Jurassic

Taking a Friday off dramatically increases the chance of feeling truly rested after a weekend. Even though I worked late two nights this week, by taking Friday off I found that by Saturday night I felt properly recharged. I took off to Weymouth for part of the weekend, about 100km south from here on the south coast of England. The plan was to go kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding at East Fleet or Portsmouth Harbour, but the wind and tide was really a bit too strong for that. So Steve went windsurfing near Portland Harbour and I went for a hike towards Portland Bill. The windsurfing looked like fun, and I'm now considering a bit of windsurfing tuition at OTC Watersports so that next time we go down we can do an activity whatever the wind situation. If it's not calm enough for a paddle, we can go windsurfing.

Later in the evening we wandered around Weymouth town, with its fishing boats in a pretty harbour, waterside pubs and restaurants, piers and promontory gardens, and sandy beach. The relaxed saunter around the harbour as the sun set felt a bit like holidays to coastal towns in France before the whole pandemic thing. In his van, Steve tuned into RTL on 234kHz, a French-language radio station broadcasting from Luxembourg to see if it would intensify the feeling. At low tide we paddled and swam in the sea. It was really shallow even a fair way out, and in a sheltered bay, so ideal for a hot afternoon.

Something that struck me is how the people of Dorset and Wiltshire seem to have collectively decided that masks are not worth it. Looking at staff and customers in bars and restaurants, passengers in trains and buses, anywhere indoors, I remember only a very small number of them wearing masks. In many cases, I was the only one bothering in the whole place. In the local supermarket, there was a recorded announcement asking people to feel free to wear face coverings, if they wish. I know it's a tired topic, it's just surprising how much this has changed from a fortnight ago. The case rate has fallen, and is now about 350 per 100,000 people, but I still don't really understand why people are so averse to covering their face.

♟️ Vote chess

I've started a correspondence chess game between the users of Twitter and the users of Mastodon. Each side has seventy-two hours to vote on the next move via the polling function of each platform. The candidate moves are chosen as the four best moves by a large evaluation of the game tree by the Stockfish 14 chess engine.

I'm interested not only in how the game goes but also to what extent the two teams form a noticable plan or strategy during it. I hope that we'll get a group of a decent size choosing each move, and perhaps many minds thinking about the best way forward will lead to some interesting play and even a chess personality of each side. Of course the progression of the game will be heavily skewed towards good moves and we'll rarely, if ever, see a blunder. But maybe that'll give the game a character of its own. We'll see. Right now it's just a bit of fun.

Given the two-day period to decide each ply, we expect the game to last all of autumn and winter. Anyone who wants to play can join at any point. By following the account on your platform of choice, you'll be notified of the next move, which will be less than twice per week. That would really help the game make it all the way to the end.

Links to the profiles on each platform and a page giving more information follow.