Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Accosted by a Goliath Grouper! by Jim

My old dive buddy is visiting and we've been out diving. Today was a memorable dive. It was a two-tank trip on the Scubatyme, a charter boat out of Pompano Beach. We like to hunt for Florida Lobster, the tasty crustacean found in these waters.
 Here's a screenshot of the Inlet webcam. That's our boat going out the Hillsboro Inlet.

Jimmy Lyon and I have been liquidating lobsters since 1974. That's when I became a certified SCUBA diver. Back then we dove in the cold waters off the South Jersey shore. We were both younger then.

Now we dive the warm waters of South Florida. He visits nearly every winter. It's like a tradition.
Jimmy still lives and works on Long Beach Island, NJ. We've visited him there many times in our travels.

The first dive was a fairly routine reef drift. We caught a few spiny lobsters, saw a nice nurse shark and some big moray eels. A nice dive. We returned to surface and the boat for a snack and surface interval.

Only a minute or two into the second dive, I spotted a couple of lobster and snared one. I had just removed the snare and was holding the lobster in my left hand. I turned my head to alert Jimmy to the other lobster in the hole when I felt a sharp tug on my arm. I turned to see my hand and forearm in the gaping mouth of a 300 lb. Goliath Grouper! I pulled my arm out and found I was holding only the tail of the lobster. The grouper inquired into the availability of the tail and I obliged his request.
Now I had a friend for the rest of the dive. He was quite insistent that both Jimmy and I provide more treats, a fish that big can get a little pushy. He would not leave us alone to catch more lobster. Finally, after a half hour of this huge fish's company, we called the dive and surfaced.

We were hysterical bobbing on the surface waiting for the boat to pick us up. We've both had some weird experiences diving over the years but this was really remarkably funny that the fish would just not leave us alone.
If only we had our cameras with us for the dive.

Here's a short video I took on a wreck dive last week.

Thanks for all the great memories, Jimmy!

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 goes out with a ROAR

We had nice quiet holidays at home. Always the perfect hostess, Jim's sister Debbie, held a wonderful Christmas day brunch at their place.

A couple days later we gave in to our itchy feet and got the Roadtrek on the road. We didn't go far, just about an hour away to a KOA that is attached to Lion Country Safari. It's a treat to go to sleep to the roar of Lions! But, mostly, we just have a need to sleep in our little cocoon.

I love the giraffes and how there is a platform so you can get up close and personal with them

Zebra butts - no two alike

Keep on Going

As it turned out, we didn't want to go back home after only one night out! Surprised? So we contacted our friends Chris and Cherie ( who are living on their boat and currently docked in Sanford, about 3 hours up the road.
Perfect. It's always fun to get together with them and geek out a bit. We all love using our phones for photographs.

We didn't bother finding a campground. One thing we adore about our little camper van is that we're comfortable in just about any parking lot. So we can be right where we want to be when we wake up in the morning.
Chris and Cherie are well known in the RV community. Their business website is THE go-to place for the most in-depth information on staying connected as you travel. They are also social media super-stars, with a business YouTube channel of more than 10,000 subscribers, and the personal YouTube channel with over 57,000!. They were recently chosen to host a new TV show on Public Television called The RVers. This should be good! It will be produced by the same folks that did The Aviators. The production will all be handled by an extremely talented group of professional video editors, but Chris and Cherie figure they still need to up their game on original footage, so they practiced on us while we were there. Jim admits to some gadget-envy seeing Chris' new phone camera grip and gimbal, called a Movi. Especially cool that you could use it for hand-held, or a stable platform to set it down.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Home for the Holidays and a new phone

When we used to live a normal, mostly-at-home, life, we would use the holidays as a time to take a trip. For several years we would rent a houseboat and the whole extended family would spend Christmas week together on the St. John's river. Other years we would rent an RV for the week and 4 of us - me, Jim, Devon, Mom - would travel around Florida.
Now that we travel much of the time, we flip that around. The holidays is when there isn't much going on and we can hang out at home for a while. We try to take advantage of being here by doing things like going to a play at the local Performing Arts Center. This time we splurged and went to see Hamilton. We had to see what all the fuss was about. I'm glad we did. Even in the 'nose-bleed' seats the sound was fantastic. It's a good thing because the songs were sung in rap so fast you had to really concentrate to understand. Really a different type of play. I did learn a lot about our country's founders. Duels were actually a thing?!? The part of King George was really funny, "Just wait America, till you try to govern yourself - you'll learn it isn't so easy. You'll be back!"
We don't do presents. We buy ourselves whatever we really want, and I was ready for a new phone. I took advantage of a Black Friday deal for $400 off a Samsung Note 9 from Verizon. $400 off?!?! How much can a phone be? Retail is $1,000. It better be good. I have also decided that I like having my wallet/purse all combined with the phone case. This one even has a wrist strap so I can carry it without needing a huge pocket or a separate purse.

We were even inspired to do a whole show on How to choose a phone case. It was episode 158 of our What Does This Button Do YouTube show.

One fun thing that this phone does is make emojis that look like you. You open the camera app, choose the AR Emoji mode, then tap the button that says, "Create my emoji." You choose the hairstyle, glasses, etc. and you see the result. Later I realized that it automatically made a bunch of animated gifs from the emoji. How cute it this? I'll figure out how to use them one of these days.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

On my own in California

The Google Product Expert Summit is only 2.5 days. It just seems silly to fly across the country and back for that short a time - even if I'm not paying for it, or maybe especially when I'm not paying for it - I want to take advantage! So I arranged to rent a car and drive south to Morro Bay / San Luis Obispo where I lived in 1980-83.

Then - 1982


I didn't make the trip just to see Morro Bay, although it was stunning. I got there just at sunset and immediately found a place to park the car and take pictures.

I made the trip to visit with my friend Liz. She and I practiced law in San Luis Obispo. She was experienced and I was just out of law school. She took me under her wing and taught me how to deal with each of the judges, where to file my paperwork, and what lawyer groups to join. I convinced her to play hookie and go to the beach occasionally. Great memories.
We talked and walked and talked some more. She quit law just a few years after I did, going on to work with major environmental protection projects. She was always a gourmet cook ... still is.
SO good to see my old friend.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

I am a Google Photos Product Expert

When Google Photos was introduced in 2015, I knew I wanted to know as much about it as possible, so I jumped on the user forums and asked questions, and answered questions. When someone asked a question, I answered, and they came back and said, "That worked, now I understand!" I felt good that I know what I'm talking about.
After a while my answers caught the attention of the Google Photos team at Google and they invited me into the "Top Contributors" program. Top Contributor is the term they used for people who voluntarily answer questions in the product forums. They recognize you with a badge, and they give you a perk of flying you out to a meeting each year. I've gone to that meeting for 3 years now.
This year they renamed us from Top Contributors to Product Experts (PE).

Product Expert is sure a lot easier to explain, and, even without explaining, it gives me more credibility. Don't think that they test us Product Experts however. We prove that we are experts simply by answering users questions.
I remember when I was a WordPerfect Certified Instructor - WordPerfect gave us a test that took multiple days. We had to answer questions and perform procedures in the software while software was recording everything we did! I almost said, 'every click we made' - then I remembered that computer didn't have mice back then :-) I found this old newsletter from my Computer Training business in 1988 - I haven't changed a bit have I?
A 1988 newsletter from my first Computer Training business

 Anyway, back to the present :-)
I always look forward to these Google meetups. I love getting a little bit of an inside look at the Google work process, the gourmet cafeterias, and open office systems. I really enjoy meeting with members of the Google Photos team. I learn what they're up to, and I get to tell them what's on my wishlist for product features. But best of all, I get to meet with other people of my Product Experts team. This year the meeting brought PEs from all over the world (the last 2 years was just North America.) I was thrilled to see Paolo again, who I met up with in Milan, Italy when we traveled there, as well as Alex from Berlin. There was a fairly large number of people from Australia. I even got to know some of the Googlers (that's what you call people who work at Google) from the Blogger team who work out of the Sydney, AU office. We plan to visit them when we're there in February!

My Google Photos Product Experts team from all over the world.

David Lieb is the guy responsible for Google Photos. I felt like I was meeting a rock star!

The whole group met for keynote speeches by leaders at Google
The conference began on Oct 31 - there was lots of fun for the Halloween holiday.

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