Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 2772

After an early walk with Janet and Dash, I returned to the Passport Acceptance Facility this morning and renewed my passport. This time everything went perfectly. I was the first in line. I had my D-11 form already filled out in black ink. And most importantly, I had my checkbook with me. The whole process only took me about fifteen minutes. I don't know why I chose the more expensive expedited option, because I definitely have no place to go. I guess I just hate waiting on things.

I knew it would take me forever to make my morning smoothie, so I stopped and got a breakfast taco on the way home. It was still so early when I returned that I didn't know what to do with myself. If I got up this early every morning, I would have a lot more time, but I'm not sure I need more time anymore. Often, I feel like I've got too much time on my hands.

Since I had a lot of free time today, I thought I'd watch a movie on Apple TV. Much to my surprise, Apple TV didn't work. It worked fine two days ago when I was explaining what it could do to Janet. This time I got a message saying that Apple TV wasn't connected to the internet, even though I could clearly see a cat5 cable connecting the box directly the router. I tried the time honored turn everything off and back on again routine and that didn't work. I tried entering the WiFi password again and that didn't work either. Everything else on the network was working fine, so this was a weird little problem. I found an item on the menu called "troubleshooting" and clicked on that. This brought up another menu where I could enter all the network information manually. I didn't want to do that, so I found another little button that said "find network information automatically." I still don't really know what I did, but eventually Apple TV started working again. By this time I didn't even feel like watching a movie. I turned the TV off and ate a piece of cheese I found in the refrigerator.

The orthopedic specialist called to remind me of my appointment tomorrow. I'm glad he did, because I probably would have forgotten. I'm not even sure what I'm going to see the orthopedic guy for. My wrist is almost back to normal again and since I'm still not interested in surgery for my Carpal Tunnel problems, I doubt that anything can be done. Maybe I'll ask the doctor about my shoulder. My shoulder is actually in much worse shape than my wrist.

When I was working on the computer this afternoon, A message from Apple appeared on my screen, saying that a virus had been discovered that needed to be removed immediately. The message definitely looked like an official Apple communication, but Apple doesn't normally do this sort of thing. I quickly forced Safari to quit even though there was a little countdown clock saying I had two minutes before my computer destroyed itself. I opened Firefox and quickly did a Google search describing what I had just seen.

It was a scam. If I wasn't so familiar with Apple, I might have fallen for it. A few more Google searches showed me how to clear the Safari cache files and delete the cookies that were causing this alarming message to appear. It's amazing how much time you have to spend protecting yourself from scams these tays. They're everywhere.

Janet's recovery is going remarkably well and she will be returning to work soon. I've enjoyed having her home, but she loves her job and is eager to get out of the house again. I guess there are only so many Netflix movies you can watch in a single summer. Dash will be lonely for a while. He loves having everybody home and follows Janet around like a shadow during the day. It's a good thing that dogs live in the moment. They can usually adjust to changes quicker than people can.

It's going to take me a while to adjust. Without Dot to take care of or business to keep me busy, I've got to come up with a Plan B.

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 2771

Here's how to waste a day. I got up early, so I could go down to the Passport Acceptance Office and renew my passport before the lines got long. I'd already looked up what I needed to bring with me online. The website said that I could pay with a credit or debit card, but when I arrived the first thing I saw was a large sign saying that passport processing fees must be paid for with a check or money order. Did I have a check with me? Of course not. To make matters even more confusing, there was another sign that said passport photos and other fees must be paid using cash or a credit card. Why did they have to make this so complicated? For one part of the transaction, they want a check, but for another part of the same transaction they demanded cash or a credit card. I'd already downloaded a form and brought it with me, but I saw a third sign saying only the latest forms would be accepted. Did I have the latest forms? Who knows. I grabbed a couple of the official forms from a nearby table before I gave up and went home again.

These new forms seemed longer and more complicated than I'd filled out in the past. They asked for both my parents date of birth and birth city. Jeez, my parents have been dead for quite a while. I couldn't remember when or where they were born. You'd think this information would be readily available, but it wasn't. I finally found my Dad's information on a "Find a Grave" website. I thought I could find my Mom the same way, but her information wasn't listed. I finally found her birth city on my own birth certificate and located her date of birth in a story I'd written about her over twenty years ago.

I though I was home free at this point, but the next section of the form asked for similar information for any marriages or divorces. Give me a break. I was married so long ago and became divorced so quickly that I've always thought of myself as single. I've had numerous passports and I don't think they used to ask all these questions on the application form. Wouldn't they already have the information if I already have a passport? Who knows. Maybe the forms have always been exactly the same and my memory was just better the last time I filled out the application. I'll take the completed application and a check back to the Passport Acceptance Office tomorrow morning. I'd like to put all this nonsense behind me.

When Janet and I were taking Dash on a walk this morning, we saw the neighbor's dog coming out their back door. We immediately panicked and ran back to the safety of our own back yard with Dash as fast as we could. It turned out that the dog was on a leash and there was no danger, but we weren't taking any chances. I don't want to ever be bitten by this dog again and after seeing me limping around the house with swollen legs for three weeks, I don't think Janet wants to get bitten either.

Janet's new car is so pretty that it's got me wanting a new car too. I don't need a new car. I don't really need anything. It would just be nice not to need to be frugal anymore. It would be fun to buy a car on a whim. I'd need a more substantial source of income than freelance writing to do that unfortunately. I wonder if any of the major ad agencies have a division that specializes in marketing to old people. I'd be perfect for that.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 2770

I went car shopping with Janet today. For me this would have been the beginning of a three month ordeal. Janet is much more decisive and came home with a new car. I was glad she invited me along. I love looking at cars and it was actually a very enjoyable afternoon. We visited several dealerships, but the cars that caught Janet's attention were the Audi's. We spent most of the afternoon at the Audi dealership. I always thought that Janet would get another Land Rover, but prices have gone up and service isn't as good as it once was. I could see why an Audi seemed appealing. These cars were pretty cool.

The first thing I noticed was a lot has changed since either of us bought our last car. I was impressed that you can use Google Earth as your GPS display now. You can also set a destination by just speaking to the car. Somehow, the GPS knows the speed limit of every road in the country and warns you if you are speeding. I'm not sure if I like that, but it is impressive. You can change from a soft to a firm suspension with the touch of a button and there's even a built-in WiFi hub.

By the Time we got around to taking a test drive, I think Janet had already decided she wanted an Audi. The dealership was very pleasant and the salespeople weren't pushy at all. I think the car more or less sold itself. One of our friends from Dalmatian Rescue worked at the dealership, so we caught up on dog stories while the bean counters worked out the numbers on her trade in. I wouldn't have had the nerve to buy a car after a single afternoon of car shopping, but I think Janet did the right thing. The car is beautiful and Janet certainly seemed happy on the drive home.

Dash wasn't very happy when we arrived home two hours after his normal dinner time, but he forgave us as soon as we fed him. It's kind of a luxury to be able to leave the house again. When Dot was sick, we could never have left her alone for this length of time. Dash might have been a little lonely, but he was just fine. I'm sure he slept most of the afternoon anyway.

I was planning on renewing my passport today, but going car shopping was much more enjoyable. I'm not in the market for a new car yet, but it's always fun to dream. I did see a few cars this afternoon that would definitely be fun to drive. Hopefully, my car has a few good years left. Cars have gotten so expensive now that I'm not looking forward to the day when I'll need to go car shopping myself.

When I opened my e-mail this evening, I discovered that I'd lost one of my very last website accounts. The client had replaced me with one of his sons. This is actually the third time that I've been replaced by one my my client's children. I should never have picked a profession that was so popular with millennials. Janet could have a steady job for the rest of her life if she wanted because young people aren't interested in her job. I don't know why millennials want my job. It isn't nearly as glamorous as it seems.

I wonder if I could ever work in an office again? It would certainly be easier to buy a cool new car if I had a steady income. I have a wealth of unique skills and loads of experience, but I haven't had a boss for so long that some of my friends tell me that I'm unemployable. They're probably right. Nobody has told me what to do for a long, long time.

Puppies are our Dalmatians of the Day
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 2769

We had a terrible storm last night. The lights flickered on and off for twenty minutes and I kept hearing the thump of small branches hitting the roof. For a while I thought I smelled something burning, but I must have been imagining things. I looked everywhere and couldn't find a problem. We lost our internet connection for a while, but never did lose power. The storm was kind of a surprise after a succession of hot dry days, but at least I didn't have to worry about watering the grass today.

The overnight rain brought cooler temperatures along with it, so our morning walk with Dash was actually very pleasant. I noticed that Jimson Weed is blooming in the park again. I'm always surprised that the city doesn't destroy these beautiful plants, because they are very poisonous.

After breakfast, I wasted way too much time trying to figure out how we had become victims of a gift card fraud. I guess I'm still surprised that nobody was in any particular hurry to refund our money. It turns out that the kind of fraud we experienced is fairly common. It often originates at the facility where the cards are manufactured. An employee copies the numbers off the cards before they are packaged and shipped to a retail outlet. After an unsuspecting person purchases the card at a grocery store and has it activated, the person who copied the numbers at the manufacturing facility is able to receive a notification that the card is activated and then uses the card to make online purchases. There is an entire Consumer Reports website devoted to warning people about this scam. Scammers also sometimes steal batches of cards from a retail outlet, remove the cards from the packaging, copy all the card information, and them replace the cards in counterfeit packaging and return them to the retail outlet where they are purchased by unsuspecting customers. According to the Consumer Reports website, the only way to protect yourself from this kind of crime is to never buy a gift card at a grocery store or other retail outlet where the cards are displayed on an unsecured rack.  Live and learn. I suppose that we'll eventually get our money back, but I'll never buy a gift card again.

I wonder how long it's going to take for my legs to completely heal. I'm taking normal walks with Dash everyday now and the swelling hasn't returned. That's the good news. The bad news is that my left leg is still very sore. I still feel a hard knot in my calf that might take months to disappear. The slow progress is frustrating even though my doctor says that everything is proceeding normally. I'm ready to put this whole unfortunate episode behind me.

Maybe I'll go renew my passport tomorrow. My current passport expires next month and I've heard that the renewal process sometimes takes longer if you wait to renew until after your passport has expired. When did the cost of renewing a passport become so high? I remember paying somewhere around $25 to renew my passport. Now the cost is well over $100. Sign of the times, I guess. There is no place I particularly want to visit right now, but experience tells me that if I let my passport expire, I will need it almost immediately. I used to need a passport frequently when I worked overseas a lot, but somehow I don't expect that I'm going to get many jobs in Germany these days.

The closer we get to the solar eclipse, the more I'm reading that travelers must prepare as if they are entering a disaster zone. You are encouraged to bring your own food, arrive several days ahead of time, and make sure to bring your own toilet paper. It is anticipated that there won't be nearly enough porta-potties available to accommodate the huge influx of visitors. If huge traffic jams, no food, and and absence of toilets is what I've got to look forward to, seeing this "once in a lifetime" event is becoming less appealing every day.

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 2768

It's been three years since Dot suddenly became ill and I thought we were going to lose her. I learned a few days later that she had cancer and I'm still learning how her incredible determination to survive changed me in ways I don't fully understand. From the summer of 2014 to the summer of 2017 Dot defied the odds over and over again, forever becoming my hero in the process. I became so convinced that she could go on forever that it's still hard to believe that she's not with us today.

Caring for Dot became a way of life that made it easier for Janet and I to care for each other while we've been dealing with our own medical problems this summer. We're both getting better now and there is a little less fear of the unknown with each passing day. As long as Dash doesn't give us another scare with his ongoing vestibular disease problems, there will come a day pretty soon when I will no longer be either a patient or a nurse.

What comes next? When people tell me "you can do whatever you want," I am baffled. I'm not sure what I want. I need to focus on realistic choices, since going back in time isn't really an option. When I look backwards, I see so many fond memories. When I look forward, I only see the Zombie Apocalypse. This certainly isn't the world I envisioned when I was making big plans back in the 1970's.

I'm not going to change the world at this point, but I need to become more comfortable living in it. Like it or not, it's the only world we've got. I have a feeling that something pretty simple might do the trick for me. Maybe I should take piano lessons. Years ago I used to enjoy playing the piano, but I have forgotten everything. Maybe I should drive to Wyoming with a sleeping bag and a camera and wait for the eclipse. That's probably a little too bold, but you get the idea. I know there's a world beyond cleaning the house with a pressure washer. I just need to find it.

I went back to the store today and picked up the things I forgot yesterday. I got caught in a brief rain storm on the way home, but it was so hot outside that the rain turned to steam in a matter of minutes. By this afternoon, it was hard to imagine that it had rained at all. We've started walking Dash very early in the morning so he is able to enjoy at least one good walk before the heat becomes oppressive.  He seems to enjoy this new schedule. I'm watering the new grass religiously, but it's going to be an uphill battle to keep it looking good for the rest of the year. What can I say. It's hot. It's Texas. It's summer.

I decided to skip going to the gym today. The swelling in my leg has subsided, but it is still pretty sore. My wrist doesn't feel very strong either. I'm supposed to see the orthopedic specialist later this week. Maybe I'll just ask him when it is OK to exercise again. Until then, I'll try to amuse myself one day at a time.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Day 2767

I finally finished cleaning all four sides of the house with the pressure washer this morning. This is a somewhat futile effort, since spiders have already returned to the part of the house I cleaned first. I've finally learned to wear long pants and a hat when I do this job. It's pretty messy and the spiders aren't happy. I also learned that my wrist hasn't really healed yet. It wasn't very comfortable holding the pressure nozzle for any length of time.

In an attempt to beat the heat, we got up before sunrise to walk Dash. There was a light breeze and the temperature was only in the mid-80's, so the walk was actually enjoyable. Two hours later, it would have been an entirely different story. We got an unusual amount of rain in June. As soon as we put the new grass in, the rain stopped. I run the sprinkler for an hour or so every morning, but I still worry that the grass will dry out before it gets established.

I think we had a heat index of over 105 degrees today. When it gets this hot, it's hard to get motivated to do anything. I did go grocery shopping, but came right home afterwards because I didn't want the fresh fruit to spoil in the car. Several times today, I joined Dash on the bed for a nap. Hey, I had already battled spiders and won. I deserved a nap. Later in the day I did manage to finish one quick website update because I knew that the guy who sent me the job probably wasn't napping with his dog.

Janet and I are becoming so forgetful. We never used to forget things. When we finished our errands this afternoon, we had both forgotten essential  things that should have been on our lists. Oh, well. I guess we will have to go back to the store tomorrow. This is probably what happens when you get old. You spend your entire day trying to remember what you forgot.

We're still debating whether to take a car trip somewhere before Janet returns to work. It would be nice to get away, but the thought of being on the road in August with a dog who could have a seizure at any time in a car that could break down at any point just isn't very appealing. This is probably why we never take car trips. There was a time when we used to travel quite a bit. It was easier when the dogs were young and healthy and we didn't have to leave them in a boarding kennel. We had good friends who would look after Spot when we were away. Spot absolutely loved visiting Lynn and Bob and got along well with their dogs. That was a long time ago. Bob is dead and we haven't seen Lynn in years. I can't imagine leaving Dash. There are just too many health issues.

I was thinking about going to the gym again tomorrow, but after wrestling with the pressure washer this morning, I don't think I'm ready yet. I'd hate to screw up my wrist before it has had time to heal. I asked the doctors at the emergency room how long I needed to wear the splint on my wrist. They just said to ask the orthopedic specialist they referred me to. I don't think they realized that it would take a month to get an appointment though. I don't see any need to wear the splint now, but I probably shouldn't be lifting weights yet.

I just fell asleep at the computer while trying to think of what to write next. I assume that means it's time for bed.

Pongo os today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 2766

I must have been really tired this morning. When I woke up, Janet had already eaten breakfast and walked Dash. I've lost the urge to go out for breakfast on Friday mornings, so I fixed myself some pancakes and bacon instead. I really got off to a slow start today. By the time I'd cleaned up the breakfast dishes, the day was well underway.

It didn't seem like Friday at all. I had work to do and spent most of the day writing a new article. It's hard to believe that not that long ago I was writing three or four articles a day for weeks at a time. Times change. Now, it's the exception rather than the rule when I'm busy with work. I can't say I enjoyed all the deadlines, but I was certainly comfortable with them. Writing under pressure was something I'd done for most of my life. Now, as I find myself sliding toward retirement, I'm not certain what to do next.

I try to stay busy and am happy with the occasional assignments I get, but there is no clear purpose anymore. I've become adverse to risk, I don't welcome change, and nothing could convince me to sit through a status meeting. Basically, all the qualities that helped me create and sustain a successful company are gone. Some of my friends have reinvented themselves and gone on to second or third careers, but I'm uncertain what I want to do next.

Luckily, when I've got a writing assignment I don't have to worry about all that. I wrote for most of the day, took a shower, paid my July Mastercard bill, and picked up some burgers for dinner at Chili's. I was going to  use the pressure washer to clean the Eastern side of the house, but it was way too hot for that. The temperature was well over 100 degrees this afternoon.

Dash seemed back to normal today. The frightening thing about idiopathic vestibular disease is that there is no known cure. There are lots of tests you can do to rule out certain things, but if the tests are inconclusive, you just have to try to keep your dog calm when there is an incident and hope for the best. Dash's symptoms are often severe and they make us wonder whether he has some rare disease that hasn't been diagnosed yet. I'm always happy when he recovers, but I'm always worried about what might happen next.

I probably should just quit worrying. My life is still calm and serene compared to what I see on the television news. Janet, Dash and I are all getting older, but I think we are still aging with a certain amount of dignity. I'm smart and I still have a sense of curiosity. It shouldn't be that hard to turn the next twenty years into a meaningful experience. The world might not even be here in twenty years, but I'm going to remain hopeful. I just need to find a purpose.

Katie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 2765

We had to take Dash to an emergency vet last night. He had thrown up earlier in the evening and we'd hoped that giving him a Cerenia pill would settle his stomach so he could sleep. Unfortunately, things got worse. About 1 AM he woke up up drooling heavily while walking anxiously around the house. It seemed like he wanted to throw up again, but when we took him outside, he just froze in the back yard and couldn't seem to move. Something seemed very wrong. We thought he might be having another vestibular seizure, even though there were no rapid eye movements or head tilting. After about twenty minutes, he calmed down and tried to sleep on the bedroom floor. We were relieved that the episode seemed to be over, but then about an hour later it started all over again. This time the heavy drooling was even worse. We began to worry that he might have been poisoned and rushed him to the nearest emergency vet. His vital signs were good and the veterinarian who treated him said that there weren't any obvious signs of poisoning. We were at the vet for about an hour and around 4 AM, Dash began to stabilize. The vet agreed that this looked a lot like vestibular disease, but said the symptoms could also be caused by a half a dozen other things.

We took Dash home and tried to get a little sleep before Janet had to get up and go to the eye doctor. Poor Dash. We've been hoping that his vestibular seizures were over, but apparently not. There isn't a lot you can do about idiopathic vestibular disease. If you can determine the cause, you can sometimes eliminate the problem, but not always. We've already done an MRI of his brain and eliminated the possibility of a brain tumor. He doesn't seem to have an inner ear infection either. I'll have to check his thyroid levels again. Sometimes low thyroid levels can cause symptoms of vertigo and nausea very similar to vestibular disease. There really isn't a cure, so we may be dealing with these periodic episodes for the rest of his life.

Dash seemed fine today. We didn't walk him and fed him a very bland diet. So far, so good. I've started taking Niacin before bedtime again. My doctor say it helps with cholesterol problems, but the flushing it causes is uncomfortable, so I try to be asleep when all the little capillaries start to dilate. Last night when Dash woke us up, the Niacin flushing had begun and my skin was bright red. When we went to the emergency vet, I looked like I had a severe sunburn all over my body. The vet probably though I'd gotten confused and gone to the wrong hospital. I certainly looked worse than Dash.

By the time Dash's heavy drooling stopped, my skin had returned to it's normal color. The only good thing about the worrisome night was that on the way home from the vet, I got a chance to see a beautiful thin crescent moon in conjunction with Venus in the early morning sky. Today, we were all pretty tired and Dash and I spent a considerable amount of time napping.

I got a few things done today, but not much. I picked up some meds for Dash, bought a new sprinkler for the yard at Home Depot, and filled the car with gas. I received a new writing job this afternoon, so I'll probably be busy tomorrow. For some reason, I thought it was Wednesday for most of the day. Janet had to remind me to take out the trash this evening. I was going to wait until tomorrow evening. I hope that Dash sleeps well tonight. I hope we all sleep well.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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