphaZero was playing its chosen opponent, a computational beast named Stockfish, with total fairness.) Consider those concerns dispelled. AlphaZero has not grown stronger in the past twelve months, but the evidence of its superiority has. It clearly displays a breed of intellect that humans have not seen before, and that we will be mulling over for a long time to come.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Catching Up: "Rare" Norman Graves Discovered in Palermo, Sicily

From Fox News

Rare 'Viking' Discovery Made in Italy

By Chris Ciaccia
July 24, 2018

Archaeologists have found a burial site with 10 skeletons near Palermo, the capital of the Italian island Sicily.

The interesting bit? The skeletons are probably the descendants of Vikings.

"Some of the dead buried in the cemetery were undoubtedly members of the elites or the clergy, as the form of some of the graves indicates," said Sławomir Moździoch, the head of the excavation and an archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw in a statement.

After looking at the 10 buried bodies, which were found near the medieval church of San Michele del Golfo, Moździoch and his team found that three of the bodies were female and two were children. The remaining bodies were difficult to identify and although no goods or equipment was found in the graves, the researchers noted that the cemetery associated with the hospital at San Michele del Golfo was mentioned in a document from the 12th century.

Scientists have discovered that the graves belong to Normans, descendants of Vikings.

"According to the local anthropologist, the tallness and massive build of skeletons of people buried here indicate this origin," Moździoch said.

Normans in Italy are not a surprise, as the group, which arose in the northern part of France, would eventually go on to have military conquests all over Europe, including in the southern part of Italy in the late 10th and early 11 centuries.

"In the second half of the 11th century, the island was recaptured from the Arabs by a Norman nobleman, Roger de Hauteville," Moździoch added in the statement.

LiveScience describes the discovery of the graves as "a rare finding."

Catching Up: Ancient Site in Texas Adds to Debate About When Humans First Arrived Here

From The Star-Telegram

Who Were the First Americans?  Ancient Tools Dug Up in Texas Add to the Debate

By Matthew Martinez
July 13, 2018; Updated July 13, 2018 12:10 p.m.

new archaeological find suggests that humans inhabited America, specifically parts of what is known today as Texas, as far back as 21,700 years ago.

group of scientists led by Thomas Williams of Texas State University recently unearthed more than 150,000 human-modified stones at the Gault Archaeological Site in Central Texas, about 40 miles north of Austin.

The group doesn’t claim to have nailed the answer to the question, “Who were the first Americans?” but they might have discovered another runner in that race. The find illustrates “the presence of a previously unknown projectile point technology in North America from before [16,000 years ago],” say their findings, published in the July 11 edition of the journal “Science Advances."

Williams' team of archaeologists excavated the Texas bedrock and uncovered ancient rocks shaped into bifaces — used as hand axes — blades, projectile points, engraving tools and scrapers dating to between 16,700 and 21,700 years. They refer to the tools as the Gault Assemblage.

Not much about the physical traits of those who used tools can be inferred from the material in the find, but its significance lies in how old the items are. The team used optically stimulated luminescence to age the materials, which means they were able to find how long it had been since the sediment the items were found in had been exposed to sunlight, according to Science News.

After a haul of flint spearheads near Clovis, New Mexico, was uncovered in the 1930s, popular scientific belief held that the first occupants of the Americas — referred to as the Clovis culture— arrived about 13,000 years ago, according to National Geographic. But the Gault find is one of several more recent — and deeper — digs that are putting that theory to bed.

Material attributed to the Clovis people was previously unearthed at the Gault site — finds dating to the Clovis period have also been found in Colorado and Utah, according to PBS. But what Thomas and his crew found is older, and was found — perhaps predictably — deeper in the ground.

If these Americans indeed occupied parts of Texas in the time range identified by the Gault Assemblage, they probably arrived in the Americas during the peak of the last Ice Age, about 20,000 years ago, according to the BBC. At that time, North America would have been covered with permafrost and dotted with tall glaciers, which would have made for suboptimal travel conditions during their journey across the land bridge from Asia known as Beringia.

Archaeological evidence of human habitation of the Americas before Clovis include finds at Bluefish Caves, Yukon, Canada; Topper, South Carolina; Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pennsylvania; the Buttermilk Creek Complex in Texas; Cactus Hill, Virginia; Saltville, Virginia; Connley Caves, Oregon; several finds in Alaska; and several more in Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

Catching Up: Drought In Ireland Reveals New Stonehenge-Like Site

From The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang:

Video shows newly discovered Stonehenge-like site, revealed by extreme drought 

By Matthew Cappucci
July 13, 2018

Anthony Murphy and Ken Williams were flying a drone over the Boyne Valley in Ireland on Tuesday afternoon when they spotted something interesting. Their video depicts what appears to be the footprint of nearly 50 large wood formations. Oriented much like Stonehenge, the discovery is in line with other large monuments in the area known to have been constructed around 5,000 years ago.
(Please go to actual article to view the video clip)
Murphy said he has flown his drone on numerous occasions over the same parcel of land, but this was the first time he saw the site, which looks like a giant crop circle.
“The weather is absolutely critical to the discovery of this monument,” Murphy said, according to the Irish Times. “I have flown a drone over the Boyne Valley regularly and have never seen this.”
The newly discovered ancient site is close to the 5,000-year-old Newgrange neolithic passage tomb.

Murphy said he and Williams notified the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It has yet to decide what to do next about the curious find, the Irish Times reports:
The National Monuments Service will now be doing some further technical work to help determine the nature of the site, but from the drone images visible on social media, it is a very significant find which fits within the knowledge of large prehistoric ritual enclosures and associated ritual landscapes as at Bru na Boinne.
According to Met Eireann, Ireland’s meteorological service, northeast Ireland has been in drought for around a month, following a very wet spring. No rain has fallen so far in July in Dunsany, the observing site 10 miles south-southwest of Newgrange where the discovery was made.

Last month, only 1.18 centimeters came down, and during May, a mere 3.32 centimeters. In just the past two months, the region has been running about 70 percent below where it should be. Couple this with warmer-than-normal temperatures, and it’s easy to see why all grass and vegetation has largely browned and dried out.
One characteristic of the large structures is their tendency to change the composition of the surrounding soil. The wood inevitably decayed and fertilized the soil in the process. The nutrients from the wood are great for vegetation and even help the soil retain more water, which is why these areas are greener than their surroundings. The region got plenty of rain in the spring, and the super-fertile soil is hanging on to that moisture.
If the remarkable find hadn’t been caught when it was, we might not have known about it for many years to come. The stretch of hot and dry weather facing the region is about to come to an end as remnants of Hurricane Chris ride the jet stream toward Ireland and Britain. Weather Advisories — “status yellow” — have been issued for the resulting rainfall approaching in the days ahead.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the newly-discovered henge site was originally made of stone. It was actually made of wood.

Catching Up: Menstrual Pads Can't Fix Prejudice (or Male Fear of Blood from a Woman's Womb)

From The New York Times Opinion Page

Menstrual Pads Can't Fix Prejudice

Chris Bobel*
March 31, 2018

The period is finally having its moment.

In the last decade, the difficulties women and girls across the globe face during menstruation have inspired a raft of grass-roots campaigns. “Period poverty” activists seek to make menstrual products more affordable and available. International agencies like Plan InternationalWater AidU.N. Women and Unicef are supporting menstrual hygiene programs in dozens of countries. Access to safe, accessible bathrooms and materials to manage menstruation is now recognized as a human rights issue that involves many other areas of development, like clean water, education and gender equality.

These shifts are certainly heartening. For centuries, around the world, menstruation has been treated as a source of shame, rather than as a normal, healthy part of women’s lives. Initiatives to “make menstruation matter” are both welcome and overdue.

Why, then, after years studying these efforts, do I feel ambivalent? Because too many of them have opted to focus on providing women with new products, failing to substantively fight the core problem surrounding menstruation: cultural stigma.

Consider the humble piece of cloth. Many Westerners are horrified to learn that repurposed cloth is commonly used by women in poor countries to manage their periods. Yet cloth is absorbent, readily available, cheap and sustainable. Folded or cut to size, changed as necessary and properly washed and dried, it can be sanitary and effective.

Still, many programs are hustling to replace this traditional method with commercial products. In addition to the nongovernmental organizations that make products their priority, start-ups are seeding microbusinesses in which, say, Rwandan, Indian and Ugandan women make and sell pads. Such an approach falls under the category of a “technological fix”: a seemingly simple solution to what is, in reality, a complex problem.

Such interventions can be helpful, and in some circumstances even necessary, but they fail to address the root issues. No menstrual product is effective for a schoolgirl who lacks access to a clean, secure toilet, as is the case in many poor countries. Stigma about menstruation often undermines proper use, and a woman’s fear of inadvertently revealing she is menstruating remains a distraction and a burden.

These fears and stigmas are prevalent in the rich world, too. As the historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg has shown, in the United States at the turn of the century, menstruation became increasingly medicalized: Doctors, who were mostly men, and increasingly viewed as experts, coached mothers to socialize their daughters to keep tidy and discreet. Menarche, the first menstrual period, was effectively reduced from a sign of womanhood to a “hygienic crisis."

Even now, American girls are socialized to see menstruation, and more generally, their bodies, as problems to be solved through use of the “right” products. Today, we are exporting this view around the world.

Catching Up: Artifact Depicting Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut Discovered in UK University in Storage!

By James Rogers, Fox News
March 26, 2018

A rare ancient artifact depicting the famous female pharaoh Hatshepsut has surfaced in the U.K., stunning experts. 

The front of the artifact
The front of the artifact (The Egypt Centre, Swansea University)

Consisting of two limestone fragments that have been glued together, the artifact had been in storage for 20 years before it was chosen for an object handling session by students of Swansea University in Wales. While the artwork was being analyzed by the students, Swansea University Egyptology lecturer Dr. Ken Griffin noticed something unusual.

Griffin recognized the artwork’s iconography as being similar to carvings within the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri in Luxor, Egypt. The front of the artifact depicts the head of a figure whose face is missing, with the remains of a fan. A uraeus, or cobra, is depicted on the figure’s forehead and hieroglyphics can also be seen above her head.

The decoration of the fan, the figure’s hair, the uraeus and her headband are all similar to images found at Deir el-Bahri. The hieroglyphs, which use a female pronoun, are also found in text at the temple.

The unusual artifact, which is held in Swansea University’s Egypt Centre, thrilled Griffin and his students.

Hatshepsut, who reigned from about 1478 B.C. to 1458 B.C., is one of only a handful of female pharaohs. “Early in her reign she was represented as a female wearing a long dress, but she gradually took on more masculine traits, including being depicted with a beard,” explained Swansea University, in its statement.

The University obtained the artwork in 1971 with other artifacts that once belonged to the pharmaceutical mogul Sir Henry Wellcome.

The head of a man with a short beard is depicted on the rear of the mysterious fragment. “Initially there was no explanation for this, but it is now clear that the upper fragment had been removed and recarved in more recent times in order to complete the face of the lower fragment,” explained Swansea University, in its statement. “The replacement of the fragment below the figure would also explain the unusual cut of the upper fragment."

The recent work on the fragment’s rear may have been done by an antiques dealer, auctioneer, or previous owner to increase the piece’s value or attractiveness, the University added.

Experts think that the artifact came from Deir el-Bahri but more research is needed to confirm this.

Catching Up: Museum Displays Parity of Women in Ancient Egypt

I have tons of older "saves" to post, let's see how far I get today!  First up:

Museum displays parity of women in ancient Egypt

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

New York Times on the World Chess Championship - Live TV Coverage in Norway All the Rage!

"The Magnus Effect," The New York Times, November 21, 2018.
By Andrew Keh, photographs by Linda Bournane Engelberth

Please use the link above to read the entire article.  For current coverage (event runs through November 28th unless decided sooner by a sufficient winning margin on the part of one of the players), I recommend The Week in Chess, my go-to source for chess news (which I haven't been reporting on much the past few years, particularly world championships involving only male players.  Snore.)  It is nice to have an American player competing for the title, it's been a lllooooonnnnggggg time.   
* * * * * 

OSLO — Late on Friday night, a couple hundred people were packed into a dimly lit, stylishly decorated bar in the heart of Oslo’s downtown night-life district.

The place already was generating considerable buzz. It had been open for only a week, but one recent night the line to enter had snaked down the block. Inside, it felt like so many of the other hip spots in downtown Oslo — candlelight illuminating framed artwork on the walls, conversation humming over the clink of beer glasses — except for one small detail: the chess games happening at every table and countertop.

"That’s the Magnus Effect,” said Martin Mortensen, a 32-year-old software developer at the bar, referring to the Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen. “Almost everyone in Norway has some relationship to chess nowadays. It’s on T.V. and in newspapers all the time."

He scanned the overflowing room. “It’s bizarre."

* * * * *
"Bizarre?"  No more bizarre than the chess fever that swept through an entire generation of American chess players back in 1972 when American Bobby Fischer challenged the Russian chess champion juggernaut - AND WON!  Chess infected millions of youngsters and others all across the country and churned out a great number of revered American chess Grandmasters who competed on the world stage for years, although none achieved the same level of fame as Fischer.

Now chess is once again being rejuvenated in America, this time by an unlikely source in the Sinquefield billionaire husband and wife team in St. Louis, Missouri. GM Susan Polgar, one of the  three famous Polgar sisters originally from Hungary, has lived in the US for years, centered first in New York where she met Fabiano Caruana at her chess training center when he was just a youngster.  She saw his promise as a player.  Polgar eventually moved to Texas Tech to establish a chess training program that drafted players from around the world to come to the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock, Texas to play for the che, ss team while earning college degrees.  Some years later, Polgar moved to Webster University in St. Louis, where she remains today, at the helm of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence.

If you're interested, you can check out the somewhat "checkered" history of the title of World Chess Championship during the modern era, involving both FIDE and "not FIDE" titles.  Information comes directly from Wikipedia:

3World champions

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hales Corners Chess Challenge 28! RESULTS RESULTS RESULTS (Goddesschess Winners)

Hola darlings:

Fresh from Robin via email, here are the prize winners of Goddesschess prizes and the Don McLean Award, which is awarded annually in October to the top male finishers in each section in honor of our late webmaster for many years and Goddesschess partner:

Susanna Ulrich won $125
Gauri Menon won $150
Madeline Weber won $100
Sandra Hoffman (played in the Open section this time and did not score any points)

Simran Bhatia won $50
Aradh Kaur won $60
Radhika Gupta won $50
Ellen Wanek won $50
Jind Kaur won $40
Delenn Kier won $40

Nine of the ten chess femmes at Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXVIII (28)!  Photo sent by Ellen Wanek,
my chess buddy of some years - she's the beautiful blonde in the back row.

Free entry to both sections is $70.00 (Gauri Menon and Aradh Kaur)

Don McLean Performance Award is $100.00 in Open for IM Erik Santarius and $50 in Reserve for Jacob Schwartz.

Congratulations to all of our winners!  I hope you will all come back and participate again in the spring 2019 Hales Corners Chess Challenge.

We had a female participation rate this event of 25%!  Thank you, chess femmes, for coming out and participating in this great event.  

Monday, October 8, 2018

Hales Corners Chess Challenge 28 (Forget the Roman Numerals Already, Pul-leeze!)

Hola Darlings!

Yes, I am still alive and kicking, just been uber-busy protesting the hell out of what's been going on politically in our country and working on registering voters (particularly FEMALE voters, YAY!), sending out more money than I can afford to back candidates (all won their primaries, now fingers crossed for mid-terms), writing my too large butt off on political commentary sites and throwing verbal bombs EVERYWHERE!  I am a tornado in action.  Or maybe I should call myself a HERricane...

Anyway, back to chess, at least for this splinter of time that it takes me to post about Goddesschess' relationship with the Hales Corners Chess Club since Challenge VIII.  I'm getting too old to fuss about writing out 28 - which is the Challenge that is unfolding NEXT WEEK!!!

Goddesschess is sponsoring prizes again this Challenge, including the annual Don McClean Award of $100 to the top finishing male player in the Open and $50 to the top finishing male player in the Reserve sections.  This is in honor of our dearly beloved and now departed long-time Goddesschess partner and former webmaster genius extraordinaire, Don McClean, who passed away far too young in 2012. 

There are also Goddesschess prizes for the chess femmes, which are awarded in addition to whatever other prizes players (both female and male) may also qualify for.  Whoop whoop!  Chess femme prizes:

Open:  $50 per win/$25 per draw
Reserve:  $20 per win/$10 per draw
Perfect Score:  Open $100; Reserve $50

Here's the scoop - it's this SATURDAY, darlings!  Where has the time flown, Geez Louise.  I think the warm sunny weather here today after Monsoon season (you'd think we lived in the tropics, except for the temperatures, for pete's sake!) tricked me into thinking it's still summer.  Oh well.  BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!  Register today, pul-leeze! 

Love you all, smooches from Jan.

Dear chessplayers,

Coming SATURDAY, October 13, 2018, the Southwest Chess Club will be presenting the Hales Corners Challenge XXVIII at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oshkosh.  This will be a USCF Grand Prix event, USCF Junior Grand Prixevent, and a Wisconsin Tour event.  The flyer is online (print and mail it in to enter), and also below in text format.

You may enter (and pay) online, using the following link:

Here is the blog post where we will post pre-entries and news updates for the event.

Some notable features:

Numerous Masters and Experts typically play in our Challenge events.  So far, IM Erik Santarius has entered the event!

* USCF Grand Prix (10 points),  USCF Junior Grand Prix event, and Wisconsin TOUR event.

 Goddesschess Prizes for female chess players:  $50 for each win and $25 for each draw in the Open Section and $20 for each win and $10 for each draw in the Reserve Section.  Plus, a "Perfect Score Prize for Females"  $100 in Open Section, $50 in Reserve Section. 
Don McLean Award for Top Finishing Male in each Section: $100 in Open/$50 in Reserve.

*  Two Sections, and Class Prizes that give everyone a chance to win a prize.
NOTE:   If you haven't paid your entry fee by 9:30 am on Saturday you run the risk of not being paired in Rd 1.

Southwest Chess Club

Hales Corners Challenge XXVIII
Sponsored by The Southwest Chess Club 

Saturday, October 13, 2018
Two Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600)

FORMAT:  Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day - USCF Rated 

TIME CONTROL:  Game in 60 Minutes; 6 second delay

ENTRY FEE:  $40 – Open;  $30 – Reserve
(both sections $10 more after October 11, 2018)

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

             OPEN                        RESERVE
             1st—$325                 1st—$100
             2nd—$175                2nd—$75
             A—$100                    D—$50
             B & Below—$75      E & Below—$40

Goddesschess Prizes for Females in Addition to Above Prizes:
Open: $50 per win/$25 per draw; Reserve: $20 per win/$10 per draw 
Perfect Score Prizes for Females:  $100 in Open/$50 in Reserve.
Don McLean Award for Top Finishing Male in each Section: $100 in Open/$50 in Reserve.

Tournament Director:  Chris Wainscott
Assistant Tournament Directors: Robin J. Grochowski  

SITE:   Hilton Garden Inn---1355 W 20th Ave---Oshkosh, WI 54902—920-966-1300

(Mailed) ENTRIES TO:   Robin Grochowski, 3835 E. Morris Avenue, Cudahy, WI 53110;

Or, enter online:

QUESTIONS TO:   TD Chris Wainscott – 414-839-5232 (cell), after 5:30 pm, or
USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided 
Checks payable to Southwest Chess Club          
                  (Please indicate section desired)       __Open Section     __Reserve Section

 Half point byes requested (circle one):    RD1     RD2     RD3     (RD 4=0 pt bye)

 Name: ____________________________________________________________

 USCF ID#: _________________ Rating: _________ Expire Date: ____________

 Address: __________________________________________________________

 City: __________________________________ State: _______ Zip: __________

 Phone:  __________________  e-mail Address: __________________________

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Nine Year Old Chess Prodigy and Family Receive Reprieve from Deportation

From The Washington Post:

After visa woes, a 9-year-old chess prodigy may have won his fight to stay in Britain

Siobhan O'Grady, August 11, 2018

Last year, Shreyas Royal became the world’s youngest chess “candidate master.” Worldwide, he’s ranked fourth for his age group, and English Chess Federation officials have called him “the greatest British chess prospect in a generation.”
He only started playing chess a few years ago, but Royal is now considered a prodigy.
Oh, and he’s 9-years-old.
The chess champion has grabbed international attention in recent months as his family struggled to find a way to keep him in the United Kingdom to continue playing chess. He was born in India, and moved to London with his parents when he was 3. His father’s computer services job has sponsored their visas since then, but his work visa is set to expire in September.
Then, this week, following an intervention from a number of lawmakers, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he made a personal decision to help keep the family in the U.K. His reasoning: Royal’s chess skills.
Jitendra Singh, Royal’s father, told the BBC that the family “started jumping on the sofa” after he received the news from the Home Office via email on Friday that he could apply to renew his visa.
“The U.K. is a country that fosters world class talent and Shreyas is one of the most gifted chess players in his generation,” Javid said in a statement. “We have always been clear we want a world-class immigration system that welcomes highly-talented individuals from across the globe."

Before Javid stepped in, Singh’s five-year work visa could only be renewed if his salary was increased to more than 120,000 British pounds per year, prompting the family to prepare to return to India. The New York Times reported that just a day before Javid’s decision was announced, a spokesman for the Home Office said “there is no route within the immigration rules which would allow the family to remain in the U.K.”
In early August, the Home Office sent Royal’s family a letter saying that despite the 9-year-old’s “immense promise,” he couldn’t necessarily stay in the U.K., the Guardian reported.
But despite the challenges, there were many advocates pushing to keep the child in Britain.
Lawmakers Rachel Reeves and Matthew Pennycook took up Royal’s case, penning a letter to Javid earlier this month. “Nine years old, he spends his spare time traveling around the country and the world to play in chess tournaments and regularly beats competitors a decade older than he is,” the pair wrote. After explaining his father’s visa situation, they wrote that if Royal “is forced to leave the U.K. and return to India, the country will lose an exceptional talent.”

Royal belongs to the Battersea Chess Club, which released a statement on Friday saying that “in ten years' time we hope he’ll be a household name as England’s first world champion.”


Surely the United Kingdom has an exception in its immigration regulations to allow for the immigration of people with special skills and talents.  In Shreyas Royal's case, his talent is indisputable.  But if for some reason things don't work out in England, maybe Rex Sinquefield can use his billionaire influence to convince the current administration to allow Royal and his family to come to the United States, despite the fact that they aren't from Norway.  We need chess talent (Royal) and computer experts (his father) here, too.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Buried in Income Tax Paperwork and Ice

I would say a cheery "Hola!" to everybody but I'm not in a very good mood this morning.  The weather forecast has been spot on.  My area of Wisconsin is right underneath that massive storm system that is ever so slowly moving east.  It's been blowing uncomfortably cold air here since Friday afternoon when it started raining; and except for brief interludes, it hasn't stopped since. 

Overnight, we got an extra goody treat - FREEZING RAIN, SLEET AND SNOW!  It was sleeting out with ice pellets beating against the windows on the east side of the house when I got up at 6:30 a.m.  Then it started snowing, and right now it's snowing rather hard.  I tried an experiment "push" of the built-up accumulation on my patio steps earlier this morning (it's now about 9:29 a.m.) with my trusty broom, but it didn't really even make a dent.  Oh oh.  It is going to be monstrous trying to remove this stuff once it finally stops falling!  And I don't have enough de-icer pellets left to put enough down on the entire area that needs to be shoveled for the public and the postal carrier to do a decent job melting it all away.

Fingers crossed that it does, indeed, warm into the 40s by Tuesday as is currently forecasted.  So far, the forecast has been spot on.  More than a foot of snow and blizzard conditions as of last night in northern Wisconsin, and its worse in areas in the western plains states.  UGH!

I grabbed my ancient Nikon digital (all 5.1 Megapixels of it) and took some photos for your enjoyment in the sunny warm climes, about 9 a.m.:
Looking out my front door to the southwest (driveway base is buried under ice chunks!

Looking out my front door to the northwest.
Three of my squirrel tribe braving the sleet/snow combo falling to munch on some hazelnuts
by my Shezebo in the backyard.
Now, please excuse me while I cry in my coffee and settle down at the kitchen table to attempt to complete my 2017 federal and state income tax returns.  I figure it should only take another 12 hours or so...
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