Friday, July 10, 2020

Life, Google photos, and weeks 14-15 of the pandemic

Back in 2004 I wrote in this blog that 
the RV lifestyle gives you a lot of practice with "Letting Go." It may sound a little painful ... lots of goodbyes go, it all gets done. The world is won by 
 ... but as my favorite philosopher says, "By letting go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go." Now it's Google that is teaching me about letting go! I had to let go of Picasa to fully embrace Google Photos. I had to let go of Google Plus to move on. Now I'm having to let go of the Google Photos logo and the menus that I've been teaching since it's release in 2015. I knew this change was coming. Actually, I've been anxiously awaiting it. The last printing of my book was mid 2018. I started working on a new edition in the second half of 2019 with hopes of getting it out by the end of the year. Then I attended the product expert conference and learned about the major changes planned for 2020. Not wanting my book to be obsolete immediately after printing, I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, June 25 the redesign was released.
So, what do I think of it? It's not my job to have an opinion, it's my job to explain. I do have an opinion, but it doesn't matter. The quicker I can let go, the quicker I can adapt. I covered it all in episode 194 of our YouTube show. 

Still Staying Home
Our July 4 anniversary was celebrated by staying home. Some things are opening up, but new cases are climbing. We're fine at home, so that's where we're staying. Jim did go on a shore dive with Devon yesterday.  A friend of Devon's who is a brand new diver was the motiviation. They couldn't go kayak diving because we only have 2 kayaks. They has a perfect day - all went well. They reported seeing 4 sharks, and a large tarpon.  


After giving a speech on 8 Tips for using Zoom at our 7am Toastmasters meeting, I took the rest of the day off. Just sitting on the couch all day while Jim was gone. Watching movies, reading a book. Aaaaaaahhhhh
 

Covid-19  numbers
Day 114 Fri 7/11/20 : Covid-19 Cases in US=3.25 million, Deaths = 136,000

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Our Escape Pod

Members from our USA Dive Club made arrangements for a day trip to the keys to paddle kayaks around the mangroves. Sounds like fun, let's go! We decided to make a trip out of it, put some food, clothes and computers in the camper and took off a couple days before the kayak day. It's only 2 hours from our house to the Tavernier Elks lodge that has RV hookups. We've been there before and loved it.



Mostly, I felt the need for scenery to photograph. I'm getting tired of Iguana photos around our neighborhood, and there's just not that much of interest to photograph around the house. Sunset did not disappoint!







We are just so comfy in our little RV, our Escape Pod. We've missed it. We also worry about it a bit. It's not good for it to sit for months on end, who knows what will stop working during its sequester? We were quite happy to learn that the air conditioning worked great! It's a good thing - I don't think we could have survived the 100 degree heat otherwise. 


The Elks lodge was open for food and drink, so we took advantage. Jim was happy to get a couple nights off from cooking duty. They were requiring masks, and it was not crowded, so we felt quite safe.


They even had decent Wi-Fi, so we sat out in the porch area for our Friday morning zoom meeting.


Saturday was kayaking day. We stopped at Florida Bay Outfitters to check in and pick out our rental kayak. We had reserved a tandem kayak, thinking it would be more relaxing to have both of us in one boat - relaxing for me anyway. I could let Jim paddle while I sat back and took pictures. Well, it didn't work out that way. It was a big, wide, stable kayak with foot peddles as well as paddles. Not the best choice for the kind of kayaking thru the mangroves. It acted more like a barge than a boat. Jim's foot peddles were broken, and it just didn't move well enough to make do with just the paddles, so I was peddling AND paddling most of the time just to barely keep up. Then, we started down a narrow path thru the mangroves that turned out to be a dead end. We had to paddle backwards all the way back to the opening because there was no amount of 3-point, 4-point, or even 5-point turns that could get that barge to go the other way.
Are we having fun yet?!
Oh yeah! We were outside, we were on the water, we were with friends, we were getting exercise. We even had a bit of a challenge. It doesn't get any better. We stopped in the shade for lunch and had lots of conversation and laughs. It was a great day. Thank you Ryan for making this happen!




Thursday, June 25, 2020

#StayHome day 86-95 - week 13 the novelty wears off

It's getting quieter around here. Just not much to talk about. We always used to discuss where were going next and what had to be done to prepare. It's been over 3 months now that we've been shut in. The novelty is wearing off and the reality is weighing me down. 
I'm still eating well though! Jim asks me, what do you want for breakfast and I jokingly say, "French toast with strawberries." Here's what I get.

It's hard to get motivated for my work. I have spent a few days working on my book, and we held 2 workshops on Google Photos over Zoom. The workshops were good. Real teaching - just 6 people in a class. That's what I really love to do. I hope this is just the beginning of a new way for me to do my teaching. 

Feeling low?
Talk to a friend, listen to music. It helped me. Then I got a good night's sleep and I felt better the next day. 

Black Lives Matter too
I love the word that Elliott Masie is using in his Friday zoom concerts - Empathy. I think about it a lot. I grew up in a segregated society. I think there was one black person in my grade school, and not that many more in school or work ever since. I've never had a close black friend. Some acquaintances, sure, but no one close. I know that I don't understand what it's like to be black in our society, but I try to empathize. This video of Amber Ruffin, a black woman on Seth Meyers show, relaying some stories is instructional. We all need to be learning. 
Trevor Noah - in the Daily Show has also been very eloquent. In this episode Black Americans in the Workplace he shows a study: if you have a black sounding name on your resume, you are 50% less likely to get a call back. "Racism never takes a day off."  "Black people are asking for equality, not charity. They're not asking for companies to hire black people just because they're black, they're asking for companies to stop not-hiring black people just because they're black."
All lives matter? Duh, of course all lives matter, but when someone says that, what I hear is that they believe it is unfair to say that Black lives matter when that leaves white people out. Of course All lives matter - that's just the point. When black people are perceived as equally valuable to whites, then ALL lives will matter. Here's a page that explains it more clearly than I can. We need empathy.

Progress is being made. For example, after the George Floyd murder by a police officer kneeling on his neck, Minnesota has banned chokeholds by police. While this is a step in the right direction, even massive policy changes won't fix the problem. The problem is that racism is baked in to our culture and,  "Culture eats Policy for breakfast". Only when we change the culture will we have hope. There are signs of hope these days.

Bad news
Sun 6-14 US cases: 2.13 million Deaths 117,000
Tue 6-16 US cases: 2.18 million Deaths 119,000
Thu 6-18 cases: 2.22 million Deaths 120,000
Fri 6-19 cases: 2.26 million Deaths: 121,000

Wed 6-24 US cases: 2.43 million Deaths: 124,000

Good news
We're getting the RV ready to roll. Just for a couple days. We're going to the keys, renting a kayak and joining a few of our Dive club members to paddle around. 


   

Saturday, June 13, 2020

#StayHome Days 81-85 Learning Empathy

I'm a happy person living in an unhappy time. We're in a global pandemic, thousands are marching in the streets, risking their lives, to bring our attention to systemic racism. And, oh yeah, the country is in lockdown which deprives hundreds of thousands of people from earning a living. It is a depressing time.
I'm semi-retired, I have Medicare, I collect social security as does my husband, and we earn an income doing work we love online with our website and a community of paying members. We are both white, with all the privilege that entails. Life is good. We understand that others do not have the same lives as we do, but how do we relate?
I've been watching
I've been reading
Dessa Rose a novel depicting realities of being a slave
Give People Money making the case for a Universal Basic Income to lessen the gap between haves and have nots

Bad News
Mon 6/8 US cases: 2 million Deaths: 113,000
Tue 6/9 US cases 2.02 million Deaths: 114,000
We'd 6/10 US cases: 2.04 million Deaths 115,000
Thu 6/11 US cases: 2.06 million Deaths 115,000 DOW -1,500
Fri 6/12 US cases: 2.09 million Deaths 116,000

Saturday, June 06, 2020

#StayHome days 74-78 Blackout week

Blackout Tuesday is an initiative to go silent on social media, reflect on recent events, and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. With day after day of protests, deepening awareness of our systemic racism, police brutality, and rising death toll from the virus, it felt more like blackout week to me. I have bad-news fatigue.

We did all our normal things this week. Walked around the neighborhood most every day, 2 Toastmaster meetings via Zoom, one mastermind meeting via zoom, no happy hours this week. Still working on book, sent out our June newsletter. Finished reading Give People Money - some kind of Universal Basic Income system makes so much sense to me. It was a very well researched book, and surprisingly readable. 

Bad News
6/1 Mon US Covid-19 cases: 1.82 million Deaths: 106,000
6/2 Tue cases: 1.87 million, Deaths: 108,000
6/4 Wed cases: 1.88 million, Death: 109,000
6/5 Fri cases: 1.93 million  , Deaths: 110,000

Good News
NFL On Kneeling Players' Protests: 'We Were Wrong ... - NPR

Sunday, May 31, 2020

#StayHome Days 70-73 The best of times and the worst of times

We are still very content staying home. We walk around the neighborhood for exercise, and I hike up and down the stairs when my fitbit buzzes at me to move. 
  

Sign of the times - face mask at the ready

My Book
I'm working diligently on my Google Photos book. I hit a roadblock one day. The one where I think I can't do this, there's too much, it's too hard, I'll never get it done, I should write better, who am I to write this book, I should give up and wait for someone else to do it. But I persevered, first I took the evening off and drank more wine 🍷, the next day I kept my nose to the grindstone and succeeded at not drinking any wine, just to prove I could, and I focused on just one chapter - the Sharing chapter. 
I think this will be a good book.

Food
I am so lucky that I live in the best restaurant in town. Jim is still making delicious, healthy meals every day. In addition to being a computer geek, he is a cooking geek. He uses a Sous Vide to cook the steak. That's a device where you seal the steak in a plastic bag and immerse it in water. The Sous Vide device gets the water to the specified heat and you program it for the proper temperature to make the steak rare, medium, well-done - however you like it. It cooks the steak perfectly, through and through. Not rare in the middle and well-done on the outside. It takes a bit of time because it's low and slow, a couple hours maybe, but it's no work - he sets it and forgets it till it dings that it's done. Then he takes it out to his Kamado Joe grill with special charred wood instead of charcoal to finish it off. He also has an Instant Pot, and an Air Fryer, but they weren't used for this meal.

 

We did give Jim a break one day, we broke down and ordered pizza online, oops Jim slipped and clicked on the chocolate lava cake as well. The Dominos website shows you when the pizza goes into the oven, when it comes out, and when it's in the car for delivery. We ordered at 5:42 and it was promised by 6pm. That seems awfully fast. We figured it would probably be more like one hour. Jim started getting irritable when we passed the hour point and still hadn't heard anything. It was delivered at 6:50, and it wasn't very hot. But, the air fryer fixed that. I think Jim prefers to cook instead of going thru the aggravation. I do like the thin and crispy crust Pacific Veggie pizza though. I didn't like the chocolate lava cake at all. 😋

Space Launch
For being stuck at home and having nothing going on in our lives, it was amazing how exhausted I felt by the end of the day Saturday with all that was going on in the news. First - the good stuff - Spacex and Nasa's first manned rocket launch in over 9 years. It was so emotional - both Jim and I were crying as we watched that massive rocket rise up above the flame, take to the sky ... and make it. Then the unimaginable feat of the Rocket coming back to earth and sticking the landing on a drone ship named "Of course I still love you". 
Memories flooded thru me. I remember being a 10 year old girl huddled around the TV with my parents in 1962 as the United States launched a man into orbit, then again in 1969 when we put a man on the moon. The wonder of it all, the feeling of invincibility, the proud knowledge that I lived in a country that could do this! Also the memory, in 1983, huddled around a TV at work to watch the Challenger launch with a teacher on board, and the horror of watching it blow up. My last space launch memory is in 1998 when Jim and I went to Cape Canaveral with our friends Chris and Richard to watch John Glenn go back into space on STS-95 when he was 77 years old. It was another tear-filled moment as we watched the rocket lift, then waited a few seconds to hear, and feel, the thunderous roaring sound. Our hearts were in our throats with the fear of seeing it blow up, then exuberation as it made it to orbit perfectly. 
All of these feelings combined as we watched the launch on TV this Saturday. Jim and I cried and cheered and poured some champagne.

Then ...
then ... with the TV still on, we started watching news of the riots in the streets protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The video, played over and over again, of a police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd's neck as he says, "I can't breathe." Reports say that the officer kept kneeling on his neck even after he became non-responsive. What? How is that possible? If it was necessary to take such extreme measures to subdue someone (and by all reports it was not) wouldn't any normal person be poised to let go as soon as possible? Reports are that the officer kept kneeling on him for nearly 3 minutes after he became non-responsive. 3 minutes is an eternity. How is that not cold-blooded murder? 
Then the protests began in Minneapolis, at first peaceful, then turning ugly, breaking windows, setting cars on fire. So horrible. Then came New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. Wow, this is historic. It's encouraging to see that many, if not most of the protesters are white. Could it be possible that this is a turning point in the country's history? We're on such a razor's edge though. Seeing protesters turn angry and facing rows of police with full military weapons, how does it not turn into a war? On the TV Saturday, the coverage was on protests in Miami. Crowds started at the Friendship tower downtown and walked thru the streets toward I-95. Then they streamed onto I-95 (the primary freeway in S Florida) and stopped traffic. What a sight. Many people in their cars, rather than being upset and trying to get through, got out of their cars and joined the protesters. Another very emotional sight. All very peaceful as far as we could see.

Bad News
5/27 Wednesday US Cases 1.73 million Deaths 102,000
5/28 Thursday US Cases 1.76 million Deaths 102,379
5/29 Friday US cases 1.78 million Deaths 104,000
5/30 Saturday US cases 1.81 Deaths: 105,000
More bad news: Riots in Minneapolis after police murder a black man: 'A riot is the language of the unheard': MLK's powerful quote resonates amid George Floyd protests

Good news
We have liftoff! Heart-stopping, Tear-jerking liftoff. And, even better was that the reusable Dragon Rocket stuck the landing on the drone barge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

#StayHome days 67-69 Rain Rain Rain

Well, if it's gotta rain, it may as well do it when we're stuck at home. I was beginning to think about building an arc, or at least getting the kayaks out and ready. I think it rained for 5 days straight. And, I mean rain - not just drizzle but downpour.

Other than curtailing our daily walks, our life didn't change much although the rain may have enhanced the general melancholy feeling. 

On Sunday we had a Members only zoom meeting instead of our YouTube show - I asked 6 people to teach one of their favorite features of Google Photos - it was great. I'm quite proud that we have so many members of Geeks on Tour who are technology teachers themselves. They look to us to show them how it's done! I wanted them to know that the feeling is mutual - I learn from them too. 

Whether it's a show, or a member meeting on Sunday, I always feel justified in taking the rest of the day off. We have our traditional glass of champagne to celebrate our online session whether it went well or it bombed, then I can read or watch a movie, go for a walk, or just browse the web - whatever I feel like. 

Memorial Day
This was memorial day weekend - the start of summer. Fort Lauderdale beaches are still closed due to the virus and as I mentioned, it was raining. Not a very start-of-summer like day. Memorial Day always makes Jim think about the Pumpernickel. That was his family restaurant, a Jewish style deli run by a good catholic family, on the Jersey shore. 


He has many stories of those years when he worked so hard from Memorial Day to Labor Day, then closed up shop for the rest of the year. I've always thought that was the perfect lifestyle, so I love hearing his stories. This time his brain was cogitating on how he would handle business during a pandemic. He said, 
"I think we'd be alright. We already had a lot of takeout business, so we would just emphasize it. There was a big window on the parking lot side of the building that could easily be turned into a drive-up window, and we had a large patio with outside seating that we could promote." 

TeleMedicine
Chalk up another new experience that I'm sure will be mainstream even after this is all over - we had our first TeleMedicine doctor visit. It was just a routine checkup - "How are you? Any complaints? Are you social distancing?" Instead of driving for 20-30 minutes, sitting in a waiting room for 15-30, visit for 15-30 and driving home - a minimum hour and a half - it was just sit down at our computers and have the 15 minute visit. We did miss having breakfast at the Pomperdale's deli that is next door however.

More work on my book
I'm writing the sharing chapter this week. How to share your photos and videos with friends, family, or everyone. I'm tempted to say how glad I am that I've procrastinated so long because an important change to sharing just happened last week, so that will be in my book. But I can't celebrate to hard because you know as soon as the book is in print, there will be other changes. I've decided to deal with that in a couple of different ways

  1. Each chapter will have an associated Google Photos album. At the beginning of each chapter in the book, I'll have a QR code that can be scanned, and a short link that can be typed in, that takes the reader to that album. An album can contain text, diagrams, photos, and most importantly, videos - my tutorial videos. These will supplement the written content and, since it's just a Google Photos album, I can change it so easily. New videos to show new features. I especially like the concept that I'll be using Google Photos to teach Google Photos!
  2. For Geeks on Tour members, I will have the eBook available online. I'm experimenting with how to make the eBook available in such a way that I can make real-time additions and corrections and allow for comments and questions. I would probably use Google Drive to accomplish this.
Zoom call with Ann 
Another Zoom call - this one wasn't planned, it started out as a regular phone call but as we continued to talk, we decided to "meet." So I told her the meeting ID that we've set up for meetings with friends, and there we were!


Bad news
5/24 Sunday US cases-1.68 million. Deaths 98,011
5/25 Monday US cases- 1.69 million. Deaths 98,468
5/26 Tuesday US cases-1.71 million. Deaths 100,000 

Good News
Fort Lauderdale beaches opened up on Tuesday, meaning we will be able to go Kayak Diving as soon as the weather cooperates and we can gather enough energy!
   

Sunday, May 24, 2020

#StayHome days 64-66 Happy Hours

Thursday started early, at 7am, for our zoom meeting with Early Bird Toastmasters. I so love that the virtual meetings allow us to have people from near and far. That includes Jose from Madrid, Spain! What a rich experience.

We ordered groceries from Publix (delivered by Instacart) at 11 and they were delivered to our door at 1. Got grapefruit juice to go with the vodka we already had. Yum. Is anyone else drinking too much in these quarantine times?

Last week's happy hour with Kim and Don was so successful, we decided to try it with other friends. On Friday we had happy hour with Chris and Richard who live here in the same county, and while we were on the call we decided to see if we could add our mutual friend Debby who is out in California. It only took her a few minutes to get back to her computer and join us. How great is that?! The 5 of us haven't seen each other in about a year and a half. It took a pandemic to get us to try this!

Saturday we tried it again and had happy hour with Melinda and Laird in Nevada. Melinda and I have been good friends, like sisters, since 1979, but unless we are together in person, we rarely talk. Melinda is the only friend I know who dislikes the phone more than I do. She was with us for our New Zealand adventure last February and I don't think we've spoken even once since. So, I was shocked and surprised when she agreed to try a Zoom call and clicked the link at the given time, and there we all were. The experience is so much richer with the video, she even took us around her paddock with all her "critters!" 


Bad news

Thursday US Covid-19 cases 1.61 million, deaths 95,087
Friday cases 1.63 million, Deaths 96,276
Saturday Cases 1 66 million, Deaths 97,494

Good news

For the 5th time in 2 months we've ordered toilet paper in our grocery delivery. For the first time, today, it was in stock and delivered! We were down to our last roll.

   

Thursday, May 21, 2020

#StayHome days 59 - 63

Damn! How time is speeding by. With no travel to delineate time by location, I have no frame of reference. Just all of a sudden it's the end of the week. We did our YouTube show on Sunday, so that means that Saturday was preparing, Sunday was delivering, and Monday/Tuesday was writing notes and recapping. We also did our "Backstage" zoom meeting with Geeks on Tour members after the show. These are so cool. Our episode was back to basics with Google Photos. We had over 200 viewers at one point during the live show - that's a record for us. And, within 4 hours, the video had over 1,000 views. That's really a record. I still wonder if there was some kind of anomaly in that count. We usually have 300 or so in that amount of time, and many of our shows only have 400 views even a week later. I know Google Photos is popular, but ?? Here is Episode 191 on YouTube.

I love guacamole, and the avocados that Jim got from the Walmart order were perfect by Monday and Tuesday. And, the one thing we will always go to Walmart for is chips. Their hint of lime chips are the best. What a treat.

That's about it for the week. We've gone for our walk around the neighborhood most every day. We've also had a Zoom meeting just about every day, and I'm continuing to make progress on my Google Photos book. I'm especially excited about coming up with a strategy for adding videos and other dynamic info to the book. I'm making a Google Photos album for each chapter. The album will contain tutorial videos and text slides. Using Google Photos to teach Google Photos! Brilliant.

Bad news

Saturday Cases 1.5 million deaths 89,420
Sunday Cases 1.5 million 89,754
Monday cases 1.54 million deaths 90,694
Tuesday cases 1.56 million deaths 92,258
Wednesday cases 1.58 m deaths 93,806

Good News

Loved this story from NPR about how well different types of people got along when they were forced to be together at Hotel Corona Rough Translation NPR

And, you gotta check out this way of virtual travel. Control where you go virtually in Farrell islands tourism

Saturday, May 16, 2020

#StayHome Days 54-58 I feel busier than ever



I'm working in earnest on my Google Photos book this week. I've changed the introduction chapter 3 times! But I think I'm relatively settled on the chapter topics. Now I'm getting down to the details of writing and reviewing. Reviewing everything in the old version so as to delete what isn't valid any more, and writing about all the new features and changes in general. We skipped our YouTube show last week so we better do it this week. I've set the title to "What is Google Photos and how to use it" so I can stay on topic. Here is the link to the youtube show. Speaking of YouTube, our channel passed 6,000 subscribers this week. 

Venture out

I had a mammogram a while ago, and the results were inconclusive, so I had to schedule a follow up ultrasound. I postponed it once do to Covid-19 shutdown, but I didn't want to put it off too long. I know too many women who have had breast cancer and early detection is most important. I heard back in 2 days and it's still inconclusive - they believe it's just a benign cyst. So I'm scheduled again in 6 months. Any time I venture out of the house in this dark time, it's an experience. This office set up chairs outside, only 2 people in the waiting room. Everyone was wearing a mask.

Walking

It's a simple enough thing to do. We have a beautiful neighborhood with a road that goes around in a circle. The circle is just over a mile so it's a perfect walk. Why don't we do it every day? I can tell you that I was proud of us for walking twice on Tuesday. But then I have to admit that the second time was to get ice cream at the convenience store an extra block away. 

My Yeti

I think I mentioned in here that our Toastmasters club had a special meeting called "Tall Tales" last week. Making stuff up is not easy for me and I really wanted to do it. I was inspired by last week's speakers so I told my tale this week. Since we're on Zoom, the meetings are recorded and you can see my speech here. It's just over 7 minutes.

Homeland

I'm done. I watched the final episode of Homeland. Wow. I really did like that show, and the ending was superb. I won't talk about it in case it would be a spoiler for you. But I'll just say it's worth it.

Phone battery running down

It's amazing how much I use my phone. It does everything for me. No, I don't talk on the phone. I can go days without a call, but I run all my streaming video from the phone, cast to the TV. I play music with it. I still take some photos, and I read my kindle books. I keep my todo lists with it and send and read email and Facebook. I definitely take it with me when we walk - I want credit for those steps! Unless my hands are on the computer keyboard they're on the phone. It's kind of like a TV remote - I am controlling what I see on TV with it most all the time.

Bad news

Mon Covid-19 cases 1.38 million Deaths 81,378
Tue Covid-19 cases 1.4 million deaths 83,019
Wed Covid-19 cases 1.42 million deaths 84,705
Thurs Covid-19 cases 1.44 million deaths 86,248
Fri Covid-19 cases 1.47 million Deaths 88,031
My God! 88 thousand deaths in this country in 2 months. I cannot wrap my head around that. For comparison - 2,400 died at Pearl Harbor, 58,000 Americans died in all the years of the VietNam war. Yankee Stadium holds 50,000. And, this may not be even close to over. We are SOO lucky that we are financially able to stay home, and we have work to keep us busy here. 

Less bad news

We've been getting our groceries delivered from Publix, but they've been out of toilet paper for 2 months now, so Jim thought he'd check out Walmart. They have a process where you can order and then go pick it up and they had toilet paper in stock! That was Tuesday, the pickup was scheduled for Friday. Jim got a message Friday morning that they were out of toilet paper. 


   

Monday, May 11, 2020

#StayHome Days 51-53 Music, Food, Conversation

For several weeks now, Elliott Masie has hosted a Friday afternoon Empathy concert. I've always loved the way Elliott packages his extensive knowledge with kindness and understanding. Elliott is a big deal in the Learning, Technology, and Staff Training industry, but you'd never know it just by watching him. With his success in the industry, he branched out many years ago into 2 other fields: horse racing and Broadway productions. He is nothing if not eclectic! On his Friday Empathy broadcast (using Zoom by the way) he has thoughtful discussions with people, but the best part is the music from actors in his Broadway shows. It gets me up off the couch to dance around the room, and when it's a song I know - watch out - I sing my heart out.
 
Some notes I took from the conversation: 
  • There's freedom in not knowing what is coming next. That's the way I felt about RVing.
  • "Capture your stories"
  • Disasters bring us together. 9-11 brought the country together, this is bringing the whole world together.
  • The power to reveal who we really are.
  • A time for your true colors
  • Masie concert fills our heart ❤️

More music

When the Empathy concert was over, I wanted more music. I used my Samsung phone, opened up the YouTube music app and found my Chris' Favorites playlist. I cast it to the big screen TV to get our surround sound speakers and a bonus was that some of the songs included videos. This meant more dancing, singing, getting choked up. Jim even joined in. When the music video came on for The Beatles Hey Jude, there were several closeups of the young Paul McCartney's eyes. Wow - no wonder teenage girls screamed over him. It's either scream or melt. I was one of those screaming teenagers. Who else thinks we grew up in a time of musical greatness? Have you seen the movie Yesterday? It's about how empty the world would be without the Beatles' music. 

Cooking

Jim does 99% of the cooking around here, but I do have a couple items that are mine. One is butternut squash, and it was on the menu tonight. I take a whole squash and cut it up into little cubes. This is something I learned on YouTube :-) Once it's cubed, I sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper and toss it with a light coating of olive oil and finally just a drizzle of honey. Then it goes in the air fryer for 20 minutes and comes out perfect. Me cooking! I enjoyed being in the kitchen, listening to music, washing dishes, cutting up butternut squash. I think I get why Jim likes it so much.


Conversation

Over dinner, Jim and I had a great conversation about milestones during our lifetime. Good and bad... Moon landing, President assassinated, creation of personal computer and the world wide web, terror attacks of 9-11, election of a black president. All of those were huge, but they affected us countrywide, not planet-wide. This CoronaVirus pandemic is the only worldwide event in our lifetime. World war 2 was just before we were born. Mind blowing. Magnified by wine drinking :-)

Happy hour with friends

No, we didn't break social distancing rules, we used Zoom for a strictly social purpose this time. We met Kim and Don Green because of RVing. They founded a company called Harvest Hosts (which they have since sold) and attended many of the same rallies we did in order to promote it. We hit it off right away and enjoyed their company any time we got the chance. We've visited them at their home in Prescott, AZ and they've been here to our place in Fort Lauderdale. We would love to travel with them someday as they have the most adventurous spirit of anyone I know. They had just returned from several months in South America. They shipped their truck camper there, traveled all around and shipped it back. It was great to meet up with them even if only virtually. ... actually I discovered one advantage to virtual happy hours ... you don't have to drive anywhere after so you can have as much wine as you want!


Exercise

I was so proud of us on on Friday, we did our neighborhood walk twice, once in morning and once after dinner. A total of over 3 miles. But then we didn't move at all Saturday or Sunday. We didn't even open the front door.

Sunday was Mother's day. An aid at her Assisted Living Facility offered to video chat using WhatsApp. Chat isn't really a good description, she doesn't talk anymore, and she has no clue who I am when I'm standing beside her, let alone on a little phone screen. But it was still reassuring to see her.


Bad News

Fri Covid-19 cases 1.31 million Deaths: 77,727
Sat Covid-19 cases 1.34 million Deaths 79,373
Sun Covid-19 cases 1.36 million Deaths 80,539

Dow Jones is UP - wait you say, shouldn't stock market gains be listed under good news? Although it may be good news for big companies, it does not represent good news overall and especially not for small small businesses. Read this post in Reddit and see what you think. Why the stock market is going up even as unemployment goes up

Good news

The pandemic is teaching us that the world has to learn to work together.

Drone planting trees - this news is not related to the pandemic, it's just good news. It makes me hopeful for the future.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Day 48-49-50 #StayHome Down the rabbit hole

Too much of a good thing? If you love learning, like both Jim and I do, this stay home time is like heaven. Endless YouTube videos to learn whatever you want.
Both Jim and I are geeks and love learning.  He has several computers and mobile devices as do I, so when we have a hankering to see what the new Google meet is like, we can each jump on a meeting with one computer. Then, so as to have 3 or 4 users in the meeting, we can use other computers and other accounts to create a multiple person meeting and put it thru it's paces. 3 hours later, we look up and say "Where did the time go?" I haven't even started on the project I hoped to accomplish, but damn! it's so fun and satisfying to explore technology and learn new stuff. Jim and I also played a bit with the new Facebook Messenger for desktop. Both Google Meet and Facebook messenger for Desktop are supposed to give Zoom some competition for the online meeting market. From our day of experimenting, and our 3 years with Zoom, we still think Zoom is the winner hands-down. That doesn't mean we should keep our eye on these competitors, there might come a time one of them is a better choice.

Toastmaster meeting - Tall Tales

Our Earlybird Toastmasters meeting (at 7am) had a special format this week. We call it tall tales. I wanted to participate, but I'm just not good at making things up. I almost signed up to force myself to do it. If I'm not good at it, it just means I need to work on it right? Well ... I didn't, but I attended the meeting and was inspired by our speakers (liars) so I will give a story telling speech next week. Stay tuned - our meetings are recorded so, if I do OK, I'll post the recording next week.

Dermatologist Appt

My only health issue is skin cancer. I spent my teenage years here in Fort Lauderdale and I went to the beach every day. That was back before sunscreen. We used baby oil on our skin to get deeper tans. I'm paying for that now. I've had half a dozen surgeries on my face to remove basal cell and squamous skin cancers. So, I hate to miss a dermatologist appointment. I had one this week, they called to adjust my appointment time a bit, but they said it was ok to come in. Here's a sight you don't see very often .. an empty doctor's waiting room!

Google Photos Book

OK, I gotta get back to writing the next edition of my Google Photos book. I had promised to have it done and ready for purchase at Amazon by May 1. I missed that deadline. I've done a lot of work on it, but there's still a lot more to go. I have a need to see the big picture before I can focus on writing the details. So, I've been re-working the overall outline. Since the beginning, I remind myself about the different parts to teach of Google photos by using the acronym GEECS (kinda like geeks, get it?) G=Gather all photos E=Explore your photos E=Edit your photos C=Creations from your photos S=Share your photos. But there are a few pieces that didn't fit in there. My latest list is:
G-getting started and gathering all photos
E-explore (by date, by faces, using search etc)
E-edit (using Google Photos and Snapseed)
A-albums (lots to know about the one organizing tool we have in Google Photos)
W-workflow going forward, organize and backup
C-create and print
S-sharing
O-other (Lens, Chromebook, etc)
Anyone interested in discussing this can join the Facebook group "Learn Google Photos"

Bingeable Netflix / Amazon / HBO??

Oh no! I only have 2 episodes of Homeland left. What should I watch next? Really - I'm looking for recommendations.

Bad News

Tue Covid-19 cases: 1.23 million Deaths: 72,054
Wed Covid-19 Cases: 1.25 million Deaths: 73,667
Thu Covid-19 cases: 1.28 million Deaths: 76,421

Good news

Being forced to use technology like we are is revealing. One friend who works in IT at a hospital is now working from home, as is all the rest of the staff. He heard from his boss that the company saved SO much money because of this that it might become a permanent thing. Who knew? 
Another friend does a lot of computer coaching and is now doing that via Zoom. She says that she is finding it is even more effective than being there. She's seeing the student's screen and can coach them, but they have to do it. It's less intimidating for them to have her remote. They can easily take a break and come back. Good stuff.  

Loving all our photos displaying on our TVs around the house. Lots of memories of our travels all around us as we #StayHome







Monday, May 04, 2020

Day 45-47 Lifelong Learning

Jim takes course on Snagit and earns a certificate. I get the new Camtasia 2020 and started tackling learning the new features.

On Saturday we were booked to do a remote seminar for the APCUG's virtual tech conference. We taught how to use Chromecast to display Photo Albums from Google Photos on your big screen TV, then we showed how to use your smartphone to digitize photos from old photo albums. Of course then I'm inspired to go thru a few old albums and do just that. Here are a couple of gems from Christmas 1993. That is my sweet husband-to-be in the Santa suit :-)


When we teach, we learn. On Sunday, we had a Geeks on Tour members only meeting using Zoom. I was teaching how to make a blog, One question came up about inserting photos into a blog from Google Photos. If you then delete the photo from Google Photos, will it be gone from your blog? I hesitated on that one - it certainly used to be the case that the photos would be gone from the blog, but I think maybe that has changed. After the meeting I did my due diligence and conducted some testing. Yes, indeed, even though you're grabbing the photo from Google Photos, the process copies it to Google Album Archive. So, if you later delete the photo from Google Photos, it's still in the Blogger album in Google Album archive. It's a lot to understand, but it's actually very nice. 

I also learned something about Google sites from one of our members. Jack explained how he uses Google Sites to embed Google Photos albums into a web page. I tried it and, yes - it is really slick. It replaces about a half hour of work, to a couple of minutes. You can see what I mean on the 'Our Photo Albums' page here in this blog. For all the albums before 2020 I hace to manually grab one photo and link it to the album. If you click on 2020 photos, it takes you to a Google Sites page which only took a few minutes to put together. 

Bad news

Saturday Covid-19 Cases: 1.15 million Deaths: 66,766
Sunday Covid-19 Cases: 1.18 million  Deaths: 68,040
Monday Covid-19 Cases: 1.21 million Deaths: 69,921

Good News

Tough times bring neighborhoods together. There are 4 units - townhouses - in our building. One of our neighbors, Keith, is a party planner by profession. Understandably, all his work has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. That could be why he arranged a sidewalk socially distant happy hour for our building. It was fun, reminded me of many a happy hour at RV parks.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Days 41-44 #StayHome Escape

Jim has gone out in the car a few times since this lockdown started. He was using his dive neck wrap as a mask. I had nothing, so I made one out of paper towels, coffee filter, and rubber bands based on some YouTube videos. You can tell it's been a while since our haircuts too :-)

My first time in the car since this started! I finally made contact with someone at Mom's assisted living facility. Someone who cares for Mom. I asked the front desk to have someone call me - there's no direct number to the memory care wing?!? Sofia called me back, I've met her before. I asked if there was anything Mom needed and she told me shoes and socks. I ordered them from Amazon and they arrived on Monday, so Tuesday was the day to deliver them. I dropped off the shoes with someone who came to the door - no one is allowed in the facility except residents and employees. Sofia used WhatsApp to send me a photo:



Jim drove and after Mom's we went to the Grocery store. Still no toilet paper! Luckily we had a good supply when this all started, but that was 6 weeks ago. Jim succumbed to an impulse buy of pizza dough. He said that making a pizza has been on his mind ever since reading Nick's blog the other day. We also both fondly remember a neighbor inviting us to pizza a while back and they cooked it on the grill! So, here goes nothin' ...
The crust got a little blackened with the nice hot fire, but it was mighty tasty. He can try that again!

Thursday started out with our normal 7am Toastmasters meeting via Zoom. And Friday started with our normal 8:30 am zoom meeting with our technology mastermind group. We don't feel isolated at all. But, everything should be in moderation. One of our toastmasters members said she would be in Zoom meetings for 7 hours that day. Yikes, too much.
What the hell is a pile of quarters doing on the floor at the top of the stairs? It's an idea I got from reading a book, many years ago, about Charles Darwin called The Origin by Irving Stone. You'd think, in a book about Darwin, the most memorable part would have something to do with the voyages of his ship, the Beagle, maybe the part where he studied species on the Galapagos islands? No, all these years later, what I remember is a story about Darwin at home. He liked to walk around his garden. It wasn't that big and he would decide to walk around it a certain amount of times. This is where he did his thinking, so he didn't trust himself to keep count of the laps. What he would do is pick up stones, 20 stones if he intended to do 20 laps, and put them in his pocket. Each time he passed the beginning spot, he would take a stone out of his pocket and drop it. When he was out of stones, he knew he had accomplished his 20 laps. I just thought that was such a brilliant idea ... I tucked it away for someday when I wanted to do laps somewhere. How about 10 "laps" up and down the stairs? Who needs a stair master machine when I have the real thing. 

Bad News (source)

Wed 4/29
US Covid-19 Cases: 1036652 Deaths 60,475
Thu 4/30
US Covid-19 Cases:1.09 million Deaths 63,538
Fri 5/1
US Covid-19 Cases: 1,119,253 Deaths: 65,138

Good News

Some see this global pause as a historic opportunity to brainstorm and think of fresh new solutions to seemingly insoluble problems. The story of Isaac Newton's year off is instructional. Isaac Newton Changed the World While in Quarantine From the Plague

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Day 38-39-40 Blogger and Starman

Sat 4-25
In the middle of the night, as my mind is hard at work thinking about how I want to teach Blogger on our YouTube show on Sunday, I thought it would be a nice touch to interview someone else who uses blogger for their life story. I thought we might invite someone to be our guest on Sunday's show, but we often have problems and I get a little scattered during live interviews. I know! I could interview someone over Zoom and record it - then we could edit it and just play the video on Sunday,. Yes! That's what I want. But ... I should have thought of that a while ago right? After all, today is Saturday. I decided to go for it anyway and I emailed Judy, whose recent blog post I had just read. She responded and said she was available today and would be happy to do it. Cool! I interviewed her on Saturday afternoon and gave the recording to Jim to edit. Doing creative work like this energizes me. I also made 4 new videos on using blogger, and I even did my exercises!

Sun 4-26
Show time.
Here's the link to Episode 190: What is a Blog and how does Blogger work?

Bad news

Sat 4-25
US Covid-19 cases 953,000 Deaths: 53,625
Sun 4-26
US Covid-19 cases 985,000 deaths: 55 383
Mon 4-27
??

Good News

If you missed the 60 minutes episode about how Ford and GM have stopped making cars and started making ventilators and other Covid-19 related equipment, you can see it here. What struck me the most during the episode were the people in tears because they were so happy for the opportunity to help. It is a feel-good story that reminds us how much we all want to be helpful.

It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Starman, where Jeff Bridges says, "You want to know what I find beautiful about the human race? You are at your very best when things are worst"


Monday, April 27, 2020

I'm so happy to see a NEW Blogger

I've been keeping this blog on Blogger since May of 2003, and I've written nearly 2,000 posts. I can't think of any web-based computer product that has been around anywhere near as long. My first experience with the web was with CompuServe and Netscape, neither of which exist now. Well, CompuServe actually does exist, but it was originally sold to AOL in 1997, when I stopped using it. 

Blogger is owned by Google which is famous for killing off products. The only way to know if a product is still in Google's good graces is to see that they're making changes to it, updating it. Blogger has been wonderfully stable, with very few changes over the years. That makes it a wonderful product to use, it is worrisome to think that Google may stop supporting it. So, when I noticed the "try the new Blogger" button. It made me very happy. 


Not only would I miss Blogger terribly, but GeeksOnTour has taught many other people to keep their personal journals using Blogger. Some of them still post nearly every day, like Rick and Kathy Rouseau  or Sue Hepler with her Palm Creek Update blog. and others use it as their annual letter, generally posting once/year like Roxie (don't you think that's brilliant?!) Then, there are clubs who we encouraged to use Blogger.  

I can't say that I see any important new features in the New Blogger - but I'm just happy to see that Google Is working on it. That means the Blogger platform is alive and well.
Here's a video I made about how to use the New Blogger.



Saturday, April 25, 2020

Day 36-37 #StayHome: Still Blogging after all these years

Thursday 4-23

7 am Toastmasters meeting using Zoom, gets the creative juices flowing early, but that doesn't mean it will continue. I tend to feel like I've accomplished enough when that meeting is over. I take my cup of coffee, sit on the couch and browse my old blog books. I love me old blog books. What is a blog book? It is a book made out of the posts of this blog. I've had one printed for every year we were on the road. This is inspiring me to make Blogging be our topic for this Sunday's YouTube show. Episode 190 of What Does This Button Do?

I did eventually get some work done. I found myself rifling through old Photo Backup CDs and found some photos I didn't have in Google Photos, so I uploaded them, and made a video about how to do that. See video here
This was my week to contribute an article to the RV travel magazine, so I wrote about Blogging!

I'm not sure what Jim did all day. He has his office/man cave downstairs while mine is upstairs. I could hear him laughing several times, I also heard other people's voices - presumable coming from Zoom calls. He's a much more sociable creature than I am. He's also constantly learning new techniques for audio and video production. And, of course, he made us delicious meals for lunch and dinner. I live in the best restaurant in town.



It was another gorgeous day and we walked around our neighborhood circle after dinner.



Friday 4-24

We start the day with another Zoom meeting, but this one is at a more civilized hour - 8:30. This is our tech-sharing group, we always learn new things. Today we all jumped on a Facebook Messenger meeting to see what is changing. With the popularity of online meetings these days, lots of companies are trying to challenge Zoom's dominance. It worked pretty slick - and the article says you can even invite people who don't have a Facebook account now.

Facebook messenger has fun AR effects

I had zero motivation for the rest of the day. I broke my record - watching 4 episodes of Homeland. 

Bad news

Thur 4-23
Covid-19 US cases: 890,000 Deaths: 50,177
Fri 4-24 
Covid-19 US cases: 923,000 Deaths: 52,234

Good News

I think it's really good news that I'm blogging again. I've never been an every day blogger, but I was pretty good at writing 2-3 times a week. For the last year or so, especially when we're home, it's been an effort to write once a month. During this #StayHome times, I feel the need to document our life again. I think it's kind of like the prisoner who needs to scratch on the wall to attest to the passage of time. fyi - this is my 1,934th post in this blog.