Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas weekend

We're sure we'll look back on this past weekend with envy when the snow is blowing in a few days or weeks, but for now, we enjoyed the warm weather, had a great Christmas and even got some outdoor things done, like washing one of the cars on Christmas afternoon.

Frances always makes sure that we have a wonderful Christmas and this year was no exception. The mantle in the living room is decorated, stocking and all.

We opened our presents on Christmas morning and even the boat got one. You can see the collapsible four-wheeled dock cart on the right in the picture. Frances got a new cookbook by our favorite food author, Mark Bittman, and a monopod to aid her in taking pictures. (Bill might even borrow it from time to time.) We also gave ourselves memberships to the New Britain Museum of American Art, a place we really enjoy visiting.

Bill has been looking for a new battery-operated drill that could reside permanently on the boat and that arrived under our little tree as well.

Christmas dinner was a pork roast and once that was in the oven, Frances made one of her famous cherry pies. Bill was tasked with taking it out of the oven.

Just to make sure it was OK, Bill tested it.

Frances decorated our dining table for the holiday....

...right down to the smallest detail.

Bill even learned what a "bobeche" is. As we said, it was a great Christmas!

Over the weekend, we took the opportunity to visit the boat. We like to put at least an hour's worth of charge into the batteries every week or so. We also wanted to take some measurements for an upcoming project to install new reading lights in our guest berth area. No real lighting to speak of there so we'll brighten things up a little while hiding any new wiring. After that, the plan is to paint all of the old fabric wall covering just as we did with the galley and head last July. That turned out to be a three weekend project but the results were outstanding. We can't wait to begin refinishing all of that teak trim (ugh!).

We shot some video over the weekend as well. It's fun for us to have and great practice where there is no client involved.

Monday, December 21, 2015

This week: computing, not boating

Before we get started on our "to do" list on the boat, we thought we'd spend some time upgrading the last of the four computer workstations we use here at Large & Page. This last one is the computer that Frances uses so we wanted to make sure we got it right.

The old computer has been there since 2004 and was used primarily to host our HP scanner and the answer one phone line and receive faxes. Yes, we still sometimes get faxes although we can't wait until that technology disappears forever.

We don't buy new computers, preferring to build them from scratch. We save only the computer cases since they really don't change much. Here's an old case with new parts installed and finally working with all of our old files intact.

The reason for the rebuilding effort was at least partially to migrate from Windows XP, which some software packages, such as our accounting system, no longer support. Our choice for a new operating system was Windows 7, which is stable, predictable, and still has about five years of support from Microsoft. Besides, it looks much like Windows XP so there isn't much of a learning curve.

Our "new" computers each have new Intel-based motherboards, processors, memory, 1 Tb. hard drives and new power supplies.

We transfer the complete contents - applications, files, drivers, and even bookmarks and shortcuts - from the old XP computers to the new Win 7 machines using migration software from ZInstall. That saves us hours of work and makes the new computers look and act exactly like the old ones.

A new computer needs a new monitor, of course.

A key element of this workstation was a scanner, which we use quite a lot. We had a good one, a circa 2005 Hewlett Packard that worked perfectly except that HP decided not to provide drivers for Win 7, thus making it completely obsolete. That's a pretty crappy way to sell new scanners, in our opinion. Sorry to see this old scanner go.

We paid $450 for this scanner in 2005. Its 2015 replacement with exactly the same functionality cost $76.00. It's a Canon because we will never buy anything from HP again.

Granted, the new Canon scanner doesn't have an automatic document feeder but that's something that was so unreliable on the old HP that we never used it.

We spent about $300 to get this all done and that's about what you'd spend at Best Buy for just a so-so computer. But, like our boat engines, we like to know where everything is and how it works, so we're happy to do this computer replacement our way.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The pace here is exhausting...

Well, not really, although we did get some things done, one of which was boating related.

On Saturday, Frances agreed to Bill's request and cooked up a big pot of chili.  While she was busy in the kitchen, Bill drove to Portland Riverside, plugged in the boat for a brief battery charge and picked up a new reading light that we hope to use as we rehab the v-berth and guest berth areas later this winter. The marina ordered them for us at a price somewhat below retail.

We have two of these reading lights that we installed two winters ago and we really like them. 24 LEDs make this the perfect reading light. The old ones were white but this time we opted for stainless. $52.00 each ain't cheap but they work for us.

With the weather more like early fall, we headed home to tackle the next exhausting task: wash the car. We did that but by then, the chili was smelling pretty good so we powered down and enjoyed a great dinner.

Sunday also looked like a fairly warm day so we dove into The New York Times early and then went out to wax our newly washed 1990 Mercury. You guys can laugh, but we hate making payments on stylish new cars, so we keep our cars as long as they will run. This particular old girl looks pretty good with some fresh wax and she runs fine even with over 200,000 miles.

While Bill was polishing, Frances turned out an apple crisp of some kind that made the kitchen smell great and will make a great dessert for this week.

This year's best Christmas Card
We get a lot of holiday cards but this year we received one of the beat. It's from Ron and Carol Ann celebrating their new boat. We haven't seen it yet but until we do, this card is perfect!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

One more visit to the boat

 It was a beautiful weekend and an ideal time to take care of a few more things on the boat, the biggest of which was to remove one section of the bridge enclosure that has a bad zipper and have it repaired now, rather than wait until everyone else wants their canvass fixed in the spring. The big section immediately to Bill's right in the picture is the one we wanted to remove.

That little project went OK and we took the window section off and down to the car.

 The shed we store the boat in isn't exactly dust free so we hung an old section of tarp over the opening to give us a little protection.

Meanwhile, Frances was in the boat collecting things that she wanted to bring home. It was nice to see her in the galley again, even though we were on dry land.

With the lights and the heater on, it was quite cozy. Collecting the things that needed to go home ended up to be 11 trips to the car. No big deal; it needed to be done. It will be fun to see how much of this stuff comes back to be boat next summer.

Before we left the boat yard, Frances wanted to visit the yard's store, which does a brisk business during the winter. Karen, who manages Portland Riverside, has added scented candles that are made in East Haddam. Needless to say, once Frances got close to those candles, it was major sniff-and-chat time.

Frances found several scents that she liked and we left with something else checked off our "to do" list.

On Sunday, we tacked another job that we had been planning to do for some time: wax Frances car. Frances did a major unloading of the car's contents and Bill waxed the car. Aside from a few nicks and scrapes put on by the late night drunks at American Wharf during the summer, the old Subaru ended up looking pretty good. We finished it just as the sun went down.