Sunday, August 30

I’m BACK!!

I think. I hope. I never actually went anywhere, my laptop died, and I mean DIED. I got the blue screen of death. I took it to Best Buy to see what could be done with it and they couldn’t even get it to turn on.

All my photos and writings are on that computer. Fortunately I saved all the travel photos to disc, but I hadn’t backed up the everyday photos, or writings, in a while. The geek at Best Buy says they can try to get the data, money back guaranteed if they are unsuccessful.

Meanwhile I bought a new laptop. I waited a week for it to arrive, and I was literally doing a happy dance (more like a shimmy) when I answered the door for the FedEx guy.

I knew it would take some time to get it loaded with my favorite programs, customized and all that, but I had no idea how involved and problematic this process was going to be. My troubles started straight-out the box with a malware virus. I don’t know how it got there or where it came from, but it was blocking me and intercepting me every time I went online. It was one of those ones that comes with a scary red screen and you have to pay someone to take it off. I knew about these and I was not going to fork over my credit card to these shysters. No way. But still, it had control of my computer.

I learned a lot about malware and scareware Friday. This is a multimillion dollar business. I finally learned that if all else failed I could wipe the entire disk clean and start over. Well, I had nothing to lose and there was no data to be lost, so I went for it. Five hours later it was done. And the virus was gone. But some of the programs I had bought (they don’t send discs anymore, it’s all download-driven) didn’t want to let me have them a second time.

Just try to reach a live person at Microsoft. On a Saturday. Pretty impossible, but I got through in two hours. The first guy, whom I could not understand, couldn’t help me. He transferred me to Jorge, who spoke perfect English. I breathed a sigh of relief. And then I inadvertently touched the 1 button on the phone and lost the call. I wanted to cry. Everything I touched went south. It was like I was snake-bit. I even managed to take the desktop computer offline from the internet (it’s hardwired) for a while.

There’s more, but you know what? I finally got it. I got it and I am up and funning. Well maybe not Funning yet, there’s still a learning curve with the keyboard—I meant to type “running.” The keys are harder to push and in a different position than the old laptop, which served me very well for ten years.

A lot has changed in ten years how computers operate. They’re mostly app-driven today.

I just wonder how people who have never had a computer manage these startup issues. And what would one do without a second computer to look up how to troubleshoot the myriad problems? One piece of advice I’d give them is to get a Mac.

No pictures today because, well, there ain’t any on this machine yet.

Thursday, August 20

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

We really do live on a ranch, Rancho Santa Margarita de los Flores. At one time this rancho encompassed about hundreds of thousands of acres from Oceanside to Santa Ana. The freeway came in 1951 (I-5), and then the government came in and took a huge chunk (Camp Pendleton Marine Corps). There was nothing between Oceanside and Santa Ana except for Mission San Juan Capistrano in the late 1800s. Over time they have parceled out the land and built residential communities like Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita, and San Clemente. Many of our streets are named for it's founders and ranchers.

The rodeo is in town and it's a big deal. There have been many ancillary events leading up to the rodeo this weekend (we are not going this year). We got to go to the working area of the ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo, which is just a couple miles from our community. Over yonder, ya might say.

We learned how to rope cattle. These little steers are bred just for this sport and it's all they know. 

See em lined up in the chute? They can't wait for their turn. They are not skeert at all. Those black vans in the background are our rides. They take us all kinds of places. 

Some cowboys, just shootin the shit. I made a video to share but my laptop died and I can't get my desktop computer to upload it. Maybe I'll figure it out, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll get a new laptop.

They raise bucking bulls, too. That's all they do, too. Nothing else. They have been selectively bred to be the best buckers. Rodeo is a serious sport. Each bull is numbered and there is a catalog of each one and its particular characteristics. They cut down their horns so they won't gore a horse or rider.

Meanwhile around home, it's business as usual. JJ is playing tournament bridge regularly now, we play social bridge on Mondays, and I have golf on Wednesdays. I have not been playing well lately. In fact, I suck. Seriously. 

I found this picture in my camera. I wish I could remember how I made this, because I remember it was really really good. Mediterranean Chicken, I think it was called. I remember it had sun dried tomatoes and olives. 

Other'n that, it's just retirement as usual. The way it's supposed to be.