January 30, 2009 – Alafia River

I just finished my last conference call around 4:30 Friday afternoon I have such an itch to get out on the water. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for cold weather – we might make it to 60 degrees. It’s been a long, tough week, with some torrential rains on Thursday and this morning. Just gotta get away.

It’s kinda cool outside now, but not too bad – a fleece jacket, pair of shorts, sandals, and I’m ready. I hitch up the boat in a couple of minutes and head out of the driveway.

After just a few seconds, something doesn’t seem quite right – a tickling in the back of my mind. I pull over and slowly bring my truck & boat to a stop. Wow. I’d forgotten to close the latch on the trailer hitch. That would have been a disaster.

The one glitch of the outing resolved, off I go again.

Since it’s so late and the sun is going to set just after 6PM, I head over to the ramp on the Alafia River, only about 10 miles away.

The place is deserted except for a single trailer – no boat to be seen – and a couple of people fishing the docks.

The wind is brisk, but not too strong, and I easily launch the boat and am on the water.

I swing by some of the sailboats that are always anchored about 100 yards from the boat launch. They’re always there. I’ve never seen one leave, but there are a couple of new ones in the group. Many are in sad shape, and one has managed to break its anchor line and has washed up on the shore by the mangroves.

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As I swing around another of the boats I see that it’s for sale. $2500.

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Perhaps not a bad price, but who knows how long it’s been sitting here unattended. It has a rusty, barnacle-encrusted little outboard on the back. All the rigging would probably have to be replaced. Funny, there’s no phone number or contact info. Perhaps I’m supposed to tape a note with my name & number, asking them to call me.

But I don’t.

I do wonder about the boats though. Most have been there for a long time. One looks about ready to sink, and right beside it is a nice, clean, newer looking boat.

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Are they paying someone to anchor their boats here? Or is this just an extremely rare place left in Florida where one can anchor a boat for free long-term? Is it just a matter of time before someone official decides they should all be moved?

I leave the sailboats, still pondering their fate, and head up river for a slow tour.

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After crossing under the bridge, I follow a route near the shore, looking at some of the boats on the docks. I check my depth finder and see the water is very shallow – too shallow for some of the motor boats on the docks to have made it in. How’d they get there? I move along slowly.

My mind wanders but the irregular sound from my engine brings me quickly back to the moment. I throw the boat into neutral & check the depth finder. Blinking. Less than one foot below the keel. I adjust the jack plate, and tilt the motor so I only need about 6 inches of draft. Fortunately the bottom here is a few inches of silt – no rocks. No damage to the propeller

I turn around & head back towards deeper water. I’ve lowered the engine again, just a bit. I pass yet another crab pot marker and suddenly hear a grinding noise.

Shoot. I stop the motor, raise it up, and hey! there’s a crab pot. Wrapped around my propeller. Jeez – I hope I don’t have to get into the water to get loose. The water’s really cold… about 63 degrees according to my gauges.

Luckily I’m able to untangle the crab pot from the propeller using my push pole. I bump the engine for a moment to turn the prop, and don’t see any damage to any of the blades. Whew. Images of calling BoatUS had been flashing through my mind. That would have been embarrassing. 

I put the engine into very shallow water mode again, and keep it that way until I see 4 feet on the depth finder.

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The sun is starting to set as I make my way back to the dock. What breeze there was has died down, so loading the boat is simple as can be. I park off to the side – just a habit… there’s nobody else around waiting – and hook up the trailer lights and start to put on the hold-down straps.

I look up and see at least 100 blackbirds sitting on a power line far above my head. They look like they’re set for the night. Cool.

I check my lights – but for some reason the running lights on the trailer aren’t coming on. The break lights & turn signals still work, but not the running lights. Crud. I grab some WD-40, spray the connections, but that doesn’t help. Ah well. I’ll just tap my breaks a lot so folks behind be will see the boat & trailer.

Just then, something startles the birds. All of them take flight. I hear plopping noises. Crap! Literally! Luckily none of it lands on me, but the boat takes a couple of direct hits.

The drive back to the house is uneventful. The drivers behind me gave me plenty of room though. No tailgating. I guess my random, frequent tapping on the breaks made them a bit uncertain of my driving skills.

I flush out the motor and put the boat away. Hop on the internet to check the wiring diagram for a 4-pin trailer wiring plug and see that it’s the brown wire that connects to the running lights. But I don’t know if the problem is on the truck side or on the trailer side.

So now I have a little project to do while it’s so cold this weekend. Oh, besides watching the Australian Open finals and the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The teeth

I managed to get an appointment with a new dentist today. The office is nearby and they don’t keep me waiting long in the reception area. Once in my space shuttle chair I have a couple of minutes to look around.

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The room has some pretty cool equipment. They have a computer device that works with an x-ray machine, so the x-ray images are captured digitally and are immediately available. On the computer. Which has a monitor that I can see. And I don’t like what I see.

The rest may be too much information, but I need to write it down to get it out of my system.

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The side view of my right jaw. Tooth on the left is #31 and beside it to the right is #30.

Tooth #31 has a metal post and crown from a root canal in 2007. (The metal post was screwed into my jaw during that procedure. Yeah, it was fun. My knees go weak when I think back on the moment. Just like being in love for the first time. Uh, huh.) Tooth #30 is full of fillings that I’ve accumulated over my life.

Both are very sensitive. Both probably need a root canal – I get to see a specialist (and have the work started) on Tuesday. Until then my orders are to “take lots of ibuprofen” which I translate into “you’re going to be in pain for at least another week.”

If #31 needs (another) root canal, they’ll have to remove the existing crown and post, do the dirty deed, then put a new post and crown on.

Oh, joy.

The calf

My visions of raising my own adopted cow came crashing back to reality yesterday evening when the little guy’s owner (my next door neighbor) stopped by. A bunch of his cows had managed to open the gate & escaped the other night. They thought they’d gotten all the cows back inside, but this one managed a clean getaway.

In the fading light we had ourselves another little cow roundup. We corralled him into our back pasture then I took down the planks in one section of my fence, opening the way to his home pasture right beside ours. But, he was pretty worked up and didn’t want to go where we wanted him to go. He made a few laps around the pasture before starting to settle down. Glad nobody was filming the event, cause we looked kinda like dufuses. He finally settled down a bit, and we shooed him along the fence line. He saw the opening and took it. He escaped, this time back to his home.

January 27, 2009 – wandering calf

Been sitting in my office, trying not to think about my tooth, trying to concentrate on work. Zune headphones in my ears, background music playing, concentrating. . .

Then I hear Alix burst into the house, talking about a calf.

In our yard.

Hard to ignore something like that.

Sure enough. A calf had gotten loose from someone’s nearby farm and took a dangerous nighttime walk down the road to our place.

We quickly shut the front gate, opened the gate to our front paddock, ran and got some hay, and shooed him safely inside for the night.

We’ll probably get a knock on the front door tomorrow from the owner. Glad the little guy wasn’t hurt.

OK. Time to focus again.

Update: Here are some pictures I took of him early this morning. http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding.action?c=8odr4qsw.2r6ehdwg&x=0&h=1&y=2wis9o&localeid=en_US&cm_mmc=site_email-_-site_share-_-core-_-view_photos_button

January 27, 2009 – it’s just a matter of time

Last week one of my molars started letting me know that it’s soon going to be time for a root canal. I was eating some cereal and suddenly the cold milk made my jaw throb. I’ve been careful since then to try to keep cold stuff away from that tooth, but with limited success.

My first and only previous root canals were about a year-and-a-half ago. Had a couple of teeth that needed the treatment. One required the insertion of a metal post into my jaw to allow for the cap. No fun. Not at all. I dread this. And the dentist I used then is no longer under my health plan.

Rats.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 – IE8 RC1 is available

Hey cool! I’ve been using IE8 Beta for a while now and have been very pleased. I love the integrated find capability. And overall it is just way faster than IE7 ever was.

Now the Release Candidate 1 is available. Yea!

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Download and install it today: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/

Note: When I upgraded it took a couple of attempts. The first time through the installer said it failed and I needed to reboot. I did, then reran the installer which completed the second time, although it also said none of the extra updates were installed. When I launched IE8 RC1, the notification bar at the top of the window said my add-ins were disabled. The fix, according to the post-installation page on the internet said I should click the Reset button on Tools | Options | Advanced. No way I was going to do that – that would reset everything in IE…. no cookies, all add-ins would be removed, all history removed. Nope. But also on that post-installation page was a note about add-ins and the Windows Live add-ins in particular. Seems they needed to be updated. I followed the link to http://download.live.com and downloaded & installed everything. It did an update in place. (All my Live Mail, Live Writer, etc, settings were preserved and the programs have fresh new look to them.) Next time I opened IE8 RC1, no error messages about add-ins. I’m done.

Monday, January 26, 2009 – Spring is almost here

The weather yesterday & today was amazing. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve gone trail riding. With the doggie rescue on Saturday we didn’t have a chance to go. So on Sunday I saddled up each of the horses and rode em around in our back paddock for a while, enough to get a good sweat going on them.

The horses

Ben was first, and he was playing the "I want to go back to the barn" game – walking slowly as we headed away from the barn, then almost galloping each time we turned back towards the barn. So I kept him at the far end of the pasture & ran him side to side. He finally got the idea and settled in.

Copa was next. He’s such a fun horse to ride. He wants to go, go, go, and with his natural gate he’s such a smooth ride. He’s a dream. No wonder Pam likes to ride him so much. (But I like riding him in my saddle – hers is too foo-foo.

Then Yankee brought up the rear. He’s so used to having spurs to guide him along – doesn’t take much prompting – just a gentle tap, but that’s what he’s used to.  So there I was in tennis shoes and didn’t want to walk back to the house to put on my boots and spurs. He played dumb. I’d kick and kick and he would barely start moving. I put him through some of his quick turns (which don’t require spurring) and backed him up a bit. Then I used a the end of the reigns to tap his butt, and he started moving. We galloped along for a few minutes, alternating with some rests in between.

Afterwards I gave them all a good hosing off since it was 77 degrees and they were sweating. Fun stuff.

The beach

Later that afternoon, since it was so nice I decided to head over to Honeymoon Island off the coast of Dunedin. It had probably been about 35 or so years since I’d set foot on it last. (I rode around it in my boat last year.)

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On the drive out I saw the Goodyear blimp, They’re probably practicing for the Super Bowl that’s coming up this Sunday.

I stopped off at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and looked at some of the boats they had outside. There was this one funky old boat with a big cabin. It was swept way up in the front, and looked like it could take on some big waves. And it had a massive, new 225 HP Suzuki four-stroke engine on the back.

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The new engine looked really out of place, but man, I bet you could head across the Gulf in the thing.

After killing some time there, I drove on up to the island. The air on the beach was much cooler, chilled by the Gulf which is still in the low 60s. But the beach was still beautiful.

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It wasn’t crowded, and those who were there were settling in for a spectacular sunset.

I didn’t have a coat on me (the air temp was getting into the low 60s by now) and all I was wearing was a fishing shirt, swimsuit, and sandals. Since it was getting so cold (relatively speaking) I headed on home.

I arrived just in time to watch the last of the sun dip behind the horizon.

What a good day.

January 24, 2009 – a new member of the family

It started about 2 weeks ago when Pam said "we need another dog."

Uh oh. We already have 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 3 horses. That seemed like a pretty good mix to me.

But Pam wanted another dog – a bigger dog. Well, a BIG dog.

I immediately said "No, we’re not going to do it." Things are nicely balanced and everyone gets along with everyone else.

But she persisted and finally wore me down. Alix chipped in with the wearing down part. Day after day of "oh! look at this one! He’s so cute!" They were trolling all the rescue and dog shelter places.

"Look! This one will be put to sleep on Friday if nobody adopts him."

That’s playing dirty. It was a beautiful. And fortunately somebody (not us) did adopt him.

But with tons of persistence, today we went to look at a 12-week-old German Shepherd / Mastiff mix. A little (big) boy. In Orlando. He was precious. And he was interested in us, in other things. He wasn’t timid.

But he had gigantic feet. We’re talking, this guy is going to be a really big dog.

So we adopted him. He’s ours. And his name is Healy, after the DevFish, since he played a large role in our coming back to Florida.  

Here’s to a long and healthy life for Healy. (Both of them.)

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Say Hello to Healy the younger. . .

January 23, 2009 – post-Connections event

Dave and I presented a lap around Team System 2010 yesterday at the Microsoft Connections event in Tampa. There was a nice turnout, and the attendees asked lots of great questions and had a number of excellent comments.

Here’s a link to the slide deck we used: http://cid-f9c5089cab158b62.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/Connections%20-%20A%20Lap%20Around%20Visual%20Studio%20Team%20System%202010.pptx

During the talk a question came up asking if the Sequence Diagram would be able to figure out .NET FW 1.1 code – yes, it will, right out of the box.

January 20, 2009 – 3D – photos from the inauguration

CNN and MSNBC each have a very cool page that uses Microsoft Photosynth to create a 3D virtual world created from photos taken during the inauguration. I like CNN’s better because they used all the iReport photos that were submitted, so there are a bunch of different vantage points.

You’ve gotta take a look!

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/44.president/inauguration/themoment/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28661923

January 20, 2009 – a new era is here

Impressive. We’re doing a customer event here in Ft. Lauderdale today. During lunch we had a live feed of the inauguration projected onto the screens. Everyone quietly ate & watched, the room jammed to overflowing.

I got chills while Aretha Franklin sang. I couldn’t believe Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the words to the oath of office. For me that was the only downer of the event.

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Can’t wait to see what the next four years hold for us.