Monday, June 17, 2019

Day 3462

By my low standards it was a very busy day. I made my travel arrangements for the Florida trip. In the end, flying turned out to be the better alternative. I'd hate to be driving along the Gulf Coast and learn that the Falcon Heavy launch had been postponed until the middle of July. If I had to turn around and come home when I was halfway there, it would be a long trip for nothing. At least if fly Southwest I can reschedule things at the last minute if necessary. Looking at the weather forecast, there's a good chance I would be driving in the rain as well. Jeez. I don't even like to drive to the post office in the rain. Spending hours on freeways in heavy rain seems like a miserable idea.

After breakfast this morning I fixed the pumps and cleared all the water off the roof. Luckily, I saw the FedEx guy arrive when I was up on the roof. I had one of those 'signature required' deliveries today and I was sure I was going to miss it. FedEx and UPS used to seem so convenient but now getting a package is frustrating because almost everything seems to require a signature. I never seem to be home when FedEx arrives. I guess getting a signature makes sense since there seems to be an epidemic of people stealing packages off porches. It's a shame though. One more reason why people can't have nice things anymore.

I hope the roof stays dry for a while. This is one chore I've grown to hate. So far, I've been able to prevent the leak from reappearing, but keeping the roof clear of water is a lot of work. This loathsome chore had to substitute for my morning walk today. Pushing the big broom was definitely good exercise, but walking is a lot more relaxing.

I paid the stack of bills that has been accumulating on my desk and took them to the post office. Everyone seems to want me to set up my accounts to autopay every month, but that seems like a bad idea. I would quickly lose track of things. Paying bills on time and always balancing my checkbook is a discipline I learned long ago. Living on a fixed income is something I'm still learning. Retirement is somewhat of a paradox. When you've got the time, you don't always have the money. Working is just the opposite. When you've got the money, you seldom have the time.

Xander, Little Penny, and Chloe all got adopted recently. This is great news. Most of our dogs seems to get adopted quickly. I need to remember to update the rescue website. Maybe I'll have time to do this later tonight. Otherwise, it's on my list for tomorrow.

Now that I'm more or less caught up on things, I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. I hope sleeping in late is part of the plan. Bad weather and power outages have really disrupted my sleep. I need to start looking for a carpenter to rebuild the greenhouse. I used to know several excellent carpenters, but they have all either retired or died. I guess there's no hurry. There is nothing growing in the greenhouse anyway.

Bali is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Day 3461 - Father's Day

Good grief. Our power went out again last night. As I was calling in the outage report, I had visions of ice cream melting in the freezer and an immediate need for large quantities of ice. Jeez. We'd just finished returning the ice chests to the storage warehouse and replacing the spoiled food in the refrigerator. Enough is enough. Luckily, this appeared to be an isolated outage and power was restored early this morning.

Unfortunately, the bad weather wasn't over when the electricity was restored. We had sporadic severe weather warnings for the rest of the day. There was lots of rain accompanied by loud thunder. At one point we were even under a tornado warning. The worst is over now, but the forecast still shows we are in store for more thunderstorms tomorrow.

The weather doesn't look so good in Florida either. Launch day still look good on the long range forecast, but the entire week leading up to the launch shows rain. A weather cancelation is certainly a possibility. Flying to Florida is starting to look a lot more attractive than driving. The thought of being on a freeway all day with eighteen wheelers on either side of me throwing up rooster-tails of water on my windshield doesn't sound fun at all. There are already flooding problems in Mississippi. With more rain, it could get worse. If I fly, I'm going to book something that allows same day flight changes. I have a feeling that schedules are going to change several times between now and the Falcon Heavy launch.

The weather was terrible today but at least I got to go to the gym before the severe weather warnings started appearing on my phone. There were no walks today and Janet and I had to curtail other activities because of the tornado warning. I really shouldn't complain. The roof isn't leaking and we've still got power. Only one of the pumps on the roof isn't working, but at least the other one is. We're on high ground, so there is little risk of flooding no matter what the weather decides to do. All that being said, I'm still sick of all this rain. We deserve some nice weather before the Summer heat returns to stay.

I still hear thunder off in the distance. I hope the bad weather keeps moving to the East. It was a loud thunderclap and bolt of lightning that woke me up last night. About ten seconds later the power went out. It was hard to get back to sleep. I kept thinking about what I would need to do the next morning if the power failed to return. I could feel my resting heart rate start to rise as I lay in bed listening to the rain pound in the roof. Maybe I require more calm than most people.

We'll see what tomorrow brings. No thoughts about Father's Day this year. I'm not a father myself and my own Dad has been gone so long that memories are starting to fade. When Father's Day arrives, my birthday is usually not far behind. Occasionally these two events happen on the same day. Mom always used to tell me that I was her Father's Day gift to Dad. I'm not sure Dad would agree.

Hershey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Day 3460

I've been going back and forth all day about whether to fly or drive to Florida. Surprisingly, the cost is about the same either way. My car gets atrociously poor gas mileage and I'm not much of a long distance driver anymore, so there would be more stops along the way than you might expect. Airfare isn't exactly a bargain either since I need to have the flexibility to change my schedule at the last minute. It's hard to decide. I don't like to drive, but I don't like to fly either.

If I do decide to drive, my car is ready. The dealership called me this morning and said the service department was slow today. If I wanted, they could put on my new tires and do the other maintenance I need now instead of waiting until next week. Why not. I drove up to the dealership and picked up a loaner for the day. They gave me a Jaguar SUV. New cars are so totally electronic that they are confusing to me. I had to get someone to come show me how to get the car out of park. It wasn't intuitive at all. I also had them show me where the little button was that keeps the motor from shutting off every time you stop at a traffic light. Having your car die every time you pull up to a traffic light is unnerving. What if it won't start again? Does this feature really save energy or just cause road rage when the gizmo fails in heavy traffic?

When I was taking my walk today, I saw some guys from a local work-working store loading hardwood logs from somebody's front yard into their trailer. This never even occurred to me before. Neighbors are selling their downed trees to woodworking shops. My Dad was a wood carver and would frequently pay what I though was a lot of money for choice blocks of Walnut or Cherry wood. Since our part of town is full of old hardwood trees, there's probably a lot of valuable wood. Some people will throw this wood away. Others will use if for firewood. A few have wood stoves or like to grill using wood. The city seems to prefer to grind the wood up and use it for mulch. All I really wanted was to get the wood out of my yard. I don't think Elm is a very desirable carving wood anyway. People use Mesquite and Hickory for their smokers, but I'm never heard of anyone using Elm to smoke their meat. I've heard of Elm being used for furniture, but my tree wouldn't make many chairs. The wind turned it into a bunch of jagged splinters.

I've been really tired lately. This isn't new, but I thought my energy would return when I started getting more sleep. It isn't happening. Everybody slows down as they grow older, but it's hard to find a reference point. I know people my age who have a lot more energy than me, but I know other people my age who are dead. I'm doing better than either of my parents were at this age, but I can't keep up with Janet. I guess this isn't a big deal. Very few people can keep up with Janet.

It's off to the gym again tomorrow. Going to the gym is good. The active people I know seem to live much longer than the sedentary ones. Maybe a good workout will make me more decisive. I'm going to have to make the fly or drive decision soon. The whole country seems to be on the move. It won't be long before the planes fill up the same way the hotels in Florida did.

Shadow is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Day 3459

Travel is stressful. NASA finally confirmed a launch date for the Falcon Heavy, so I started looking for a hotel. Literally as I was looking online, I started seeing hotels disappear from the availability list. In less than four hours half of the hotels were already gone. I guess everybody else attending the launch was looking at the same time I was. I'm not good making quick decisions and hotel prices can be confusing. The price you see online is usually meaningless because most hotels change their prices everyday based on demand and availability. I picked a few places that looked nice and called the front desk, even though the website showed no availability. I ended up getting one of the last two rooms available at a nice hotel very near the space center. I felt like the clock was ticking the entire time I was making the reservations. The whole experience confirmed my opinion that it is always better to talk with a real person. You can make changes and compromises when you are talking to a real person. Websites aren't flexible at all.

I went back to the hotel with the good French Toast for breakfast this morning. Breakfast was delicious as always, but my appetite keeps shrinking. I could barely finish my meal. Even though I'm a creature of habit, I need to eat less. During the power outage Janet and I just has some fresh fruit for breakfast that didn't need to be refrigerated. A small bowl of peaches, strawberries, and blueberries was just about perfect. Maybe I need to make this my regular morning meal. Even my smoothie is starting to seem too complicated now.

I'm so glad the weather was cooler during our power outage. It's starting to warm up again and we would have been miserable without power with temperatures in the nineties. We were really lucky that temperatures were in the seventies while we had no electricity. Although life is getting back to normal in Dallas, I'm still hearing the sound of chain saws everywhere. The storm must be a bonanza for tree services and lawn care companies. I had no idea there were so many tree trimming services in Dallas. They're everywhere in our neighborhood. So far, the city's Park and Recreation Department seems to be doing the best job of tree removal. City workers were out in force in the park today, sawing up downed trees with chain saws and hauling away the debris in large trucks.

I wrote a letter to my sister asking if she'd like us to stop and visit when we return from Florida. It might be difficult to coordinate a visit with someone who only communicates through the U.S. mail, but we'll see what happens. I mentioned in my letter that a visit might be easier if she started using her phone.

I guess the week starts on Monday, but it always seems to start on Friday for me. Friday's have seemed like Saturday to me for years. I guess that an empty trash can and breakfast at a nearby restaurant signals a new start. It certainly seemed like Saturday today. I almost started to run my regular weekend errands, but then I finally remembered. I hope my memory doesn't become even worse in the years ahead. I forgot to wear my hat again on my morning walk. I guess a sunburned head will eventually jog my memory.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Day 3458

Janet and I temperament tested a dog this afternoon. I think I've already told you about Xander. He's got a good home if he gets along with other dogs. With the help of the kennel staff we introduced him to a variety of different dogs and he passed his test with flying colors. Some dogs tolerate other animals. Xander really seems to like them. He was curious, playful, and gentle with everyone we introduced him to. Now we just need to see if his potential companion is equally friendly. Xander is not dog aggressive. He doesn't appear to be food aggressive either. Somebody is going to get a wonderful companion and friend.

I went ahead and ordered tires today. The good news is that they will be here tomorrow. The bad news is that since they were a special order, I had to pay for them in advance. At least these tires weren't as expensive as the OEM tires that came with the car. I was glad to hear that they'd been discontinued and replaced with a more reasonably priced tire. Keep in mind that 'reasonably priced' is a relative term when it comes to Land Rover parts. In my experience absolutely nothing has been reasonably priced.

It was weird to be working again. I finished my client's website updates this morning and uploaded the changes to the server. Amazingly, I remembered the client's old passwords and remembered most of the HTML code I needed. It takes a little longer to do this stuff if you don't do it every day, but I guess I passed my temperament test as well. Could it be that coding is like riding a bicycle? I might remember some of what I know forever. At any rate, I think I did a good job. Hopefully, the client will agree.

I took the money I made selling the guitars to the bank. It won't stay there long. My homeowner's insurance is due, I just had a large tree removed, and then there are those pesky Land Rover tires. Everything is so expensive now. I still have prices in my head from the 1970's. Unfortunately those days are gone. I think my favorite year was 1969. It definitely isn't 2019.

I saw a Purple Passionflower today. I haven't seen one of these bloom in years because they grow in a section of the park that wasn't accessible to Dot and Dash after they became sick. As the dogs became older and less mobile, we had to limit our walks to safe, relatively flat areas where they wouldn't fall. Walking was more difficult for me as well, since I was holding up their rear legs using the Help 'Em Up Harness. I've started walking the old trails again. They bring back memories. We'll see how long this lasts. My feet are telling me that I'm going to need a Help 'Em Up Harness myself some day.

This week went amazingly fast, considering that we spent most of it without electricity. Janet and I stayed surprisingly busy during the power outage. Even though we both seem to have good survival skills, I'm glad the power is back. I'm certainly sleeping better now. Everything is more or less back on schedule. I just finished taking the week's trash out to the curb. I hope the trash truck can find everybody's cans. They look insignificant next to the huge piles of tree branches and logs stacked along the street.

Marcie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Day 3457

Life is good. We finally got power restored early this afternoon. Most of the traffic lights are functioning again and people have stopped driving like maniacs. The gas company even fixed a gas leak in the neighborhood that nobody even knew existed. There's nothing like a four day power outage to make you appreciate the little things. Janet and I actually did pretty well without electricity, but there are so many things we take for granted.

Before the power was restored today, I took a walk through the neighborhood to see how everybody else fared. I was amazed at the devastation. We lost a tree, but it didn't wreck our house. Some people had serious roof damage. A few people still had trees on top of their cars. I was sad to see that Erykah Badu's Porsche had been demolished. It was one of the prettiest cars in the neighborhood. The sound of chain saws was everywhere. Almost everyone had a big pile of logs and tree limbs in their front yard. It's going to take months for the city to clear all the debris away. Who knows. Maybe the city won't need to clean up all that much. I've already started seeing people scavenging the log piles for Winter firewood. One guy I talked to today said he had a wood burning stove and he was specifically looking for pecan logs because he liked the smell when they burned. I think this guy might have hit the jackpot. The park is full of old growth pecan trees and these trees seemed particularly vulnerable to being uprooted by the high winds. Mesquite trees seemed to survive pretty well but a lot of pecan trees bit the dust. Our two large Oak trees survived the storm intact. It was our Elm tree that got toppled.

It took a while to reset the clocks, put all the food in the ice chests back in the refrigerator again, and reconnect everything on the network. During the outage I kept wishing I had a larger generator. As soon as the power returned the urge for a huge generator quickly faded. Big generators are heavy, noisy, expensive, and I've really got no place to keep one. My little generator actually did just fine. We just had to learn to do stuff one thing at a time. You could use the hair dryer and brew coffee. You just couldn't use two high wattage gizmos at the same time. I discovered that everything ran smoother if I plugged the big UPS backup battery I use for the computers into the generator and then plugged all the other things into the back up battery. This seemed to filter out the power spikes that gave the generator problems. Starting an electric motor takes a lot more power than keeping the same motor running. I could always tell when the compressor kicked in on the little refrigerator. That was the only thing that temporarily overloaded the generator.

I was shocked that I actually have some website work to do tomorrow. One of my few remaining clients wants to update his site. I'm usually very responsive, but I told him he'd have to wait until the power returned. Tomorrow would have been a busy day even without the website work, but I'm always happy to have the work. There's still tons of laundry to do. I need to get new tires for the car before the trip to Kennedy Space Center. It's been a while since we've seen the rescue Dalmatians too. No problem. It will all get done now that we have electricity again.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Day 3456

This is our third day without power. There is still no estimate for power restoration in our neighborhood, but we're starting to see power company trucks, so that's a good sign. I talked to a crew from Alabama this morning who were looking for downed lines behind our house. I've seen repair crews from Mississippi, Alabama, and Oklahoma so far. This is a major effort. Lots of people in the Northern part of town already have power again, but our neighborhood is almost always the last to get electricity. We have the most trees and consequentially the most downed lines. The repair crews need to be really careful with all these downed lines. I heard that they missed one yesterday and started a house fire when they tried to turn the power back on.

One of the guys from Alabama told me that they may get our power restored later tonight. I hope so. We've almost run out of clean towels and I may need to go to the laundromat tomorrow. My little generator definitely won't run the washing machine. Actually, I've been very pleased with the little generator. Technically it's called an inverter and delivers much cleaner electricity than a traditional generator. When I bought it I just wanted something to run the computers. I'm discovering that it will power quite a few other things as well. The small refrigerator runs fine using the generator. Janet was able to use her hair dryer as well. I was even able to fire up the Keurig machine this morning and make myself some coffee. The generator will run all day on two gallons of gas. That's pretty good if you ask me.

I discovered that my solar powered generator doesn't do so well on cloudy days. There wasn't enough sunlight today to use the solar panels to recharge the batteries. Gasoline came to the rescue though. I used my gas powered generator to recharge the solar generator. A lot of people drive Teslas in Dallas. I wonder how those people feel now. They are dead in the water for the time being. Their car batteries have run down and most of the charging stations in Dallas are dead. I haven't seen a single Tesla on the road for the past three days.

The best thing that happened today was that my tree guy came over and removed all the dangerous dangling limbs from the elm tree that got damaged. I was one of the lucky ones who got tree service in two days. A lot of people are still waiting. We discovered that a more of our tree had fallen in our neighbor's yard than we initially thought. Luckily neither of us had much damage to our houses. I did lose the greenhouse though. The tree crew will have to come back later to remove what's left of the elm tree. They are only doing emergency service right now and had two more jobs today after they finished with my tree. For now, everyone in the city is just dragging their downed tree limbs to the curb. I have no idea how long it's going to take the city to clean this mess up. There are huge piles of ruined trees everywhere. It's a shame to see so many mature trees destroyed in the neighborhood. These old growth trees were one of the things that made this part of town special.

Apparently yard work is better exercise than going to the gym. I haven't taken a long walk since the storm roared through town, and I'm still burning more calories and taking more steps than I was before. When you spend most of the day hauling logs and big tree limbs out to the street, you end up doing a lot of walking. By the end of the day, I'm tired. I thought this would help me sleep, but so far it isn't working. It feels stuffy in the house without the air conditioner running. It's also too quiet. I'm used to the sound of the dehumidifier running constantly and usually we keep the fan running on the HVAC system so there is some air circulating in the house.

I'm still sitting in the dark, but I saw a large power company truck one street over from ours just before sunset. That's a good sign. Hopefully, when you hear from me tomorrow, we'll have electricity again.

Willa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Day 3455

We still don't have power. Basically, we're camping now. The power company now says that we might not get electricity restored until late Thursday. It's a mess all over town. Traffic lights aren't working. There are still trees in the road. In our part of town businesses that don't have generator power are closed.

As I expected, the tree trimmer never made it over here today. He promised to come tomorrow. We'll see. There are still people ahead of me in line. I don't have a chain saw, but I was able to remove some of the downed tree using a reciprocal saw powered by a generator. Janet helps me haul the limbs out to the tree and by the end of the day we had a huge pile. Most of the neighbors had huge piles of their own.

We filled three large coolers with ice and were able to salvage most of the food in the refrigerator. The ice cream and a few perishable items went bad, but all in all we did pretty well. I discovered that I can run the small refrigerator off one of the generators, but the gas tank isn't very large and I don't think the generator will run continuously overnight. I ned to go buy some more gas tomorrow morning.

The solar powered generator can be completely recharged using solar panels in less than five hours. This works out pretty well since we only use this generator at night so we can run the network and get on the Internet. Some little LED camping lights provide all the lighting we need. I do miss the air conditioner though. It was pretty hot today. Neither of us slept well last night because it was too hot inside. I don't think we're going to start in a hotel though unless it gets really bad. I could buy a pretty capable generator for the price of three nights in a decent hotel. At least we've still got hot water. I definitely needed a shower after spending most of the day hauling logs out to the street.

The Falcon Heavy launch got postponed a week. This is just as well. I'd like to get all the power outage problems resolved before we start planning a trip. This is the first multi-day power outage we've had for a long time. I remember the bad one well though. Living without electricity takes a lot on ingenuity. I wish I had a really large generator that could run off natural gas. Some whole house generators do this. They're pretty expensive though. That's the thing with power outages. If you go buy a big expensive generator, it's almost guaranteed that you won't have another outage for five years. I haven't even gotten much use out of my little gas generator.

I hope I sleep better tonight. It probably helps that I'm really tired this evening. Sawing and hauling heavy logs is a lot more strenuous than walks in the park. I missy morning smoothie. One more reason to go out and get five gallons of gas for the generator tomorrow morning. Janet needs the generator for her hair dryer too. I'm not sure the generator can handle the hair dryer, but we'll see.

Escher is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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