Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Concert #1: Further rocks out Cyclone Stadium!

One of the main problems I always have to face when going to concerts is finding people to go with.Most people my own age have barely heard of the Grateful Dead.Some friends that do either don't want to see them because they are too old or don't have enough money. There are problems with disliking my own generation of music:(

At any rate, I greatly enjoyed going to the concert with Jerry Graham (no,not Garcia: RIP Jerry), and his cousins who we ran into:

I particularly enjoyed their renditions of "St.Stephen" and "The Eleven" among others. I am certainly a fan of the Grateful Dead but I am far from an expert on all of their songs. Luckily, on the other side of me stood Jerry's cousin who helped me decipher the plenty of songs I did not know.

John Kadlecik is a great guitarist,who also played with the GD tribue band the Dark Star Orchestra and did a great job, but he is no full-on replacement for Garcia. However, I am sure Jerry would admire Lesh and Weir for still touring without him.Here are a few more pics from the show:

I am in Maryland now until Friday. Next concert on the list: Ringo Starr at Radio City Hall on July 7th(2 days after I turn 20)!

Two more things:
1) If you haven't seen it yet, my article "Chess Adventures in Vietnam" is on
2) I have to point out that last week in Pottstown, I corrected someone about 30-40 years older than me that "All Along the Watchtower" is a Dylan rather than Hendrix song.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm going to be a businessman!

IBS: Here, I come!

I got an email yesterday from Professor Bayone, the head of the Brandeis Undergraduate Business Department that I got accepted into the first annual class of the Brandeis Business major! To do so, I had to show them my resume and write an essay about a challenging task I had to deal with either on a job or in a extracurricular activity. I wrote about how I needed to market the aloevera juice that I sold two summers ago.

With that in mind, there's not much happening in Pottstown. The camp is fine, with only slightly more than a dozen campers, but there isn't a whole lot to do at night. Last night, when I was at the laundromat, I figured I would read up on the business section of The Mercury, the local Pottstown newspaper.

I came across two interesting articles. The first one was about a new start up company Cupditino, which is a dating website recently founded by Mel Sampat. He creatively used Apple as a marketing tool, realizing Mac users around the world actually have much in common and would likely make good couples.

The other article I found interesting was how the market leader in English muffin sales Thomas recently sued Chris Botticella for giving secrets about the product's recipe to one of the company's greatest rivals Hostess.

Botticella was one of the seven Thomas executives who knew the formula and recently obtained a job offer at Hostess. THe other Thomas executives does not want him to switch jobs. I think it depends on the terms of his contract at Thomas, but either way it is interesting to note whether or not he will be able to go to Hostess. If he does and gives them the formula. Thomas may no longer be the market leader in years to come if Hostess can produce English Muffins as well.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chess in the Lehigh Valley and Jealousy over Taylor/King

I am one crazy chess player... What would a normal person do after being stranded in transit for over 12 hours and not catching sleep?- mostly likely get some rest... NOT ME

Instead,I take the hotel shuttle to the Lehigh Valley chess club. I ended up getting there just in time for round 3 and the director Bruce Davis invited me to enter the tournament with two byes. Of course, I entered as I was already there. In the third round(my first) I ended up almost falling a sleep and blowing away an easily winning position against Kevin Santo although he did put up good resistance after having a troublesome position from early on in the opening.

After the round,Davis told me I was in contention to tie for first as there was only one 3 and no 2.5s. Things were in my destiny as I was about to play the 3 (Karl Dehmelt), but unfortunately, I could only manage to draw the game:

The last game I played in this variation against Carey Theil I also drew ( However that was another last round situation where a draw meant first place for me. Such is life. It reminds me of song "Leela" by the Israeli-American band Soulfarm:"Leela Leela, this world is but a game.Winners lose and losers win,and the game is still the same". I played the same level of a boring draw against two players of similar caliber;yet my game against Theil felt like a win and this game felt like a loss, yet in reality I played about the same strength in both games and scored the same result...

At any rate, I'm glad I made the right decision to not go crazy playing for a win and possibly end up losing. Also I looked up Dehmelt afterward and learned he is coming back into chess after a 20 year or so hiatus. Before that he was a rather strong player with 3 IM norms, but a too low rating. Its good to see a strong player getting back into shape; maybe he'll get back in form and achieve the IM title:) While looking him up, I came across an interesting top 50 list of US juniors in 1977 on IM Mark Ginsburg's blog: On this list Dehmelt was #16. I played 4 out of the top 10: Rohde(#2),DeFirmian (#4),Fedorowicz(#7), and Christopher Chase(#9).

Here a few photos I took walking around Allentown:

In other news, I am extremely jealous as I don't think ill be able to catch a show of the Taylor/King tour. My mom and a few friends said great things about it and I just watched a few amazing Youtube videos from it such as the following rendition of Taylor's hit "You've got a friend"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The land of Cincinnati and Disasters getting to Pottstown

One week down! I'm exhausted but it was a good first week camp.Other than teaching, Cincinnati is a nice city. We didn't spend much time around the city as by night time each day we were rather tired. Waking up at 3 am the Sunday I left for a 6:05 am did not help.

Alanna and I flew into Dayton and were surprised to see a "Boston" restaurant right after we get off the plane:

Of course we had to get in our Israeli fix (yes, we did finally convince our director Bill to go to Kinneret, a great kosher Israeli restaurant in Cincinnati). Before that however, we found a rather disgusting hummus at the grocery store. I failed to read the flavor, which was tomato and shitake mushrooms, which doesn't sound particularly appetizing to begin with(at least to me):

How could I resist taking a picture of Evan's Autocare?:(Evan Power does exist in Cincinnati)

Not surprisingly, the chess bug hit me in Cincinnati as well, and I made sure we went to the Cincinnati Grandin House Chess Club. Here's us, with a nice fellow George Elgin, and another Bill, who didn't particularly look highly of Brandeis as he went to the "more prestigious" MIT several decades ago.:

Notice, I am wearing a Michigan hat: Throughout the trip, I must have seen about 5 Michigan fans: There may be few looming around the land of Ohio, but there a few:)I saw one of them at the Cincinnati Reds game we went to, when they got absolutely destroyed by the Dodgers 0-12. We only stayed for half of the game as there ended up be a long rain delay which ended up being 2.5 hours, but it was fun to root for the away team:)

That's mostly it for Cincinnati.. I am now continuing my travels to Pottstown,PA, but it has been a rough ride so far. We drove to the airport yesterday at around 6 as all of our flights were within a half hour of one another. Of course it was not that convenient though:( I checked in at United and they said both of my flights were to be delayed and I would get in Allentown at 3 am. Although, this would have been annoying, it would not have been the end of the world.

Things got worse though... The flight ended up not leaving the gate for another hour. I feel asleep when it finally boarded and woke up about an hour later around 11:30. I saw we we were in an airport and assumed we got to Chicago... Then I saw the guy sitting next to me seem to be kind of annoyed. Sure enough, there were heavy thunderstorms in Chicago and we were still in Cincinnati at another gate. The pilot announced that he would be able to leave to Chicago in about a half hour but it would be a 3 hour flight as he would have to make a detour in Nebraska. I ended up in Chicago at 4 am and waited online at United until 5. Then the guy told me all flights to Allentown were cancelled- just great:( Finally, he told me to get on a 6 am flight to Washington to connect to Allentown. Here, I am writing this post at Dulles Airport after staying up all night in transit. I am about to board( at least hopefully!) to Allentown. Be posted for a final Asia post ( that Ive yet to do) and one on Pottstown/Allentown:)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Arrival in Cincinnati

I admit I'm a liar:( no posts on Singapore or Siem Reap.. Lots have been going on: for one getting adjusted back to the US time frame. I played two tournaments this last week. I scored 3/4 on Thursday after being upset in the second round to Nikita Panasenko by hanging a queen in one move in an unclear position- the game with analysis will come soon.On Saturday, I did decent: drew scored 1.5/3- beat an 1800, drew Bonin and lost to Margulis: more details to come soon.. Lots of blunders this week- I have to get back into shape.

A few bits of good news though:

1) Arrived safe in Cincinnati and ate some Skyline Chili: somewhat negative as I messed up in regards to meat and dairy, but it was delicious. No more meat and dairy for me though:In the last few months Ive been doing relatively o.k but I do slip here and there.

2) Ringo Starr here I come:

I mentioned I hoped I'd get to see him a few months ago. Fortunately, I will be off July 2-9 and will be seeing him at Radio City Hall on the 7th! At least, Ill get to say Ive seen half of the Beatles live. RIP John and George.

Camp starts tomorrow and I am exhausted. Final Asia post and more in Cincinnati coming soon...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Post in Transit: At Tokyo Intl Narita Airport

Wow.. This three week adventure is coming to an end.. I am looking forward to a week of reality/overcoming jetlag in NY. Then early Sunday morning, I am flying to my first chess camp of the summer in Cincinnati. I am starting to feel like a jetsetter: during this trip alone, including my last leg to NY I am about to take, I took 8! flights. Siem Reap and Singapore pictures I will post this week.

Here's a quick rant about the flight from Singapore to Tokyo:

Pros: - watched The Bucket List for a second time.. I watched it when it was in theaters a few years ago and forgot it was a pretty good movie. Its story line is kind of lame: basically Morgan Freeman' and Jack Nicholson's characters go on wild adventures instead of sitting in the hopsital while awaiting death. However, they are two great actors: Its certainly a worthwhile film to watch.

-Watched first few minutes of Intolerable Cruelty
It seems to be a pretty bad movie, but it starts out with a plus, the main character driving to Paul Simon's tune "The Boxer". With that in mind, congrats to Paul Simon as a member of Brandeis's class of 2010 with an honorary degree! .. Here is him playing none other than "The Boxer" at the Brandeis graduation:

Nuetral: -Breakfast: I can't complain... It did have shrimp and noodles which I obviously wouldn't eat but better than the flight from NY to Tokyo I complained about a few weeks ago coming here, there was some nice fruit , yogurt and a croissant on the side. Ill report very soon how the food is on this flight from Tokyo to New York:)

Pro/Con: Berlitz Language program in flight:
Con- had about 15 languages on it: No Hebrew
Pro: did practice my spanish a bit as I regrettably haven't used it the slightest bit since I want to Puerto Rico slightly over a year ago.

Thats all for now... I am about to board the flight to NY. I shall blog more about Asia as promised next week and about Cincinnati after on..

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More adventures in Cambodia: Battambang

I have lots to catch up on,but this post will be on Battambang,Cambodia. Posts on Siem reap and Singapore will come soon. Check back in the next few days. Also look out for an article I wrote for CLO on my Chess experience Vietnam, coming to within the next few days.

Battambang is an underrated small city in Cambodia with a nice river front,nice places to see in the countryside with plenty of Buddhas, bats to see at night time etc.. Here it is on a map: about 5 hours of a drive from Phnom Penh and 2-3 hours from Siem Reap:

The bus ride to Battambang from Phnom Penh was not very fun.. The bus company said it would be about 4-5 hours and it ended up being around 6. One hour is not so bad, but no what there was little personal space. Be warned:on buses around Southeast Asia, atleast from what I seen, bus companies tend to underestimate their travel times by at least one hour. Much of the delays were due to people chasing the bus, trying to get on, as seen in the following picture:

Here's one of the smelliest fruits around that are actually banned from most hotels:

:Be aware of the Durian!

Monastery:Orange everywhere- even orange towels!

Thousands of Bats flying just after 6 PM:

When we arrived by this mountain via our tuktuk, a motodriver tried to convince us to take his moto up the mountain to see the bats with a birds-eye view. It would have been nice but it seemed kind of risky. Eventually, we just waited about a half hour to see them fly out of the whole pictured.

No Bamboo Train,No!
: Another popular thing to do in Battambang is the bamboo train, which is a man-made train out of bamboo. For some reason, a guy began screaming "no bamboo train,no!" Our tuktuk driver drove us to another part of the track and we got on. The same guy who screamed followed us on his moto and again screamed at us but we continued to go anyways and it turned out to be a fun time: Im not sure what his problem was.

Lastly for Battambang,here is your loyal blogger pulling a pretty cool looking fence around the corner from the hotel:

Overall, Battambang was a pleasant experience. Admittedly, there was not that much to do and it shuts down at night, which is why I wouldn't want to spend much more time there but it was a quite, pleasant town without a lot of tourists. In this regard, there weren't nearly as many harrasing street vendors and beggers.