Sunday, May 30, 2010

CyChess Part 3 of 3

  In the last round of the Cychess tournament, I was paired against Eric Vander Linden. Eric looks to be in his mid 50's like my previous 2 opponents. I knew Matt beat him twice last year, but otherwise he was a mystery to me.

Eric Vander Linden (right), battling Dan Vasto at the 2010 Iowa Class Championships on May 1st. (Picture courtesy Dave Wolz)

  There were 5 players who were 2-0, Eric, myself, Dave Wolz (the barefoot chess player), Eddie Divanovic (from Ankeny by way of Bosnia), and Bill Broich. Dave and Eddie were playing, while Bill had to play top seed Jeremy Madison who had surrendered a draw in the previous round. Eric outrated me by 180 points so statistically I had about a 10% chance of winning, but I had beaten bigger odds and hoped I was up for the challenge.

  I wasn't too upset at being in such terrible time pressure in this game. Eric played great and I needed all my time to ward off his threats. In fact, I was encouraged at how well I played with such little time left. I would have liked to have found the Nb4 move to get a big advantage, but it was not a cold stone winner even if I had.

  Since Dave defeated Eddie and Bill lost to Jeremy, Dave won the tournament and I tied Eric, Jeremy, and Matt Jacob for 2nd place. I was sad at not winning the tournament, but on the bright side I was able to nudge my rating over the 1700 mark for the first time ever. Studies have shown that a chess player's strength peaks after 8 years of playing. Since I have played for over 25 years and have my peak rating, I have either defied the odds or seriously underperformed in my youth and can look forward for even greater chess achievements in the years ahead.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CyChess Part 2 of 3

  After winning my first round game, my next opponent was Steve Jacobs. Steve looks to be in his mid 50’s like Rex, but he has a full head of white hair that make balding guys like me pretty jealous. Steve had tied for first at the under 1600 section of the Des Moines Fall Classic last November, but was currently rated at his floor of 1400. Since a lot of chess tournaments offer cash to the top scores below specified ratings, the US Chess Federation established rating floors to prevent players from losing games on purpose to deflate their rating and win underserved prize money. A floor of 1400 means a player had a rating over 1600 at some point in time and cannot ever have a rating below 1400. My son Matt has a floor of 1800 and he like to needle me by telling me that his floor rating is higher than my actual rating has ever been. My main concern in this game was to not fall behind on the clock since I had already had enough clock-induced excitement for one day. I would also have the black pieces. When I play black, I try to get a position I’m familiar with, neutralize my opponents plans, and then start my counterattack, Steve quickly sacrificed a piece and I was in uncharted (for me) territory after 15 moves.

  As President Bush 43 wishes he hadn’t said, “Mission Accomplished”. I didn’t get in time trouble, and thanks to some help from my opponent, I was finished fairly quickly. I got a 15 minute nap, ate some trail mix, and chatted with Steve and outgoing Iowa State Chess Association president Tim Mc Entee, who had presided over his last annual meeting and was watching the games. I wondered if I had done enough to gain the 4 rating points I needed to pass the 1700 mark, but Tim didn’t think I had. If he thought I had passed it, I’d have been very tempted to pass on the final round, but if I could find one more win, I’d be the CyChess champion. I was co-champion of the May 2008 version of this tournament and I could take that out of the ‘fluke’ column if I could win a second one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

CyChess Part 1 of 3

  I played in the CyChess tournament in Ames Sunday the 16th. This was my first tournament since last September and I had no idea how I would do. The tournament started at 1PM, so I could get a good night sleep and be well rested. My first game was against Rex Gray from Cedar Rapids. Rex is in his mid 50’s and is a computer programmer.

Rex Gray (left), matching wits with 3 time Iowa Ladies champion Bethany Carson in 2007

  I played Rex in Cedar Rapids in 2006. I had the black pieces in that game and won a close contest. Rex likes to play for tricky tactics and I would have to be on my toes. Statistics say that since I out rate Rex by over 500 points, I should win 99 out of a hundred games. But statistics (and I) didn’t know that just the day before at a tournament in Davenport, Rex beat 2 players stronger than me.

  My hope for the tournament was to gain the 4 rating points I needed to become a 1700 player. My strategy for the game was the usual, avoid mistakes and pounce on any opportunities I’m given. The time control was 40 moves per player for the game. Normally that is plenty of time for me, but for some reason I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do in the middle part of the game and got in terrible time pressure.

  I had to play the last 25 or so moves with less than 10 seconds left on my clock. If you run out of time, you lose the game. Since the tournament provided for a 5 second grace period before the time starts running down, I wasn’t in mortal danger of losing, but it is really nerve wracking to have to sit there while your opponent leisurely decides on his move, knowing you have to make your move almost instantaneously. You are nailed to your seat and if you have to go to the restroom, your options are quite limited. I spent way too much time thinking about which of my pieces was going to move backwards and was lucky to get the win. But a win is a win is a win and I was happy to still be in the running to win the tournament.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lots of Liars

  It has been that kind of week. I tried to get my lottery tickets and the machine was broken, but I didn’t find out until the 3 people in front of me decided what kind of cigarettes they wanted and then each one wrote a check for the purchase. 2 cars have cut me off on my way to work, and the Yankees have blown 3 late inning leads (luckily only losing 2 of the games). It’s a good thing I can get a laugh by reading the news.

  Indiana congressman Mark Souder has kept his job for 16 years by adhering to a ‘family values’ platform. He resigned his seat this week after his affair with a staffer (who was making 10 to 20,000 a year since 2004 with no office or job title) was made being made public. (
Story here) He said, “"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff." Good thing it was a mutual relationship, since otherwise he could be charged with rape. He blamed his decision to resign on the "poisonous environment of Washington”, so I imagine the whole ‘personal responsibility’ thing doesn’t count for Congressmen until they are caught in the act. Souder said at a abstinence-only education hearing in 2008 that young people could protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs by "abstaining from sex until in a committed, faithful relationship.”, Maybe he thought his affair was OK since he was in a committed relationship and he was faithfully seeing his staffer. I’m wondering if his position on gay marriage will change since his views on conventional marriage has been exposed.

  Connecticut Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal is under fire for misrepresenting his military service in the Vietnam era as actually serving in Vietnam (
Story here ). Blumenthal said at a damage control rally, "On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. And I take full responsibility. But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.” But at a veterans event in Shelton, Conn, he said, "When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered," (according to a 2008 Connecticut Post story). Sounds more like a misplaced memory that a misplaced word or 2. The Boy Scouts and Catholic Church better add to their defense fund in case this guy comes up with some repressed memories for a future lawsuit. I’m not even sure why he would have to embellish his service record. He got 5 deferments in the 1960’s to attend college and served in the Marine Reserve for 5 years in the 70’s. That is a better Vietnam-era record that the 2 previous presidents. Clinton got deferments and smoked (but didn’t inhale) pot in England in the 1960’s and still beat 2 World War II veterans in presidential elections. George W Bush avoided Vietnam by enlisting in the Air Force reserves and he beat 2 Vietnam veterans in his presidential elections.

  In business news, the Princeton Review company has stopped claiming that SAT scores can be boosted by 255 points by purchasing their $1200 ‘Ultimate Classroom SAT preparation’ course. The announcement was made by the Better Business Bureau, which was investigating a complaint made by competing prep course company Kaplan (
Story here). Scott Kirkpatrick, president of the test-preparation services division of The Princeton Review, said that the company had been planning to shift away from an emphasis on score improvement independently of the Better Business Bureaus case, and that it is changing its focus to offer a more personalized approach to helping students improve in all areas. "Score improvement is not our core mission," he said. "I don't want us to be a test-prep company. We need to be an education company." It’s too bad the Princeton was not planning on getting caught. Then they could have shifted their message before being publicly embarrassed. I wonder how parents treat their kids after shelling out $1200 for this course and not getting the expected results. I see this a lot with baseball and chess lessons. After a while the coach has to blame the kid’s effort because after all, it can’t be the coaches fault, can it?

  But my favorite story of the week is Adam Wheeler, who was caught lying by Harvard after getting $45,000 in scholarships and academic aid and expelled just a few months before graduation. (
Story here). Wheeler’s application to Harvard claimed a perfect 1600 SAT score, glowing recommendations from professors from MIT and unblemished straight A’s at the exclusive Phillips Academy. He went to a public school in Delaware and had a 1200 SAT score. No MIT or Phillips. He is being held on $5,000 bail and is ordered to stay away from Harvard even if he makes bail. I predict a great future for this kid. I wouldn’t be surprised if were to be a congressman from Indiana or Senator from Connecticut someday. And if I was the president of the Princeton Review, I’d be watching my back.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The King James Sweepstakes

  Despite having the best record in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get even halfway through the playoffs, losing to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the four round tournament. The team went into the season with high hopes after purchasing the contract of Shaquille O’Neal in order to have the size and bulk to combat Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. Howard exposed the Cavalier’s weakness at center in last year’s playoffs in leading the Magic to the upset in the 3rd round.

  The Cavaliers had a lot of bad luck in this years playoffs. Their best player, 2-time MVP LeBron James, had hurt his elbow and it looked to me like it would act up in unpredictable ways, making shots go awry and causing him to lose his grip on the ball and turning it over much more than normal. James still played great defense, but in order to be effective with the bad elbow, he needed to drive to the basket to get a lot of foul shots and he didn’t seem to want to take the punishment. It was also bad luck that the Celtics slipped to the fourth spot in the playoffs and got to play the Cavaliers in the second round. While O’Neal would have been able to help a lot against the Magic’s Howard, the Celtic’s big men are good outside shooters and were able to take advantage of O’Neal’s age(37) and slowness by staying back and shooting and then dribbling around O’Neal if he would go out to cover them.

  When the Cavalier’s season ended, so did James contract with them. It has been many years since the best player in the league has been free to sign with any team, and the best player in the league has never been so young (25) with so many years of top level play ahead of him. Normally the top players are signed to contract extensions in their last year and never get to field offers from other teams. The NBA has rules in place to encourage superstars to stay with their teams and so the Cavaliers will be able offer James more money than any other team, but with James Nike contract and other endorsements, this won’t be a factor in his signing. Free agents normally are able to get their former team to sign them at the maximum amount and trade them to their chosen free-agent destination, so they get the maximum amount of money anyway.

  The early rumors say James will head to New York to join the Knicks or New Jersey to join the Nets. The Nets were just bought by a Russian billionaire (who will presumably be able to help James make even more money in endorsements and other business deals) and are moving to a new arena in Brooklyn. The Knicks have been an awful team the last 10 years, but James can be more of a worldwide media icon there than anywhere else. James is not officially a free agent until July 1st. Until then, the Cavaliers are in a state of limbo. Coaching and personnel decisions cannot be made until they know if they are going to be able to keep their best player.

  If James does sign with another team this summer, we are sure to hear a lot of congratulations for the signing team as if they have managed to buy at least one NBA championship. But all the signing team has really 'won' is the right to sign King James paychecks for the next several years and a large helping of hope.

  I think that James will resign with the Cavaliers for a short term contract of 2 or 3 years. Of all his suitors, they have the best players to fit around him and he will have the most control over personnel decisions. Then in a few years, he will be able to sign with the Lakers. Kobe Bryant’s career will be almost over then and Los Angeles has always been the favored destination of top NBA players in their prime.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Taking a Fifth

  The baseball season is one fifth done and the Yankees have a record of 22 wins and 12 losses, even after losing 3 out of 4 games to the Tigers this week. They have the second best record in baseball and normally would be good enough to lead the division, except the team with the best record, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at 24-10 is in the same division. A record of 96-66 is normally good enough to get in the playoffs. I measure the progress of the season by how many more wins than losses a team has. If the Yankees can get to +30, then I know they just have to win half their games to get in the post season.

  Despite the gaudy record, I see some dark clouds in the Yankees’ future. The front line talent is good and there are promising young players on the roster (Cervalli, Gardner, Hughes, Chamberlain), but there are quite a few players who have no business on a playoff team. Yesterday against the Tigers, Alex Rodriguez was the DH and backup infielder Roberto Pena played at third base. He is an OK fielder, but the Tigers kept walking the hitter in front of him and he could not deliver a hit in the 2-0 loss. A better backup infielder is needed. Javier Vasquez pitched again yesterday and lost again. I suppose it was a moral victory because he pitched well, but exceeding low expectations is what this guy does best. David Robertson has been awful in relief, but since he has lost his job to Boone Logan, I expect him to be in the minor leagues any day now.

  The lack of talent in the outfield is most troubling. Gardner is young and is playing like an all-star, but Swisher, Winn, and Thames are run of the mill veterans and Golsen has never done anything at this level. None of these guys are going to make me forget a player like Johnny Damon who was a proven winner. Hopefully, when summer arrives, the Yankees can pick off some talent from some losing teams players to fill in their holes. It’s either that or pray that all the high priced talent stays healthy and deliver so the has-beens and never-weres aren’t needed come playoff time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Third Year

  Our church is in the planning stages of the annual Fall Festival. This is my 3rd year as chairperson of the committee, which was given to me when I was late to my first meeting in 2007. We have had 3 committee meetings this year and have not had the entire committee together once. At the meeting last Wednesday, we only had 3 members at the meeting (myself, Monica, and her husband Eldon who gave me the broken pawn you see at the top of this web page). In years past, I’d have been really upset at such disinterest, but now I see this as the typical fruits of the 3rd year.

  When I took over the Iowa State Chess Association’s scholastic chess department in 2006, I was received with great enthusiasm. At the time, I thought it was due to my energetic and dynamic personality, but my main advantage was that I was not the last scholastic director (who many people had a lot of issues with). I made quite a few mistakes in the first year, but they were barely noticed because I was not the last guy. The second year on the job was my best work. I had learned from my mistakes, understood the technical demands of the job (scheduling, communications, etc…) and I was still not the last scholastic director. There were some small rumblings of dissatisfaction, but attendance at our tournaments was back on a upswing and I did not pay any attention to the rumblings as I was gearing up for an even more successful year ahead. In year 3, I was as technically adept as ever and attendance climbed even more, but the rumblings had turned into thunderstorms. The other IASCA tournament directors would run competing tournaments against the state scholastic events, people on one side of the state wanted to host the tournaments I had in the other side of the state and vice versa. At one tournament, trophies were awarded to the top 3 scores in each grade. When kids would tie for the third place trophy, I would award the trophy to one of the players on tiebreak and order trophies with personalized nameplates to be given to the rest of the players, instead of the normal practice of giving the tiebreak winner the trophy and saying tough luck to the rest of the kids. Even this started to backfire when the parents I was getting the trophies for would complain that their son’s trophy wasn’t the same size or had some other imperfection. I left the position after my third year and never had a chance to become as disliked as the last scholastic director.

  I’d been assembling my church newsletter for 8 years. Most months the newsletter was 4 pages, but if there were only a few submissions 2 pages would be printed. I had changed the format a couple times when asked and last year Father Jim gave me some newsletters from other churches. They all had lots of pictures and all were more than 4 pages. I mentioned that the newsletters were very nice and I could duplicate the formats if people would send me more pictures. At our March Stewardship meeting, Father Jim mentioned the last newsletter wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, had no value for the Hispanic people of the church, and the staff was ‘pushing-back’ on even printing it. He said all this in a matter of fact way, not insulting at all, and I wasn’t insulted either. It was just a case of ‘Year 3’ coming in ‘Year 8’. I finished the April newsletter and served notice that this would be my last newsletter. I even dropped off the Stewardship committee since my main contribution to that effort was the newsletter.

  I talked with a co-worker who had been on the job for 3 years. He mentioned to me how he was feeling less included in major decisions and meetings than he used to be and he was wondering why. I told him it was just his cycle and he should look for a way to re-invent himself so he can start another cycle in the same place rather than having to switch jobs. My conclusion is that in the cycle you start by being appreciated, then taken for granted, and finally reviled for the same qualities that got you appreciated in the first place. I managed to avoid that at the job I’d had for 13 years by converting our software to new technologies so I wouldn’t be reviled along with the old technologies.

  I don’t think this year’s fall festival will be like pushing string up a hill. I am of the view point that the committee members know what needs to be done and will get on task when necessary and no earlier. All the same, I’m very happy I said in 2008 that I would only be on the planning committee for 3 years.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chess Book Review – ‘Improve Your Chess at Any Age’ – Is there a fountain of youth?

There are a few proven and well-known subjects that will convince people to buy a chess book:
  1) The book to help your child to become a chess champion so all the other parents will be jealous of you.
  2) The opening book that you can study and immediately win games without having to play to play the middlegame or endgame.
  3) The book that shows you how to get better at chess even though your chess rating hasn’t shown any noticeable change in 20+ years and you are closer to being dead than being born.

  I’ve always been wary of books #1 and #2. Most of the really good young players I’ve met could beat me without ever having read a book. Opening books can help get easy wins against players I would have beaten anyway, but players that are better than me always seem to make some move that is not covered in the book and left to my own devices, I just get outplayed. I call it the talent factor. The best kind of opening book is one that explains the ideas behind the openings, but they are few and far between and still rely on your level of chess ability

  On the other hand, I’m a sucker for book type #3. The classic book in this genre is ‘Rapid Chess Improvement' by Michael de la Mazza, who advocated doing some of 1200+ chess tactic puzzles every day, building up slowly but surely, increasing the number of puzzles until after 127 days you do all 1200 puzzles at one sitting. It helped him win a large cash prize at the 2001 World Open, and then he immediately retired from chess. The idea has a lot of merit, but I didn’t have the time to devote to the regimen.

  There are also the 'system' books that tell you how to think and what to think about. The excellent CJ Purdy books by Thinker’s Press fall into this category. I find the Purdy system is very useful, but knowing what tactics to look for and recognizing and finding them over the board runs into the talent factor again. Looking for tactics is a great idea, but it doesn’t help if you can’t find them in the limited time over the board. The Purdy method has helped in my correspondence chess games where you have a couple of days to go over the moves.

  Last March, I found myself with a few extra dollars in my pocket and bought the book ‘Improve Your Chess at Any Age’ by Andres D. Hortillosa from The book advertises that Hortilossa’s method of chess improvement helped him to go from an unrated player to an international rating of 2199 and “that a player can improve at any age as long as he or she is inspired with the right attitude and enabled with the right thinking process“. The thinking is mostly a rehash of the Purdy system (look over the whole board, find threats, rank the threats, focus your response against the worst threats, make a mental list of moves to consider, make each move in your head, evaluate the threats after each proposed move, repeat until you think you have the best move) without a listing of the specific tactical ideas to consider. One idea I found interesting was instead of solving tactical puzzles from actual games, one should play the entire game to see how the tactic was set up.

  I looked up
Hortillosa’s chess record in the USCF database and was disappointed to see that while he was unrated on the international rating system, his national rating was 2101 in 1994, fell to 1900 by 1997 and stayed close to that rating until August 2008 and then lifted his national rating to 2000 in the next year, wrote his book, and has stayed around the 2000 rating since. A rating of 2000 is considered expert, 2200 is a national master level. (My son Matt's rating is 2080 and my rating is 1690). Hortillosa's international rating started at 2199 after his very successful first internationally rated tournament in Rhode Island in 2008, and has steadily fallen since to his current international rating of 2027. Apparently Hortilossa cannot improve his chess at his current age (although there may be some other reasons for the lack of improvement).

I think I can recap the method as such:
  1) Build your chess rating up to a high level
  2) Lose 200 rating points
  3) Hire a grandmaster coach
  4) Gain 100 rating points back
  5) Write a book on how to gain 100 points

  Luckily, there was much more to the book than helping players improve as it also covers many of the author’s games during the period of his rating improvement. I liked the games a lot. As a 1600+ rated player, I don’t think I get a lot out of going over grandmaster(2500+) games and it helped to look at the thought processes of a player rated at a level I could compete with. Hortillosa goes over the games with a lot of humility even in his wins and the back and forth nature of the games was very entertaining. There are enough diagrams that I could follow the games without having to have a board in front of me. The author has an old world style of wordplay that I found very attractive to read in a ‘Yoda’-like way. Here is a sample of some of his offerings.

On reviewing your games
  “Do not romanticize your wins because the only information these wins will give you are the errors of your opponents but not yours. You cannot gain from correcting their errors but you will by correcting yours”

On recovering from mistakes
  “One way of forgetting bad memories is to pretend that the current board position is the game starting position.”

On playing stronger players
  “Play like you are their equal and the brain may even surprise you”

On searching for moves
  “Finding pseudo-impossibilities over the board will secure easy escapes from lost positions and reward the determined player with unexpected points.”

  “Take the time to search for one move available to your opponent that has the force to effectively nullify the idea behind your plan.”

Practical chess advice
  “Positivism fuels energetic play and aptly reflects your move choices as they tend to be active rather than passive.”

  “Begin your search with the assumption that even in dire situations resources do exist.”

  “The possessor of the time advantage should strive to keep heavy pieces in play, especially the queen which has the most potent capability of exacting double attacks.”

On thinking like your opponent
  “What does he want? I didn’t know because I didn’t ask. If you do not ask, you will never look. And if you do not look, you will not find as well.”

  As a book to help the aging player improve, my money would have been better spent on buying directions to the Fountain of Youth from a traveling gypsy. But since I never would have bought the book unless I was searching for a quick fix, I consider myself lucky to have at least found an entertaining games collection and some useful advice and can recommend this book for entertainment if not a magic wand to improve your chess.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Day Birthday

Tuffy on May 2nd 2010. 14 years and 1 day old.

  I was all set to go to the state class championships in Pella Saturday, when work reared its unforgiving head and I ended up working from 9 hours between 5am and 11pm to help with the implementation of a new project and a month end run of a critical customer that was having a lot of problems. I was disappointed since I have done well in the last 2 class championships I played in, but work has to come first since my family and I are fond of eating.

  The bright side of having to stay home was that it was our youngest dog Tuffy’s 14th birthday and I got to take him for a couple of long walks. Tuffy has always been a bundle of energy. In early 1996, our beagle Queenie want into heat and was knocked up in our backyard. We didn’t get a good look at the offending dog and since I was hoping to breed Queenie with another beagle, took her to THE VET (that was the name of the office) for a morning-after shot. A few weeks later she started looking pregnant so I took her back to THE VET, who took an x-ray, said it probably a false pregnancy, but there were no puppies. 2 weeks later, Queenie started lactating and when I took her back to THE VET, her normal doctor was off and the substitute just tried to scare me into buying some heartworm medicine, instead of dealing with the issue at hand. That Tuesday night (May first, 1996), Queenie started howling like she was in terrible pain. I called THE VET, but got no answer. I took Queenie downstairs and Kathy stayed with her until after midnight, Queenie passed a bloody bag. Kathy broke open the bag and there was a puppy. He was the only pup in the litter, we had promised Matt that if Queenie ever had puppies we’d keep one, and after the shot and vet visits God must have wanted us to have this dog so we kept him and named him Tuffy since he had to be tough to even be born.

  Tuffy has always been much bigger than Queenie (55 lbs vs. 35 lbs.). I think that’s because he never had to fight any other puppies for food as a youngster. When he was younger he was sort of squatty, so I nicknamed him Lugnut, but he grew into a lean barrel-chested half-beagle. He always wags his tail a mile a minute and is just a happy dog, but he’s scared more than one stranger by barking at them and taking a few steps toward them.

  Tuffy is a food scrounge. When he is walking, he is always pulling from side to side and will scoop up anything he can find and gobble it down without breaking stride. Sometime I’m walking and I hear a crunch, look down, and there is Tuffy trying to swallow a chicken bone. He gives me a pretty dirty look when I grab a bone out of his mouth. He’s always sneaking into the kitchen and trying to steal Queenie’s food (Queenie is a slow eater). He’ll even try to stick his tongue in the rabbit’s cage and try to grab the baby carrots we feed it.

  One morning years ago, I was working in the basement, and Tuffy was hanging out with me. Then he threw up and looked miserable. I went to clean it up and he had thrown up cat poop. He was so embarrassed he couldn’t even look at me. I told him “if you’re going to eat from the cat box, at least keep it down so I don’t have to clean it up”. He hid for awhile, but was quickly back to his fun-loving self.

The quintessential Tuffy picture, taken around 2000. He has always been fun loving and energetic.

  Tuffy has lost a lot of his hearing and is blind in one eye, but he is still the same energetic, happy dog he’s always been. He is a great companion and is one of the best friends I ever had. For his birthday, I walked him and his mom to the convenience store ¾ of a mile away at 5 in the morning, got them both a beef stick and at 5 in the afternoon, Kathy and I took them out again for another beef stick. On the way back, with Tuffy pulling Kathy all the way, he suddenly stopped and shoved his head into the sidewalk and was munching on a pack of licorice left on the sidewalk. Nothing like a little birthday desert!