Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 2944

Don't ever get a white comforter if you have an old dog who likes to sleep on the bed. It's amazing how quickly this thing gets soiled. The comforter is too big to fit in our washing machine, so we have to take it to a laundromat. Once you go to this much trouble, you might as well wash everything else as well. We managed to do a few other things, but it was definitely a day for doing laundry. I doubt if things will stay clean long, but right now the bed looks very nice.

The roof is finally dry as well. Since there is another cold wave and possibly snow on the way, it was time to clear away the leaves and standing water. In the summer I would never bother to sweep the water off the roof if it was going to rain the next day. Winter is different. I've discovered over the years that ice buildup is bad for the roof, so I always try to remove any standing water when freezing weather is in the forecast. They say that temperatures will dip into the teens tomorrow. I hope the forecast is wrong.

I had a small victory with the computer today. On Saturday I tried to rebuild my directory and the Diskwarrior software kept crashing. I was ready to buy an upgrade, but I needed the serial number from the old software to get a lower price. I launched the program again to get the number and this time it worked. Go figure. I have an optimized directory now and my hard drive is healthy again. I have no idea why the software wasn't working on Saturday, but luckily you only need to rebuild your directory every six months or so. Blind luck saved me some money today.

While I was cleaning the house this afternoon, I watched a Jay Leno's Garage marathon on TV. Car shows are relaxing. I watch them the same way Janet watches Hallmark Christmas movies. It's weird that Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld both have shows about cars now. It must be nice to be able to buy an unlimited number of cool cars. At one point Seinfeld owned 46 Porsches. Leno has an even larger collection of exotic automobiles. I think one of the reasons I started collecting model trains years ago was that I knew I'd never have the money to collect cars. Now that I think about it, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee might be the perfect way to introduce me to Netflix binge watching. I think all 56 shows are on Netflix now.

I can't decide whether to take Dash to the vet or get a haircut this week. Dash needs his nails trimmed. On the other hand, I need a haircut too. I wish I was better at trimming Dash's nails myself. He's terrible riding in the car now. I can't risk clipping a nail too short either because of the bleeding problem. I was thinking about making an appointment at the vet for tomorrow, but I don't know if it is going to snow. I'm definitely not driving Dash around on icy roads. Jeez. Simple things have become so complicated. It might be easier to just get a haircut.

Betty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 2943

I used to be an avid railfan. I liked to ride trains, read books about trains, hang out in hobby shops, and buy model trains. I built several model railroads, although I never really had a place to keep them. Eventually all three train stores in Dallas went out of business, people I knew stopped collecting trains, my own trains wound up in the storage warehouse, and I completely forgot about my old hobby. Today, I was thinking about the owner of one of those old school hobby shops and thought I'd look him up on the Internet. I wasn't expecting to find anything. The guy is older than me and I thought he retired years ago. Much to my surprise I discovered he was alive and well and owns what is billed as "The largest train store between Chicago and Atlanta." For some reason this made me feel great. It's nice to know that it is still possible for old men to pursue an obscure dream and succeed at it. I don't know anyone in Dallas these days who even knows what a train is, but apparently they are still quite popular in Kentucky.

If this store were closer, I might start hanging out in hobby shops again. Kentucky is a long way away though. I'm not much of a collector anymore either. I really doubt that I'll pursue a hobby that involves collecting things ever again. The last thing I need is more useless stuff. That being said, I hope my friend's store stays in business. I'm going to need a place to sell my trains someday and it sure isn't going to be eBay.

Since I can't hang out in hobby shops anymore, I go to the gym. Hobby shops were more fun, but the gym will keep me alive longer. I've started going right after breakfast on Sunday mornings now. The place is practically empty and there is never anyone on the basketball court. It always surprises me that I am so inconsistent on the court. Some days I can sink quite a few free throws in a row. Other days, I can't seem to hit the basket at all. I was not at my best today and I have no idea why. I was actually in a pretty good mood.

I'm getting closer and closer to binge watching on Netflix. I've set up the account on both Apple TV and the Roku Stick, but I haven't actually watched anything yet. I can't get past the enormous menu. I scan through this menu from time to time and it seems endless. You could spend the rest of your life watching Netflix movies if you were so inclined. I was bored this afternoon, so I looked at the menu again. As always, there were too way many choices. There were several things that Netflix said I had a 96% chance of liking. How do they know that much about me already? Hey, I was thinking about watching Black Mirror anyway, so it might be a good idea to just go with their suggestions.

The weather was nice today, but it is supposed to rain tomorrow. Then on Tuesday, another cold front arrives and the temperatures are expected to drop into the teens again. I wish the weather would just make up it's mind. I don't even know what to wear anymore.

Kasey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 2942

I'm glad I didn't wake up this morning with a message on my phone saying that a nuke was headed my way. It was all a mistake, but that didn't stop the conspiracy theories. Why is it so hard for people to believe simple human error in cases like these? Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were caused by human error. So were the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle disasters. In 1961 a B-52 accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs on the city of Goldsboro, North Carolina. Luckily, neither exploded. In 1979 a technician put a training tape into an operational computer by mistake causing NORAD to think a major soviet attack was underway. As recently as 2010 the Air Force lost control of over 50 nuclear ICBMs for over 45 minutes. The Russians made similar mistakes throughout the cold war. When you think about it, we're really lucky we're still here.

People love conspiracy theories. They'd rather believe that Stanley Kubrick staged the moon landing on a Hollywood sound stage than the fact that the entire world watched the event on live TV. There are people who believe that pharmaceutical companies invented cancer to sell drugs. Others believe that aliens are living among us. I guess it makes sense that there are people who believe that the alarm in Hawaii this morning was created by hackers for some nefarious purpose.

It's easy for me to believe human error as an explanation for just about anything. Humans are idiots. We tend to think we are much smarter than we really are. I have listened to five people try to explain Bitcoin and how blockchains work. None of them made any sense. Does anyone really know what a blockchain is? Anytime I hear someone tell me that something is completely safe and transparent, I begin to worry. Did you ever see that documentary called "The Origins of AIDS" about how tainted oral polio vaccine distributed in the Belgian Congo in the 1950's led to the beginnings of the deadly disease? It may not be a nuclear bomb that ends humanity, but one way or another we are accidentally going to do something that ends horribly wrong. That's just the way we are.

I almost made a serious error today. I tried to repair the directory on my computer using Diskwarrior without realizing that the version I was using was not compatible with the Sierra operating system. I've used Diskwarrior for decades and it has saved me from some serious crashes. I haven't used it since I upgraded my hard drive and operating system though. Oops. My bad. Luckily, I was able to force the program to abort before it caused any damage. When I was trying to figure out what to do next, I also discovered that the Apple Disk Utility no longer lets you repair permissions on your hard drive. Damn. Yesterday it was my phone. Today it is my computer. Apple is no longer my friend.

It was a beautiful day today, but it was still very cold. We had such a mild Winter last year that I keep forgetting that January is almost always very cold. I just leave my Winter coat on the sofa now because I have to put it on every time I take Dash outside. I have to follow Dash around every time he goes outside because I don't want him to eat something that will make him throw up. His rear legs are so weak that he also tends to get stuck in the dense Asian Jasmine ground cover in the back of the yard. If he poops, I carry bags so I can clean it up right away. If I don't, it is almost a certainly that I will step in it the next day.

Hopefully, I can limit my mistakes to stepping in dog poop. It's hard to avoid human errors because there is so much that can go wrong. Will I make any mistakes tomorrow? Definitely. Will my mistakes cause hundreds of thousands of people to panic? I certainly hope not.

Taylor is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, January 12, 2018

Day 2941

Slow days can be dangerous. When I don't have much to do, I tend to update software. Lately, these updates come with a lot of rude surprises. Today, I discovered that iTunes is no longer a place to buy and store apps for your phone. I've always bought apps on iTunes and installed them on the phone or iPad later. I thought it was handy that you could activate or deactivate your purchases without actually erasing them. There was also a convenient feature that made it easy to rearrange the apps so they would appear where you wanted them. It's all gone now. Apple apparently wants you to do everything on the phone itself. I guess this is what most people do anyway, but I've never been most people.

It was way too cold when I woke up to take Dash on a morning walk, but the sky was clear and I knew it would warm up later in the day. To pass the time, I made pancakes and sausages at home instead of going out for breakfast. I'm so slow that Dash went back to the bedroom and took a nap before I finished my meal. When Dash leaves the scene while you're eating, you know he's tired.

It's a good thing that Dash still sleeps a lot, because otherwise I'd never get anything done. As Dash has gotten older, he's become a lot more needy and doesn't like to be left alone. He used to be content to sleep under my desk while I'm working, but now he wants me to go sit on the bed with him. If I wanted to spend the day watching Netflix movies, this would be fine, but I still have things to do.

Today I needed to send out my January invoices, but Dash didn't want me sitting at the computer. I took him outside several times and tried to figure out what he wanted. As it turned out, all he wanted was my complete and undivided attention. I eventually had to block the office door with a dog gate. He barked a few times and then went back to sleep on the bed. I'm slowly learning that life is simpler if I wait until he's asleep before I go to the office.

By lunchtime it was warm enough to stay outside for a while and I took Dash on a nice long walk. If I'd taken him on a walk before breakfast this morning, he probably would have been as much of a pest. You have to do everything in the proper order with this dog. Sadly, I have probably encouraged this behavior. I have to do everything in the proper order myself.

We took a second walk around 4 PM, before the air started turning cooler again. Whenever I see a Dalmatian with behavior problems, I know it isn't getting enough exercise. Dalmatians are very active, energetic digs. Even an old sick one like Dash has more energy than me.

One reason I was tired today was that that I had to get up several times and take Dash outside. This is becoming more frequent and is probably related to his new diet. I'm not sure which of the various brands of food he eats is giving him loose stools, but I'm reluctant to change anything. We've got a routine going now where Dash is eating consistently again. One of these days I'm going to need to get him tested for urate crystals again. I know his new diet is nutritious, but it may cause the crystals to form again. It's always something, isn't it.

I wish it would warm up. I don't know why I'm so cold this year because it's always cold in January. It's actually been much colder in previous years, but i don't  recall wearing so many sweaters before.

Pepper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 2940

I thought the weatherman made a mistake this morning when he was predicting snow. The temperature was in the mid-50's and the skies were clearing. It looked like it was going to be a nice day. Just a few hours later, I realized the weatherman was right. Between Dash's morning walk and his evening walk, the temperature dropped thirty degrees and the skies became dark and ominous. This was Texas weather at it's finest. It still amazes me how quickly things can change.

It was a quiet day, but I got a lot done. I finished my second article and shipped it off to the client. The client acknowledged the article and even thanked me, so I'm taking this as a sign that things will go smoothly again. With my writing chores out of the way, I did some minor maintenance on the few websites I still manage. I wish there was more to do, but at least I was busy for a while.

I spent way too much time deciding what to get for dinner, but ended up just going to the neighborhood Pei Wei and ordering a rice bowl. I like Pei Wei, but am convinced that they just cook one thing and give it different names. I've ordered just about everything on the menu by now and it all tastes exactly the same. I'm not being critical. There is a dependable consistency to these meals. Maybe it's just me. I don't claim to have a very sophisticated palate. All Chili's hamburgers taste the same to me too.

Dash was in good spirits today. Sometimes it's easy to forget his many medical problems. On a good day he just seems like a normal dog. He's been eating well for quite a while now, but somehow his feeding schedule has changed. We eat dinner so early these days. I usually eat my own dinner right after I feed Dash and found myself warming up my rice bowl in the microwave at 4 PM. This is quite a change, considering that we used to eat at 7 PM.

I wonder why I get so many telemarketing calls? It seemed like the phone rang every ten minutes today. Everyone in the universe must have our number by now. I have Nomorobo installed, so the phone only rings once but it still gets irritating. I think every time you list your phone number on an application it ends up getting sold to a telemarketer. This intrusive new world would have driven my Dad crazy. He always answered the phone. I never do. The only reason I keep the landline is that I'm convinced the telemarketers would follow me to my cell phone if the land line wasn't there to absorb the continuous barrage of callers. They say Nomorobo is available for iPhones now too. I'll have to check into it.

It was so cold when I took the trash out this evening that I'm considering just fixing breakfast at home tomorrow. If the forecast is right, Dash might not even get a morning walk. It is supposed to be well below freezing at sunrise. All this is making pancakes at home sound pretty good.

Suzie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Day 2939

I had a surprisingly enjoyable meeting with my financial adviser today. I basically quit going to meetings when Dot got sick, so this was the first time I'd actually seen the guy in person in several years. It's much easier to talk about your financial future when the stock market continues to set new records. We did make some contingency plans today, but both of us agreed that the business climate was still fundamentally sound. Hey, I heard Warren Buffett say basically the same thing on TV this morning, so I don't think we're out on a limb here. As long as Kim Jong Un doesn't decide to nuke somebody, the near-term future looks relatively bright.

We spent a little time talking about estate planning today. It's not a subject I like to think about, but I've seen the estates of several people I know turn into a horrible mess after they died. At least I have a will. I can't believe how many people my age don't even have a will. You're never going to see "Brought to you by the Sealander Foundation" at the end of your favorite PBS program, but maybe there'll be enough left over to rescue a few dogs after I'm gone. Nobody can predict the future, but it never hurts to anticipate the future. Hey, at least I've started the conversation.

I got caught up in rush hour traffic on the way home from my meeting and started worrying about Dash. He can't hold his bladder very well anymore and sometimes he has a vestibular incident when he wakes up from a sound sleep. Dash was asleep when I left and was asleep when I returned. I have no idea what happened in between. I used to obsessively check the baby monitor when I was away, but if you're 45 minutes away from home, it's sometimes better not to look. At any rate, everything was fine today.

I didn't get started on my second writing assignment until I'd finished feeding Dash and taking him on an afternoon walk. This didn't give me enough time to finish the article, but I needed something to do tomorrow anyway. I wish I had an article a day to write indefinitely. Writing is much less stressful than website design or film production. Even commercial copywriting is strangely relaxing. I'm not sure how to get good writing jobs anymore though. Nobody reads. I find it ironic and a bit humorous that Facebook and Instagram "stories" don't really involve writing. Nowadays, what people call stories are really just little videos.

I've got to make an appointment to see a podiatrist soon. My left foot is really starting to hurt and I don't know why. I suspect that it has something to with this summer's dog bite. There was internal bleeding when I got bitten and my foot became swollen. Even though I slept with my feet elevated and used icepacks to reduce the swelling, a hematoma formed in my leg. Maybe there is still a small hematoma in my foot that is causing the discomfort. Or maybe there is something else going on. That is why I need to see a podiatrist.

The refrigerator is getting kind of bare, so I'm going to need to pick up something for dinner tomorrow. Do I go to the smoked meat store and get something delicious and unhealthy, or go to the vegan store and get something healthy and a little bland? It shouldn't be so easy to do the wrong thing.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Day 2938

Today was surprisingly normal. As a result, I got quite a bit done. We got started with a walk through the fog. I love foggy mornings. The world seems very private and intimate in the fog. Dash didn't feel like going down by the water, so I didn't photograph sailboats obscured by the mist. There were plenty of other ghostly shapes however, and no loose dogs or bicycles. It was a very enjoyable walk.

After breakfast, I took a check to the bank, picked up some more enalapril for Dash at the vet, and returned home to get started on a new writing project. The word count on the e-mails concerning this project are already equal to the length of a normal finished article. I've done these type of things many times before, but I have a new contact now and we're off to a rocky start. I hope that things improve because I don't have a lot of patience for quibbling about prices. News flash. If you think I'm too expensive, you don't have to use me.

It was such a relief that Dash wasn't acting weird today. He ate normally, took nice long naps when I needed to work, and didn't have any stressful temper tantrums. Dash needs to be calm and relaxed because of his heart problems, but he seldom is. I'm always afraid when he's agitated and barking a lot that one of the blood clots in his heart will break apart and it will all be over. Dash is literally a ticking time bomb, but he doesn't know it. From his point of view, he's just acting like a normal high strung Dalmatian should.

I have several articles to write, but I though one was enough for today. I finished the day revising websites. I was working on an old school static site, so I used Dreamweaver for the first time in months. Much to my chagrin, I had already forgotten some of the menu shortcuts I used to use everyday and had to re-learn how to do simple things like change font sizes. I've always been a believer in the well known "use it or lose it" adage, but I'm just starting to realize that it's much easier to "lose it" as you grow older. It's becoming harder and harder to remember things that I don't do every day.

I have an appointment scheduled with my financial adviser tomorrow. For the first time in years, I don't have any complaints. A rising market lifts all boats and I've finally recovered most of the losses I sustained in the big crash of 2008. The goal now is just to avoid losing everything in the next big crash. I don't think I'll live long enough to recover from another market crash like we had in 2008. Realistically, I don't think the current rally could possibly last another ten years, but I sure wish it would. It would certainly make my life a little easier.

I should have taken a camera down to the lake and photographed sailboats before the fog lifted. Oh, well. You can't do everything. I also missed the conjunction of Jupiter and Mars on January 7 because of rain, but the two planets were still pretty close together when Dash needed to go out and poop around 3 AM this morning. It's almost worth getting up in the middle of the night for your dog when you can see something interesting in the sky.

Jordan is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 2937

Our power went out again this morning. This is the second time in less than a month that we've had a power outage. Just like the last time, it happened on a clear, windless day. I don't know what's going on, but it's certainly frustrating. This time, I was working in Photoshop and lost the file I was editing when the power went out. I have been lulled into thinking power outages were a thing of the past since we haven't had many problems for the past several years. I guess the lesson here is to never get complacent. Random, unexplained outages are back.

Even though the power outage was inconvenient, it was the least of my worries this morning. Dash's back paws had gotten cut during his morning walk and I was having trouble stopping the bleeding. With the two different blood thinners Dash is taking, even a minor scrape can turn into a major problem. I guess we're going to have to go back to wearing the rubber boots all the time. It was the front side of his paws that got scraped. He doesn't lift his rear legs very well when he walks and when his nails drag the pavement, the paw sometimes turns under and he ends up scraping the front part. The socks and boots he wears are pretty effective at preventing this damage, but now we'll need to figure out how to trim his nails.

I had big plans to complete the initial phase of my new website project today and by the time the power was restored, I was already way behind schedule. I didn't bother to create HTML documents yet. It's way too early. I'll show the client a Photoshop layout first and see if they respond favorably to the basic idea. I've learned from experience that it's a huge waste of time to create a fully functioning website if the client hates the way it looks. Hopefully, I'll get some feedback soon, so I can finish this thing.

When I finished shipping the website layout off to my client, I reluctantly returned a phone call from another client. How weird that someone actually wants to talk to me on the phone. This is almost unheard of in this day and age. It turns out that I'm talking to my new contact at the client who gives me most of my writing assignments. I sure wish my old contact hadn't quit and decided to become an accountant. After talking to this new person for a few minutes, it became clear that we were starting over. I could have finished the entire article in the time it took to go over the input information. Oh, well. We'll get things straightened out eventually. I guess I got spoiled by working with the same person for four years. I should have realized that nothing good ever lasts.

I still haven't reset all the clocks and timers in the house. Every time the power goes out, I need to reset the internal clocks in the land line phone, the coffee maker, the little gizmo that turns off the living room lights at night, the dehumidifier, and several clock radios. For some reason the washing machine automatically turns itself on when power is restored too. You can see why people like WiFi. Everything connected to the WiFi network just resets its clock automatically.

I hope Dash has a normal day tomorrow. After dealing with bloody paws, runny poop, and a mysterious episode where Dash spent ten minutes barking at an empty bed, I need a rest.

Mack is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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