The last months, Ti got to calling me “mister chess”, which replaced “mister com’on” as her main moniker for me. I earned mister com’on, by being ready to leave the house sooner than she and saying com’on, let’s go a bit too much. She learned to give me a 10-minute delay, “Don’t come down to leave until I tell you”, which solved that problem.
For much of the winter, I would play chess on my phone against the app, in my spare time. I realized that while I have always really liked chess, playing it with friends and lovers ended up being a lose-lose for me. I don’t like being competitive with my significant other and even playing with her son Thien, who is a good beginning player, I didn’t want to beat him, so I would give myself a handicap and then be irritated when I lost, because even though I didn’t want to win, I am competitive and don’t like losing. A no-win situation or lose-lose.
Micah (my nephew and crew in 2016) and I played a board game called Empire Builder all the way from Ireland to Panama for that 10-month journey. It was a great game, because unlike chess, I felt I could experiment with different strategies that kept the game interesting for me. It wasn’t just about winning but coming up with new ways to win. While Micah was very competitive, and he beat me two thirds of the time and at times he accused me of not trying. But I was trying, just in my own way. Once I found a winning strategy, the fun for me was to change the strategy and see how else I could win. As I said, more often than not, it didn’t work, but I liked trying and didn’t mind losing to Micah as he is very smart, and he always made my brain work hard to succeed. A win-win.
But for me chess is different, and I realized I just don’t like playing against people, any real people, but against the computer is fine and enjoyable. Much like Empire Builder, I aim for about a 50% success rate, at which point I have the computer play at a higher skill level (basically it takes more time to go thru moves). Now I still got really irritated when I would lose stupidly, but I like the challenge.
To a certain degree, being up for the challenge is why I love teaching and education. In the classroom or in a school there are always challenges. I like the fact that these challenges change from kid to kid, from day to day. I get true satisfaction helping others help themselves.
That’s also the connection I have to boating and Dauntless. If I can help someone else not do the stupid, costly or just plain not needed thing that I did, I feel valuable, same as helping a student see why we have seasons or where the copper in that penny in our pocket was made.
So, it was a bit of a shock the other day when I realized that I had not played chess since getting back on Dauntless weeks ago. I wondered why?
Teaching, whether to adults for children, exercised my mind, like running a marathon, without ever leaving the room.
Being back on Dauntless, now presented me with a number of challenging systems’ issues:
- Rewiring my mast, moving instruments to collect better data and reduce cabling issues, so I’m not climbing up the mast in 15-foot seas because my wind instrument is not working and the higher the winds, the more I like seeing the numbers!
- Moving my fresh water tank selector valve to a place that is more accessible
- Moving the water maker test port and selector valve out of the engine room
These types of problems give my brain all the exercise it wants. I don’t need chess for now.
I also have some boring jobs:
- Replacing the seals in my water maker
- Taking my heat exchangers to be tested
- Replacing anodes (zincs) in said heat exchangers.
But when I finally get to those jobs, I will probably play chess again, because those jobs are just that, jobs. No challenges, I can’t make something better, all I need to do is make it the way it was.
Easy, but boring.
And that’s where Southeast Alaska comes in. Much like the Baltic cruise on 2015, I so looking forward to Southeast Alaska:
- New cruising grounds,
- new cultures to learn,
- new people to meet,
- new places to go
- beautiful nature.
I can’t wait.