Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 2656

I need to come up with a new plan for getting Dot outside when she wakes up in the morning. She just can't make it to the back door anymore. For the past three days I've had to wash a bunch of rugs that she peed on while making her exit. It's a mess. If I take up the rugs, the floor is too slippery and Dot will fall. She's too heavy to carry. And it's impracticable to have her sleep in the living room. Incontinence is a bitch. I've placed Dot's bed so I can see it while I'm working. I've learned that if she lifts her head and looks at me, she needs to pee. I stop what I'm doing and take her outside immediately. This usually works during the day. Nights are a problem though because she sleeps much longer than the two hours she can reliably hold her bladder. I really don't know if there's a solution to this, but it's wearing me out.

My project for the day was cleaning a bathroom faucet that seemed to have mold inside it. You'd think running water would keep the faucet clean, but apparently not. I needed to clean this thing because it was a bit disconcerting to turn on the faucet to brush my teeth and see little black flecks come out. At any rate, I took the faucet apart and soaked the parts in bleach. The faucet and the water coming out of it seem clean now, but I'm sure this is just a temporary fix. Everything I do these days is a temporary solution.

Since I was successful at cleaning the faucet, I decided to watch a YouTube video and learn how to replace the hard drive on my desktop computer. This used to be super easy on the old tower Macintosh computers, but things have changed. Even the screws that hold things together on my 27" iMac are different. To exchange the hard drive on my current computer, I'd first need to buy a set of special Torx screwdrivers and a big suction cup to get the glass off the front. Once the the components were exposed, I would risk ruining the fragile LED screen if I accidentally touched it. To make matters worse, there was a special heat sensor that only came with Apple OEM drives, so replacing the drive with a high capacity third party drive wasn't going to be easy. I learned that somebody made a replacement for the Apple heat sensor, but it was uncertain if this part was even available anymore. Basically, it took me longer to watch the video than it used to take me to replace all the drives in my old silver door Mac.

It is fundamentally discouraging to realize that I can no longer fix most of the things I use every day. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. For most of my adult life I have modified and upgraded all manner of things on my own. Modern manufacturing techniques make it virtually impossible to change components or make simple repairs. We live in a disposable society now. If something breaks, you're not supposed to fix it. You're supposed to have insurance, or Applecare in my case, and use your policy to exchange your damaged gizmo for a new model.

The adjustments we've made to Dot's pain medications have made her more alert and active, but they haven't made her any stronger. This means that I'm spending even more of my time moving Dot around when she gets restless. Dot is heavy. After a day of holding up her rear legs, my shoulder is begging for mercy. Caring for an injured dog with carpal tunnel in your wrists and a dislocated shoulder is not something I'd recommend.

We're supposed to have severe weather tomorrow morning. I brought all the rugs that were drying outdoors back inside and took the trash out to the curb. Luckily, the rugs appear to be dry. I guess I'm prepared for the rain, but I'll miss going out to breakfast tomorrow. I'm all out of bananas and fresh fruit, so hopefully there are still some toaster waffles in the freezer.

Ariel is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 2655

I thought my plan to go to the dentist early in the morning was pretty clever, but I forgot one important thing. The drive was right in the middle of morning rush hour. Ouch. As much as I complain about cleaning up dog poop, it's still not as bad as driving in rush hour traffic. All it takes is one small fender bender wreck to back traffic up for miles. I think I'd go insane if I had to do this every morning. Luckily, I have other things to drive me insane.

Every time I go to the dentist, there is a new dental hygienist.  Sign of the times I guess. The first dentist I went to had the same dental hygienist until he retired. Now there's a new hygienist every six months. The woman who cleaned my teeth today was pleasant enough, but she talked the entire time. It's very difficult to carry on a conversation while there are dental instruments inside your mouth.

I got new x-rays today and the dentist said my teeth are in good shape. No cavities. I'm not surprised. I use a Waterpik Flosser every day and brush with one of those Sonicare electric toothbrushes. I thought I was ahead of the curve, but apparently not. They now make WiFi toothbrushes that connect with your phone. This seemed a little over the top to me, but the hygienist said that the high tech brush provides feedback to let you know if you are cleaning your teeth properly and reminds you if you forget to brush. The robots are coming. I'm sure there will be a plate soon that reminds you to eat all your vegetables.

I knew I should have taken Dot outside to pee last night before I went to bed. She was sleeping peacefully though and I hated to wake her. Big mistake. When I woke her up this morning, she peed all over the place. Three rugs got soaked before I was able to get her outside. The house would be much easier to clean if we didn't have the rugs, but they are essential to keep Dot from falling. I tried to air dry the rugs in the back yard today after I washed them. They are making a mess in the dryer because little bits of the rubber backing flake off and clog the lint trap. There is no good solution though. By the time the rugs are dry, there will be spiders building webs in them.

I went to the vegan store this afternoon to pick up something for dinner. I always look at the website first to make sure they have something I like. Typically, when I get to the store, there is a completely different selection of meals. It doesn't seem to bother these people that the website and the store are perpetually out of sync. It's frustrating to me because I'm picky about my vegetables. I like chickpeas, brown rice, lentils, and any type of bean. I don't like sweet potatoes though. I'm not wild about tofu either. I ended up getting something I didn't really like, thinking that I really should have gone up the street and ordered a bowl of Pho from the neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant.

I need to call the roofer again. They still haven't come out and patched my roof. I need to call the landscaper too, even though it will be a waste of money. I wonder if there are any bedding plants that can tolerate being stepped on again and again? Years ago, Janet and I thought about putting artificial turf in the back yard. It probably would have been a good idea.

Brooke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 2654

The bugs are going to be terrible this Summer. I've already been bitten by mosquitoes and chiggers and its only March. I'm a magnet for bug bites while guiding Dot slowly through the back yard while waiting for her to pee. Long pants and socks provide more protection, but it sure gets hot in the Summer. So far, I've found fire ants in the front yard, little sweet ants in the bathrooms, crane flies lining up to get in the back door when I leave it open for Dot, and lots of mosquitoes every time it rains. I haven't seen any cockroaches yet, but they can't be far behind. Dot and Dash are both on a flea and tick preventative, but I found a tick on Dash's face just yesterday. The battle against bugs is relentless in Texas.

The back door is really going to be a problem this Summer. I have to open the door ahead of time before I attempt to take Dot out to pee. If I can't keep her moving swiftly from her bed to the door, she pees immediately. This morning, I stopped just for a second to open the door and she peed all over a large rug next to the door. Jeez, I just washed this rug yesterday. It's a mess. I kept a fly swatter nearby while I was eating breakfast this morning to kill the crane flies that had wandered inside while I had Dot out in the back yard.

Today was surprisingly busy. I had several websites to update, including one that required me to brush up on some tricky code designed to automatically resize the site for mobile devices. It's a shame that I learned to create mobile-ready websites just as my business was starting to wind down. Mobile sites are complex and I don't do enough of them to keep my skills in tip top shape. Every time I get a request to modify a mobile site, I inevitably have to relearn something.

I have no idea what made Dot throw up yesterday. She seemed fine today. Surprisingly, she seemed to have more energy as well, even though the weather was still quite warm. We only walk Dot at sunrise and sunset now. It seems to help. This new schedule has messed up my own eating habits though. I now have to eat my dinner very early.

My accountant wants me to pay online now. I called and asked if I could just write him a check like I have for the past twenty five years and he told me that their office was trying to go paperless. Jeez, could it really be that hard to take a check to the bank? I'm having the same problem with everybody. When AT&T lost my check recently, they tried to get me to switch to online payments too. I get a notice in all my utility bills urging me to go paperless. Paper checks are apparently a thing of the past.

I was an innovator and somewhat of a trend setter for most of my career. Now, I've become a Luddite. I can't stop change from happening, but I sure can complain about it. I liked cars a lot better before they became computers on wheels. I liked it when software was packaged in fancy boxes with detailed printed manuals. I liked shoes better when you could take them to a shoe repairman and have them resoled forever. I liked electronics with soldered components instead of integrated circuits. Everything is ruthlessly efficient and disposable now. It's hard to fix anything. Paper checks may mean nothing to you, but they represent a better world to me.

I have to go to the dentist tomorrow. I decided to go early in the morning, in hopes that Dot would stay asleep while I was gone. It's hard to predict what Dot is going to do though and the dentist doesn't make house calls. Hopefully, I won't have any cavities and Dot won't make a huge mess while I'm gone.

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 2653 - Vernal Equinox

Dot threw up today right after the took her afternoon pain medication. Dogs throw up for hundreds of different reasons, but it always makes me uneasy when a dog with cancer starts vomiting. Sometimes Dot throws up simply because she drinks too much water. I didn't want to accidentally overdose her, so I didn't give her any additional Gabapentin. I watched her for the rest of the afternoon and by dinnertime she seemed back to normal. When Dot threw up on her bed, I'd just finished washing all the rugs she peed on this morning. The washing machine got a lot of use today.

I'm such a creature of habit. Even though I've almost convinced myself that it would be smart to start using electronic payments, I took another batch of bills to the post office this afternoon, just like I always do. Old habits die hard. I guess I just like going to the post office. On the way home I stopped by the vet and picked up some more phenobarbital for Dash. The dogs take so many meds now that it's going to take a spreadsheet to keep track of them soon.

I'm trying to spend a little time every clear night looking at the stars. It's a bit of an uphill battle. I found a little meadow in the park with a clear view of the sky. It's near the house and there aren't a lot of streetlamps or car headlights to spoil the view. The only problem is that all the neighborhood dogs sense me standing in the meadow and start barking at me. When one dog starts barking, pretty soon they all start barking. I looked for the Andromeda Galaxy tonight. I should have started looking last winter when it was higher in the sky. This thing is big enough and bright enough that it should have been easy to see with binoculars. I couldn't find it though. Like many other things, it was lost in the haze and glow of city lights that obscures everything near the horizon.

It actually did seem like the first day of Spring today. The weather was beautiful. I waited until sunset to walk Dot and she seemed to enjoy herself, even though she had thrown up earlier in the day. I wish Dot wasn't so frail, but we do the best we can. Even though Dot's appetite is still good, she is having trouble chewing certain things. She won't eat rice cakes anymore, even though she used to love them. Slices of banana sometimes fall out of her mouth. I don't know why she has trouble chewing a banana. Luckily, she's still fine with the Hills ID that has become her regular diet. Slowly all her favorite things are becoming more difficult. The dog that used to run like the wind now moves at a snail's pace. She's becoming finicky about what she eats and can no longer control her bladder. The scary thing is this is my future too. It's hell growing old.

I still haven't called the landscaper. I'm not even sure it's worth replacing all the Asian Jasmin and Liriope I've trampled taking Dot out to pee. As long as I'm walking behind Dot, holding up her rear legs, I'm going to continue to trample the ground cover. The yard looks terrible though. I need to do something.

I thought today was going to be uneventful. I guess it was. Dot gave me a little scare, but she's fine now. I cleaned four large rugs today, although it was far from a record. I think I've cleaned seven in one day once. The house shoes I use to take Dot outside tore apart at the seams, so I glued them back together to avoid the hassle of looking for another pair at a shoe store. Tomorrow I'll get up early and try to get Dot outside before she pees all over the place. I'll make my morning smoothie and put it in the freezer for a while so it's nice and cold. Eventually, I'll open my e-mail and hope to find an exciting new project to work on. There won't be any work, but there will be lots of spam. If I'm lucky, Dot won't throw up.

Baxter is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day 2652

Maybe I should start shopping on Sunday. There were no blueberries yesterday, so I went back to look for some this morning. The entire produce section had been restocked and everything looked much fresher. I got the blueberries I wanted and kind of wished that I'd waited until today to get the strawberries too.

I mowed the lawn for the first time in 2017. Like it or not, Summer is on its way. Every time I get the lawn mower out for a new season of cutting the grass, it seems heavier and more cumbersome than the year before. I wonder how many more years I can continue doing this. Eventually, I'll probably have to start using a lawn service like everyone else in the neighborhood. If the yard was flat it wouldn't be a bit deal. The hills are starting to be a problem. I've grown to hate pushing the mower up the hill in the front yard.

When I walked Dash this morning I saw the coyote again. I was surprised that the coyote was out in the open so late in the day. We got a late start this morning and I didn't walk Dash until after 9 AM. Several neighbors say they've seen two coyotes together. This probably means there is a den and cubs nearby. I probably should worry more about snakes than the coyotes. It is getting warm enough that the snakes are starting to emerge as well. I've learned to avoid the areas where snakes are abundant, but the coyote seems to like the same part of the park that Dash does. We see it frequently now.

This was another day when I was already tired before I even made it to the gym. I went anyway though. If I only went to the gym when I was feeling fresh and energetic, I'd probably never go at all. Since it was a nice Spring day, the gym was virtually empty. I like it this way, because there is seldom anyone using the basketball court. Midway through my workout it occurred to me that I might have left a gate open when I took the lawn mower back to the greenhouse. I always worry about the accidental open gate, because it wouldn't take Dash long to discover it. I called Janet and I guess I secured the gate after all. My memory is really getting bad.

We decided to walk Dot at sunset today, so she wouldn't get so hot. This worked out well. She actually seemed to have more energy than I thought she would. I guess sunset walks are going to be our new routine as the weather continues to grow warmer. This isn't the most convenient time of day for me, but it's easy enough to rearrange my schedule. I wonder why I even bother with a schedule anymore. It's become pretty clear that it doesn't really matter when I do things, or even if I do things.

I had to get up early this morning to take Dot out to pee. The sky was still dark, so after I took Dot back to her bed, I went outside again and looked at the stars. I enjoy stargazing, although it sure would be nice if the sky over our yard wasn't a solid canopy of trees. Despite the partially obscured view, I spotted Saturn to the left of the moon and Jupiter low on the western horizon. I could easily see four of Jupiter's moons through the binoculars, but I had trouble seeing Saturn's rings. Maybe sometime soon I'll have the time and energy to get the telescope out. I could easily see Saturn's rings through the telescope.

The only thing on my plate next week is a trip to the dentist. I'm not looking forward to that.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 2651

It's hard to believe that it's still snowing in some parts of the country. The temperatures reached the high 80's here in Dallas. Unfortunately, this is already too warm for Dot. I'm dreading this Summer. Dot never liked hot weather even when she was young and healthy. Now, high temperatures are punishing. Even though there was a nice breeze, Dot had trouble on her afternoon walk. She seemed exhausted. We had to stop and rest several times, even though all we did was walk to the end of the block and back. We probably should have just stayed home, or waited until dusk when the temperature started to drop.

It looks like working on weekends is going to be a regular occurrence. I don't really mind. It just seems odd. Years ago when I was busy all the time, I never worked on weekends. Now, when virtually nothing happens at all, weekend gigs are common. It's not so much that my clients have changed. The entire workplace has changed.

The park was full today since the weather was so nice. There were hammocks everywhere. I still don't understand the popularity of hammocks. To me, enjoying the outdoors means taking a hike or paddling a kayak. Apparently, an entire generation thinks that enjoying the outdoors means lying in a hammock while looking at Snapchat on your phone. Older people still hike and bike, but the young ones are all lying in hammocks.

I'm surprised at how predictable Texas wildflowers are. Often if I look at a previous years blog post, I'll find a picture of exactly the same flowers I'm seeing now. Today, the Blue-eyed Grass emerged. The little blue flowers were everywhere. I don't know who named these things. They aren't in the grass family at all and the eye in the center is yellow instead of blue. Next week there will be a whole new batch of wildflowers to photograph. Things are starting to get colorful.

It was overcast this morning, but the sky cleared completely by sunset. This was a pretty good evening to look at the stars. Tonight there was a conjunction of Mercury and Venus that was visible right after sunset. After dinner, I took my binoculars to a nearby hill to look for the planets. I found them both, although if I'd waited another ten minutes they would have been lost in the haze near the horizon. Venus was a thin crescent and Mercury just looked like a bright star. I need to start looking for Saturn now.

It just occurred to me that I hadn't seen any White Pelicans this Winter. These large migratory birds are a common site at the lake and usually arrive in late Fall. I didn't see any this year. It's probably too late for them now. They usually continue their migration and move somewhere else in late Spring. I wonder where they went? I haven't seen the green Monk Parakeets this year either. It's probably a sign of the apocalypse.

It's time to go to the gym again. I should be developing some serious upper body strength, since I'm having to support more of Dot's weight as her legs become weaker. I used to just guide and steady her as she walked. Now, I need to lift the rear part of the harness a bit to keep her rear legs from crumbling under her. I need to take weight off her legs while still letting her feet touch the ground to provide tactile support and encourage her to move her legs. It takes a while to learn to do this so she can still walk naturally, but we're getting there. We'll do a lot better tomorrow if we get some sleep tonight.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 2650

The restaurant I visited this morning was really old school. People were reading newspapers instead of looking at their phones. I didn't see a single phone in use in the entire restaurant. It was odd to see so many newspapers. I must admit that I haven't read the paper myself for several years. The food was good at this old fashioned place, but the portions were huge. I felt vaguely guilty that I couldn't finish my meal. I grew up with a mother who made me eat everything on my plate and I've religiously cleaned my plate ever since.

I actually struck up a conversation will a fellow diner, which was probably rarer than seeing a newspaper. The guy was wearing a t-shirt that said "the Falcon has landed" with a picture of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket. I was enough of a space nerd to realize that this was a play on words, referring to Neil Armstrong's famous phrase "the Eagle has landed" when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. I asked the guy if he worked at Space X and he said "I wish." We talked for a while about NASA, the moon, Elon Musk, and our fascination with space flight. The guy asked me whether I collected space memorabilia.  I told him no, but that I did stay up late last night to watch the Space X Echostar launch.

Dot had her monthly cancer recheck this afternoon. She rides so much better in the car now that Janet has started going with us to the exams. Janet sits in the back of the car with Dot and is able to calm her when she gets frantic and has a panic attack. Dot was actually calm enough when we arrived at the cancer center today that the nurse was able to get a decent blood pressure reading for a change.

The good news is that the growth of the tumors in Dot's liver has slowed. Each mass only grew about one millimeter this time. She still has four tumors, but no new ones have appeared. The oncologist seemed pleased that Dot was responding well to the pain medication and said her condition was more or less stable. She still wants us to come back every month for an ultrasound scan though. One of the tumors is large enough that it could become a problem at any time. Greta, one of our earlier Dalmatians, also had liver cancer. I wish we had handled Greta's illness the same way we are doing now with Dot. Greta was old as well when we discovered her cancer and wasn't able to survive the surgery. She died at the hospital. It would have been better to just keep her comfortable at home during whatever remaining time she had.

I got a notice from AT&T today saying that my wireless bill was overdue. Jeez, I sent the guys a check over two weeks ago. AT&T gave me an extension until next Wednesday to see if the check shows up. Maybe it will and maybe it won't. How could it take two weeks to get a letter to Atlanta?  I have a feeling that it's finally time to give up on the US mail. The post office has lost things of mine before and I'm sure they will again. Janet pays all her bills online and has urged me to do the same many times. At least when you pay online, you know instantly if your payment went through. Unfortunately, I'm just about as old school as the restaurant I visited this morning. I like traditions like going to the post office and the bank. There is something nice about these traditions, just like writing letters on paper to my sister.

I hope Dot sleeps well tonight. We kind of had a rough night yesterday and neither of us got very much sleep. I remember cleaning up poop and throwing rugs in the washing machine at 3 AM. Hopefully tonight will be calmer. We could all use the rest.

Alison is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 2649

My taxes are done. Well, they aren't really done, but they aren't my responsibility anymore. When I dropped the files off at the accountant's office, I made sure that they could open the CD with my Quickbook records before I left. I use such an old version of Quickbooks Pro that I'm always afraid that my accountant won't be able to import the files into their system. I hate to switch accounting programs. I was probably the last person in the world who still used MacMoney. When I finally switched to Quickbooks, I never bothered to upgrade. The first version was fine.

It was kind of chilly this morning. When I put on my favorite winter coat to walk the dogs, the zipper broke. The last time the zipper broke on this coat, I asked the tailor to replace it with a heavy duty indestructible zipper. Apparently indestructible zippers last two years. I took the coat back to a different tailor and asked them to put in a third zipper. I'm so tired of fixing things that are poorly made. Nothing lasts very long anymore. I still have a parka that my Dad wore when we lived in Alaska. The coat is over fifty years old and looks like it will last another fifty years. I doubt that I'd ever have to replace the zipper in this sturdy coat. So, why don't I just wear my Dad's coat and forget about all the shoddy imitations I've bought over the years? It's a nice coat, but something designed for Alaskan winters is a little warm for Texas.

I actually went to an animal rescue group meeting tonight. It's rare that I'm able to attend these meetings anymore, but Janet came home early, so I felt safe leaving Dot for a while. I didn't contribute very much to tonight's meeting, but at least I stayed the entire time. Several people had to leave early this evening, so the meeting was shorter than usual. It still seemed long to me though. I've spent the better part of my life sitting in long meetings, but I think my meeting days are over. I just don't have the patience for them anymore.

We saw another coyote on our walk this morning. Somehow the subject of coyotes came up at our meeting tonight and almost everyone had seen one recently. One guy even said that they were coming into his yard. I guess urban coyotes are a thing now. I sure wish that Dash was a little more wary of the critters. He is sometimes terrified of other dogs, but he seems oblivious to coyotes. He was literally walking right toward one this morning. I would think that he could have smelled the coyote, but Dash didn't seem to care. I didn't want to take chances, so we changed directions and took the long way home.

I almost forgot to take out the trash tonight. Somehow going to the meeting after dinner made me forget it was Thursday. When I finally hauled the trash can out to the curb, someone else had already taken my favorite spot. I'm superstitious about the trash truck missing my can, so I reluctantly placed the can somewhere else and hoped for the best. I don't know why I worry about stuff like this, but it's probably not going to change. Lost mail, broken zippers, and forgotten trash cans are all pretty normal these days.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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