Robot World Chess Match

As a child, I had a variety of chess programs on hardware ranging from Atari, Amiga, and Windows PC. I played them against each other regularly – in tournaments and in “championship” matches. I recorded everything and even tried to approximate their Elo ratings.  Yes, I was a little geeky…back then.

All the moves had to be entered by hand on my part from one program to the other.  Of course if I had a setup like this, it would have been a lot more fun.

Saturn up close

Years ago, when I was just dabbling around trying to find my blog voice, I wrote a small entry about my excitement for the Cassini mission to Saturn.  I’ve come across this short film a couple of times over the last month, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you (and posting my first video to the blog at the same time).

I hope you enjoy it!

CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.




If you know me, you know that during the winter months, I dive in and invest the lion’s share of my time and energy in teaching.  My wife and I have discovered that you simply can’t achieve optimal student outcomes unless you approach their education with a sense of urgency.

That means time has been pinched for performing projects on our new home.  I haven’t done as much as I wanted to do in my first year here, but there are a few months left.  Here are a few odd tasks already checked off the list.

When we first moved into our new space, we prioritized a few areas of furniture needs.  As economically as possible, we chose a few quality pieces.  Economically may be translated as “assembly required.”  After many hours of slow, deliberate work, we have a couple of nice desks and a highboy.

One thing that I hate to do is put holes in the walls, and one thing that girls want is lots of stuff on the walls.  So, after finding out where she wanted things (actually that was not difficult, I just listened to her showing the house to visitors and telling them where everything will go), I surprised her by hanging some stuff, including her picture calendar, a kitchen towel holder, her ship’s wheel clock (one of the first presents I got for her when we were dating), and the lighthouse key holder.

What a winter to be initiated into the Society of Driveway Shovelers!  Three major snows are one thing, but when the sky dumps over 22 inches that I have to remove in strata like an archeological site, that’s what I call a “baptism by fire.”  I got everything off in plenty of time to go back to school after the snow days.

Flash forward to Spring, and I’m mounting a “Topsy Turvy” tomato growing contraption on my deck, along with a rain gauge.  Getting a working mower was a different problem, as I invested many days working on two candidates with no luck.  For my first mowing of the lawn, I had to borrow a mower from a friend.

Most psychologists agree that mowing your lawn is excellent therapy for the troubled mind.  Okay, I’m not sure if that’s a universally true statement, but it sure fits for me (my apologies to Linus VanPelt).  It’s hot now, 90 degree days, so I don’t mow the whole yard, front, back, and sides in one sitting, but I still find a certain catharsis in the activity.

Star Hustler

Star Hustler

Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium.

Some people hustle pool,
Some people hustle cars,
But have you ever heard about
The man who hustles stars?

I don’t stay up as late as I used to, but when I was a teenager, I watched Jack Horkheimer regularly and planned my week’s nightly sky observations accordingly. Always presented with his trademark panache, his passion for astronomy was infectious. He will be missed.

Facebook groups redux

I couldn’t resist posting a few more Facebook groups people have brought to my attention since my previous post. Perhaps you will find this final installment amusing.

  • I have ADOS ” Attention Deficit … Oooh, Shiny!
  • I asked “What?” twenty times, so now I’m just gonna pretend I heard what you said.
  • Third grade lied. I never use cursive.
  • I hate when you’re about to drive into the driveway and your favorite song starts.
  • Trying to finish a dream by going back to sleep.
  • The word “epic” is overused!
  • I hate when someone waves and I wave back when they were actually waving at someone behind me.
  • Talking to someone and then realizing they are no longer walking beside you.
  • Laughing so hard you don’t even make any noise.
  • They’re not “suggested friends,” they’re people I’m intentionally avoiding.
  • No Microsoft Word, I DIDN’T spell my last name wrong.
  • I accidentally typed “;)” instead of “:)” and now it’s awkward.
  • We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
  • Today I caught myself smiling for no reason… then I realized I was thinking about you.
  • I may be laughing while you tickle me, but I WILL kill you once you stop.
  • For young, first-time voters, it’s similar to clicking the “Like” button, but with limited choices you don’t actually like.