Monday, February 28, 2011

Week Three

I thought I had my Internet connection problems licked when I removed the Ethernet connection cable and decided to rely on the wireless network card also installed on the desktop PC. That lasted all of three days before I started losing the satellite connection on the desktop while still having a great connection on the two laptops. Arrrggghhhhh. Of course, all of our important stuff, everyday stuff, pictures, etc are on the big computer (which has been backed up to an external hard drive in case you wanted to bring that up) and I just like my big screen monitor.

Since we had to go out to buy more of the world's best grapefruit grown here in the RGV (Rio Stars and Rio Reds) I decided to take the advice of Bill and Blars by buying a USB to Ethernet adapter. Fortunately the local Radio Shack carried one since there are no computer big box stores in this area. Once home, I started the installation of the drivers while fixing lunch and by the time we were finished eating I was back on line.

Computer 1, Linda 1. However, I'm afraid this computer is on a slow downhill slide to oblivion. Curses.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Five Years Old and Obsolete

This week after delving deep into the bowels of my PC and discovering that the Ethernet connection was permanently connected to the motherboard, two separate computer geeky guys told me about USB to Ethernet adapters. Yay! A less expensive solution to my satellite Internet service hard wiring problems in case my wireless connection decides to jump ship too. RVing friend Bill suggested I check out Dell's website to see if I could get a replacement motherboard for a just in case scenario so that's what I did. Which is where I discovered that a five year old computer is apparently obsolete because motherboards for my particular model and tag number are no longer available. Thanks Dell!

The computer continues to act hinky and I am into my second week of fighting with it. Windows has been trying to install the same three updates for two weeks without success. Which is annoying because the computer tries to reload those updates every darned day and then gives me the nanny-nanny-boo-boo message of "your downloads did not install". I tried all the suggestions for starting in safe mode, doing a clean reboot, blah, blah, blah. No luck. This morning after my second cup of coffee I girded my loins for further exploration into the Windows help system, knowing it was going to ask me to do things I was uncomfortable doing, like opening the C prompt and typing things I didn't understand.

Well, after doing a system check and being told some of my corrupted files couldn't be fixed I had little hope of the problem being corrected, especially after the computer rebooted and the update icon flashed back on to taunt me. But when I double checked the update history I realized the computer thought it hadn't tried to upload the new updates since yesterday so I clicked to upload them again, the computer rebooted and voila'--the updates are installed and applied.

Week two: Computer 0, Linda 2. Just don't ask me what the h*ll I did or how I did it, because I know I couldn't replicate it to save my soul.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week One; Computer 1, Linda 0

For the last eight or nine days I've been fighting with my desk top PC. My hardwired satellite Internet connection has been dropping and downloading veeerrrryyyyyy ssssslllllooooowwwwlllllyyyy and many times not working at all. Yet Denny's laptop computer which is connected wirelessly to the network, works fine albeit not at the speeds we'd like. So I've been "restoring" and reloading and trying new cables and reinstalling drivers and cleaning and purging and defragging all week. To no avail. I've taken apart the tower cabinet and sucked out cat hair and dust balls and blown out more with canned air. What I managed to discover is that my Ethernet connection is not a plug and play device, but rather is soldered to the motherboard of the PC. Why I checked this is that I discovered that if I tried to plug the satellite connection directly into the PC it wouldn't work but it works plugged into the wired network router. My next decision was to connect the satellite Ethernet to the spare laptop and work off it. And since I have a separate internal wireless card in the desktop, that gave me Internet access on the big computer. But that's three computers hooked up and running for two people.

Week two; I ran a very long diagnostics program to check out everything on the computer (scary when you go into the boot program because I'm not that much of a computer geek). No problems. Sigh. This morning as I am turning on all three computers it occurred to me that since the Ethernet cable from the satellite is wired into the router maybe, just maybe, I didn't even NEED the Ethernet cable running from the router to the laptop to have all three computers operating on the wireless system. I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the spare laptop, turned the spare laptop computer off and I am currently typing this on the desk top computer which appears to be connected to the Internet and working fine. Which means that I could have saved myself umpteen hours of frustration and aggravation if I had just thought of that sooner. I had just assumed that I had to have the Ethernet leading out of the wireless router connected to a PC for the whole wireless system to work. Gah!

For now, we'll go with this. I'd like to have the Ethernet port fixed/replaced but I'm figuring that to replace an entire motherboard on a five year old computer would probably not be worth the expense. I'm going to contact Dell to see if it could be a cost effective repair, that is if they will talk to me without charging me a service fee first.

And in the meantime: week two; Computer 0, Linda 1.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Down Mexico Way

This morning I mentioned on F*cebook that we were going to Mexico. I received several "be careful, be safe" comments. I have to admit, I was a bit floored.

I didn't really think about the possibility of problems until we actually walked across the bridge that spans the Rio Grande River and saw the armed soldiers in a small tank-like vehicle and armored car sitting on the Mexican side of the bridge. Ten years ago Denny and I came here with friends and the worst thing we had to deal with were the beggars who stood shoulder to shoulder at the end of the bridge holding out styrofoam cups for the tourists to drop their coins into. Today the four of us stayed on the main street leading south into town, hitting the big tourist shops, browsing the stands of jewelry, purses, DVDs, dolls, more jewelry, purses, DVDs, etc that line the street. Not much has changed in ten years, except back then there were street performers for the "winter Texans" and today the only performers we saw were the exotic dancers riding around in a golf cart to advertise the gentleman's club down the way.

Not to make light of the drug situation in Mexico, but it's not like that in every border town. Granted, there are towns I wouldn't go near and I wouldn't wander too far off the main drags of the towns we do visit. But there is safety in numbers and Nuevo Progresso is a town you can still visit without too much worry if you use common sense. So we went, we wandered, we had lunch and a couple of Tequila Sunrises to drink and we spent some money and we walked back across the border with no problem. And chances are we'll do it again before we leave Texas. I might even buy some Chiclets the next time around.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Better Day

We had sunshine and we had warmth today; something kind of new and exciting! After having breakfast at one of the local small restaurants Denny and I decided to wander the free section of the beach but found it was low tide and the beach was more like a mud flat.

I had a new recipe in mind to try as a Super Bowl treat, so we hit the grocery store on the way home and then hit the ground running once we got back to the trailer. A load of laundry went into the washer, we got some high finances handled and then it was outside to walk the cat and then wash the Beast. A little detergent and bleach cleaned up the mildew from the underside of the awning (something we've never had a problem with before, go figure!) and since we were on a roll we moved on to Black Beauty. Once she was all clean and shiny it was time to make the new salsa recipe. And wow is it good! Washing the spicy goodness down with a couple of bitter lemon and vodka adult beverages didn't hurt, either. I told Denny we would have an early dinner so he could watch the game and I could watch the commercials (what? they are the best part of the game!) so the t-bone was grilled and I put a wilted lettuce salad on the table and we were set.

Patches has had her last walk of the evening which she capped off by catching and releasing (unintentionally) a mouse. At half time Denny will put away the outdoor decorations and the chairs and we'll be in for the evening. A nice cup of coffee with some of my homemade peanut butter cookies and I think we'll call it a day. A pretty darn good one.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Shivering in Texas

Once again we're sitting here waiting for a RV repairman to show up. At 4:30 this morning I woke up and listened for the furnace. There was no sound of the blower going and the bedroom was cold. I laid there for a while and finally got up to see what was going on. I flipped the switch off, then on again. Nothing. So I dragged out our second little space heater and started it going in the bedroom for Denny while I went to the living room to turn on the space heater there. It was 23 degrees outside and 46 degrees inside the trailer. Cold, cold, cold.

I called a local rv dealer who also provided mobile repair service and a repairman finally showed up at 10:15AM. I explained I thought it might be the thermostat since we had plenty of propane (having filled one tank yesterday and tested our propane stove to see if it worked.) The repairman checked the thermostat wiring inside and then braved the cold to check the wiring outside at the furnace. Soon we heard the sound of the blower, which then went off. But it came back on and after a few moments the repairman came in to say our wire to the thermostat outside had come loose and actually was arcing on the ground wire. Sigh. Of course it was. However, he made short work of that, the furnace is running and hopefully it will soon be warmer inside the Beast. Which is certainly still living up to its sobriquet.

On another note, I was talking to SkippyMom on the phone this morning and told her about our visit to a local restaurant called the Big Fisherman. She thought it was worth passing on here on the blog so here it is.

The Big Fisherman is known locally for its Chicken Fried Steak Tuesday special; $2.25 for all you can eat chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and rolls. Add $1 margaritas to the mix and you have a restaurant that's busy from 11AM until the special ends at 4PM. I ordered the lunch special of fish and chips (5 large pieces of fried pollock) and so had fish to take home which I carried outside in a styrofoam container. I was met at the exit door of the restaurant by several cats and a medium sized black lab/shepherd mix that I petted. The dog followed us to our truck which was parked around the corner and across the street. The dog was continually looking to see if I was going to share my leftovers and when I simply climbed up into the truck he decided "well, p*ss on you!" Which is exactly what he did to our tire--just p*ssed all over it. I was climbing in and didn't see it but Denny could see the dog in our side view mirror and when he busted out laughing I couldn't figure out what I had done that was so funny. It took Denny several seconds to stop laughing enough that he could gasp out what the dog had done and all Denny could think was the dog thinking "okay, you won't feed me so p*ss on you!" And then Denny started laughing all over again. Maybe you had to have three of the $1 margaritas or maybe you just had to be there, but yes, it was funny.

Just another couple of days in the lives of the RV Vagabonds.
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