Monday, January 16, 2017

Day 2590

I've grown to hate vacuuming. There are fifteen rugs that continually get sucked into the vacuum cleaner brush. There are foam pads covered with blankets for Dot to rest in almost every room. There is an X Pen in the dining room, so Dot can be part of the family while we are eating without falling over every ten seconds. All these things need to be moved whenever I clean. It used to be so easy to clean the house before the brick floors were covered with rugs and dog blankets. All it took was a few minutes with a wet mop and the place was spotless. If you wanted the floors to look really nice, a coat of wax would have them shining for six months.

Unfortunately, bricks are about the worst thing imaginable for a dog that has trouble standing. Dot couldn't walk around the house at all without the rugs that give her a little traction. The rugs help give Dot some mobility and I appreciate how they have improved her quality of life. They sure are ugly though. All this clutter is almost impossible to clean. Dirt gets under the rugs. They seem to attract leaves and debris like a magnet. Dot has trouble chewing now and bits of food fall out of her mouth long after she has finished eating. Frequently, a rug will get peed on, and occasionally pooped on as well. We picked sizes that will fit in the washing machine when necessary, but it is still difficult to keep the place from looking like a barn.

I did my best to clean the house today. The dogs followed me around and got in the way. They both used to be scared of the vacuum cleaner, but now they are strangely attracted to it. Since this is the season where the dogs track leaves into the house from the back yard, I pulled the covers off the air conditioner vents and cleaned all the leaves and dog hair out of the vent registers. What should have been a fifteen minute job took well over two hours. The sad thing was that I didn't have anything better to do anyway. There is still a writing assignment that I haven't finished yet, but I can do that tomorrow.

I kept thinking it was Sunday. I guess if I spend the day doing Sunday chores, it's going to seem like Sunday. I knew that I had some prescription to pick up at the pharmacy on Monday, but of course I'll be picking them up tomorrow, when I will resume my weekday writing assignment as well. I'll probably be confused about what day it is for the rest of the week.

At this time of year it's hard to find something interesting to photograph every day. The trees are bare. Most of the small animals we encounter on our walks are in hiding. There won't be any wildflowers until April. Even sunsets are hard to capture because Dash doesn't like to walk by the shoreline anymore. I think I've photographed every square inch of the park by now, but occasionally there are still surprises. I haven't photographed a coyote yet, even though I have seen them from time to time. When I'm with the dogs, flowers and sunsets are much easier to deal with.

Tomorrow, it's back to work. There are articles to write and a meeting I need to attend. Meetings, especially long ones, are especially difficult for me now, but I think Janet will be able to come home from work early. I continue to take things one day at a time. I just don't know what day it is.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Day 2589

I love fog. We've had foggy mornings for the past several days and I like the way it allows me to look at the ordinary things I see every day from a completely different perspective. Fog has a way of separating the foreground from the background, forcing you to look at one thing at a time. The effect is very similar to the out of focus bokeh you get when when you take a photograph with a very shallow depth of field. Almost everything looks prettier when it is the only object in sharp focus. I try to look at life this way, always concentrating on one thing at a time. One a clear day, my eye is always multitasking, trying to interpret too many things at once. A foggy day seems much more natural to me.

On my way to the gym this afternoon, I stopped at the REI store and got a cool winter coat with a Christmas gift card that Janet had given me. I've certainly changed the way I dress over the past five years. There was a time when I had a menswear client and chose to get paid in clothes. I dressed fabulously for a while, but it was all kind of pointless. Who was I trying to impress anyway?  Nobody needs big dry cleaning bills and I prefer clothes that look good covered with dog hair anyway. I just wonder why it took me so long to discover camping clothes.

I'm beginning to realize that I don't get any more sleep on weekends. Sure, we get up later on weekends, but we tend to go to bed later too. The net result is about the same. Maybe I'm destined to get 5 to 6 hours sleep, no matter what happens. One thing I've learned by wearing a fitness tracker is that I go to sleep very quickly. Apparent insomnia is not a problem with me. Even when I wake up several times a night to take care of Dot, I'm back asleep again five minutes later. When I eventually got up for breakfast this morning, I'd almost forgotten that I'd already taken Dot outside to pee at 4:30 AM and then re-made her bed for her before we both went back to sleep.

It's raining cats and dogs right now. I took Dash outside to pee right after dinner and he was just getting ready to go when a giant thunderclap scared him and he went racing for the back door. He must not have had to go very bad, because he's sleeping under my desk right now. I'm glad we don't live in Fort Worth, because they're under a tornado watch right now. I think we're in the clear though. The storm is headed in a northerly direction. If it were headed east, I'd be under the desk with Dash.

I've often wondered why I'm not building any muscle mass as the gym. Now I know the answer. I read an article recently that said almost everybody will eventually lose up to 30% of their muscle fiber as they age. The muscle atrophy begins when you reach 50 and becomes much more dramatic when you reach 60. This muscle tissue won't come back, no matter what you do, so if you want to remain strong you have to work extra hard to build up the muscle fiber you still have left. Normal cardio exercises like cycling or walking on a treadmill won't build muscle mass at all. You need to start lifting free weights and push yourself to your limits. This explains why I'm not making much progress. It's too bad that I hate lifting weights. Oh well, at least my heart is in pretty good shape.

Tomorrow is a holiday. I'm sure this makes a difference to Janet and everyone else to goes off to work every morning. It's going to just seem like a Monday to me though.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 2588

Every time I run my Saturday errands, I'm reminded of how much I dislike living in a large city. I still have fantasies about living in the middle of nowhere with a deep artesian water well and an acre of solar panels, but living comfortably off the grid like this is never going to happen. The older people get, the more they need to be near doctors. I doubt that I'd be lonely living off the grid, but if I ever had a heart attack or a serious fall, I'd be dead before the EMT's arrived. I was talking to a friend of mine last week who has enjoyed living in a small town in Arkansas for over 40 years. He and his wife are thinking of moving to Little Rock, because that's where their doctors are. That's what happened to my sister too. She and her husband sold a beautiful forest home in rural Ohio and moved to Florida for better medical care. This the bleak reality of modern life. There are fewer and fewer rural doctors and absolutely no state of the art rural research hospitals.

I watched the Falcon 9 launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base this morning on the Internet. I was glad to see that Space X had a big success today, after the devastating explosion they experienced last year. It's amazing that they have live video cameras inside these rockets now. The return of the first stage booster to the floating barge in the Pacific was all shown live in real time. If I was young, I'd love to work for a company like Space X. I think going to Mars would be a lot more inspiring mission in life than getting people to eat more burgers and drink more soda. That being said, I don't really regret spending most of my life in advertising. I'm a shallow person, so advertising is a perfect fit.

I'm glad the big ice storm in Oklahoma and Kansas is well north of us. Our weather wasn't great today, but at least nothing was freezing. Although it never actually rained, there was a mist in the air that left my jacket wet after I walked the dogs. I wonder how long our roller coaster weather is going to continue? I think constantly alternating between warm and cold days is making me sick. I feel like I'm coming down with a cold again. The humidity keeps changing too. It was over 90% this morning, but less than 20% a few days ago. We've certainly had colder winters, but I can't recall such sudden changes before.

I cooked French Toast for Janet this morning. My cooking repertoire is very limited, but I do make good French Toast. Bread is kind of the forbidden fruit in my current diet. I try to avoid bread and seldom eat pizza anymore because the starches in bread break down quickly and enter the bloodstream as glucose. Bread spikes blood sugar levels faster than many candy bars. It's too bad the stuff is so delicious. I could live on bread if it didn't put me on a fast track toward becoming a diabetic.

The dogs kept me busy today, but there were no messy accidents. Knock on wood, I guess. The day isn't over yet. I've discovered that Dot can easily sleep an extra hour on weekends without needing to get up to pee. As long as everyone else is asleep too, she's fine. The day officially starts at our house whenever Janet gets up. Hopefully, we'll all sleep in late tomorrow as well. I always enjoy an extra hour of sleep. I'll go to the gym unless it's raining and then I'll end the day by watching British comedies on PBS that I've already seen a hundred times. It's not all that exciting, but you wouldn't be reading this if you were looking for excitement.

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Day 2587

I'm always a little superstitious on Friday the 13th., but I'll have to admit there was nothing to be afraid of. Today was a perfectly normal grey, Winter day. I should quit complaining about Texas weather, because with the exception of a few weeks in April and October, it's all bad. I did get to go out for breakfast this morning, because the all day rain that was predicted never amounted to anything. There were a few intermittent showers, but what else would you expect on a dismal, grey day.

I got an e-mail this morning advertising a WiFi scale that measures your weight, muscle mass, bone density, heart rate, body mass index, pulse wave velocity and a couple of other things automatically, instantly sending the results to an app on your phone. How can they measure all these things, just by standing on a scale? I do remember standing on a machine at my doctor's office last year that did a lot of the same things, but I never imagined that it would become an inexpensive consumer product. The scale was on sale too. Naturally, I bought the thing. Ever since I started wearing fitness trackers, I'm become obsessed with tracking everything. This is probably the future of medicine. There are already WiFi blood pressure and blood sugar meters available, with more sophisticated products on the horizon. In a few years, you probably won't even go to the doctor for a check up. You'll just have a medical account in the cloud somewhere where your doctor can monitor all these gizmos. This will be fine by me. You wait forever in the lobby for your doctor's appointment these days and half the time I catch a cold by sitting next to someone who is sick.

Janet saw a coyote this morning while she was walking Dot. Neighbors have reported frequent coyote sighting as well. This makes me a little nervous, because I walk the dogs at dawn and dusk, when the pack is active. I'll have to be a little more careful walking Dash, because he loves to walk through wooded areas. A lone coyote doesn't bother me, but they act differently when they're in a pack. I sometimes hear these animals hunting at night and it's an eerie sound when they make a kill. One year when there were lots of coyotes in the area, the local bunny population declined dramatically. Several neighbors have lost their cats as well. With an increasing number of aggressive loose dogs, snakes in the summer, and coyotes in the winter, I occasionally wonder why I go to the park at all.

I've got to figure out a better solution for walking the dogs in the evening. Morning are usually fine, because Janet walks Dot while I walk Dash. In the evening I walk each dog one at a time. The problem is that each dog wants to be first. If I walk Dot first, Dash gets moody and won't take a good walk later. If I walk Dash first, Dot often poops in the house while we're gone. I wish Dot and Dash understood how difficult this is for me, but they don't. They're dogs. At least Dot's urinary incontinence seems to be improving.

I hope the weather clears up this weekend. If someone ever makes a tracker that correlates your mood with the amount of sunlight you're receiving, I'm sure I'd discover that I don't do well on days like this. Even though I already know the answer, I'd probably buy the machine, because I'd like to see my mood on a graph.

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Day 2586

I discovered something today. I like rice noodles better than wheat noodles, but whenever I order something online from Pei Wei, there is only a single item on the menu made with rice noodles. Hey, I like Pad Thai, but it always seemed to me that some of the other dinners would taste good with rice noodles too. Today, instead of ordering online, I called the restaurant and asked if I could substitute rice noodles for wheat noodles. "Sure," the guy told me. "You can substitute anything you want." "But it's not an option on the website," I said. Well, yes," the guy told me, "but you can still do it. Do you want to order something right now?" Such a simple solution. Once again, the old fashioned telephone proved to be a better solution than the latest technology.

I think people have forgotten that conversation can solve a myriad of problems. When I have a tech support problem, I always call someone on the phone. Those chat windows that appear on your browser never seem to provide the solution I need. e-mail is frustrating too. You just spend a lot of time typing. Text messages are even worse. I hate it when someone sends me a two word text message and I have to spent ten minutes composing a multi-paragraph reply on a tiny phone keyboard. I don't understand why people don't like the telephone anymore. When the answer is anything other than yes or no, you still need to talk with someone.

I'm kind of a paradox. The telephone is still my preferred method of communication, but I rarely answer my phone. I used to always answer the phone until telemarketers spoiled everything. Now, there's a 98% chance you'll be talking to a telemarketer if you don't recognize the number on your caller ID. The phone is a one way device for me. I only use it for outbound calls. Even outbound calls can test my patience. I hate waiting while listening to a recorded message saying "please stay on the line for the next available agent."

Maybe when you reach the "get off my lawn" stage of life, everything becomes a frustration. I've certainly noticed that more things irritate me than they used to. I was such an easy going person for most of my life and now every day is a series of irritating events. Today, I was furious when I finally got Dash in the mood to walk this afternoon, only to run into a young couple with four large loose dogs as soon as we arrived at the park. It was obvious that the couple couldn't control the dogs, because they were yelling at them to come back while the dogs were racing all over the place. I quickly turned around and went the other way. A pack of dogs coming after Dash was not something I wanted to deal with. I'm seeing more and more loose dogs in the park, even though there are signs all over the place saying that this is illegal. The owners of these dogs are almost always young millennials who are having a picnic, sitting in a hammock, smoking a joint, or doing everything except watching their dogs. I loved the park when it was just empty, undeveloped land. Now that the city has spent a lot of money making the park a recreational destination, I'm always having to deal with my fellow citizens. Dealing with other people is almost always frustrating.

I got a writing assignment today that I'm almost certain that I already wrote in 2013. That's how long I've been working with some of my writing clients. Was this a case of everything old is new again, or did they just forget that I'd already written the article?  I showed the guys the article I was talking about, but haven't received an answer on how to proceed. Maybe after writing over 700 articles, you eventually just run out of new things to talk about.

Dot is definitely not leaking as much. If I take her outside at least once every three hours, she is more or less peeing normally again. I'm surprised that the Incurin is working, since it is primarily prescribed for hormone-responsive urinary incontinence in younger dogs. Dot's problem is severe nerve damage from a spinal injury. She can't even wag her tail anymore.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow. I hope the rain isn't severe, because I'll have to cancel going out for breakfast. The dogs still freak out in a thunderstorm. Hey, there's a loaf of bread in the refrigerator. If it rains, I'll make French Toast. That's almost as good as going out.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Day 2585

I keep forgetting what day it is. There certainly isn't much to distinguish one day from the next. I know you're tired of hearing about dog walks, dietary quirks, and disappearing clients, but those are the most interesting parts of the day. Maybe you'd rather hear about my efforts to unclog a slow shower drain, or lubricate a sticking sliding glass door. There are days when I feel like the king of a kingdom that's in ruins. Why is everything falling apart? The house could use a new coat of paint. The large trees in the back yard are nearing the end of their natural life. The warranty on my car will run out this Summer. My passport is about to expire. There are so many things that need attention, but I've used all my energy on caring for the dogs.

Everybody knows about Dot's problems, but Dash is getting old too. He has trouble getting in the car now. Last week I noticed that he was having difficulty hopping up in the bed. Occasionally, he sleeps on the floor with Dot. Sadly, his years of running and jumping are almost over. When our first Dalmatian began having problems with his rear legs, I had a special step made to help him get in the bed at night. I went to the storage warehouse and got this step for Dash today. Sooner or later, all our dogs have ended up using it. I'm glad that Dot finally accepted sleeping on the floor next to me. The step helped her for a while, but she is way beyond that now. Trust me, you don't want an incontinent dog sleeping in your bed.

I ran five cleaning cycles after I installed the new ink cartridges that arrived for my printer yesterday, but the printer is still clogged. The folks at Epson are evil geniuses for using expensive ink to clean their printers. They could give the printers away for free and still make a ton of money. I've easily spent more on ink than I spent on the printer in the first place. It costs over $400 to fill this printer with ink and I'm convinced that over half of it is used to continually unclog the lines that carry the ink from the cartridges to the print head. Some of my designer friends have thrown their large printers away and just use online print services when they need to print something large. This makes a lot of sense, but like I've told you many times, I have trouble throwing things away.

A life where everything is falling apart wears you out. It breaks my heart to see Dot falling apart. The house can be fixed, but there is no remedy for old age. I'm really hoping that Dash stays reasonably healthy while Dot is still with us. Dealing with two dogs who can't walk at the same time might be too much. I'm so tired of dealing with things that break. The shower drain flows freely now, but I'm sure it will clog again. The sliding glass door in the living room opens now, but every year the house settles a little more. Eventually. the whole thing will need to be replaced. Every time I do a load of laundry, I wonder if this is the day the washing machine will give up the ghost. The last time I got a new washer and dryer, it was hard to find something that would fit in our small utility room. It will probably be even harder now. Furniture and appliances keep getting bigger and bigger.

If I take Dot outside every three hours, she doesn't pee in the house anymore. Maybe the Incurin is working. We still have problems making it all the way through the night, but this is a definite improvement.  We still have a week to go before the loading dose period is over, so there's a chance that this restart will succeed. I'm not sure where the big victories are going to come from anymore, so I relish the little ones. Today's victory was getting Dash to walk in the afternoon again. He's been refusing to take his afternoon walk for three days now. I finally figured out what was wrong. He was mad that I was walking Dot first. The little shit was just being moody. When I walked him first this afternoon, all was fine.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Day 2584

Dash appears to be in good health. He got a precautionary chest x-ray today to make sure his thyroid cancer hadn't reappeared and his lungs looked clear. When Dash was initially diagnosed with cancer, the oncologist recommended periodic chest x-rays, because if his type of cancer metastasized, it would often spread to the lungs. He's been cancer free for over three years now, but we still give him a check-up every six months. The swollen lymph nodes in his neck have returned to normal as well. After getting his anal glands expressed, which he seems to need every time we visit the vet, we returned home to find that Dot was still asleep and hadn't pooped anywhere. I was pleased at how well the morning turned out.

One of my clients wants to change his domain name and move his website to a new server. I started making preparations for the move after Dash and I returned home. Changing domains and webservers is an easy process as long as you know where everything is located. I had to make a few phone calls to find out where the old and new domains were currently registered and see how much time I had to make the move. I got lucky and ended up talking to a good tech support person today, so I think I have all the information I need. I uploaded all the files to the new server and now all I need to do is find out when the client wants to make the switch, so I can point the domains to the right place. None of this required much imagination or was very difficult, but I was still glad to have something to do today.

Our roller coaster weather has bounced back to the unseasonably warm side of the scale. I had the furnace running this morning when we woke up, but it became so warm later in the day that I had to turn the air conditioner on. Only in Texas will you use the furnace and the air conditioner in the same day. I think it is supposed to get even warmer tomorrow and then another storm system will sweep through town toward the end of the week. I hope we don't have thunderstorms on Friday. Thunderstorms always mean that I need to stay home with the dogs and I look forward to going out to breakfast all week.

Dot seems to be improving in a lot of subtle ways. We haven't had an accident on the way to the back door in the morning for the last four days. There's generally been less leaking during the day as well. I'm hoping that the Incurin is starting to work. What's really surprising is how often Dot is able to get up on her own. I often find her standing up in her pen when I return from running errands and sometimes when she wakes up, she will walk out to her water bowl in the kitchen without any help from me. When she's tired, she still barks for assistance, but there's definitely been some improvement. It's too bad it's so difficult to improve muscle mass in older animals. Dot still has three small tumors that are slowly growing in her liver, but her biggest problem is the severe muscle atrophy in her rear legs. It seems harder for me to improve muscle mass too. No matter how much I exercise, my arms and legs are still too thin.

The new ink for my production printer arrived today, so I guess I'll spend tomorrow unclogging the thing. It's amazing how much time I spend staying prepared. There are always batteries to charge, computer files to backup and archive, and a huge, somewhat obsolete printer that seems to need a lot of TLC. I take such good care of my machines that Rod Serling probably could have used my life as a basis for a Twilight Zone episode.

Tomorrow will be another exciting day filled with laundry to fold and poop to clean up. If you didn't know that Dot and Dash were dogs, it would be easy to think you were reading a mommy blog.

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Day 2583

The good thing about January is that it represents a kind of symbolic reset. You can easily trick yourself into thinking that the slate has been wiped clean and that none of the problems of the previous year will follow you into the next. The bad thing about January is that none of this is true. January is just a block of time that follows December. I'm always reminded that the slate is never wiped clean when all of my December bills arrive in early January. It's easy to spend a lot in December. There are Christmas presents, year-end business purchases, subscription renewals, and some of the biggest heating bills of the year. January is when prices go up too. Health insurance always seems to cost more in January. None of this would matter if I sent out a lot of invoices last month, but business is always slow in December. Basically, January is when the chickens come home to roost.

I might have been overly optimistic about Dot's progress with the Incurin pills. Yesterday I thought that they were already starting to work, but last night she woke up in a puddle of pee around 3 AM. Part of the problem was that I went to bed too early. Usually, I take her outside one last time around 11 PM. Yesterday, we called it a day around 9 PM. This obviously didn't work very well. I guess I'll be staying up late again tonight. Hopefully, after we finish the two week loading dose, the Incurin will help get Dot stable again.

Weekdays are mostly just getting up early and going to bed late with a lot of nothing in between.  It's not that weekends are that exciting, but at least I get to sleep in longer. I try to make my meals last as long as I can to make the day shorter. It's nice when there's a assignment to keep me occupied while the dogs are sleeping in the morning, but that doesn't always happen. I had a small website revision to make this morning, but the job took me less than an hour. I don't exactly meditate while I walk Dot around in the backyard, but I do try to empty my mind. You can't rush Dot and you can't fake being patient. Sometimes controlled breathing exercises seem to help. Other times daydreaming works. Either way, it can be a long day.

At least the weather is getting warmer. Holding up Dot's rear legs and waiting for her to get the urge to pee is a lot harder when it's fifteen degrees outside. Lately, I'm having trouble getting Dot and Dash on the same page. Dot is growing more receptive to the idea of afternoon walks and seems to enjoy them. Dash, on the other hand, sometimes refuses to leave the back yard. He'll go to the back gate, sniff the air, and then turn around and head back to the house. Dash used to love long walks, so I don't know what is going on. There is nothing wrong with him physically. It's too bad that I can't walk the dogs together anymore. Dash likes walking with Dot, but he doesn't understand why she walks so slow.

Dash goes back to the vet tomorrow for a follow up visit to check the swollen lymph nodes in his neck. I think he's better, because I can't feel the swelling anymore. He's just about finished with his antibiotics too. Usually, a vet appointment is all it takes to change a slow, uneventful day into a hectic one. Neither dog travels well in the car, but at least Dash doesn't poop in the back seat while I'm trying to drive. I was kind of bored today, but I don't think I'll have this problem tomorrow. Vet visit days usually wear me out.

I had another opportunity to apply for NASA press credentials recently. I don't even follow up on these opportunities anymore. It's going to be a long time before I view another space launch.

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