More New Year Reflections

I thought I would continue with some more anticipated themes for 2011. Most of these things are already underway and I anticipate that they will strengthen as the year progresses. So here goes!

  • Recycling – we are horrible recyclers in this house. It is starting to change but we have a long way to go. We also have way too much stuff in our house. At times, it threatens to overrun us. I see a few purges happening in 2010 and many donations to VAST. I also think I will stop and think before I buy something. I am pretty much an impulse shopper and that needs to stop. I consume far too much stuff. We will also continue with the Swamp Zero Food Waste Policy as much as possible.
  • Music – listening to music is one the things that gives me great joy. It is the foundation of self-care for me. I already listen to music during my commute, at least 1.5 hours round trip. I am also trying to listen more at home. I have a rocking iPod dock so there are no excuses. Plus, it is easy – I have 2 iPods, one for the car and one for home. Along with listening to more music, I want to continue to find new artists and rediscover older ones.
  • Tech – I am really looking forward to the tech releases that will happen in 2011. First up is the Mac App store next week. The release of Lion for the Mac in the summer is also high on my list. I am sure it will be another great year for devices and software!

That’s it for now. I am sure more themes will emerge. Now, I just have to brace for January. I hate January. It’s the month that never ends. We are well into winter and spring is too far away for comfort.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘grief edition’

  • It has been quiet here. Things are very different without Madison’s presence. She was the matriarch of our dog family. Almost all of the dogs had a relationship with her. Piper and Sawyer were like her babies. She would make sure they were clean and that they behaved. Sienna loved Maddie but Madison would growl at her after a while. Molly and Clio loved to cuddle with her. Kiefer is probably the only one who didn’t have a relationship with Madison. Unlike the other dogs we have lost in the last 13 months (Mackenzie, Tucker, Gemma, Kirby), Madison died at home. The other dogs watched and seemed more able to process what had happened. This was an altogether different situation.
  • I got approval for a crap load of dental work I need. Three root canals and more crowns. After that we will look at some cosmetic work and a partial plate for the top 4 molars I am missing. At least this work will be done under conscious sedation. I really like the dentist who is going to do the work. She was able to give me freezing and I really did not find it all that bad. Normally when I am given locals for dental work I cry as a matter of course. This time I did not. I was amazed.
  • My hemoglobin is way down again. I am very tired and I really feel like I am struggling. Clearly I am having difficulty taking enough iron again. My ulcerative colitis flare has calmed down a fair bit which is good and it means I will be losing less blood.
  • Have any other Mac users noticed that Safari has been incredibly slow for the last couple of days? I thought it was just my computers until I noticed it on my work computer too. I am switching back to Google Chrome until it is fixed.
  • Oh and this post is the last for the month of November. I have successfully completed NaBloPoMo! I will finish the year out too. I may try again to do a whole year. I think I only missed 3 days in 2010.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the dry hacking cough edition

I took Molly to the vet today. She has always had a coughing issue. Sometimes it will get worse but it always resolves and goes back to a baseline level after a while. Perhaps it is because I am home this week but her coughing seems really bad. So, wanting to give her some relief I took her to the vet. At 21 she is healthy. Her coughing issue is due to a collapsing trachea. The vet also said that the more she coughs the more irritated her throat gets and the more she coughs. So we will try a hydrocodone cough syrup. Dosing is difficult because Molly weighs just under 8 pounds. We had to get a liquid because it is too hard to get a pill in sixths. Liquid medications and Molly are not a great mix. Oh and she has yeasty ears. Not bad for a 21-year old dog!

I have to say that I am completely and utterly in love with my iPad. I cannot believe how long the battery lasts. It does not seem to lose much of a charge when it is idle. Reading blogs and books is definitely a low-intensity activity. I am still playing some Plants vs Zombies. I have not found another game to replace it yet. I really enjoy having it at my finger tips whether it is to check email, read blogs, check the weather etc. It is also extremely versatile, for example, it will play my the .wav files that Shaw sends me every time we get a voice mail. I really enjoy playing Qrank in the morning to engage my competitive nature. We have a household competition going!

It has been a year since we made the big switch here. You know, the from PCs to Macs. I have to say it has been a great year in the Apple world. Both my iMac and my MacBook Pro are as zippy today as this time last year. I still have my PC knowledge and can fix them when necessary like my mother’s computer or the ones at work. However I have to say that I much prefer the Mac OS. It wasn’t until I bought a Mac for work that it really sunk in. Now every time I sit down at a PC to do something it seems to take a very long time. Plus the seamless integration with so many other Apple devices along with the superior hardware enhances the Mac experience in a way that Microsoft can only dream about.

I cannot believe how freaking cute our dogs are! See the evidence below:

Beautiful Madison at 18 - she gets more beautiful as she ages
He is so proud of his little bad self
Doing the pug slouch - she is the expert!
The adorable Miz Molly!
Very handsome
Sawyer all flaked out.

NaBloPoMo to the rescue

I have been doing little to nothing for the last couple of days so I really don’t have much to blog about. So I decided to check out NaBloPoMo’s blog idea of the day. Here it is:

Take a random book, open it to a random page, and then post the passage that begins at the top left. If you want to go further, tell us if the passage you posted sheds any light on your life at present.

Given that I am sitting in the living room there are not many books within reach. The only book around is “iWork ’09 Portable Genius” by Guy Hart-Davis.

Creating Custom Styles
When the styles in Pages’ templates don’t meet your needs and you can’t bring in the style you want from another document, you can create custom styles of your own.

Creating your own styles in Pages is very easy. You simply set up a paragraph or some text the way you want it to appear and then create a style from it.

The fastest and easiest way to create a new style is by changing one of the existing styles to make it look the way you want it. So start by typing a paragraph of text – or clicking in an existing paragraph – and applying the style nearest to what you need.

Well, being a technical book, I don’t really think there is deeper, life meaning. However it is illustrative of the fact that I have been very busy learning a new operating system (Mac OS X) and iWork ’09. I struggled using MS Office for a while but they both kept crashing my Macs. I decided to try iWork and once I got past the initial apprehension of things being in different, I really liked it. I find Pages to be a very powerful word processing program. It is even further enhanced by the page layout feature which allows you to work with text boxes and graphics. It isn’t as powerful as a desktop publishing program like Adobe Pagemaker but you can certainly do a newsletter, brochure or flyer.

I am not much into change and those who know me well will attest to that fact. The mere fact that switched back to a Mac after 20 years is very strange. The main reason I did it was because I was frustrated with PCs and the fact that they continually slow down* no matter the processing speed or the amount of RAM. I have been using 3 different macs for almost a year. The only one that disappointed me was the Mac Mini and this is more likely due to how I use computers than a function of the mini. I need to be able to run Parallels and Windows so that I can get into MS Access for work. I demand a lot of my computers. I also have an iMac and a MacBook Pro. I think the MacBook Pro is my favourite. It is extremely responsive and fast. The trackpad is amazing and I love the backlit keyboard. I probably use it more that any of my other computers.

Learning to use a new computer and new programs is really good for the brain. Stimulating the brain cells helps to create new pathways and improve overall function. I highly recommend learning a new skill!

*Thanks to Derek K. Miller for the link to the article.

Tech: Magic Mouse Review

When I got my Mac I loved it of course. The one thing I hated though, immediately, was the Mighty Mouse. Within about 2 weeks I went out and bought a bluetooth Rocketfish mouse. It was far superior to the magic mouse but nothing to rave about. When Apple announced the Magic Mouse I was thrilled. Based on a combination of the iPhone interface and the Macbook Pro trackpad, both of which I love, I was sure it would be great.

I have not been disappointed. It scrolls very well. I like that you don’t have to use a wheel scroll. My only real complaint is that it scrolls too easily at times, especially horizontally. For example, when working in excel it seems to fly all over the place, both horizontally and vertically. You can control this somewhat by adjusting the scroll speed in the settings.

I have not yet mastered (nor really tried) some of the more complicated actions like pinching pictures to make them smaller or doing the reverse to make them larger like you can on an iPhone.  There are also some other actions that can be done with 3 and 4 fingers but I have not found a use for them as of yet.

Overall, the tracking on this mouth is fantastic. It also does not lose its bluetooth connection. Both the Mighty Mouse and the Rocketfish mouse would lose their connections all the time. Sometimes, I would have to connect a corded mouse in order to get it back. The Magic Mouse has yet to lose its connection. Overall it is worth getting this mouse as it is a substantial improvement over previous versions.