Sunday, November 29, 2015

Day 2175

I was walking by a puddle today and I saw an image of Dash's face in a pile of submerged leaves. It wasn't exactly like seeing an image of Elvis on a piece of burned toast or the face of Jesus in a rusty screen door, but it did look a bit like Dash. I could see his nose, a few spots on his muzzle, a bit of an ear, and a sparkle in his eye, all on a yellowing Oak leaf. Can you see the dog in the center of the picture? Maybe it's a sign. I suspect it's just a sign that we've had a lot of rain this weekend.

It continued to rain today, so much of the day was spent keeping dry. We all got wet on our morning walk. The dog's harnesses and most of our clothes went in the dryer as soon as we got home. We didn't see anyone else walking their dogs in the rain, but ours just won't do their business without a proper walk. Rain or shine, they still need their walks. Even though Dash hates to get wet, he'd still rather walk in the rain than poop in the yard.

The rugs get even dirtier than usual during wet weather. I try to wipe the dogs paws before they come in the house, but it doesn't seem to do much good. There are outdoor shoes and indoor shoes because we don't have a mud room. All homes should have a mud room. I vacuumed the rugs and washed dog blankets. I changed the sheets. And I did my best to keep condensation off the windows. At the end of the day it was still a wet, rainy mess.

Our Christmas Photo shoots begin next weekend, so Janet and I have started gathering together the things we'll need. There are boxes of Christmas hats and scarves for the dogs to wear. There are several large 20x10 painted muslin backdrops. There are large tripods and poles to hang the backdrops and umbrellas and soft boxes for the strobe lights. I'm going to wait for a dry day to get some of the stuff from the storage warehouse, but it's better to start early than to forget something important when there's a long line of people and dogs waiting for their portrait with Santa.

I can't wait for the new dehumidifier to arrive. The moisture level in the house is still much better than it was before the remediation company sucked all the moisture out with their big machines. I can tell the house is slowly returning to its natural state though. It's inevitable. With porous solid brick walls, the moisture from the wet exterior side of the bricks eventually is absorbed and then radiates into the air on the interior side of the bricks. The walls are sturdy and solid, but it's kind of like living in an above ground basement.

If I was still going to that Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft launch at Cape Canaveral, I would probably be leaving tomorrow. It's a good thing I canceled the trip because there is no way I could even consider being out of town most of next week. I would have loved being NASA's guest again, but it just wasn't in the cards. Maybe I'll have another opportunity when life isn't so chaotic. I feel like I've been treading water recently. The days are extremely busy, but nothing of any significance is ever accomplished. At least treading water is better than sinking. Dot may never get any better, but her condition is stable and she doesn't appear to be getting any worse. Most importantly, she still seems very happy. When you consider the alternatives, maybe treading water isn't so bad.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Day 2174

I think Dot is back to normal. Of course, normal is a very old dog who can barely walk and poops all over the place, but we can live with that. I'm grateful that we dodged a bullet one more time. We are all learning to live with age and infirmity, but adding something new to the mix might have been too much. I don't know how Dot got so sick or recovered so quickly, but I'd like to find out. I don't want this to happen again.

I need to be more careful with the little ceramic heater I use to keep warm on cold days. Yesterday I almost melted the vinyl slats on some mini-blinds covering the window next to my desk. I put the heater too close to the window hoping to evaporate the condensation that was starting to return. Ceramic heaters are generally pretty safe. There is no flame and the case doesn't even get hot to the touch. What I forgot was that the air itself coming out of the heater is very hot. I have seven partially melted slats in the blinds to remind me of that.

I seemed to remember that I had some more mini-blinds in the storage warehouse so I thought I'd replace the one I'd singed. I took the old mini-blinds down, found the new ones and then realized they weren't the same size. They almost fit, but not quite. It was a wasted effort. While I was looking at the aluminum window frames, I realized that there was mold in the track where the window slid open. I got some Clorox wipes from the kitchen and cleaned all the frames in the office. They were filthy. Now I have a burnt shade covering much cleaner windows. I guess that's progress.

I'm learning more about humidity. When it's really cold outside and the furnace runs all the time, the humidity goes down. When the indoor and outdoor temperatures are closer together and the furnace or air conditioner only runs sporadically, the humidity goes up. I think this must mean that the house isn't insulated very well. Hot air does dry things out, but moisture creeps back in quickly when the furnace is off. The air conditioner does a good job of lowering the humidity too, but it's Winter now. We won't be using the air conditioner again for a while. We certainly won't be using it this weekend. The temperature might go down to freezing tonight.

Since several forecasts were predicting freezing weather, I didn't want to deal with ice on the roof. Ice on the roof is even worse than water on the roof. Even though it was nasty outside, I braved the elements and got all the water off the roof while I still had a chance. We've had thick ice on the roof before and I still think this is what caused some of the Sheetrock in the living room ceiling to crack.

I think some people will be confused by this week's Heaven Sent episode of Dr. Who. Was the whole thing a weird dream sequence, or did the Doctor really spend millions of years trying to break out of this strange Rubik's Cube castle? The entire episode was just a very convoluted set up for next week's season finale. I think I liked the series better when each show was a self-contained little adventure. This new series is a single very long show that is meant to be binge watched from beginning to end.

The rain is supposed to continue through Monday. The challenge for me will be to do something useful around the house without breaking anything. The brown melted spot on the mini blinds and the continuing leak in the shower stall are graphic reminders that I'm not exactly off to a good start. Maybe I should just go to the gym tomorrow and wait until Summer to deal with the house.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Day 2173

It's official. 2015 is now the rainiest year in Dallas history. When I look out my window, it's easy to see why. Some parts of town have had over six inches of rain during the last 24 hours. It rained more than usual this Spring. It rained more than usual this Summer. And it is definitely raining more than usual now. The traffic was horrible today. I saw five accidents on my way to the grocery store this afternoon. Last night was a lot worse, when three people died after they were swept away by high water. I try to stay inside on days like this.

The weather may be getting worse, but Dot's condition is definitely getting better. She didn't throw up at all today and is still holding down her food. We are continuing to feed her the Hills I/D and are gradually increasing the amount she is allowed to eat. Getting back to her regular diet couldn't come quick enough for Dot. She is very focused on food. I still don't know what caused all the vomiting. With dogs it could be almost anything.

The cold, damp weather gave me an extra incentive to make a decision about a dehumidifier. After talking to a patient, very nice customer service representative at an air quality specialty company for about twenty minutes, I finally decided on the best model for our house and ordered it online. It was hard to find a dehumidifier that had everything I needed. Some units were too big and noisy. Others didn't have an internal water reservoir, so they constantly had to be hooked up to a drain hose. Many of the smaller, high capacity units were designed to be installed in a crawl space under the floor. These don't work very well if you don't have a crawlspace. The dehumidifier I initially wanted turned out to be too small for our house. I wondered who would buy this rather expensive, built like a tank unit if it wouldn't dehumidify our rather small house. The customer service representative told me that police departments loved the compact machines and used them to dehumidify their gun safes. In the end, I never could find a commercial dehumidifier that would work well in our house and ended up buying a much less expensive consumer model instead. Hopefully it will last at least a couple of years.

I kept thinking it was Saturday all day. I didn't go out for breakfast this morning because Janet was off work today. We slept in a little later as well. My initial reaction was to get Dot up as early as possible, since there had been no accidents by the time I woke up. She was sleeping so peacefully though, that I decided to let her sleep as long as possible. We all got an extra hour of shut-eye until Dash eventually started barking for his breakfast. We got lucky and found a forty-five minute break in the rain right after we ate, so the dogs got their morning walk as well.

Since the rain is supposed to continue all the way through Monday, I don't know what I'll do this weekend. I certainly have no intention to participate in the pre-holiday shopping frenzy. Why would you go to a store and stand in long lines to buy something you could get for the same price online anyway? There were tons of Black Friday deals in my inbox this morning. One looked way too good to pass up. There was a picture of a new model Mac Pro laptop with a price of $15. I immediately put this deal in my shopping cart and went to get Janet so I could show her this amazing price. By the time I returned, the price had gone up quite a bit. The Black Friday price was really $1500. The store sure fixed that typo in a hurry. I bet they had a flood of orders the minute the deal went online. I wonder if they'll have to honor the deal for the few people who were fast enough to check out before the error was corrected. I bet somebody's in trouble. Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough to get a $15 Mac. I'm rarely fast enough for anything anymore.

Spots is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Day 2172 - Thanksgiving

Today did not go as planned. Dot threw up during the night. She pooped in her bed too, but it was the vomiting that was alarming. She threw up a lot of liquid and it was completely unexpected. She didn't appear sick when we went to bed and she isn't the type of dog that eats garbage or gets into things. I was surprised. I did my best to clean up the mess and we went back to bed. Just before breakfast, she threw up again. Dot didn't have a fever and her gums were nice and pink, so we let her rest instead of making a trip to the emergency vet. Within an hour, she was acting completely normal.

We took our morning walk and fed her a small amount of food when we got home. Again, everything seemed normal. Then, about an hour later, when we were finishing our own breakfast, she threw up again. Dogs can vomit for hundreds of different reasons and most of them are fairly benign. Dash is known to eat crap in the yard when we're not looking and this is usually the reason he throws up. There were a lot of harmless reasons why Dot could be throwing up too, but I was worried that this may be a sign that her cancer has returned.

We canceled our Thanksgiving brunch reservations and stayed home with Dot instead. Since she still appeared hungry, I went to the only open vet I could find and got a few cans of bland Hills I/D wet food to feed her. When I described Dot's symptoms to the nurse on duty, she said she thought it was safe to just keep an eye on Dot and take her to our regular vet tomorrow. She didn't have a fever, her gums were pink, she wasn't dehydrated, she still had an appetite, and she didn't appear to be under any undue stress. These were all good signs. It's always a bit alarming when your pet has an emergency on a holiday. You are pretty much on your own. We could have taken Dot to an emergency clinic, but this didn't appear to be an emergency. I did feel better after talking to the emergency nurse though.

Since we had been planning to go out for dinner, there was almost nothing in the refrigerator. We were both hungry and started looking for a restaurant in the neighborhood so we could go pick up some take-out. Not surprisingly, almost nothing was open. We finally found a little sports bar that has pretty good burgers, so I picked up our Thanksgiving dinner there. Apparently the only people who eat out on Thanksgiving evening are lonely men. There were five men in the restaurant when I arrived and they were all sitting alone, watching the Cowboys lose on a big screen TV behind the bar.

We fed Dot a small amount of the Hills I/D food and so far she has held it down for about three hours. This is a good sign. I think I set a new record for doing laundry today. So many parts of the house are protected now, but Dot managed to target an unprotected area every single time she threw up. There is still an eighteen inch wet circle on the carpet right near my desk in the office. Dot could have picked a better place to vomit. After scrubbing the carpet and applying liberal amounts of the Nature's Miracle enzyme, I can still smell vomit. There are days when I feel I have lost the battle with the house. It has really taken quite a beating recently.

I didn't expect to have a take-out burger and a small pear salad for Thanksgiving dinner, but we did the right thing. It turned out to be a nice family meal and we have a lot to be thankful for. Dot is calm now and seems to be holding down her food. I'll try to make an appointment at her regular vet tomorrow and see if we can find out what is going on. Although it rained a lot today, there were no thunderstorms to further stress the dogs. The washing machine is still working and I'm running the air conditioner to keep the humidity down. If Dot can make it through the night without any further incidents, I think we're going to be OK.

Pepper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Day 2171

I don't know why it's so hard to get Dot out of the house in the morning. I've been trying to get her ready for physical therapy earlier and earlier, but we still arrive at the vet late. Afternoons used to work a lot better, but we don't have that option now. It's like herding cats to get Dash in the bedroom where he needs to be, while simultaneously positioning Dot near the front door. I have to bribe the dogs with treats and that doesn't always work. When I lure Dash into the bedroom with a treat, Dot usually follows. Then when I try to get Dot back out by the front door, Dash thinks he can get another treat if he gets to the front door faster. I end up with Dash at the front door and Dot in the bedroom, which is exactly the opposite of what I need. Frequently, Dot heads for the back door instead, so I take her outside just in case she needs to pee. She'll usually just aimlessly wander around for a while and by the time I back the car out of the driveway, we're already late. It's frustrating to say the least.

When we finally do arrive at the vet, Dot usually does pretty well. Today she did excellent in the underwater treadmill. She was able to complete her full eighteen minute routine while doing several short intervals where we cranked the treadmill up to a higher speed. Maybe barking at the office cat got Dot energized today. I asked the vet why Dot wasn't building muscle mass in her rear legs with all the exercise she's been getting. Evidently, the older you get, the harder it is to build muscle tissue. Tell me about it! The same thing is happening to me. After all the time I've spent at the gym and walking the dogs, my arms and legs are still getting thinner.

Therapy days always get Dot off schedule. We had another accident today while I was taking Dash on his evening walk. I have a feeling that running the washing machine continually is one reason why I'm having trouble keeping the humidity low. I was just about ready to place an order for a dehumidifier today. Janet liked the machine and I'd read several good reviews. Then I accidentally stumbled on a fairly articulate bad review. Evidently this machine uses much more electricity than the manufacturer states. Running it continually can get expensive. At least it doesn't seem to break. One guy said he'd run his continually for five years without a problem. I have yet to find a dehumidifier that everybody likes. Maybe that's just not going to happen.

I saw an ad for a Panasonic camera today that lets you focus after you take the picture. That's what I need. When I take a camera along when I'm walking the dogs I almost always leave the lens on autofocus because I have my hands full already. Inevitably, when I'm focusing on some animal in the woods, the camera will think that what I was really looking at was a nondescript tree branch about a foot behind the critter I was trying to capture. A shallow depth of field looks great if you're focused on the right thing. Most photographers will tell you that good bokeh is highly desirable, unless the only thing in focus is an ugly stick or clump of grass. This new camera calculates the closest and most distant objects in the frame and then quickly takes a series of up to twenty pictures at every distance in between. You can select the focus point after you take the shot. I'll have to look into this.

Hopefully, Thanksgiving will be quiet and relaxing. It would be nice to sleep in late for a change and it would be even nicer to be able to go out for dinner without worrying about whether the dogs will freak out during a thunderstorm.  Could we just put a hold on the rain until Friday?

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Day 2170

It is tempting to join the political debate on Facebook. With a presidential election looming and WWIII on the horizon, my timeline is filled with wildly contradictory opinions every single day. How did I get so many friends who can't seem to agree on anything? My desire to clarify things by telling my Facebook friends the "truth" is tempered by the realization that my own opinions are probably just as misguided as theirs. Why join the fray? It's pointless. If Facebook is a proxy for how the world actually works, we are truly fucked.

Without getting into details, I tend to take the long view on things. When Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter were popular memes, only one image spoke to me. It was an icy cold photo of the Andromeda Galaxy with the caption No Lives Matter. Whenever people talk about climate change, I keep thinking that it is pretty arrogant to assume that humans can actually destroy the planet. The planet has been here for billions of years. We've only been here a few thousand. We can certainly destroy ourselves. We're getting closer and closer to doing this every day. The planet will survive however. Earth will clean up the toxic gasses and the radiation on its own time schedule and maybe a wiser, less argumentative species will evolve the next time around. People don't like taking the long view however. They're more concerned about what is going to happen tomorrow. That's why I tend to keep my mouth shut.

Today was a good day for saying nothing. It's a short week and most of my clients are on holiday time already. Even the ubiquitous telemarketers seem to have disappeared this week. I went about my business, making sure the dogs had a nice morning walk and taking an inordinate amount of time to make the perfect fruit smoothie. I've almost sealed the leak in the shower stall, although a small amount of water still seems to end up on the bathroom floor. I've narrowed down the search for the ideal portable dehumidifier to two models, but can't decide which one is best. Neither of these machines is available in Dallas and all I've got to go on are people's comments on the Internet. I'd say my chances of believing the wrong person are about 50/50.

Since today was even slower than yesterday, I took the opportunity to catch up on Dr. Who. This time I watched the show while the dogs were napping and managed to see the entire episode without interruptions. I don't know what to think about Face the Raven. Personally I think Clara deserved a better send off. She might not have been the best companion ever, but she was a good and loyal one. She should have been sent to a parallel universe like Rose or just had her memory wiped like Donna Noble. Although I'm not a fan of the direction that Steven Moffat is taking the show, I'll have to admit that Peter Capaldi is a good actor. There is an intensity about him that Matt Smith never had.

I'm so habitual that's it's going to be harder than you might think to remember that Dot's physical therapy day is tomorrow instead of Thursday. Her appointment is early in the morning too. I'll have to start getting her ready right after breakfast. It's supposed to rain on Thanksgiving but I hope the forecast is wrong. I'd like to enjoy a nice relaxing dinner at our third choice restaurant without worrying about whether the dogs were having a panic attack during a thunderstorm.

Maggie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Day 2169

It may be a short week, but it certainly was a long day. The days always seem longer when there is nothing to focus on. Without a crisis to deal with or a deadline to meet, I kind of floundered around today. I renewed a few domain names that expire next month, checked to see how much I'd earned this month from stock photo sales, and converted my personal Amazon account to a business account to get the free shipping. I'm getting closer to purchasing a dehumidifier, but kept finding myself wandering away from the industrial water removal web sites and looking at cameras instead. I actually need a dehumidifier and don't need another camera at all, but dehumidifiers are really boring.

When Janet was cleaning this weekend, she filled a cardboard box with small items she'd cleared off the coffee table in the living room and put the box in my office. I was tired of tripping over the box every time I got up to go to the bathroom at night, so I knew that I'd eventually have to deal with it. I actually liked all the little knick·knacks that had been designated as clutter, so I placed most of them on shelves in my already cluttered office and refilled the box with old Christmas presents that I didn't like. I took this box to the storage warehouse and considered my solution a win, since the same volume of unneeded stuff had been removed from the house.

I need to figure out a way to watch TV or read a book while I'm outside holding up Dot's rear legs. She is so slow now that it takes a lot of patience to be her outdoor companion. Sometimes I think she just needs to pee and I won't put on a jacket or warm clothes. This is inevitably when she wants to sniff the air for thirty minutes. I can't just run inside to get a jacket because she'll fall over. I think Dot enjoys being outside on crisp, cool days like today, so I never try to hurry her. In Dot's defense, she did manage to poop outside when I least expected it. This just proves that there can be happy endings to almost any scenario.

Since it was such a slow day, I thought I'd watch the Sleep No More episode of Dr. Who that I'd missed a few weeks ago. Monsters created out of the mucus that forms in the corner of your eyes while you sleep? Surely Steven Moffat could have come up with a more plausible plot twist than this. I continue to maintain that the Russell T Davies era had consistently better scripts than this new series. I don't think the dogs liked this episode either. Even though I watched the show during one of their regular nap periods, they were constantly interrupting me. When they started to bark, I would put the DVR on pause and go see what they wanted. I think all they wanted was constant attention.

One of my clients called and wants new employee pictures for their website. Wow. That was a blast from the past. I used to be shooting new employee pictures constantly, but this was the first request I'd gotten this year. I think most people finally figured out that putting employees on their website just showed the rest of the world how bad their staff turnover problems were. Maybe these guys are being optimistic. At any rate, it will give me something to do next week. I'll be able to find out if I have any looming equipment problems before the grueling Santa photo season begins too.

Maybe something more exciting than watching the humidity level will happen tomorrow. I hope the dogs let me sleep tonight. Doing nothing really wears you out.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Day 2168

It's November 22 and I haven't heard a single thing about John F. Kennedy on TV today. That's odd for Dallas, because there's almost always a local feature about Dealey Plaza.

It was just an ordinary chore day for us. We are determined to regain control of the house. I finally got out the leaf blower and cleared all the leaves off the front and back porch. Maybe for a day or two we won't track in enormous amounts of dead leaves every time we take the dogs outside. Like all tasks, this one took longer than expected because I couldn't find a long, heavy duty extension cord to run the blower. I used to clear away leaves every week during the Fall when we first moved here. Now, once a year seems fine.

Janet cleared out the liquor cabinet to make room for several laptop computers that had been sitting on a living room chair for six months. We got rid of an unopened bottle of Baileys that said "best used before 2002.' There were several bottles of Scotch with duty free stickers. Neither of us could even remember the last time we traveled out of the country. We tasted several things to see if they were still any good. Scotch and Bourbon hold their own pretty well. Any flavored liqueur completely loses its infused fruity taste after ten or fifteen years. I think vodka just evaporates. So, why was there so much old booze in the liquor cabinet? Probably because I quit drinking entirely after I discovered that I had Hepatitis C and Janet prefers wine now. We kept some of the stuff though. You never know when a well prepared cocktail might brighten your day.

I continue to be amazed at how much dirt and dust the Dyson picks up. I would think that after the first good house cleaning, each subsequent vacuuming effort would yield less and less dirt. That hasn't been the case. Every single week there is an enormous amount of dirt and dog hair in the clear Dyson canister. It seems almost impossible that we could be tracking in this much dirt. I always feel better after I vacuum the house. The feeling doesn't last long though. Usually it rains the next day and the rugs and carpets get dirty all over again.

Dot pooped in her bed again last night. She soiled two blankets and I accidentally soiled another two trying to clean up the mess. I wonder how long the washing machine is going to last. We've been using the washer and dryer like a laundromat for the past several months. Dot's incontinence is so predictable that you'd think I would have come up with a solution by now. I don't think there is one. Doggie diapers don't work. They fall off and if you secure them tight enough so that they won't fall off, then Dot can't sleep comfortably. Creating a penned-in safe area doesn't work either. Dot likes to sleep right next to me and if we put her in the X-Pen at night, she just barks until one of us lets her out again. For a lot of reasons, it's easier to just spread blankets around the area where she likes to sleep, clean up the mess the best we can using doggie poop bags, spray any remaining stain with Nature's Miracle enzyme and throw the blankets in the wash. This system works pretty well unless I inadvertently step in the poop while I'm trying to turn the light on so I can assess the situation.

The weather was beautiful today. It was cold in the morning, but warmed up to "brisk" later in the day. I didn't even have to wear a jacket when I raked and cleared away leaves this afternoon. The dogs love the cooler weather and we were able to give them two good walks today instead of the single walk they typically get on weekdays. I'll be glad when the days start getting longer again. Now, it is completely dark before Janet gets home from work, so we've had to curtail Dot's evening walk.

I noticed that Google+ has changed its format again. Why do Facebook and Google keep changing their format and features all the time? It's irritating. One thing I like about Twitter is that it never changes. The new Google format features little square boxes right at the top of your profile page that showcase the Collections you've made and the Communities you've joined. I don't like this because I haven't made any Collections or joined any Communities. Because part of my job is helping my clients with their Social Media efforts, I can't ignore these things. I grudgingly made a couple of Collections this afternoon and added them to my profile. Google says Collections are the next big thing, but I think they're just a big nuisance. I've got two more Collections to make to fill up the empty boxes on my profile and then I'm done with Collections forever. The ironic thing is that I actually like to collect things in real life. It just seems silly to put something on my Google page that is a blatant copy of Pinterest.

It's going to be a short week, since most people get Thursday and Friday off. I don't know if this is good or bad at this point. I've already had to change Dot's physical therapy appointment. I'm sure there will be other changes to come.

Dalmatian of the Day
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