Monthly Archives: January 2016

Taking Oneself Way Too Seriously

Do you ever get into pointless arguments over petty things?

If so, you should probably give it up.

Aside from the waste of time, you are very unlikely to be as good as the people described in unless, of course, you are one of the combatants described.

There are a lot more rewarding things to be doing.

So what are you doing this coming week?

Odd Language #137: Which Before?

A song by The Carpenters, “We’ve Only Just Begun”, has the line “Before the risin’ sun, we fly.”

The issue: Which sense of “before”: by physical position or by time? In front of the rising sun (so at dawn) or during the time preceding the sun rising (before dawn)?

Puzzle #140: Confusing?

You have some fuses that take one hour to burn from end to end.  They are made out of handwavium.  This substance lets me stick in a statement that while a fuse will burn out in exactly one hour, the fuse does not necessarily burn at an even rate.

You have no way of telling time or timing intervals by conventional means (watch, cell phone, sun, stars, etc.).  Using one or more fuses, how can you measure a one hour and fifteen minute interval?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #138 Solution: 2016

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Computer Equipment Quitting

My inkjet printer just quit. It had been giving me trouble for months with blurred or absent text. I repeatedly tried the cleaning routine, and it would work sometimes but only for a short time. As a last try, I replaced all four of the ink cartridges. I printed a document, and it was perfect.

However, the next time I tried to print something, the printer did not recognise at least one of the ink cartridges and would not print!

It probably has something to do with printer manufacturers trying to force us to use only their cartridges. Epson now has a black mark in my book. And to think that back in the early 1980’s, I was one of the first people in British Columbia to own an Epson printer.

That 1980’s printer was a dot-matrix printer. I still use a dot-matrix printer for printing program listings. My Okidata dot-matrix printer gives very little trouble. I just have to feed it a cheap ribbon every so often.

I wish inkjet printers were as tough as dot-matrix printers. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Odd Language #136: Dash It All? states, “The nativists were a group of white, anti-Irish Catholic Protestants opposed to immigration.”

The issue: Catholic Protestants? The words of a multi-word adjective should be separated by dashes. The above would be correct with another dash: “The nativists were a group of white, anti-Irish-Catholic Protestants opposed to immigration.”

Puzzle #139: Ice, Slush, and Mud Rally

The weather is somewhat sloppy, but some people decided to have a rally in the ice, slush, and mud.

There were:

1) four types of vehicles: four-, three-, two-, and one-wheeled vehicles,
2) 400 wheels where the rubber meets the road (or whatever it was),
3) three times as many three-wheeled vehicles as one-wheeled vehicles,
4) four times as many four-wheeled vehicles as two-wheeled vehicles, and
5) a single-digit number of one-wheeled vehicles.

How vehicles were there of each type?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #137 Solution: Losing Your Marbles

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Unintended Side Effects

Policies can have unexpected side effects.

Canada has a job grant system to help younger people get jobs. The government will pay one-half of the wage for younger people (up to 29 or 30 years old) for several months. The intent of this program is help younger people break into their field.

Unfortunately, this has some nasty side effects.

The most obvious one is that when this program is used by an employer, it locks out older people from even applying to the jobs. At 55, I do not qualify under this program, and I have missed out on several jobs merely because of my age. With there not being very many jobs open in my field in Kamloops, this is very cruel for me.

Secondly, newer companies tend to use this. Such companies tend to be more on the leading edge with new things. Hey, I want to do those sorts of things, too!

I should not be getting shut out of innovative jobs such as at What a great idea to use drones to detect forest fires! (I do not blame the company for taking advantage of the grant. What I do not like is the unfair effect on me.)

Thirdly, if the company does make it, they might make the job permanent. The person that was hired under the grant is likely to get the position. We older people are unlikely to get a chance at the job.

We older people like good jobs, too.

Odd Language #135: The Beginning of the End? has a comment from me, “Georgia, you do not actually say when the stopping starts.”

The issue: As I wrote it, I twigged on “stopping” and “starts” being opposites adjacent. Cue the jokes about clicking on “Start” in Windows to shut down the system.

(“Breaking Cat News” is a great comic strip. Three cats report on news occurring in or close to the house. Great art, great capturing of cat behaviour, and great jokes.)