inside the man

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Starting a school go club

There are many things that I enjoy about the game of Go. One would be the great people that I have met - both online and in person - through the game. Another would be the satisfaction that I feel whenever I receive demonstrable proof that my knowledge of this fascinating game is improving. And a third would be sharing my love of the game with others that are open to learning it. It is this final point that motivated me to try starting up a go club at my children’s elementary school - Garneau School in Edmonton.

I am the father of six-year old twin girls. Much to my joy, they have been interested in playing the occasional game of 9-by-9 capture Go with me since they were four. In September 2005 they entered grade one. I soon noticed that the school had a number of lunch hour clubs for the older children, but nothing for the grades one and twos. Naturally, I thought, there should be a Go club to fill this void!

I found that the school principal, Crystal Mills, who runs the school chess club, was very supportive of the idea. In a matter of days, I had the music room booked every Thursday lunch hour and an announcement was made to parents in the school newsletter. The idea of a lunch hour club was such a novelty for the grades one and twos that on the first day, I found myself immersed in a sea of roughly 40 six and seven-year-olds all eager to learn about this intriguing game with stones that look like black and white candy. Over time, the participation level thinned out to a manageable 10 children per week. The kids are having a great time learning and playing and I am too! It is amazing to see them power through first-capture games on photocopied CGA 9-by-9 boards at lightening speed, and I can see that they are all improving week after week. I have just started trying out “territory Go” with them since the New Year. I cannot wait for the day that one of the children beats me with a two stone handicap - I will be so proud!

Tips for starting a school Go club
  • Use the great American Go Association "Teaching Go" page. It is full of wonderful resources. I used some of Susan Weir’s material to help explain the educational value of the Go club to parents.
  • Be prepared. Have a lesson plan for every club meeting. Younger children especially want to play, but some group teaching is necessary for them to improve. Decide whether you want to teach first-capture Go to start, as I did, or jump right into "real" Go.
  • Secure real glass Go stones - children love the tactile experience of handling the stones. Either borrow them from your local club or see if the school will invest in a couple of sets - they are readily available from online Go vendors. Just do not spend too much as the stone will get damaged over time no matter how careful you are. Do not worry too much about boards - at least initially - as photocopied 9-by-9 boards are all that you need to start.
  • For older children, consider using Hikaru-no-Go manga and anime as a teaching tool. I have not tried this with my group, but I am certain that it would work with older children.
I would like to say special thanks to the Edmonton Sabaki Go Club (your humble hosts for the 2006 Canadian Open in Edmonton on Labour Day weekend) who graciously loaned three sets of stones to support the Garneau School Go Club. Amazingly, the children have only broken a dozen of the glass stones so far - sorry, guys.

Monday, April 24, 2006

FIFA foolishness

I am, at best, an occassional fan of international football (a.k.a. soccer). I tend to perk up and pay attention every four years when the World Cup rolls around. While I cannot claim any level of expertise, I was shocked an dumfounded at the rediculousness of the recently published FIFA rankings heading into WC2006. The USA is fourth best team in the world? Ahead of such countries as Spain, Argentina, Italy, England, and Germany? And Italy is 14th place? Foolishness. Complete and utter foolishness.

The USA is in Group E along with Italy, the Czech Republic, and Ghana. I will be very surprised if we see anyone other than Italy and the Czech Republic advancing to Stage 2.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The two stage Easter egg rocket

I rigged up a two stage model to celebrate Easter this year. I don't know how it will fly, but it is interesting that it has a lot more propellant mass than anything else!

Two stage Easter egg rocket

Update: We did not get to launch this two stage baby yesterday on Easter as it snowed and rained of and on all day long. In the mean time, I did a little research into the technical characteristics of the two stage Easter egg. It is essentially comprised of 22 grams of egg, cardboard fin, and recovery wadding (stuffed inside the eggs to stabilize the motors); 18.8 grams of cardboard engine casing; and 21.6 grams of black powder propellant. If the rocket would fly vertically, which it won't, it would go pretty high - each of the C6 "booster" class engines averages 4.76 Newtons of thrust over 1.86 seconds.

Maybe we will have time to fire it off today...

Two stage Easter egg rocket

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

US government agencies breach privacy legislation

The Washington Post and SANS NewsBites report that a number of US government agencies are violating privacy legislation in the US$30 million business of buying data on law abiding citizens from data brokers.

"The Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and two other agencies examined by the GAO spent about $30 million last year on companies that maintain billions of electronic files about adults' current and past addresses, family members and associates, buying habits, personal finances, listed and unlisted phone numbers, and much more. But those agencies often do not limit the collection and use of information about law-abiding citizens, as required by the Privacy Act of 1974 and other laws."

This news comes hot on the heals of US Senator Patrick Leahy questioning the FBI's US$12 million five-year deal with ChoicePoint in the wake of ChoicePoint and LexisNexis selling files on nearly 200,000 individuals to "fraud artists" last year.

I knew that there was a large market for the services of data brokers, but it had not occurred to me that the US government was a significant client. Interested readers may want to look back to my post on data brokers and the privacy of Canadian citizens.


About Me

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Returned to working as a Management Consultant, specializing in risk, security, and regulatory compliance, with Fujitsu Canada after running the IT shop in the largest library in the South Pacific.

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