Friday, December 31, 2021

Deja Vu - go or no go?

 Back in March 2020 we were booked to go on a dive trip to the Maldives - Islands in the Indian Ocean. The pandemic was just getting started. We had no idea how bad it would be. If the trip had been just a few days earlier, we might have gone. As it was, we had just enough time to think and we decided to cancel. Good thing - if we had gone, we would have gotten stuck there for weeks, maybe even months.

In January 2021 the vaccine became available for people of a certain age. We hunted and finally found a location where we could drive thru and we were in line for 3.5 hours, but we got our first shot. A few weeks later we got the second one, and in the fall we got our booster shot. We've gotten good at washing our hands often and getting good sleep. We haven't had so much as a sniffle in the last year and a half. 

All is well, right? The world is opening up and traveling again. We booked a tour in Central America called Route of the Maya for the first 3 weeks of 2022. 

Not so fast, Covid is mutating again and cases are soaring. This is the Omicron variant. It's nowhere near as deadly as the other variants, but it is so much more contagious! We need to get a Covid test before we fly and I felt like we were back to square one to find such a service. I checked with 22 different CVS stores - not a one had an appointment. Jim finally found a drive thru at a local park - no appointment needed, just wait in line for 2.5 hours this time.


That was 3 days before departure. With each day came news of soaring Covid infection numbers, but our trip was not cancelled. We were assured that American Airlines was definitely flying to El Salvador, our first destination. So, it's up to us - go or no go. There is little possibility that we would get really sick, but we could test positive at some border crossing and need to quarantine for 10 days. I spoke with the trip leader and he said that 2 others had already cancelled. Even though our flight is tomorrow, he said we could still cancel with no penalty.  Aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh

Jim and I took a walk and talked. Got home sat in the hot tub and talked. The last time this happened we cancelled and it was the right decision. But, this is different - it's not on the other side of the world, we're fully vaccinated, most of the activities are outdoors. Oh ... Eff it! We're going.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Christmas Camping Tradition

 From 2004 to 2017 we lived full-time in our RV. That means 365 days/year, including Christmas day. We spent Christmas day in national parks, in big RV parks, in little RV parks, and on public lands in the desert. Here is one of my favorite photos from RV Christmases:


Now that we are house-bound, it's a special treat to spend a night or two in our camper. There is a county park with nice RV sites, just a couple miles from our house and we tend to make reservations there any time we want to feel like we're RVers again. This year was a little tight, but we booked a couple of nights anyway. 

The day after Christmas was Sunday and we had our "What Does This Button Do?" show, Episode 226 scheduled. It was all about the tech we plan to take with us on our Central America trip starting 1/1/22. We had a great time doing the show, and especially the After Show where we invite Geeks on Tour members to join us in a Zoom meeting for further discussion.

When we were done with that, we threw some food, some wine, and a few clothes into the camper van and headed over to Easterlin park. God, it's beautiful.




We just feel so cozy and at home in our home #2.


We had a quiet night on Sunday, we used a HDMI cable to connect my Samsung phone (with unlimited Verizon data) to the TV and we watched CONTACT with Jodie Foster and Mathew McConaghey. An oldie but a goodie. 

Then Monday we took a walk, went for a bike ride and then just hung around and relaxed. It's always good to use the systems in the RV, like hot water heater, air conditioning, refrigerator, etc. 

The plan was to get Jim up early for a doctor appointment on Tuesday morning. Then he'd come back and we'd go home. When Monday night came around, it just felt right to break camp and go home. We could watch the Dolphins play the Saints on Monday night footbal. (Wow! They won! - that's 7 wins in a row, after they had lost 7 in a row)

Yes, we felt a little silly taking the camper out for one night - kind of like little kids pitching a tent in the back yard! :-) But we fully enjoyed ourselves. How nice to have 2 homes and we love them both.

Jim tinkered with an awning replacement.


When we got home, I made a Caprese Candy Cane. Cool!



Sunday, December 26, 2021

Merry Christmas

 It's been another 5 days! Lots going on.

On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a great dinner with friends. This was a case of making lemonade out of lemons. My BFF, Chris Lorber was planning to host her 2 kids, spouses, and 2 grandkids for the holidays. Because of the spikes in Covid with the Omicron variant, they ended up staying home in the northeast. BUMMER. But, that opened the evening for us to visit for dinner! My oldest and dearest Florida friend - and we haven't seen each other much for the last couple years. Thanks for a great dinner and good friendship / conversation Chris!



The next day was Christmas, and Jim's sister, Debbie, hosted the family at her house. She knows how to do it up right! Jim's tradition is to make Bagels and Lox. He brings all the makings and puts them together once we get there.


Then, Debbie really outdid herself with all sorts of dishes laid out on the table buffet style. 


It isn't very often that Devon gets to visit with his cousin, Stephen, from Massachussets. And, whaddaya know? - Stephen has all sorts of knowledge and opinions about the programming system called Unreal and Devon is just starting to learn Unreal. Yes, it's definitely Unreal!

I've had my "sexy Mrs. Claus" t-shirt for about 25 Christmases now. I love it. I always wear it at Christmas. So, I was stopped in my tracks laughing when Bob opened the door wearing his "six pack" t-shirt. Then Debbie had to don her gay apparel, and we all posed for our sexy Christmas photo.


And, Jim had to capture the rear view.


Merry Christmas!!

From the bottom of my heart.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

A Sociable week

 Well, it's been 5 days since I wrote my "daily" post. Oh well.

It's been a very nice week actually. On Monday I started a new project - interviewing my fellow Toastmasters from Earlybird Toastmasters club. I started with Kip Barkley - you can see the interview video here.

On Tuesday, I drove up to West Palm Beach to spend some time with my sister-in-law Debbie doing my favorite thing, helping with technology questions. She had a list! What kind of new phone to get, understanding her password manager, the best way to manage an old and a new email address, how to get her vaccination card in an easily located digital format, and of course, some Google Photos issues. Such fun. I'm not sure I really helped anything, but we had a nice time.

Then Wednesday was a double-hitter. Breakfast with Blake - the husband of my longest friend, Lanz, who passed away a couple years ago. We're so happy to be staying in touch with Blake. Breakfast was non-stop conversation and laughter long after the food was gone. Then at happy hour time we had a zoom call with Don and Kim our most well-traveled friends. They just got back from 2 months on a self-drive boat in France. We had considered joining them, but it didn't happen. The last we saw them was RVing and hiking in Wyoming. They live in Prescott, AZ so Zoom is the only way to get together now. It was so natural that the computer screens just seemed to melt away and it was like we were actually in the same room, at a table or the bar chatting and drinking wine. We love hearing about their travels and their travel plans. 



Nice Day!


Sunday, December 19, 2021

Haircut and masks

 When we lived on the road, I never went to the same hair salon twice. I've had haircuts in Shipbottom, New Jersey, Casa Grande, AZ, Gold Beach, OR, Austin, TX and Goshen, Indiana - just to name a few! I was always afraid of the cut I would get so I put it off as long as I could. My RVing friend, Lynne called it "hairdresser roulette"!

Once we settled in Fort Lauderdale, I found a hairdresser I like and I ONLY go to her! In addition to getting the haircut I like, I learn a little about the life of a hair salon owner. When Covid shut down her shop, she used the time to gut, clean, and remodel the shop. Brilliant. Thanks to the government Covid relief for small businesses - called Paycheck Protection Program - she was able to pay her staff enough that they could survive and all of them came back when she reopened her doors. Everyone wore masks until the vaccine came out and things were a bit more relaxed. Masks were optional for most of 2021. It is sad and disturbing that when I went yesterday and the mask requirement is back. Due to the more infectious Omicron variant, they have experienced at least one positive Covid test and aren't taking any chances of more.



Friday, December 17, 2021

Breaking a Fast with a Feast

 Today is Friday ... we call it Fasting Friday. Sometimes we succeed at fasting, sometimes we don't. This morning I was determined. We had our coffee, I drank several glasses of water, and I ate my obligatory apple, but my plan was to eat nothing else all day - just water.

As of 2pm I was doing pretty good. But then I remembered. Tonight is the community Christmas party. We participate in this community so little that, if we're here when there's a party, we're going to go. And, we were hungry! Salad, baked Ziti, Swedish meatballs, Chicken Tikka Masala - and a whole table full of desserts. Maybe next Friday we'll fast.

We dressed up in our Christmas best.


The community center and Pool here are so beautiful, we really should go there more often.



It's good to meet the neighbors!



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Luxury of Time

 I say that I'm a lazy person, yet it feels like I'm working all the time. I think it has something to do with how much I value my free time. What I want is to be lazy. I am not driven to achieve great things, I am driven to enjoy myself. I am driven to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it, and so often what I want to do is accomplish something in my work: make videos, write articles, teach classes etc.

The older I get, the closer I am to that laziness goal. Back when I ran a traditional business (Computer Savvy Training 1983-96) I worked all the time. I had multiple appointments daily with clients, business associates, and employees. I taught classes, went to business association meetings and more. I remember not even having time to relax in the bathroom! If I couldn't get my business done in a couple of minutes, it would just have to wait, I had things that needed to be done!

I remember, the first week after I sold the business, I looked at my calendar and there was only one appointment on it. My Women's Executive Luncheon. That was not work, I loved going to those luncheons. These days the calendar gets filled up with webinars - both taking them and teaching them. But, the last 2 weeks of December - right now - I have intentionally left completely blank! Oh the luxury.

I even had time to follow thru on my desire to give Keith a thank you for coming on our show. A bottle of Champagne and a card with a photo collage from the show. And, I'm reading a book! I love reading books, but I rarely take the time. When I do take the time, you'd think I'd read something fun and fiction, but Nooo. I pick a book called "Gunfight" by Ryan Busse about the gun industry in the United States. Very disturbing, but riveting. I did read a fun fiction last month called The Wednesday Sisters about a group of women who come together over their writing. I would love to find a group like that.

The other thing that I do with my time is sleep! As long as I can! No alarms in this house - except for Thursday mornings. We have to get up at 6am in order to be ready for that meeting. I NEVER want to get up, but I'm ALWAYS glad I did. It is such a good group and Toastmasters is such fulfilling concept. I do try to take a nap on Thursday afternoons :-)

On the couch, reading a book (using Kindle on my Chromebook) with our Christmas tree and fireplace in the background :-)


Monday, December 13, 2021

A fun LIVE show

 We've been doing our live YouTube show since 2014 and we've been thru several different live-streaming technologies. I like doing the live shows because it gives me motivation to produce lessons and do the teaching. I think Jim likes learning the different live-streaming technologies and he does a great job. I actually don't know much about it. All I know is that Jim handles the production so I can concentrate on the lesson. We're a good team.

This Sunday, we interviewed our neighbor, Keith about the podcast he's been making over the last couple of years. Keith and Jacob live in another unit in our building. They've lived here for a long time. They knew Mom and she liked them. So do Jim and I, but we don't know them very well. When we learned that Keith had been making a podcast, I had the idea to have him on our show. It was a delight. Meet Keith in our video here.


We know Keith much better now! What a trip. You live next door for years yet you get to know your neighbor by interviewing him on your YouTube show! 
What a world we live in!


Saturday, December 11, 2021

Getting Unkinked

 I've had a kink in my neck for several weeks now. It's not unusual and most of the time it just goes away. This time it just kept getting worse until it motivated me to do something that's been on my list for a while. Go to the Chiropractor.

I'm a big believer in Chiropractic. For much of my life I would get Chiropractic adjustments regularly. A healthy spine helps with all other areas of your health because everything flows through the spine. I got out of the habit during our years on the road and it's been on my list to get back into it now that we have a home in Fort Lauderdale. I've noticed a sign for Chiropractor, right next to our dentist, just a half mile from our house. I've been telling myself to go check them out all year and I haven't gotten around to it. Yesterday, when I simply could not turn my head, I was motivated. I called and they were able to get me in that afternoon. Whew.

The first visit is more involved than when you go back for subsequent visits. I first saw the Dr. - Chiropractor. He asked some questions and took an XRay.


He pointed out lower vertebrae of my neck and how there is no spacing. That's bad. He called it arthritis. But, it's something that most everyone over 60 has. So, not that big a deal.

Next I went with an assistant to another room where he put rubber pads on my back attached to a machine that sent electrical stimulation to my muscles. It tingled and relaxed. Next came a massage therapist who rubbed, dug, and massaged those same muscles. Some of them were tight as piano wires, her prodding fingers hurt, but it hurt good!

Then I was ready to see the Chiropractor again. I was loosened up and ready for an adjustment. I was laying on my back and he would pull my head while at the same time pushing my shoulder, very gently yet forceful. After a few of those forceful push/pulls, he gave a quick twist and I heard the crack and felt the release. YES.

My neck is still sore today, but it's obvious that the kink is gone. The soreness is just residual.

A kink in the neck is like a kinked hose, until you unkink it, your life force can't flow. I was going to get around to going to the chiropractor some time, but it took a severe pain to make me do it. 

Listen to your body!

Chris' body, "You said you were going to visit the chiropractor, I would feel better if you did."

Chris, "Yeah, you're right, I'll put it on the list."

Chris' body, "No, you're going NOW."

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Public Speaking

 I joined a Toastmistress club when I was 12 years old. They didn't allow women in ToastMasters then. I joined a Junior Auxilary because my 5th grade teacher was a member. That's me, second from the left.


Now I've been a member of the Fort Lauderdale, Earlybird Toastmasters for about 30 years. In case you don't know, Toastmasters is an International organization where people meet and practice public speaking. You'd think I'd know how by now!?! But, there's always improvement to be made with practice, and I so enjoy the camaraderie with my fellow members. We meet once each week. This week I gave, yet another "Icebreaker" speech. This is where you tell something about yourself in under 6 minutes. Since we're meeting on Zoom, the speeches are automatically recorded. You can watch me talk here

If you're interested in Toastmasters and need a club to join, come visit us! Leave a comment here and I'll send info.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Newsletter Deadline and 2021 Calendar

 I've been writing a monthly newsletter for 29 of the last 38 years! From 1983-96 it was for my Fort Lauderdale-based computer training firm, Computer Savvy. From 2006 to present it's for Geeks on Tour. 

I am obligated to write a newsletter every month. It should be done on the first. That rarely happens. Today is the 6th. As of this morning, the newsletter was not done. Nobody would notice, nobody would care, if I missed a month ... or 2 ... or 3. But I would. It's what I do.

So I did.

It got sent out today. Here it is: Dec 2021 News: Samsung S21 Ultra – Surprise, Google Photos, Smartphone settings, more…

I love photos.  I start every newsletter with a current photo or other image. It's been on my list to make an album of all these photos. I figure I'll put a few here and see what it looks like. Kinda like a calendar then, here are the photos from each month in 2021:

  • January 2021


  • February 2021


  • March 2021


  • April 2021


  • May 2021


  • June 2021


  • July 2021


  • August 2021


  • September 2021


  • October 2021


  • November 2021


  • December 2021


Saturday, December 04, 2021

Artsy friends

 I've been friends with Marie since before I knew Jim. She was president of the USA Dive club at the time, a club that we both still belong to. She was a college professor and a professional city planner, so it was a surprise when she started painting. Who knew she was artistic. She's really good. I bought one of her paintings several years ago and it has a place of honor on our living room wall. I love how it seems to shine a light all of its own.


So, when she sent out a notice that she was participating in an art show and sale this weekend, Jim and I made plans to go. It was about an hour drive, so we took the van. It's good to give it exercise and it's just so comfortable. Marie said the art show was just around the corner from a great park with nice biking trails, so Jim put the bike rack on the back so we could go riding after.

What a cool spot. This is the studio where Marie paints with a group of other artists once every week. And, who is this? Two other dive club members, Kathi and Patrice, also came to the art show.


Kathi's purchase


Our purchase

Then we drove over to the Riverbend Park, had a little lunch and went for a bike ride. We really do need to plan for a kayak paddle up here sometime soon. The kayak rental is right there. Find all the details at JupiterOutdoorCenter.com




The bike trails were beautiful. We had to cut our ride a bit short because my bike's chain kept falling off. ...Add to list: get bike tuned up


I had fun with my new camera. Here is a little video using the new "Director's view" that lets me take a video with the main rear camera while at the same time recording myself in the front-facing camera and having it show up picture-in-picture.

I also grabbed a few telephoto shots of the beautiful white Egret. If you've ever tried to capture a photo of an egret actively fishing, you know how slow they can be. I put the camera on video and watched for over 2 minutes as the bird s l o w l y moved forward and never did strike. This photo is take by using the Motion Photo feature. If you don't know what that is, see Episode 223 of our "What Does This Button Do?" show. The key is that you just take a picture like normal, but the camera captures a couple seconds of motion BEFORE you snap the shutter. So, I could wait until I saw the egret strike, quick snap the shutter, and it gets the whole thing in motion. Then, the final step is that I can export it to an animated gif file. Pretty cool dontcha think?



And this photo shows how far away I was. I used the 10X telephoto to get the photo above.





Friday, December 03, 2021

Yoga and Fasting

Today was a quiet day at home.

For 7 years now, Friday mornings have started with a meeting of 6 like-minded people who share technology news and tips. It was organized way-back-when by Martin Brossman and he sets the tone of fun and learning. We always have a couple of good laughs. We meet on Zoom, but Zoom didn't exist when we started - I think we used Hangouts. Learn by doing! Think of it as mental yoga!

Next on Friday comes a real Yoga class - also on Zoom. Well, some might not call it 'real' because it's chair yoga ... for us old folks! The teacher has taught Kundalini for many years though and you can tell. I feel great after that 45 minutes.

The rest of the day was what I call work. Sitting at the computer writing, researching, and website maintenance. We did take a break and took a walk around the circle.

Fasting Friday - well kinda. I think fasting is good for you. Giving your body a break from digesting. Reboot if you will. Sometimes both Jim and I easily fast, consuming nothing but water all day. Other times it's just impossible - I'm hungry! Last night we went to a party by our Dive Club - we had fun. We ate and drank, so fasting friday seemed like an especially good idea today. I got too hungry to fast 100%, but I drank a lot of water and only ate 1 apple, and a few bites of tuna. Hopefully the scales will notice tomorrow morning.




Thursday, December 02, 2021

I have a healthy husband

 Back in 2013-14 we went on a very strict, doctor-led diet. I lost 20 pounds and Jim lost over 70. 8 years later now, and we've kept it off. It made a huge difference in Jim's health. Before the weight loss, he was on several medications for cholesterol and high blood pressure. All of them went by the wayside when he lost the weight and, to this day I look at him and marvel. 

My husband is mighty fine!

We now have a checkup once each year and we both get compliments from the doctor on our blood pressure and the results of our bloodwork! The last checkup showed a small abnormality in his EKG so he had an appointment with the cardiologist today. They re-tested him and could find nothing wrong. I have a healthy husband! It's a good thing, because we have lots of travel plans.

Do you think I went too far though, commissioning this statue to him over at the Ringling Art gallery in Sarasota?



Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Fun and aggravation with my new phone

 I did finally get the box open! Then I turned it on and followed the instructions to turn OFF my old Samsung/Verizon phone so that the new one (the S21 Ultra) could automatically activate. Amazing. I didn't have to deal with the SIM card at all, it just did everything for me.

 

After activating the phone number, it went to work installing all the same apps as were on the old phone, setting up my accounts, and copying all the data. When I picked up the new phone, I could hardly tell the difference between it and the old phone. That is, until I opened one of the apps. Here comes the aggravation, you have to sign in and verify your identity. I usually do that with Lastpass, but Lastpass needed me to sign in and prove my identity as well. Kind of a catch-22. I just kept at it. Reading instructions, pushing buttons, entering codes that got sent to one of my other devices, until stuff started to work. The turning point was when I set up my Google Voice phone number on the new phone. Now, I can get the codes sent to Google Voice and it comes straight to the new phone.

The Google Photos app seemed to be stuck. All day long it said, "Setting up your library" and "Getting ready to back up" I finally gave up after a full day and a few hours. I uninstalled Google Photos and re-installed it. The library was set up and backup was complete in less than a half hour!

OK, now let's go have some fun with that camera! I found a pretty spot in our neighborhood where there was a sign and I got a ways away. I stood in one spot and took 4 photos, one with each of the different lens settings. You can't even see the sign when I use the wide angle or the normal lens. With the 3X You can see that there is a sign there. With the 10X you can almost read the sign - and if you zoom in a bit with two fingers, you can clearly read it. WOW