About a decade later I'd distract myself from working on my thesis by playing Shanghai on the Mac classic I was borrowing to compose it. I even used it as a motivational ploy - I'd let myself play a game if I finished a chapter, say.
Now, another decade later I've had a PowerBook for a couple of years, and have been desultorily searching for a copy of the game of my very own. Without much luck, although I've bought and tried out a number of tile solitaire games, and found a number of versions to play on the web. None of them were quite what I wanted, though.
Clearly I was looking in the wrong places - I should have tried Wikipedia earlier on, as when I looked up the link above I found a pointer to a Solitaire Mahjongg page that looks amazingly exhaustive.
Part of the problem here is orthographic - mahjong being Chinese combined with various trademark actions means there are multiple spelling variations. I'd Googled, but not for a *gg version of the spelling, and I believe I only searched on mah jong or mah-jong and not mahjong.
So I'm looking forward to combing through Mr. Petersen's site. He's a librarian from Norway. I'm delighted to be reading a Norwegian website about a Chinese tile game ported to the computer by a guy at the University of Illinois, USA. This is why I love the net, in spite of all its irritations.