i am still around and playing just been busy. :-)
biggest thing i have learned in the last few months is due to the ICC games i have been watching. the five minute blitz games of really strong players are pretty interesting. also i read the josh waitzkin book The Art of Learning. which is a bit less about learning and a bit less about chess but a lot about life and some good stuff on the micro digging needed to be good at something. i would suggest reading it - even though you will not learn any chess from it you will learn something of what a successful chess and martial arts guy does. one of his best comments is about investing in loss. you learn by losing more than winning. and winning makes you think you are doing things right. but losing gets you to become better.
but back to the five minute blitz games. i spent some time watching these guys play and sometimes they think for about 10-20 seconds and other times when things seem really complicated to me they just move really quick. and its because they are good at something called chunking. they chunk about 3 peieces together and know how they work. like Q-N-B and how to get something done with that. also they know when they can not get something out of that. both guys do. and so they dont have to work out how they attack or defend with 3 peices, to them its JUST ONE PEICE. they chunk it together. and so thats the great time saver. its just what the machine does, the Q-N-B machine can do this or that. and they know when to use it. unlike me who has to multiply all the different things together and then see what all it can do and whether each of the 30 different uses of a Q-N-B are applyable. to better players all that how a tool works is figured. all they have to do is drive it. sorta like a person knows how to drive a car. AND play with its radio, and adjust the AC and use a turn signal and turn on the wipers and... to a 4 year old the car is a bunch of separate tricky things. but not to the experienced driver.
so i am going to learn to chunk stuff together. afterall i already know how to win with a Q-K vrs a K. ( as the easy example ) its just easy. but its because the options are limited and straight forward. i of course can do other stuff too... more difficult things. but i would guess i am about a 3 on the 10 scale for depth of such Chunks. so this is my busy beaver thingy i have been working on.