Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 1740

I'm beginning to feel like I'm locked in a perpetual battle with the aging process. It's not just me that's aging; it's everything. I lost two of my favorite cars to this battle this year. I just couldn't keep them running any longer. I'm losing ground on the house as well. Even though the place is extremely well built, it is almost 65 years old and nature is taking its toll. When I was up on the roof today, I saw signs of carpenter ants again. The foundation is shifting a bit, even though there are concrete piers that go all the way to the bedrock. Lord knows how long the plumbing will last. The two inch cast iron drains are no match for today's larger washing machines and dishwashers. It's amazing how quickly nature wins if you don't keep making constant repairs.

There are small victories of course. I am so happy that the dogs are healthy again. They both could have easily died this year. I can't make them any younger though, so I know this is a temporary victory. When I took over my Dad's affairs toward the end of his life, it was frightening to see how quickly things can go downhill. I need to do a better job of appreciating each additional day that I am granted. None of us really know how many we will have. The dogs do a great job of living one day at a time. I should do better myself.

I tried to make the most of today by downloading and installing IOS 8 on my phone, removing a small mountain of cracked pecan shells from the roof, mowing the grass, and making sure that the dogs had two nice walks. It was surprisingly warm today for so late in the year. I guess since we've already had some very pleasant Fall days, I expect them all to be that way. It might have been too hot for me, but I think the dogs enjoyed the warmth. They spent quite a while sunbathing out in the back yard this afternoon.

I set the DVR to record the latest episode of Dr. Who before walking the dogs this evening. There will be no mini-revue tonight because I haven't even watched the show yet. Perhaps this will give me something to do while I am preparing the bed for Dot a few hours from now. Although she hasn't had an accident recently, I still can't bring myself to declare victory over the incontinence. Better safe than soiled is my new motto.

I saw more Christmas trees when I was doing my shopping this afternoon. They were artificial trees, of course, but there's still something wrong with seeing Christmas stuff for sale in September. When I was walking the dogs, I notice several yard signs announcing the annual DADA Fall Gallery Walk. I used to never miss this art walk. The fact that I am more interested in going to the gym than going on gallery tours probably tells you all you need to know about my changing priorities. Yep. I'm going to the gym again tomorrow, and after I burn off a few calories, I'll go to the store and buy some tasty sausages.

Rosie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Day 1739

Since most stores are already overflowing with an abundance of pumpkins, can Thanksgiving and Christmas be far behind? It still seems a little early to be thinking about Halloween to me, but apparently that's not how it works anymore. For the next three months we will be continually reminded that there is nothing more American than conspicuous consumption. I've already seen Christmas lights on sale in a few stores. These holidays come and go so quickly now that I already feel like 2014 is almost over. It has been an interesting year, but definitely not one of my favorites. I sincerely hope that the dogs stay healthy in the year ahead. There were way too many medical emergencies this year.

I must have gotten up early this morning. I had a leisurely breakfast at my favorite restaurant, retrieved some equipment from the storage warehouse, picked up groceries at Central Market, and was still home by 9:30 AM. It was good that I got an early start, because work was busy today. I finished my writing assignment first and then got started on a complex Photoshop job. The client loved the photo, except they wanted me to replace the eyes on one model with a different set of eyes, eliminate blemishes on another, and completely replace the head of a third model. It all had to look natural and believable too. I thought I did a good job, but the girl with the new head might be a bit surprised with the finished shot.

The new iPhone 6 went on sale today and I didn't buy one. That's a first. I haven't downloaded IOS 8 either. I must be slipping. Usually, I can't wait to try something shiny and new, but this time my old phone seems just fine. Truthfully, my interest in all types of gear is declining. I don't think I've purchased a new camera, lens, guitar or watch this entire year. It's just as well. I don't have any money anyway.

Today was a chemotherapy day for Dash. Dot is finishing her loading dose of the Incurin pills and we'll begin decreasing the dose this weekend. Between me and the dogs, it's amazing how much time is consumed dealing with meds. There is always something that needs to be renewed or reviewed. I picked up two prescriptions for myself this afternoon and am still trying to figure out which pill is giving me a runny nose. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when I took no meds at all. Then I remember that I am much healthier now. I tend to forget that before I made a concerted effort to get things under control, I had already had a minor stroke, a bleeding ulcer, and my blood pressure often hovered around 160 over 110. There is a reason for all these pills.

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend. The weather is getting cooler. The dogs are getting healthier. Fall is finally here.

Rhett is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 1738

Very little went as planned today. A persistent telemarketer called over and over again at ten minute intervals until I finally figured out how to block the call. I got a past due notice from a vendor I had parted company with and paid in full over two years ago. I also almost threw away a check from a client because the envelope looked like it contained junk mail.

That was just the beginning. All the links suddenly went dead on a website I had just uploaded a few days ago and thought I was finished with. I have no idea what went wrong, but it took me quite a while to fix the mess. The only thing I can think of is that the server reverted to an older backup copy of the site which contained code that I had subsequently changed. Another client gave me the name of a new product they wanted me to write something uplifting about. I did a little research and discovered that they had named their product after an aircraft that had crashed, killing 73 of the 76 passengers on board. Somebody didn't do their homework.

Dot had a small accident last night because we went to bed late and forgot to take her water bowl up. She tanked up on water around 11 PM and just couldn't hold it. I still think her Incurin pills are working. This was our fault. If I drank a ton of water just before I went to bed, I couldn't hold it all night either. 

Dot is still a little sore from the rabies and leptospirosis injections she got on Tuesday, but she still did very well during her physical therapy session. She was able to go fifteen minutes on the underwater treadmill, which was much better than I expected. The only downside to today's visit was that the vet found several fleas on her. Fleas are always a problem, since we live so close to a large park filled with feral cats and other critters. Both dog have sensitive skin, so we can't use Frontline or other topical products. I actually thought her heartworm pills would guard against fleas, but the vet said they only prevented the fleas from reproducing and didn't kill live ones.

It looks like the city is going to tear up one of the trails the dogs and I like to use and replace it with a much wider concrete walkway designed for bicycles and joggers. I'm not looking forward to this. I liked the park a lot better when it was largely abandoned. Now that the park department considers the place an entertainment destination and keeps adding new things to attract more people, the place is turning into a zoo. There's not much I can do about this though. It's not my park. I guess I was lucky that the place lay dormant and unused for so long.

I'm really glad that tomorrow is Friday. From the way things looked today, this week couldn't be over soon enough.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 1737

Dash went to the vet to get his blood tested today. Unfortunately, we will need to repeat the whole process next week. Dash's blood sample contained lipids, which meant the thyroid test he was having would show inaccurate results. Dash needs to fast for at least 12 hours next time so the lab can get a better sample. When I have problems with lipids, the doctors refer to it as bad cholesterol. When a dog has problems with lipids they just call it fat in the blood. I guess it's more or less the same thing.

Ever since my doctor convinced me to start taking Foltanx to improve cognition and prevent memory loss, I have been having very active dreams. I haven't noticed any difference whatsoever during the day, but my dreams are much more complex now. This isn't exactly what I wanted. I think my cognitive abilities are just fine. I make my living using them. The only reason I went along with the doctor and started taking the drug, which is basically just an expensive multi-vitamin containing Folate, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12, was that I'd read it was effective at combating some forms of neuropathy that cause numbness in your extremities. I still feel numbness in my feet occasionally, so I really don't know if this stuff works at all. There are lots of reasons for weird dreams, including waking up five times each night to see if Dot has peed in the bed. Maybe this is just one more junk pill that does nothing.

The trouble with meds is that you have to trust the person who prescribed them for you. Unfortunately, doctors don't agree on much and some of them are nuts. Pick just about any drug and you'll find ten different opinions about it. It's frustrating to say the least. Is Niacin a great way to lower bad cholesterol, or will it just increase your chances of getting diabetes? Why am I taking Carvedilol to slow my heart down when it's ticking pretty slow already? Some doctors think Statins can cause memory loss. Other doctors think Statins actually help with brain function and are prescribing them for Alzheimer's patients. I just wish everyone could get on the same page.

A paid some bills today and did a little bookkeeping. As usual, I made a few incorrect entries in Quickbooks Pro and couldn't get everything to balance. I wish there was some equivalent of spell-check in Quickbooks that would warn me about entering payments incorrectly. Sometimes it takes me fifteen minutes just to find a fifty cent error.

Dot seemed tired today. Maybe it was just a reaction to the rabies shot she had yesterday. We all went to training class this evening, but Dot mostly sat on the sidelines and watched Dash and I go through our paces. I think Dot still enjoyed being included in the activities. She seemed happy just sitting in the grass and watching the other dogs. Dash did pretty well, but I think he would have preferred to sit in the grass as well.

Princess is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 1736

It's almost inevitable. When I'm busy, I always wish things would slow down. Conversely, when things are slow I wish I was busier. In the Summer I can't wait for Winter and as soon as the cold weather arrives I want it to be Summer again. I don't know why it is so difficult to just accept things the way they are, but it's been this way for a long time. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

I only mention this because I was busier than usual today. There was a small website crisis that needed to be addressed immediately. There was a new writing assignment that needed attention. And of course, Dot had her annual exam at the vet. Back in the day, a schedule like this would have seemed like nothing, but I think I've slowed down considerably. I still like to stay busy, but I think my definition of the term has changed.

Dot got a glowing report at her exam. Her vets are just as impressed with her progress as I am. If you didn't know better, you could easily mistake Dot for a much younger dog. The only time Dot seems like a senior citizen is when she is sleeping. She sleeps so soundly now that I have to look carefully to make sure she's still breathing. Dot got her three year rabies booster today, along with her annual Leptospirosis vaccination. We'll give her the DAPPV combo shot next week, just to make sure she doesn't have a bad reaction from getting too many shots at once.

When Dot's nurse asked me how she was doing today, I started to bring her up to date on Dot's incontinence and physical therapy issues. "Oh, I know all that already," she told me. "I read your blog." This happens frequently now. I tend to think my readers are just the small group of people who leave comments regularly. In reality, a much larger group of friends and acquaintances seem to read with some consistency. They just don't tell me about it.

I finally figured out how to get my new phone paired with my car again. This Bluetooth connection is really handy because you never have to take your phone out of your pocket. If you get a call, you hear the phone ringing on the car radio and answer by touching a little green button on the steering wheel and just start talking. I couldn't figure out why it was so difficult to pair the phone, but I was determined not to go to the dealership for assistance on something so simple. I eventually remembered, as is often the case with Apple, that I needed to power down the phone completely and then turn it on again before the pairing process would work properly.

I think I might have been just busy enough today. I managed to get everything on my list done without stressing about it. Tomorrow, I will take Dash to the vet for another periodic thyroid test. I'm sure there will be other things to do as well. With any luck, I may be able to keep my life in balance for two days in a row.

Phantom is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 1735

Did you realize that while you were sleeping, U2 downloaded their entire new album to every iPhone in the entire world. I didn't believe this until I looked at my own phone and sure enough, there it was. I didn't buy or download the album myself. It just appeared on my phone. The same album was on Janet's phone and on every other iPhone in the world. I don't know how much it cost Apple to pull off this little stunt. I don't even know how it benefits them. I will admit though that this was pretty impressive.

Today got off to a slow start, which wasn't surprising since it was a Monday. By the time I had finished walking the dogs and eating breakfast, it was already 10:30 AM. It must have rained at some point during the night because Dash got exceptionally muddy walking through the soft ground. I usually clean the dogs paws with a damp rag before I let them inside. This mud was too much for a rag though. I had to hose him down. Since this is Texas, by the time I took the dogs out again for their evening walk, the ground was almost completely dry.

The lab work I had done at Baylor last week came back completely normal. My liver is doing just fine. Now I have no excuse to discontinue the Statins and Niacin. I'll be the first to admit these drugs are probably effective in controlling cholesterol. I just don't like the side effects of waking up with a dry mouth in the middle of the night feeling like I'm on fire as the Niacin dilates all the tiny blood vessels near the surface of my skin. Also, ever since I've been taking these new meds, my nose has been dripping like I've got a low level cold. It's irritating, but I guess it's better than a heart attack.

I only had one website to update today, so it was a good day to do some bookkeeping and pay bills. I don't know how economists can continue to say that we have low inflation. The cost of virtually everything I use on a daily basis has gone up. Often it has gone up a lot. Food costs more. Utility bills are higher. Gasoline is higher. Insurance is higher. I could go on and on. Just about the only thing that is cheaper are consumer electronics, but how many flat screen TV's do you need?

Dot really seems to have turned the corner. She has been accident free for almost a full week now. I'm starting to let her sleep wherever she wants now as long as I'm in the house. This is probably a mistake, since dogs are so unpredictable, but Dot is a lot happier having free rein of the house. Janet says I spoil these dogs. Of course I do.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 1734

Dot ended an impressive five day accident-free streak by throwing up shortly after she woke up this morning and then frantically trying to eat leaves and grass in the yard. I don't think the vomiting had anything to do with her cancer, but it was still a bit unsettling. When a healthy dog vomits, you immediately suspect that the upset stomach was caused by eating something dead and disgusting in the yard. When a dog that has had cancer vomits, you always suspect the worst. I think Dot is fine though. We gave her a Pepsid AC and she went back to sleep for another hour and was completely normal for the rest of the day.

I don't usually work on Sunday, but since I always like to start the week with a clean slate, I finished my remaining writing assignments and made a few website revisions before going to the gym for a long overdue workout.

I had the usual aches and pains associated with my infrequent visits to the gym, but at least I'm still going. A lot of the runners and cyclists the dogs and I see in the park everyday seem to genuinely enjoy their exertion and activity. To me it's just a necessary evil. While I don't enjoy exercise, I would like to avoid diabetes, heart attacks, and further deterioration of my aging body. I'll have to admit that I do enjoy the fact that I can still wear the same size 32 jeans I wore in college.

I picked up some food for the week on my way home, but I may have to rethink my plan of stocking the refrigerator every Sunday afternoon. For some reason, Central Market always seems twice as crowded on Sunday, but that's not the real problem. I am discovering that fresh food won't stay fresh all week. I had to throw out some of the groceries I got last Sunday toward the end of the week, because they had spoiled already. No wonder people eat so much crap. Eating healthy is time consuming. It's so much easier to just grab a frozen pizza from the freezer and warm it up.

Dot is going to have a busy week. She has her long delayed annual exam on Tuesday and then returns for another physical therapy session and acupuncture on Thursday. We postponed the exam while she recovered from surgery because she is due for another three year rabies booster shot. I think she also needs the DAPPV combo shot this year, as well as her annual Leptospirosis vaccination. Dash will be glad that he can just stay home and take a nap.

It's hard to believe that September is already almost half over. Wasn't it August just a few days ago?

Nicholas is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 1733

This morning's photoshoot was interesting. There were fifteen children of various ages and each of them was holding a puppy or kitten. What could possibly go wrong? The children were cold. The puppies were restless. The big challenge was to get everyone looking in the same direction before it started to rain. Actually, everything went pretty well. Children are much more flexible than adults, and since everyone wanted to hold a puppy, they were willing to stand out in the cold for much longer than I expected. When I looked through the images this afternoon, it was fascinating to look at the different expressions on each of the children's faces. The young ones were so open and honest. You could almost tell, just by their faces, what each of them was going to be when they grew up.

The temperature was in the mid-fifties when we woke up this morning. The seasons change quickly here in Texas. One day you are worried about your car overheating in the Summer heat and the next day the leaves are all turning red and gold and you are looking for your winter coat. If this weekend's cold front lingers, we will soon be turning on the furnace again. I'm always nervous the first day I try to use the furnace. I'm fairly confident that the furnace will roar into life again, since it is still fairly new. I have many memories of cold mornings and dead furnaces though. Hopefully, this new furnace will be more reliable than the old one.

I did some catch-up work on the websites that were down earlier this week. Now that they are all back online, some of them are already out of date and need to be updated. Keeping these sites updated is a never ending process. That's OK though. Most never ending processes are good for business. If you were actually able to finish something, you'd never see some of your clients again.

So what did we learn from tonight's new episode of Dr. Who. Apparently the Doctor is afraid of the dark and Clara herself is the monster under the bed that frightens most children. Since Steven Moffat wrote this episode, it got mostly glowing reviews. I'll admit that Steven is the undisputed master of convoluted plots, but they often leave me a bit confused. My favorite episode is still the one where the Doctor and Rose go to visit Vincent van Gogh. That's the kind of story I like.

We're debating whether to scale back our efforts to waterproof the bed each night. Dot has had quite a few accident-free days this week and it would sure be easier on everyone if we could go back to sleeping like normal. Dogs are notoriously unpredictable though. Just when you least expect it, they'll throw up their dinner, or poop on the living room floor. I think we'll compromise and put a few waterproof pads on the bed tonight, but quit trying to turn the bed into a multilayer impregnable fortress. If it gets really cold tonight, I may wish that all the layers were still there. Four layers of waterproof pee pads on top of the covers make the bed pretty warm.

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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