Saturday, October 5, 2013

Another Way to Travel

Guess what I did this morning? Here's a hint...

No, I didn't ride a horse, but I rode something else. Here's another hint...

I went mountain biking in the desert with my husband.

I have never bicycled over dirt, sand and rocks before, so it was a challenge, but I made it all the way without falling down.  It was a great workout, especially for my lungs and legs.  I think I'll try to make this at least a weekly activity now that it is cooling down.

I had a doctor's appointment for a sonogram and tissue sampling yesterday, and my mobile phone started ringing while I was driving to the medical office.  It turned out that the sonogram machine broke and they had to cancel my appointment.  Since I was already there, I went into the building to reschedule with the front office staff.  I felt horrible for these poor girls as they frantically called all of the sonogram appointments to reschedule, only to get chewed out by angry and frustrated patients.  One gal's voice was breaking, like she was almost in tears.  I understand that it is difficult to schedule doctor appointments for most people, but that is no reason to shoot the messenger.  It's no one's fault that the machine broke down.

The doctor and nurse came out to talk with me and make a new game plan for my needs.  I had taken some medication for this appointment, so they re-prescribed a new dose of the medicine for my next appointment.  They and the front office staff apologized profusely to me for wasting my time and gas, but I assured them it was no problem and that I understand that stuff happens.  Hopefully, the rest of the people they dealt with throughout the day were equally understanding.  I wanted to reach through the phone and shame the patient who chewed out that receptionist for having to reschedule due to something completely out of her control.  Scream to the heavens if you want, but be kind to the person who has the unwanted job of delivering the bad news.

Since I had set aside the morning for those procedures and they got canceled, I decided to spend that time shopping for a new laptop computer.  My old computer's keys have most of the letters rubbed off.  I've replaced the keys multiple times, but the oils on my fingers cause the paint to instantly rub off.  The select button on the mouse pad only works when it wants to, and it takes about 15 minutes for the computer to boot up and connect to the Internet.  That's really frustrating when you just want to check the weather map really quick.  I've learned to use my Kindle for the fast tasks.  (I don't have a smart phone.)  But what really convinced me that it is time to get a new laptop is that the bottom of the computer gets so hot so fast that it burns my thighs.  I find myself avoiding working on my novel, because I have to keep shutting down the computer to cool it down, which disrupts my creative flow.  I know there are fan bases you can set the computer on, but I don't want to use one, because it means sitting at a table or desk.  I like to work from my recliner.

My husband and I had been shopping for a new laptop for me for a few weeks now, and it seemed every computer had that same cheap keypad and mouse pad that my current computer has.  We walk around the store picking up the laptops to test their weight and heat factor.  It seemed they all burned just as hot as my current computer.  I had actually given up on the hunt and decided to just make my current laptop work by only using it on a flat surface instead of my lap, because I didn't think that laptop computer technology had improved enough in the past three years for me to waste my money.

However, there was one store we hadn't visited that had a larger selection than all the other stores, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to look.  I found two computers with unique keypads.  One had a metal coating on it with engraved letters, and the other keypad was back lit, with the light shining up through the letters, which my husband explained meant that the letters were not just painted on or stuck on like decals.  The laptop with the metal coated keypad was faster and had a longer battery life, but the one with the back lit keypad was cooler.  I could not detect any heat off of it, even after using it for a while.  So, I got it.  Once I started working on it at home, I knew I made the right choice.  The feel of the keypad is perfect, and it has a touch screen so that I can save on wear by alternating between using the two options.  In a few years, if some of the keys start going bad from me pounding on them for several hours each day, I can still use the computer, because hopefully the touchscreen will work.

My past employers used to get frustrated with me because they had to buy me new computers every 6 to 12 months because I wore them down so fast.  Much of the problem was that I typed probably 50x more often and faster than other employees since I was the main documentation person for our department, but my job also required that I install a lot of software, which ate up space and slowed my machines way down.  For what I had to do, technology almost couldn't keep up with my demands, but technology was moving fast enough back then that it did pay off to buy a computer that is 6 to 12 months younger than my old one.

My current laptop is 3 years old.  It seems like my husband just got it for me.  I remember being so pleased with it and thinking I was set and wouldn't need another computer for a very long time.  I suppose 3 years is a long time, but so much has happened in my life over the past 3 years that it has flown by for me.  Oh well, here's to another 3 years, and hopefully maybe even 5 or 6 now that I can type from both the keypad and the touchscreen.


Katharine Swan said...

Three years is the expected lifespan for a laptop, in actuality, although I tend to keep mine much longer. I just got a Sony Vaio myself that has a backlit keyboard and a touchscreen like you describe (and I LOVE the touchscreen!). Although the letters are unpainted, I think the keys are painted silver around the letters, so the paint may still wear off over time. Oh well, I figure it doesn't affect the functionality -- and I know what all the keys are since I type by touch!

I also like how cool the Vaio runs. Does yours have a solid state drive? I think those tend to run cooler than the ones with traditional hard drives -- fewer moving parts to heat up!

The lap desk I once suggested for your laptop was definitely something you could have used from your recliner, since it was so thin (less than a half inch thick) -- I loved it specifically because it didn't raise my laptop very much (I like to work with mine on my lap too). You might consider getting one if you are planning on keeping your old laptop as a backup. Mine is like this one, except grey -- the retractable mouse pad can be kept pushed in when you don't need it, and you can turn the desk the other way if you are a leftie and prefer to use your mouse on the left side.

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Katharine Swan said...

I found the same lap desk I have, grey color and all:

Like I said, if you keep your old computer as a backup you might consider it. It's a great lap desk precisely because it's so thin and light.

Mary said...

I was going to recommend a plastic film cover for the keyboard, but it sounds like you wont need it. I have it for mine and I can spill things, drool on it, and it all just wipes off. I like it. Anyway, if you want more info on that let me know. My machine is a little over 3 years old now too, but it still seems fine for me. I just love new computers, unfortunately, I just don't need one right now. I haven't been on a bike in so long I would probably tip over...Good for you guys for getting out and getting some exercise! I feel bad for the poor girl that had to reschedule all those appointments, I'm glad you were able to be understanding.

Mary said...

I just realized you turned off the capta thing, Yay! I do understand if you have to turn it back on due to too many creepers. It can be so annoying.

Cheryl Ann said...

My desktop is shot and I'm not sure what I will do. Hubby is going to take off all my photos tonight. Unfortunately I only have an iPad and I don't have any photos on it, so I won't be blogging for a while.