Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day 2502

What was Cardinal Dolan thinking when he invited Donald and Hillary to speak at the Al Smith dinner tonight? Somebody forgot to tell these two that last night's debate was over. I usually love the self-deprecating humor at these events, but this was the most acrimonious and least funny roast I have ever seen. George Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Regan have all been hilarious at these type of events. Trump and Hillary were pathetic. They both told a few jokes and then launched into their stump speech. This was a take no prisoners evening. No wonder so many people are disgusted with this election.

I put my trash can on the opposite side of the street this evening. This isn't much of a plan, but it was the best I could come up with. Who knows. Maybe a different truck picks up the trash on the right hand side of the street. I went back to using my original rolling cart, because the robotic arm on the truck pretty well demolished my new can last week. We'll see tomorrow morning whether my talk with the sanitation department had any effect whatsoever. If my trash isn't emptied properly in the morning, I'm going to be well beyond frustrated.

Actually, I'm already frustrated because  today's rain ruined my chances of getting the roof repaired this week. The last time I called the roofers, they promised me that they'd be out again toward the end of the week. Now, they have the perfect excuse to keep ignoring me for a while longer. The coating material can't be applied unless the roof is completely dry, and the rainy season is approaching. It's going to become harder and harder to find a time when the roof is dry and the roofers are available.

The dogs were unusually needy today and it was hard to get anything done. If Dot wasn't demanding attention, Dash was. Dash always gets nervous on rainy days and it was hard to get him to go outside until the skies finally cleared. I knew he had to pee when I got up this morning, but it took four or five attempts to get him out the door. Dot didn't even bother. She just pooped in the house. It seemed like every time I tried to fix breakfast of dinner, there was another mess to clean up. There's nothing like the smell of dog poop when you're trying to enjoy your dinner.

I got another writing assignment this afternoon, but there was no need to finish it today. This will give me something to do tomorrow. If the weather cooperates, I'll look forward to going out for breakfast again. It's been a long week and I need to get out of the house for a while.

Emily is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Day 2501

Another loose dog came after Dash today. I managed to stop the dog before any damage was done, but the incident made me mad. It's amazing how often this happens. It's almost always a young person who isn't paying attention that causes the problem. They're doing yoga in the park, or listening to music with earbuds in their ears while their dog is roaming around nearby looking for something more interesting to do. Luckily this large Lab was dragging his leash behind him and I managed to grab the leash before the dog could get to Dash. Dash was terrified though. He's been attacked before and hasn't forgotten. Loose dogs are a pet peeve of mine. Take your dog to a dogpark if you want to let them off leash. Don't let them loose in an area where there are signs all over the place saying "All dogs must be leashed."

The last presidential debate is taking place right now. I have a live stream of the debate running in a window on my browser. I'll listen for about thirty seconds at a time and then I feel compelled to turn the sound off for a while. I just can't stand listening to these guys. I still don't understand how two of the most unlikable candidates in modern history could have been nominated and think the country deserves a do-over. If either of these folks gets elected, the gridlock we're experiencing in Washington DC just gets worse. Would it really be that hard to find someone the country actually likes? I can't think of a name at the moment, but there's got to be someone.

I never cared much about politics when I was younger. I can recall telling someone when I was in my twenties that I wouldn't mind having a king as long as I was part of the aristocracy. This was flippant, of course, but I just didn't think that voting even mattered. I think I finally registered to vote because my mother kept bugging me mercilessly about becoming a responsible citizen. I became a voter, but always was a bit skeptical about the whole process of arriving at a consensus. I've seen homeowner's associations and condo boards do nothing but bicker for years at a time. I played a very minor role in city government at one point and saw nothing but bickering. I think things might be a little better if lawyers weren't allowed to become politicians, but maybe that wouldn't help either.

If there was a political party that advocated giving the earth back to the dolphins and the whales, I think I'd be for them. Humans have become an invasive species, just like kudzu vines. We can't agree about anything. We eat all the fish out of the oceans. We cut down the rain forests for firewood. If we continue at this rate, we'll be extinct in 30,000 years. I hear a lot of politicians talk about climate change, but none of them even mention controlling the world's population as a solution. There are too many of us already and globalization is only making matters worse.

I don't think I'm going to change things. Somebody is going to get elected. Hopefully, I will continue to get my social security check and be able to live out the rest of my life without the rancor I am witnessing becoming even worse. I don't think the apocalypse is just around the corner, but I do think today's millennials are going to have a tough time turning this ship around. I wish them luck.

Diva is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Day 2500 - Halfway There

When I started this blog, I wondered whether it was humanly possible to post something for 5000 consecutive days. I'm halfway there. I still wonder if I can complete this quixotic journey. It's not been easy to get this far. There have been numerous power outages to overcome. Computers have crashed. Sometimes I've been impossibly busy and other times there's been nothing to talk about. Internet service has been spotty at times, as has my own health. I can remember posting from airports on numerous occasions and one time I posted the same day I came out of surgery. So far, I have not missed a single day.

Doing something on this grand a scale changes your life. I'm not sure it changes things for the better however. I can recall business trips where everyone else had gone out to dinner while I was sitting alone in my hotel room trying to compose the day's journal entry. Any activity after dinner still reminds me of the Cinderella story where the coach turns back into a pumpkin at midnight. I've always got a deadline to meet. I'm not sure if any readers have stayed with me throughout this improbably journey. There were thousands of readers when blogging was popular, but that number has probably dwindled to a few dozen. Blogging isn't very popular now. One of these days I'll probably just be writing for myself.

It's an interesting exercise to track how how your opinions and priorities change over time. On any given day, it seems like each post is exactly like the one that preceded it. The changes that occur over time are subtle, but they are real. Occasionally, I'll read something I wrote five years ago, and I am surprised that quite a bit has changed already. It would be nice if this was always a story about growth and affirmation. I've certainly learned things along the way, but I've also lost things. That's the way life is.

If you're a new reader, you might think I'm in a downward spiral. Beloved pets are dying. A business is becoming irrelevant. A common theme is how tired I am. I hope you don't find this discouraging. Life always has its peaks and valleys and occasionally the valleys can last for years at a time. I learned a lot when I was a globe trotting advertising writer. I'm learning even more while I sit at home caring for a sick dog.

Today didn't provide many insights, but it did add to the ongoing narrative. I cleaned toilets today and removed hundreds of spiderwebs from the exterior windows and sides of the house. Removing the spiderwebs is an odious task that needs to be done several times a year. I take a broom and sweep the webs away, usually ruining the broom in the process. These webs are thick and sticky and are filled with dead insects and live spiders. I almost always end up with spiders in my hair when I am destroying the webs. I guess the spiders are better than snakes. I have friends who live in the country that have continual problems with snakes. We just have spiders and angry squirrels.

If you're interested, I'll be here tomorrow. I think that writing keeps the mind agile and I'm definitely curious to see where this journey leads. 5000 days is a long chunk of time. I worry at times that the Blogger platform may disappear before my journey is done. Google has a history of abandoning things. I may not make it either. At the end of 5000 days, I'm going to be pretty old. Maybe this blog will eventually become a curious resource for scholars. Maybe it is just a wasted effort. Only time will tell.

Little Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, October 17, 2016

Day 2499

A lady from the sanitation department called me this morning. She listened politely as I explained the problems I've been having with trash collection. I thought we were getting somewhere when she told me that the city had hired a lot of new drivers recently and seemed to agree with my theory that the driver didn't know how to operate the fancy robotic garbage truck. When I finished my story and asked what was going to happen next, I instantly became disappointed. "I'll talk to my supervisor about this," she told me. This is going to end like every other encounter I've had with a large bureaucracy. Maybe this supervisor will talk to his supervisor, or maybe it won't even get that far. I doubt that anything will happen. The drivers are probably protected by their union and can't be fired anyway. The driver might not even be at fault. There's always the chance that the city added fifty extra streets to his regular route and he is just doing the best he can to keep up with the added workload.

A little later, a representative from SiriusXM  called and asked if I was enjoying my free trial and wondered why I hadn't activated my subscription yet. Normally, I don't even answer these type of telemarketing calls, but this guy surprised me by calling my cell phone. I explained that I only listened to one channel in the car and their package prices seemed pretty expensive if all I was going to use satellite radio for was to avoid having to listen to all the annoying pledge drives on the local over the air public radio station. I took this opportunity to complain about the tinny, compressed quality of all the voice offerings on SiriusXM. The guy thanked me for my input and agreed that I probably wasn't the target audience they were looking for. I don't know why companies like these don't adopt an à la carte pricing structure. If I could just pay for the stations I actually listen to, I'd gladly subscribe to SiriusXM. I feel the same way about my AT&T U-Verse account. Why should I have to pay for hundreds of channels when I only watch ten at the most?

I went to the vegan take-out store to buy enough meals to augment the leftovers in the refrigerator for the rest of the week. I love this store and hope they manage to stay in business. There is no way I could cook all these interesting meals myself. Cooking for one is hardly worth the trouble. It's hard to buy small quantities of vegetables and if you buy larger quantities, the stuff goes bad before you get around to eating it. I talked to the lady who started the store today and she told me that she got the idea when friends of hers kept saying that they'd love to become vegetarian, but that it was so much easier to just get a burger. This store is easier than going to McDonalds. I'm hooked.

On my way home I dropped off one of my favorite watches at my local watch repair place to get the band fixed. It doesn't matter if your wear the watches or not. Eventually, they all just fall apart by themselves. I doubt that I'll wear this watch anymore, but it was an old friend that deserved some respect. I have no idea how the watch broke. It's been sitting in a drawer for years.

Dot seemed so tired today. I don't think the Tramadol pills are having much of an effect. I had hoped that they might help her walk a little easier, but that isn't happening. We'll continue the pills for a few days longer in case there is some sort of delayed reaction, but I think this is just an experiment that failed. I wish it were easier to transport Dot. I think the water therapy still might help, but I hate to put Dot through the ordeal of getting her to the vet and back on a regular basis if all it does is cause her stress.

Maybe something interesting will happen tomorrow. I'm not counting on it though.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Day 2498

Today felt more like a work day. We got up early because Janet needed to go to the Dalmatian Rescue Golf Tournament. I spent most of the day tending to the dogs, but did manage to squeeze in a few weekend errands. I picked up some meds for Dash at the vet and then took my defective pants back to the REI store. Amazingly, they offered to exchange them for a new pair. I wasn't expecting this and was actually planning to drop the pants off at a tailor shop on the way home. I've noticed a pattern in recent years. As product quality has gotten worse, customer service has gotten better. I think a lot of companies have decided that it is less costly to just replace things when they break than to build them right in the first place. I've gotten four free UP fitness trackers from Jawbone. I love these things, but they aren't made very well. I'm lucky if mine lasts six months. Customer service is usually very nice about replacing the broken trackers though, so I'm a happy camper. Maybe REI uses the same strategy. Advertise clothing as tough and reliable, and if it doesn't live up to expectations, just smile and replace it.

The reason that I stayed home today was that it is inevitable that Dot will poop in her bed during the day. If I'm not nearby to quickly clean up the mess, she gets frantic and usually ends up making the situation much worse. When I'm away, I have to leave her penned in a small, well padded enclosure, so she won't hurt herself. This works well if she's asleep, or if I'm around to lets her out frequently. It doesn't work well at all if I'm gone for four or five hours. As expected, Dot did poop in her bed today, so it was good that I was nearby.

After one of these accidents, I knew she was tired and would probably sleep for several hours, so I went to the gym. This is usually how I plan my excursions away from the house. If she's had an accident, Dot typically won't have another one for at least three or four hours. She's sleeps soundly, so if she has an accident in her sleep, I can just quietly slide the soiled disposable pad out from under her without even waking her up. If I keep doing this much longer, I'll soon be able to write a book on dealing with incontinent dogs.

I've discovered that it's hard to write the blog when only one of us is home in the evening. As Dot has become less mobile, she's become increasingly needy. She's not the least bit sleepy in the evenings, and constantly wants somebody nearby. If I ignore her, she starts barking frantically. To prevent this, I'll write a sentence or two and and then go sit with her for a while or walk her around the house. As soon as I get her settled down, Dash will run to the front door, thinking he hears a car in the driveway and the cycle of barking will start all over again.

The roofers said they'd stop by next week. They probably really meant that they'd stop by next month. A representative from the sanitation department is supposed to contact me to help resolve my trash problem as well. We'll see. My guess is that none of this will actually happen.

Camp is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Day 2497

I should move to rural America. I dread going out on weekends now. There are simply too many people in the city. The roads are crowded with careless drivers. I see so many accidents when I'm running errands that I often wonder when my own luck will run out. There are way too many loose dogs in the park on weekends. Loose dogs make me nervous. I've worked with dogs for most of my adult life and have been bitten five times. Any dog will bite you if the circumstances are right. I don't know what people are thinking when they let their dog run loose in a public park. Their dog could get run over by a car. It could get in a fight with another loose dog. Even a friendly, playful dog could injure a child or elderly person. Dash was almost killed by an aggressive, loose dog many years ago and I've never forgotten it.

The city makes me long for empty country roads and neighbors that are at least twelve miles apart. I miss taking long walks with my dogs where I don't encounter a single other person. I have a telescope that I never use because there is too much light pollution in the city to see anything except the moon. City people aren't as nice as country people either. That's not just my opinion, it's my experience.

I mowed the grass this afternoon. Every time I mow the grass in October, I think I can put the mower away until next year. It would be reasonable to think that I've mowed my last for the year, but Texas is full of surprises. Sometimes it gets real warm in November and the grass starts growing again. I can recall even mowing grass in December on rare occasions. Hey, maybe I'll get lucky this time. I clipped things a little shorter today, just in case.

A belt loop came off a pair of supposedly indestructible pants I bought at the REI store. Admittedly, this is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but I've still got half a mind to go back to the store and demand a refund. The only reason I buy things at the REI store is that they look indestructible. I doubt that the store would give me a refund anyway. These pants aren't exactly brand new.

I'm sure you guys get those notices from Facebook urging you to re-share your old memories. I got one today reminding me of a video a friend took last year at this time showing Dot working out in the underwater treadmill. I was surprised at how much has changed in a year. Dot was much stronger then. Her gradual deterioration has been so slow that sometimes I don't even notice that she is getting worse. It's hard to even remember the days when she could run like the wind.

Dot definitely won't be going to the Dalmatian Rescue Golf Tournament tomorrow. Those days are long gone. Everyone used to bring their dogs to the tournament and it was fun to see all these Dalmatians in one place. I'll be staying home with Dot and Dash tomorrow while Janet goes to the tournament to help with the silent auction. I hope everyone enjoys themselves, even though I've never understood the attraction of golf. It still seems like a very strange sport to me.

I have no plans for tomorrow at all. I'm sure that Dot and Dash do however, which means that I'll have my hands full.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, October 14, 2016

Day 2496

I'm confused. When I took Dot to the cancer center today, I was prepared for bad news. To me, Dot seems to be growing weaker. She stumbled a lot this week and seems to be having a harder time walking without assistance. What do I know though? The oncologist, the ultrasound technician, and two nurses all thought Dot looked stronger and more alert than the last time they saw her. Her lab work and scan seemed to confirm their opinion. Dot's tumors are stable and haven't grown at all since her last scan. Her blood work is actually better than it was a month ago. This is all good news, but I still wonder why she seems so weak around the house.

I'm really mad at the city. For the fourth week in a row, the trash truck has failed to empty my trash. Not only was my bagged trash not removed from the can, the robotic arm on the truck actually damaged my brand new trash can. Now, there's a big dent in the can and the lid won't close. I piled the trash in the back of my car and went looking for a dumpster again. I'm tired of this. I called city services when I got home and after a long wait on hold, explained my problem to someone. Nothing got resolved today, but I did get assigned a case number and was told that someone from the sanitation department would be calling me next week.

I didn't get to go out for breakfast this morning, since a thunderstorm was headed our way. I could see lightning on the horizon and hear distant thunder, but we managed to get the dogs walked before the rain actually arrived. The short walk around the block with both dogs went just fine, but Dash almost got me struck by lightning when he refused to curtail his longer walk as the rain continued to get closer. Dash can be pretty stubborn sometimes. By the time we returned home, the sky was looking dark and ominous. I found another package of frozen waffles in the freezer and listened to the rain pounding on the roof while I kept telling Dot that everything was going to be OK.

I've been worried that the new Tramadol pills were going to make Dot constipated, but she put those fears to rest by pooping in the car on the way home from the cancer center. Poor car. Today, it's been pooped in and full of garbage within the same day. It's harder to clean Dot up after she's had an accident in the car. Since she's in a confined space, she can't move away from the mess. Sometimes, it takes me a while before I can safely pull off to the side of the road and attend to her as well. Such is life. It's hard to imagine a trip in the car without one of these accidents these days.

I picked up some Chinese take out for dinner and was dismayed to see that the restaurant had taken all the small sizes off the menu. I used to have a choice of small or large on everything. Not anymore. Absolutely nothing stays the same anymore. Oh, well. At least the restaurant is still in business. I hope we have a quiet, uneventful weekend. I need some time to rest and recharge my batteries before I resume my battle with the city over trash pickup. I'm beginning to think that the robotic arm on the truck has some kind of sensor that rejects my can when it discovers it is full of dog poop.

Abby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Day 2495

I carefully filled the new garbage can today and took it out to the curb. I did my best to make sure that each black trash bag wasn't too heavy or too full. If the truck still fails to empty my trash tomorrow morning, I'm going to conclude that someone is fucking with me. I know there are probably better things to do than fret about my trash, but it beats fretting about whether Dot's poop is too hard or too soft, or wondering why the bananas for my smoothie aren't ripening faster.

I've got a lot of questions for Dot's oncologist tomorrow when we go to the cancer center for another ultrasound scan and recheck. Dot seems to be getting weaker, but the problems don't appear to be related to her cancer. There are just too many things going on at once. The liver cancer is still there and probably contributes to how tired she is at times, but the real problems are with her legs. The neurological damage in her rear legs has caused her to compensate and transfer more weight to her front legs. Now her front legs go out occasionally and I have to be real careful and try to provide some support for all four legs when I take her outside. Today, she slipped and cut her nose when she fell on a stick on the ground. The cut was minor, but it reminded me of just how fragile she's become.

Janet had to work late tonight, so I had to walk Dot on my own. Even simple things like trying to lock the back door while holding Dot upright seemed problematic. I need two leashes to walk her now: one for the front legs and another for the back legs. There are so many strings that it probably appears like Dot is a marionette as we slowly walk down the street. Without Dash to guide her, Dot's pace was even slower than usual. We inched along making our way down the alley behind our house. Eventually she pooped when a neighbor dog got her barking. Sometimes barking does the trick when nothing else works.

The Jewish holidays have sidelined one of my clients for a while, but I don't know what has happened to the others. It was completely silent today. No e-mails. No phone calls. Nothing. This never used to happen. I guess I better get used to it. It's a collaborative world these days and my lone wolf style of working has gone out of fashion. I used to think it might be fun to go back and work for a large agency again sometime. No one would hire me now. Even if age weren't an issue, I don't seem to play well with others.

I really hope I don't have to load the car up with garbage tomorrow and look for a dumpster again. It kind of spoils my Friday breakfast ritual. Life has become very stressful and I need a couple of hours each week to eat something tasty while I pretend I'm taking a break at roadside cafe in rural Wyoming. Wyoming sounds real nice right now.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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