Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 1773

We had a nice view of the solar eclipse this evening. As luck would have it, the best viewing time in Dallas was right around sunset, so we actually got a chance to see the eclipse with the naked eye as the ground haze near the horizon filtered the sun's light. After I walked the dogs, I grabbed a camera and headed toward what I though would be the best viewing location. My instincts were right, because when I arrived at my destination, there were several guys with large telescopes already there. One of the guys had a fancy H-Alpha filter on his telescope and let me take a look. There were several very large sunspots and I noticed that there was a bit of a rough edge to the bite the moon had taken out of the sun. I suspect that I was seeing the silhouette of mountains and valleys around the moon's circumference.

I've only seen one total eclipse of the sun in my life, but I've seen many partial ones. I wonder if I'll ever see another total eclipse? These things are pretty rare and almost never pass directly overhead. I saw my first one while I was going to high school in Alaska and I've never seen another one since. It was pretty cool to witness this eclipse though. I've never seen a sunset eclipse before and might never see one again.

Dot had a good day at her physical therapy session today. She seemed confident and sure of herself, with none of the shakiness in her rear legs that we saw last week. I'm always happy when Dot has a good day because it makes me think that all the effort we've put into physical therapy is actually producing some results. Dot seemed to enjoy here acupuncture therapy too, so it was a very good day.

I finished my writing assignment right on schedule and I'm up to speed on all the websites I manage, so maybe I'll have a free day tomorrow. That would be nice. I need to start planning for an upcoming video project and there's always those new Dr. Who episodes I haven't seen yet. I'll do just about anything to avoid re-grouting the shower.

Yikes! I just heard that there is another confirmed case of Ebola in New York City. With so many healthcare workers becoming infected, you'd think that they'd self-quarantine for 21 days outside the country before returning to the United States. One can only hope that common sense will eventually prevail and we'll impose a travel ban, close the borders, and stop issuing Visas to and from these West African countries. This is getting out of hand.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 1772

I'm beginning to think that time is relative. Even though a loud wall clock in the kitchen ticks off the seconds at a constant pace, some days seem fueled by adrenalin, while others seem excruciatingly slow. Today was one of those slow days. The dogs dawdled along on their walks, stopping to smell each and every tree along the way. Breakfast took longer to make, even though it was only my regular oatmeal and fruit. My writing assignments took almost twice as long to complete, even though they were almost identical to the ones I finished yesterday in record time. Such a slow day! Even dog training class seemed to crawl along in first gear, since Dash wasn't in the mood to do anything right.

I saw a recent survey that said 58% of people are convinced that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. I'm surprised the percentage isn't even higher. Every time I turn on the TV there's breaking news about some new plague or atrocity. I wonder when folks are finally going to realize that all wars from now on out are really wars of the future against the past. If the human race is going to continue, it's imperative that the future wins. I'm continually baffled why the United States, Russia, and perhaps even China, can't put their differences aside and realize that they all have enormous common interests. China and the U.S. are great trading partners already. Russia and the U.S have worked together on the International Space Station with great success for over a decade. The world's industrialized nations need to quit their petty bickering and use their vast resources to totally eradicate the medieval belief systems and third world diseases that are dragging us down. Science and good hygiene can eradicate Ebola. Terrorism might be a bit tougher, but I bet the thought of the US, Russia, and China all acting as one to get rid of these cockroaches might get someone's attention. When you've got all the nukes, people listen.

Dash has diarrhea again. He's got such a sensitive stomach that the least little thing can upset the balance. I don't know what caused things to head South this time. I don't think he ate anything bad in the park, but we did put him on a probiotic recently. Maybe instead of curing his problem, it actually made things worse. I'm not sure what is wrong this time. All I know is that if he wakes me up tonight and appears restless, I'm going to get him outside as quick as I can.

I hope that Thursday will be more interesting than today. It would be nice if I could zip through all my chores and assignments in record time. Maybe if I got caught up on things, I could even watch a few of those Dr. Who shows I've been recording on the DVR. Now that I think of it, tomorrow probably will go quickly. My writing assignment will take me through the morning. Then Dot's physical therapy session and acupuncture will take me through the afternoon. All I've got to do after that is remember to take out the trash.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 1771

When we were taking our morning walk, we encountered a work crew laying concrete for the new bicycle superhighway that is replacing our favorite path. The sun had just risen and there was just enough ground fog reflecting the sunlight to make it look like the crew was working with molten lava instead of concrete. I found the image strangely beautiful, but I'm not really looking forward to the completed bicycle path. Most of the cyclists the dogs and I encounter are very rude. They like to ride as fast as they can on the narrow trails and seldom slow down or even try to get out of the way of people walking their dogs. We've almost been run over by cyclists several times. These Type-A maniacs will love the new concrete bike path. The dogs and I will have to find an alternate route.

I'm sleeping better these days, but my dreams are becoming so mundane that they're starting to include people and situations from everyday life. This had got to stop. Life is boring enough as it is, without dreamland becoming a six hour extension of my daily routine. Where are those flying dreams I used to have? We need some of those.

I spent most of the day writing and will probably do the same tomorrow. My assignments are quite familiar by now, but my mind still goes blank occasionally. When I can't think of anything, I'll hop in the car and take a bill to the post office or a check to the bank. When that doesn't do the trick, I'll go pick up a prescription at the pharmacy or go grocery shopping. I never go very far, because the dogs don't like being left alone and I don't like negotiating Dallas traffic. I think I've come as close to being a hermit in a big city as you can get.

I got a notice from Shutterstock today asking me to send them a W-9 form so they could report my earnings. What? I think I've made a total of $14 from Shutterstock since I've joined. Since you have to meet a $100 threshold level before most of these stock photo sites will actually pay you anything, maybe I'll be sending in that W-9 form about five years from now.

The weather is beautiful right now. It's usually about 65 degrees when we wake up in the morning and then warms up to around 80 degrees by mid-afternoon. The dogs love to spend time in the back yard during the Fall. It is tempting to just leave the back door open so they can come and go as they please. Unfortunately, there are far too many critters in the yard. If I left the back door open even five minutes, the living room would be filled with wasps and there would probably be a squirrel in the kitchen. As soon as I shut the door to keep the wasps out, the dogs want to come in again. As soon as they're both inside, they want to go out again. Back and forth we go, but at least the weather is nice.

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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 1770

Dot got a great report from her oncologist today. The ultrasound scan showed no thickening of the intestinal walls, and no evidence whatsoever of recurring tumors. Everyone was impressed at how well Dot's recovery is going. Dot's muscle tone is improving, her incontinence is diminishing, and as far as anyone can tell, she is cancer free. We don't have to go back to the cancer center until next year. Well, actually the next re-check is three months from now, but nevertheless, that's definitely next year.

In addition to being a taxi driver for Dot today, I had quite a few website revisions to make. The work was dull and monotonous even by my own low standards, but at least it kept me busy enough that I didn't need to resort to fixing the leaking shower stall.

I was looking on the Internet today to see if there were any pictures yet of the comet that flew by Mars yesterday. There actually was a picture of comet Siding Spring taken by the Mars Opportunity Rover, but much more impressive was a picture of a completely different comet taken by the Rosetta spacecraft. This incredible photo was taken at a distance of less than 5 miles away from the nucleus of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The photograph was absolutely amazing. So was the fact that we are able to put a spacecraft in orbit around a tiny little comet three hundred million miles away. The picture should be on the front page of every newspaper, but the last time I looked there were just more pictures of men in hazmat suits, serial killers, and wars in the middle east.

I really should have bought a nice telescope before the last telescope store in Texas went out of business. I've been fascinated by astronomy for most of my life. I just don't feel as comfortable being outside on a dark night as I used to be. I never gave safety a second thought when I lugged my telescope outside to look at the stars when I was a kid. Of course my parents never even bothered to lock their doors back then and all the kids in the neighborhood could go trick or treating on Halloween with no parental supervision. It was a different world and the older I grow, the more I miss it.

I've got another writing assignment with very little input tomorrow. That should keep me busy for a while. I'm two episodes behind on Dr. Who and I haven't even looked at the new iPhone 6 yet. So much to do and none of it even matters.

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 1769

I finally got the new generator running. It was easy to start, runs fairly quietly, and seems to produce electricity. I tested it using the only electrical appliance that I could find that was easy to unplug and take outside. Janet should be pleased. Her hairdryer runs just fine using the generator. The only problem I had was getting the gas out of the gas container and into the generator. I hate the complicated locking safety spouts they put on gas containers these days. I can never get them to work. They incorporate a spring that won't allow gas to flow unless you unlock it and press down on the end of the spout. When you finally press hard enough to get the gas flowing, it usually leaks all over the place. I finally gave up and got an old tin funnel out of the tool shed and poured the gas directly out of the can into the funnel.

With the generator running and ready for the next power outage, I moved on to more difficult tasks. I unclogged the large format printer for the fifth time this month and then began to disassemble the workstation where I used to keep the old ESQ-1 synthesizer that I'd banished to the storage warehouse a few weeks ago. One reason that I've been so slow in decluttering the office is that it is quite difficult. There are cables everywhere and when I initially put the studio together, I meticulously fastened each of them into neat bundles with cable ties. It's kind of sad to deconstruct things after all the work I put into putting everything together, but the time has come. The studio was state of the art in the 1980's, but it is a museum piece today. It took quite a while to remove all the wiring and take the big desk apart, but eventually I succeeded without breaking anything. The disassembled synthesizer desk, along with some surprisingly nice luggage from my world traveling days, went to the storage warehouse to join all the other relics from my youth.

Dot has her big cancer recheck tomorrow. Since she had a different type of cancer than Dash, she will get a different type of exam. Instead of a chest x-ray, she will get an ultrasound scan of her abdominal area. Dot has done so well during her recovery that I really hope her exam goes perfectly. It would be really nice to have nothing to worry about for a change.

On my way home from the storage warehouse I stopped at Home Depot and got some tile grout and silicon sealer. The shower is leaking because the grout where the walls meet the floor has all come loose and water is seeping under the tile and finding a way outside. Every time I take a shower I have to put a towel outside the shower stall to sop up the leaking water. When the leak was just a very small puddle it was easy to ignore. Even though I am very good at ignoring things, the growing leak has become a problem that I've just got to deal with. All that being said, the box of tile grout will probably still sit on a shelf for several weeks before I am forced to actually repair things.

The original batch of people being quarantined for Ebola exposure will be released at midnight tonight. Their 21 days are up and they will be free to go about their business. A lot of people in town will be relieved when this happens. Others will become even more alarmed, convinced that 21 days isn't long enough. That's just the way it is these days. I don't think as a country, we will ever come together and fully agree on anything again.

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 1768

It was a remarkably normal day. Both dogs got a bath at Dirty Dawgz. We didn't even have to wait long for a tub this time. I mowed the grass for what I hope is the last time this season. I changed the bed sheets and washed the dog blankets. I filled the car with gas and picked up some bulk items at Sam's Club. It was just an ordinary Saturday.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. There was this one little snag. A train station less than two miles from our house was completely shut down and the train was taken out of service when a woman with a fever got off the train at our neighborhood station and vomited on the platform. Janet actually saw all the police and hazmat crews as she was driving home from running errands. Rumors swirled for most of the afternoon. The woman was on the quarantine list. She used to be on a quarantine list. She never was on anyone's list at all. Nobody knew for sure. I kept hearing that she lived at the Ivy Apartments where Thomas Duncan became ill. I'm not even sure if this is true. Evidently, there was a lot of confusion because the woman in question kept changing her story. The woman now says that she threw up because of a spider bite. Of course she could have just been drunk. When asked for a comment, a DART Rail official said the woman was the sixth person today to have thrown up on one of their trains. This is why I prefer not to use public transportation.

Once again, I failed to watch tonight's new Dr. Who episode. This used to be a Saturday night ritual for me, but I just don't find the new season all that interesting. Maybe things will get better as the season progresses, but so far, these new shows don't even come close to the classic ones like Vincent and the Doctor, where the doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh, or Blink where the doctor has to utilize "easter eggs" hidden on seventeen different DVD's to convince Sally Sparrow and her friend Larry to send the Tardis, which was stuck in 1969, back to him. Maybe the new shows will seem better after I've seen them a few times. I tend to like re-runs better than new programming anyway. Oddly, I read an article recently that said watching re-runs makes people happier than watching new shows. Works for me. I've started re-reading books I've already read too.

Since the dogs are clean and the yard is tidy, I have no idea what I'll do tomorrow. I'm even all caught up with work at the moment. Maybe I'll play the guitar a bit. Maybe I'll replace a bunch of dead watch batteries. Or maybe I'll forget what I did today and do everything all over again.

Little Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 1767

So, I'm going to get groceries this morning and there's an ambulance with all its lights flashing parked right in front of the store. This is actually not an uncommon occurrence. I've seen ambulances and firetrucks parked in front of grocery stores dozens and dozens of times. Hey, EMT's get hungry too. What made this truck different was I immediately noticed that many people entering the parking lot took one look at the truck and just kept on driving. They weren't going to take any chances and assumedly went somewhere else to buy their groceries. Most of the people who did enter the store took a quick picture of the truck with their cell phone.

I'll have to admit I was a bit relieved to see that there were no men in biohazard spacesuits inside. There were just four EMT's in their regular uniforms sitting around a table at the little cafe inside the grocery store. Why were they all huddled around a laptop though? That didn't seem normal. They weren't drinking coffee or eating breakfast either.

With a heightened sense of awareness, I wandered around the store looking for something for dinner. I saw four old people coughing profusely while pushing their carts and a guy at the checkout counter wearing a big gauze bandage with blood stains on it. I'm sure that the busy store has always been filled with people like this. I just never noticed them before Dallas became ground zero for Ebola. Now that one nurse on the quarantine list decided to fly to Cleveland and another went on a cruise, you just don't know what to expect. I keep waiting to hear that one of the quarantined people is dating the chef at a popular restaurant, or has a brother who works in the produce department of my regular grocery store. Out of an abundance of caution and just a touch of hypochondria, I picked up a frozen pizza and two frozen Chinese dinners and headed home.

I hope they re-think this "self-monitoring" policy very quickly. It's obviously not working. Why would anyone on a quarantine list who has already been exposed to a deadly virus even think of talking a cruise? Jeez, cruise ships are notorious germ factories already. This is the last place you'd want one of those Presbyterian nurses to be.

When I was up on the roof today, I heard Dot barking and immediately climbed down and went inside to let her out in the back yard. The incontinence episodes have taught me that whenever Dot barks, she needs to pee. Sure enough, she peed within seconds after letting her outside.  There haven't been any accidents in quite a while, but it still takes a lot of coordination.

I discovered that there's a feature on our land-line phone that lets you either block 25 callers, or white-list 25 callers and block the rest. Janet and I added up all our friends, relatives, and clients and came up with a number less than 25. This might be a way to get rid of the annoying telemarketers forever. At any rate, we're going to enter our meager list of friends into the phone and give it a try.

I hope this is a quiet weekend with no surprises at all. I'm tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Of course, I could just turn off the television and pretend everything was fine. I wonder how long that would last?

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 1766

My Facebook feed seems to have divided into two camps: those who think we're all going to die and those who are already sick of hearing about Ebola and want to go back to nonstop LOL cats. I don't feel comfortable at either of these extremes, but I am still a bit incredulous at how this drama is unfolding. So far, it still seems a lot like a bad Michael Bay movie.

I hear that the CDC is seriously considering putting the 70 healthcare workers who came in contact with Thomas Duncan on the TSA no fly list with all the terrorists, while they still refuse to even consider a ban on air traffic to and from West Africa. This is insanity. Hey, I've got an idea! If our government is so determined to let these infected people leave the hot zone, let's forget about all the thermometers and just hook people up to a lie detector instead. If you're lying about exposure to the disease, you don't get in. Pretty simple. If the screeners happen to snag a few people who are lying about things totally unrelated to Ebola, don't let them in either. We've got enough lying bastards in this country already.

I guess I just fundamentally don't understand the rainbows and unicorns crowd who wants to go back to LOL cats on their Facebook page and think we are all overreacting. Maybe I've watched too many apocalyptic science fiction movies. Maybe I continue to think the glass is half empty when it is really half full. I may not know the full story, but I still think we've dropped the ball on something that is very serious. This is a forest fire. You know how they fight forest fires? They create wide firelines that the flames cannot cross and let the fire burn itself out. Nobody would ever take a burning tree and move it to a new forest.

Dot seemed visibly stiff at her physical therapy session today. She still may be a bit sore from her fall yesterday, but our vet thinks she may be suffering from degenerative myelopathy. This slow-onset condition is very common in older dogs and often results in leg weakness and poor muscle tone. Since the spinal nerves gradually deteriorate with this disease, it is important to keep Dot moving to minimize the effects of muscle atrophy. I really think the acupuncture and water therapy with the underwater treadmill are helping. Dot still faces a lot of obstacles, but she is doing better than any senior citizen Dalmatian I've ever seen.  The old girl is pretty remarkable. As long as she has the will to keep going, we're going to do everything possible to ensure that she can.

I ate canned food for dinner tonight instead of going to the grocery store for fresh veggies like I usually do. This was probably pure hypochondria on my part, but I'll make up for my overreaction by going to my favorite restaurant for breakfast tomorrow, just like I always do.

Camp is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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