Sunday, October 16, 2005

Meet, Greet, Crash, Burn

I’m trying out this new Blogger for Word extension that I found on It’s pretty simple – all it does is add 4 buttons to your Word toolbar, for editing your Blogger settings, opening old posts for editing, saving drafts, and publishing posts. What I’m curious about is – what text become the subject line?

Anyhooo… enough of my irrelevant rambling. On with the stories.

On Friday afternoon, I headed up to Trump to meet up with Terry (aka Mr. Reed of Playing Poker, Teaching Science). He was up from Indianapolis doing some teacher training in Gary. I managed to get a seat at his table – right next to him even. I’m a big fan of the 10 seat.

There was not much in the way of great cards going on, though between us we dragged enough pots to stay afloat. Terry had a wicked card protector. The thing looking like a round saw blade, and it spun! I’m a geek for gadgets. I hear there’s a store in downtown Vegas (I think it was just called “The Gambler’s Store”) that has lots of card protectors. I really want to check that place out.

Our end of the table was good fun. There were a couple regulars at the table (who Terry had already accurately pegged, in terms of their poker tendencies). I was hoping for a larger crop of college-kid-fish, but with the White Sox game on that night, the poker room was fish-less, save the random dejected Cubs fans. (Go Sox!)

I was involved in my first bit of table controversy on Friday. Shortly before Terry left, I was in a kill pot. I had one green $25 chip in front of me and two stacks of $20 each in white chips. There was a bet on the turn, which I called by tossing out my $25 chip. (Twelve bucks was too much to bother counting out in whites). The dealer tossed me one white chip, and then placed a stack of whites in front of me. She continued to organize the chips in front of her and before dealing the river card, grabbed that white stack back and put it into the pot. Her hand gesture made me think she was telling me to wait for my change. I’ve seen them do that sometimes, giving players change for larger chips after the next card. I didn’t think anything of it.

After the river card, I saw that I was tied for the pot. She started counting the chips out, and I said, “Can I get my change for the green chip?” Terry said to me, “I was waiting for you to say that.” He, too, noticed that I hadn’t gotten change. The dealer said, “I gave it to you.” She explained that she’d stacked the 12 chips in front of me after tossing me one. I said, “You did, but you took the stack back.” I had no stack of 12 chips in front of me – only my two stacks of $20. She insisted that she’d given me the change, and Terry spoke up to say he didn’t think she did. The guy sitting across from me (who was not in the hand) then spoke up that he was absolutely, positively certain that she DID give me change. The guy I was splitting the pot with did not care to argue, and told the dealer to give me the change before splitting the pot. The guy across from me, however, went on and on, insisting that I’d already gotten change.

I repeated that yes – she did stack the 12 white chips in front of me, but at the last moment prior to dealing the river, motioned her hand towards me then grabbed the stack back. Then, another guy at the table (who had originally thought I’d gotten change), hit a light bulb, and exclaimed, “Wait! I know what happened!” and he started recounting each street of the hand, remembering then that the dealer had taken the white stack back from me. Yes – he saw exactly what I’d seen (including details I’d left out).

The other guy in the hand just wanted to continue play, so the dealer gave me change and split up the rest of the pot. The man across from me, however, wanted the floor called to get the view from the security cameras. I don’t know what he had against me… though both of them (the man across from me and the guy in the hand with me) were regulars, so it was probably a case of protecting their own.

At any rate, we continued on and never got a call from the cameras to find out what really happened. I am positive that I didn’t get change. I always know how many chips I have in front of me, as I keep them in very organized stacks. I did not receive change for my green chip (aside from the one white chip the dealer tossed me).

So, that’s my tale of controversy….

Terry took off around 4pm to make the trek down south. I hung around for a few more hours. I ended the night down thirty bucks. I was up and down and up and down – always by that thirty dollar increment. Oh well.

That was my last Trump trip until after Vegas… Randy and I leave on Wednesday night for the city of sin. I absolutely cannot wait. Two more days of work until I am FREE!

Now, for the “crash and burn” part of my story. My hard drive died on Friday night. I was fixing my cousin’s computer (replacing HER dead Maxtor hard drive – the second to die on her in two years’ time). I installed a new Western Digital drive for her, and was surprisingly able to retrieve the data off of her dying drive before it went click-crazy and crashed again. Feeling much relief that she didn’t lose any data, I went to plug my own computer back in. (I’d unplugged the power, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to use in reloading Windows on my cousin’s PC).

I inserted the power plug into the back of my computer (which was turned off), and all of a sudden, there was a surge of power into the computer. It came on for half a second and then shut off. I thought, “Hmm, that was weird.” I tried turning on the computer, and it was dead. I unplugged it, flipped the power switch on the back, and tried again. Same thing – but this time, a bigger surge. Shit. Something’s not right here. The third time was a charm and the system powered on, but my hard drive would not spin up and instead clattered out a loud, repetitive clicking sound.
Great. FYI, hard drives are not supposed to make ANY sort of loud, repetitive clicking sounds. Clicking = bad. Clicking = dead.
Sure enough, my hard drive was toast. That’s OK, right? I’m an oober-computer geek. I teach computer repair, for God’s sake – of COURSE I’ve got backups!

Wrong. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t practice what I preach. My last data backup was July 4, 2004. A year and 3 months ago.

I lost everything. Most notably – all of the pictures I’ve taken with my digital camera over the last year (including my 30th birthday surprise party last year, vacations, all of the family babies in their first year), all of my lesson plans for the classes I teach at work, all of my grade book archives, my archive of resumes, my income tax backups… you name it. Gone. And of course – the drive only had a 1 year warranty on it. The warranty expired this past July.

The kicker of the story is that I knew I needed a new power supply (which I’ve decided was probably the culprit here). A couple years ago, I added a neon light to my computer case, and 3 extra case fans. Shortly after that upgrade, I started getting bad sectors on my hard drive, and the dreaded random clicking sound. I thought that maybe my power supply wasn’t enough to handle the extra stuff (since I already had 2 hard drives, a CD burner, a DVD drive, and your standard array of power-hungry peripherals and external USB devices). Indeed – when I unplugged the extra fans and lights, I stopped having hard drive problems. I had to format and reinstall Windows, but sidestepped disaster and was able to recover my data. You’d think I’d have started backing up religiously after that.

Last Christmas, I upgraded the motherboard, processor, and RAM in my system. I went from an AMD Athlon XP 2200 to an AMD Athlon 64 3500+. I also bought a new hard drive – a Maxtor DiamondMax 250GB drive. I was still using the same old power supply. I thought it was a 400 watt. Yesterday, when I disassembled my system, I discovered that it was only a 350 watt. Holy shit. With all of the stuff in my system, and the power-hungry CPU, I’m surprised the thing lasted this long.

Yesterday, I went and bought a new hard drive. I went with a Hitachi serial ATA drive (might as well – my board supports SATA, though I was using the old parallel ATA/standard EIDE drives before). I also bought a new 500 watt power supply, and a uninterruptible power supply with surge protection and a voltage regulator. I’ll be damned if power issues are going to put me through this ever again. And, since next week is my birthday, I bought a new video card. I picked up a 256MB nVidia GeForce 6600 card – the same one I bought Randy last Christmas, but much cheaper a year later! Happy birthday to me.

With my new components, I felt comfortable plugging the extra fans and the neon light back in. My system runs much more quietly (as my old power supply fan was quite loud – another reason I should have replaced it sooner), and the glow of the blue from inside is pretty cool. I want to put 2 more fans in this thing – something I’ve intended to do for a long time, but kept putting off (like the power supply).

I also bought Norton Ghost yesterday – something I’ve again intended to do, but kept putting off because “it’s 70 freakin dollars!” My cheap ass cost me all of my data yesterday.

I can’t believe how foolish I was. The neglect I’ve shown this computer is inexcusable, particularly because so much of my work revolves around this machine. I tried to take the cheap way out, and it cost me. Too bad it took this disastrous data loss to learn my lesson. I’m sure I will continue to remember things I need off that old drive that are lost forever. I deserve that, and all of the hassles that will come along with it.

I have one last thing I’m going to try. It’s an old trick that actually worked for me once. My dead hard drive has been in my freezer overnight. After I post this, I’m going to take it from the freezer, and (while wearing gloves – those things get damn cold!) attempt to boot the old drive as a slave on my system. If I can get one last boot out of it, maybe I can drag some of the data off of it.

It’s not likely to work – you’d think I’m nuts if you heard how bad the thing was clanking. It’s worth a shot though.

Wish me luck…


  1. Bazkar said...
    GOOD LUCK....with the data recovery.....AND in Vegas!
    April said...
    Have fun and good luck in Vegas!
    DuggleBogey said...
    Extremely poor dealer....not so much that he forgot to give you your change, because that kind of thing happens. But he should have easily been able to count the pot vs the number of bets to determine if there was an extra bet in the pot. Since he didn't even OFFER to do this, he obviously wasn't counting the pot very closely. Makes you wonder how far off the rakes were for the whole night, doesn't it?

    Anyway, I'd wish you luck in Vegas, but "I your game really isn't about luck, is it..."

    Knock em dead!
    Slayre said...
    You prolly already figured it out, but, you can create a 'Title', ie, subject line, at the time of save..

    ( blogger word extension )
    Unknown said...
    I second Duggle's comment, the dealer should have counted out the bets.

    Good luck at the tables in Vegas!!

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