this post, about my visit to France, contains very little chess content, and contains some related political commentary...
Just returned from my two-week visit to Paris, France. My overall impression of Paris? The city has amazing museums, architecture, food, and a great subway system. The Museum of Paleontology was stunning, a superlative arrangement of skeletons (both fossilized and not), better than anything I have ever seen (and I make it a point to check out such things). Because they have museums like that around, I can understand why France doesn't produce creationists.
As for chess, my wife and I went to the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens to watch people play chess in the park. I don't think there were any actual chess hustlers there, but simply folks who wanted to play a game. I didn't play anyone, but was happy to observe. The players were all over the place in talent: most of them little opening to speak of (e.g., didn't castle), but were amazing tacticians.
On the down side, the people of Paris leave quite a bit to be desired, what with their general priggishness, inefficiency, and up-nosery. Also, the costs of everything were ridiculous (especially given that the Euro is kicking the ass of the dollar right now because the US is so far in debt from loans we take out from other countries to deal with our budget deficit).
There was a big protest against Israel while we were there. It was conducted by the large Muslim population in Paris. The cops told us not to go near the protests, because we wouldn't be safe, a fact rich with sociopolitical information. Much of the time I was in Paris, I was thinking to myself, "Why is this country on the UN Security Council? What have the French ever actually...secured
[An aside to Muslim Psychos (not all Muslims): if you kidnap Jews from Israel, you are effectively begging for a justified heavy-duty smackdown. After WWII the Jews are rightly kinda sensitive about leaving their bretheren behind, even if this tenacity makes them unpopular and puts them in further danger. Unfortunately, I think you (psycho Muslim) already know this, and want to create a conflagration, which will help you generate more propaganda, which will help you generate more Muslim psychos. It really is a grotesque reproductive strategy, a strategy which the god of pretty much any religion would disapprove of. The effectiveness of your strategy is quite sad and frustrating, as what this world needs much less of right now is Islamofascism.]
Moving on from Paris, and Islamofascism, a big surprise came from my visit to Heidelberg, Germany for three days. It's a wonderful little hamlet in south-central Germany. The city and people were great, the beer tasty, and the sausage/sauerkraut simply amazing. I would love to go there again. I had only one complaint: in Germany they expect you to pay for your water in restaurants, and they often give you tiny little bottles. You get a huge barrel of beer for one Euro, but for three Euros you get a thimble full of Evian. What's up with that?
I managed to do ten CTB problems a day (at least) while on vacation. I'll post more chess-related antics once my internal clock resets and the like.
It's good to be back in this efficient, English-speaking, down-to-earth country of ours.