A “staycation” of sorts

If the next Cites & Insights is late or peculiar or both, or if I’m slow to respond to some things, or… well, here’s a reason of sorts.

I’m likely to be on an odd sort of “staycation” (from retirement?) for some weeks, because of a mix of factors:

  • Our slow process of destroying the front lawn and replacing it with something more suitable (I’ve been spending 45-90 minutes 4-5 days a week either shoveling out grass & sod or going back to shake out as much soil as possible before adding the rest to green waste, for a couple of months now, and although there’s still several weeks/months to do, I’ve cleared the area my wife–the brains of the outfit–plans to use for anything but a 2″ redwood bark ground cover) is heating up: we have a big bunch of bark & landscaping material showing up mid-week, my wife’s either capped or refitted eight of 13 sprinkler heads, we have some of the plants and will be getting more. This means taking more time carrying around stones/small boulders and hauling/spreading bark as needed.
  • I’ve moved from my 7-year-old (or is it 8?) Gateway notebook, used with an even older MS Natural wireless keyboard & mouse and a 19″ Sony second display, to a brand-new Toshiba Satellite (Fry’s had an excellent two-day/while-they-last sale for a model that’s most likely on its way out: non-touch screen, for example–but it’s just old enough to have a VGA output, which means I can still use the Sony). I’m also trying to switch to the notebook’s own keyboard & touchpad,  because my wrists have been acting up and the mouse may be part of the problem. (That means the Toshiba’s 17″ widescreen display is now my primary display and the Sony 19″ 4×3 is secondary, the reverse of the Gateway setup. Among other things, this means my typing speed is down enormously and my error rate is up enormously. I’ll give it a two-month trial before considering giving up and going back go a Natural. (I checked: neither MS nor Logitech seems go make an ergonomic keyboard with built-in touchpad.)
  • Apart from the slow curve of relearning to type and mouse around (before I turned off tap-to-click, I was cursing up a silent storm), this also means learning Windows 8.1 instead of 7 (that part will be OK), learning/customizing Office 2013 (also probably OK), finding & downloading the other software I use (I’ve already done Windows Easy Transfer), and figuring out what to do about quality, flexible, “distilled” PDF creation. This will be a slow process
  • Did I mention that my wrists are acting up? And now, a healthy dose of what’s probably bursitis–in other words, right now I’m  *feeling* 69 years old.

This too shall pass, but it may slow me down for a week or four.

Update Tuesday, May 26, 2015

OK, so I was discouraged on Saturday, one shoulder hurt like hell, both wrists were acting up, and I was silently cursing about all those clicks I was apparently making when I was just trying to use the touchpad. And typing so badly that moving to two-finger mode might have been an improvement.

Three or four days can make a big difference.

  • I’m reasonably comfortable with the Toshiba now (and I turned off tap-to-click, because for me it  becomes think-for-a-half-second-while-touching-trackpad to click, and I don’t want that). Gmail, for some reason, still seems to want to treat cursor hovers as clicks, and I don’t know why, but otherwise things are more or less OK.
  • In a while, I’ll do some more W8.1 investigation (is there a way to get an old-fashioned Start Menu?), but for now it’s OK–the Toshiba comes up in desktop mode, things are more or less where they should be (the fact that you can’t make desktop shortcuts for Office programs–yes, they’re on the taskbar–is going to be a nuisance when I want two separate instances of Excel, but I’ll deal with that later. If it’s not fixable, I can always re-download LibreOffice and use it’s spreadsheet for the second instance…but I’ll worry about that a little later. (Or maybe Excel 2013 works like Word has for some years: you can peel off instances as needed.)
  • The Toshiba itself, a bargain model, is fine–and I do like the speed with which W8.1 comes up! (2-3 seconds from Sleep, ab. 10 seconds, maybe less, from Hibernate, ab. 30 seconds from full shutdown) It’s enough more powerful that the daily Malwarebytes & Windows Defender scans don’t slow me down, even though it’s at the bottom of the iN hierarchy (a fourth-generation i3).
  • I’ve ordered PowerPDF and hope that will meet my needs for PDF creation/handling.
  • Still to do: restore SSH FTP (waiting for instructions from Blake), probably a couple of small programs to reload, probably more tweaks, and need to build a new weekly backup routine. But I’m far enough along that I’ve only had the Gateway powered up for 10 minutes out of the last three days.
  • I think my typing speed (adjusting for errors) is back up to, say, 80% of normal–and my wrists and shoulder are considerably better.

Overall: I’m still assuming I’ll operate at a slower pace for another few days, but that’s at least partly because I want to be as useful as possible in hauling bark and rocks around. The next Cites & Insights may be a little late (and will be a peculiar and short issue), but probably not very late (unless there are SSH issues), and I’m starting to look at detailed plans for extending the 2014 project.

Sure would be nice to get more OA supporters/C&I contributors, though…

2 Responses to “A “staycation” of sorts”

  1. Patrick Hogan says:

    That gardening project is a lot of hard work. We’ve expanded beds and killed grass by putting several layers of newspaper, then mulch over it. Easy to find more detailed directions on the Web. It takes a few months and won’t help for your immediate plantings. Sounds like you could work it into your plan otherwise.

  2. Walt Crawford says:

    Interesting idea. The grass is dead, the thatch removal’s almost done (say three more weeks at an hour a day), my wife’s almost finished replacing sprinkler heads (or capping them). Tomorrow comes six cubic yards (!) of redwood bark–the equivalent of 81 two-cubic-foot bags–and about 800 pounds of rocks.

    Fortunately, the computer’s coming along nicely (still need to reinstall an SSH FTP shell for my websites, and an Acrobat replacement’s in the mail); I’m back to writing almost normally; and the wrists are doing much better. Three days can make a big difference.