Friday, March 29, 2013

TechnoGeek Learning Rally

This is the third day.
We're creating this blog post as part of our blogger class.  We're using Live Writer and showing how to insert a map, using Live Writer's tools.

Map picture

Lots of fun with Line Dancing.  These videos comes from a Rally attendee's cell phone and she uploaded it to youtube.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Smartphone Class Pre-Rally

We arrived at Paradise Oaks RV park last Friday and spent Saturday preparing for our 2 day pre-rally Smartphone class.  Here's Jim in production mode for the class materials.

We were pleased with how it went - 14 people.  60% had iPhones, 40% Android.  And most brought tablets as well.  That was a bit surprising as we've had other groups that were overwhelmingly Android.  I think everyone learned a lot - our hope is that they now understand their phones enough to continue learning because it is a never ending process.  We also believe that the best way to learn is to teach, so we had several exercises where people paired up to work thru an assignment.  We always learn something new too! My favorite tidbit this time was about Evernote Hello, and how it can scan business cards and read the names and phone numbers for searching.  I've used many other systems for keeping and categorizing business cards and nothing has ever stuck.  This looks awesome.  And it's free.

Unfortunately, Jim and I have both been fighting colds and are not at 100%.  The main TechnoGeek Learning Rally starts this afternoon and we slept in late.

It's a beautiful, but cold day here in Bushnell.  That's our RV in the foreground, and Phil May's parked just 2 sites down.  Tracey isn't with him this time as she had to fly back to England to handle some medical issues.  We miss her terribly!  I'm afraid some people may have come just on the reputation of Tracey's famous cooking.  This time, we hired a local caterer to fill in.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dentists, Leprechauns, and Butterflies

We love life on the road, but we also love having a place we call home with so many connections, friends, and familiar places. 
On the way to Fort Lauderdale from Peace River, we used Jim’s new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, with MS Streets and Trips installed, to navigate.  We've been looking forward to this.  Our first few years on the road Streets and Trips was our sole mapping/navigating system.  Then came the Garmin, Rand McNally, Google Navigation on the smartphone, and others.  We continue to do the planning on Streets and Trips, and now with the Windows 8 tablet, we want to get back to Navigating with it too ..
Microsoft Windows 8 Surface Pro running Streets and Trips

We only had a week here in Fort Lauderdale, but it was full.  Jim and I both took care of some Doctor and Dentist visits.  I had appointments with both Mom’s accountant, and ours – and I got all the tax returns done and filed!
I visited Mom and took her to one of our favorite nearby attractions, Butterfly World.  What great photo opps there are there!

She enjoyed it, but she tired quickly.  She had a cold. Such a weird thing about her Alzheimers - she doesn't even know what a cold is, she denies being sick.   She just says she needs kleenex for her drippy nose.
We also got together with friends several different times, the most colorful was for St. Patrick's Day - Mary Helen always puts together a great group of people and wonderful food - so when she invited us to her Irish dinner, we jumped at the opportunity.  Her friend, Jim, has a DeLorean car.  He said, since it was made in Ireland, he was obligated to drive it on St. Patrick's Day.  It made quite a hit.

As did the Corned Beef and Cabbage traditional Irish dinner.

It was sad to be at our home RV park (Paradise Island) without Odie.  He's been with us since the beginning.  To some, we're simply known as Odie's parents ... and we had to break the news to them.  Sometimes I feel awful for having made the decision to put him down.  Other times I know it was the best thing to do ... best isn't always easy. Still other times, I am motivated by new beginnings.  Jim and I have gone for a 2 mile walk almost every morning for the last week.  Jim tore up the horribly stained carpet in our living room area and found the linoleum was under 80% of it!  I bought a little throw rug to cover the rest, and it's like we have a new RV!  We used to talk about some of the things we would do when we didn't have a dog to take care of ... now, what were they?
We just had to get rid of the horribly stained carpet regardless of what was underneath.  What we found was just great.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Bugs Won

We’ve been battling bugs ever since we bought this motorhome.  It was a used RV and it had been sitting on the lot for several months … in Florida.  At first we didn’t see any bugs – I’m sure they did some heavy duty spraying as part of the cleanup process for sale.  But, within a month, they started appearing.  We’re Floridians, we’re used to bugs – but we didn’t like it. 
These weren’t little ants – they were roaches.  Not the huge Palmetto bugs, but the smaller German roaches.  We were hoping that traveling to more northern areas of the country would convince them to leave us – but they are a hardy bunch.  These are well-traveled roaches now. 
They would disappear for a while, and we congratulated ourselves on our bug-killing efforts.  But they always came back.
This week, after coming back to Fort Lauderdale from Peace River – they exploded.  I’ve never seen so many.  They have run us out of our own kitchen, we can’t eat there.  We have to go out.  We broke down and called an exterminator (Petri.)  They told us that, indeed, these type of bugs are impossible to eradicate with consumer products.  We’ve paid them $300 and they have to come 3 times. 
This is difficult to arrange because we are leaving on Thursday to head north.  We have our TechnoGeek Learning rally, then I’m taking a writing workshop with friends in Melrose, Florida, then we’ll be at the Roadtrek Technology and Camping Rally April 9-12.  We were thinking of continuing north after that … but we were also considering coming back to Fort Lauderdale for the end of April as well.  We’ve now surrendered our itinerary to the bugs and will definitely come back to get our second and third exterminator treatments!
The guy from Petri probably wondered why the question, “Do you have any pets?” turned me into a puddle of tears … but that made me think that Odie may have been the reason we never attacked these bugs with everything we could before.  They have no protector now.  Fire away.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The world lost a great teacher yesterday. His name was Odie. Odie was a miniature Poodle, small in stature, but a giant in wisdom, philosophy and love.

I was his student for over twelve years.

Many of his lessons were about  Staying in the Moment. If you lose your hold on the moment, take a nap.

How things are communicated can be more important than what is said. For instance, never bite when a growl will suffice. Listen more, bark less. Wag your tail often.

Greet your friends joyfully.

Practice obedience when it is in your best interest. Occasionally break the rules.
Time for a long nap, my friend. We'll miss you.
Many thanks.
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Goodbye Odie

The last 6 months have been tough.  Odie’s had a heart murmur since we first got him at 2 years old (he was from Poodle Rescue) but it was classified at level 1-2, which doesn’t affect his health.  Last September, I worried about an persistent cough and took him to a vet where we were in Sedalia, MO.  Our home vet had mentioned that coughing could be a sign of the heart murmur getting worse.  But this vet said, “No, the cough isn’t from the heart, it’s a collapsed trachea.”  Well, is that good news or bad?  But, he also listened to his heart and classified the murmur at stage 5-6.  All bad news.  But he was hanging in there.
When we got back to Ft. Lauderdale in late October, I took him to his primary vet with the idea that it may be time to put him down.  The scariest thing was when he collapsed once – I thought it was a stroke, it could have been a seizure, or it could have been fainting for lack of blood flow – he just fell hard, in a twisted little pile of poodle.  But, in a minute, he recovered fully and was livelier than before.  Jim and I joked that he overheard us talking about putting him down, and he was trying to say, “Hey look at me!  I feel Great!”
The Vet took some tests and prescribed some heart medication.  That really made a difference, Odie wasn’t struggling to breathe anymore, he could sleep peacefully.  But it was still clear that he was declining.  The coughing continued and the collapsing episodes started up again.  Sometimes he would collapse 3-4 times in a day.  But he always recovered.  And he still had good times – he still went for walks every day, just shorter ones.  It was tough to get him to eat.  Dog food was out of the question, but he still eagerly accepted bites of steak from our plate!
But, yesterday, I felt I saw real pain on his face as he tried to stretch but something caught him mid-stretch.  I have seen this before and believe it was something intestinal.  I couldn’t get him to eat at all – not even a piece of stew meat – and he wasn’t even drinking.  Intestinal issues pass in a day or so, but I just said = “Enough.”  It’s time to let him go.  Whenever I’ve suggested that over the last few months, Jim has poo-poohed me.  My sense is that Jim wasn’t ready to let go.  But, yesterday he said, “I agree.”
I called a local vet and started to make an appointment for the following morning, then I looked at Odie in distress and asked if they had a time available that afternoon.  They did.  My greatest fear has been to wait too long.  I didn’t want to spend a painful night with him, when it’s in my power to prevent that.  We took him for a last walk to the nature trail we all love so much, but we had to carry him half the way.  I think we made the right decision.
Since Odie has lived his whole life on the road – a car ride is not a bad omen for him.  He loves car rides, and he loves going inside new places … even Veterinary offices!  Wouldn’t you know, he was perky and making friends with everyone in the waiting room.  I was in agony.  Jim tried to comfort me.  He picked Odie up and we both went into the exam room.  They call it ‘putting them to sleep’ for a reason – that’s just what it’s like.  Odie laid his head on my arm and we both stroked him.  I didn’t know I had so many tears in me.  Then we left to face life without our dear sweet Odie.
Jim tries to get me to focus on the good memories with Odie, and he’s right – there were SO many.  Here’s one of the best – and we caught it on video:

With all that energy, people sometimes asked us, “Isn’t he hyper and drive you crazy in the RV?”  Nope, he was as mellow as could be in the motorhome – he would just lay on his couch all day long as long as we were there, usually at our computers, he was content.
He didn’t like it when we were gone though.  We would say that he Hated Rallies, because at RV Rallies we were gone most of the time.
20041105 odie lookout
We loved our Odie.  Now we have to learn to live without him
Lots more pictures of Odie – from the beginning.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Click this title to listen

Just talking while driving in the rv Sent from Catch Notes for Android
Click on the title to this post to listen.