Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 2025

Today is Dot's day. It takes quite a while to take her downtown for her weekly physical therapy and acupuncture sessions, but I enjoy having a break from my routine. The vets and nurses have become my friends and it's nice to occasionally talk to somebody face-to-face, instead of just answering texts and e-mails. It's easy to feel isolated when you live the way I do, so it's reassuring to discover that other people have a lot of the same problems and concerns that I do.

Dot did great on the treadmill today. Since she seemed a bit tired last Thursday, we let her rest this morning and skip her early morning exercise walk. Dash has been good at walking slow with Dot in the morning, but you can tell he wants to go further and faster. Today, he got his wish. I took him on a long walk while Dot was resting at home. Dash reacquainted himself with pungent shoreline smells while I watched a full moon sink lower and lower toward the horizon. There was a nice breeze and we both knew that we wouldn't have to worry about the July heat until later in the day. After several miles, Dash was ready to go home again and I was ready for a hearty breakfast. I love my banana and strawberry smoothies, but today I was ready for some solid food. I heated up a leftover Polish sausage and fixed some waffles. All-in-all, It was a very pleasant way to start the day.

I'm still not getting enough sleep. It's taking me longer and longer to finish the blog each evening. Sometimes I feel like taking a nap between paragraphs. It shouldn't take this long to write about nothing, but I'm particular in my choice of words. At the same time I'm going to bed later, I'm also getting up earlier. Walking the dogs before sunrise has proven to be the best way to keep Dot moving. Even though I'm not a morning person, I've grown fond of these slow pre-dawn walks. The air is crisp and cool and the neighborhood is quiet. At this time of day, it's easy to forget it's already July.

Tomorrow is a holiday for many. Janet gets the day off, but I imagine that my day will be exactly the same as it always is on Friday. Well, it will be a little different. Janet may join me at my breakfast restaurant tomorrow. After breakfast, we're planning to go photograph several new Dalmatians that have arrived at the rescue group's kennel in Lewisville. I'd better remember to charge the camera batteries tonight. I've still got a slide show to complete for a client and several more websites to update, but I've done enough for one day. The garbage has been taken to the curb for tomorrow's pick up. The dogs are already settled in their beds for the night. All that's left to do is brush my teeth, take my evening meds, and watch another episode of Perry Mason as I drift off for my well deserved five hours of sleep.

Bud is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 2024

My unfocused Monday is rapidly turning into an unfocused week. I thought I'd get started on a new website project today, but ran into a major snag almost immediately. Instead of just using text for navigation buttons, I've always liked to use images instead. Having a photo that turns into a negative of the same photo when you roll your mouse over the link always looked kind of cool to me. This simple image swap behavior was always easy to do using Dreamweaver and Fireworks, but I still haven't figured out an effective way to accomplish the same thing using a responsive design framework like Webflow or Macaw. Basically, I wasted a lot of time experimenting with things that didn't work very well, and finally ended up erasing everything and starting over toward the end of the day. These trial and error exercises are usually how I learn things, but there are times when I think there's got to be an easier way.

I've created a monster by feeding the dogs a banana while I eat my breakfast. This worked well for a few days, but now both dogs start barking if I don't feed them a slice of banana every ten or fifteen seconds. Instead of training them to stay quiet and let me eat in peace, they've trained me to feed them the banana at regular intervals. Breakfast has become like a conditioned response experiment run amok. Dot and Dash have become Pavlov and I have become the dog. Now, they're starting to expect something at dinner too. I'm not sure how this is going to end.

I made a repeat trip to the park after sunset this evening to look for Venus and Jupiter and this time I was successful. The two planets weren't quite as close together as they would have been last night, but still it was a sight worth seeing. After walking about half a mile to find a good vantage point, I discovered on the way home that I could see the planetary conjunction just as well from my own backyard. This would actually be a good time to walk the dogs if it weren't so dark. The air cools down surprisingly quickly after the sun sets.

The Apple Health App has been sitting unused on my phone ever since I upgraded to IOS 8. I never really knew what it was for until I started wearing the Apple Watch. Now, I'm learning all sorts of interesting things. One thing I was completely unaware of is that my heart rate is higher than it should be when I'm sleeping. I supposed this has something to do with taking time release Niacin every night before I go to bed. Sometimes when I wake up at night the Niacin flushing drives me nuts. It probably also raises my heart rate. Since I'm taking another pill to slow down my heart rate, something is all wrong here. One more thing to ask my doctor about. I tried to do a little research on Google, but that is seldom a good idea. You can look up virtually any health condition on Google and find ten different plausible answers. If you keep reading long enough, you will inevitably conclude that you are going to die.

Sometimes ideas come to me in my sleep. I hope I discover a solution for my website dilemma while I'm sleeping. I certainly wasted enough time on this today. I guess I could just abandon using rollover images as navigation buttons, but I'm stubborn. I bet I'll find the answer I'm looking for tomorrow. I'll have to find the answer in the morning, because Thursdays are really Dot's day. I hope she does well at her physical therapy session. She seemed kind of shaky today. I'm hoping a good night's sleep will be good for all of us.

Bentley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 2023

I was hoping to see the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus this evening, but the Western sky was obscured by clouds. If you were looking for the Moon though, everything was fine. The Eastern skies were clear, so I did see a bright, almost full moon rising and a very nice sunset. I try not to miss comets, eclipses, meteor showers and other astronomical events. The constant haze and glare from all the city lights makes most of these night sky events almost invisible, but at least I make an effort to see them.

The weather continues to be unpredictable. If you remember, I was complaining about how hot it was getting yesterday. An unexpected thunderstorm blew through town around 3 AM this morning and cooled things down by at least thirty degrees. When we took our morning walk with the dogs just before sunrise, the air was crisp and cool again. What a nice surprise. According to the calendar it is the last day in June, but for a little while this morning it felt like early April.

I keep hearing about how today is a "leap second" day where an extra second is added to the year to keep our slightly imperfect calendar from getting out of whack. How will anyone ever know if this little slice of time has really been added? I have a couple of watches that are set by signals from the atomic clock in Colorado. I wonder if they'll reset themselves while I'm asleep tonight to add this extra second? If they don't, I'll probably be one second behind for the rest of my life.

I got a message from a cousin today saying that one of my aunts had died. She was 96. There is one aunt left who is 99 and still going strong. Amazing. The men in the family didn't do so well. An uncle died at a relatively early age from Alzheimer's Disease and my Dad has been gone for over a decade now. I wonder how I'll fare? They say genetics has a lot to do with it, but I think it has more to do with living a stress free life. People I've known who were under a lot of stress for a sustained period of time never lived very long.

We had a surprising amount of rain last night, so I had to get the water off the roof again. I think keeping the roof dry and cleaning up dog poop are starting to define my life. Oddly, I don't find these things stressful, so maybe I'll live to be 96 too.

Tucker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 2022

Dot broke a three day streak and pooped in the house again today. I guess this is the new normal. She seems happy and doesn't appear to be in any pain or discomfort, but it's sad to see her slowly deteriorate. Aging is relentless. You can't stop it and slowing it down is mostly just an illusion. We are all slowing down. Dot is the most obvious senior citizen in the family, but she has a lot of company. Dash is no longer a young dog. I'm a big bundle of geriatric aches and pains. Even Janet is getting older. I guess the trick is to slide into decrepitude with as much dignity as you can.

Today was pretty unfocused. There were no looming deadlines, but I still felt busy. I had to go to the vet and pick up more phenobarbital for Dash. Someone is always running out of pills these days. I went to the store to pick up some things I forgot when I went grocery shopping on Saturday. I washed the car even though it wasn't very dirty. There are still several websites I need to convert to a mobile friendly format, but I couldn't bring myself to start any of them. Like I said, it was a pretty unfocused day.

The stock market really took a tumble today. I've never been a huge fan of globalization and still find it distressing that events in Greece can affect lives in Dallas. I shouldn't have to care if Greece defaults on their debt, but everything is interconnected now. I'm convinced that this mutual dependance is not always a good thing. When I was a kid I remember that we used to go on school field trips to factories a lot. Every town large and small had a factory. We made everything and thrived by selling things to each other. We didn't need to import things from China. Now all the factories are gone and we make nothing. And people wonder why there aren't any jobs. America has always been blessed with an abundance of resources. We had everything we needed to have a nice self-sustaining economy, but we got greedy. Companies wanted bigger profits and customers wanted to buy things cheaper. Factories and jobs moved offshore and here we are, nervously wondering what's going to happen if Greece leaves the Eurozone. It didn't have to be this way.

We got lucky in June, but July is going to be hot, just like it always is in Texas. Dot and Dash don't even want to go out in the afternoon anymore. Dash usually takes a nice evening walk, but I had a hard time even getting him to go around the block today. He's no dummy. It's just too hot. Dogs don't sweat like we do. As temperatures increase you've got to worry about heatstroke and at some point, even the pavement gets too hot for a dog to walk on. Early mornings are still OK, but I don't think we'll be walking very far in the afternoon until things cool down again. If history is any guide, that won't be until October.

I shouldn't be tired, but I am. The dogs still need their evening meds and a final trip outside to pee. I need to run a test print through the large printer to keep it from clogging and then I'm done. I'll brush my teeth and watch another old episode of Perry Mason on TV to help me fall asleep. Maybe I'll have something interesting to write about on Tuesday, but I wouldn't count on it.

Sparky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 2021

Sunday's are often the busiest days of the week. The dogs get longer walks because there are fewer work constraints. The lawn gets mowed, because what better is there to do after breakfast than mow the lawn. Sometimes the house gets cleaned, but not today. I was pleased the Dot had more energy today. She always walks better when Dash is with her. Since Dash was so good about walking slow for Dot's benefit, we took him to a nearby dog park as a special treat later in the morning. You can tell that Dash is getting older too. He used to race around the dog park with wild abandon. Now, he just walks slowly from tree to tree, smelling things and looking for new places to pee. He still enjoys being off leash though. I'd take him to the dog park more often if people were more responsible. There's always someone who brings an aggressive dog. Today we saw one dog get in a fight with several others. The dogs that got attacked didn't appear to be injured, but the whole episode was totally unnecessary.

Mowing the grass with a non-self propelled mower definitely burns up a lot of calories. I think I'm just about the only person in the neighborhood who still mows their own grass anymore. Most of the other neighbors have a lawn care service. I still do a lot of things that other people have given up on. I'm kind of a throwback to an earlier era, except when it comes to technology. I may still mow my own grass, vacuum my own floors, and fix my own refrigerator, but I'm not shy about adopting the latest technology if it will do the job better. This year I have become a huge fan of Keurig coffee makers, Dyson vacuum cleaners, and even though I collect vintage mechanical watches, I'm going to add the Apple Watch to my list of really useful technical innovations.

I watched the Space X Dragon 9 launch on NASA TV right after breakfast and was shocked to see the rocket explode two minutes into its flight. Space X has had a remarkable success record, so this was very unexpected. This is a major setback, since this same rocket is scheduled to start carrying people to the space station in a little over a year. The astronauts on the station must be getting nervous. This is the second supply rocket failure in a row and the third in less than a year. In a way, I'm glad I didn't go to this launch. I'd much rather cheer on a success than witness a failure.

There are some pilings in the lake that Double-crested Cormorants and Gulls like to roost on in the Winter. I've probably photographed these pilings hundreds of times. They look completely different in the morning than they do in the afternoon. On foggy days they look spectacular. Sometimes each pole has a bird sitting on top, and other days, like today. they are all empty. I find these pilings strangely beautiful, but the city wants to demolish them. Some neighbors love these things and others think they're an eyesore. There's no accounting for taste I guess.

I listened to a Ted Talk on the way to the gym where the speaker was talking about how technology is fundamentally changing what it means to be human. The guy's point was that people are slowly becoming more comfortable interacting with their phones and robots than they are with other people. I guess this is true, but from my perspective it's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll always use the automated checkout kiosk in a store instead of going to a cashier. It's quicker, easier, and you don't have to talk with anyone. I would probably never use a personal trainer at the gym, but I felt strangely motivated today when my watch told me that I only had a few minutes to go before I'd burned 300 calories.

Patch is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 2020

I kind of hate to admit it, but I love to track things. I track the weather. I use fitness bands to track my steps. I use apps on my phone to track where I go in the car. Probably this blog is just a way to track how I feel over a long period of time. At any rate, now that I've learned how to use an Apple Watch, I've discovered that there are whole new worlds of things I can track. The device keeps a continuous record of your heart rate and the calories you burn and sends them to the Health app on your phone. If you are so inclined, you can add WiFi scales, blood pressure cuffs, and lord knows what else so you can track even more. I'm not interested in the day-to-day, but the long term trends are fascinating. The number of miles I walk each day has been in a slow, steady decline for almost three years. My weight peaked about twelve years ago and has been very gradually declining ever since. I'm almost back to my college weight now and I don't really know why.

There was certainly plenty to track today. I kept moving all day long. Dot was tired and needed a rest, so I let Dash walk as long as he wanted. We walked about three miles and were gone over an hour. A little later I burned 150 calories getting the water off the roof. It felt like I should have burned a lot more, but there wasn't a setting on my fitness app for pushing a broom. I set the thing for a brisk walk instead. I have a feeling that I should have used the setting for the elliptical machine, or something more strenuous. All these fitness things on my phone seem to be very goal oriented. They set goals for you and then when you reach the goal, they set a new goal to push you a little harder. The first thing I do when I install one of these apps and turn all the goal reminders off. I'm a curious person and am interested in everything, but I'm not very goal oriented. I certainly don't need my phone telling me to work harder.

Dash doesn't understand the concept of sleeping in on weekends. For the past several weeks he has started getting out of bed about 6:30 AM and barking at the foot of the bed until he wakes everyone else up. Dot would be content to sleep a bit longer on her own, but when Dash starts barking, she always joins in. At this point it is useless to try to sleep any longer. The only good thing about these canine alarm clocks is it forces us to get up and walk the dogs while it is still cool outside. It warms up so fast once the sun is up, that even an hour delay in getting the dogs out can make a huge difference in how hot they get. Since we had a long walk this morning, it literally felt ten degrees warmer by the time we got home.

I'll probably need to mow the grass again tomorrow. The yard has never looked this green so late in the year. I'm surprised at how fast the grass is growing, since some years it doesn't grow at all in the Summer. I wonder how many calories that mowing the grass will burn? There's not a setting for mowing the grass on the fitness app either. When are these people going to learn that there are more ways to exercise than going to the gym and spending thirty minutes on the Stairmaster?

Space X is going to launch another Dragon 9 rocket tomorrow. I had an opportunity to go to Florida and view the launch with the NASA folks again, but the trip was too expensive and I didn't want to leave Dot anyway. Oh, well. For the time being, life has become too complicated for these kinds of trips. I guess I'll just watch the launch on my computer.

Rascal is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 2019

Today was stressful. Dot's platelet count was normal and she got the green light to continue her Palladia treatment, but the nurse had trouble finding a vein and Dot ended up having a big hematoma on her neck. I had the doctor look at it and she said Dot would be fine. The big swelling had to be uncomfortable though. Dot was also surprisingly shaky today, considering how strong she's been for the past week. There's really no rhyme or reason to this at this point. Dot has good days and bad days. Hopefully, she'll be feeling better tomorrow.

Hopefully, I'll be feeling better tomorrow as well. It's sucks getting old. Although I've fixed the screen door half a dozen times before, it has never been as difficult as it was today. I couldn't even raise my right arm enough to reach the top hinge and remove it so I could get the door off. My shoulder has really deteriorated since the last time I did this. I finally got the hinge off by standing on a chair, but it was so much easier when I could reach above my head with both arms. Carpel tunnel has taken its toll as well. I usually attach the screen mesh to the door using a staple gun and than attach the wooden trim back to the door using a different type of staple gun that shoots little brads into the wood. These are heavy duty staple guns, but I've never had trouble using them before. This time I often had to use both hands to squeeze the handle hard enough to fire a staple. To make matters worse, there were mosquitoes everywhere. I had to go back inside and change into long pants and a long sleeve jacket to avoid being eaten alive. It was 100 degrees too, so I was soaked with sweat by the time the job was finished. The door looks nice though. Hopefully, I won't have to do this again for a while.

I found a less expensive source for Dot's Palladia drug online and asked her oncologist if she'd write a prescription so I could purchase the chemotherapy pills this way. I was surprised when she was very reluctant to let me use the online source. She said that she couldn't guarantee that the pills would be effective. "They might have sat in the heat too long, or even be past their expiration date," she told me. "But these are sealed bottles in the pharmaceutical company's original packaging," I said. I knew that this was a reputable pharmacy, because I'd done my research. "Well, could you sell me full, sealed bottles like the ones I see here on the website," I asked? If I received sealed bottles from the manufacturer, I wouldn't have to pay the cancer center's $40 hazardous material handling fee every time I renewed my prescription. "We can't do that," the oncologist said. "We have to count the pills and repackage them to make sure you get the right amount." This made even less sense. I'm pretty sure the count would be right in a factory sealed manufacturer's bottle. Actually, I remember now that the cancer center miscounted Dash's chemotherapy pills once and gave me five fewer pills than I should have gotten. Five pills doesn't sound like much, but at $25 per pill, it can add up. The whole conversation was frustrating to me.

I watered the lawn this morning because it was really starting to get hot and dry. I shouldn't have bothered. As I write this, the dogs are both huddled under my desk and we are right in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. I wasn't expecting this storm and it caught me completely by surprise. Actually, quite a few things caught me completely by surprise today. My breakfast was good this morning though. No surprises there.

Derrick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 2018

Today went well. We managed to get up early enough to give the dogs a nice walk just before sunrise when the air was still cool. Dot was surprisingly strong, so we let her go the full distance, even though it was her physical therapy day. There was time for a leisurely breakfast and I was still able to get all my work done before Dot and I headed downtown for her regular Thursday vet appointment.

Dot surprised me again in the underwater treadmill.  She went the full fifteen minutes today, and didn't falter or stumble at all. Everyone was amazed at her continued strength and resilience. She did poop in the vet's lobby, but we'll overlook that. Whenever Dot barks these days, something comes out the other end. I need to get one of those "Shit Happens" bumper stickers you used to see all the time in the 60's and 70's. It pretty well sums up my life these days.

I'm going to have to start watering the lawn again. The ground is drying out surprisingly fast, considering all the rain we've had recently. In less than a week the park has gone from a boggy marsh to a dry prairie. It could always rain again tomorrow, but I have a feeling that Summer is here for good. There's something about the weather in Texas that make me always wish it was a different season. In the Winter I wish it was Summer and in the Summer I wish it was Winter. Maybe it's just me. When it comes to weather, I'm very hard to please.

I'm going to try to get the screen door fixed tomorrow. It's just about dry enough to spray the yard with the pet friendly mosquito retardant we got recently too. This stuff probably won't work, but it's worth a try. With any luck, I'll have time to do both. I'm pretty well caught up with work again. The only important event on tomorrow's schedule is taking Dot to the cancer center for blood work. She's only been taking the Palladia pills for a week now, but it's important to determine whether the drug is adversely affecting her liver or red blood cell count. So far, I haven't noticed any obvious side effects, so I'm really hoping that tomorrow's tests will show she is able to tolerate the drug. Since surgery isn't an option, Palladia is probably the only thing we've got left that has a reasonable chance of shrinking the tumor or slowing down the cancer's advance.

This week went quickly. I've already taken the trash out to the curb for the noisy early morning garbage trucks to pick up and I'm looking forward to going out for breakfast again. Even though my favorite restaurant raised their prices recently, my special Friday breakfasts are still one of the few things left that I consider a bargain.

Shiner is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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