Thursday, December 8, 2016

Day 2551

Remind me to never move up north. We woke up to temperatures in the low 30's with a brisk wind. It might as well have been 40 below zero to me. Even though I went to high school in Alaska and have spent a Winter in Idaho, I have completely lost my tolerance for cold. We put Dash's quilted fleece coat on before we walked this morning, but couldn't figure out how to put a coat over Dot's bulky harness. Neither dog seemed to mind the cold. Actually, they seemed to enjoy it. I quickly learned to keep a warm coat next to the door in case Dot needed to go outside. She spent just as much time wandering around aimlessly as she does in warmer weather. I followed dutifully behind, holding up her rear legs, while whispering "for the love of god, please hurry up and pee," to myself.

Dash had a vet appointment this morning. He's starting to have trouble hopping in the car, so it's only a matter of time before his legs start to go out as well. All Dalmatians seem to have this problem as they get older. This wasn't what we went the the vet for, however. All Dash needed today was to get his anal glands expressed. We need to do this at least once a month. Nobody knows why his glands fill up so quickly, but he's had this problem all his life. I'm getting better at scheduling. I made an early appointment so we'd be away while Dot was sleeping. It worked well. She was still asleep when we returned.

Luckily, the furnace is working great this year. Even though it was near freezing outside, the house was toasty warm. I stayed inside as much as I could. There were several website updates that needed attention today, but there was nothing very demanding. I slowly and methodically worked my way through each update and found that I still had time to install the Pro Tools software I downloaded yesterday when I was done.

Avid software updates are always a nightmare. You have to make sure to delete all previous software versions before you start, including lots of pesky little invisible files. Avid has their own uninstaller program, but it doesn't work half the time and you have to do a Google search and discover how other people have learned to delete the files manually. There is also Avid's complex licensing procedure. My iLok dongle often says I don't have the proper software license, even though I really do. When you jump through all the hoops and finally get the software installed and running, you often get a warning message saying that you don't have enough computer memory to actually use it. My Pro Tools 12 installation was a success, but somehow I lost all the plugins from my previous version. Oh, well. I'll deal with that problem later.

I found an old B&H gift card that was going to expire next week and used it to buy another UP3 fitness tracker. The price of these things has dropped dramatically, so that probably means Jawbone is going to discontinue them soon. It's a shame that Jawbone can't seem to make a durable product. The UP3 gets terrible reviews because the clasp is poorly designed and the band inevitably falls off and gets lost. I'm definitely not the only one this has happened to.

I was sad to hear that John Glenn died today. It was hard to believe he was 95. He looked so young when I watched Friendship Seven rocket into orbit in 1962. This was only five years after the Russians launched Sputnik 1 in 1957. I remember that too. Things happened quickly when going into space was a priority. Now we're moving at a snail's pace. I wonder if I'll still be alive when we finally make it to Mars?

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day 2550

These days are getting longer and longer. The dogs are typically pretty good in the morning. After breakfast and a long walk, they're usually content to sleep the rest of the morning. This brief quiet time is when I get most of my work done. Things begin to fall apart after lunch. Dot will usually sleep until 1 PM and occasionally as late as 2 PM. After that, she is determined to stay up for the rest of the day. This would be great if she could walk, but she can't. She has perfected a pitiful look and bark that summons me from my desk every time she needs something. All afternoon we walk from her bed to the water bowl in the kitchen and then out the back door. Sometimes she pees when we go outside, but usually she just pees in her bed. Every time she sits or lays down I have to make sure there's a puppy training pad strategically positioned under her.

Dash gets bored now because I don't have time anymore to take him on brisk five mile walks like I used to. When dogs get bored, all they want to do is eat. I've had to split their dinner into two smaller courses spaced an hour and a half apart so we can make it through the afternoon in one piece. It may seem silly, but it works. Usually, Dot and Dash will go back to sleep for a short while after the first half of their dinner. This is when I run errands and go to the post office. After they finish their two part dinner, they both get an evening walk. Dot only walks to the end of the street, but her short walk takes just as long as it takes to walk Dash several miles. Lord, that girl is slow.

Janet usually helps with the evening walks, but she's really busy during the holiday season and often gets home late. Now is as good a time as any to learn how to make this work by myself. When Janet leaves to visit her family for Christmas, there won't be any choice. Walking Dot alone has been slow going so far. She likes to follow Dash, but there is no way I can walk the two dogs together while holding up Dot's rear end with the harness. We're learning though. We did a little  better today than we did yesterday.

I finally figured out why my fitness tracker app was still tracking steps even after I lost it and the battery ran out. It turns out that the UP band app on my phone also receives information from my Apple watch. It wasn't ghost data after all. It was just information from my watch. Cloud computing has made everything so interconnected and complex that I have no idea what is going on anymore. My appointment calendar seems to be everywhere now. Text messages appear on my watch and I can answer my phone in the car by pressing a button on the steering wheel. Who knew that the watch was sending information all over the place too.

I tried to download some new Avid software before my upgrade subscription runs out in a few days. I forgot my password to the download site and had to request a new one. After I finally got the lengthy download started, our Internet went out. I had to start the download all over again after I rebooted the U-Verse router and re-established the connection. Was the latest version of Pro Tools worth all this trouble? Maybe. I didn't use Pro Tools at all this year, but next year I might start getting audio jobs again. You never know.

I'd love for tomorrow to be peaceful and productive, but I'm probably just going to be spending most of my time cleaning up poop. We have our tree up now, but I'm definitely not feeling the Christmas spirit yet.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 2549

Sometimes I wonder why you guys continue reading. Very little happens these days. I'm OK with that because I'm afraid the next big news will be bad news. I still have the occasional writing and website assignments, but mostly life revolves around keeping Dot comfortable. She continues to slowly deteriorate and there is very little I can do at this point to change the outcome of this story. Although Dot is weak, she still seems happy. Often, I think she is happier than I am. I could learn a lot from her determination and resilience. I don't have many strong desires anymore, but I'm determined to help Dot continue her journey as long as she's willing. Who knows. Maybe she'll make it to her 17th birthday.

Today was mostly spent avoiding the rain and trying to stay warm. In the Summer I always think it would be nice to move to Wyoming, but when cold weather arrives I have second thoughts about northern Winters. Maybe I've already found the best place to live. Texas has a low cost of living compared to many states. It only snows a few times a year. There are bugs and snakes here, but it's not nearly as bad as Florida. I really think the perfect place to live only exists in my imagination.

One of my Dalmatian Rescue friends gave me her old UP band when I lost mine last weekend. She said it was broken, but thought I might be able to fix it. It didn't want to sync with my phone at all and there were some weird error lights flashing. I'd seen these error lights before on an earlier UP band I'd owned and thought I'd try a hard reset. The reset made the error lights go away but it still wouldn't sync with my phone. Since this looked like an early model band, I thought I'd try the very old Jawbone app on my first generation iPad. This worked like a charm. The fitness band synced with the old app and started counting steps again. It was actually kind of enjoyable to work my way through this process. I like fixing things.

Since it is nearing the end of the year, renewal notices are starting to arrive for the subscription software I've been forced to use. The main two I need to decide whether to renew are Pro Tools and Avid Media Composer. I renewed my license last year, but never used either application all year. Will I use Pro Tools next year? It's hard to decide these things. The software licenses are kind of pricey, but much less expensive than letting them lapse and having to buy the software all over again. I've been keeping current on business software because I refuse to acknowledge that my business is dying. It is basically finished though. Kaput. It's hard to imagine finding new clients at this point. Someday, I'll have to come to grips with this.

I paid some bills today and made a few quick calculations to make sure I still have enough left over to pay my property tax later this month. Christmas is coming and Dot has another big exam at the cancer center next week. Those bills won't come until January though, so I guess I'm OK. It would be nice to have a month with no big bills at all, but that's not going to happen.

Hopefully, the weather will improve a bit tomorrow. It was hard getting either dog to walk today. Rain or shine, tomorrow will probably be very similar to today.

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 2548

Most of the photo equipment has been put away. I'm glad I went to the storage warehouse early in the morning, because the skies got darker and darker as the day progressed. I managed to unload the equipment, pick up some more Tramadol for Dot at the vet, and fill the car with gas before it began to rain in earnest. I had the usual rainy day problems with the dogs when I returned home, but we're all gradually getting used to the bad weather.

While I was packing up the photo equipment, I thought I'd clean out a closet, because I was convinced that I might have dropped the fitness tracker there on Saturday morning while I was getting dressed. I uncovered a lot of dust and some very nice clothes I'd completely forgotten about, but there was no UP band to be seen. I think the illusive tracker is gone for good.

When I was at the storage warehouse, I noticed that the place had a new manager again. Being the manager of a storage warehouse must not be a very good job, because there seems to be a huge turnover. This new manager didn't seem to give a shit, because the place was filthy. The last manager was friendly and kept the place spotless. I was hoping he'd stay a while. No such luck.

I was glad I didn't have to unload heavy equipment in the rain, but maybe I should have done my website revisions first this morning. When I finally got settled in at the computer and started to work, both dogs decided that they needed attention instead. The revisions I was making today were complicated and every time I got interrupted by Dot, I would forget what I was doing and had to start over. I eventually got the client's site working again, but I started to feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill before the job was finished. What should have taken me one hour, took me close to four instead.

Janet and I went to a Christmas party at the Presidential Library this evening. The food was amazingly good, but there were some odd touches to the evening. Even though there was a full dinner being served, there were no dinner knives anywhere. Everyone was cutting their meat with a fork. Maybe this no knife thing is some sort of secret service rule when there is a president in the vicinity. It did seem weird to watch a lot of old people trying to cut their prime rib with a fork. "We're not this old, are we," Janet whispered to me at one point. Yep, I'm afraid we are. I watched one poor gentleman at our table put whipped cream on a cinnamon stick and try to eat it for dessert before his wife told him that the cinnamon stick was meant to stir your hot chocolate with. I was too smart to eat a cinnamon stick for dessert. I had some brightly colored cookies instead, because I knew they would photograph well. It was too dark and rainy to photograph anything else today.

Rainy days increase the likelihood of an accident in the house. Since it was exceptionally rainy today, I had pee and poop to clean up. Dot's last accident happened just before we were getting ready to leave for dinner. I tried to clean up the poop without getting any on my suit. Somehow, everything worked out fine. Incontinence definitely forces you to keep things in perspective.

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

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Day 2547

Today was pretty hectic. One of the larger dogs we photographed tore the muslin backdrop. One of the smaller dogs pooped on Santa's red suit. In between, we had a lot of dogs that didn't really understand the whole concept of pet pictures. I'm sure that most of them would have rather gone to a dog park today. Eventually, we managed to get good pictures of almost everybody though. You just have to be patient.

There were no cats today, but there were a lot of Dalmatians. Quite a few were alumni from our rescue program. It was almost like a Dalmatian Rescue reunion. We saw young dogs that we had rescued a few weeks ago and old dogs that we had rescued over a decade ago. It was nice to see that all of these dogs had fabulous homes with people who really loved them. I guess I'll do this again next year. It sure is tiring though. I didn't even bother to put away my equipment when I got home tonight.

I still can't find my UP fitness band. The odd thing is that it appears to still be counting steps, even though no one is wearing it. My first thought was that one of the dogs might have eaten the band, but Janet said this was ridiculous. It is pretty unlikely, since neither dog has any interest in eating things like this. My second thought was that somebody stole the band, but that is unlikely too, since the band connects to my phone using short range Bluetooth. If somebody else was wearing the band, it wouldn't pair with my phone anymore. My third thought was that the UP band never actually measured real steps in the first place. My phone can measure steps too. What if the UP app used the measuring sensors in my phone and the tracker itself was just a little rubber bracelet with flashing LED lights? I'd never know the difference. The battery on the tracker is dead now, so it stopped sending  information sometime this afternoon. I may never find an answer to this mystery.

It's going to take quite a while to put all the photo equipment away tomorrow. I had some minor electrical problems over the weekend and I really ought to test everything carefully to make sure it will work the next time we have a Dalmatian Rescue photo event. I have a feeling that we won't be doing another photo shoot anytime soon. All the volunteers agreed that we're getting older and these events aren't getting any easier. It's hard to believe that we used to have photo events for Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, and sometimes even Halloween. We'll probably do Christmas pictures again next year, but it won't be a marathon like it used to be. Two events a year is plenty.

Janet and I are going to a Christmas party tomorrow. The event is kind of formal, so Janet told me to be sure to air out a suit before we go. Like that would make a difference. It wouldn't make any difference if I air out, press, or take a suit to the dry cleaners. I'm still going to look like an old guy wearing a suit I bought twenty years ago. I suspect that it doesn't really matter. Most of the people at this party will be even older than I am. One good thing about old people parties is that they don't last very long. I feel pretty safe leaving Dot for a while. We should be back home in less than two hours.

It's been a long day, but everybody survived and maybe a few people will have a better Christmas card this year as a result of our Santa Paws photo shoots. Tomorrow, it's back to drinking banana, strawberry smoothies for breakfast and cleaning up dog poop.

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

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day 2546

I was surprised that our first photo shoot went as well as it did today. When I got up to load the car, it was cold and raining. I took a shower last night, because I knew there wouldn't be time this morning. By the time I got to our location, there was barely time to set up before our first customers arrived. Nevertheless, everything went well. For the most part the pets we photographed were well behaved and their owners were friendly. We photographed almost as many cats today as dogs today. When we started doing Christmas pictures for Dalmatian Rescue, it was almost unheard of to bring a cat to one of these events. Now, cats wearing costumes are everywhere. We even had a rat today. The owner said it was a gerbil, but it sure looked like a rat to me. Several families with small children used the occasion to take a family portrait and most agreed that crashing a pet picture event was a lot easier than waiting in line so their kids could see a shopping mall Santa.

I lost my fitness tracker today. Who know when the thing fell off my wrist, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I was pretty sure that I lost the UP band while I was loading the car this morning, but after carefully retracing my steps, I couldn't find anything. When I got home from the photo shoot, I noticed that the tracker still appeared to be paired to my phone. The app showed that it was still counting steps too and even measuring a heart beat. It was almost as if the thing was still on my wrist, but had become invisible. The whole thing is baffling. I wasted a huge amount of time this evening looking for the wayward fitness band, but I still can't find it. The app shows that the battery has just about run out. Where is this thing? When the battery goes dead, it will disappear on the app and become even harder to find. I did find my reading glasses while I was looking for the missing band, so I guess there is still hope.

Tomorrow's photo shoot location if much further away than today's, so I will need to get up even earlier. I wish I could just leave all the equipment in the car to save time, but I don't have that much faith in my fellow man. I don't ever leave anything unattended in the car anymore. Today was busy, but I think even more people have signed up for Santa photos tomorrow. I need to stay focused and quit worrying about the fitness band. It will either turn up or it won't. At this point there isn't much I can do about it.

All in all, things went pretty well today. One of the flash triggers broke, but the other one worked just fine. Everyone loved the new backdrop we got this year. No dogs have peed on it yet either. So far, so good. Dot and Dash did well today, although I don't think Janet enjoyed staying home all day to keep an eye on them. She enjoys these special pet picture events more than I do. It's too bad we couldn't have just switched roles today.

I think my obsession with the missing fitness band reveals a disturbing character flaw. A weird mystery will capture my attention far easier than the ongoing needs of daily life. Maybe that's why I spend more time trying to figure out when Dot is going to poop next than I do trying to solicit new business. I keep trying to predict things that just can't be predicted. And when is the FedEx guy going to deliver that package anyway? That at least should be completely predictable. In the end, I want everything in life to run like clockwork and it just doesn't work that way. Even my watches don't run like clockwork.

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 2545

Everything seemed so busy today. The restaurant was crowded when I went out for breakfast this morning. There was a long line at the pharmacy when I went to pick up a prescription. Even the AT&T store was crowded when I went to exchange a broken TV remote control. I asked the pharmacist why she thought there was such a long line today and she said today was the day when all the Christmas parties started and people were running their errands early so they could go to a party tonight. Could be. I wouldn't know. I haven't been to a Christmas party in years.

Here's how life has changed. I've exchanged TV remote controls before. These things seem to break frequently. It used to be that the store had a big box of remotes back in the stock room. They'd give you a new remote out of the box and throw the bad one away. Now, a guy fills out a lengthy requisition form on an iPad and they ship you the new remote from somewhere in California. When the new remote arrives, you are supposed to return the defective remote in the same box and ship it back to California. Wouldn't it be easier to just keep a box on remote controls in the back of the store?

While I was filling out my application for a new remote control, the sales guy casually mentioned that my U-verse service was going to be discontinued next year. Did I want to sign up for the new replacement service? Jeez. It's taken me years to get U-verse to run reliably. Now that everything is finally pretty dependable, they're discontinuing it. "I'm sure you'll like our new fiber optic service even better," the sales guy told me. That wouldn't be hard, since I never liked U-verse at all. I would have discontinued U-verse several years ago if it weren't for the fact that Time Warner is even worse.  Who knows. Maybe the new fiber optic service is great. I bet I'm going to have problems getting my office network working again though. It's almost inevitable that some of my old equipment won't want to play nice with AT&T's new equipment.

I've been trying to get ready for tomorrow's photo shoot. The first problem is always finding everything. Equipment I don't use very often has a tendency to disappear. It's important to have enough fully charged batteries to make it through the day as well. It's fairly easy to remember the camera batteries. It's the little things like the batteries for the flash triggers that I tend to forget. I always buy a new backdrop before these Christmas photo shoots, mostly so repeat customers won't have the same pictures year after year. When Janet and I unfolded the new muslin tonight, it didn't look like it was the right size.  We measured everything and it was the exactly same size as last year's backdrop. Maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me.

I was working on a new article today when I realized that the subject seems very familiar. I looked through my files and it appears that I wrote exactly the same article last Spring. Did the client forget that we'd already covered this subject, or am I the one who's missing something? I sent the client an e-mail saying that we'd probably done this already, but I haven't heard anything back yet. Hope I didn't talk myself out of a job. This article would have been very easy to write.

I'll be real glad when these holiday photo shoots are over with. Each year, the equipment seems heavier and my aches and pains get worse. I thought last year might be my last, but here I am again. Janet is staying home this year, so I wont have to worry about Dot. All I have to worry about is whether I make it through the day.

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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Day 2544

I never know what to expect when I open my e-mail in the morning. Today there were more new assignments than I'd had all week. It was going to be a busy day. After taking Dash on a long walk and finishing breakfast, I got started on a lengthy website revision. It seemed like I'd just changed this site recently, but I guess it was time to change it again. It's not my role to question these things.

The dogs were good this morning, so I was able to work quickly and efficiently. Before noon, I was ready to get started on a new writing assignment. Neither of today's assignments were very exciting, but I was glad to have them. It's still important to have something to do besides cleaning up dog poop.

The replacement parts I ordered for the Waterpik and the LunaTik iPhone case I ordered on Black Friday both came in the mail today. I love getting things in the mail. If I had more money, I'd order even more stuff I don't really need. I think the main reason I started collecting watches many years ago was that I liked getting little packages in the mail. I was never a very orthodox collector. I seldom bought expensive or traditionally "collectible" watches. I preferred obscure brands with odd looking dials. People always worry about being scammed when buying watches online. I never worried at all, because who is ever going to go to the trouble to counterfeit a cheap watch. Whenever a package comes in the mail these days, it reminds me of my collecting days. Eventually, I realized that most of the fun was over as soon as I opened the package. I don't collect anymore, but I make no apologies for the money I've wasted on useless stuff. When you work alone for years at a time, you've got to use your imagination to keep your day interesting.

If you saw my closet, you'd probably think I collected coats. In my mind, I'm just being practical. Each coat represents a ten degree difference in temperature. Today I picked one of my warmer coats for our morning walk. This was the first time this year that the temperature was in the 30's when I woke up. Nothing froze, but it got pretty close. I dread the day when the temperature actually does drop below freezing. The garden hose on the back porch has become an essential component in my continuing efforts to keep Dot clean. It is much easier to take Dot outside and clean the poop off her butt with a hose and then dry her off with a bath towel than it is to try and accomplish the same thing inside using wet rags.

I've been wondering what to do with the extra garbage can the city sent me last month. One of my neighbors solved the problem for me. They stole it. Why they would want a broken garbage can is beyond me, but at least it isn't sitting behind my house in the alley anymore. I've actually been having pretty good luck getting my trash emptied recently. Maybe there's a new driver on our route. I haven't had any problems in well over a month, but I'm still superstitious. When I took the trash out this evening, I made sure to place it in my lucky spot. If a car is ever parks in this spot on Thursday night, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Dot is sleeping now, but she still hasn't pooped since early this morning. It makes me nervous. This is an accident just waiting to happen.

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