Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Taking a Gamble

  I’ve been at my new job for 8 weeks now and am starting to settle in and find my niche. Working on new technologies is pretty challenging and there are days where I don’t know what I’m doing and I wonder why I left a job where I had things under control and wasn’t challenged at all. But then I start to figure things out and I feel great because I know how to do something I didn’t before and I’ve learned from experience that you can never tell which skill will lead to a bigger payoff down the road. I found out today that the company I was working for has merged with another bigger company, so my decision to switch jobs is looking better to me right now since the last time my place of employment changed ownership, I was being pointed toward the exit before the ink dried.

If there is a afterlife suitable for Osama Bin Laden,
forever being a cover boy on the Weekly World News would be close.

  President Obama made a big gamble when he sent in the squad to take on Osama Bin Laden earlier this week. I don’t know whether the mission was to capture or kill, but I remember how bad President Carter looked in 1980 when an attempted rescue of the Iranian hostages didn’t work. I’m not jumping up and down over Bin Laden’s death as he has been mostly an afterthought for many years, but it is great that no Americans were killed or captured in the process. Even acknowledging that the mission took place at all is a big gamble, despite its apparent success. Who knows what the most extreme of his followers will do in retaliation for their leader’s death? After 9-11, I was amazed at how many people in other countries were wearing Osama Bin Laden T-shirts. Whether this guy is dead or alive won’t change the fact that there are plenty of people in the world who hate America and want to damage our country. I like the idea of the burial at sea and I hope no pictures are ever released of the corpse (although some will certainly be leaked at some point). It would be a fitting end to Osama Bin Laden to be featured in the Weekly World News as being spotted alive right next to the article of Bat Boy’s latest exploits.

  I’d been looking for a free site to hold my youth chess tournament in the summer and run into a lot of dead ends. Jill Stiles, the parent of one of the chess players whose been attending the tournaments suggested I rent a shelter at a city park. The suburb towns of West Des Moines, Clive, and Urbandale wanted a lot of money to use their shelters, but I was able to rent a covered shelter on Des Moines south side. The south side of Des Moines has a reputation as the home of trailer park trash, so I held off on advertising the tournament until I could check the site out.

Can there be a better place for a summer chess tournament?
Only if my gamble on no rain and boom boxes pays off.

  I went to the park on Monday. It is a 10-minute drive from my workplace in downtown Des Moines. I was very pleasantly surprised. The park is in the middle of a secluded upscale neighborhood and the covered shelter has room for 80 players. If it rains, I can still have 60 dry players.

  Since a tournament outdoors is bound to have a lot of distractions, I decided to set up the tournament to be 3 hours long (instead of 5), have a minimal entry fee, forego the trophies and give medals out to everyone. I’m hoping that the parents who bring their players will take advantage of the surroundings to have a picnic and make the tournament a family outing.

  Having a chess picnic seems like a way-out idea, but even having a youth chess tournament in the teeth of the spring sports season like I’m having on May 14th is a gamble since I’ve never had more than 25 players in my previous May tournaments. After 5 monthly youth tournaments I should have enough of a base where I can get 30 players each month for a chess tournament and can budget around that.

  Since I have the shelter rented until 9 at night, I’m thinking about having an adult quick chess tournament after the youth tournament is over. It would be another gamble, but every decision is some sort of a gamble. Deciding to do nothing is still making a decision. Staying at my old job wouldn’t have looked like a gamble, but since companies don’t merge so they can hire more people, staying may have been a much bigger gamble than moving on. It’s easy to stick to the routine and delude yourself into thinking you’ve taken the prudent course, but there are going to be times when heading into uncharted waters is the safe play and playing it safe is the biggest gamble of all.