A female dog.  

A woman with some flaw.

Anything you want it to be?

The first step in effective communication is precision.  You want to convey your thought, feeling, idea, objection, or judgement in such a way that your audience cannot misunderstand you.

This morning as I journaled I wanted to use the word “Bitch” to describle a trio of individuals.  I needed one word to convey a craven, cowardly, passive-aggressive, backstabbing, mean-spirited, medding person.  Unfortunately, bitch just didn’t cut it.

First of all, I am old-school enough that, to me, this is not a word to throw around lightly.  It is a word to use for effect.  It is perhaps the second or third worst word you can throw at a woman.

Second, I was not trying to describe females.  Strike two against its use.

Third, just way too ghetto for me.

So, back to my dilemma, and I need the help of my more literate friends.  What is another word to use?  How can I be an Ernest Hemingway (Don’t use fifteen words when one will do) rather than a Stephen King (Use as many words as possible to convey even the simplest ideas)?

Let me know my fellow word engineers…



I am kind.
I am gentle.
I am funny.
I am smart.
I am generous.
I am loyal.
I am a San Franciscan.
I am an Italian-American.
I am inquisitive.
I am impulsive.
I am a father.
I am a husband.
I am a man.
I am a player of games.
I am a writer.
I am an observer.
I am a chronicler of my life and times.
I am a Giants fan.
I am studious.
I am a lover of bacon.
I am a teacher.
I am a scholar.
I am a neurotic.
I am a worrier.
I am calm in a storm.
I am the walrus.
I am my own worst enemy.
I am my own best friend.
I am the tipping point.
I am the quiet one.
I am brave.
I am a survivor.
I am the last who shall be first.
I am the one you wish you had known.
I am the one they warned you about.
I am the missing piece.
I am a born-again optimist.
I am a student of human moves.
I am a chef.
I am a meat artist.
I am a neo-Beat.
I am a poet.
I am the crazy uncle you both love and fear.
I am the one who over-values the past.
I am ambitious.
I am the product of an unconventional youth.

The Death of Customer Service…Part 2

As someone who has worked in some part of the customer service industry most of my adult life, I have seen and heard some remarkable things. I have had people cry when I was able to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem for them and the sheer joy of telling one of my employees about a rave review one of our customers gave them.

Most customers are neither good nor bad. They come in, get what they want, and leave. Another large percentage are a joy. They smile, say thank you and please, display common courtesy, manners, and respect.

Unfortunately, there is a growing instance of the customers from hell. I would still say they are a very minor part of the public, but I think their ranks are growing. Their negative impact on our lives is so great it tricks us into thinking there are more of them than there truly are.

I am not talking about the mildly unpleasant, but those who are so negative in biblical proportions. They are mean and rude just because they can be, or because they don’t know how else to act. It is as if someone, somewhere told these dementors it is alright to act this way, that the rules of common courtesy don’t apply to them.

What I would like to know is who was the idiot who told people that giving voice to your dark self ever got you anywhere?

Think about a retail job you have ever worked. Did someone screaming at you, complaining, and questioning your parentage and competence make you want to help them more? Did a litany of course language and insults spur you on to give your best?

I didn’t think so.

And how many of you ever worked somewhere where the expectation from management was that you take such treatment with a smile, because the customer is always right?

It’s just one more symptom of a society that encourages shifting the responsibility for our own shortcomings onto everyone else.   We fix the blame instead of the problem.

Next time you are out there and your service is a little slow, look around and see how many people that waitress has to deal with in addition to you.  When you are in line notice how hard that singular clerk is working before unloading your own frustrations on her.  BUt if you really want to improve customer service across the board, tell that worker’s manager what a great job they are doing.  Positivity is contagious.  When others see the good ones being recognized, they will want the same.

It isn’t always someone else’s fault.  Sometimes responsibility is no father away than tyhe nearest mirror.


Whenever I have a bad experience in chess, I always joke that I am going to give it up and take up some other game. I have never played Pinochle in my life, but for some reason in the clever-clever land that is my brain, it just sounds right.

Over the weekend of August 15-17, I went down to Fresno and played in the Central California Open chess tournament. Well, maybe “played” is exaggerating a bit. Several times I sat at a table, across from another person. A chess board and pieces sat between us. I guess I moved some pieces and punched a clock. All resemblance to chess ends there.

Even in the first tournament I ever played in I got a forfeit win. Through my twenty or so years in the Class E rating basement I never before played in a contest without scoring at least one point.

Until this month.

The last two Swiss tournaments I played in (The East Bay Open and the Golden State Open) I actually placed in the money. I saw my rating go in the right direction (up!) toward my first rating goal for 1400. I was starting to feel like I had finally gotten in touch with that cosmic, ethereal, mystical force of the universe called chess skill.

All those thoughts came tumbling down in Raisinville.

Not only was it humiliating, it wasn’t even consistent. I made every possible kind of error there is. I miscalculated, I hung pieces, I played poorly in the opening. My endgame play was flawless, but only because I played so badly none of my games got that far.

I endured a kid smirking at me after he obtained a Royal Fork. I shrunk before a tournament newbie oozing joy at his first EVER tournament win. I lost round three to a teenager who I saw CRYING when a little kid beat him in round 2. Round four saw me playing the highest-rated player in the section pissed off and trying to prop up his delicate ego by trampling on my carcass.

Round Five? In a act of self-preservation I withdrew and got an early start home. Three hours to contemplate an ego thrashing of near biblical proportions!

It is easy to scoff at fear and failure if you have never experienced them, or if you are so good at what you do that it’s been awhile since these hobgoblins invaded your mind or soul. For the rest of us (I conservatively estimate 98.4632% of the population) how we deal with them is an often-defining part of our life and who we are. After food, clothing, and shelter beating back our fear is a vital concern.

But you know what? I think a dose of defeat every once in awhile is a good thing. It gives you perspective and reminds you that no matter how good or prepared you are for anything, there is always more you can learn and do. You never really reach a finish line in life. Every time you finish one race, or accomplish one goal, that spot becomes a new starting gate.

After my two great money wins I really thought I had things worked out. I half-heartedly did some tactical puzzles and went over some openings prior to this tournament. It is easy to say that I will never be a world champion at chess, that it is only a game, and what does it matter.


Life is nothing if you aren’t obsessed, and chess is one of mine. There is always the possibility I will get better, that I will gain the heights I dream of, not to mention it is a pretty fun game.

With this in mind I take my lumps, lick my wounds, and move on. Study, practice, analyze and repeat. Keep trying, forgive my weaknesses but push myself forward. Have a short memory for mistakes and a long one for lessons.

I debated whether to include my games from Fresno with this post, as they are of little use to other chess players, with no theoretical novelties or well-thought out and executed tactical combinations. In the end I decided to include them because everybody can use a good laugh.

Even at your own expense! (g)

[Event “Central California Open”]
[Site “Fresno, CA”]
[Date “2014.08.15”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Huang, Patrick”]
[Black “D’Alfonsi, Michael J”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C02”]
[WhiteElo “1449”]
[BlackElo “1245”]
[PlyCount “27”]
[EventDate “2014.08.??”]
[EventRounds “5”]
[EventCountry “USA”]
[SourceDate “2009.02.01”]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bd3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nxd4 8.
Nxd4 Bb4+ 9. Nc3 Bc5 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. Bxd7+ Kxd7 12. Qa4+ Ke7 13. Nf5+ exf5 14.
Nxd5+ 1-0

[Event “Central California Open”]
[Site “Fresno, CA”]
[Date “2014.08.16”]
[Round “2”]
[White “D’Alfonsi, Michael J”]
[Black “Sturges, Devery”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B03”]
[WhiteElo “1245”]
[PlyCount “74”]
[EventDate “2014.08.??”]
[EventRounds “5”]
[EventCountry “USA”]
[SourceDate “2009.02.01”]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Bc4 Nb6 5. Bb3 dxe5 6. Qh5 e6 7. Qxe5 Nc6 8.
Qb5 a6 9. Qd3 Nxd4 10. Nd2 Be7 11. Ngf3 c5 12. O-O Bf6 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Ne4
Be7 15. Qg3 O-O 16. Bh6 g6 17. Ng5 Re8 18. Rfe1 Nd5 19. Bxd5 exd5 20. Nf3 Bf6
21. Qd6 Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 Be6 23. Qf4 Bf5 24. Nxd4 Qd7 25. Nxf5 Qxf5 26. Qe3 Qc8
27. Qf3 Bxb2 28. Re7 Qf5 29. Qb3 Bd4 30. Be3 Bxe3 31. fxe3 Rc8 32. Qxb7 Rxc2
33. Qb8+ Kg7 34. Qe5+ Qxe5 35. Rxe5 Rxa2 36. Rxd5 a5 37. Rd1 a4 0-1

[Event “Central California Open”]
[Site “Fresno, CA”]
[Date “2014.08.16”]
[Round “3”]
[White “D’Alfonsi, Michael J”]
[Black “Cabantac, Oscar”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B50”]
[WhiteElo “1245”]
[BlackElo “1528”]
[PlyCount “58”]
[EventDate “2014.08.??”]
[EventRounds “5”]
[EventCountry “USA”]
[SourceDate “2009.02.01”]

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d6 3. Nf3 g6 4. Bc4 e6 5. O-O Bg7 6. d4 cxd4 7. cxd4 Ne7 8. Qb3
O-O 9. Nc3 Nbc6 10. d5 Na5 11. Qb4 Nxc4 12. Qxc4 a6 13. dxe6 Bxe6 14. Nd5 Kh8
15. Bg5 f6 16. Bh4 Rc8 17. Qb3 b5 18. Rac1 Rc5 19. Nd4 Bg8 20. Qf3 Nxd5 21.
exd5 Bxd5 22. Qh3 Re8 23. Rce1 Bc4 24. Ne6 Rxe6 25. Rxe6 Bxf1 26. Qe3 Re5 27.
Rxe5 dxe5 28. Qf3 Bc4 29. b3 e4 0-1

[Event “Central California Open”]
[Site “Fresno, CA”]
[Date “2014.08.17”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Ye, Grant”]
[Black “D’Alfonsi, Michael J”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C06”]
[WhiteElo “1341”]
[BlackElo “1245”]
[PlyCount “47”]
[EventDate “2014.08.??”]
[EventRounds “5”]
[EventCountry “USA”]
[SourceDate “2009.02.01”]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Ne2 Be7 7. Nf3 O-O 8. O-O
Nb4 9. Bb5 a6 10. Ba4 b5 11. Bb3 c5 12. c3 Nc6 13. Be3 Qb6 14. Bc2 f6 15. Qd3
f5 16. Ng5 c4 17. Qd2 Bxg5 18. Bxg5 b4 19. Rfb1 b3 20. axb3 cxb3 21. Bd3 Na5
22. Qe3 Nc4 23. Qf3 Nd2 24. Bxd2 1-0

“Women’s” Issues

I find it very disturbing when I hear men talk about women’s issues. Most men think the fact they are good to the females in their life is enough. “I would never hit her” is the beginning and the end of their involvement.

This is the gender equivalent of N. I. M. B. Y. (Not In My Back Yard) thinking. If it does not directly affect me it is not my problem. It is a fallacy. None of us lives in a vacuum or on an island. We live in an interconnected world and the most seemingly unrelated occurrence can have the most profound effect on our lives.

Whenever I hear a fellow male scoff at or ignore something like a Take Back The Night walk or Breast Cancer Awareness Month I ask a simple question: “Do you have a mother?”

That’s right. Though we may not worry about breast cancer, even though it affects 1 in 1000 men, we all have mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and daughters. Anything that would happen to one of our loved ones should be of concern to us.

Next time you see an article on domestic violence, stop and read it before proceeding to the sports or business section. Play in a golf tournament or do something positive to support these causes that you may not think is your worry. It might be that little girl in your living room playing with Barbies whose life and well-being you are protecting.

“Divergent” is a Right-Wing Paranoid Fairytale (SPOILERS FOLLOW)

Went to see Divergent last night with my wife. She loved the books, I have not read them. More of an excuse for a date than anything else. It was a pretty good film, nothing great but I didn’t want to demand my money back!

So today I was driving with my daughter and just started thinking about the story. Pieces fell into place. Revelations were revealed.

Divergent is the biggest neo-con fantasy since Red Dawn!

In Red Dawn the Cubans invade and what’s the first thing they do? Track down and confiscate everyone’s guns!

Think about Divergent. In the post-atomic horror the liberal intelligentsia (Erudite) plot to destroy society and take over everything for themselves. The first thing they do is subvert conservative gun owners (Dauntless) and use them as a tool for their own evil plans. The only thing that stops them are a couple of gun-toting individualists (Wolverines?).

As it always is in the conservative world, guns=good and thinking=bad.

So, the smart group and the kind group are both portrayed as evil by someone. The gun-toters are the good guys. The only bad things they do are only because they were brainwashed. In the next movie will there be a sixth faction, the “desert people” who will bring down the Sears Tower?