Sunday, November 19, 2017

Day 2887

I'm afraid I'm going to have to retrieve Dot's rugs from the storage room soon. Dash is starting to slip and slide on the bricks. If he would slow down and start acting like the mature dog he is, I'm sure he could navigate the bricks for another couple of years. That's not Dash though. He still likes to counter surf. He'll still race to the kitchen when he hears food being prepared. Since he already has a partially torn cruciate ligament, I'm afraid he's going to ruin his knee joint every time he slips. I've thought about just leaving his rubber boots on all the time, but there's a downside to that as well. I just wish Dash would realize he's getting older and start taking care of himself a little better.

I'm trying to take care of myself better. That's why I switched doctors and continue going to the gym every Sunday. It's no fun growing old, but what are the alternatives? While I was driving to the gym today I listened to a TED talk about recent advances in gene editing. Precise gene editing could bring back the Wooly Mammoth from extinction, eliminate mosquitos in malaria prone areas, and allow parent to choose the hair color, intelligence, and resistance to disease of their babies. What could possibly go wrong? This all sounds like science fiction, but apparently scientists around the world are already using something called CRISPR-Cas9 technology to modify plants and animals at the DNA level. There's a lot of debate about the ethics of messing around with human DNA, but I'm sure there was debate about ethics of atom bombs before we exploded the first one too. Humans tend to use the things they invent. We just can't resist.

Maybe in the future, people like me won't have to worry about diabetes and arthritic joints. We'll use gene editing to create a race of disease free, almost super human people. Of course, there's an even greater chance that we'll inadvertently create thousands of 100 foot long fire breathing dragons who will eat us while we sleep.

I had a good workout today, but that apparently wasn't enough. Against my better judgement, I actually moved the furniture while I vacuumed this afternoon. I don't do this very often because it is too depressing. It's unbelievable how much dust can accumulate under a chair that hasn't been moved for a year. We also took the heavy comforter off the bed and took it to a laundromat for cleaning. If you let your dog sleep on the bed with you, you quickly realize that white isn't the best color for a bed spread. I liked out old brown comforter better. It might not have been the prettiest thing in the world, but it hid all the damage the dogs caused admirably.

I didn't do my homework on Wordpress this weekend. Oh, well. There's still time. It's hard to get excited about Wordpress. I guess it's convenient if you like to work in teams, but it doesn't do much for me. I can think of so many more elegant ways to design a website. When you're used to sitting down and writing your own code, it just seems cumbersome to use someone else's template.

I see my neighbors beginning to pile up bags of leaves, old kitchen chairs, and discarded children's toys on the curb. This much mean it's time for bulky trash pickup again. I'll need to look tomorrow and see if there's anything I need to throw away. I'm supposed to receive a package next week. I think the package is lost since no tracking number was provided by the shipper. The shipper says everything is fine. We'll see who's right by the end of the week. We're going out to eat for Thanksgiving again this year. This should be a relaxing occasion, so I'm going to try my best not to worry about Dash. There's no need to worry. He's just going to be sleeping on the bed like he always does in the afternoon. I wish I wasn't always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Jasper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Day 2886

It was so windy today that I kept expecting one of our trees to topple over. It has happened before. I see old growth trees fall in the park all the time, but luckily nothing happened to ours today. The wind did signal a change in the weather. A cold front moved through town this afternoon and it's currently about twenty degrees colder than it was this morning. Dash seems to like this chilly weather. I can't say that I agree.

The only thing I accomplished today was to catch the cockroach that eluded me yesterday. This time I had my flyswatter ready. The bug didn't have a chance. I hate to think how many of these things might be lurking around the house. There are certainly plenty of places for them to hide in the office. The office was full even before I brought all the paraphernalia home from the storage warehouse for Santa Paws pictures. Now, it's a total mess.

Dash seemed to want a walk around 3 PM this afternoon, but when I looked outside I noticed a mobile grooming truck parked in our neighbor's driveway. We would have to walk right by this truck to get to the park. It would be just my luck that the groomers would open the door just as Dash and I were walking by and out would come the dog who bit me. I wasn't going to risk it. I'm still very apprehensive about that dog.

I waited about an hour until the truck drove away and then we took our walk. We encountered another loose neighborhood dog along the way, but luckily this one was friendly. These people let their dog out in the front yard without a leash all the time. Over and over again, it races out in the street to greet me and Dash. One of these days it is going to get run over. I really don't understand how people can pay so little attention to their dog's safety. Is it that hard to keep your dog on a leash? The streets are busy. There are coyotes in the area. There are snakes. There are just too many unpredictable things that could happen.

I tried to sweep the leaves off the front porch today. It was impossible. Prevailing winds tend to blow leaves onto the porch where they pile up against the front door. When you open the door on a windy day, the leaves blow inside. This is one of many things that make me wish I lived in Arizona with a big cactus and a swimming pool in the yard. At any rate, I swept the leaves away three times today and the wind blew them back again every time. It's futile to battle against nature. Nature always wins.

I wonder how Black Friday got to be such a big deal. We are being inundated with Black Friday flyers in the mail and Black Friday e-mail messages. I don't think I've ever bought anything on Black Friday. I guess it's a good deal if you want to stand in line for a cheap big screen TV, but how many televisions do you need? I think everybody already has a big screen TV by now. I guess I'm not the target market. I'm so out of the loop that I thought Black Friday was yesterday.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Day 2885

I went to the storage warehouse and got some of the gear we'll need for the Santa Paws photo shoots. We've accumulated a lot of Christmas themed muslin backdrops over the years. Probably the best way to select a backdrop at this point is to smell them all and pick the one that doesn't smell of dog pee. The equipment is getting so old that I need a backup for everything. I take extra power packs for the strobes, extra camera bodies, and lots of extra camera batteries. What I really need is an extra me.

I wanted to walk Dash early this morning so I could go out for breakfast at a reasonable hour, but it wasn't meant to be. We all got up late and even though Dash was eager to walk, we didn't return home until almost 10 AM. I went out for breakfast anyway, although I should have just had an early lunch. I think I'm losing my touch at picking new restaurants. For the second week in a row I had a meal that was way too heavy on a plate that was way too large. Maybe I should just start ordering from the children's menu. Something has changed. I'm just not as hungry as I used to be.

As I suspected, I'm going to have to learn how to use a new Wordpress theme before I can start my latest website project. I don't even try to argue against Wordpress anymore. Everyone but me seems to love it. The Divi theme the client has selected is supposed to be powerful, versatile, and easy to use. Piffle. I still like HTML better. At any rate, my assignment over the weekend is to learn to be a Divi expert as quickly as possible.

Dash is acting weird again today. He'll go outside and then just stand frozen in place like he's lost or confused. He's done this before and I think it must have something to do with his vestibular disease. If you give him time, he usually returns to normal in an hour or two. Our morning walk was pretty normal, but our afternoon walk took forever because Dash would stop about every twenty feet and just stand there looking confused. It usually works best if I am patient and let him set his own pace. We eventually made it back home and now he's back to normal again. Go figure. I worry about this behavior but there is not much I can do at this point. The vets don't have an answer. The vestibular disease might be giving him a sensation of vertigo from time to time. Maybe his eyesight is going bad and he has trouble seeing in some situations. The truth is that Dash is just getting old. It's probably just a matter of time before I start standing around looking confused too.

The weather forecast convinced me that it was going to rain this week. Now the week is over and the rain never appeared. I could have finished my repairs on the roof if I just ignored the weather forecast. That's always risky though. When I ignore the forecast, it always rains.

I just saw a cockroach walking across the office floor. I went to get a fly swatter so I could kill it, and by the time I got back, the bug was gone. I'm sure it's still around here somewhere. We don't have a big problems with bugs anymore since we've gotten the humidity in the house under control. I still see them occasionally though. I hate these bugs, but I've resigned myself to the fact that if you live down South, you're never completely free of them. They're everywhere outside. It's inevitable that some will get inside.

I have no plans for the weekend at all. This usually means I'll end up cleaning on Saturday and going to the gym on Sunday.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Day 2884

Today's echocardiogram revealed that the blood clots in Dash's heart had not gotten any smaller, but they had become denser. "Is this good or bad," I asked the doctor. He thought it was good news because a dense clot is less likely to break apart and travel to the brain or lungs. I'm disappointed that the clots have not become smaller after two months of taking Plavix, but I'm happy that Dash appears to be doing fine. Whatever caused him to quit eating and become fearful of taking a walk appears to be gone.

The doctor told us that he was getting over a bad cold and that his voice was raspy because he had strep throat. This alarmed me a bit because I have a terrible phobia of being around sick people. I'm convinced that the only way to become sick is to be around someone else who is sick. Most normal people don't have this attitude. Teachers, doctors, and nurses are around sick people so much that they take it all in stride. I spend so much time alone that a sick person in the room seems almost like seeing a snake or spider in the room. It makes me nervous. That being said, I'm glad the doctor came in today. He's a great vet who has really helped us navigate the complexities of cancer and other emergencies with Dot and Dash.

Breakfast turned out to be lunch today. Janet and I took Dash on a walk as soon as we got back from the cancer center and by the time we returned and I started making my morning smoothie, it was already past noon. Even though it was very late, I didn't even consider eating anything else. I'm convinced that Dash is stubborn about many things because he's learned this inflexible approach to life from me.

I got asked to be part of a big website rebranding project today. I've worked with these people before and I was delighted that they still wanted me on their team. On the other hand, I've worked with these people before and know how difficult their projects become. That's the trouble with sliding toward retirement. I used to look at hard jobs as a challenge. Now, I look at them with a sense of horror. I can do this though. I've done it before. This time it just might take me a little longer.

I feel the same way about the Santa Paws pictures I take every year for the Dalmatian Rescue group Janet and I volunteer with. I'm happy that everyone still seems to like these pictures, but every year it seems a little harder to shoot them. My equipment is old and so am I. At the end of the day, I'm exhausted. Luckily, we have a much lighter schedule than we used to in the old days. This year we only have two locations in early December. This is a lot easier than when there were six.

Even though taking Dash to the vet was the only thing that happened today, the day went quickly. This week's trash has been taken out to the curb, the laundry has been done, and I'm ready to search for a new restaurant tomorrow morning.

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day 2883

From the looks of our mailbox, you'd think that Dash was the only one who lives here. This dog gets more mail than I do. In addition to notices and reminders from various vets, Dash receives a steady supply of homemade dog treats. Dash's "Thanksgiving Dinner" came in the mail today. I'll have to admit that it did look pretty good.

Janet finds these things on Facebook. I'm amazed at the number of people who have created a viable business making products specifically for Dalmatians. There's a guy who make dog coats specifically for Dalmatians. He started his business by showing pictures of his coats on Facebook Dalmatian groups and now he gets orders from all around the world. Now, there's a woman who makes dog treats targeted to Dalmatians. She posts a picture of her Dalmatian wearing a chef's outfit every time he is "baking" and the orders pile in. I applaud these strange and wonderful little businesses. They are so specific that you'd think they couldn't possibly work, and yet they do. Maybe Janet could make dog cookies the next time she decides to retire. Her cookies were amazing, but she only made them once a year for the dogs of friends and neighbors. I still remember delivering them around Christmas time while I was walking Spot. This seems like thirty years ago, because it probably was.

Dash seems so much better than he did two months ago. I don't know if his health has really improved, but he definitely seems happier. I think he decided that if he was on the verge of death, he was going to start living life his way. He didn't want to walk when it was convenient for me. He wanted to walk when he felt like it. He was tired of eating kibble and convinced us that he really needed cans of super premium Castor and Pollux stews. I don't know why he feels like interrupting my breakfast with a long walk, but it really doesn't hurt anything. I've adapted to this new routine fairly easily. I can see why he got tired of eating kibble. I don't think I would enjoy living on healthy crackers.

I hope some of the changes we've made are actually doing some good. Dash is definitely spoiled now, but he doesn't seem as anxious now and his stress levels are much lower. He even stands still and lets me put on his rubber boots before we walk now. I think he's finally learned that it feels better to walk while wearing these protective shoes. Almost every day, people stop us on our walks to ask about the boots and knee brace. I've told the story so many times that the manufacturer should give me a discount.

The heavily modified boots are clever and comfortable. I could probably sell these on Facebook if I could ever figure out how to manufacture them myself. Manufacturing almost anything is much more complicated than it seems. The big problem with dog boots is that they have to fit exactly to be effective. Every dog's paws are different. They have to be soft and easy to put on, while remaining tough enough to stand up to sidewalks and asphalt roads. My design is improving each time a make a modification, but I don't think this will ever be a commercial product. I've spent way too much time on these things.

We have an early appointment at the cancer center tomorrow for another echocardiogram. We'll probably do these monthly tests indefinitely. I keep hoping that one of these days we'll see that the blood clots in Dash's heart are getting smaller.

Honey is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day 2882

I was locked out of a shopping website this morning because I had too many unsuccessful login attempts. I was confused. I was pretty sure that I remembered my password. I kept entering it again and again to no avail. Eventually, I called customer service and explained my problem. "Did you really mean to append your e-mail address with .con," the representative asked me. Oops. I'd made a typo when I filled out my application. I meant to say .com of course. This is what happens when you get old. Ten seconds of sloppy typing equates to forty-five minutes on the phone with customer service. Now I know why I haven't been receiving an avalanche of spammy e-mails from these folks. They've been sending everything to my .con address.

It took me much longer than expected to write my article today. For starters, I forgot about the assignment and began gluing rubber patches on another pair of Dash's protective boots. I used to be able to finish these assignments in a couple of hours, but this one took most of the afternoon. One problem now is that I have to spend more time proofreading. My Bluetooth keyboard is getting old and occasionally skips letters unless I remember to press the keys very firmly. I've got to figure out how to turn adaptive spelling off too. The computer is always trying to turn the words I intended into something else. Sometimes I have to read a piece three times to catch these mistakes. It's insidious. I never realized how spoiled I was during my early ad agency years. I would just hand a draft to a copy secretary and they would clean everything up for me. How times have changed.

A really large hawk swooped down and landed in the back yard this afternoon. I was outside at the time and the bird startled me. There are lots of raptors in the area, but this was the first time I've seen one in the yard. I wish I'd had my camera handy. The hawk only stayed a few seconds and then it flew away. I'm usually not quick enough to capture these chance wildlife encounters. The only thing I can reliably photograph are squirrels. Our trees are like high rise condominiums for squirrels. They're everywhere.

I called my new doctor about a mistake I saw on the prescriptions they'd renewed for me. A nurse told me that there was a glitch in their practice management software and that the pharmacist would just ignore the mistake when he refilled the prescription. This never would have happened with my old doctor. He still scrawled his prescriptions on a small pad of paper with the indecipherable handwriting that doctor's are famous for. I guess hand written prescriptions are a thing of the past too. My new ones came straight out of the computer. Even the doctor's signature was digitized.

The battery on my Apple Watch is starting to go bad. I'm not surprised. This is a Series 1 watch and Apple is already up to Series 3. Things last just long enough until a newer version becomes available. The problem is I don't want a new watch, I just want a new battery. Some things are easy to repair, but an Apple Watch isn't one of them. I looked up a repair guide on the IFIXIT site and I can assure you that I'll never attempt to change the battery myself. The procedure is very complex and seems certain to fail if you are even slightly clumsy. Maybe I'll just power the watch down and turn it on again. This seems to be the universal repair procedure for all electronic devices.

I wish there wasn't still rain in the forecast. I'm not busy this week and this would have been a good time to finish repairing the roof.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, November 13, 2017

Day 2881

The only thing I've been making any progress on lately is in getting Dash to walk. We're taking nice long walks again. Dash doesn't appear to be in any discomfort. He is walking normally and seems to be enjoying himself. We walk very slowly now. I think his doctors would approve. It takes well over an hour now to complete our morning rounds. The knee brace and boots don't seem to slow him down. He just likes to smell everything. When I was busy, this would have driven me crazy, but there isn't much on my schedule these days. A long walk certainly beats watching morning TV.

I took my November invoices to the post office today and paid some bills. All my bills come with an admonition to pay online instead. One of the envelopes I addressed today even had a little message where the stamp goes. "Can't find a stamp? Pay online instead," it said. I wonder why everyone hates checks? My bank doesn't even like to take deposits. They would prefer that I scan a check with their smartphone app and deposit it electronically. I think I'm becoming even more of a Luddite than my sister. I still like paper.

I got a new writing job today. In the old days I used to send a FedEx package with my completed copy to the client. Sending a PDF file via e-mail certainly saves money, but I kind of liked having the FedEx man come to pick up packages every day or so. I had the same delivery guy for many years and he got to know me by name. Sending and receiving packages this way made me feel like I had a real business a lot more than pressing the send key on my computer.

I see so many signs that the world has permanently changed. Our neighborhood used to be filled with nice, but very modest houses. Now, whenever somebody dies, the house is scraped and replaced with a larger, much more opulent dwelling. I don't think you could call this gentrification. The neighborhood was always nice. It doesn't appear to be nice enough for today's affluent buyers though. Perfectly good homes that my parents would have been proud to live in are being torn down to make room for mansions. This doesn't seem like a good thing, but then very little I see these days seems like a good thing.

I certainly don't understand the whole bike-share phenomenon. The rental bicycles from LimeBike, Spin, VBikes and others are popping up all over town. A huge number of them seem to be abandoned in the park. I counted twelve abandoned bicycles on our morning walk. People do ride these things, but they are a real eyesore and seem like littering to me. Maybe I'm too old and set in my ways for the sharing economy. LimeBike, Uber, and Air B&B all seem a little weird to me.

I hope I can finish my roof repairs before the coating product goes bad. I noticed a little message on one of the containers saying that the product should be used within 72 hours of opening the seal on the bucket. That's not going to happen. I guess the stuff starts to cure inside the container if you don't use it fast enough. Oh, well. I have no control over the weather. I'll finish things as quickly as I can.

There's no point in going up on the roof this week. There is more rain in the forecast. I'll write my article tomorrow and do what I can to make the day enjoyable for Dash. Sounds like a plan to me.

Ivy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day 2880

Sometimes I wonder about the repetitive nature of my life. I tend to do the same things over and over again. It's not that I lack imagination. It just feels comfortable to repeat familiar things. My regular Sunday excursion to the gym feels so familiar that I bet I could do my routine blindfolded. I always use the same machines, in the same order, for the same amount of time. The only thing that changes is how tired I feel. Sometimes my workout seems easy. Other times it is a real effort.

I usually hate using the hand bicycle for the first five minutes. As my body heats up, I begin to forget I'm exercising and start to daydream. I wonder about the other people in the gym and why they are there. After ten minutes of this I start thinking about being done and push a little harder. For the last five minutes my heart rate is elevated the way it should be and I am sweating.  When I'm finished with the hand bicycle, I shoot baskets on the court. I try to shoot ten free throws before I return to the machines. Sometimes this goes quickly. Other times I can't seem to connect and it takes forever. When I'm on the treadmill I start slow and gradually increase the speed and incline at regular intervals. When I've put in twenty minutes on the treadmill, there are a variety of resistance machines I like to use. Even though my time on the basketball court varies from week to week, it always seems to take 62 minutes to finish my routine. My watch says I burn about 450 calories, but it feels like a lot more.

Dash must have felt like he needed some exercise this morning as well, because he seemed very eager to walk when we got up this morning. He actually seemed more interested on going out the back door than in having his breakfast, which was unlike him. We got him suited up and off we went. Janet and I have learned that when Dash wants to walk, it is best to take advantage of the opportunity. As soon as we got to the park, Dash headed straight for the shoreline. We had a surprisingly long walk this morning and Dash still didn't seem that tired when we returned home. I'm not sure what this all means, but I hope it's a good sign.

It was a dreary day with scattered light showers. There was no point in washing the car or doing something on the roof, so I vacuumed the house instead. I wish the house looked clean after I vacuumed, but it always looks exactly the same. The only proof that I've done anything at all is a canister full of dog hair and dirt. I'm always amazed that Dash can shed so much while still maintaining a healthy, full coat of hair. I vacuum up enough dog hair every month to make a new dog, but Dash always looks exactly the same.

I saw a trailer for a movie called Salyut-7 that I would like to see. Unfortunately, the film is Russian and doesn't seem to have been released in North America yet. One of the interesting things about this movie is that there are 20 minutes of weightless scenes that were supposedly shot in space. The rumor is that it was more cost effective to actually shoot the film in space than to create the complex digital effects that were used in films like Gravity. I wonder if this is true? It will probably be a long time before I get a chance to see for myself. Salyut-7 is available on several Bit Torrent sites but my computer would be riddled with viruses if I ever tried to download it. I'll just wait until it shows up on iTunes.

I noticed that it's been two years since we had that awful water leak under our foundation. I wonder why the bad things are so much easier to remember than the good things?

Jada is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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