Archives for March 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 – Laptop Day

Spent most of the day online, still trying to find just the right laptop, and was assured by a woman at Best Buy’s 800 line that there was an HP computer at the store we went to yesterday that had a non-glare screen. Based on that info, we drove down again, only to discover that information was, again, wrong, that every laptop on their shelves had bright, hi-def screens that all glared like crazy. Interestingly, many desktop models had matte screens, just like we were looking for! At one point, Hubby left me and went to over to a group of sales guys and asked, “Who has all the answers?” They all pointed to one guy, who, reluctantly came to him (just want you want in a sales guy, reluctance to help). Hubby pointed at one screen and asked, “What’s the difference between this screen and that screen?” Pointing to one matte and one shiny. The answer was, “None, they’re the same.” Hubby argued, pointing out the difference between the reflection on the glare and the matte screen. The man with all the answers appeared dumb-founded, as if he had never noticed that before! We were equally dumb-founded that he didn’t know the difference. Needless to say, we left without a laptop, and no further along in our search other than what I had discovered online. We then made a few calls, and found there was a CompUSA nearby, so we headed there. At least there the sales guy, Ramel, was VERY helpful. I had read a review online for the Lenovo ThinkPad, which bragged on the keyboard as being one of the best key actions, and I hadn’t yet seen one until we went there. Sure enough, their keyboard is raised AND TAPERED, with a slight dip on the top of each key for your fingers to rest in, just like the old IBM electric typewriters, giving a perfect touch experience for a speedy typist like myself. I was thrilled! The ThinkPad also has a matte screen, specifically designed to be an anti-glare surface. I finally started to feel like we were making progress. Unfortunately, the smallest one I could get with those features was 14″, which is the absolute largest I wanted to go (I would have preferred about 12″, but all those are netbooks without a CD-ROM, which is an essential for me), but everything else seemed perfect. Alas, CompUSA didn’t have the exact one I wanted, but I decided I had narrowed it down enough to find something online. So Hubby and I went over the a nearby Starbucks to see what I could find out, and discovered that I could actually have one made to order direct from Lenovo! As I struggled to complete the process (because the glare on my Dell was so bad I could hardly see it while sitting outside), I had a very nice chat with a sales rep who walked me through the entire process. By the time we were done, with the discounts, it cost me less than $800 (a little more than what I had anticipated, but well worth it to get exactly what I wanted), and now I can’t wait to get it to try it out! I’m even reluctant to keep working with this Dell, just because it’s become even more annoying knowing all the things that have been bugging me haven’t been my fault, but the silly computer’s. Like I used to sit outside to work, and in fact, wrote most of my book outside, but I haven’t been able to since I’ve had this computer, which means I’ve missed out on scores of lovely days in fresh air. Looking forward to improving on that!

Monday, March 28, 2011 – Runaround Day

Being on his own and self-employed, my brother has been having some trouble keeping up with everything both business and personal, so I offered to help him try to simplify some things. He overpays for his insurance (he uses four different insurance companies, one of which raises his insurance thousands every year), so I offered to help him get new quotes. He doesn’t balance his checkbook so he’s having problems knowing how much money he has in the bank, complicated by the fact that he only uses a debit card which recently started to put a hold on much more than what he actually purchases (new rules, thanks to Congress’ recent financial legislation), and a plethora of other problems. He doesn’t have a computer, which is one reason he has no idea what’s in his bank account, so I offered to find him a laptop. Anyway, today was spent requesting insurance quotes and researching laptops. About halfway through the day I realized that the best solution would be to give him my old laptop (the Dell I bought last year about this time) and buy a new one for myself. There are a lot of things about this Dell that I truly dislike. The keys are too wide and flat, so my fingernails keep getting stuck in between, I hated switching from XP to Windows 7 at the time, but now I’ve upgraded everything so that doesn’t matter anymore. The worst part is the screen. It glares like crazy, practically a mirror, reflecting everything so that I can’t sit in bright lights, or outdoors, or in the van, or even in my RV with a window behind me without creating enormous eye strain. Anyway, none of these things will really matter to my brother, but to me, it’s the whole computer experience. Unfortunately, computer manufacturers don’t seem to take these things into account when you’re trying to research them. I spent HOURS just trying to put a name to a matte, anti-glare screen, and a raised keyboard, then more hours realizing that these aren’t things that manufacturers list as something you can easily find. I mean, if I wanted a computer with a particular amount of memory, or screen size, or RAM or other hardware features, no problem, but find to find the bits that actually comes in contact with the user? Almost impossible! Anyway, we went out in the afternoon trying to look at laptops, becoming more and more frustrated at not being able to find what I wanted. By the end of the day we were no further along, except to eliminate a bunch of stores and a number of laptop brands. Busy, but unproductive, day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011 – Ride Day with Brother at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Brother and I decided to ride at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound today, hauling the horses out only took about half an hour. We left fairly early because the weather has been unseasonably hot, though there was a little breeze that promised to help. No one else was there at the equestrian trailhead, though a couple of bikes came by and chatted about horses with us while we were saddling up. Hit the trail about 11:00 or so, took the red trail, this time clockwise (last time with Hubby we went counterclockwise, plus added the middle section of the blue trail just to make the ride longer). We also added the spur part of the blue trail just for variety, as I hadn’t been on that one before. I had hoped there would be a picnic table or clearing or something at the end, but there wasn’t anything. We actually went a bit off the trail and ended up along the edge of a small canal, where we stopped to rest and water the horses, which had to be done by me climbing down to the canal (it was too steep for the horses), and filling the portable bucket with a plastic bottle. They drank heartily, and it took several buckets to satisfy them. After a while, we headed back, even getting some trots and canters in. Brother’s starting the get the hang of it again, it’s been 10 years since he’s ridden, and even then it was untrained riding, but he’s listening to my advice and it’s helping. Clio is having no trouble going into a canter anymore, now that’s she’s learned that’s what we want her to do, so it was a productive and enjoyable day all around!

Saturday, March 26, 2011 – Farmstead Days

Every year the town of Jupiter holds a Farmstead Days event a Riverbend Park where we’ve been riding. Brother said it if you like old mechanical devices, it’s a great way to do so, free. So we arranged to meet him and a couple of his friend over there in the early afternoon, and spent more than an hour wandering among old tractors and engines, some of them steam engines, dating back to the 19th century. Many were designed for specific jobs, like pumping oil from a derrick, squeezing sugar cane for syrup, running an old wringer washer. Almost all were actually running, which made it very interesting, with the sounds a cacophony of sputters and sparks, revs and bursts that sounded like a motorman’s symphony. Really fascinating. They also had a small petting zoo for the kids, with lambs and kid goats, bunnies and even a little black piglet, along with pony riders as well. Music was being played throughout the day at the pavilion by local artists and story tellers, and kids were getting free rides on a couple of the antique tractors, some so old they had metal wheels. There was an old Model T Ford “Dixie” edition that apparently was only sold in the south (made six inches wider than normal to avoid wagon ruts), and a portable blacksmith shop with all the tools, including a forge, that a blacksmith would need to build all of the magnificent machines. The highlight of the day, though, was the sawmill demonstration. Permanently on the site is an old sawmill powered by an old belt-driven motor. One younger man and two seasoned seniors (who look like they had been working the sawmill since the CCC days -the 30’s- when the sawmill was set up here) worked some raw logs through the machine, brilliantly turning them into a number of long boards, even finishing them with a smooth edge. Fascinating to watch! Well worth spending the time there, it was a very nice day.

Friday, March 25, 2011 – Ride Day with Hubby at Riverbend Park

Picked up our repaired quilt (nice job by Pat!) and headed out to Riverbend again. Wound around most of the early trails about the same as Tuesday, but instead of heading around the golf course, we cross a long bridge over the wide canal (which the horses stared at a long time before brave Clio finally took the lead, which is very unusual for her!) And followed the triangle trail, which turned out to be much shorter than we thought. We then crossed back over the canal on the second bridge, and again Clio took the lead. Brave girl today! It was pretty hot today, and because most of the trails here are in the sun, we decided to head back. We stopped at the same hitching posts where my brother and I had stopped and took a little break there for awhile, as it is a nice shady spot. Wish there was a picnic table or bench there though. Out about two hours or so. Stopped at the Publix on the way back to pick up some diet juice, and headed home for a relaxing evening. Brother didn’t get home, so I fed the animals around 9:00 (pigs, cats, and dog, who Brother had left home, unbeknownst to me until I heard her barking inside), then settled into a movie.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 – Errand Day

Not much today, just ran some errands, dropped our quilt off to a woman named Pat for a new backing, then got online to start finding trails and horse camps for our summer journey northward!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 – Ride Day with Hubby at Riverbend Park

After running some errands in town with the horses in tow, we headed out to Riverbend Park again. This time we ran the whole gamut, following pretty much all of the horse trails, included one”loop” that’s really just parallel straightaways mostly along the edge of a golfcourse, so we got a lot of trotting and cantering in. Hubby’s mare was much more responsive today, and he had very little trouble getting her to canter, which was a great improvement, so I guess me riding her on Sunday helped a bit, as well as him being a bit more insistent today. Really enjoyed ourselves today, Hubby really liked the trail, even though it’s a bit more developed than we usually like. The fact that it’s only a few miles from “home” is fantastic, and we’ll no doubt be back soon!

Monday, March 21, 2011 – Work Day

Spent the day on the computer, trying to coordinate between Facebook and Twitter, between personal and business. Tough to figure it all out when my internet connection is so bad. It’s taking about 10 minutes to upload something that usually take about 10 seconds, and cuts in and out, especially in the evening. I really need to look into some kind of enhancement of the signal, but that takes… AN INTERNET CONNECTION! Anyway, a dull day, with Hubby sitting out in the sun reading for most of the day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011 – Ride Day with Brother at Riverbend Park

I promised to take my brother riding today, and we also discovered there was a local horse show at Jupiter Park, so we dropped off Hubby there so he had something to do, and brother and I went out to Riverbend Park to ride. Both are just a few miles from where we’re staying, so it was very convenient. We parked at the equestrian trailhead and headed out about 2:30 or so, once again accompanied by a saddlebag of beer (prohibited by the park, but how am I supposed to stop my big brother?). Since my brother got a little frustrated by not being able to get Hubby’s horse to canter last time, I decided to ride Hubby’s horse and let brother ride mine, since I’d been working on getting him to do some really nice loping lately. I also wanted to see if I could get Hubby’s mare to canter, since he hadn’t had much luck with that lately, and I wanted to see if I could solve whatever problem she was having. The trails here are much nicer than at JW Corbett, as they are actually meant for horses, traveling along canals and rivers and around marshes, albeit pretty dry marshes, what with the lack of rain here. After about 45 minutes, brother wanted to take a break (woosie butt, not used to being on a horse yet), though partly because he was out till dawn this morning, after partying all night. I was a bit surprised he was even able to go riding today, he must have had a terrific hangover, but I guess the beer was the hair of the dog for him, and that’s pretty much how he lives his life anyway, day after day, so I guess he’s used to it. While we were stopped, a woman came by, (initially galloping until she saw our horses, who were jumping around when they saw her coming), and we ended up chatting for a time. Eventually she moved on and we continued around the west loop and the Hammock loop area. I didn’t want to go all the way around, because I didn’t think my brother could handle it, so we just did a bunch of short loops in the area, repeating ourselves and backtracking just to keep it interesting (I’m not sure he noticed how many times we were on the same trail, but we were RIDING, so what’s the difference?) At one point, I found a nice straightaway to canter, so I got Clio going, and managed to get her into a canter without very much problem, though she had to get herself all the way up to a very fast trot before finally switching over. It wasn’t a long straightaway, so it didn’t last long, but when I got to the end, I looked back and say brother cantering along a ways behind me. He was flustered though, and told me Apollo had tried to buck him off when he went into his canter (not the slow lope I’d hoped for), reminiscent of his old trick of kicking up a time or two during his transition, something he used to do with me until I realized it was because I was holding the reins too tight. At least he managed to stay on, which was the important thing, and now he had a little excitement to add to his day! Got back to the trailhead about 5:00, then headed back to the other park to pick up Hubby, except he wasn’t where we left him. In fact, there wasn’t anybody at all there anymore. We kept moving, looking for signs of Hubby, until we saw a couple of horse trailers at the second arena (there’s a grass arena and a sand arena), and found him reading his book on a bench there. We all headed back home, enjoyed the evening sitting around chatting for awhile in our “porch” (under the awning of the RV) before settling down to TV and bedtime. A pleasant day had by all!

Saturday, March 19, 2011 – Dog Wash Day

Every year, the local no-kill animal shelter has a celebrity Dog Wash Day, which they hold down at Carlin Park. There are festivities all day, bands, vendors, inflatable playgrounds for the kids, and a major concert in the evening. This year, the main event was Grand Funk Railroad. We decided to make this Hubby’s birthday gift, so we headed out in the afternoon to spend the rare day just with our dogs. We wandered the vendors, got the dogs washed by some local radio personalities, then settled down in the shade by a lake for a while. Hubby even took a nap, it was such a lovely day. The dogs settled down with us. As usual, Marina, the golden lab mix, took everything in her stride, though little Billy was quite intimidated by all the dogs and activity. He still did his best to make friends with every human he met, but he was doing his best to avoid the dogs. I think that’s because my brother’s dog and he got off on the wrong foot, getting in a tussle that ended with Billy unhappily on his back (not where he usually ends up, usually he gets even big dogs to back off, but his Napoleon act didn’t work this time), so now he’s generally skittish around other dogs. Probably a good thing, considering his attitude. After a while he settled down, but he still spent the day pretending he didn’t see any other dogs around. Several bands of dubious quality played throughout the afternoon, but GFR was excellent. That drummer sure can play! We listened to all the golden oldies, Locomotion, Closer to Home, We’re an American Band, plus some lesser recognizable stuff that was still very enjoyable. Even Hubby liked it, even though he’s more from the swing era than the rock era. Anyway, we headed out just before the concert ended at 9:00, have thoroughly enjoyed the day. It’s not everyday you can attend a rock concert with your dogs!