When I go over to Mom and Dad’s, sometimes we play dominoes. Our go-to game is Mexican Train.

Dad was at choir practice last night so it was just mom and I. We decided to alter the rules and play with a double 10 set of dominoes and start with 12 each instead of 15.

It was very pleasant. Not too much thinking and the rounds didn’t last too long.

Mom started building a tower, so I thought I’d build one too. I had an idea to make it triangular instead of square. That turned out to be pretty stable.

I got it pretty high

dominoes in front of me

A tower of dominoes only lasts so long

This is after the inevitable.
dominoes spread across the table
Mom had the camera pointing at me just as it fell, but she jumped out of surprise so there aren’t any pictures of the demolition.

I was wrrrr

I was wrrr
I remember Happy Days where Fonzie (Henry Winkler) was so macho he couldn’t say “I was wrong.”

When I’m trying to figure out why something is wrong, it’s easier to blame someone else. Usually, my first guess is not “It’s my fault.” However, I’ve learned that if I’m programming and I think it’s a compiler bug, I’m probably wrong.

I have a spreadsheet of driving statistics from 2003 to 2017. I was cleaning house this month, looking for old documents to scan before I shredded them. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few months of gas receipts from 2010 that weren’t in the spreadsheet. Score!

I entered the data and wanted to include it in my summary table showing each year’s totals.

I got a new row for 2010 set up. But 2010 had $0.00 spent and 0.000 gallons and wouldn’t show what I expected. It was very frustrating. I was trying to force Excel to do-the-right-thing and calculate those values and it refused to. Matrix formulas were a new to me, so I thought it must be some subtle Excel flaw. (Thinking along the lines of it’s someone else’s fault.)

I was getting pretty frustrated until I looked at my table a little closer. All of the other rows had the beginning date on the right and the ending date to the left, backwards!

When I added a 2010 row, I had entered the dates normally. Oops! I was wrong. Rather than kick myself, I just swapped the dates.

It wasn’t a (figurative) compiler bug after all nor someone else’s fault. I wonder how often I make equivalent assumptions in real life?

After trying to tell myself the backwards columns were too much work to fix, I noticed how much time I had already wasted because they were wrong. It turns out, Excel is smart and it was trivial to fix.

Table of gas usage statistics
(The 2010 receipts didn’t have mileage and the table shows zeros for that data.)

Replace windows 8 disk, episode 2

So, I replaced the disk that was ruining my system and got everything back to where I started. but…

… the new disk has the exact same symptoms… lots of data errors and seek errors, no bad sectors and 5 to 10 second average access times.

Now I need to do more sleuthing to find out if I’m just unlucky and got two drives with the same problem (which sounds really unlikely) or there’s some other problem going. The troubleshooting tool from the PC’s manufacturer didn’t find any problems which is a problem in itself. It’s really fishy.

I dusted off my Linux box that I hadn’t used for 5+ years. The goal with the Linux box is to not need to tackle Windows malware at the same time.

There’s some Linux bit rot going on because the display is stuck at 640 x 480. I’m fighting with the X configuration file but am not making a lot of headway. The auto-config dumps on me.

I’m finding clues that the Linux box had vmware installed on it. I can’t get it to launch. (It might be because of the screen resolution?) The old virtual machines I have scattered on backup discs are incompatible with modern vmware.

It would be awesome if I got vmware to work because I have antique versions of Windows (98 and Millennium edition) and antique versions of Microsoft Office (2000 and XP) that would be fun to play with again. I have a matching vmware install disk, but that’s for another day.

Repair windows 8 main disk

I needed to upgrade the main disk on my Windows 8 computer. I was fortunate that the old disk allowed me to make a system image. (Monty Python: “I’m not dead.”)

I followed the instructions on a very helpful blog post “Simple steps for replacing your Windows 8.1 system disk with a bigger drive

Everything went as directed until I got to the error message “The system image restore failed. Windows cannot restore a system image to a computer that has different firmware. The system image was created on a computer using EFI and the computer is using BIOS.”

I did an investigation of the error message using my current research workflow. (Just started using that workflow, so I have to mention it. One of its greatest attributes is that it prevents me from jumping down rabbit holes when I’m trying to learn something specific.)

The short answer:

Recent PCs can boot in two ways. One uses the old technique from a BIOS and another uses a different method called UEFI. (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) The solution was to boot the prepared USB drive the same way that the original hard drive boot used.

I found the keypress I needed to go into the boot menu, (For my computer it was F12. Other computers might use other keys.) I picked the option to boot my USB drive with EFI instead of BIOS and now the data is being restored successfully.

….It’s easy to find a long answer to solve the problem.

The firehose… what a Genius!

The Firehose feature of is cool. It is a (figurative) firehose spewing out all of the activity on the site. It reminds me of Tweetdeck. To sample the firehose, you need to be logged in.

I see that some of the user names are (more than a little) sketchy. (Other sites I visit would ban them day zero.) I find the site pretty light-hearted—‘bad’ people get put in a penalty box (à la hockey) and people who are banned often get a chance to leave a parting message (which is just goofy).

Commenting in the forums requires more IQ than I have right now. Right now my project (quest) is to get all of the metadata for the group Saga corrected. Right now everything Saga is listed under the rapper Saïga. The real Saga from Canada is nowhere to be found. I guess I’m passionate about Saga…. having over 30 discs on my shelf.

There are plenty of lyrics websites. The closest one to Genius that I’ve found is Song Meanings. Both Genius and Song Meanings are crowd-sourced. But, Genius is hands down the winner.

The artists are part of the Genius community and often contribute textually or with song breakdown videos. Linkin Park Breaks Down “Good Goodbye” On Genius’ Video Series ‘Verified’ was one of the first I saw, before Chester Bennington’s suicide.

My vote of confidence for Genius is that I prefer to add when I’m using a search engine. surprise

Excited Talk
In searches on and, you can add a clause “site:some-domain” to your search.

For example, a duckduckgo search “ end-of-life” will offer many articles that the native Wikipedia search can’t find. Some of those titles include Product lifecycle and End of Life Vehicles Directive

I wanted to be a clever and ask the search engines to look at itself to give me an answer. I quickly discovered that asking Google “” is incredibly useful.

Most of the results come from In other words, this style of query searches Google’s vast collection of blogs and news feeds.

It’s an awesome tool!!! It narrows my searches in a very useful manner.

And I’ve only scratched the surface. For example, in an advanced search query “Last update” does what it should. Google will find blog posts from the past year, month, week or 24 hours.

Uncanny world – the grocery store

Last week I did a test to see whether I still needed to eat gluten free. So far I’m ok eating not gluten free.

However the experiment veered quite expensive Sunday. I was pulling up to a gas station for a donut and hit the curb on the way in and hard! My car made odd noises as I left.

I went to the shop a couple days later, fearing the worst—that I’d did some extensive damage. Fortunately, not, but I needed a front end alignment. So, the donut ended up costing $85.69. $0.69 for the pastry and $85 to align the suspension. I hope the donut was worth it.

Today, I went to two local grocery stores without restricting my shopping list. It was weird not knowing what to buy, since for so long, most of the store was off limits.

I ended up buying Wheat Chex, whole wheat flour and didn’t need to question the other things I got.

It was a very uncanny experience….