Wednesday, February 28, 2007

To Mom's and back

We just took a couple days to go to Fort Lauderdale and attend the memorial for Matt Barton. We didn't think we could stay at Mom's cuz she's in that last-minute rush to pack and get ready for a big trip. But, she said she was all ready to go - no problem. So, here she is, having to share her favorite chair-and-a-half with Odie. Now that I have a laptop too, here's the common view of me and Jim at our computers in her kitchen. She wasn't sure if she liked talking to the back of our computers, but, believe me - she understands - she spends almost as much time at her computer as we do! It's just in another room. Here I am getting ready to go to the memorial. I borrowed a hawaiian shirt from Mom because I didn't think that all black was appropriate. Matt was a hawaiian-shirt kinda guy. There were over 100 people there and we learned things about Matt we didn't know. Like - he played the didgeridoo, and he was an archaeology buff. People were there from several dive clubs, his karate dojo, archaeology group, and FAU (where he worked.) I hope we get to join the FAU dive club when they dive a local reef to place a memorial and name it after Matt! It was not a funeral - he had already been cremated - it was a gathering of friends to celebrate his life. Thanks for putting this together Mardie and Matt's mom. The next day we took the long way back home, detouring to drop Mom off at Miami airport. She's on her way to Indonesia for a whole month! Another dive trip on the Adventure Komodo.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Computer, Two monitors, Windows Vista

Over the years, Jim and I have been involved in the purchase of several hundred personal computers. Some for clients, some for ourselves and lots for our Training Center classrooms. We have a real good feel for when a computer should be replaced. In our experience, after 2 years of use, a computer will be getting sluggish and have developed some problems. At that point, you should clean it off (reformat it) and re-set it up. It will feel like a brand new computer for a while. A 3-year old computer is geting old. If anything goes wrong, it's not worth putting much time or money into that computer. If you're good at maintaining your computer and keep it going to 4 years old - you're doing really good. But, at 4 years you really do need a new one. Technology has changed to the extent that your 4-year old computer is just not the same machine as the new ones. And, besides they cost a lot less now than when you bought yours! We think that every year of a computer's life is akin to 4 years in a car. A 3 year old computer is like a 12 year old car. We've been asked to work on 7 year-old computers and make them work on a Wi-Fi network. Sorry, it's not worth our time. That's like asking a 28 year old car to match the features of today's cars. Not to mention that the computer 'highway' has changed significantly. All this is leading up to justifying the fact that I just bought a new computer to replace my nearly 4yr old one, even though I had to dig deep into savings to do it! :-) I bought a Toshiba Satellite notebook computer, model #A135 S4487 for $1350 at Best Buy. It has 2 gigabytes of RAM, the Intel Core2 Duo processor, 2 hard drives totaling 200 gigabytes, a writeable CD/DVD drive, it weighs 6 pounds and comes with Windows Vista Home Premium. I thought I was going to get a Sony Vaio, since Jim has liked his so much, but both Jim and I really liked the fact that this one had 2 hard drives - and Toshiba has always been a good name in laptops also. It was Jim's computer for the first couple days because I wanted him to do all the upgrades, security, and installing/configuring all my software. It was his idea to keep my old monitor on my desk, set the laptop beside it, and configure the computer to use *both* monitors at the same time! I thought that was a little excessive, but now that I'm getting used to it, I *Love* it! Instead of switching back and forth between 2 windows - you drag one of those windows to the other monitor. When I drag my mouse to the edge of one screen, it continues on the other one! It is so cool. I've seen other people with setups like this, but I never thought I'd have it. And, I'm still using my same wireless keyboard and mouse on the keyboard drawer - so I haven't lost any of the comfort of my workstation due to the laptop. So, what are we doing with my old, desktop, computer? Jim hooked it up to our projector and the big screen! The Geeks just keep getting Geekier!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Goodbye Matt Barton

Live life to its fullest ... NOW!
That's the message from Mardie who was Matt's significant other. We got the horrible news the other day that Matt, a scuba-buddy and friend of ours, died of a massive heart attack last Sunday. He was 45 years old and in excellent physical condition. ??!#@* It was very difficult to take a serious photo of Matt as you'll see if you take a look at the group I uploaded to a Web Album. If you knew Matt and would like to join us at the memorial, "Celebration of Life". You can read more about the arrangements on this Scubaboard message thread. We'll miss you Matt.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Family visit to the Castle

Jim's sister and brother-in-law live in West Palm Beach. That's about a 3 hour drive from here. They are visiting us for the President's Day holiday weekend (staying in one of the cute little cabins). We hoped to paddle the river, but with temperatures in the 50s plus a wind-chill, we decided to go visit Solomon's Castle instead. We've been there once before when my Dad was visiting. Here's Jim and Debbie - clearly brother and sister. He's the little brother. She tells stories of how she used to boss him around when he was little till he got taller than her! Now she's very sweet to him :-) It really is a fun place to visit. I love all the stained glass windows, I think they say he's created 90+ windows, and they all have a story. Here's the dragon that awaits you at the entrance. This is the four _______ (virtues?). I forgot what they called them, but I remember each one ... from bottom to top: wisdom, reflection, learning, and generosity.

And, this one is all about a castle!

Here's the artist himself, Howard Solomon, creating something new. We saw several things this visit that weren't here before.

And now they're off - headed back home. Y'know, I may start getting a complex that people aren't really coming to see us - they just want a destination for taking their nice cars for a drive!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Searching Blogs and Searching for Blogs

We gave our 'Every RVer Needs a Blog' seminar today. I'm expecting great things from this group! We had about a dozen people and they all brought their laptops. If any of the participants are reading this ... I hope you'll go to Geeks on Tour website and add your new Blog to the 'Your Blogs' list! Then we can all go visit. One question I always get in these seminars is 'How can I search for other Blogs?' I'm afraid that I've never answered that question very well. It's been a long time since I've searched for new Blogs because I already have so many that I like to follow. If you're looking for RVing Blogs, I really like Hitch Itch - (see link at the left sidebar of this blog also). He categorizes his RV adventurers by 1)New Sites, 2)Sites updated daily or weekly 3)Sites updated monthly 4)sites updated irregularly. These aren't all Blogs - some are custom-designed websites - but ALL are about RVing adventures. Right on Blogger's home page, they have a small 'search' button to search for Blogs. Blogger is owned by Google, so, I assume it's the same search as you'll get on a standard Google page. Just, instead of doing a normal Google search, click on the 'more...' button and select Blogs. Once you're in a Blog search, you can also limit your search to just Blogs that have been updated within a specified period of time: Google also provides a way to search within a Blog for whatever you want. So, for example, if you wanted to search this blog to find where we've mentioned our Safari motorhome, you would use the little search box in the upper left corner of the screen. When you click 'Search' the blog will now show all posts where the word 'safari' appears. Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

RV Lifestyle, Dentists and Vets

One of the issues of living on the road is finding medical care. Some people see this as a severe negative of the RV Lifestyle. They purposely schedule a month or two each year at 'home' so they can get all their appointments in with all their doctors. We're still young enough and healthy enough that we don't have a long history with any particular doctor. I have actually found it a positive aspect of our lifestyle. There are walk-in medical clinics all over these days, and we've had really good luck with them. And, since we're usually seeing a doctor who doesn't have our history, they spend a few more minutes with us! I have learned to get copies of everything that is done and to keep those records with us. The only real problem we've had is with Dentists. We were in California when it was time for a teeth-cleaning, but we couldn't get an appointment for that. We had to have a Dentist exam before we could get our teeth cleaned and we couldn't find a Dentist who was taking new patients. So, we had to wait till we were back in Fort Lauderdale for that. We've had great luck with Veterinarians for Odie. I especially liked the woman we visited in Lake Havasu City. Unfortunately, when we tried to visit her the same time the following year, she had retired. She is the one who convinced me that having a dog's teeth cleaned was important to their health and longevity. It's time for his annual vaccinations, so we asked around and got a recommendation for Dr. Hendry here in Wauchula. Odie sat patiently as Dr. Hendry gave him his shots and I chatted with the Doctor. Come to find out his great-great-grandfather was a pioneer in this area ... I had notice that there is a neighboring county called 'Hendry'. He said it was time for Odie's teeth to be cleaned. What do you think of his 'Pearly Whites' now? Having a dog's teeth cleaned is a pretty big deal. It costs about $140! Mostly because they have to sedate him to do it. As long as he was going to be under, I asked if they would remove a cyst on his back that's been bothering him. I didn't realize that would be such a big deal. Poor Odie! It doesn't seem to bother him as much as it bothers me. He's eating, walking, and generally acting fine. But, he told me that's enough of Vets for a while!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What a Beautiful Day

We had a few days of cold, rainy weather. Just enough to make us appreciate the normal, beautiful, perfectly gorgeous, truly awesome weather here in Florida in the winter. It's been getting into the 50s at night, cold enough to enjoy cuddling under the blankets, but not really cold enough to need the heater. Then the sparkling sunshine comes filtering thru the trees and the spanish moss. It warms up to the high 70s in the afternoon. The warm sunshine is even appealing enough to lure me away from the computer to sit outside with a book for a while. And, of course, Odie and I take a walk along the nature trail while Jim is doing his 'help-desk' duty at the WiFi hotspot here. We just love this nature trail. We always notice something new each time, like these colorful little flowers.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I love to sing. So, when I heard that there was Karaoke on Wednesday nights at Wauchula Elks club ... I dragged Jim and went. Of course, it helped that there was steak dinner too! It was Ron from Blue Heaven bus that told us, and he and Linda met us there. He took some photos and put together this slide show/movie (using PhotoStory3). Thanx Ron! ... I think. Lucky for you, he found music by the real singer to provide the sound! Hey - I said I loved to sing, I didn't say I was any good at it. My primary qualification for karaoke is that I'm all too willing to make a fool of myself. I could get hooked tho - it would be so fun to pick a song I like and practice it enough to actually sound good. After having been to a few karaoke bars now, I realize that lots of folks bring their own CDs with the karaoke graphics - the words. That way, they know what to expect. Or, you can go to a website like SingShot where you can listen to others as well as record your own versions of songs. Yikes! As if I don't spend enough time in front of the computer as it is!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Where do the Vultures go?

For a few days we had cold, rainy weather and there was not a vulture to be found. Yesterday the sun came back out and it was absolutely glorious. Still cool, but with the brilliant sunshine it warmed up into the 70s by afternoon. Odie and I were up pretty early for a walk along the nature trail this morning and we saw all the vultures back on their perches, silhouetted against the morning sky. I'm learning to like the Vultures. They're clean - no messy nests, and they keep the area clean by eating any dead stuff. There's lots of road kill around here for them, it doesn't stay on the road for long! They keep their distance. Spooking easily, they'll take off from their perch with a deep 'swooshing' sound of their big wings. Sure do wonder where they go in the cold.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Surge in Satellite Internet Connections

Jim says, "I'm sorry". You see, there are only so many satellites up there. All of us who use the satellites as our Internet connection are sharing. When more people are using any given satellite, it can slow down operations for all of us. There are now 3 more satellite Internet connections because of Jim's work in January. I'm kidding, of course. 3 connections is a tiny drop in the bucket. Jim's not sorry at all! In fact, he's rather proud of the fact that you can look at the map of where we are and, of the 4 other users in our immediate area - Jim installed 3 of them. Jim says he's on a roll, he wants to do more. Anyone else want a Datastorm? Aww, c'mon, it's only $5500 (plus tax)!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A New RV Internet Connection

Lynne and John have been waiting for this for a long time! We became dealers forDustyfoot and got the tripod way back last January, when we were all in Quartzsite together. Due to a variety of glitches, we were unable to get the dish delivered before the four of us went our separate ways. Jim and I kinda forgot all about it, and every once in a while Lynne would ask, "uh ... when are we going to get our dish?" Now that we're back in the same area again, she asked, "HEY!! When are we going to get our DISH!!" And, here we are. I think they're excited. I see Jim as a kind of midwife ... bringing a new Internet connection into the world for another RVer. Everything went real smooth. They took a while to figure out how to get the 'skew' just right (the 'twist' angle of the dish). But, once they figured that out - they were on! Now they need to tear it all down to take it home and set it up again. I still like my 'push-a-button-and-wait' automatic Datastorm, but there certainly are advantages to the tripod system. Primarily, it's the price $1500 vs. $5500 (approximately), but there's also the issue of trees. With the tripod, you have some flexibility of positioning so you can avoid some trees. Congratulations Lynne and John! Check it out ... they're on the map!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

No Storm Here

Apparently Florida dominated all the news stations yesterday with images of a horrendous tornado that killed several people and demolished a mobile home park. We knew nothing about it until someone in Ohio called us and asked if we were ok! It happened about 200 miles away from us. It's a little dark and rainy here, but no storms ... whew! We were busy yesterday giving our 'Safe Computing' seminar. We had a nice turnout, and very attentive students interested in learning how to maintain their computers - we think this should be a required course for every computer user. It's SO important. I also added a new feature to our website I call it '5-Minute Computer Lessons'. The two latest lessons are about Internet Explorer 7 and Updating your Outlook program.