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The good news is that I have a new laptop thanks to my son-in-law Jonathan who had heard me crabbing about my old one and dithering about what to replace it with until he grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak, and ordered a new one delivered to my house.

Three Saturdays ago the nice tech at the Apple store got it all set up for me and the following weekend my son and grandson got it connected to both my Wi-Fi and my printer. The only remaining obstacle was the need for a new Bluetooth mouse, which I bought earlier this week. Or what I hoped was the one I needed.

Then this morning, my heart full of hope, I tried to bring it all together and make it work.

The good news is, I was finally able to turn it on. The bad news is, that’s as far as I got. Other than turning it on, I am stymied.

My understanding, from what the Apple tech had told me, was that unlike with the old laptop, there is no need for a little gizmo to plug into a USB port to disable the touchpad (that I cannot seem to avoid touching and screwing up the works) and allow the use of a more controllable mouse. Just the fact of having the mouse nearby would automatically override the touchpad, he said. The trick was to have a compatible mouse, which my old one was not.

Nothing is ever easy for us older dogs, and I spent several hours shopping, dithering, and doubting before finally going to a store with a live person who might help find what I needed. Sort of. Once I finally tracked one down who was trying not to make eye contact in case I might ask for assistance. Which I did, but which he professed not to be sure he could provide since he really didn’t know much about Apples. I bought the one he finally pointed out before he scurried away.

Unfortunately, this morning’s heart-full-of-hope was nowhere near enough to compensate for an abysmal lack of know-how on my part, so here I am, still at square one and frustrated. The new mouse did not override the touchpad, and even if it had, I wasn’t getting anywhere anyway.

Consequently, as we speak, I am back on my old laptop, the one that keeps popping up with annoying messages across my screen as I try to get this column written while my mind continues to churn around how to get the new laptop up and running. Alas, the new trick still needs learning. But onward and upward! (Deep heartfelt sigh here.)

For my next attempted new trick, later this morning I will try my hand at placing an in-person bet on a horse race.

I should probably preface this by saying that on my mother’s side of the family they love playing the horses. Cohoes, N.Y., being so close to Saratoga and its big racetrack no doubt has a lot to do with it. I remember as a kid visiting my grandmother during racing season in August and a race form being on the kitchen table where my Mim and my uncles discussed which horses to play over lunch. And years later, when my daughter Kathy was born at 6:09 and weighing in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, my grandmother, who was here in Rhode Island visiting my mother, immediately phoned my Aunt Edna in New York and told her to play 6 and 9 on the next race.

I have only been to a racetrack once, and that was a few years ago for a family reunion at Saratoga. I walked around the area and through one section where all the prominent jockeys and their biographies were posted. It was there and then that I decided to put my money on the jockey instead of the horse, and John Velazquez was my guy. I have won small amounts three times so far using that method. This year’s Kentucky Derby was the most recent.

My son Tom was here for the weekend and we had been discussing the upcoming race, but I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to who to bet on until I checked out the jockeys. “Medina Spirit ridden by Velazquez is my pick,” I finally announced as I handed Tom a $20 bill with instructions to play it across the board (a term I just recently learned about) for me as he prepared to dash off to Twin River to place our bets. I slapped my fancy red Kentucky Derby-style hat (saved for just such an occasion) on my head and screamed my head off at the TV as Medina Spirit took the lead right out of the gate and held it to the very end. Yowza! First place finish! I won at 12-1 odds, an eye-popping $114.50 across the board.

That now brings us to the Preakness and my next new dog trick, going to the casino on my own later today and placing my own bets. And yes, that’s bets in the plural.

After doing my homework online, checking out all the horses, their records, and the jockeys slated to ride them, two of them were so good I just couldn’t choose between them, so I am hedging my bets in the truest sense of the word. Using money saved from my Derby win, I will be betting equally, across the board on both of them and hoping for the best.

Imagine, if you will, my surprise when I finally came up for air only to discover that most of the experts and I had independently reached the same conclusion, Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit, are almost too closely matched to pick.

Now if I can just manage to place the bets ... correctly ... and without making too much of an ass of myself in the process, it will be another minor victory for this frisky old dog to celebrate as she waits with bated breath for the race to begin.


Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

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