Thursday, December 14, 2017

Day 2912

I'm done with the roof for a while. I applied the last of the elastomer coating this morning. I've applied twelve gallons of the stuff so far. I'm guessing that it would take about thirty gallons to cover the entire roof. I've sure I'll end up buying more of the stuff at some point, but now isn't the time. You're not supposed to apply the coating in cold weather and the stuff is very expensive. Whatever I've done so far is going to have to survive until Spring.

If I knew what I know now, I would never have selected this type of roof. It was designed for commercial and warehouse buildings. Old houses in an area filled with large trees are much different. My house has settled over the years and the roof is no longer completely level. Whenever it rains, the low spots fill with standing water. In the Fall, Oak leaves from the backyard trees fall into this water and stain it a dark brown. I'm convinced that the tannin in the leaves causes some sort of chemical reaction that causes the elastomer material to break down and eventually disintegrate. There was a reason that the house originally had a tar and gravel roof. The old tar and gravel performed much better than the new high tech roof solutions people recommend now. Unfortunately, very few people know how to do a tar and gravel roof anymore. They might not even be allowed these days. The tar might be a fire or environmental hazard and the gravel that covers the tar and provides extra insulation adds a lot of extra weight to the top of the house. Tar and gravel roofs, like asbestos, have fallen out of favor.

Although I managed to patch a few more marginal areas on the roof without ruining my clothes, that was about all I accomplished today. I did a little research on my next website project, but I'm not ready to commit to a design. This new project makes me nervous because I think the client is expecting too much. Websites can make it easier for customers to find you or learn about your products, but they can never fix a flawed business plan.

Dash has had several good days in a row. This often lulls me into thinking that he's cured. I know that the vertigo and nausea associated with vestibular disease will return at some point, but for the moment everything is normal again. Dash has a good appetite and isn't as picky about his food. He seems to enjoy taking walks again. This is all good. I have no idea what is happening with the blood clots inside his heart, but at least he's breathing normally at night again. I'm sure that the partial tear in his cruciate hasn't completely healed, but the knee brace seems to help. There are so many things to worry about with Dash that it's no surprise that one of my favorite things is to just take a nap with him and forget about all the medical issues for a while.

I did see some meteors last night. I didn't have the patience to sit out in the cold for long enough to see many, but the meteors I did observe were quite bright. They were also quite fast. If I blinked, I might have missed them. They always say to observe meteor showers you should find a place where the sky is very dark and there are no street lights or passing cars. Then you should let your eyes adjust to the darkness for twenty or thirty minutes before you begin observing. Like that's ever going to happen. If I sat out in the park for thirty minutes at night, I'd probably be eaten by coyotes. I usually run out in the back yard for five minutes and if I don't see anything, I give up.

I've take the trash out to the curb and give Dash his evening pills. Usually Janet gives Dash his meds, but she's at an office Christmas party tonight. My little office doesn't have parties, but I did have an extra cookie for dessert tonight.

Lance is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Day 2911

I spend way too much time dealing with some minuscule website problems just to avoid going up on the roof. The weather was perfect. I just didn't feel like dealing with the messy elastomer today. I'll probably regret this later because we don't get that many really warm days in December. Maybe I'll deal with the roof tomorrow, or maybe I'll just decide that it's already good enough to survive the winter.

Dash had a great day. His appetite was good. He was eager to go on a walk. And there were no signs of vertigo or dizziness. You never know from day to day how he's going to feel, but I'm always happy when he has a good day. The only problem we encountered today was another loose dog we saw on our walk. Dash usually notices these dogs before I do and we change our route to avoid them. It's a shame that so many people refuse to keep their dog on a leash. You can't even talk to most of them. They're convinced that they are doing the right thing.

I can't decide whether to go out and look for meteors tonight. This is supposed to be the best night for viewing the annual Geminid Meteor Shower. If I lived in a place with dark skies, the Geminids would probably be spectacular this year. I live in Dallas though and the light pollution in town is terrible. I've only seen one or two meteors the entire time I've lived here. You never know though. Maybe I'll see something when I take Dash out to pee just before we all go to bed.

Today was so uneventful that I looked forward to taking the water bill to the post office. I could pay almost all my bills online, but I still like going to the post office. I haven't even started shopping yet, but there was already a long line of people waiting to mail their Christmas packages. I dropped my envelope in a mail slot and left. I may enjoy mindless trips to the bank and post office, but I hate standing in lines.

I couldn't find anyone to talk about my newly completed website project, so I just went ahead and launched it. I've done this before and it usually takes clients at least a week to even notice that something has changed. Sadly, websites aren't a big deal anymore. They're kind of like Yellow Pages ads used to be. Eventually I'll get some feedback on the site. Hopefully, everyone will like it. It's always nice when people appreciate something you've spent weeks putting together. So, what happens if people hate the new site? Who knows. I guess I could always put the old site back up.

I tried to think what to get people for Christmas this year and I'm coming up with nothing. My mind's a blank. It's too bad that I have no faith in gift cards anymore. Gift cards used to be such an easy solution but I don't think I'll ever buy one again after we got scammed last summer. I asked Janet what she wanted for Christmas and she said she'd like me to clean out my office. That's about like asking me to grow wings and fly.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day 2910

I think I'm finished with my website project. I haven't shown it to anyone yet, so maybe being finished is just wishful thinking. Let's just say it looks nice, it works, and if the universe was fair, I'd definitely be finished. I have mixed feelings about work these days. I enjoy what I do and still like to stay busy, but I'm so close to retirement that it's getting harder to stay engaged. Does this stuff even matter anymore? I'm not sure.

Dash had me worried today. He was fine until right after lunch and then he abruptly became disoriented and started drooling. For a while I thought he was going to throw up, but he didn't. This was definitely a vestibular event, but it wasn't a severe one. I convinced Dash to take a nap with me and pretty soon he went to sleep. When he woke up a few hours later, he was fine. I wish I knew what triggered these vestibular events. He can go for several months without having any problems at all and then there will be periods where he gets disoriented almost every day. Luckily, his recent episodes don't seem to last more than an hour or two.

I was reluctant to leave Dash today, but there were prescription that needed to be filled. I picked up my own meds first and then went to the vet to get pills for Dash. I'm always worried that Dash is going to throw up right after I give him his pills. Timing is everything now. We've learned that he's more likely to throw up at night, so we've started give him his evening meds earlier. In the morning, we observe him for a while before feeding him anything to make sure he is stable. It's all a bit complicated, but Janet and I are getting better at anticipating when the next vestibular event will occur.

It's still too cold to go back up on the roof, but I managed to get quite a bit done today anyway. Breakfast was a failure again. My morning smoothie still has a weird, thick jello-like consistency. Is this week's fruit not juicy enough? Are the bananas too hard? Have the programmed settings on the Vitamix quit working? I can't figure this out at all. Maybe I'll just fix myself an omelet tomorrow.

Does anybody really know what a bitcoin is? The insane increase in value of these things recently has got me wondering. Is it a scam, or is it the future of money and banking? I still can't understand what a blockchain is and why it is so important. They say it takes a tremendous amount of computing power to make a bitcoin transaction. The whole process apparently uses up so much energy that bitcoin is supposed to be bad for the environment. If this is true, why are people in California fascinated by these things? Are bitcoins even real? Nothing tangible even exists. My own investments seem boring by comparison, but I don't think I'm ready to buy a bitcoin. I'm still getting used to Paypal.

I'll probably start on my next website project tomorrow. I don't have the job yet, but I'll have to put together a proposal. It would be tempting to utilize some of the things I've learned on my current website project before I forget them again. Then there's Christmas.  I haven't even started Christmas shopping. It's hard to shop for people my age and older. We don't really need anything.

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Day 2909

I'm always puzzled when consistency produces inconsistent results. This morning I made my morning smoothie the same way I always do. I dumped the same ingredients into the same Vitamix and turned it on for the same length of time. This time instead of something that resembled a milkshake, I got something that resembled Jello. How did this happen? I debated whether to dump the stuff into a bowl and eat it with a spoon, but decided to just add some more water and run the mixer again. It was a small thing, but I wondered about it all morning.

I wish everything was consistent. There is nothing consistent about taking care of Dash. Every day is full of surprises. It's quite a challenge to get him to eat regular meals. Ever since his last bad vestibular seizure, he's been a very picky eater. We have to keep at least five brands of dog food in the house, because you never know what he'll eat on any given day. He'll eagerly eat something for several days, and then all the sudden, he won't touch the stuff. We've learned to give him a little bite of something before we fill his bowl, because you never know. I think he still has a very healthy diet, but it gets confusing. Today he loved his breakfast, but wouldn't eat the same thing for dinner. If he refuses something, we'll set it aside and see if he'll eat it later. Our refrigerator is full of food waiting for just the right moment.

I got a letter from the government today saying that there will be a cost of living adjustment to my social security payment next year. This was the first increase we've gotten in several years. I was all excited until I read the fine print and discovered that I'll be getting $25 more every month. $25? You're kidding me. I'm sure that will take care of inflation. It still kind of bugs me when I hear politicians call social security an entitlement. Like most people my age, I've paid into social security for my entire working life. It will still be quite a few years before I've taken out more than I put in. Unless I beat the family longevity average, I may never take out more than I put in. It's a shame. If we'd been given the opportunity to take that money that was deducted from our paychecks every month and invest it ourselves, most of us would have done a lot better.

I need to get serious about eliminating sugar from my diet again. I did really well for almost three years, but gradually my sweet tooth has been creeping back. Wheat and grains are almost as bad as sugar because they are converted to glucose so easily by your body. My problem is that I love bread, pasta, pancakes, and almost anything made from grain. I've explored Ketogenic and Paleo diets but they seem way too extreme for me. They are also a lot of trouble. There should be more healthy eating restaurants where you can explore delicious, sugar free low carb meals without a lot of trouble. Maybe these places already exist, but I just don't notice them because I'm too distracted by pancake houses and barbecue joints.

I took a ridiculously small check to the bank today and send out my December invoices so I'll get some more ridiculously small checks next month. I'm glad I had some good years, because this is no way to run a business. I don't know how young people in my line of work survive these days. Everybody thinks they're a photographer or filmmaker and a host of things that used to be lucrative for creative people like me are now expected to be free. If I had a kid I'd tell them to learn how to repair robots. That's where we're headed.

A loose dog in the neighborhood chased Dash and I last week. The owner came running after the dog and nobody was hurt, but now Dash won't walk down that street anymore. Sad. Little by little, our world keeps contracting.

Savannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day 2908

The Christmas tree is up. It's a small tree and all the ornaments are Dalmatians. Periodically new ornaments are added and occasionally ornaments are removed. Most of the Dalmatians with angel wings are now sitting on top of the little urns on the coffee table that contain the ashes of Spot, Petey, Greta, Mindy, and Dot. We don't put presents under the tree anymore. Once the dogs realized that many of them contained treats for them, they wouldn't leave the packages alone.

Before I could deal with the Christmas tree, I had to remove all the equipment from yesterday's photo shoot. I put away the things that had a place in the office and took the rest of the stuff to the storage warehouse. Every time I visit my storage space, I  realize that the day is coming when I'll have to come to terms with all this clutter. The warehouse has become a black hole that sucks up everything I can't figure out what to do with. There are a few treasures here and there, but most of the stuff is old equipment that isn't useful anymore, but will never be collectible either. It will take an enormous amount of energy to clean this place up and I'm not sure I'm up to the task.

With all the Santa Paws gear out of the way and the Christmas tree in place, I realized that the house was very dirty. I spent the rest of the day vacuuming, changing sheets, and cleaning dog blankets. Dash's protective boots were starting to look threadbare, so I repaired them too. The house doesn't really look much better, but at least I tried.

When we took Dash on his morning walk, there were lots of people preparing for the BMW Dallas Marathon. This used to be called the White Rock Marathon, but I guess everything has a corporate sponsor now. I'm not a runner, but this was definitely a beautiful day for a race. It is almost a tradition to have terrible weather for this marathon. Our house is fairly close to the course and we've watched runners compete in pouring rain many times.

When I returned to the park for Dash's afternoon walk, the same crews that were setting up things things this morning were tearing everything down again. By tomorrow morning, all the signage, rest stations, and temporary parking will be gone. I like the park best when nothing is happening and all I hear are ducks quacking. Our walks are really the only time when Winter weather is welcome. Our dogs have always liked cooler weather and I like the fact that the bicycles virtually disappear. On nice days there are bicycles everywhere and I have to be careful that we don't get run over. On chilly days, Dash and I have the park to ourselves.

Dash didn't have a Cerenia pill yesterday and he still seemed completely normal today. This is good news. I'm sure that Dash will have a vestibular episode again, but maybe he can catch a break and enjoy a few months as a normal dog. This disease never really goes away, but the symptoms can subside for months at a time. Dash is lucky that he still seems to be able to recover from these periodic episodes. Some dogs don't.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. There are lots of things around the house that still need attention and I'm not finished with my website project either. There are fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and bananas for my morning smoothie, so I guess we'll start there.

Princess is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Day 2907

Another year of Santa Paws has come and gone. Today was a big success and I'm pretty sure that we photographed even more dogs than we did last week. We had a several very large dogs today, one cat, a very well behaved baby, and a chinchilla. I don't think I've ever seen a chinchilla before. They have large ears and look like someone tried to breed a rabbit with a rat.

We photographed quite a few Dalmatians today. Dalmatians are very photogenic, but they have lots of energy. Every year I always have at least one photo of a Dalmatian flying through the air trying to escape from Santa's arms. A nervous Husky was the only dog who peed on the backdrop this year and nobody knocked anything over. I operate the strobes on low power now and move the lights in a little closer to get the same exposure. By babying the equipment this way, maybe I can squeeze one more year out of it.

I was pleased at how well things went this year. We've been doing these Christmas pet pictures for almost a decade now and there are few disaster anymore. We've definitely learned how to photograph dogs. I'm not as nimble as I used to be but I feel foolish even mentioning my somewhat minor aches and pains. Our leader had knee replacement surgery last week and it didn't seem to slow her down a bit. Every year I wonder how much longer we can continue doing this. Judging by how well things went today, I think we'll be back next year.

I feel bad about leaving Dash at home so long when we do these photo shoots, but there is no other alternative. Janet and I are both needed at these events and Dash hates riding in the car. He seemed fine at home today. There were no vestibular events and every time we checked him on the baby monitor, he was just sleeping on the bed. It was a very long day, but Dash still got a walk just before sunset. It was amazing he got a walk at all today. Janet left for home earlier than I did, but we both got caught in a horrible traffic jam on the freeway. There was an accident and it took over an hour to inch our way past the wreck.

The photo equipment is still piled up in the hallway, but I'm going to get organized tomorrow and take it all back to the storage warehouse. I don't do many photo shoots anymore and there's a good chance that this stuff won't be needed again until next year. As soon as I get all the clutter cleared away, it will be time to put up the Christmas tree.

I doubt if I'll make it to the gym this week. I might not even make it to the grocery store. There's so much to do that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe Dash will let us sleep in tomorrow morning. That would be nice. I think I'll sleep well tonight. I'm very tired.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Friday, December 8, 2017

Day 2906

It was so cold this morning that we decided Dash needed a sweater in addition to all the regular gear he wears on walks. I'm surprised he could move after we got him all bundled up. The sweater went on first. Then the Ruffwear harness was placed on top of the sweater. The knee brace attached to the harness and then came the socks. Finally, the rubber boots were placed over the socks and Dash was ready to go. We had to adjust several straps so all this would fit properly, but Dash took it all in stride.  He doesn't resist wearing this gear at all. I think he realizes that he is more sure footed now and that he can walk with more confidence. I hope he appreciated the sweater too, because it was only 28 degrees this morning.

I didn't go out for breakfast this morning because I had a meeting scheduled. I was a little worried about leaving Dash, but he slept well last night and had a lot of energy this morning. There were no visible signs that he was still having problems with his vestibular disease, so I decided it was OK to go.

It was kind of weird to have a business meeting again. I used to do this almost every single day and now it's all becoming a distant memory. The project sounded interesting and I hope I get the job. There is a website involved, but it's really more of a rebranding project. After a while my brain kicked into gear and I started spitting out ideas. It was almost like old times again. The meeting lasted a lot longer than I though it would, but when I got home Dash was fine. He woke up when I opened the front door, but it was obvious that he'd spent most of the morning sleeping on the bed. It didn't take him long to let me know he was ready for lunch. I'm really glad he's finally getting back to normal.

I was hoping to finish my website project today but that didn't happen. My morning meeting threw me off schedule for the rest of the day. By the time I fed Dash, took our regular afternoon walk, and did a few errands around the house, the day was over. I was feeling good that it was Friday and the long week was almost over and then I remembered that we've got another Santa Paws photo shoot tomorrow.

Most of the equipment is already packed and ready to go. All I had to do today was recharge the camera batteries. I'm glad that we didn't get snow like the Southern half of the state. I've got a long drive in the morning and it's going to be a lot easier on dry roads. I'll need to remember to dress warmly. Santa always gets hot inside his heavy red suit, so that means I'm almost always cold. I'm used to cold though. Both Janet and Dash like a cold house. I'm just the opposite. I'm wearing a jacket now and wishing there was a furnace vent under my desk.

The doctor I saw earlier this week called with my test results. Everything is fine. I've had some major health problems over the years, but most of them have been resolved. I wish I could say the same for Dash. He has a fabulous team of doctors and we do everything we can, but our little guy has never really been healthy. We think he probably came from a puppy mill, but like any rescue dog, we'll never know his early history. Dash might not have been dealt a good hand at birth, but we're doing our best to make sure he stays in the game. He's happy and comfortable now. We've all just got to keep taking things one day at a time.

Willow is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Day 2905

It's supposed to freeze tonight. This isn't supposed to happen in Dallas, but here we are again. The Farmer's Almanac predicts a cold, snowy winter this year. I hope they aren't right. Cold weather is infrequent, so I'm usually not well prepared. I remembered to take the battery out of the electric lawn mower and bring it inside. One year I forgot and the battery was destroyed. I remembered to set the faucet on drip in the greenhouse for the same reason. One year I forgot and the pipes broke.

I really didn't want to go up on the roof today because it was so cold. I remembered what can happen when ice builds up on the roof though, and reluctantly cleared away all the standing water. It was a miserable job, but the good news is that the patches I've made recently appear to be solid. I wish I'd used up all the elastomer material now. The small amount that is still in the container probably won't be usable after a freeze. There used to be potted plants I would bring inside for the winter, but they are all dead now. I guess I'm as ready for cold weather as I'll ever be. I just hope that we don't have a power outage this winter. Some of my worst memories are of sitting inside a freezing house for four days, waiting for the power to be restored after an ice storm.

Dash woke us up last night to go outside, but luckily he wasn't sick. He just needed to poop. Even though he slept well, he still seemed a bit shaky this morning. He took a shorter walk than normal and didn't eat all his breakfast. Often it takes quite a while to fully recover from a vestibular event. When Dash is agitated of frightened, he doesn't like to be alone. I usually curl up with him on the bed until he relaxes and goes to sleep. Then I sneak off to the office and try to get some work done before he wakes up again.

I did some more work on my website project today. I suppose it's time to show something to the client, but I know as soon as I take that step, the fun is over. No matter how beautiful or functional I think things are, clients always want to change something. I didn't spend a huge amount of time selecting images for this project because I know that they are probably just placeholders. Pictures are so easy to change that they are never sacred. The best thing about this project is that the client wants to manage things themselves. When I hand over the keys, I'm probably done.

I finished all the left overs yesterday, so I made some pasta with whatever I could find in the refrigerator. I'm always surprised how tasty my desperation dinners are. Whole wheat noodles, Italian sausage, carrots, cucumbers, and tamarind sauce actually go together quite well. I'm too lazy to be much of a cook, but when I make an effort, the results are usually delicious.

I've got a rare client meeting tomorrow morning. I wish Dash had fully recovered by now, but as of this evening he seems a lot better. We'll see how he is in the morning. If he's shaky, I can always cancel the meeting. There just aren't any projects that matter that much anymore. Dash comes first. I hope Dash is feeling good tomorrow. It would be nice to make a little extra money.

Humphrey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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