Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 2794

There are three restaurants in the neighborhood that I go to a lot. One is a favorite of millennials. The next seems to be favored by middle-age teachers and health care workers. The third is a time machine inhabited by really old people who still prefer reading the morning paper to looking at their phone. Each of these groups is so completely different than the next that they might as well be living on different planets. Maybe the world was always this way, but I don't think so. We have really become a tribal society. Does everyone hang out with their own tribe because it has become too difficult to communicate with the other tribes? I don't know. I ate with the millennial tribe this morning. They seemed happier than the other tribes in the neighborhood, but maybe younger people are always a bit more optimistic. I had no idea what they were talking about, but the food was good.

Janet's birthday is tomorrow. Since I have renounced gift cards after receiving a fraudulent gift card for my own birthday, I needed to go shopping for real birthday presents. Shopping for people our age isn't always easy. For the most part, you've already got everything you need. I wanted to get Janet something she would really like, but since she is actively downsizing, I didn't want to add even more to the clutter. Hopefully, I did well today. I can see why gift cards are so popular. Gift cards are easy.

Maybe I shouldn't have bragged about Dash's health yesterday. Right after I finished writing my blog post, Dash threw up again. He seemed fine all day. He ate well, took normal walks, and didn't seem to be in any kind of discomfort or distress. Just like when he has vomited previously, he went to sleep around 10:30 PM, woke up about two hours later, and seemed very restless and agitated. Immediately after he threw up in the yard, he went back to sleep and was calm for the rest of the night. This seems to happen about once a week now. It is really odd behavior. The symptoms don't seem to be consistent with vestibular disease and if he were really sick, you'd think there would be other signs of discomfort. I'll talk to the vet again when he goes in for a Phenobarbital level check next week, but I don't expect any easy answers. These periodic and seemingly random vomiting episodes have been a problem for a long time now.

I never did buy any eclipse glasses while they were still available, so I guess I'll need to make one of those pinhole projectors out of an old cereal box. I remember doing this once when I was a kid. The last partial eclipse I saw was right around sunset, so it was possible to safely look at the sun through some thick haze on the horizon. If you are a regular reader, you might remember the picture I took. Monday's eclipse will be right around midday in Dallas. You don't ever want to be looking at the sun when it's high in the sky.

I never really made plans to see this eclipse. In my heart I was hoping that Dot would make it to her next birthday and I knew she needed me. She almost made it, since her birthday would have been on the 27th of this month. I never expected that Janet would be diagnosed with cancer either. She has always been much healthier than me. Life is full of surprises and you've got to stay flexible. You've got to stay hopeful too. There will be another chance to see a total eclipse in 2027. I won't even have to leave town, since Dallas is in the path of totality. Hopefully, we'll both still be around by then.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 2793

It's unusual to have this much rain in August. Usually it is bone dry. The good news is that our yard still looks nice and green. The bad news is that I'm starting to worry about the roof leaking again and Dash is spending way too much time hiding under my desk. Dash slept through the overnight storms, but he definitely didn't like the thunder and lightning that greeted us around sunrise. I had to delay feeding him breakfast, because I was afraid that he might throw up if he ate when he was agitated.

Eventually the rain stopped and she took our morning walk. When I finished my morning smoothie, I got a surprising amount done for such a wet, gray day. I went to the bank, got my new vehicle registration sticker, and went searching for a silicon case for Janet's new iPad. Apple discontinued these cases, so they are in very short supply. I don't know why they quit making them, because they are a perfect match for the new keyboard cover. The Apple Store and all the phone stores have stopped selling these cases, but I found what I was looking for at a Target Superstore. It makes sense. People go to Target to save money. They don't go there to buy overpriced Apple products. There is usually a good supply of Apple stuff at Target because the Apple section of the store gets ignored.

The price of Texas registration stickers keeps going up, while the quality of the stickers themselves keeps going down. It looks like they just print these things out on demand using an ink jet printer now. I always have trouble getting these stickers positioned properly on my windshield. I like them very low, so they won't block my view, but I also like them straight, so they are parallel to the ground.  It's a good thing I have nothing better to do. It took me forever to attach my 2018 sticker to the windshield this afternoon.

It's so disappointing that my shower repairs didn't work. I did a good job of sealing the corners where the shower walls meet the floor. Water is still finding it's way under the tiles unfortunately and now it's harder for this water to get out. I think I've actually made the situation worse. I think my only alternative now is to rip out all the silicon caulk and use traditional tile grout instead. The problem with this is that we'll have to take a bath in the other bathroom for at least a week while the grout dries. I hate washing my hair in a bathtub. The shower is much better.

Dash has seemed pretty healthy this week. His appetite is good and he hasn't thrown up at all. We're not doing anything different, but are making an effort to keep him calm. I think sometimes he gets himself so worked up that he gives himself an upset stomach. The key to keeping Dash calm is just doing whatever he wants. I"m really just a dog butler these days. Actually, I've always kind of been a dog butler.

I hope I don't have as much trouble publishing today's blog entry as I did yesterday. Feedburner wasn't working and I had a lot of problems getting the feed to syndicate to Facebook and Twitter.  We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure I'll be going out to breakfast tomorrow morning. If the rain continues, I"ll just stay home and do my best to keep Dash calm.

Toby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 2792

When I was doing some yard work this morning, I noticed a huge army of sweet ants crawling from a crack in the patio and making their way up the side of the house to the roof. No wonder I've been seeing ants in the bathroom. I found some ant and roach spray in the kitchen and killed the ants that were visible, but I'm sure there are thousands more wherever these came from. While I was trying to eliminate the ants, I also saw several wasp nests. The wasps were rebuilding in exactly the same places where I had removed their nests a few months ago. I've been doing this year after year for as long as I can remember. Keeping the insects and critters out of the house is next to impossible. It's hard enough just to keep Dash from eating the June Bugs.

It doesn't look like my repairs to the shower stall were successful. After I took a shower this morning, I noticed a small stream of water flowing from one of the corners I had just sealed with the silicon caulk. The problem is that there is a small area under the glass shower door frame that is inaccessible. I think some of the tiles have cracked under the door and are letting water seep in. The leak isn't bad, but if there is any leak at all, it will only get worse.

I spend way too much time in this house. It's disheartening to see everything slowly disintegrate around me. Thirty years ago the doors and windows opened and closed a lot more smoothly. The brick floors were completely free from cracks. And the wool carpets looked wonderful. I could never afford to restore the place to its original condition, but it sure would be nice. I have fantasies about those guys from the This Old House show on PBS coming over and fixing up the place. Real contractors aren't like This Old House though. They want to do the work as quickly as possible using substandard materials they picked up at a nearby Home Depot. Sadly, the house will probably just continue to deteriorate.

For years, Dash used to be eager to take an evening walk right after he'd finished his dinner. Now that Janet has been home for most of the summer, Dash refuses too walk without her. It makes things awkward on days like today when Janet had a company dinner. Dash wouldn't walk at all. I tried three times and he refused to leave the yard. It was almost dark when Janet returned, but Dash decided he needed a walk after all. We all walked to the end of the street and back, but he could have had a much longer walk if he'd just gone a few hours earlier.

Janet's been having trouble finding an iPad, so I told her that I'd go locate one for her. After doing a little looking around, I found exactly the model she wanted at a local AT&T phone store. The Apple Store in the mall said there would be a three or four week wait before they had this model back in stock. This doesn't make any sense. You'd think that the Apple Store would always keep a good supply of their own products on hand. It's getting harder and harder to be an Apple fanboy. I think that Apple has become too rich and powerful for its own good. They don't even try to keep customers happy anymore.

I don't know what it will take to keep me happy. I still miss Dot a lot. It would be nice to have a steady income, but I don't really want a job. I wake up each day with a small list of things to do and I usually do all of them. There is no grand plan anymore.  I'm just going from one day to the next.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 2791

I got my car safety inspected today. I called to see if I needed an appointment and my service guy said to come on up because they weren't very busy. I shouldn't have believed him. Instead of taking a few minutes as promised, the inspection kept me at the dealership for over two hours. I used to enjoy wasting time at the dealership. I would look at all the new cars and try to imagine what I'd be driving next. Now, looking at cars is depressing. The ones I like are all ridiculously expensive.

The dealership always asks me if I'd like them to wash my car while it's there. I usually tell them to go ahead because it's free and it saves me the trouble. Typically, the maintenance on my car takes so long that I get impatient and ask them to cancel the car wash so I can get back home a little sooner. That's what happened today. I knew that Dash was waiting for his dinner, but it's a shame I didn't have more time. The car was pretty dirty.

I got a reply from the roofer today. He told me that he didn't have time to send a crew to patch the defective spots this time, but that he would drop off a can of the elastomer coating and I could make the repairs myself. This seemed kind of rude, but I wasn't completely surprised. The roofer has made many trips to my house already. I think he's probably trying to cut his losses. It's too bad that so few flat roofs come with the kind of warranty you typically get with a shingle roof. I'm kind of at the roofer's mercy.

After my recent dog bite, I have become very nervous about walking Dash. The park is so popular now that people come from all parts of town to walk their dogs. There is almost always somebody who wants to walk their dog without a leash. Some of these dogs are well behaved, but many aren't. I try my best to avoid loose dogs at all costs, but it's getting harder and harder. I don't even trust dog parks anymore. We saw another loose dog today. Luckily, Dash and I made it home in one piece.

I was balancing my checkbook this afternoon and I couldn't figure out why there was a $300 difference between me and the bank. I'm usually pretty accurate with bookkeeping. I finally figured out that my supplemental medical insurance had gone up in cost earlier in the year and nobody had bothered to tell me. I have health insurance payments directly debited from my account because I don't want to lose coverage just because I forgot to pay a bill. You've got to keep looking at your bank statements though. It's surprising how often rates go up.

I guess I could go get my new vehicle registration sticker tomorrow. I still can't remember how the new rules work, but I think you just need to wait 24 hours for the safety inspection information to be recorded in the state's database. I was thinking that Texas eliminated the safety inspection requirement earlier this year, but apparently not. The bill was passed by the Texas Senate but rejected by the House. I think the legislature is still trying to eliminate safety inspections. It seems like it would be better to keep the safety inspections, but eliminate the registration sticker.

It looks like there might be quite a few clouds across the United States next Monday. I guess it doesn't matter to me since I won't be traveling to view the eclipse anyway. It would be a shame if the weather won't cooperate. So far it looks like Idaho has the best chance of clear skies. I hope you have clear skies wherever you plan on viewing the eclipse. These things don't happen all that often.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Day 2790

I finally went back up on the roof today. What a mess. In addition to the usual two inches of standing water, there were twigs and small branches everywhere. The neighbor's pecan tree is starting to drop nuts as well. As soon as I got things cleaned up, I called the roofer again. There are at least half a dozen new places where the elastomer coating has deteriorated or torn. I am so tired of water problems. Over the years, the vast majority of problems we've had with the house have been water related. There have been roof leaks, underground plumbing leaks, shower pan leaks, dishwasher leaks, and toilet leaks. Water leaks are inevitably followed by mold and mildew. I'm sick of it all. I wish there was a way to buy a house that came with a 100 year guarantee against any form of water damage.

I was finally able to contact the watchmaker who has had three of my watches for almost five years now. I told him that I had given up on him and that I would come by and pick up the broken timepieces. He immediately apologized for the lengthy delay and said that if I could give him one more month, he would have all three repaired. I have actually heard this before, but what have I got to lose. I can't even remember what these watches look like anymore. I'll call him again at the end of the summer.

It was still raining this morning when we woke up and although Dash had slept like a baby during last night's rain, he immediately became frightened when he heard a distant thunderclap. This complicated our morning routine, because Dash won't eat when he is scared. I like Dash to eat his breakfast before I start fixing mine, because as soon as he sees me fixing something, he immediately loses interest in what is in his bowl. I fooled him this morning. I got out a bunch of pots and pans as if I was fixing my own breakfast and then fixed his instead. He eagerly ate his meal, took his morning pills, and then wanted to go on a walk. I ended up eating pretty late this morning, but at least I got Dash walked before it started raining again.

The shower stall still leaks a little, but I think I made a huge improvement. The problem is that if there is any leak whatsoever, my repairs will ultimately fail. Moisture will gradually seep under the ceramic tiles again and cause the silicon caulk to come loose. I don't even care if the repair lasts forever. If the musty smell starts to go away and I don't have to mop up small puddles after I take a shower, I'm happy. When the repair disintegrates, I'll just fix things again.

I've just about resolved all my computer upgrade problems, but I still can't print on DVD's. I don't know why this bothers me so much. I haven't had a need to  make a label for a CD or DVD in almost a year. Nobody even uses DVD's anymore. Losing this capability still frustrates me. I have a printer that lets you print directly on blank discs and I used to use it a lot. Upgrading to Sierra has made this printer obsolete.

I'm helping Janet find a new iPad. It's surprising how hard it is to just go to a store and buy one of these things. Most stores, including the Apple Store, want you to buy online and then they'll ship it directly to you later. Depending on the configuration you choose, delivery can take from three days to over three weeks. It's a shame that stores don't carry much inventory anymore. Shopping was so much easier when you could go to a store and know that they'd have everything you needed right in the store.

I'm pretty confident that I have everything I need at home tomorrow. Dash has plenty of food. There's still a good supply of fresh fruit for my smoothie. There are enough leftovers from tonight's dinner to feed me tomorrow. I'm good. If I get really bored, there's always Netflix.

Elliott is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 2789

I hope my shower repairs are successful. I spent a lot of time today cleaning and preparing the ceramic tile for the silicon caulk that will hopefully make the shower stall waterproof again. If I had three weeks to let everything dry properly, I would have used a Dremel Tool to remove all the old grout and then re-grouted the entire shower. Traditional grout takes so long to dry though. If you use the shower too soon, the grout just washes away. The silicon dries quickly, but unless the tile is absolutely clean, it doesn't stick to the surface very well. If the contractors had done a good job when we remodeled the bathrooms fifteen years ago, I wouldn't be having this problem. Contractors could care less what happens fifteen years later. They're long gone by then. I really need to have a new contractor re-do the entire bathroom, but I'm afraid that I'd find someone even worse than I did the last time. Sanded silicon caulk will have to do.

We really got a lot of rain last night. We did lose power for a few minutes, but luckily it came back on again quickly. Even momentary power outages are a nuisance. All the clocks need to be reset and for some reason the washer and dryer always turn themselves on automatically when the power returns. I have to remember to turn the air conditioner and any other power hungry appliances off if I am anticipating a power outage, so a surge won't knock the power out again when service is restored. In theory, my neighbors should be doing the same thing, but I doubt that they are.

Last any rate, the storm came and went without causing any damage. Dash got scared and spent about three hours cowering under my desk, but eventually he came back to bed. At least he didn't throw up. We've started giving him his evening meds a couple of hours earlier, just in case he has another episode. So far, so good. We've also started keeping a record of whenever he vomits or won't eat to see if we can detect any sort of pattern to this seemingly random behavior. I hope we can figure this out.

I was using the leaf blower this afternoon to clean up the back porch after the storm and all of the sudden I noticed that there were hundreds of small ants crawling all over me. The ants were coming out of the leaf blower. This was certainly a surprise. I was able to brush most of the ants away before they were able to bite me, but I did about a dozen ant bites. I was glad these weren't fire ants. The bites would have been much worse if they were. What makes thousands of ants take up residence inside a leaf blower? Who knows. The insects are definitely winning this summer. I'll probably have to take the leaf blower apart to completely get rid of the ant colony, but they aren't as much of a problem as the spiders. It wasn't that long ago that I removed all the spiders from around the house with the pressure washer. Now, they're back again. Nature is relentless. Ants of all sizes are everywhere. Spiders love to spin their webs on our windows. Roaches seem to use our underground HVAC ductwork as their own private subway system. I still don't like to use insecticides because of the dogs, so eliminating these pests is fairly hopeless.

I missed the Perseid meteor shower this year and will miss the upcoming solar eclipse as well. Janet has the final part of her reconstruction surgery that day and I didn't really have the money to travel anyway. With all I've been reading about the eclipse, I'm almost glad I'm not making plans to travel to the totality zone. A lot of hotels have been acused of  price gouging by raising room rates by several hundred percent on eclipse day. People are selling fake eclipse glasses online that don't provide any eye protection at all. Monumental traffic jams are still predicted in many parts of the country. And then there always a chance it will rain.

I can live without seeing the eclipse. I just want a shower that doesn't leak.

Emma is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 2788

Dash threw up again last night. It's always the same. He has a completely normal, uneventful day. He goes to bed at the usual time and then wakes up again an hour or two later with an upset stomach. Usually he goes outside and throws up and then goes back to sleep again. You'd think that if he was having digestive problems, they would show up after his morning meal as well. He eats exactly the same thing for breakfast as he does for dinner. Nothing really makes sense. Sometimes we think this periodic vomiting is related to his vestibular disease. Other times we thing he ate a June Bug. Since Dot vomited occasionally before we discovered that she had intestinal cancer, we worry about that too. Today we gave him his evening meds early, so that at least he won't throw up his phenobarbital if he vomits again tonight.

Today was busy. I decided that I really couldn't postpone fixing the leaking shower stall any longer. I got out the wet/dry vacuum and adapted an attachment so that I could suck out all the water that has seeped between the shower pan and the underside of the tile floor. It took several hours to extract about a quart of water through a crack in the tile. While the vacuum was running, I went to Home Depot and looked for some sanded silicon caulk that would match the tile grout. This won't last as long as completely re-grouting the shower, but it is much easier and if I can remove enough water from under the tiles, the repair should last at least a year. Hopefully, Janet and I will remember to not take a shower tomorrow morning, or then I will have to vacuum the water out all over again.

I woke up last night around 3 AM and though I'd go outside and look for meteors. This was supposed to be the ideal time to view the Perseid meteor shower. Surprisingly, the sky was mostly clear, but I didn't see any meteor trails. When I looked to the East where the meteors were supposed to be, all I saw were two very bright security lights on a house across the street. The combination of an almost full moon, the headlights from a stream of cars returning home after the bars had closed, and the glare from the security lights made seeing a meteor trail virtually impossible. After ten minutes of futile looking, I went back to bed.

We finally got that rain today. There was a pretty good downpour around mid-afternoon and It looks like we are going to get even more rain tonight. The last time I looked at the weather radar, it looked pretty ominous. I hope we don't lose power. It's always a pain to get this posted when there's a power outage. I hear thunder now, but at least Dash is sleeping soundly. The last thing I wasn't is to have him needing to go outside and throw up during a major thunderstorm.

Assuming that the roof doesn't leak and that we still have power in the morning, I'll probably go to the gym. Oh, wait. I need to finish caulking the shower stall before I go anywhere. Removing the water is only step one. The most important thing is making sure that the water doesn't seem back under the tiles again.

Ellis is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Day 2787

When I went to breakfast this morning, a waiter immediately came to my table and brought me a tall Diet Coke. When I told him that I didn't order a Diet Coke, he got kind of snippy and said "That's funny, you asked for one just a minute ago." I didn't feel like arguing. I had only arrived at the restaurant a few minutes earlier and the guy with the Coke was the first person to approach my table. I just told him that I'd prefer some coffee and left it at that. Was this guy stoned or just a jerk? I probably just sat on the wrong side of the restaurant. I usually sit on the empty side when I eat at this place. Today I sat on the side full of people. This was a mistake, I'll go back to the empty side next time and let the bartender serve me breakfast.

I was sure it was going to rain when I walked Dash this morning. There were ominous looking clouds in the sky all day, but it was always raining elsewhere. I was actually hoping for rain this morning to lower the water bill a bit. No such luck. When I got home from breakfast, I turned the sprinklers on and started my day.

Watching grass grow was about as exciting as it got today. I glued the tail back on a ceramic Dalmatian that sits on the coffee table in the living room. I don't know how long the tail had been broken, but fixing the broken figurine has been on my to-do list for the past several weeks. Since the repair job was a success, I thought I'd try to repair the band of one of my favorite watches. Rubber from the 70's must not have been very good, because almost everything from that era with any rubber in it has disintegrated. This repair wasn't quite as successful. The watch looks fine sitting in a case, but it would probably break again if I ever wore it anywhere.

I had a conversation today with the creative director of a company I've worked with for a long time. He indicated that the company was moving in a new direction. I don't know if this means I will have different responsibilities, or just gradually be phased out. I said that I have always enjoyed working with them and hoped I would be able to help them in the future. What else could I say? When a bunch of young people want to move in a different direction, it often doesn't include someone my age.

Dash is still eating well, but he is becoming very bossy. If he doesn't get his meals or even his pills at what he considers to be the appropriate time, he starts barking incessantly. He wants to eat his dinner earlier now and that means that he wants his evening meds earlier too. You can't really shift the meds around too much, since they need to be given at specific intervals, but Dash is definitely a force to be reckoned with. We are having to shift our entire day around just to keep him from barking.

Tonight is supposed to be the best time to view the Perseid meteor shower. They will be visible from midnight until just before dawn, but I don't know if there will be much to see. We saw some pretty impressive storm clouds rolling in when we were taking Dash on his evening walk. It looks like we still might get that rain they've been forecasting.

Hannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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