Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Is That Rain I Feel??

I would have posted this hours earlier but Blogger has been having problems this morning on two different browsers.

The hounds and I will walk multiple times per day in all kinds of weather ... except rain or light sprinkles. You can see Stella felt the same way early this morning as we started our walk an hour earlier then normal. Of course Sadie was disappointed we got no further than the edge of the field before returning to the house ... weather does not bother her ... A lot of news today.

With light sprinkles hitting the top of my head, I stopped and thought of actually going ahead with the walk but water and cameras don't mix. Since we have returned inside, it probably will not rain although it's in the forecast. There is going to be a little 'rambling' in this post in between the photos. Some might consider a lot has happened since last Friday but that is what happens sometimes in the fast paced life of retirement here in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana.

These two pictures are my first two pictures each day, even if I don't take another picture the rest of the day. This one above is taken from just outside my door while the one below is taken at the rear corner of my house while standing on those six stone blocks we named "Winston's Patio" years ago. They don't look like much but when you put them into their own folder, it's a nice weather recap of the year or even further than that when looking at those photos in a daily sequence.

I was so busy on Saturday and Sunday those two photos were the only ones I took the whole weekend. That had to be a first in a long time. I usually take at least 50 photos per day as a minimum and many times over a 100. The hounds still got their 2-3 walks in per day over the weekend.

Between more computer action here on the home front and the grass growing fast enough with the rain and sunshine that I have been mowing every 4 days or when I can between rains. I like the way my bank is growing in on the left side of those trees and fence post. I did the same thing as I did a few years ago with the section to the right.

I burned all of the overgrowth, pulled the roots of wild weeds out by a rake, picked up any rocks, raked it out a little and planted some grass seed with a handheld spreader. It wasn't what I'd call a professional way of doing things but it seems to have worked on the section to the right of the trees.

Since we have not taken the walk yet this morning ... btw ... I don't hear rain right now but can barely hear the wet pavement as cars and trucks pass on the highway. No, the traffic noise does not bother me. Sure I'd love to be out in the middle of nowhere without a sound of traffic but I like this location and the hounds love the field behind the house.

I have included a few pictures from this week. Stella is not running full speed but she does look like she is putting weight back on those ribs that were showing a few weeks ago. She is a lot more active on our walks and her tail is upright more than she had it last month. Her appetite has never wavered during the time I thought she was sick.

Each day has been beautiful this past week. Until this morning, the sky was as blue as it could be, which you will see in photos below. The temperatures have been perfect and the sunshine just right to where taking a siesta outside would be pretty easy ... if it wasn't for the 2017 arrival of mosquitoes.

Some may wonder what all I could be doing in the yard, where no flowers are seen or plants of any kind nor is the house falling down, but he makes it sound like he is working constantly on home maintenance or repairs. It's not that bad and it's nothing major but only things you can only do at times depending on the the weather while trying to beat the hot temps and humidity that is just around the corner.

I have not bought an Apple Watch yet but have thought about it for tracking my heartbeat, activity, workouts while riding my bikes. What I did find was what I had on my iPhone 6S that I bought last year ... it came with a health app and as long as the phone is in your pocket, hand or on your belt ... it will track time and distance along with a number of steps taken.

The problem is I've never liked being glued to my iPhone, it's not for phone calls which are becoming a rare activity as time moves on. My iPhone is for the camera, their 'note' program which really helps with my memory, GPS and a grocery shopping list. Yet, I found out just by putting the iPhone in my back pocket of my cargo shorts, it tells me our hound walks are 1/2 mile in distance ... mowing my yard is 1.9 miles in distance with enough incline in the front yard to rate 4 stories of climbing.

No wonder I feel so out of shape in April and early May after mowing the yard and being nothing but a couch potato during the winter months. If someone would have told me I would be walking 2 miles with a 22" push mower just to mow my yard ... I probably would have let it grow into a field and let them bale it twice a year. (joke)

I tried to get this picture taken when it looked like two planes were colliding but by the time I got the right setting for the camera to focus, I ended up with them crossing.

I must admit that not all of my time is spent outside or even working on the house inside. I am a computer addict and at times I fall into a phase of reading books non-stop from cover to cover. Or I might watch a set of movies or DVDs of tv shows that I have on my shelf ... non-stop. There are even times where a 4-hour afternoon siesta takes place without guilt. After all, when you are now a professional dog sitter you have to get your rest when you can.

Do I talk about Heidi now or start my computer story?

I looked back at pictures of Heidi last year to compare what I am seeing currently. May is a big big allergy month. While her paws lose hair from her licking and chewing them, my sinuses would be driving me nuts, itching as much as Stella does ... even waking me in the middle of the night because they are plugged up. Luckily Wunderground weather tells me when the bad allergy days will take place ... they have had their bar graphs max'd out this week. Not this year though for Heidi ... her paws are full of hair, no scratching and no licking non stop like in past years.

Yet, I have no answers on how Heidi improved so much since just this past winter. She hasn't looked this good since the first day I picked her up in June 2011. She has gained all of her lost weight back. She has full thick hair on her paws and front legs with it also trying it's best to grow back on her rear legs and shoulders. It was June 2015 when a vet told me, based on her skin condition at the time, he did not expect that hair to ever grow back on her rear legs.

This week she has added a little bounce to her step. Monday afternoon she took a walk with us through the tall grass where even her white wagging tail was out of view. She did not take the whole walk with us because her nose was checking every thing within an inch of her nose. We caught up with her on the way back. By the way she was wagging her tail and barking, she was happy to be outside doing whatever she wanted. She has been a lot more boisterous lately.

So after lunch yesterday, she trotted to the door, ran behind the Yews even in bright sunshine, hopped up the three steps to the porch ... jumped off the porch into the front yard to lounge, make a few rolls on the grass, scratch her nose and then sprinted to the driveway from the middle of the yard when I called her to come inside.

I would have let her stay out like I normally do but she went way outside of her boundaries last week for the first time ever, in the 6 years that I have had her. I couldn't keep an eye out for her because at the time I was in the process of changing passwords on my bank accounts and my credit cards. There is another story why I was doing that ... but that process prevented me from keeping an eye on Heidi outside, so she had to come in.

Changing of those passwords were only precautionary, I wasn't hacked. I am trying to figure out where do I start this computer story, but things have changed. I have found trading computers is much cheaper than trading cars and just as fulfilling. (hint)

It might be the 'Irishman' coming out in me or is it because I am a Taurus that makes me so stubborn at times? Maybe those stubborn bloodhounds have changed my DNA ... anyway I am aware of the consequences when I can't stop something. I have witnessed good and bad things take place because of it over the course of my life.

In this case with a 'dying' hard drive and a new computer sitting on my desk, I still could not stop trying to fix something (old iMac) that wasn't possible to fix. Why try since I had a new replacement on my other desk and fully operational?

The main reason I wanted to "wipe" the hard drive clean was all of my personal data, 7 years worth on the hard drive. Most likely, wherever this iMac ends up that wouldn't matter. But ... a real professional computer geek, if they so desired could use their knowledge and software to pull out that information even if the hard drive looks bad to me. I mean the computer still booted up and worked only so much slower each time it was turned on.

That screen might look normal but it took over 2 hours to boot up. With it sitting out of the way on my other small desk that collects paperwork, I had plenty of time to give it all the time it needed to start up. The next problem was clicking anything with my cursor put it in 'spinning beach ball' mode and more time.

All I wanted to do was get into the Disk Utility program where I could erase the hard drive and then either leave it like it would be if you bought it new out of the box or install the macOS ready for whoever to do what they needed with it.

By late Saturday night I was seeing screens never seen before ... the solid "white screen of death".

I will not go into all the details but will say when it was all said and done ... I believe my old iMac officially died. When I woke up Sunday morning it had finally got to the Disk Utility screen I had been waiting for and the Macintosh HD icon was gone!! Nothing for me to highlight before hitting the erase key.

I forgot to mention before, during the things I do to spend a day in this hectic pace of retirement ... that game app I mentioned last week '2048', told to me by a Best Buy sales rep ... IS my new addiction. So while I was drinking coffee Sunday morning and thinking of my plans for the day ... I did something I probably shouldn't have.

I plugged my MacBook Air laptop into my "old" 27" Apple LED monitor.

It has been 6 days since I had seen anything on a computer screen larger than 21.5", the size of the new iMac. I wanted to give that Retina display every chance it needed to sway me from thinking I needed that large 27" iMac 5K monitor that I passed on. It is just hard to describe how much better a Retina display looks like compared to what I thought was a great picture.

I also had forgot to take pictures when the older monitor was hooked up, so I could add them to my sales add on eBay or Craig's List when I get ready to sell it. That big 27" monitor lit up while sitting on the kitchen table connected to my laptop ... the picture looked so good that I screamed in agony. Had I made the wrong decision in my purchase? The 21.5" instead of the 27" and ~$500 more ???

I would have my answer later that day on Sunday.

The more I compared the two monitors the more I knew my answer. Working with my photos on the larger screen was so much better than the smaller screen. Still, the smaller Retina display made text look much sharper and clearer ... it was easy on my eyes. I didn't catch myself leaning closer to the Retina screen to get a sharper picture like I did with the larger LED screen.

But the new iMac had the normal spinning hard drive and not the solid state hard drive that my 2 year old laptop had. So it was slower, not a lot but noticeable. Just like the times I felt the rush of making decisions trading cars I had this same feeling about computers. I took the hounds out for an unplanned walk just to clear my head and let Stella have me focus on something besides computers.

By the end of that 1/2 mile walk I knew what I wanted and it would be easy with the 15 day return policy. I would just need another $525 for the bigger, faster iMac. Could it be that simple?

NOTHING is ever simple here in the fast paced life of 'the tropics'. That guy I have spoken about named Murphy is always in the shadows just waiting for me to get comfortable in life.

IF I were to take my iMac I purchased just 6 days prior back to Best Buy to trade it for the 27" iMac, Retina screen with a Fusion drive I would prefer, I wanted to erase my data from the hard drive instead of them. It is my paranoia at it's finest. I mean those people clean hard drives of turned in iPhones, iMacs, Window PC, etc so they can put it back on the shelf and sell it at a cheaper price called "open box".

No one would be grabbing that spreadsheet of mine that lists every password for every website, bank account or credit card that I use. Those passwords was my biggest concern. So let's get the process going. It was after 1pm, the store was open until 8pm but I had a lot to do plus one more hound walk before I left.

I start in Disc Utilities on this new computer and start erasing the hard drive ... until it stopped with a "process failure" ??? On a brand new computer???

That's okay ... I'll start over with the "repair" tab and it will fix anything that is wrong. Another ... "failure". I decided to reboot the new computer into 'safe mode' to see what it does from there ... it hangs up and doesn't load. By this time I am thrilled that I have my backup disk working automatically so my latest hard drive backup was only 15 minutes prior to this.

With my free 30 day Apple Care I made the call to see what is wrong with this new computer WHICH WAS NO LONGER WORKING. Long story short ... he tried 3 different ways of starting this new computer up and none of them were successful. I had nothing but a white screen or a progress bar that wouldn't move. It was a good thing that I could return the 6-day old computer in for an exchange ... just a 40 minute drive away.

I packed the iMac up, loaded the Countryman and headed back to the store to exchange computers. I already knew that I wanted 3 things in this next purchase ... Retina Display, SSD and a 27" monitor. The Fusion drive has just enough SSD to make it fast although the majority of the hard drive is the 'old fashion' spinning hardware. When I checked that day there were 4 in stock but I noticed they had sold out of the 21.5 iMacs in the past 6 days.

I love cruising 85 mph at 3,000 rpm in 6th gear on the fairly new interstate. My small screen inside the steering wheel tells me even at that speed the Countryman is getting 38mpg and if I let off the gas or go down a hill it reaches near 50mpg. It's times like these I love that car. Plus it is easy to get through and around "city" traffic. With the easy loading and capacity, it's the perfect vehicle for what I need.

After two of my fastest trips to and from to that local Best Buy store, I returned in less than 2 hours and enough time to take Sadie and Stella out for their 3rd walk of the day. It was an easy but time consuming set up of the new 27" iMac. These last three days with that larger screen and the Retina clarity makes it feel like it's been here 7 years and that nothing has changed in my computer world ... except it processes things much faster and the picture is stunning.

I've been told by the geeks on MacRumors forum that I can sell the old iMac as is for a couple of hundred dollars, just to be sure to let potential buyers know they need to replace the hard drive. The older great looking LED Cinema Display will bring a fairly good price. I'll try the option for 'local pickup' first on eBay and Craig's List to see if they sell. Otherwise I will take them to the UPS Store for packing and shipping.

So things are back to normal. I am up to over 30,000 points on the game 2048 and my Mahjong addition is nothing more than a distant memory. The yard is mowed, the hounds are fed, and my food supply is stocked ... all is good here in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana.

I may start adding a single picture from the past at the end of each blog post that I do from now on. I need to change something on this blog to get rid of the bored feeling here. I am sure that some readers wonder to themselves at times why they come back. I know I do and that's bad when you are the blog author.

In the meantime ... June 2015, Stella wasn't around until a couple of months after, but Winston was. We had just arrived at our boondocking spot in the middle of 35 miles of silence somewhere in Utah. That was a great 6 day trip and a lot of driving ... something else that I enjoy doing non-stop, driving cross country.


  1. Well, if you're happy all is well with the world! I am very confused but that's ok. What is the iPhone app for exercise? Or did you mention that somewhere up there?

    1. "Health" icon then inside that click the exercise button

    2. CORRECTION --- inside the Heart app click the ACTIVITY tab

  2. I open the activity tab and it comes up with "Dude! At your age why bother?"

    Very disheartening so I think I'll go take a nap instead. . .