Friday, March 31, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Last night I fell asleep quickly but woke up at 3:30am with a cramp in my left calf.  I quickly worked it out and fell back asleep finally waking/getting up at 8:30 feeling pretty refreshed.

I skipped the gym again today and watched some of the Today show until 10:30 when I showered, dressed and headed out.  I stopped at Servibanca where I took out the remainder of the cash for this month.  I went to the pharmacy where I bought 3 packages of Isoklon sleeping tablets and my new Duodart prostate medicine.  I tried to pay for it with my debit card but the young lady said something I didn’t understand.  Finally, I understood my debit card wasn’t working so I paid in cash.  (Dummy, you just used the remainder of your cash for the month at the ATM.) 

I stopped in Exito and bought a bottle of instant coffee, a tube of Sensodyne toothpaste and, on impulse, a bottle of Lipton iced tea.  We’ll see how this one tastes.  I literally laughed, and the cashier laughed with me, as a 5’ long paper with receipt, discount offers and coupons came out of her printer.  Today was bag-less Thursday but again they put my things in a plastic bag.

I spent most of the afternoon entering my remaining tournament games into Shredder 10 and studying them for my mistakes.

I traded some emails with Jose Cruz and we made plans to meet next Tuesday morning at Mall Laureles to play chess and perhaps in the afternoon to pay and sign up for the card we need to play rated games.

It started raining just before 9pm and was still raining when I went to bed at 11:30.

T-shirt of the day: Teach your kids about taxes.  Eat 30% of their ice cream.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Last night I fell asleep quickly but woke up at 5am and got up at 5:15.  I finished writing and posted yesterday’s doings and went back to bed at 6:30.  I finally got up at 8:30, watched some of the Today show and went back to bed for a short nap. 

Because the last round of the chess tournament was last night instead of tonight that changes my bicycling plans for today.
I left the apt at 11:50 and waited across the street for 10 minutes for a bus.  For some reason there were plenty of seats available on the metro today, maybe because I left at noon instead of 1pm?  Getting off the metro at Estacion Hospital it was obvious they had a little rain earlier.  At Aventura mall I checked out all the restaurants and decided to try the burger combo today at Bonanza grill.  As usual I first asked the cashier if he spoke English.  An attractive 20ish girl standing next to me was looking at a menu and she asked in English if she could help me.  I said maybe and continued with my order in Spanish.  She said at least you know enough Spanish to order and I replied that my Spanish is horrible but at least I won’t starve to death.  The mall has a dozen restaurants in their food court and if I was in a real hurry I could always have a hotdog downstairs at Dogger “The real American taste”.  I read my Nook while enjoying my meal – the burger was pretty juicy like over tenderized burgers in the US.

In my first game vs Dario I had the White pieces and it went into the endgame which I won with 2 passed pawns.  In the 2nd game I had the black pieces and on his 9th move he blundered and I won his queen.  We still had a lot of time left so we started a 3rd game.  We went into the endgame and he blundered a rook.  I guess it just wasn’t his day.

I stopped back in Aventura and asked at the pharmacy if they had Tums.  No.  Back in Envigado I bought a pound of fresh strawberries from a man on the bridge for 6,000 pesos (about $2).  I stopped in Exito but they don’t have Tums either.  What, I have to order it from the US?  I can’t believe it.

I was back in the apt by 4:45.  It started raining a few minutes later.  It finally ended about 6:30.

I received an email from MBE that I have “documents” waiting for pickup which might be my March Chess Life magazine.

I placed an Amazon order for a few things I can’t find here like Tums.

T-shirt of the day: I never argue.  I just explain why I’m right.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I had a pretty bad night, taking a long time to get to sleep (probably mainly because of my cold) and waking several times during the night, finally waking/getting up at 8am.

I decided to skip the gym today.  I watched 30 minutes of the Today show and left the apt at 9:45.  On my way to the bus stop I asked the Citibank guard if the ATM was working and was told no.  I quickly caught a bus to Medellin.  From the bus I noticed quite a few people in Colombian team jerseys.  A young man in one sat right across the aisle from me so I asked if Colombia is playing today.  I was told yes and I asked what time and was told 4pm.  Today is a mostly sunny day so the weather was feeling pretty warm. 

At MBE I picked up my 2 packages which turned out to be 2 small red umbrellas (free) from Shedrain.  I did have to pay an extra 20,400 pesos (about $7) in delivery charges for them.  I also paid 44,800 pesos for my box rental for April.  I asked if Victoria was there.  Another young woman named Nobraska (sic) came and in very good English informed me that Victoria’s in a meeting.  I was told that she does speak English also.  Now they tell me.

As I walked up Avenida Las Vegas I noticed there is now a Starbucks in the Plaza One Business Center.  I stopped at Citibank and took out some much needed cash.  In Starbucks I was pleasantly surprised to find it air conditioned.  Standing in line ahead of me was a young lady in a short skirt just above her knees and very nice slim legs.  She also had a pretty face.  She was obviously with the man in front of her.  I don’t want to give everyone the idea that all ladies her are beautiful but there are quite a few – especially in this area of town.

I paid 7,700 pesos for a small vanilla latte and when the girl brought it to the counter she showed me the heart made on top before she put the top on.  The place wasn’t crowded and I settled down on a nice couch to read my Nook.  I noticed the cup my small drink was in was labeled as 300ml.  I rechecked the price board (what do you call it, marquee?) and saw that it’s advertized as being 354ml.  What happened to the other 54ml?  Hasn’t Starbucks gotten in trouble for things like this back in the States?

I walked back across the street and up to Oviedo where I bought a package of French toast bagels for 7,900.  I was looking forward to sesame but I guess they were out today.

Back outside a Sabaneta bus had just pulled up, a woman jumped off, no one immediately got on so it pulled away.  I had to wait about 10 minutes for the next one but I was still back at the apt by noon.

I received an email from Jose Cruz with 2 links.  In his words:
I am sending you 2 links related to chess. The first one is for the chess league where we play; it gives you all the information about the present event or the next one and also in the 'calendario' at upper right, a list of all future events. As you may see there, there seem to be 2 tourneys coming up in April and one in May.

The other link is for chess results for all chess events in the world...amazing. I am sending you the link for Colombia directly. Here you can find the results for our event round by round. And see also your opponent for tonight's game. Enjoy it...

Omg, in one of them it stated that the final match is tonight not tomorrow night.  I double checked with Jose who confirmed that. 
My performance rating in this tournament thus far is 1649.  My opponent tonight has a rating of 1658 so how I do tonight will increase or decrease that number.  At least, since I have the white pieces, I should be able to play my favorite opening tonight.

I asked Laura to switch her black umbrella for the new red one but she told me she wants to keep the black one – she tells me it’s more classy and goes with whatever she’s wearing.  Sigh!  The only reason I ordered another red one is because that’s what she told me she wanted. 

Teresa came back from the gym at 2:15.  She accepted one of the red umbrellas and I put the other one away.

At 2pm I heard some thunder in the distance and dark clouds rolled in.

I took a little nap from 3:15 to 4:15.  At 4:45 I finally turned on the TV and Colombia was beating Ecuador at halftime 2-0.

We had a little storm come through between 3 and 4:15 so I didn’t leave the apt until 4:45, walked downtown to catch a taxi and was at the chess league by 5:30, an hour early. 

I talked to Jose Cruz and he talked to someone and reported that the only way we get a FIDE rating is by playing in tournaments identified as IRT – which I guess means something like Internationally Rated Tournament.  The upcoming IRT tournaments are a Holy Week Pre-Game tournament (whatever that means) April 12-16 and an under 2000 tournament April 12-16 April 27 to May 1st.  Then there’s a Pre-Game open tournament for Seniors May 17th to 21st.  Maybe I’ll enter that one.  Now I know that they have some kind of tournament going on almost al the time.

My opponent, Hernan de Jesus Correa, rated 1658, and I started our game on time.  I was able to play my opening but he quickly managed to brake open the center.  (I’ll have to analyze that to see what I could have done differently.)  He soon had his queen, bishop and 2 rooks aiming at the pawn in front of my queen which was protected by my queen, king, and 2 rooks.  That didn’t give me much space to maneuver.  I held on and in the endgame he had a passed pawn, bishop and king against my bishop and king.  But the bishops were of opposite color so as soon as he tried moving his pawn I would take it and it would be his king and bishop against my king and that’s not sufficient material to checkmate.  So we ended up playing a 2-hour, 62-move draw.  My performance rating for this tournament ended up being 1650.

I walked to the bus stop and quickly caught a taxi back to the apt.  I learned that Colombia won 2-0.

I just relaxed with some mindless TV for the rest of the evening.

T-shirt of the day: If you met my family, you would understand.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

I slept pretty well, falling asleep relatively quickly and only getting up twice during the night.  I woke up at 6am and got up at 6:30 but this probably will mean I’ll need a little nap after lunch before going to my 6:30pm chess match.

Another very overcast morning.

When I left the apt at 9:30 it was mostly sunny outside with a bright blue sky.  Walking through the park I recognized a couple guys playing chess.  I completed my workout in a little less than 2 hours.  Did I mention there are some nice looking ladies working out here?  Today I learned that Teresa’s private workouts are Monday thru Thursday except on long weekends when it’s Tuesday thru Friday.

I think I forgot to mention last week when Laura and I took the metro together I learned I can use my Civica card for both of us.

I took a little nap from 2:15 to 3:30, mainly just resting my eyes.

Well that’s interesting.  I received 2 emails from MBE that I have packages identified as “umbrellas’ waiting for pickup.  I was expecting a red umbrella to replace the incorrect color (black) they sent me but certainly not 2.

I left the apt at 4:15 with my large umbrella (I heard thunder in the distance and there were dark threatening clouds out east), but without my sunglasses.

I stopped at Herman’s stand and talked with him briefly.
The metro was crowded but not cattle car crowded partly because I was fortunate to be standing in the area between two cars until we got closer to San Antonio station.

At the chess league I soon saw Jose Cruz.  He’s the Cuban man with the Colombian wife living part time in Florida and part time in Medellin.  I talked to him about getting an FIDE rating and he believes we have to “join” FIDE somehow to get a rating.  I thought the chess league probably pays to be FIDE affiliated.  The “owner” wasn’t there today but we’ll try again on Wednesday.
My opponent on board 11 was Diego Fernando Restrepo and he’s the 7th highest rated in the tournament at 1745.  He arrived a couple minutes late but played well and had me in trouble for most of the game.  I thought I was going to sneak out of it but I ended up resigning on the 38th move. 

Again it was pouring as we finished the game.  Luckily I had my large umbrella so I didn’t even get the bottom of my pants wet as I walked to the bus stop.  I quickly caught a taxi back to Envigado for 18,000 pesos.  I was back by 9:30.

Teresa informed me that her mother doesn’t want to call SS tomorrow she wants to go to Bogota.  I understand we’ll wait until the rainy season is over which means June.

T-shirt of the day: Drinking rum before noon makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Laura came back at 3:30 in the morning because Teresa got up and that woke me up.  Against that benchmark I knew I had gotten up 2 times previously.  I’m sure I got up at least twice more after.  Each trip it takes too much time to get back to sleep.  I finally woke/got up at 8:45 feeling pretty good only because I slept in a little.
It’s obvious we got some rain overnight.  It turned out to be an overcast day with a short light drizzle.

I checked the EnCicla website and it appears they have a bicycle station at Carrera 70 and San Juan.  The only problem is that it’s a manual one, without an attendant.  It is supposed to have instructions but of course they will be in Spanish so I’m not sure that will work for me.  Someday I’ll watch someone else go through the process of returning/checking out a bicycle and then I’ll know.  My plan for Wednesday is to play chess with Dario until 4pm, take the metro to Estacion Estadio, rent a bicycle, ride to the manual station and check in my bike (if I can figure out how it works), walk the last couple blocks to Opera pizza, have a pizza for dinner about 5:15ish, walk back to the manual station and check out another bicycle, ride back to Estacion Estadio where I’ll check it back in, and then walk to the chess league in time for my 6:30 match.  If I can’t figure out how the manual station works then I’ll just take it with me to the pizza place and hope I can keep it close for security reasons and finish my pizza in time to get it back to the stadium on time.

On March 6th I had received an email from Shedrain that they would send out the correct umbrella (red) the next day.  I checked online and see via MBE’s tracking system that it passed through Miami last Wednesday so it should be here soon.

Teresa wanted to know why Eddie didn’t go to the gringo meet-up last Thursday so I translated the following message for her:
The day before the gringo meeting I sent Eddie the following email "Teresa doesn't want me to go to the meeting because of my cold.  I plan to go for about an hour, have some pizza and leave.  Save me a seat." He told me he only read the first sentence because he thought the rest of the email was bullshit (his words).  He said he arrived at the pizza place 30 minutes early and stopped at a restaurant across the alley to watch a soccer match.  After the match ended he ordered something to eat and got involved in another soccer match.  He never bothered to walk across the alley to the meeting.  I told him I'm mad at him.  (He always told me he wanted to be alone anyway.)

Laura went to Frisby and picked up food for everyone for about 58,000 pesos.  I had chicken vegetable soup, cole slaw and a Frischuleta.

About 5 months ago I received chess computer software from Ruben called Shredder 10.  I had figured out how to use it to analyze a previously played game but after saving it, I couldn’t figure out how to reload it.  I spent the morning reading the instruction manual, reading the online help screens and with trial and error (and reentering several games) I finally figured out how it works and the correct format to use when entering data.  It’s still a learning process but I’m making progress.  For example, I figured out how to do an automatic analysis of a previously entered game, the problem is that the comments are in German.  I have enough challenge with Spanish, I don’t need to be spending my valuable time translating “der kann naturlich nicht genommen werden” into “Of course, it can’t be taken”.  I googled online and I understand I need to go to and update my Shredder computer software.  In I finally figured out how to register but I couldn’t get a connection to the server.  I’ll try again another time.  When I finally exited Shredder I got the message “An unsupported operation was attempted” and I couldn’t get it to go away without rebooting.

At 8pm Laura came back with 6 empanadas for us to share for dinner for less than 10,000 pesos.  I also finished my cole slaw from lunch.

I watched Contagion (6.6) on Netflix.

T-shirt of the day: I’m currently unsupervised.  I know, it freaks me out too.  But the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Possibly because of all the hot lemonade I drank yesterday I got up 5 times during the night.  I woke up at 6:30, made a trip to the bathroom to clear my nose, drank half a glass of water to stay hydrated and went back to bed.  I finally fell asleep about 8am and woke/got up at 9:45am.  My cold seems to be finally breaking up.

The Colombian Peso closed at 2,918 to the US Dollar.

I noticed that one of my blog readers, whose name I won’t mention, “+1’d” Thursday’s post but I have NO idea what that means.

I’ve been giving advice to a future expat named Alex from the SF area.  He finally got his apostilled SS benefits letter so he only needs to get his visa approval from the Colombian embassy, dispose of most of his possessions and he should be here in May.
A storm came through from about 4-5pm.

Teresa and I watched 12 Years a Slave (8.1) on Netflix.

Laura left about 9:30 with full makeup and dressed like she’s going dancing.

Tonight I tried the Maracuyá SunTea but I didn’t care for it.  The search for a decent iced tea continues.

T-shirt of the day: My silence doesn’t mean I agree with you.  It’s just that your level of ignorance has left me speechless.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

The morning is overcast once again. 

I decided to skip the gym again this morning.  I did a few exercises with my 7lb dumbbell and I’ll probably return to the gym on Monday.  Instead I watched an episode of Mayday that I hadn’t seen before.

I finally heard from Eddie.  This is the email I had sent him the day before:
“Actually, I have a cold so Teresa doesn't want me to go. I plan to go for pizza, maybe stay an hour then head back home. Save me a seat.”
He told me he only read the first sentence.  Without reading it he said he thought the rest was just BS.  He said he arrived there at 6:30 (the event was scheduled to start at 7pm) so he went across the alley and started watching a soccer game.  When that ended he got involved in another soccer game so he had dinner there.

I told him in no uncertain terms that I was pissed; that he didn’t read my complete email and that he went to the Expat meet-up but didn’t even bother to go inside.

Among new US movie releases I would like to see Life (7.4).
Locally, I would like to see Silence playing in Oviedo at noon, Mayorca at 3:40pm and Life playing in Oviedo at 4:30pm and Santafe at 4pm.  But I’ll probably wait until I’m finished with this chess tournament and my cold is better before going into a possibly cold theater.

When I was a computer programmer for Sears I used to play in the Chicago Industrial Chess League.  Ruben, my old chess playing friend, sent me a link to their monthly bulletins.  I spent most of the night reading through them from 1970 to 1980.

T-shirt of the day: If no one comes from the future to stop you from doing it… then how bad a decision can it really be?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Because of my cold I decided not to go to the gym today.

Teresa brought up again that MT still hasn’t received her SS payments.  I gave her lawyer James Lindzey’s phone number and she called and talked to one of his associates in Spanish.  Now I understand she’s waiting for James to call her back.  The only thing I learned that’s new is that instead of like me my company was paying into SS, because she was working for a family, MT sent the money to SS herself.

I received an email from Eddie yesterday asking if I was sure I would be at the gringo meet-up tonight.  I told him Teresa didn’t want me to go because I have a cold but I would stay for pizza and leave shortly thereafter.

I left the apt at 6:40, walked a block away, quickly caught a taxi and arrived exactly at 7pm.  Pizza en Leña is right around the corner from the church at the west end of Parque Sabaneta.  In fact it’s on the other side of the alley from the restaurant where my brother and I had breakfast.  I understand they just opened this new larger location this past January.

I sat at an empty table which was soon full of gringos.  (If you arrived at 7:30 I don’t think you would find a seat.)  A Colombian named John gave me his business card.  He’s a realtor, or is it real estate salesman, and he told me he has a few rentals in Envigado and even more in Sabaneta.  Another young man named Lloyd lives near Estacion Estadio and is teaching English in Santa Domingo, one of the poorer neighborhoods of Medellin.  The tips I received tonight are: there is a good pizza place in Barrio Estadio called Opera Pizza (Calle 42 #70-22) and we should try again to call SS in the US for MT.  (If they are open next Wednesday afternoon I’ll probably have pizza there.  I’ll be much closer to the stadium and will have a much better idea of how much time I’ll have available.)  I thought there was another tip but I don’t recall it at this moment.

I ordered a medium pizza and the guy across from me ordered something different.  I guess because I asked the waitress in Spanish if a medium pizza was large enough for 2 they brought a pizza that was half mine and half his.  (I had intended the other half for Eddie or if push came to shove  could take it back to the apt.)  The others also ordered pizza but theirs never arrived while I was there.

I left at 8:30 and quickly caught a taxi back to the apt.

T-shirt of the day: Don’t be jealous of friends who tell you their doing it 3 times a night.  They’re talking about going to the toilet.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

UN: Rebels turn in first 140 weapons in Colombia peace deal - Medellin Living & Business Standard

UN: Rebels turn in first 140 weapons in Colombia peace deal

AP  |  Bogota 

Colombia's largest rebel group has handed over 140 weapons to United Nations observers as part of an historic peace agreement. 

Under the accord, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia agreed to turn over 30 per cent of its arsenal by March 1.

But delays in setting up the 26 rural camps where nearly 7,000 rebels are now gathered meant not all the containers designed to hold the weapons were ready. 

Instead, rebels began registering their individual arms while authorities prepared an inventory of the arsenal. 

The UN peacekeeping mission in Colombia announced Friday the first individual arms had officially been surrendered. Army Gen. Javier Florez said the current FARC arms inventory accounts for 14,000 weapons, including 11,000 rifles. 

President Juan Manuel Santos says the weapons handoff will "assure a stable peace.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I feel I slept well despite getting up 3 times during the night.

I woke/got up at 8:30.

I left the apt at 9:45 and at the gym I asked Jeison if they have a scale anywhere in the building.  He took me to Consultation Room #2 and a young lady took me to their scale.  I told her in Spanish I’m probably 80 kilos.  I got on the digital scale and after bouncing around a little it settled exactly on 80.0 and we all laughed about that.  I left at 11:30 after an hour and 45 minutes, about 4 exercises short of my entire list.

Back at the apt Teresa made me lunch and I left at 1:05.  It was an overcast day but I wore my leather gym shoes and didn’t bring my sunglasses.  (I also forgot my Snickers bar that I left in the freezer but I didn’t discover that until later.)

I walked down to the metro and talked briefly with Herman.  On the metro not only didn’t I get a seat, it was cattle car full until I got off at Estacion Hospital.  Dario presented me with a large gingerbread cookie which wasn’t something I needed on an already full stomach but I ate most of it anyways.  We played 2 games, each winning with the white pieces.  I forgot to bring score sheets so I don’t have a record of the games.

I walked over to Aventura mall and took the escelators upstairs to their food court.  I read my Nook until 4:45 when I ordered a pork sandwich from Qbano for 17,100 (about $6).  I was good in that I didn’t order a large sandwich nor French fries but I did have a large Coke.  When I finished I made a trip to the restroom; thank God they had toilet seats and toilet paper because I was in there for about 10 minutes.

As I was walking back to the entrance it seemed my pant leg wasn’t hanging right over my shoe so I bent my leg and grabbed my pant leg and immediately got a cramp in my thigh.  Is that due to all the exercise, lack of having a banana recently or just a symptom of getting old?  At least it went away quickly as I straightened my leg and then I was back to normal.

I took the metro to San Antonio and transferred to Estacion Estadio.  I really needed to pee (Note to self “don’t drink large sodas when you’re not going to be near a toilet”) and luckily found a restroom that I hadn’t seen before on my way to the chess league.  I was about 5 minutes late but they didn’t start my clock because my opponent wasn’t there.  His name was Carlos Andres Lopez and he had a rating of 1617.  He showed up a couple minutes later and looked to be all of 15 years old.

I played my usual opening with White – English opening, Botvinnik attack – and he used lots of time figuring things out while my moves were almost automatic.  (Reminder: all the games are 60 minutes plus you earn an extra 30 seconds for each move.)  He did find pretty good moves but at the 12 move mark I had used 1 minute and he had used 30.  At the 20 move mark I had used 7 minutes and he had used 42 so he was getting close to being in time trouble.  At one point he sacrificed a bishop for a pawn and then forked my king and queen.  My initial reaction was “oh, no, not again”!  But I also could take his queen with my bishop and once again I could check his king and save my bishop.  The end result was, besides trading queens, he got a rook and pawn and an inferior position for a bishop and knight.

Soon his rooks were disconnected and I had a bishop and knight controlling the center and he resigned on the 47th move.  (One thing that irked me a little is towards the end of the match he stared at me instead of the board so I put my fingers up on my forehead so I couldn’t see him with my peripheral vision.)  For the first time in this tournament my record is in plus territory at 3-2.  The last 2 games are next Monday and Wednesday nights.

Something I forgot to mention about last night’s game.  The young woman I was playing was wearing a low cut blouse over her large breasts, certainly a distraction if not an unfair advantage.  An interesting thing about chess is that you spend 2 hours looking almost exclusively at the board to the extent that later you might forget what your opponent even looks like.

By the time my game ended it was raining hard with dangerous lightning.  I waited a few minutes until the lightning settled down and then with my small umbrella I walked over to a bus stop on Carrera 70 – a pretty main road.  I was sure lots of taxis would come by but I was also sure that a lot of others would want one tonight also.  I almost immediately caught a taxi and it cost me 18,000 pesos for the ride back to the apt but it only took 30 minutes instead of the usual 90 minutes and that was important because I have a cold and I was wet from the knees down.  In Envigado it was only raining lightly.

T-shirt of the day: 7 days without a pun makes one weak.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I went to bed at 11:30 and woke up about 3:30 with a strong cramp in my right calf.  I woke up twice more during the night resulting in a fitful night of sleep.

I was going to have a banana with cereal for breakfast but Teresa informed me the bananas are still green.

It’s official, I have a cold, I believe my 2nd here in Medellin.

I left the apt at 9:45 and while walking down the street a man in his car asked me where Exito was.  What, I look like a Colombian?  In Spanish, I told him there’s one down the hill and another a couple blocks away.

I did 20 minutes on the treadmill, stopping at the paper store on my way back to the apt and printing a couple pages of chess notes.
I left the apt at 4:30 and after waiting 10 minutes for a bus I walked down to the station.  I had a glass of orange juice at Herman’s shop and he convinced me to add something for an additional 3,500 pesos that’s supposed to be good for colds.

I noticed they replaced the railings separating the two lanes of pedestrians on the way up the stairs.  In the station going downstairs, now they have railings separating the two directions that they didn’t have before.

At the chess league I found that the first person I played (and lost to) had a rating of 1669.  The second person I played (and beat) had a rating of 1593.

While waiting for the games to begin I met a Cuban guy named Jose Gomez who spoke perfect English; he lives in Florida with his Colombian wife and they also have an apt here in Las Americas not far from my old apt in Laureles.  Like me he has only 1 point (1 win) but unlike me he hasn’t played chess in a lot of years so he must have been good.  I also met a Colombian named Nelson who also speaks a little English.  I saw Jose and he told me he was waiting at Parque Envigado last Saturday night in the pouring rain.  Not too smart.

My next game was on Table 20 and I had black against Luisa Fernando Velencia so I was pretty sure it would be a girl or woman.  The tournament director started all the clocks at 6:30 and I waited for her to arrive.  After 15 minutes I got up and talked briefly with Jose Gomez in an area away from the players.  He was playing a young boy who just stared at the board and hadn’t moved anything (after his first move) for 20 minutes.  (All Jose had done is fianchetto his king’s bishop.)  I got a cup of café con leche at their little store and back at the table my opponent arrived 20 minutes late.  She was a young woman about 20 years old. 

After copying my name from my score sheet she made her first move and then got up and walked away somewhere.  When she got back she moved quickly and gave me a lot of problems to solve.  I ended up beating her in the endgame when we each had about 4 minutes left on our clock.

I returned the chess clock to the TD (tournament director) and reported my win.  On the walk back to the metro I ate my Snickers bar.

At the Envigado station there was only a short line at the ticker counter so I added 20,000 pesos to my Civica card.
I was back at the apt by 10:15.

T-shirt of the day: Official Drinking Buddy.  Available 24/7.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Equinox!  Donald Trump has been POTUS for 2 months.  What could possibly go wrong?

Today’s another holiday here.  What we call a “long weekend” in the US here they call it a “bridge” weekend.

Today’s partly sunny but the clouds do not appear threatening.  Later it got a little more overcast.

I left alone for the gym at 10:15.  Teresa wanted to clean the bathroom and she said she’d do some time on our exercise cycle at the apt.  MT and Laura arrived later.  I increased the weight on 15 of the machines and added a new one – Abdominal.  I left 2 hours and 15 minutes later.

No one was playing chess in the park either going to or coming back from the gym.

After lunch we took a nap from 2:15 to 3pm then she challenged me to a domino tournament.  I said only if we play for 2,000 pesos a game and she agreed.  After 8 games I was up 7-1; that’ll teach her to play dominoes with me.  She said if I win the next game then we’ll stop playing.  She then rolled off a 5 game winning streak of her own so it was 7-6.  I then won 4 of the next 5 games and we stopped so she could watch one of her favorite TV programs.

I watched the video Lecture of the Week: Develop a Middlegame Plan on the Saint Louis Chess Club website.  Even though it’s a little advanced for me it demonstrates how to plan based on a given middle game position.

T-shirt of the day: IMMORTAL (so far).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

I got up twice during the night, the first time at 3am from loud voices outside.  I finally woke up at 7am and got up at 8:15.

It’s another overcast day.

After a breakfast of French toast I headed for the park arriving at 9:30.  There was nothing special going on except a large group exercise class so I set up my chess set and took out my Chess Life magazine and started going through a game.  About 10 minutes later a guy asked to play.  As soon as he sat down I recognized him.  I call him the Russian because he often wears a baseball cap that says Russia on it and I’ve never beaten him; he usually beats me pretty easily.  In the first game, where I had the Black pieces, he pretty well walked all over me as usual but I won the next game with White using the English opening Botvinnik Attack that Ruben had taught me.  Finally, a victory!

I then won the next 2 games, I got some good King-side attacks going that he wasn’t able to counter and I won the last game in a close endgame.  Needless to say I was very happy.  I stopped by a couple bakeries on the way back to the apt to celebrate but they were either closed or didn’t have the churros I was looking for.

Teresa didn’t get back from having her hair done until 1:30.  Laura was still in the shower so I headed out to Frisby.  Before I would have picked up fried chicken but we’re trying to eat healthier so I picked up vegetable soup and a Friburrito for each of us.  The total came to 40,800.

I forgot to mention that when we were in Euro yesterday there was a girl giving out free samples of Hindú iced tea. It was pretty tasty, even though it wasn’t really cold, with very little after taste so I picked up a small package of their Wild Fruit.  I also picked up a package of Maracuyá SunTea and a bottle of Sandia Arizona iced tea.  The latter should last for 2-3 servings or so.  I’m trying to find an acceptable substitute for Coca Cola.

With my hotdog tonight I had some of the Arizona and it tasted like watermelon, which in Spanish is sandia so that makes sense.  It was pretty good, with no after taste.  It’s more expensive than the other 2 but I think it will last for 3 servings.

We had a small storm come through starting about 4pm.

At 6:30 Teresa and Laura left for mass.

When they returned Laura finished watching Out of Sight.
I finished Michael Connelly’s Trunk Music (#5 in the Harry Bosch series) and then downloaded Rick Atkinson’s Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe.

T-shirt of the day: The fact that there’s a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I went to bed at 11pm and didn’t wake up until 6am.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up at 7:15.

I had a breakfast of Fitness cereal with a sliced banana and milk.
I left the apt at 8am and at BanColombia saw their lobby doesn’t open until 9am.  I walked over to El Pastelito and took my time enjoying the weather and a cup of coffee.

I was back at the bank by 8:50 where I found a line 30 yards long.  At least the bank opened on time, I got my number and got one of the available seats.  The wait was 50 minutes and I paid the Caldas municipal tax of 267,216 (2 quarters worth) on the finca.  (While waiting I saw the word sucursal used on many signs and when I got back to the apt I found it means branch office.)

Teresa came back from the gym 10 minutes later and went in to lie down for 5 minutes.

We left the apt at 10:45 for Euro in Mayorista.  I helped Teresa with a few things and then, as usual, headed to the cafeteria to read my Nook.  As I was sitting there I thought I heard English being spoken behind me.  I picked up my things and walked to a back table where I found 2 gringos – one from LA and the other from LV (Las Vegas).  They have come for a visit once a year for the last 4-5 years and were staying at a nearby hotel.

Teresa asked me to have lunch in the cafeteria.  When I got back to the café the guys were gone.  I tried to order a hotdog at Doggers but the girl said she wouldn’t open for 15 more minutes so I ordered a bacon & cheese omelet and coffee from the cafeteria. 
I helped Teresa check out and we were back at the apt by 1:15.

The Colombian Peso closed at 2,914 to the US Dollar.

I was supposed to meet Edilson in Parque Envigado at 5pm but a storm started just before 4pm.  For 5 minutes we even got some small hail; first time I remember seeing that here.  Teresa got a little nervous from a little wind but I told her to calm down as it often gets a lot worse in Chicago.  Later on TV the news showed some Envigado storm damage.

I hooked up the TV to my laptop and we watched Dark Skies (6.3) on Netflix though it wasn’t very good.  We started watching Out of Sight and it was even worse (7.0) though it had a lot of stars – George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks, Steve Zahn, Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Keaton.  We didn’t finish it and we may never do.

T-shirt of the day: Some things are better left unsaid.  But I’m probably going to say them anyway

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I’m one-fourth Irish on my mother’s side.
I left the apt at 9:45 for the gym.  When I was walking to the locker room a 40ish attractive woman with a nice figure acknowledged me with a nod which I returned.  I remember her from the Comfama gym.  When I was working on my first machine she came over and asked me something about this gym.  I made a wild guess and told her I’ve been here for the last two weeks.

A few minutes later I was on another machine right in front of the water fountain and she asked me how it works.  I showed her how to push the lever in front or on the sides.

I finished my workout in 2 hours and headed back to the apt.  
Teresa had her 2nd workout with a personal trainer.  His name is Jose and he speaks English.

In a few months he promises she will have a beautiful new body.

After my shower and change of clothes I left for $efecty to pay the Caldas tax bill but they don’t do it there and the lines in the banks were too long.  I made a quick trip to Exito for a banana (to ward off leg cramps) and 5 Snickers to get me through the remaining chess games.  I thought I saw a Hare Krishna just outside selling trinkets he had spread out on a blanket.  And also some books that are probably advertizing his religion.

I hadn’t played the English opening in a while so I got out the booklet that my friend Ruben had given me back in 1999 and studied it for awhile.

Among new US movie releases I would like to see The Belko Experiment (6.7) and Betting on Zero (8.8).  Locally, Silence is playing at Oviedo at noon and 3:40pm.  Kong is still playing (Teresa says she wants to see it now) at Oviedo and Santafe.

Laura had to go to her old job to collect her paycheck so we left the apt together at 4:30.  We waited 20 minutes for a metro bus and one arrived just as we were giving up hope and going to walk to the metro.

The metro got cattle car full at the Poblado station.  A few more people got on at the following few stops.  We transferred to the west line and again it was pretty full.

I’ve noticed there is something going on between Colombia and France this year as I have seen a number of billboard signs advertizing their relationship.

We split up as we approached Calle 50 by the stadium.  I arrived at the chess league just before 6pm.  Edilson arrived a few minutes later and I showed him some more chess games from my Chess Life magazine.  I usually just throw my issue away after I read it but he asked me to give it to him.

It started raining, pretty heavily, starting at 6:15 but it tailed off and eventually ended.  Tonight they have ratings for the players but mine is still zero (unrated).  My opponent tonight has a FIDE rating of 1666 which might translate to a USCF rating of 1766, a hundred points higher than when I was in my prime.

I noted there are 59 players in the tournament and 8 of them are female.

They started the clocks at 6:30 and my opponent showed up 10 minutes late.  I played the English opening and he parroted my first 7 moves.  We both castled and he had a pawn in front of his king and the bishop and queen next to it.  I noticed that if I took his pawn and he captured it with his only available piece (the queen) then I could fork his queen and king, if I could get him to move the knight that was guarding that square.  Then he moved the knight himself so on the next move he could fork my rook and queen.  I took the pawn and if he wasn’t careful I had the opportunity to mate him with my 2 knights.  He moved his king which allowed me to take his rook with check which gave me a tempo.  After he took my knight with his queen I had to move my queen so it wouldn’t get forked by his knight.  I moved it up to trade queens as mine was protected by my other knight.  But it turned out I wasn’t observant enough, I blundered and he forked my queen and king and I resigned.  Sigh!  Now I know how the guy last night felt.

I took the metro and a bus back to the apt and was back by 8:45.  

By the way, for the first time I was on a metro bus with a separate entrance and lift for a wheelchair and a special place for it to be stored safely.  One advantage now is that people can get on the bus without waiting for people to exit because there’s a second door.

T-shirt of the day: HARVARD.  Just kidding.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Last night I fell asleep quickly and didn’t wake up until 6am - from street traffic.  It took another hour to fall back asleep and I woke up at 8am and got up at 8:30.

We got 2 emails from SmartFit about our payment not going through but that might be from my initial incorrect online payment information.  Teresa’s already talking about moving to another gym because of all the payment problems we’re having.  Laura’s going with me to the gym to see if everything’s okay. 

At the gym Laura paid for our gym membership directly with her BanColombia debit card.  I understand they will deduct the following month’s payments on the 10th of each month.  (I hope they saved her banking information in their computer.)  Laura left and I did 20 minutes on the treadmill at speed 5.  MT came in with Laura and they both were on treadmills when I left.  I ran into Teresa on the way back to the apt.  She reminded me that she’s going to have her first workout today with the trainer and I’m on my own for lunch.

Back at the apt I took my shower, dressed and headed out.  In Citibank they finally have a “fuera de servicio” (out of service) sign on the ATM.  I stopped at a Servientrega ATM but found it locked.  I stopped at ATH where I successfully withdrew some cash.

In $efecty I paid the monthly Une bill of 71,891.  I stopped at my usual pharmacy but they didn’t have Tums or Immodium.

I had pizza and a mango juice for lunch at Moriskos.  The pizza was probably big enough for 2 people but I was a pig and finished the whole thing myself.  (I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!)  The total cost (tip & tax included) was 21,000 pesos.  It was pretty good with a cold fresh mango juice.  A Coke would be tastier but I’m trying to be good here.

I stopped at a total of 4 more pharmacies and none had Tums but the 3rd did have a different brand of Immodium (6 tablets) which I bought for 5,400COP.

I stopped in Exito and saw signs that today is paper-less Thursday so I just picked up a bag of Aunt Jemima pancake mix, a yellow magic marker and a Snickers.  But when I checked out, all of my things were put into a plastic bag – go figure.

About 2:30 Teresa and her mother left for a doctor’s appointment with an ear specialist.

My deck shoes from yesterday were still slightly damp so I wore my gym shoes.  I left the apt at 5:05 without an umbrella (or my sunglasses) as I only saw a single large fluffy cloud.  I just missed a metro bus and figured there wouldn’t be another for 15 minutes so I hoofed it down to the metro.  Herman was busy with customers so I didn’t stop to say hi. 

On the metro, when we got to the Aguacatala station, people piled in and it was soon cattle car full.  At Poblado station, 5 more people squeezed on.  I was holding on to an overhead horizontal support with both hands and I couldn’t have put them down if I wanted to.  At Industriales station, 1 person got off and 3 more got on.  At Convenciones station, 1 person got off and 2 more got on.  At Alpujarra 1 more person squeezed on.  At San Antonio station some people were pushing and shoving to get off even though almost everyone was exiting.

I transferred to the west line and it was another cattle car and I got off at Estadio station.  The sky was completely blue with no clouds in sight.   I walked to the chess league and arrived at 6:05.  I saw Edilson right away and I showed him a couple chess problems that he had no trouble solving.  He wants to meet to play chess so we made plans for Saturday at 5pm at Parque Envigado.

Today I had the black pieces and I played the French defense.  I don’t know why because I don’t remember playing it before from the black side but I didn’t have anything else in mind against e4 (P-K4).  He (Julio) played quickly but with strong moves and he had me in a bind.  At about the halfway point of the game he had used 0 minutes and I had used 35 minutes.  (For each move you make, the clock adds 30 seconds so if you move quickly enough you can actually add time to your clock.)  He sacked a knight for a pawn to open the center and quickly got the knight back.  I was just trying to hold on and find saving moves, looking for some way to make a comeback.  (Never give up!)  He did go to the flank with his rook and gobbled up a pawn that gave me time to push a passed pawn.  He sacked his rook for my bishop but if I captured it with my king his bishop would then fork my king and rook.  Only thing is I had a rook check that saved it and then I took his rook.  So, he blundered, lost a rook for a bishop and with my passed pawn I had a won game.  But having a won game and winning it are 2 different things.  But I persevered and got the point.  (I’ll bet he was pissed at himself for letting the win slip away.)  So tomorrow I’ll play someone else who has also won 1 game and I should have the white pieces.

On my walk to the metro I saw a lot of people out and about.  At San Antonio I just missed a local train and waited past another one and finally decided not to wait any longer for an express so I took a local. 

I was back at the apt by 9:30.

T-shirt of the day: Have you ever listened to someone for a while and wondered “who ties your shoelaces for you”?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Colombia Enters the Pot Industry - Medellin Living

Blanca Riveros has been trimming marijuana for years in territory once controlled by rebels.CreditJuan Arredondo for The New York Times
CORINTO, Colombia — For years, Blanca Riveros has had the same routine: After fixing breakfast and taking her son to school, she heads home to a large plastic trash bag filled with marijuana.
She trims the plants and gets them ready for Colombian drug traffickers. After school, her son helps cut more.
The business was long overseen by the country’s largest rebel group, which dominated this region, taxed its drugs and became internationally notorious for trafficking in billions of dollars in illicit substances. But when the government signed a peace deal with the fighters last year, the state swept in and reclaimed this remote mountain village, threatening to end the trade.
“How am I supposed to feed my family?” Ms. Riveros asked.
She now has an unlikely option: growing marijuana with the government’s blessing instead.
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A Canadian company called PharmaCielo, with the government’s approval, is working to produce the drug legally in Colombia and is looking to hire.
It is an unorthodox experiment by Colombia, one that underscores the region’s changing attitudes toward drugs after decades of fighting them.
Colombia has received billions of dollars in American aid to eradicate the drug trade. But in the coming weeks, the government says, it will begin processing licenses for a small number of companies, including PharmaCielo, under a 2015 law that allows the cultivation of medical marijuana.
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Farmers in Corinto at a meeting on the government’s crop substitution program.CreditJuan Arredondo for The New York Times
In places like Mexico and Afghanistan, crop substitution programs have typically involved coaxing farmers to switch from illicit crops to mainstream agriculture. Poppies are replaced with wheat; coca leaf with coffee.
Rarely has a country taken an illegal drug overseen by a criminal organization and tried to replace it with the same crop produced legally, sold by corporations.
“Here we have an entirely new opportunity,” said Alejandro Gaviria, Colombia’s health minister, whose agency is issuing the licenses.
Mr. Gaviria said that decades of efforts by Colombia to move drug cultivators to other crops had hit a wall: The peasants made less money, rural development moved backward, and some farmers simply returned to drug cultivation.
“It’s been a complete failure,” he said.
Now, Mr. Gaviria argued, legal drugs could become an important economic tool for postconflict Colombia.
More than 220,000 people were killed as the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, waged 52 years of war against paramilitary groups and the government, displacing the state entirely in some places. In the final decades, guerrillas moved into narcotics, financing the conflict through taxes on marijuana and cocaine, government officials and experts say.
The logic now: What if those profits were put into the hands of the government and peasants instead?
There is also a third actor that will profit greatly from the newly legal business, Canada’s PharmaCielo. Others, including a Colombian company, are seeking licenses, but PharmaCielo is the most prominent in pursuing cultivation in areas once controlled by the rebels.
Formed in 2014 as the new law was taking shape, PharmaCielo is already testing strains of cannabis more potent than those the rebels ever controlled. Its directors include former executives of Philip Morris and Bayer. The company sees a future in which the legal drug industry is controlled by the same kind of multinational corporations that the Marxist-Leninist guerrilla movement aimed to drive from the country.
Here in Corinto, the company has already signed a deal with a workers’ cooperative to provide labor, with plans to eventually move in with its own greenhouses, plants and fertilizer.
“The peasants were forced to produce these plants,” says Federico Cock-Correa, who heads the Colombian subsidiary of PharmaCielo and promises to pay his growers far more than what they earned during the war.
The company’s Colombian headquarters are on rolling farmlands outside Medellín, best known for the kingpin who ruled them for decades, Pablo Escobar.
Mr. Cock-Correa, however, is new to the drug business, coming to cannabis after a long career exporting cut chrysanthemums, which he says grow in a similar way as marijuana, to the United States.
Mr. Cock-Correa swung open a padlocked door to his facility and showed off a kind of industrial future for Colombian drugs. Vast greenhouses. Organic fertilizers. A test area of 19 marijuana plants, barely four months old, some of which had grown taller than him.
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Federico Cock-Correa in a greenhouse at PharmaCielo’s Colombian headquarters.CreditJuan Arredondo for The New York Times
For PharmaCielo, the first challenge was lobbying to change the laws in Colombia, the recipient of $10 billion in American aid over the past two decades to fight the drug trade. The Colombian government will continue its eradication efforts for crops like coca leaf, which is used to make cocaine, and for marijuana grown in violation of the new law.
But Mr. Cock-Correa, who counts the former president, Álvaro Uribe, among his neighbors, said government officials were fascinated by the idea of using legal, medical cannabis as a tool for development once the rebels were out of the picture. The 2015 law allows medical marijuana cultivation for the domestic market and the export of medical marijuana products like oils and creams.
In another part of the country, the Central Andes mark the rugged homeland of Colombia’s indigenous Nasa people. For years, the Nasa were terrorized by the rebels, who not only taxed the marijuana trade, but also extorted from legal businesses in towns like Toribío.
Mauricio Caso, Toribío’s deputy mayor, recalled a Saturday morning in 2011 when the rebels planted a car bomb in a bus that passed a crowded market. Five people were killed and dozens of buildings were damaged. The engine of the bus landed in the church.
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The site of the rebels’ 2011 car bomb attack in Toribío. CreditJuan Arredondo for The New York Times
“We will never forgive what they did in Toribío,” Mr. Caso said.
He was speaking to Mr. Cock-Correa, who had traveled to the town to make his medical marijuana pitch, promising jobs and development. But while Mr. Caso was pleased to have the rebels gone, he seemed skeptical of Mr. Cock-Correa, too.
“What’s important here is we don’t go 500 years backward to the times where indigenous people were working for outsiders and marginalized,” Mr. Caso said.
“We felt the conflict, too, with our own flesh,” said Mr. Cock-Correa, changing the subject to more recent history.
“We Nasa walk slowly but safely,” Mr. Caso replied. “You men from Medellín tend to be crafty and fast.”
Not all local leaders were as cool to PharmaCielo. Edward García, the mayor of Corinto, estimates that two-thirds of his town of 32,000 people depend on cannabis for a living.
“That people can even pay their taxes is because they are growing marijuana,” he said.
Continue reading the main story
Ms. Riveros trimming marijuana plants while her son was on the computer. Without the marijuana trade, she asked, “How am I supposed to feed my family?” CreditJuan Arredondo for The New York Times
The prospect of moving to any other crop gives growers in this area chills. Who would buy tomatoes when there are plenty on the market already?
Elmer Orozco tried planting them about eight years ago and discovered that, unlike with marijuana, which goes to international markets, the only market he had access to for his tomatoes was the one downtown. Buyers offered him about 13 cents per kilogram of his tomatoes.
Mr. Orozco went back to marijuana and its high prices.
“Other agriculture isn’t profitable here,” he said.
But Ms. Riveros, the mother who trims marijuana plants, says the profits of the illegal trade have fallen since the FARC stood down, by more than half. Experts say the peacetime market has been flooded with cannabis that can move out of rebel territory more easily now that the rebels do not control it.
Her hopes now rest with PharmaCielo. “It would be a miracle for us,” she said.
But for now she still cuts cannabis for the mafia groups that come by Corinto.
She pulled out a half-filled sack and started trimming, using scissors with an index finger that had grown crooked after years of the same work. Her son, 8, sat next to her, watching Colombian show horses on YouTube, using a wireless router they had bought with the marijuana money.
At one point, prospective clients pulled up in a car to her small adobe home. Ms. Riveros pulled out a plastic bag with trimmed cannabis.
“It will be much more technical with the company,” she said, referring to PharmaCielo.
It was getting to be evening. Ms. Riveros strolled through a field of her own plants, then wandered over to an oven in a shed where long cannabis branches were hanging to dry from the ceiling.
As the sun set, the growers in the village were beginning to turn on the lights above their plants, plot by plot. Before long, the entire hillside seemed lit up. The other mountains were, too. The lights of the high-rises of Cali shimmered in the far distance.
“Isn’t it all just beautiful?” Ms. Riveros asked.
Continue reading the main story
A marijuana plot in Corinto. The mayor estimates that two-thirds of the people in his town depend on cannabis for a living. CreditJuan Arredondo for The New York Times