Thursday, December 8, 2016

More One Minute Madness

  After obtaining my all-time Internet Chess Club peak rating of 1620 in one-minute chess on my 56th birthday in October I turned my chess-related pursuits to earning the right to pay 30 Euros (or $33.73 USD) for my FIDE Arena International Master title which I did in November on my aborted vacation. With that accomplished in the first week in November I switched my attentions to the relatively peaceful realm of three minute chess where each side gets to think three times as long for the tradeoff of possibly being able to get only one game played in a 10 minute span instead of the possibility of playing 5 games of one minute chess. I primarily played on the FIDE website until the around 7 in the evening of Monday November 14th when I decided to play a game of three minute chess on the Internet Chess Club.

  I find three minute chess to be vastly different than the one minute variety with the biggest difference that is the games are decided mostly by the position on the board as opposed to the clock situation. Generally the more time each side has for a chess game the less mistakes are made – this means that each mistake has more influence on the final result when the mistake’s beneficiary has more time to consider their moves and keep from reciprocating. My first ICC three minute game in more than a year was going quite well. I took my time and played three minute chess instead of one minute chess until I got panicky in my opponents time trouble and choked the game away!

pgn4web chessboards courtesy of pgn4web.casaschi.net

  As you might imagine I was pretty ticked off at myself for throwing away an easily won game by reverting to a one minute chess mindset. I wanted to remove the stench of the defeat as soon as possible so I clicked the little ‘3’ button to start a new three minute game but when my game against ‘RX-MEN’ started I saw I only had one minute and I had hit the little ‘1’ button for a one minute game instead of the ‘3’ for the three minute game I wanted to play:

  And there went my one minute all time high rating on ICC without even a whimper. Whenever this happened to me in the past I would keep playing and lose so many games that my rating would fall so far that I couldn’t possibly make it up in one session and I would finally give up and wait months (or years) to reach a new all-time rating. So what did I do this time? I kept on playing but every time I lost a couple of games I’d win a game or two to prevent the downward spiral. At around 9:15 I got my rating back up to 1620 right where it was before I ever heard of ‘RX-MEN’. I could have stopped but like any addict I decided this time would be different and kept playing.

  Unfortunately, I hit a losing streak and resumed bouncing around tantalizingly close to either giving up or steadfastly believing I was moments away from a huge turnaround. Eventually I found myself playing Almirante with my tating at 1567 or 53 points below my high of 1620:

  Hall of Fame baseball owner Bill Veeck wrote in ‘The Hustler’s Handbook’ that in his experience hitting slumps start by some hard hit balls turning into outs when they were hit directly at a fielder and end when a dribbling ground ball or lame pop fly finds a way to avoid fielder’s gloves for an undeserved hit. This game was my dribbling ground ball and I was overjoyed to find myself matched up against Almirante again when I pressed the ‘1’ button:

  A decent enough game that I spoiled but ultimately was another weak ground ball that found its way past the infield for a base hit. It was getting around 9:30 and I was starting to feel a bit tired and then I got matched up with brandtje who is a real International Master and probably didn’t have to pay the World Chess Federation for his title:

  Another game where I outplayed my opponent, spit the bit, and recovered to win in a time scramble. It wasn’t the way I’d choose to win but in the end I would choose to win. Of course I'd have little to no chance of beating an International Master in three, five, of ninety five minute chess games but the quicker the time limit the more random the results. Look at the recent World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin where there were two wins and 10 draws in the 12 games where the players started out with 2 hours each and two wins and two draws in the tiebreak games where the players got 25 minutes apiece. Anyway after almost two hours of playing my rating was back at 1612 within one game of my all-time high. I was pretty sleepy but hit the little button with a ‘1’ on it and once more tilted at my own personal windmill. Standing between me and my all-time high was ivanzug:

  This win pushed my rating past 1620 to 1624 which is a new personal best and will remain so until I once again click the little button with a ‘1’ on it. I was overjoyed at only having to spend only a few hours instead of a month or a year to get a new high rating and happily clambered off to bed. The last game I played was the best of the bunch but still not very good even for a one-minute game. Luckily I didn’t have to be a world beater – I just had to be a little better than my opponents.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Review - MindGames (Phil Jackson's Long Strange Journey)

  I had Thanksgiving week off from work for the most part in that I worked from home a few hours each day and had the rest of the week for myself. I spent some time refining my basketball prediction program to account for some early season biases favoring teams with heavy home schedules. While I wasn’t pondering the imponderables of predicting basketball games I read MindGames, the 2001 biography of Phil Jackson by Roland Lazenby. The book brushes on Jackson’s youth as the athletic son of evangelical ministers, basketball career with the New York Knicks, coaching stints in the minor league CBA and as an assistant with the Bulls. The crux of the book is Jackson’s leading the Bulls to 6 championships in 8 seasons and how he manages and molds the diverse personalities on the team into those championship squads using philosophies he gleaned from his close proximity to Native American reservations in his youth and his experiences using psychedelic drugs in the 70’s.

  The mainstays of the 90’s Bulls were Michael Jordan (arguably the greatest player of all time) and superstar Scottie Pippen. They were the only players on all six championship teams. Jackson comes in for his share of the credit for guiding Jordan to trust his lesser talented teammates and installing a passing offense (the triple post or triangle offense) that gave defined roles and opportunities for the rest of the roster to contribute. Jordan and Pippen won three straight championships form 1991 to 1993 with the supporting cast of Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, John Paxson, BJ Armstrong, etc... Then Jordan retired from basketball after his father was murdered and his personal gambling habits came under intense media scrutiny. After a failed attempt at becoming a baseball player, Jordan returned to basketball in 1995 but seemed old and slow in leading the Bulls to a second round playoff loss to the younger, athletic Orlando Magic of Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.

  The playoff loss drove Jordan to get in the best shape of his life and rebuild his game to accommodate his aging body and in 1996 Jordan and Pippen led an entirely new supporting cast to the all-time best record of 72-10 (surpassed by the Warriors last season) and a championship (not matched by the Warriors last season) that was followed by two more. In the book, Jackson’s role is portrayed as a bridge between Jordan and his new cast of teammates (including Hall of Fame player/nut case Dennis Rodman) as well as trying to keep the front office led by Jerry Krause from dismantling the aging team with a cheaper group of players and coaches.

  The book ends up with the Bulls finally broken up and Jackson takes a year off before taking over as the coach of the supremely talented but perpetually under-achieving Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers team. Jackson wins the first of three more championships with the Lakers, providing a measure of validation that his methods are championship worthy even without Michael Jordan.

  This book does a great job of delving behind the scenes to show how Phil Jackson’s unique background and experiences formed his basketball philosophy. It is more than unabashed tribute to Jackson – there are plenty of examples of petty and self-serving actions. Whether discussing the good or bad there are plenty of quotes and explanations from Jackson for many of his unconventional actions from splicing scenes from movies into game film to picking out books for his players to read on road trips and even why he beats tom toms before home games. Throughout the book one has the sense that Jackson’s oddity’s are carefully measured to elicit responses from his teams and reduce the tedium of a six month season that is merely a prelude to yet another championship run.

  My only problem with the book is it needs an update to cover the 15 years since Jackson’s first Laker championship (there was an additional chapter added in the 2007 paperback reprint), where Jackson won 2 more Laker championships, left the team, started dating owner Jerry Buss’s daughter, came back to win 2 more championships, left the team again, and took over the basketball operations of the New York Knicks. The Knicks are in the third year of Jackson’s rebuilding project and the results are not encouraging. Jackson has drafted one all-star caliber player in Kristaps Porzingis but his first head coach (Derek Fisher) failed to make it through two full seasons. This year Jackson resorted to obtaining past but not present All-Stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah which shows me that Jackson has given up on building the team from within for now in favor of the quick fix. So far his team management skills have suffered in comparison with his 90’s coaching rival Pat Riley, who has built and rebuilt the Miami Heat into playoff teams three times since taking over the basketball operations in the mid 90’s.

  Phil Jackson was a great coach even if he has not proven to a great team builder with the Knicks. His detractors say he only won his record 11 championships because he had superstars like Jordan, Pippen, Bryant, and O’Neal on his team. I can’t think of very many coaches who have won championships without superstar talent but I was always struck how Jackson could get contributions from the lesser players on his teams and bring along young players and acclimate veterans from other teams into his system. There are lots of coaches that have great player and don’t win championships. Jackson has won championships and deserves the credit that brings.

  When I was looking at the Hall of Fame players Jackson coached I noticed that the Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf was inducted into the Hall this year, joining Jackson, Jordan, Pippen, and Dennis Rodman as the Hall of Famers from that Bulls run of 6 championships in 8 years. Left on the outside looking in was Jerry Krause the General Manager who was a finalist for the Hall but didn’t make the cut. The book protrays Krause as half buffoon and half as a gross overweight pig with food hanging on his face who habitually upsets the players by fouling the locker room bathroom just before game time. In every accounting of the Bulls championship run Krause gets some credit for hiring head coaches Doug Collins and Jackson. Jackson was brought in as an assistant after years of not being able to get an NBA job due to the self-inflicted damage to his reputation by his 1970’s autobiography ‘Maverick’ where he was very open about his recreational drug use. The digs on Krause center around the fact that Jordan was the one player he did not acquire and his boorish manner with the players and press. When Jordan retired from the Bulls, Krause drafted many future all-stars with his top of the lottery picks (Tyson Chandler, Elton Brand, Ron Artest) but was never able to even get to the playoffs and was let go after he gutted his roster to draft Eddie Curry and Chandler straight out of high school with the first two picks in the draft and failed to make the playoffs with his young inexperienced team. I don’t know if Krause is a deserving member of the basketball hall of fame but if the owner of the team that hired him was selected largely for the 6 championships that Krause oversaw as the general manager I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have been inducted at the same time.

Friday, November 25, 2016

21st Century NBA Basketball Prediction Program - Bovada Blues

  The NBA season is underway and so is my basketball prediction program. I made good on last summer’s promise to put my money where my mouth (or predictions) is and use real money to track my progress this year. After some research I settled on bovada.lv as my online bookie of choice based on favorable reviews and the lack of laws in Iowa prohibiting online gambling.

  I signed up for my Bovada account and deposited $500 into my account using paypal. I was not pleased to find that the charge for depositing the $500 was $39.35. I expected some charge but 8% seemed a little excessive. My chagrin was lessened when I received a $250 welcome bonus which was half of my deposit. I scanned over the conditions covering accepting the bonus. I noticed the funds wouldn’t be available for withdrawal until I had made an undiosclosed number of bets. This seemed reasonable to me and I accepted the bonus and was on my way.

  I fed the game statistics into the prediction program and on November 8th the program spit out its first prediction, the Denver Nuggets getting 4 points at Memphis. I went to Bovada to place the bet. I clicked on the game, selected the amount I wanted to wager ($11), confirmed the bet and I was in. Why wager $11? Sports betting with the point spread normally charges a 10% penalty for losing bets. This is called ‘the vigorish’ and allows the gambling house to make money when an equal number of bets are made on both sides. It also means that the gambler must win 11 out of every 21 bets or 52.4% to break even. The notation on the betting sheet is -110 meaning 110 is bet to win 100. In the case of the Nuggets game the notation said -105 which meant that I only had to bet $10.50 to win $10. Some of the games are listed as -115 meaning $11.50 needs to be wagered to bet $10.

  This changing of the odds adds an unwanted level of complexity. I just want to bet $11 to win $10. I would prefer that Bovada change the point spread instead of jacking with the odds to balance the betting. After some thought I decided I would just bet $11 per game and collect more or less than $10 depending on the betting odds. In the case of the Nuggets game my $11 wager would bring me $10.48 for a victory instead of $10. In the succeeding two weeks I’ve seem games listed as high as -120 which is tantamount to keeping an entire dollar on each winning bet.

  I won my Nuggets wager and was $10.48 richer. The next day my prediction program said the Los Angeles Clippers was an easy cover giving 10.5 points at home to the Portland Trailblazers. I went to Bovada, placed the $11 bet, the Clippers easily covered, and I was now $20.48 ahead of the game.

  My program didn’t give a prediction the next day but I noticed my account had been credited an extra.$1.47 which was listed as a ‘rollover’. This has continued for the past 2 weeks – every other day I get credited between $1.30 and $1.50 as a ‘rollover’. I found this confusing so I wrote to the Bovada customer support who replied within 24 hours to tell me the rollover was part of my $250 welcome bonus that I receive after passing ‘milestones’ which are still undefined as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to complain about getting an extra dollar or two credited to my account so I stopped asking.

  The next day I went to enter the point spreads into my computer at 6 am and there was only 1 game of the 8 on the schedule with a listed point spread. I entered in the point spreads from freeplays.com and ran my prediction program which gave me a possible wager which I couldn’t place until after work when Bovada finally published the point spreads and opened the betting on NBA games. I wrote to Bovada customer support again and again they wrote back within 24 hours to let me know that ‘Lines are put up and taken down at our Book Managers discretion.’ It seems that the basketball lines are normally published in the afternoon with only a few games available in the morning. Since I’m at work when the lines are available this means I have to wait until I get home to run my prediction program and place my wagers. The problem with this is if I have a delay or internet problem I’ll be out of luck to make a pick in the short window of time I have to get a wager in for most games.

  I won my first 5 wagers and 9 of my first 12 but hit a cold streak after that and my record stands at 11-9 as I write this on Sunday night. I have to admit all the little things that bothered me about Bovada bother me a lot more when I’m on a losing streak but ultimately it was winning wager that convinced me to question my commitment to the online gaming idea. Today my prediction program spit out two picks. I ran my program in the morning and made a bet on the 9-3 Hawks giving two points against the 5-7 Knicks in New York. That pick went down in flames when the Knicks not only covered but won by 10. The line on the Bulls-Lakers wasn’t published until the afternoon after the Hawks-Knicks game was over. I reran my prediction program and the computer picked the Bulls to win and they were getting points, I went to the site to make my pick which is as easy as clicking a button and entering the wager amount (in my case $11). I noticed two odd things about the line. The Bulls were getting a half point which is useless since there are no ties in the NBA and the odds were -120 so my $11 wager would only bring in $9.17 if I won. I made the bet and checked the score before I went to bed. The game was at halftime but Bovada had me already winning my bet! Why? Because when I clicked on the button to place the wager the line was only available for the first quarter which ended with a 30-30 score meaning I won by the half point the Bulls were getting!

  This Sunday afternoon misadventure showed me that online gambling requires more of an attention span than I can spare right now. Having to check to see when the lines are up, adjust my thinking for the changing money payouts, and then having to make sure the line is for the entire game instead of the first quarter of first half is way more work than I bargained for. Having too many things to keep track of is sure to cost me money in the long run when I fail to notice an odds change, miss bets, or bet on the first quarter. I’ll finish this season until I either lose my $500 stake or the season ends but next season I’ll be back to making mythical bets only.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

TV Review - The Walking Dead Season 7 Episodes 1-4

   WARNING : THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 7 SPOILERS BELOW!!!

The promos and premiere for season 7 of The Walking Dead held the promise of unprecedented action...

  The Walking Dead kicked off its much anticipated seventh season last month. The reason for the anticipation was the arrival of the comic book’s signature villain Negan to the television show along with Lucille, his barbed wire covered baseball bat. Negan made his debut in the comic’s 100th issue by beating Glenn to death with Lucille. Season six of the television show ended with our intrepid band of zombie apocalypse survivors trapped in the woods on their knees surrounded by Negan’s army while Negan pondered whose head he was going to bash in with Lucille. The decision to leave the actual death as a six month cliffhanger leading to season seven was very controversial but paid off with 17 million viewers for the debut which was the second most viewed episode in the history of the series.

  The initial episode was done in a flash forward/flash back vein, beginning after the clubbing with Negan trying to convince Rick (the main character and leader of our survivors) that he and his crew’s only choices in the new world order was to either work for Negan by giving him half of everything they own, make, or scavenge or be clubbed to death by Lucille. Eventually we discover that Negan’s victim was ex-soldier Abraham whose last line in the show was to tell Negan to ‘suck his nuts’ while getting his head bashed to a pulp. It looked like Glenn had once again escaped the baseball bat fate that had been hinted at in previous episodes. Unfortunately, after one of Rick’s crew (Daryl) takes a swing at Negan, the punishment for this transgression became clear when Negan spun around and suddenly bashed Glenn to a pulp as well.

...but a promising start led to plenty of talk and inaction.

  Rick held out on being part of Negan’s operation until the end of the episode until he was forced by Negan to either cut his son Carl’s arm off with his ax or watch every survivor be shot to death. When Rick is swinging his ax to cut off the arm, Negan is convinced that Rick understands his new role and spares the arm, leaving the survivors in the woods with a truck and the knowledge that Negan and crew will be by their Alexandria compound in a week to collect their tribute with Darryl being held hostage in case of any second thoughts.

Episode 2 brought a lot of talk and little action...

  The episode was riveting with deaths to main characters, plenty of zombie action, and loads of suspense. There was a lot of promise for the season ahead. Then episodes two and three threw all the momentum into reverse with a pair of the slowest moving episodes of the series. Episode two showed us Morgan and Carol in the realm of the Kingdom, King Ezekiel, and his tiger Siva. It took an entire hour for us to learn that the Kingdom is also paying tribute to Negan.

  Ezekiel is a former zookeeper whose relationship with Siva has led to his adoption as the leader which he encourages with his Shakespearean intonations learned from his community theatre experience. He and Carol are attracted to each other enough that Carol has agreed to live near the kingdom if not in the ‘kingdom limits’. There was a minimal amount of zombie kills and one fistfight and that was it for the action.

Another episode with all talk and no action but we get to learn all about Dwight...

  While I was disappointed to have an entire episode devoted to character development, it was nothing compared to episode 3 which took place in Negan’s compound and focused on Dwight (one of Negan’s lieutenants) and zombie apocalypse survivor Daryl who is confined to a locked dark room and fed a daily dog food sandwich. We first met Dwight in season six when he was on the run from Negan’s crew and repaid Daryl’s help by stealing his motorcycle and crossbow. After that Dwight has proven to be a major bad actor as one of Negan’s minions. He put a crossbow arrow through Doctor Denise’s eye and shot Daryl at the end of season six.

  In this episode we learn that Dwight can make a mean egg sandwich and returned to Negan with his wife after stealing Daryl’s motorcycle and crossbow. Dwight’s life was spared in return for his wife leaving him and becoming Negan’s wife although Dwight did have his face scarred with a hot iron to show everyone who was in charge. Other than that, the entire episode was about Negan’s attempts to cajole or scare Daryl into joining his crew. Daryl refuses even though all he has to do is say ‘I’m Negan’ when asked who he is. This was another episode with minimal zombie action (Dwight is attacked by some wayward zombies while chasing down an escapee from Negan’s compound) and totally devoted to character development.

  Character development is all well and good but having two straight hour long episodes primarily devoted to it makes for some dull television watching. When I saw the teasers for Sunday’s fourth episode of the season I had hopes for the plot moving forward in an action-oriented sense – the episode was 90 minutes long and featured Negan and his gang (also known as the Saviors) heading to Rick’s Alexandria community to take half their stuff. I thought at the least there would be some random violence on behalf of Negan against the Alexandrians (most of whom are as disposable as red shirts on Star Trek) and at most a gun battle between the Saviors and the Alexandrians.

This was about all the action in episode 4...

  My hopes for an action oriented episode were dashed yet again when nearly the entire 90 minutes featured the complete capitulation of Rick and the Alexandrians. The only action came when Negan clubbed a pair of zombies and Rosita fought off a pack of zombies in order to get a handgun (Negan had taken all the guns in Alexandria). In the end the Saviors drive away with most of the stuff in Alexandria and Rick and his crew are left in despair with a small consolation of Rick confessing that the baby Judith he has been calling his daughter for the past four seasons is the product of his late wife’s affair with his late best friend Shane.

  Instead of action, the showrunners of The Walking Dead seem to be angling for character development and tension. Every episode since the season premiere has been heavy with the threat of violence on the part of the Saviors or Negan which is defused when the parties being threatened give in. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan is more cartoonish than threatening with his constant jokes and veiled threats making his extreme violence in the season premiere seem more an outlier than his standard method of operation. Negan and the Saviors are thoroughly unlikeable and it will be a pleasure to watch them get there comeuppance which needs to happen sooner than later. I get it. They are sadistic thugs. OK. Can we stop showing me how sadistic they are and get on with the action? Please? This lack of action seems more appropriate to some British drama that should be on Public Television instead of the zombie apocalypse. Seeing the sagging ratings (Episodes 3 and 4 were the first episodes in three years to have under 12 million viewers) makes me feel I’m not alone in being pretty bored with what should have been a great seventh season. I’m not ready to give up on the show yet but with the fall segment of the season over time is quickly running out to rekindle my enthusiasm before the show take a two month break.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Beagle Birthday Pontifications

It's time once again for America's most prolific beagle bloggers - Daisy and Baxter to take over the Broken Pawn. Our normally optimistic beagles glee at celebrating their birthday has been shadowed by a recent run of depressing news.

Hi Everyone! Baxter here… …and Daisy with another blog for our readers. What should we talk about for this blog, Baxter? Our birthday of course! We turned 6 years old on Tuesday! Happy Birthday Daisy! Happy Birthday, Baxter. It’s a shame the coverage of our birthday was overshadowed by the silly election. I know. It's too bad Hillary Clinton didn't get elected. When she was the first lady she had a Labrador Retriever called Buddy. And a cat called Socks. She would have been a good president for beagles because of the letter she sent us. Yes! She wrote to tell us how she saves every scrap of meat and sliver of cheese from her plate! If she was President she could have fed all those scraps and slivers to beagles like us! YUM!! I love scraps of meat and slivers of cheese! YUM!!

How exciting to get a letter from an almost President!

I love scraps of meat and slivers of cheese too Baxter, but I love our birthday presents even more. We got rib eye steaks from the Dollar Tree for our birthday… YUM!! I love rib eye steaks from the Dollar Tree even more than scraps of meat! But not as much as a whole plate of meat! YUM!! I love plates of meat! YUM!! I wish we could get plates of meat for our birthday! And we got premium dog food out of a can! I love premium dog food out of a can so much more than the dry dog food we get the rest of the year. YUM!! I love premium dog food out of a can! YUM!! And Kathy got us a giant bag of premium beef stick treats! YUM!! It was wonderful to get so much food for our birthday, Baxter. I like the new coat I got for my birthday but it’s from the Wal-Mart. Kathy and Hank had a trip planned to Chicago last week to get me the latest beagle outerwear fashions…

Here I am in my new Amazon camo coat! I'm not thrilled with my Wal-Mart coat but I loved getting Ribeye Steak from the Dollar Tree for my birthday!

But you got sick and they couldn’t go. I didn’t mind because instead of staying at the kennel we stayed home with Hank and Kathy. And I got a new camo coat from Amazon for my birthday. Apparently the Wal-Mart didn’t have a coat masculine enough for a manly beagle like me. I think Wal-Mart didn’t have a coat that was large enough to get around your stomach. My new coat is fine but it’s so Wal-Mart. I hope no one thinks Hank lost his job or anything when they see me wearing it. They’ll know things are just fine when they see me in my new coat from Amazon!

It was a rough year. Bill and Marilyn passed away, Daisy got sick last week, and I hurt my back...

I love our birthday but it’s so depressing getting old, Baxter. I had an assortment of ailments just before Hank and Kathy were supposed to go to Chicago last week. I had a yeast infection in my ear and an eye infection and sinus congestion all at once. I’m getting older and I’m pretty depressed about it too. I hurt my back in the summer and had to ride around in a wagon instead of walking. I liked riding around in the wagon but I like walking too. Bill and Marilyn down the block got too old and they both died this year. It was so sad. I loved visiting with them on their porch when the weather was nice. I feel bad for Abby the Cairn Terrier that lived with Bill and Marilyn. She must be so lonely. Don’t worry Baxter. Bill and Marilyn’s daughter Becky moved into their house and stays with Abby all the time now. I miss Bill rubbing my big head and saying “Hi Baxter old boy”. I hate people getting old. I miss them too but Hank says we’ll see them again someday so I try not to think about it too much. So if you don’t think about things like death what do you think about Daisy? Right now I’m thinking about how to accessorize my new coat from Wal-Mart so it doesn’t look so Wal-Mart. Maybe I can repurpose some of my old outerwear and say it’s a retro classic look. What do you think about instead of getting old Baxter? I think about food! YUM!! What else is there to think about? Yesterday I was thinking about how nice it was last week when Hank went to the KFC and brought home a famous bowl AND a chicken pot pie! YUM!!

YUM!! Look at the feast Hank brought from KFC to share with us! CHICKEN!! YUM!!

The famous bowl was quite tasty. There was mashed potatoes, corn, cheese, and CHICKEN!! LOTS OF BITE SIZE CRISPY CHICKEN CHUNKS!! YUM!! I LOVE BITE SIZE CRISPY CHICKEN CHUNKS!! Yes. Baxter. The famous bowl was the perfect meal for us. Hank could eat the mashed potatoes and corn and cheese and share the chicken with us. I thought the chicken was very tasty. Very tasty! YUM!! The chicken pot pie wasn’t nearly as good though. Too much savory sauce, peas, and carrots and not nearly enough chicken for Hank to share. The chicken was all shredded and mixed up in the pie. It’s better for us when there are solid chunks of chicken so Hank can just give them to us.

We love going to the duck pond. Kathy feeds the ducks and geese while Daisy and I enjoy the smells! Sometimes we get to see the blue heron!

Another thing I think about is our trips to the duck pond. Every Sunday Hank and Kathy take us for a walk to the duck pond by the cemetery. Hank take pictures of the ducks, geese, and swans and Kathy feeds them bread. She give us some bread too! When bread is all there is to eat it’s my favorite food! YUM!!! But when we’re done taking pictures we each go to the corner and get beef stick treats! YUM!! I love beef stick treats! I like going to the duck pond too, Baxter. It’s so much fun! Not only do we get to see the other animals and eat bread and beef stick treats, there are all kinds of other dogs that walk there to howl at or sniff where they were. I don’t like to see other dogs too much but I do like to sniff around, especially in the fall. The leaves are full of squirrel and dog smells!

Even though Megan's more of a cat person, we got along famously!

Katie pets me and gives us beef stick treats! YUM!!

When I was depressed about my ailments last week I made myself happy by thinking about when Kathy’s sister Megan came to visit. She was very nice and gave me extra special attention even though she seems to be more of a cat person. I liked Megan too but I’m not very good with strangers. I kept my distance except when she had some beef stick treats. Do you know why, Daisy? Let me guess. Because you love beef stick treats? Because I LOVE BEEF STICK TREATS!! Yum? YUM!! I LOVE BEEF STICK TREATS!! YUM!! It was nice having her over and Kathy was thrilled she came to visit. Do you know what thrills me, Daisy? Let me guess, Baxter. Hmmm… Beef stick treats? Sure. But besides that I’m thrilled when our friends Monica and Katie come to visit. And why is that, Baxter? Because Katie is really nice when she pets me… and… and Katie gives us beef stick treats! YUM!! I LOVE BEEF STICK TREATS!! For once I agree with you Baxter. Katie and Monica are super nice to us and Katie always gives us beef stick treats. And not the tiny beef stick treats we get from Hank and Kathy. Katie brings us top quality large beef sticks like the Jack Links Matador brand. YUM!! I love top quality large beef sticks! YUM!! They are so much bigger, better, and tastier than the SIMMS brand Hank and Kathy get from the Aldi. I hope Hank and Kathy read this. HELLO!!!

I don’t like getting older when it means hurting my back or you getting sick, Daisy. I don’t like that part but we’ve had six great years to spend with Hank and Kathy, Baxter. And six years of walks and beef stick treats, too! YUM!! Don’t forget that since we walk at least 3 miles a day we’re in top physical condition. That’s right! We should have lots more years of walking… …and visits from our friends… …and trips to the duck pond… …and beef stick treats… OH BOY!! BEEF STICK TREATS!!! YUM!!!