Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 3008 - Vernal Equinox

I'm starting to get the urge to do things again. I guess this is a good sign. From time to time I still see opportunities to view NASA launches. There have been several opportunities to apply for credentials to view Space X launches in Florida. Recently, I just missed the deadline to apply to view the launch of the InSight Mars Lander at Vandenberg Air Force Base this May. It's still too complicated to leave Dash and way too expensive for me to become a space groupie, but where there's a will, there's a way. If NASA continues offering bloggers a chance to view and write about their interplanetary missions, I'd like to do this again sometime.

Some days I think I'd like to write songs again as well. My interest in recording has returned. Mostly this just consists of reading old instruction manuals and trying to figure out how to use my aging equipment. It would be a long journey to get back to where I was in the mid-1970's. Not only would I have to brush up on multi-track recording, I'd have to learn to play my keyboards and guitar again. My interest in space is genuine. My interest in music might just be a sneaky way to convince myself to buy more gear. We'll see if any of these latent desires come to fruition. Right now I'm still bogged down with toilets that run and a roof that won't drain properly.

I certainly didn't embark on any new adventures today. It was just a pleasant Tuesday. I'm starting to see wildflowers, but I can only photograph the ones along our path. Dash doesn't take detours anymore. I'm so happy if I can get hm to walk at all, that I don't try to push things. Today was a good day. Dash took a nice afternoon walk for the second day in a row. I never know if he's going to walk when I put his gear on. Some days he'll walk confidently to the back gate and other days he'll just stick his nose out the door and refuse to leave the house. Afternoon walks are much slower than morning walks. I don't understand that either. Dash doesn't seem uncomfortable or tired, but he just inches along.

My morning smoothie tasted like pudding this morning. Why? Little inconsistencies like this drive me nuts. I've been making this thing the same way for several years now, but it never tastes quite the same. I think this week's bananas are too firm, but maybe it's something else. I could try just using half a banana tomorrow, but then what would I do with the other half? Dash won't eat bananas anymore. This is probably why I need to go to Vandenberg Air Force Base again. If you spend too much time thinking about the consistency of your breakfast banana, your world has become too small.

I saw the season's first Evening Primrose this morning. I could have got a better photo is Dash would have let me climb down the small ravine where the flowers were. He was headed in the opposite direction and I though he might fall on the uneven ground anyway. Luckily, I have a telephoto lens.

The emerging wildflowers make our morning walks more fun. I've learned the names of most of these flowers by now. I can even tell you when each variety will start to bloom. Maybe we'll see something interesting tomorrow. If not, I can always check the temperature in the refrigerator and pay a few more bills.

Baxter is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 3007

We're making progress. It only took the new appliance repairman five minutes to find something that all three of the previous repairmen missed. It wasn't a bad component. It was just a loose wire. None of the previous repairmen had bothered to remove the evaporator fan. If they had taken this extra step they would have clearly seen the loose wire behind the fan housing that prevented the defrost heater from operating properly. After reconnecting the wire, today's repairmen tested all the components in the defrost circuit to make sure they worked and then told me that he suspected that none of the components I'd replaced were bad in the first place. We'll see if today's visit solves my problem. I think there's a good chance that it did.

I guess today was my lucky day. Not only did the refrigerator get repaired, Dash took an afternoon walk as well. I still have no idea why he'll refuse to leave the yard on some days and walk normally on others. I think it has something to do with smell, because Dash always smells the air intently before deciding whether to walk or not. The decision doesn't seem to have anything to do with whether he's tired or not. Sometimes he refuses to walk when he clearly has a lot of energy. I'll probably never know what goes on in Dash's mind. I was just glad that he decided to take two walks today,

I like talking with good repairmen. They seem similar to me in many ways. They all seem to enjoy the problem solving aspect of fixing things and can't stand to work in an office environment. Most of them like working on their own. The guy who came over today used to be an auto mechanic, but said he preferred repairing appliances because most garages weren't air conditioned. "It just gets too hot in the Summer," he told me. I've learned a lot by talking with repairmen. I doubt that I'd make a great repairmen myself, but I do enjoy knowing how things work.

I picked up the wrong meds for Dash again today. I've done this several times in a row this month. I really need to remember to check the pills before I leave the vets office, but my brain seems to be on autopilot. I always take the bag home and then I open it up. Old habits die hard I guess.

They say today's big market sell off was caused by Facebook. I don't know why people are so upset that Facebook is selling their secrets. I've known this for years. If I even think about buying something, there will be an ad for the same thing on my Facebook timeline within a matter of minutes. Every time you take one of those online quizzes, marketers know a little more about you. I think most people would be shocked at how much Google and Facebook already know about us. They didn't have to pry the information out of us either. We willingly just gave it away. I wouldn't be selling any Facebook stock. People aren't going to close their accounts because Facebook is selling their secrets. They're already addicted to social media.

I hope I have put my refrigerator woes behind me. I won't know for sure whether the repair was successful until the refrigerator goes through several normal defrost cycles. If the refrigerator is really fixed, I'm going to move on to the toilet. Fixing the toilet should be a piece of cake compared to this refrigerator.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 3006

I was listening to NPR as I was driving to the gym this morning. There was a program about Alzheimer's Disease and they were interviewing someone at a nursing home in Germany where they were having problems with patients becoming extremely agitated and trying to run away. They tried a lot of things without much success and then someone suggested that they build a bus stop right in front of the facility where no bus would ever come. Patients still tried to escape and almost inevitably went straight to the bus stop where they sat on the bench and waited for the bus that never came. Eventually they forgot what they were waiting for and a nurse would come and talk with them and lead them back inside. Doctors were surprised that the patients no longer seemed agitated. Instead of being restrained or locked inside the facility, they had been allowed to slowly and peacefully forget their inner voices. I don't know why this story resonated with me. It just seemed to make a lot of sense. Perhaps we all need a place to forget the things that trouble us.

Four years ago today Dash was in the middle of radiation treatments for his thyroid cancer. The treatments were arduous and we were just hoping that Dash was strong enough to complete the program. Three years ago today Dot was slowly learning to walk again after spinal surgery. Two years ago today Dot could walk pretty well, but her abdominal cancer had returned and she was taking chemo again, along with monthly ultrasound scans to measure the size of her tumors. A year later Dot was too weak to continue the chemo treatments and walking was limited to slowly going around the block. It's been a long journey. Now Dash is going to the same cancer center for monthly scans to measure the size of the blood clot in his heart. Sometimes it's hard to remember when the dogs were healthy. Actually, they were both healthy for a long, long time. I need to remember the good times. There were lots and lots of good times. I'd like to think if we remember the good times, maybe we can recreate them.

The gym was quiet today. The basketball players are gone and I have the court to myself again. Actually, just about everybody was gone this morning. I wonder why gym attendance fluctuates so much. Once I get a routine in place, I like to keep it. Apparently, other people are more spontaneous about their Sunday activities.

It rained a lot last night, but I didn't feel like going up on the roof. Now that Spring is on the way, the roof is covered in sticky yellow catkins that fall as the oak trees start to bud. These little flowers turn the standing water bright yellow and make the clean up process much more difficult. I need to clear the catkins away soon though. They form little dams that hold the water and turn the roof into a duck pond.

It's always something. I cleared a slow draining sink today. That was enough drudgery for one day. I need to make a new pair of protective boots for Dash. The pair he's been wearing has just about worn out. I'll put this on my list for next week. If the new refrigerator repairman can solve my ongoing problems tomorrow, it will be a good week no matter what else happens. I'm hoping for the best.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 3005

I certainly didn't accomplish much today. I did my grocery shopping and filled the car up with gas, but that was about it. Janet was away at a Dalmatian Rescue event today. Dash usually follows Janet around like glue on weekends, but he didn't seem to notice she was gone. I suspect he just thought it was another work day. We ate breakfast and took our morning walk just like we did yesterday and then I started my Saturday errands. When I returned Dash was asleep.

I spent a long time trying to figure out where to store a huge box of toilet paper I got at Sam's Club. Buying in bulk does save money, but it sure is difficult to store the stuff when you're living in a small house. I guess I could have done some house cleaning, but I got distracted looking for a technical service manual for my refrigerator online. There are all types of sites that will sell you duplicate service manuals, but I wanted to find a free one. I eventually found what I was looking for and started reading the diagnostic section. It's probably not helpful that I want to figure out what is wrong before the service technician arrives on Monday, but that's just the type of guy I am.

I suspect that one of the two remaining original thermistors has gone bad. Hopefully that's all it is. If the mother board I replaced a few months ago is already defective, I've got a big problem. Truthfully, I have no idea why the refrigerator isn't working. It should be working perfectly. When I read through the technical service manual, it appeared that the previous technicians had done exactly what the manual recommended.

While I was searching for the cause of my refrigerator problem, I started looking up the side effects of some some of the meds I'm taking. That was a mistake. A hypochondriac should never start reading about side effects. It's easy to imagine that you have all of them. I'm trying to decide whether a brand name drug I'm taking is worth the extra money. The brand name and the generic are similar, but for some reason the side effects are different. After comparing both, I felt like someone was telling me to pick my poison. I miss the days when I didn't even have a doctor and took no meds at all. As you might expect, those days were a long, long time ago.

We were going to go out for pizza tonight, but Janet ended up getting a free pizza at the grocery store.   We thought about going out anyway and then it started to rain. Once I started to hear thunder, I knew we were staying home. We've learned that it isn't wise to leave Dash alone in a storm. The free Tom Thumb pizza wasn't bad, but it didn't come close to the pies at our neighborhood Italian restaurant. Who knows when we'll have the urge for pizza again. Usually, both of us eat amazingly healthy meals. Sometimes you just crave pizza though.

I hope I wake up tomorrow with more motivation than I had today. I could have easily stayed in bed all day. Luckily, I don't need motivation to go to the gym. I've never been motivated to go to the gym. I just go because that's what I do on Sunday.

Allie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 3004

I met a refrigerator repairman while I was grocery shopping this morning. He was parked next to me and the message on his company truck sounded intriguing. I knocked on his window and asked him if he was familiar with my refrigerator. The guy was very knowledgable. I was actually surprised that he spent so much time talking to me in the Central Market parking lot. I asked for the guy's business card and told him I'd give him a call. When I looked up the company website when I got home, they had excellent reviews. For comparison, I looked up the repair shop I'm currently using and they had terrible reviews. I've never seen so many single stars. I wish I'd checked out the Yelp reviews before I'd scheduled three unsuccessful service visits. The new company I discovered today offers a full year warranty on parts and labor. The parts warranty actually ran out at the other place before they even fixed my problem. I knew Janet would be skeptical, but I decided to try one more time to fix my existing refrigerator.

I think there are a lot of good reasons to try to save this refrigerator. The GE model that I have has a better service history than the Maytag I'd be replacing it with. The Maytag is smaller and holds less food. It also doesn't have an ice dispenser in the door like the model I have now. I always read the testimonials and a lot of people said the Maytag model didn't keep food cold enough and that the ice maker had a tendency to leak. So here we are. I may be throwing money down a rabbit hole, but I'm going to give this new company a try. I really like the refrigerator I have now. I wish GE still made this model.

After spending so much time thinking about refrigerators this morning, I decided to go ahead and defrost the evaporator coil before the weekend. The refrigerator is still cooling fine, but I know this drill pretty well by now. I've probably got four days before performance begins to suffer. It made sense to go ahead and take care of this now. I removed the ice on the coil and put everything back together in less than an hour this time. I think the repairman I met this morning was surprised that I knew actual part numbers and was familiar with the inner workings of kitchen appliances. It's too bad I don't know a little bit more or I could fix this thing myself.

Breakfast wasn't bad this morning, but it wasn't great either. I just picked a restaurant that was on the way to the grocery store. Maybe my problem is that I'm just not as interested in food as I used to be. I eat smaller portions now and occasionally even the thought of food turns my stomach. If a great meal can't turn my day around, I wonder what can? Food used to be an easy, almost foolproof way to perk me up. It doesn't work anymore.

Luckily, food still works for Dash. His appetite has really improved. I hope this means that his heart condition is improving as well. I have a feeling that when he was refusing to eat, he was in worse shape than we or the vet thought. The only problem with Dash's new interest in food is that he wants a treat before he'll do anything. He learned too well that we really want him to eat and now he wants to eat all the time. It's hard to teach a dog to do things in moderation.

The weather is still nice. Our Oak trees are starting to bud and that means the messy catkins are starting to fall. The pollen in these tiny flowers stains the car, causes me to sneeze, and makes a huge mess on the roof. I guess even nice weather has a downside. If this weather continues, it won't be long before I'm mowing the grass again.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 3003

I wish refrigerators were as easy to repair as computers. Every time I've taken a computer in for repair, I've gotten it back the same day. So far, all the repairs have been reasonably priced and more importantly, they've been successful. Today, I took my desktop computer in to replace a faulty CD/DVD drive and less than three hours later I got a call saying that I could come pick it up. The whole experience was pretty painless.

Plumbers and HVAC repairmen can be expensive, but so far I've had good results. My beef is with appliance repairmen. Washers, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators shouldn't be so hard to fix. I've had terrible luck with appliances. If Google reviews are any indication, lots of other people have had the same experience. I don't think major appliances are made as well anymore. There are fewer brands to choose from and almost everyone sources their component parts from China. Until I started looking for refrigerators, I didn't realize that Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, and Amana are all the same thing. No wonder some of the Whirlpool and Maytag models I was considering looked identical. It's relatively easy to track down the source of a computer problem, since just about every process is logged. By comparison, refrigerator repair seems more like a black art.

When I was out running errands this afternoon, I answered a telemarketing call by mistake. I hate when that happens. I thought the number might be the computer repair shop, but it turned out to be a salesperson from Who's Who in America. Why does this company still exist? When I was a kid, some people thought it was a big deal to be included in Who's Who. Now, if you feel inclined to brag about your resume, you do it on LinkedIn. I made the mistake of buying a Who's Who book decades ago when they first included me. They've been pestering me to buy another book ever since. SiriusXM is the same way. If you ever make the mistake of turning on SiriusXM in your car, they will never forget you. I told the lady from Who's Who that I was too busy to talk even though I was just picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. I'm sure they'll call back.

Dash had a lot of energy today, so I thought he'd enjoy his afternoon walk. We got off to a good start, but after only 50 yards, his knee brace fell off. We stopped so I could reattach the brace and that gave Dash time to reconsider his decision to leave the yard. When I was ready to go again, Dash wouldn't budge. He turned around and started tugging to go home. He still had lots of energy, so when Janet came home Dash started barking and pestering her. She ended up walking him and he walked normally. Dash is a smart dog. I think he was just trying to make me look bad.

I still can't believe that United Airlines put a dog in an overhead bin and killed it. Who would even think of putting a dog in an overhead bin. Two days later the same airline sent a dog to Japan by mistake when it's real destination was Kansas City. These are the same people who dragged that old man off the plane too. I'm not the type of person who boycotts things, but I don't think I'll be flying United Airlines again. Personally, I would never take a dog on a plane. I've heard too many horror stories.

It's almost Friday again. I wonder if I'll ever find a breakfast I like? Maybe I should try a hotel. I usually like hotel food when I'm traveling.

Carmine is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Day 3002

We managed to get Dash's nails trimmed this morning. It's hard to believe that this used to be an easy task, Now, it is next to impossible. These days if you touch his feet, Dash thinks you are trying to kill him. I don't think we would have had a chance if we weren't going to see his favorite vet. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Dash still trusts Molly. Even with expert help it wasn't an easy job. I held Dash and Janet fed him treats to distract him while the vet clipped. Each time we do this, it gets a little harder. I wish his nails would just quit growing.

Ever since Dash ripped out a dewclaw, I've been worried about his nails. The risk of bleeding is very real. It took several weeks and three trips to the vet before the bleeding completely stopped when he tore the dewclaw. This was before he was on blood thinners too. Today, the consequences would be far worse. The rubber boots he wears on walks are primarily to reduce the risk of cuts and bleeding. We do the best we can, but this is going to be continual problem.

The nail trim wasn't today's only dog problem. Dash peed in the bed while he was asleep last night. I spent most of the morning cleaning all the bedding. I hope this isn't the start of incontinence. Dash still seems to have bladder control, so maybe last night was just a fluke. I hope so. An incontinent dog who insists on sleeping in the bed with you is a major problem. Dot was incontinent during the last years of her life, but she was too weak to jump in the bed anymore, so it was easier to create a safe space for her. Dash is stubborn. Even if I brought home all the rubberized mats we sewed for Dot, he might refuse to use them.

I didn't get much done today. Our trip to the vet put me several hours behind on our daily routine. By the time I gave Dash his morning walk and fixed my breakfast, it was well past noon. Even with such a late start, I wasn't really behind on anything. Other than fixing a never ending assortment of broken things around the house, there is very little to do.

Maybe if I get organized tomorrow, I'll take my computer to the repair shop. I don't know why it is important to me to have a working CD burner. Nobody asks me to make them a CD anymore. Probably the best reason to repair the computer is that parts might not be available in the near future. I got the computer in 2010. Apple doesn't even put CD/DVD burners in newer computers, so OEM Superdrives won't be available forever.

The weather continues to be beautiful. No Spring allergies yet either. I don't think the rainy season is over yet, but I doubt that we have to worry about snow. It's hard to believe that large sections of the country are still dealing with snow when it is 70 degrees outside. It was so nice today that I was even able to convince Dash to take two walks. Hey, when your dog takes two walks, eats all his food, and has nicely trimmed nails, it's a pretty good day.

Humphrey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Day 3001

I still haven't adjusted to Daylight Savings Time. Why are the stars out when it's time to get up in the morning? Isn't it Spring yet? I'm having a hard time getting out of bed in the dark. I know the days are getting longer, but everything was fine before the time change. By the time I wake up to sunshine again, it will probably be too hot.

Dash has adjusted to the time change better than I have. He gets up in the dark with Janet because he knows who feeds him. By the time I'm up, he's ready for his morning walk. At least the weather is nice. We're walking at sunrise again. All the trees are starting to bud and I see a few new wildflowers every morning. I enjoy our walks in the Spring. There's always something to see.

Dash might not get a walk tomorrow morning. It's time to get his nails trimmed again. I was lucky that Dash's vet could work us in. She was completely booked, but told us to come over before her first appointment. She's the only one left who is able to trim Dash's nails, so I think she knew how desperate we were. I hope Dash is well behaved tomorrow. When he was healthy, Dash used to actually enjoy going to the vet. He's always been a social dog and enjoyed the attention. Now, it's a different story. Even something as minor as a nail trim sends him into a panic.

Today was slow. We got off to an early start, but by the time I finished my morning smoothie and cleaned up the dog poop in the yard, it was time for lunch. I don't actually eat lunch, but Dash does. Somewhere along the line we started feeding him a rice cake at lunchtime and now he insists on it. The rice cake doesn't add many calories and it's something he can look forward to in an often boring day. When Dash was having trouble eating, we started spreading something tasty on top of the rice cake to make it more appealing. Sometimes I add a little peanut butter. Other times I add some canned dog food. Now this rice cake sandwich is part of our daily ritual.

I took a small check to the bank and paid a few bills this afternoon. Checks from clients are infrequent now, but they are still appreciated. There are so many things on my to-do list, but it is hard to focus on them. Everything is necessary, but nothing is appealing. I have a feeling that I'll fix the CD burner on my computer before the toilet, the roof, or the refrigerator. The computer still seems like a friend. The other things, no so much.

It's taking me forever to completely shake off this cold. I still have some nasal congestion and an upset stomach. Luckily the night sweats seem to be gone. Maybe the upset stomach has nothing to do with the cold. The last batch of food I got at Central Market's deli counter was way too spicy. I got the same things I always do, but there must have been a new chef. I wish people would leave recipes alone. As soon as I get used to something, it changes.

Day 3001 was a bit anticlimactic. I shouldn't have been surprised, but very little happened. It's a bit early to start thinking about Day 4000 too. That's almost three years away.

Wyatt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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