Friday, September 04, 2015


laptop fixed maybe

After consulting with the SpinRite folks and my personal IT guy, Tim Balough, I concluded the only way to do a complete SpinRite scan of Maria’s laptop hard drive would be to remove the drive and scan it without working through the problematic laptop motherboard.

I left the computer running last night – blank screen with just the cursor arrow showing.

When I returned to it this afternoon with the intention of performing surgery, I found Windows 7 running and asking for a password. I obliged and a minute or so later I had a screen full of icons presumably ready to do whatever I asked.

The only thing I can think of is that Windows 7 spent several hours sorting out what was ailing it and finally fixed itself.

We shall see. For Maria’s sake, I hope it’s a good solid fix.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


I occasionally get products through the Amazon Vine program that my wife might use.

I let her try the product and she gives me comments that I incorporate into my review.

Recently, I shared her observations about a Black & Decker steam iron:

I got this iron for my wife, who is an avid quilter and uses an iron in the quilt-making process. Here are her observations:
"This has absolutely the most intense steam I've ever seen come out of an iron.
"The sales pitch claims it will steam wrinkles out of hanging clothes in an upright position. I did the ultimate test. I hung a linen blouse that I'd taken from the dryer without ironing and worn TWICE. The 3/4 sleeves were especially wrinkly where I bend my arms, and the whole thing looked like it had been wadded.
"The iron relaxed all the wrinkles in the arm with one blast of steam. I would never have believed it.
"The point has a brilliant taper that allows entry into smaller spaces on clothing.
I primarily use irons for quilting and have had many. This one heats incredibly fast. I could use it in under a minute, even though the signal light for full heat wasn't on yet. I even got hard-core steam in under a minute.
"A warning: you could burn yourself on this steam. It is intense and fast. I would not let the grandchildren use this one on steam setting. The automatic shutoff is handy, and the iron reheats incredibly fast when you return to the ironing board. I had no disruption of work and did not have to wait for the iron to reheat between quilting tasks.
"The only drawbacks for me is that it is a dark color, which makes it a little hard to read the water level setting, and the icons are small for my older eyes. But neither of those issues is a deal breaker for me.
"It also has the easiest to use pour spout I ever encountered.
"This is a fantastic iron for this price point. I spent far more for less."

Sometimes people comment on the reviews and they’re almost always positive or at least constructive. I was startled this afternoon when a guy from New Jersey named Garrett J. O’Keefe wrote this:

Grandma using a term "price-point"?? The point has a "brilliant taper"?? "Relaxed the wrinkles"?? Almost had me with the "I wouldn't let the grandchildren use it on the steam setting", but Gotcha "grandma"!! Another phony review!

I looked his profile up and noticed that he has reviewed a whopping nine products on Here’s my reply:

"Grandma" is a 52-year-old newspaper editor with a vocabulary that apparently surprises you. She can also ride a motorcycle and handle a pistol or a shotgun and has been published in quilting magazines. I find your comments presumptuous and insulting. And I can assure you that this is a legitimate review. If you read more of my 357 reviews, you'll find plenty of instances where I recommend against buying products.


spinrite error msgI have dutifully reported this to Steve Gibson. If it doesn’t result in a fix for our laptop, maybe it will be useful for his research.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

SpinRite at work

spin rite maria

Maria’s laptop computer went all wonky this evening. Windows 7 spent several minutes trying to sort things out, but didn’t seem interested in launching Windows when it restarted.

I’ve had great results with Steve Gibson’s SpinRite. It rescued my 1TB hard drive in November, 2011 when I was afraid all was lost and it continues to work (knock on wood) today. Maybe I should run SpinRite on it as a maintenance measure…

Anyhow, I set Maria’s laptop up to boot from the CD drive, loaded SpinRite and put it to work on two segments of the hard drive that have significant data. It’s doing the smaller segment that represents about 2% of the drive data right now and will probably finish that job in about 20 minutes. Then it will work on the remaining 98%, which will probably take all night.

The cost of staying mobile

subaru tired and clean[4]

I’m hanging out at Panera with a cheese Danish and coffee this morning, having driven Maria to work because the Subaru is in the shop.

I drove the Subaru in to town yesterday morning to get a prescription filled at Sam’s Club. When I parked at Sam’s Club, I noticed steam rising from the hood. I popped the hood and found water/coolant sprinkled about the engine compartment.

After getting my prescription and a 50-pound bag of IAMS dog food, I took the car to a nearby Gateway Tire shop where we have most of our auto service done and left it for diagnosis, hoping it was just a cracked radiator hose. After all, the car is 13 years old with nearly a quarter-million miles on the odometer. The rubber hoses have to be showing their age.

One of the Gateway guys called me later in the day with the bad news – I need a new radiator for $385. Considering that I paid about $500 for a radiator for my 1995 Honda del Sol a few years ago, I figure this is a reasonable figure.

So I will to and fro in the Lexus today until I get word that the Subaru is fixed.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday, Jack


Our boy Jack, aka Briarbrooks Gentleman Jack Flora, is four years old today.

His forebears include two Best of Breed winners at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, so he comes by his good looks naturally.

We waited more than a year to send in the AKC registration paperwork because we couldn’t settle on a name.

His kind nurturing behavior toward Dora when she came to us as a 6-week-old puppy made it clear that he’s a true gentleman.


Monday, August 31, 2015

It opened this morning

sonic open

The new Sonic Drive-In at the northeast corner of U.S. 49 and School Road in Brookland opened this morning.

I am amazed at how quickly the site went from a residential neighborhood with a couple of houses to a functioning drive-in. I guessed the franchisee had a Sept. 1 target date for opening.

They made it with a day to spare.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Testing a new printer/copier/scanner/fax

epson xp-630

The Amazon Vine Program offered me the new (scheduled to be released on Sept. 1) Epson XP-630 earlier this week and it arrived on my front porch this morning.

It only took about an hour to unpack and set up and the print quality is everything I would expect from Epson – photo lab caliber. Here are the first two prints.

And it’s wireless, so I can print from anywhere.

It will sell for $149.99 when it becomes available on

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A belated Frohe Geburtstag to Leni Riefenstahl


I neglected to mark the 103rd birthday last Saturday of cinematic genius and pioneer and genuinely liberated woman Leni Riefenstahl.

I’m proud to own an autographed photo of her:


Dora’s checkup and shots

dora heather aug27 15

Dora had an 8:30 a.m. appointment with Dr. Heather Curry at the Animal Medical Center in Jonesboro today.

She is usually an OK car passenger, but this morning she shook like a leaf as we headed south on U.S. 49.

She did fine at the vet’s office though and was pronounced healthy and free of parasites. She got her rabies booster shot and a tag to prove it, along with some other immunizations.

The ride home was much calmer and she didn’t freak out when I left her in the car (windows cracked for good ventilation) while I took about 2 minutes to duck into the post office for my daily quota of junk mail.

And, of course, she was eager to get back into the back yard with Jack.