Yes, the April Issue!
In case you didn't notice...you haven't heard from me since the March issue. We've had a few family health issues that needed to take priority. A few? Well, maybe like a bombardment. So I apologize for being late and plan to quickly make up the difference to get the May and June issues rolling in short order.
Things were going along as usual with the April issue which was nearly done near the beginning of the month. Granted, my last birthday this side of the half-century, which arrived in early April, caused me to pause and wonder where the heck all those years disappeared to. But short of a mid-life crisis, I was soon back to the PC pounding away. Then it was time for the family to gather for Easter. That was about the last time I had a chance to think about my ToDo list for several weeks!
You see, both my brother and my brother-in-law are battling life threatening illnesses (a blood disease and cancer, respectively). On Easter, we learned that both had had set-backs in their health issues of late. Although mom's 86, she worries more about everyone else. So hearing this news didn't set too well with her. Not one to complain until things seem serious, a few days later she let us know that she'd been experiencing chest and jaw pains...possible signs of a heart attack for women. Mom!!!
Off to the doc we ran. Then to hospital number one for tests. They had problems performing the tests. The techs informed us that "there appears to be some blockage so we don't want to do the second part of the test, as that might stop her heart...and we don't want to do that." Well, certainly glad they weren't interested in doing THAT!<sigh>
Off to the heart specialist and off to hospital number two. He performs more tests, successfully, and lets us know mom's ticker seems to be doing okay. Tosses her a bunch of pills and we head home to assume some normalcy. That lasted about a day.
Mom then informs us that she hasn't been able to keep food down for five days! Five days!?!?! Mom!!!
Trust me, it wasn't my cooking that was causing her to send it all into the toilet. Mom's been battling a hiatal hernia for most of her adult life. She's had three surgeries for it in years gone by. These days it's out-patient surgery, which consists of slipping a camera and scope down her throat to expand her esophagus, because it now has so much acid reflux damage that it slowly closes up on her after about 12 months. She has a very good stomach doctor who set up a fast schedule to get her in ASAP. Except, they needed to wait several days because she had to stop taking her heart meds, since they thin the blood and that's not something they want when doing surgery. (Oh good...we just had that problem fixed last week and now she needs to go off that medication?<sigh>) Granted, it had been about a year since the last stomach fix, but she hadn't mentioned anything lately cos' she'd been worried about others. Now it was yet another emergency situation. So off to hospital three we ran for her surgery in May. It's not a tough procedure...unless you're 86! Then it can be scary and takes recovery time. Each year we worry more and more that she'll make it through. Thankfully...she did!
So now can I get back to my work and get TechTrax out the door? Not quite yet. It's now mid-May and I get knocked on my butt with a nasty head cold that likes me so much it refuses to go away for nearly three weeks! I managed to get most all of the ezine finished, except for the video lessons. Since I knew I couldn't record them during my illness, least I'd sound like Lilly Tomlin's "Ernestine" (the nasal telephone operator character), I figured I'd wait until I felt better, because I didn't want to disappoint anyone by missing promised content.
I was just about feeling good enough to get to the videos now...when my sister-in-law called this weekend. As I write this, my brother is in the Intensive Care Unit. On Easter, what he told mom that sent her into her health spiral, was that he may not be around much longer!
So I sit here tonight wondering what's next. But I figured I'd better get this issue out the door, as it's 99% finished. For now, it's probably best to forget about the videos this month and wrap up. I apologize and hope you understand. I'll add the member's video planned for this month to the May issue, as well as one other written article I was planning this month. But subscribers will have to wait until we return from hiatus in September to get doubled-up with that missing April video.
If there's any confusion at this point...remember, I told you in the March issue that we were planning to go on our annual summer hiatus after the April issue. So, unless you are a paid member (just $2 a month) of the TechTrax community, this will be the last free issue you'll see until we return with the September issue. Members, however, will continue to receive notices as the May, June, July and August intense training issues are published. I'll be working hard to catch up and get back on track, quickly.
Okay, so each month I make notes about what I plan to discuss in my opening. Since I don't want to bog you down completely with personal issues...let's get on with some of the items on my checklist so I can tell you about things other than hospitals.
First, I need to mention something about my writing. I recently discovered an Office user web site that was charging their members to access content. But much of the content itself was simply compiled links to other articles on the web. Granted, that doesn't go against copyright laws, but it does hit me (and many others) the wrong way when it comes to what's right! This is not the only paid site I've discovered that teases readers with our content, only to link them to our free articles...articles the reader could have found free-of-charge with a quick Google search. Some folks see these sites as a service for busy people. Fine. If you want to pay for what you can get free...no problem. Many people have more money than time. But this particular site really upset many of our TechTrax authors due to the fact that they boasted in a way that made it appear that we were exclusively writing for their site. NOT the case! In fact we weren't writing for them at all. The articles they had hidden behind paid membership were simply links to our free content.
So I just want to make sure that you understand that, if you are ever requested to pay for my content on another site, question that fact! I only recently started charging for some of my higher-level How-To articles and videos through membership here, in TechTrax. I only write for two other ezines, Computor Companion and All 'Bout Computers...and that content is free. If you discover anyone else requiring you to pay to read my articles...please let me know.
And before we get into some fun stuff...I also need to tell you about one other very sad event. Many of you have read articles here in TechTrax by Paul Traynor. Paul lives in Ireland. A little over a decade ago, Paul was hit in the eye by a soccer ball during a game and was blinded by the injury. He's written many Accessibility articles for us in TechTrax. One of them was a poignant article about how he got his first, beloved guide dog, Kitty. Although Kitty had passed on, Paul was now partnered up with his new dog, Shaque.
As a dog lover myself, just the thought of losing a dog brings me to tears. But in Paul's case, Shaque is not just his dog...Shaque is his partner in life...and his eyes.
Well, recently and very suddenly...as well as way too soon...Paul's beloved partner, Shaque, became seriously and mysteriously ill and had to be put to rest! Paul wrote me, obviously heartbroken, and told me that it happened quite suddenly over a couple days. One minute Shaque was find and suddenly he couldn't walk! Not only was Shaque's trained mission in life to walk and guide Paul, but Shaque was also a German Shepherd who has an inherent need to be with and watch over their owner. Being unable to serve Paul, Shaque was obviously devastated, as any owner of a shepherd will tell you. When my own shepherd, Kiko, was 12 and suffering from hip dysplasia, she refused to not try her hardest to continue to move from room to room just to be with us...she was convinced it was her job in life! And she was just our pet. A service dog is even more determined to serve. So, very sadly, Shaque's trainer had to agree that the dog was too ill and should not be allowed to suffer.
I made a donation to the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (who had trained both Kitty and Shaque for Paul) in honor of Paul's dog, Shaque...who had only been with him for a few, short years. If any of you have benefited from Paul's articles and assistance and would like to make a donation on Paul's behalf, you can do so online. They also have some fantastic dog lover cards. Check out the site: Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. I know it will mean a lot to Paul and the money will go to help train new dogs...possibly one of which Paul is now waiting to receive.
Now to a lighter side of helping dogs...a big, heart-felt thank you to all who made a donation to the annual Bark in the Park event that Shelby and I first entered last year. It was held this May. And I feel bad that I wasn't able to tell more of you about it before the event, but life had been so chaotic, we were lucky to even get in the walk with all the other issues going on around here.
This year was even more special for me because my daughter walked with us and it was the first walk for my other dog, Cassy, who had previously had, ahem...issues about being around other dogs and strangers. But I'd been working with her for several months...following Cesar Millan's method of using common dog sense to train people...so she was ready for this type of event. Cassy and Stacy joined Shelby and I and, together, we raised over $1,600 to help dogs/cats in need. I also donated a copy of Microsoft Office as an incentive to all who donated. Congrats to David (Bear) Chinell, who was thrilled to be drawn as the winning donator. Although now he says he needs to buy a new computer so he can use his cool, new software.
Enjoy a virtual walk with us at Bark by viewing the fun photos of that day, here.
And speaking of software winners...you may remember that we offered up a drawing for two copies of SnagIt, a fantastic screen shot and graphics software program courtesy of TechSmith.com. Congrats to Mary Coffee of Whitefish Bay, WI and John M Voelker of Parkville, MD. Both were thrilled to win. Mary is a tech writer who already uses SnagIt in her job, but is anxious to have her own copy to use for home to help her with her photo scrapbooking. John is a Construction Superintendent for a Construction Management Firm in
Maryland that specializes in School Construction. He's anxious to use SnagIt to capture web info to better
share specifics with his staff, versus making them hunt around for what he
wants to show them. Enjoy your new software, folks, and thanks for being part of the MouseTrax/TechTrax community.
I also want to give big thanks to Betsy Weber of TechSmith.com who donated the SnagIt software for our drawing. Betsy is great fun! She also loves Chicago. When she visited last year, she and her hubby and I and Greg all headed over to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders (one of my favorite Chicago restaurants). Afterwards, we headed across the street to the scene of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to take a picture. Betsy documented that, and one of my SnagIt articles, in her blog, which you can read, here: TechSmith Blog
Okay, before I let you at the ezine, a moment for some big news. In appreciation to all our faithful readers, who so patiently waited for my family to get its act together these last several weeks, one of you will win a $10,000+ Microsoft software license! Yup, we're doing it again and this time anyone can win! You may remember the first license we gave away when you needed to be a member or pass a software development quiz. This time you need only complete a short survey to help us make TechTrax even better...and your email will be entered into our drawing. On June 15th, I'll run the number generator and find one winner who will get tons of free software! Don't miss your chance to enter! See this month's article in our Escapes department entitled: Yup, We’re Doing It Again...and Anyone Can Win! for details and links to enter. Good luck!
And with that...I'll leave you for the summer! Well...leave the subscribers, anyway. Members will be hearing from me shortly with much more training. We have a great issue for you this month, even if a few planned items didn't make it. But whatcha want...it's free! As for some missing member's material, fear not! You've paid for 12 months of learning and that you shall have. So don't think you'll be just lounging around this summer, because I plan to keep you busy learning lots of cool, new Office and development stuff, as well as a few other goodies, including two more chances to win one of those $10,000+ software licenses! So if you're not a member yet, sign up. It's only $2 a month and that price will go up after we return from hiatus in the fall, because the member's site will be loaded up with great content by then. But once you lock in a current membership rate, that's the same renewal rate you'll keep throughout your membership. (A fact, I'm sure those who only paid $1 a month, back in January, wholly appreciate!)
To our drop-in readers and free subscribers...see you in September. Have a great, relaxing summer (or warm Winter for those of you Down Under). And to our members...you'll be hearing from me, again, shortly!
Peace...enjoy and stay safe!