Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 1958

We went on a home tour this afternoon. Every year a local school PTA sponsors a tour of mid-century modern homes in the neighborhood and it's always fun to compare our house with similar houses that have been kept in much better condition. Seeing these cool houses used to be inspiring. Now it's a little depressing. Our house will never look this way. It seemed pretty obvious that none of the homeowners on today's tour had dogs. Well, they didn't have large dogs anyway. The hardwood floors were scratch free. The windows weren't caked with dog slobber. And the furniture wasn't coated with dog hair. Several of the homes had dangerous open stairwells where there weren't any risers between the treads to keep a smaller dog from falling through the opening. I sure have changed. I used to measure a home purely on design esthetics. Now, my prime concern is whether it is convenient and safe for dogs. Practical or not, it was fun seeing these immaculately preserved examples of 1950's architecture. With an unlimited pile of money and a year's worth of rehab work, our house could look just the same.

I never did make it to the gym today, but I did get the grass mowed in the front yard. It's kind of an unwritten rule that when all your neighbors mow their grass, you have to mow yours too. It's been so wet this Spring that the grass has been growing unusually fast. I thought I could wait to mow until next week, but the fast growing grass makes the yard stand out like a sore thumb. On close inspection, a lot of the greenery in the front yard turned out to be Chickweed and Henbit, but I'm not particular anymore. As long as it still looks green after its mowed, I'm fine.

The weather was nice today, but it doesn't look like it's going to last. I'm already tracking a bad storm on the weather radar that looks like it's going to arrive here about 11 PM. Tornadoes have already touched down west of Fort Worth and large hail has been reported in several places. I hope the storm dissipates before it arrives in Dallas. I'm really tired of the volatile and exceptional wet weather we've been having this Spring. I'm sure in July I'm be begging for rain again, but right now, enough is enough.

We finally found a sock that will stay on Dash's leg. We've got a whole pile of baby and dog socks that didn't work, but he managed to keep the latest pair we bought on his feet for his entire evening walk. It's not a big breakthrough in the whole scheme of things, but it does make life a little easier. I still keep thinking that it shouldn't take this long for his foot to get back to normal, but since three different vets have told me that Dash's limp could persist for up to two weeks, I guess I'll take their word for it. He does seem a little better today though. That's a good sign.

It looks like I've got a ton of work to do next week, but it's hard for me to focus on it. All I can think about is my upcoming dental surgery. I'll sure be glad when that's over with.

Brady is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 1957

The nasty storms that blew through town last night were followed by clear blue skies and mild temperatures this morning. The beautiful weather was a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one. The dogs both enjoyed their walk today and it was hard to get them headed toward home again before they became too tired. Although he is continuing to get better, Dash still starts limping if he walks too far, and Dot just doesn't have the strength for a long walk yet. While we were headed home, we passed a fire department ambulance hopelessly stuck in the mud. I hope that there was nobody in the back, because it looked like it was going to be a long time before this particular ambulance was going to be delivering anyone to the hospital.

As I do on most days following a hard rain, I removed the standing water from the roof. Today I let the pump do most of the work. It takes a lot longer and I have to climb up and down several times, but removing the water is definitely easier this way. I let the pump run on the main roof while we were eating breakfast, changing the bed sheets, and doing laundry. Then I went up again and switched the pump to the lower carport roof while I swept off the residual water from the main roof. Sound exciting? No, I didn't think so. Hey, at least I got something done. This seems like a much better way to spend my time than all those people down in the park today who spent their afternoon sitting in a hammock. I counted about ten hammocks today. Apparently sitting in a hammock on a nice day is a popular thing to do.

Since I was thinking I'd mastered the basics of responsive design, I thought I'd try something a little fancier this afternoon. Apparently, I didn't master all that much. I was trying to add drop down menus to my rudimentary mobile friendly site and even watching the tutorial video three times didn't help. This is a lot different than Dreamweaver.

When I was getting groceries today, I stopped by the pharmacy and filled the prescription the oral surgeon gave me in January. The prescription consisted of an antibiotic and two painkillers. Great. So, having your wisdom teeth removed is going to hurt and there is a risk of infection. I'm still not very happy about having this tooth removed. I'm a very symmetrical person and it's going to drive me crazy to have more teeth on one side of my mouth than the other. You might wonder why I don't just have the wisdom tooth on the opposite side of my mouth removed too, but removing more teeth than absolutely necessary would also drive me crazy. I'll just be glad when this is over.

Dot seems to be in a bad mood tonight. She's been barking at me and Dash for most of the evening. I don't know what she wants. I've taken her outside three or four times and she just stands there. I think she's frustrated that although she is much stronger now, she is still not strong enough to do the things she wants. It would probably be frustrating for anyone to get a taste of freedom and then realize you are still not really free.

I'll probably go back to the gym tomorrow for the first time in ages. I used to get a lot of exercise walking the dogs, but now that both Dot and Dash are taking short, very slow walks, these excursions hardly even register on my UP band. I'm definitely not getting my 12,000 steps a day anymore. I could always mow the grass tomorrow, but I think I'll wait until the ground gets dry again. I don't want the lawn mower to get stuck in the mud like that ambulance I saw this morning.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 1956

Good grief. We're under a tornado warning again. As soon as I heard the news, I began recharging my phone, laptop, and tablet. Strong storms and power outages go hand in hand in this part of the country. I'm slowly learning to stay prepared. We're eating dinner in a hurry too, in case the oven goes out. I wish the dogs had taken my advice and taken an early walk. They just stuck their nose out the door and didn't even go outside. I guess they could smell what was coming.

I feel better about Dash's limp. I called his oncologist today and asked about the possibility of bone cancer. He told me that it was very unlikely that Dash's type of cancer would ever spread to the bone. He also said it was unlikely that Dash would succumb to a completely different type of cancer at this point in time. It seems increasingly likely that the limp is caused entirely by the torn paw pad. The oncologist said that his own dog had injured a paw pad once and that it took several weeks to heal. "Give it time," he told me and asked me to call him again in several weeks if Dash's condition didn't improve. This specialist is always very busy. I was amazed that he spent ten minutes talking with me. Dot and Dash have some great doctors. I"m convinced that they get far better medical care than I do myself.

I spent most of the day designing a supposedly simple brochure for a client. They want to print the brochure using Vistaprint, but for some inexplicable reason Vistaprint won't accept Quark Express files. Why? I've been using Quark for decades. This venerable software used to be the gold standard for print designers. Apparently the software has fallen out of favor. I had to design the whole thing in Photoshop instead, which certainly wouldn't have been my first choice. It is cumbersome to have all these layers. The original brochure I was updating was done in PowerPoint and a lot of the images were created in Adobe Illustrator, but saved as a PDF. It was a mess. The actual design was pretty simple, but converting all the files to the proper size and format and remembering what layer they were on took forever. I hope everyone likes what I did today, because I definitely don't want to spend tomorrow doing everything over again.

I reluctantly confirmed my appointment for dental surgery next week. I was very tempted to postpone the surgery again, but I've got to get this done sometime. Since I was originally scheduled to have the wisdom teeth removed in late January, I guess I've delayed things long enough. I hope having this tooth removed solves the problems I've been having, but somehow I doubt that it will. Once you start going to the dentist, you have to keep going to the dentist.

While I was eating breakfast this morning, a group of guys at a nearby table were arguing about whether the original Star Wars trilogy should be viewed before or after the three prequel movies. There was a heated  discussion about whether the movies should be viewed in chronological order or in the order they were shot. Some said four, five, six, one, two, three. While others said, one, two, three four, five, six. They were serious. At another table, a group of older guys were talking about man caves. This pretty well summed up the state of the world today for me. It's hopeless.

I had weird dreams last night and woke up in the middle of the night worrying about Dash's leg. I hope I sleep better tonight. Actually, I'd like to sleep the entire weekend.

Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 1955

I had lots of small problems to resolve today. Individually, they were trivial, but together they wore me out. I was jumping back and forth between Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver all day. As many of you know, I don't multitask well. I would always rather have one complex project than a bunch of little easy projects that share the same deadline. Although some of today's projects seemed meaningless, they were all important to my clients, so I jumped back and forth until it was time to take Dot for her weekly physical therapy session.

I've got to come up with a better way to transport Dot to the vet. Traffic was bad today and twice I had to put on my brakes hard enough to cause Dot to slide forward in her hammock and get stuck in the foot-well between the rear seats and the back of the front seats. The hammock keeps her from actually falling into this hole, but she can still get stuck if her weight pulls her forward and the hammock dips into the foot-well. She got stuck at a busy intersection today and I had trouble crossing three lanes of traffic so I could pull over and move her out of the foot-well and back to her seat. Dot was squealing and whining the whole time I was stuck in traffic. It was stressful for both of us. I'm thinking of abandoning the hammock and just putting the rear seats down again and having a large flat surface in the back of the car. She's getting strong enough now that I think she's just about ready to start riding in the car again the way she used to.

I've got to find time to go to a Babies R Us store and get some of those baby tube socks with rubberized feet that Dash can wear on his walks. The torn paw pad is still tender and he walks a lot better when I put a sock on the injured foot. The problem is that the short dog socks we got at a pet store don't work very well. Every time Dash scratches the earth with his rear feet, the sock falls off. Longer socks would definitely stay on better. One more thing to add to my "to do" list.

This has been a long week. I'm beginning to understand responsive website design. Dot is beginning to regain her independence. It's still tiring though. All the new knowledge in my head is starting to give me a headache and even though Dot is able to walk around the house without her harness, I've still got to watch her like a hawk. Dash is still limping too. There's more rainwater to remove from the roof, but I'm not even going to bother with that until this weekend. What's the point? It might rain again tomorrow anyway. Our excessive amounts of rain this Spring has caused me a lot of trouble, but the wet, muddy weather definitely has a silver lining. The new landscaping in the back yard looks great and I haven't had to use the sprinklers very much.

I'm looking forward to going out for breakfast tomorrow. It's nice to have a little quiet time with no barking dogs, irritating telemarketing calls, or dishes to wash. It's amazing how that little hour and a half of tasty tranquility can make the entire day seem better.

Wyatt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 1954

Slowly but surely, life is getting back to normal. Dash still has a limp, but he is walking better than he was yesterday. Dot is still a little unsteady, but she is getting stronger everyday. I let her walk around the house without her harness for a while today and she seemed to enjoy it. It's a bit of a problem walking the dogs now, since both have leg problems, but we're doing OK. The big breakthrough is that Dot is confident enough now that her separation anxiety has subsided. I can leave her alone for several hours at a time and she is content to just rest on her dog bed. This allows me to run small errands like going to the post office or bank without worrying so much. To be on the safe side, I always leave Dot in a gated section of the hallway and take her harness off, so she can't get tangled up in something. I put a comfortable bed in this safe area and Dot is fine. She slept a lot before her injury and she still sleeps a lot now.

My website revisions have slowed down this week, but I'm trying to use my time wisely.  I'm still working on getting up to speed about responsive design, so when clients eventually discover that they've dropped in the search rankings, I'll have a solution for them. I learned how to apply transitions and animations across several platforms today. All I have to show for my several hours of study is a single line of type on my company website that slowly fades in and grows to its final size as the site loads. Although this doesn't really prove anything, it's the principal of the thing. I can move objects around and the effect stays the same whether it is viewed on a large desktop monitor or a small phone. Cool. If I contine to learn one new thing a day, I should be pretty good at this responsive design stuff by Summer.

An insurance guy came out to take pictures of the house this morning. He said that needed pictures to substantiate that the construction was load bearing brick. Jeez. I told them that house was constructed using brick bearing walls almost twenty years ago. They must not have believed me. It's weird that it took them twenty years to come out and take a picture though.

I got some more K-cup coffee pods in the mail today. I had written Keurig a while back and asked them what to do if one of the cups split during brewing. One of the cups actually did split and I ended up getting coffee grounds in my cup, but I didn't expect to receive a whole box of K-cups for a single defective cup. I wasn't even mad when I wrote Keurig. I just wondered if I needed to clean the machine after the pod broke. I like this company. It's a nicely designed product that's made in America. The coffee tastes great. And the service is pretty good. What's not to like?

I've got to stop listening to weather predictions I see on my Facebook page. They're almost always wrong. According to my Facebook friends, we were supposed to get huge storms and maybe even tornadoes tonight. I walked the dogs extra early to avoid this ominous storm. I also ate early to avoid a potential power outage. I'm not complaining, but so far it is still dry outside. I think the entire storm system passed about fifty miles south of us. Of course, things could change by morning. This is Texas after all.
Mindy is today's Dalmatian of the Day


Watch of the Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 1953

It's been a long day. Dash woke up limping and he's still limping this evening. I was hoping our vet could come up with a quick fix during his annual exam this morning, but a torn paw pad is painful and Dash will probably continue limping until the pain goes away. The vet cleaned the wound and then glued the split pad back together with medical suture glue. This will keep the cut from getting dirty or infected, but it will still be painful for a while. It's going to be tough on the little guy. He loves to walk and can't seem to keep his protective sock on for more than a minute. The rest of Dash's exam went well, although he does have high blood pressure and is going to have to start taking more or less the same blood pressure medication that I take.

On the way home from the vet, Dash peed in the car. He's never had an accident in the car before. I was really surprised, since he had already peed on his morning walk and again while he was at the vet. Oh, well. I reminded Dash that he and his sister were the reason I can't have nice things anymore, and then proceeded to clean up the mess when we got home. This wouldn't have been a big deal if Dash hadn't lifted his leg and made a direct hit on one of the speakers mounted in the rear door. Since the grill cover won't come off, I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to clean the speaker enclosure. The car will probably smell for a long time.

As I updated websites today, I kept wondering how much trouble it will be to convert these sites into mobile friendly versions. It's almost inevitable that I've have to convert all the sites I manage at some point. I"m not looking forward to this. Many of my clients are fond of their old designs and they're not going to be happy that these familiar workhorses will eventually have to be retired. I worked on my own test site a bit more today, but it was slow going. Just because something looks easy on the tutorial video, doesn't mean that it actually is easy. I learned some new things and made a few refinements today, but I'm still not ready for prime time.

Dot was really good while I was at the vet with Dash, This is the first time I've left her alone for any length of time and she did fine. I checked her on the baby monitor and she was just sleeping calmly on her dog bed. Actually, she seemed better behaved while I was away than when I'm home. When I'm here, she's either barking or getting herself stuck in tight places. I could just keep her penned while I'm working, but she's much happier being able to move from room to room. The bedroom and the office are pretty safe, but if she heads for the kitchen, I make sure to follow her. That's where she always seems to get stuck.

Dash's bad leg certainly complicates things. It took me forever to get both dogs walked today. Dot walks very, very slow and Dash seemed to lose his protective sock about every twenty yards. The dogs still want to walk, but they're not at the top of their game right now. If something happens to my own leg, we're really going to be in trouble.

I hope the dogs are walking well tomorrow. I hope I sleep well tonight. Neither of these things happened today. That's probably why everyone is so tired.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 1952

Jeez. Just as Dot is starting to walk again, Dash developed a limp. I noticed that something was wrong on his morning walk. Dozens of things can cause a dog to limp, so I was hoping that he just stepped on a thorn or something. The limp got worse as the day progressed unfortunately, so I began to get worried. I checked to see if he'd torn a cruciate. I felt his spine to see if there were any sensitive areas. I massaged his leg to see if anything made him flinch. Everything seemed normal. I always worry about dogs developing hip dysplasia as they get older. Dalmatians frequently tear cruciate ligaments as they grow older as well. I was expecting the worst, and then while he was sleeping, I noticed that Dash had cut one of his paw pads on the leg he was favoring. A cut or torn paw pad is not something to be taken lightly, but I was very relieved when I saw this cut. I'm almost certain that this is what was causing him to limp. Like many male dogs, Dash scratches the ground with his rear paws after peeing. He does this quite vigorously and he must have encountered a sharp rock or piece of glass. We'll find out how to fix the cut paw tomorrow when Dash has his annual exam. For the time being, I'm having him wear one of Dot's traction socks to keep the cut clean.

I made a breakthrough today in my ongoing effort to understand responsive web design. I've been using my own company site as the guinea pig to test out new ideas. It's been a slow process. I'll break part of the site and have to undo everything so the site works again before I try another idea. If I didn't take these slow painstaking steps, my errors would start to compound and pretty soon it would be impossible to get the site back to it's original state. I must be learning something, because I was finally able to put up a landing page that didn't look like shit. After several hours of tweaks and refinements, I actually got the page to function. By the end of the day, I had a site that passed Google's "mobile friendly" tester.  I've still got a long way to go before I'm ready to do this for clients, but "mobile friendly" is not a word I fear anymore. I can do this.

I wish I had my old mail carrier back. I used to have a fabulous mail carrier, but the post office changed her route and gave our neighborhood to someone else. I am not impressed. I've been waiting for a signature required package and it was supposed to arrive today. I don't like signature required packages because they always arrive when I'm taking a shower or am out in the back yard with the dogs. Today's mail carriers don't try very hard to find you. They leave a form telling you to go pick up your package at the post office. I left a note for the mail carrier saying she should call my cell phone if I didn't answer the door and to be sure to knock, because the doorbell isn't very loud. I needn't have bothered. While I was updating websites this morning, I saw the mail carrier out the office window just throw the package on the ground below the mailbox. She didn't even bother to get a signature. Little things like this drive me nuts.

Dot had one of her best days in a long time. She was strong and confident around the house and when we took our daily walk she didn't want to turn around. It probably helped that the weather was nice and cool today, but it wasn't just the weather. Dot is feeling better these days. Janet and I walked both dogs together this evening since Dash needed to take a short walk because of his inured paw. Dash walked slower than normal because of the sock he was wearing on his rear leg and Dot seemed visably pleased that she could keep up with him. She was even walking faster than Dash at several points. There was this look in her eye that clearly said "I'm back."

Wilson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 1951

A few miles down the road, what is being billed as the world's largest award show concert is taking place right now. I would have enjoyed being in the audience at tonight's Academy of Country Music Awards if it weren't for the fact that I hate crowds, avoid freeway traffic at all costs, and am convinced that everything that takes place at Texas Stadium is hugely overpriced. The show looks pretty good on television though. Every time I see something like this, it reminds me that country has become the new mainstream rock and roll. There isn't a lot of difference between many of the groups that performed tonight and old school rockers like The Eagles, The Byrds, and Bon Jovi. That's OK by me. I always liked The Eagles, The Byrds, and Bon Jovi.

Instead of going to a live concert with 60,000 of my neighbors, I went up on the roof for the second day in a row and removed the water from last night's thunderstorm. Hopefully, today's efforts will last a bit longer than my futile effort yesterday. I hate doing this over and over, but I don't know of any alternative. Water is heavy and if I don't remove it quickly, the excessive weight will cause the roof to sag even more. Maybe I'll start going back to the gym when the rainy season is over. For now, this is all the exercise I need.

In case you're wondering, Dot and Dash were really quite good during yesterday's power outage and severe thunderstorms. They stayed quietly with me in the office during the entire event and didn't panic at all. It's a shame that they only listen to me when they're scared, but at least they listen sometimes. The power was only out for two hours, but when measured in dog years, it probably seemed longer.

I started creating a little test site this afternoon to see if I understand responsive web design. I didn't get very far. There's a lot of code involved to get a website to automatically resize and change its layout for tablets and smartphones. It would help if I understood Cascading Style Sheets better. I understand the basics and use CSS to set fonts, background colors and other simple tasks, but that's about it. This is much more complex. Even automation tools like Webflow and Macaw that are supposed to make the coding process easier are pretty complex. I feel like the last guy riding a horse when everybody else began driving automobiles.

I shouldn't complain though. I doubt that I'm going to be flooded with new web design jobs, even if I do learn to make them responsive. I'm doing this mostly for my own benefit. I'll practice a bit more with the fancy code tomorrow, but most of my day will be spent making updates to a very traditional website I created about ten years ago. Hey, it still works. That's more than I can say for myself these days.

Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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