Category Archives: Administrative

Back In The US of A

We just landed in New York from London, and have been up for 18 hours. The bad news: We still have a six-hour flight to LA, which gets in at 2 AM. The good news? We got upgraded.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, the other bad news. The plane is late.

[Saturday-morning update]

OK, the good news is that the plane was just a few minutes late, and we got into LA pretty much on time. The better news is that with our business-class upgrade, which allowed me to fully recline, I actually slept on a plane for the first time in my life. I’m up at 8 AM in CA (it’s 4 PM in London), making coffee and getting my body on Pacific time, ASAP. Hopefully by Monday with a good night’s sleep tonight.

American seems to have

Travel Update

We celebrated New Years Eve in Paris, in a sixth-floor apartment we rented with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s just a couple blocks from the Sorbonne and the Pantheon.

Unfortunately, it’s socked in, but we could see the lights through the mist. They started sparkling an hour before midnight, and then again as the hour hit. Not a lot of fireworks here, but we saw a few out that window, and others out the loft window toward Notre Dame. But the Parisians were cheering in the streets.

The trip has been pretty much stab/explosion/truck-attack free so far. Apparently they weren’t so fortunate in Istanbul; the Jayvee team struck again last night.

But it’s cold. Below freezing last night, and probably tonight as well. But we’re cozy, and we’ll be going out this afternoon to check out the Cathedral. But right now we’re heating croissants in the oven and making scrambled eggs with Welsh cheddar, and gravlox from Norway, with leftover oven-fried potatoes from dinner last night.

[Update a few minutes later]

Oh, and bonne annee to my readers.

[Monday-morning update]

Yes, speaking from current experience, international travel is so much better than it used to be.

We’re off to the Louvre. We could walk, but it’s rainy and chilly. We’ll probably take Uber.

Merry Christmas, And Happy New Year

And Happy Chanuka, to all my readers.

Posting will be light/non-existent for the next couple weeks. Patricia and I are flying to London tomorrow evening, for our first real vacation in a long time, and we’re scrambling around, while making a Christmas Eve dinner, to prepare for the trip. We’ll be there, and on the Continent (largely Benelux and France), and back on January 7th.

2016 has been a rough year (even ignoring the politics), with the death of Patricia’s eldest brother and mother, and all the time I spent in Florida getting the house ready to sell. But we sold it, and she has a new job, and we’re going to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris, where neither of us have ever been. We’ll try not to get blown up or stabbed or run over.

[Christmas-morning update]

I’ve always thought that the Wexford Carol was one of the most beautiful. Hard to imagine it being done better than this.

And on a lighter note, “I Saw Daddy Pat Down Santa Claus.”

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, this is heartwarming.

[Update a while later]

It’s that crucial time of year to give your cat an annual performance review.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

I know I shouldn’t complain in southern California, considering how brutally cold it is back east, but we woke up this morning to a 63-degree house, and listening to a struggling furnace on the morning after the coldest night of the season to date. The blower seems to be on the fritz.

On a Sunday.

I had other plans today, but I’m going to have to take it apart, and see if I can fix it. It’s twelve years old. Hoping it’s just a bad capacitor. I doubt I’d be able to find a replacement motor today.

[Update a few minutes later]

Not really complaining, and have no right to. If we were back east right now, this would be life threatening, and we’d either have to get an emergency HVAC guy in, or find somewhere else to stay, but for us, it’s just an inconvenience. Worst case is extra blankets tonight, and I’ll find a replacement motor (or limit switch, or whatever the problem is) tomorrow.

But it’s also a reminder of how thin the veneer of modern technology can be, and that nature is not our friend. Whatever the climate is doing (and anyone who claims they can confidently predict it out decades is either fooling themselves, or attempting to fool us), we have to maintain enough societal wealth to deal with it. The policies promulgated by those who insist we can control the climate would have the opposite effect.

[Monday-morning update]

When we woke up this morning, temp in the house was 61 F. A couple hours later, it’s down to 60. It will probably warm up when the sun gets higher, but high temp today is only predicted to be 67.

In troubleshooting, I’ve learned two things: 1) Modern gas furnaces are complicated as copulation and 2) the burner isn’t lighting, which is why the blower motor isn’t bothering to. The status light isn’t flashing any of the error codes in the manual, just steady on, the way it’s supposed to if everything is copacetic, so it’s not useful for diagnostics. I’m suspecting the gas valve (a problem with which the control board would be unaware), but not sure how to tell if it’s working. Could also be the igniter, except I’d think I’d at least momentarily smell gas if that were the problem. Anyway, I’ve got to go start poking at things with a VOM.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, I am briefly smelling gas when it tries to start up, so the valve seems to be working. Now suspecting igniter:

1. Remove burner compartment door to gain access to the ignitor.
2. Disconnect the ignitor from the Ignition Control.
3. Using an ohmmeter measure the resistance of the ignitor.
4. Ignitor cool should read between 40 to 75 ohms.
5. Reconnect ignitor.
6. Place unit in heating cycle, measure current draw of ignitor during preheat cycle. Should read approximately 4 to 4.5 amps.
7. If ignitor is receiving 115 Volts and will not light, replace.
8. After check and/or replacement of hot surface ignitor, reinstall burner compartment door and verify proper unit operation.

Supposed to be 40-75 ohmns, showing infinite. That seems like the problem. Looks like they’re about $20. Now to go out and find one.

[Update a while later]

OK, a replacement (and improved version) was $42 bucks. The old one had clearly failed; you could see the burn through in the element that had opened it up. It probably got hit by a piece of dust or something when it was hot. House is now warming up.

[Update a while later]

Temp is up to 64 degrees and rising. In retrospect, I would have saved time if I’d relied on Occam: If something isn’t igniting, first check to see if there’s ignition.

Further thoughts: Pilotless ignition saves fuel, and is probably more reliable, but if a pilot blows out, it doesn’t cost $40+ to relight it.

Anyway, I understand my furnace much better now. It was the first time since we had it installed a dozen years ago that I’d opened it up to see how it works.


No, not the theory, the software. Is there some good reason why it won’t synchronize with an IMAP server? I have this crazy idea that if email gets marked as junk locally, it should be removed from the inbox on the server, but it doesn’t happen. I don’t see it in the local inbox, but if I look at the server with roundcube, it’s all still there, and I have to manually remove it. The only thing I can find in a search to deal with it is to use offlineimap to synch, and point Evolution at the local files. But that seems like a PITA to set up. Why does this have to be so hard?

Off The Air

For those wondering, I flew from LA to Dallas on Thursday, and drove down to Austin, to attend the New Worlds Conference. Patricia flew in to Austin on Saturday, and we’re spending a couple days in Texas Hill Country. I’m sitting in a little house we rented in Comfort, overlooking a creek and deer in a natural meadow across it. A couple of them came up to the window last night and looked in. Between funerals and family visits, and house renovation, it’s the first real vacation we’ve had in a while.

I should be back in the saddle (so to speak) on Wednesday, surveying the aftermath of the electoral disaster to come (regardless of the outcome).

SSD Question

Patricia’s Windows machine is almost out of disk, because I have the OS installed on a 120G SSD. I have a spare 240, but it’s been used for another OS. Do I need to wipe the bigger drive first to use it, or can I just DD the contents of the smaller one to the bigger one, and it will all be available?

[Update a while later]

OK, from what I can tell, since I’m not trying to wipe the drive, just make it all available to Windows, it looks like the way to go would be to get anything off it I want (probably nothing), format it in Windows, then dd the old drive to new?

[Update a while later]

OK, I formatted the drive in Windows, in a single NTFS volume that filled it. I copied the old OS to the newly formatted drive. It boots fine, but it only shows as 120G drive. When I use Windows disk tools to look at it, it shows half of the volume as unallocated. But it won’t let me expand it, because it’s the system disk. When I boot from the other drive to try to expand it, it simply shows it as a 240G drive. How am I supposed to recover the rest of the drive for use?

[Friday-morning update]

I didn’t update yesterday, but I rebooted with the original drive, then expanded it using the Windows tools. Unfortunately, it now refuses to boot. I get a blue screen with an error that C:\System32\Winload.efi is missing or corrupted. When I look at it, it’s exactly the same as the one on the original drive, so I suspect that it’s misdiagnosing the problem, but don’t know where to go from here. I ran chkdsk on it, but to no avail, keep getting same error message.

[Saturday-morning update]

OK, I tried again, except this time, I used the software that Lifehacker recommended. It cloned the drive, and it booted just fine. But as with dd, it cloned it so well that it made half the disk unavailable. And as before, when I used Windows disk management to expand the partition, it breaks it in such a way that it not only won’t boot, but Windows installation disk can’t fix it.

Next I’m going to try cloning only the front partitions, and then format the rest of the disk in NTFS, and copy the files from command line.

Computer Problem

I’ve got a weird problem with Patricia’s Windows 8.1 machine. It stopped working while I was in Florida, dying without her being able to restart it. When I got back, I turned off the supply, then back on, and then it booted up (though sometimes it took almost forever). But it kept going to sleep without warning, and couldn’t be woken up without recycling the PS switch. I decided it was probably a bad power supply, the original one from the HP that she had bought, but that I’d kept when I upgraded the motherboard a year and a half ago. I went out and bought a whole new case (the HP case was a PITA to work on), and put in an older 580W supply that I’d had from a previous build. It worked for a day or so, but then started to flake out again in a similar manner. Since it was an old supply, I decided to just go out and buy a new one, a 500W for $40 at Fry’s. But it’s still acting up, so it has to be something other than the supply.

What I don’t understand is how it can not even start up the fans when I hit the front-panel switch. I sometimes have to leave it turned off for a while, which indicates a thermal issue, but just what is the signal to the supply from the MB to turn on? Is there any solution to this other than a new MB?

Python Problem

Anyone have any idea why the following script doesn’t work?

#!/usr/bin/env python3

# import modules used here — sys is a very standard one
import sys
#import re

# Gather our code in a main() function
def main():
infile = open(‘File1’, ‘r’)
outfile = open(‘File2’, ‘w’)
for line in infile:

#print(“Found string”)

# Standard boilerplate to call the main() function to begin
# the program.
if __name__ == ‘__main__’:

When I run it, it simply copies the old file to the new one, without doing the replacement. I know that it’s seeing the pattern, because if I run the replace function in an if statement, it says that it found it.