Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 2123

Everyone seemed tired today. Dash wasn't eager to leave the house and just slept on the bed for most of the day. Dot was slow on her morning walk and even slower in the underwater treadmill later in the day. I was tired too, mostly because I didn't sleep well last night. Dot had an accident in her bed during the night, but that wasn't really what kept me awake. Occasionally, I just don't sleep well.

There was a medical emergency when we went to the vet for Dot's physical therapy session and we had to wait a while to get started. It was OK though. We sat in a quiet room on Dot's acupuncture mat and I almost fell asleep. We had to slow the treadmill down a bit today, which was a bit of a disappointment. Dot did so well last week that I was hoping her improvement would continue. You've got to take things one day at a time with an old dog though. Some days are better than others.

When I mentioned Dash's recent problems with his rear legs to Dot's vet, she thought it might be more serious than I was initially led to believe. Of course, Dash wasn't even there, so this diagnosis didn't really mean much. I might not have even been describing his condition accurately. It was good to learn more about a luxating patella however. This floating kneecap condition can result in temporary lameness when the kneecap slips laterally out of position. The condition is often self correcting and the kneecap snaps back into position in a matter of seconds, but in severe cases it can get stuck out of joint and surgery may be required. If your dog has a floating kneecap, it is important to keep them moving, because strong leg muscles help keep the kneecap in place. Glucosamine and Fatty Acids can help lubricate the joint. Sometimes Adequan injections help as well. Dash has another appointment next week to see if the inflammation has subsided. Like everything else in our life, we'll just take this one day at a time as well.

The days go by so quickly now. Each day has a little ritual that acts like a placeholder. Today it was taking Dot to physical therapy and getting the week's trash hauled out to the curb. Tomorrow I have my breakfast outing and Saturday I stock up on groceries. There are monthly rituals as well. Pretty soon it will be time to sent out my October invoices. Every night before I brush my teeth I run a test print to keep the large printer from clogging. My morning smoothies have become a ritual and unfortunately, so has cleaning up dog poop in the house. People have learned that it's usually not a good conversation starter to ask me what I'm doing this weekend. Usually, they already know.

I hope Dash's condition improves. One lame Dalmatian is enough for anyone. It's good that slow walks are actually beneficial for dogs with a floating kneecap. Dot enjoys having a companion to walk with and slow walks are all she's got left. The walks are definitely a ritual. The dogs keep their noses to the ground looking for interesting things to smell, while I keep my nose in the air, looking toward the sky. Today the Moon, Venus, and Mars formed a tight little triangle in the eastern sky. I'm still hoping to catch a glimpse of Mercury.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 2122

I had an actual deadline today, so things were a little busier than usual. I met the deadline and even had time for a revision. We'll see if the deadline was real when I find out whether there are further revisions tomorrow. I've learned from experience that a lot of deadlines are imaginary. I'm not complaining though. It was actually a good thing that I had something to keep me busy while I waited for the guy from Dent Zone to come out to the house and fix the dent on my car.

The technician from Dent Zone arrived right on time and in less than ten minutes the dent was gone. I'm always amazed at how this process works. I used to think that they used some sort of vacuum process to suck the dent out from the outside of the car. They actually push the dent out from the inside. There's definitely an art to removing dents this way. The guy had some special tools that he inserted through the rear door window and gently pushed the metal back in place. I asked him how long it took him to learn this odd skill and he told me it took him three years. The guy was good though. There is absolutely no sign that a loose shopping cart ever hit my car.

Dash is still having problems with his leg. The limp is very sporadic and there's no telling when it is going to occur. Today he walked absolutely normally for about fifteen minutes, hopped on one foot for about five steps, and then resumed walking normally the rest of the way home. The more I watch Dash walk, the more I'm convinced that the vet was right. I think he did strain a ligament and the knee is loose right now. I know from experience how easy it is for a knee or shoulder to go out of joint. I injured my knee in college, and even after surgery, it still occasionally goes out of joint today. I've learned to anticipate many of the things that cause my knee to go out of joint, and for the most part, it doesn't cause me a lot of problems. This is probably harder for a dog. I'm sure Dash doesn't know what is going on when his knee pops out of joint and just starts hopping as a reflex. The vet says the ligament is not torn and should heal by itself. I hope she's right.

I got an e-mail from Jawbone today telling me that there was a new firmware update for my fitness band that would double the battery life. I wonder how they managed that? The UP band still has the same battery and I would assume that the capacity is the same as well. It's quite a trick to extend the battery life from seven days to fourteen days with a software patch. I downloaded the update because I appreciate longer battery life as much as the next guy. I still wonder what they did though. Maybe they just turn the band off periodically and use an algorithm to estimate what I'm doing while it's off. I'm not sure how accurate these things are anyway. The UP band and my Apple Watch never agree about the number of steps I take during the day.

I wish I could go back to afternoons for Dot's Thursday physical therapy appointment. Believe it or not, I'm having trouble getting out of the house in time to make an 11 AM appointment. My simple routines apparently take an enormous amount of time. I'll have to make sure to keep things moving along tomorrow. I can always save some time by not dawdling over breakfast. We bought too many bananas this week, so this morning I put an extra one in my smoothie. I won't do that again. Two bananas is definitely one too many. I'm going back to my original recipe tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 2121

I think I know what's wrong with Dash now. He appears to have stretched or pulled the ligament covering the kneecap on his right rear leg. At first this would seem to be some sort of odd sports injury, but apparently it is not uncommon for male dogs to pull a ligament when they scratch the ground vigorously after they pee. Dash does this all the time. It was how he tore his paw pad earlier in the year and now he has injured his leg doing the same thing.

The good news is that the damage is not permanent.  If we can keep Dash quiet for a few weeks, the inflammation in the injured ligament should subside and everything should return to normal. Have you ever tried to keep a Dalmatian quiet for a few weeks? It's not an easy task. I'm glad he hasn't torn his cruciate ligament though. ACL injuries typically require surgery. I'm glad he doesn't have hip dysplasia either. Things could be a lot worse.

Our trip to the vet was the most interesting thing that happened all day. The rest of the day was pretty dull. Cleaning up poop during the night and early pre-dawn walks have become the new normal. I've talked to other people with aging dogs and Dot's incontinence is pretty normal. In fact, Dash's vet told me that she was having the same problem with her own dog. Once a dog loses the ability to squat properly, you're going to have problems.

I learned today that Klout has discontinued their Perks program. As the recipient of many of those Perks, I was very disappointed to hear this. I always enjoyed getting random free stuff in the mail. The things you received were seldom very valuable, but Klout did make an effort to learn your interests. I got lots of dog food, dog treats, and dog toys. The best thing I ever got was a voice activated WiFi thermostat which I'm still using. The theory behind the Perks was that by sending free stuff to people Klout considered to be social media influencers, the brands they were pushing would get talked about on Twitter and Facebook and more people would buy them. I think the flaw in their theory was how they defined influential. I'm not influential. I like getting stuff in the mail, but I doubt that I ever influenced anyone to buy anything in my life. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.

I've started looking at star charts before we go on our morning walks. These pre-dawn walks are the most sustained amount of time I've spent in the dark for a long time and I might as well learn something. Right now, you can see Jupiter, Mars, and Venus in the morning sky. Pretty soon, these planets will be joined by Mercury. I've only seen Mercury a few times in my life because it is always visable very low on the horizon. It remains to be seen if I'll be able to catch a glimpse of Mercury later this month. There are lots of trees on the Eastern horizon and I have a feeling that by the time Mercury clears the treetops, it will be too close to sunrise to see it.

The peaches and bananas in the kitchen still look pretty fresh and there's a leftover pork chop in the refrigerator for dinner. I think I'm all set for another day.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 2120

I've been thinking about the concept of just enough lately. I've got just enough money coming in so I can pay my bills, but not enough to change my lifestyle. I've got just enough energy to take care of my own aging dogs, but not enough to rescue other animals. I've got just enough imagination to fix things around the house, but not enough to actually invent anything. I've got just enough tenacity to continue writing this blog everyday, but not enough to make documentary films anymore. I could go on and on. If you were to ask me how I'm doing these days, I'd probably answer "I get by."

Sometimes I think this state of affairs shows a serious lack of ambition on my part. At other times, I think being content with just enough is both practical and wise. Some of the most unhappy people I know are those who have overextended themselves and no longer have the resources to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves. You don't want to be a slacker though. I think the key to staying both productive and sane is to actually know what your limits are and never cross that invisible line.

I've started taking naps during the day when Dot gets me up in the middle of the night to change her bedding. It helps. An hour nap can make a big difference when you're up at 3 AM cleaning up poop. I no longer tell my clients when I'll have their projects finished. I just start at the beginning and methodically work my way towards the finish line. Artificial deadlines are stressful and I've discovered that my clients are still happy with how quickly I work. I no longer buy things using money I'll make next month. This had been a hard habit to break, but I'm a realist. My income fluctuates more than it used to and it's crazy to worry about how I'm going to pay for something I probably don't need anyway.

I got a check in the mail today, so I paid the electric and U-verse bills. Dash still seems to be having a problem with his right rear leg, so I made an appointment to take him to the vet tomorrow. I've examined the leg carefully and can't find anything wrong, but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem. Dash is a strange dog and the sporadic lameness could be anything. Hopefully the vet will be able to give me a better idea of what is going on.

I've been wondering why the Holly bushes in our yard don't have as many bright red berries as they used to. Now I know the answer. Squirrels eat them. This afternoon a watched a pair of squirrels pick the new green berries off a bush one by one and eat them like candy. They also eat the St. Augustine grass and dig unsightly hole int he ground to bury the acorns that have started falling from our three large Oak trees. These squirrels are destructive little rodents. I'm not a big fan of squirrels. Dot isn't a fan either and it really makes her mad that she no longer has the strength to chase them.

I've really grown find of my morning smoothies. I make them using a two raw eggs, a little half and half, three tablespoons of uncooked oatmeal, a whole peach, a half a dozen strawberries, a handful of blueberries, a banana, two scoops of vanilla ice cream, and a coffee cup full of ice cubes. Delicious! I could probably live on Vitamix smoothies and soup. The machine makes fabulous fresh soups too.

So there you have it. A good breakfast tomorrow and a good report from the vet about Dash and I'll be a happy camper. Well, I'll be happy enough anyway.

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 2119

It takes forever to clean a house filled with inexpensive throw rugs. Some rugs can be vacuumed. Others must be thrown in the washing machine, because they tend to get sucked into the Dyson. A few rugs don't seem to do well with either the vacuum cleaner or the washing machine and must be taken outside and shaken. The rubber backed rugs that go in the washing machine must be dried at a very low temperature, so the rubber doesn't burn up in the dryer. To clean the larger rugs; furniture, dog beds, feeding bowls, and a variety of other stuff must be moved. When I'm finally finished, nothing looks very different at all. I must have accomplished something though, since the Dyson canister is always filled with dirt, small leaves, and lots of dog hair.

I'd love to have our pretty brick floors back, but it will probably never happen. I'm already starting to see signs that Dash is beginning to have problems with his rear legs as well. Dash is already having trouble jumping in the car and doesn't leap up on the bed like he used to. Occasionally, I notice a slight limp on our walks. I always worry that he may have torn a cruciate ligament. This happens quite often with older Dalmatians. Today, he had a brief spasm in his left rear leg that caused it to shoot backward. He seemed startled and uncomfortable. I quickly examined him and could find nothing wrong. About a minute later, he was fine again. This strange behavior worries me, so it's time to go to the vet again. I'll schedule an appointment this week.

I was already tired from cleaning the house, but decided to go to the gym anyway. Sunday is really the only day with no conflicts. When I arrived, there was a work crew boarding up a section of the building. Apparently one of the geezer customers had driven their car straight into the building when they were trying to park. One of the main reasons I go to the gym is to avoid winding up like these people. It is clear that many of them waited far to long to get on the straight and narrow path. I had a good workout, but was terrible on the basketball court for some reason. It always seems strange to me that some days I can sink a long string of free throws in a row, and other days I can't find the basket at all. I've done this for so long, that you'd think that I'd be more consistent by now. I know what I need to do. It's all hand/eye coordination. You'd think I could eventually learn to replicate the perfect shot.

Dot seemed restless this weekend. That's actually a good thing. I'm always encouraged when she has enough energy to roam around the house on her own. When she's feeling bad, she just sleeps in her dog bed. Today was a good day. She wandered freely around the house without her harness. She had good energy on her two walks. And best of all, there were no accidents in the house. There have been days when she pooped in the house right after I finished cleaning it. This wasn't going to be one of those days.

I hope I get a few checks in the mail this week. There are already October bills to pay and a couple of clients are way behind on their invoices. I wish there was a life beyond working to pay bills, but I haven't found it yet. I suppose I could just live off my investments, but the market is so volatile and flaky that I have no faith that the investments will last. It's easier to just keep on working. I try to keep Dot's brain from turning to mush by keeping her active and engaged. It seems to be working. It doesn't take a genius to realize that I've got to stay active and engaged as well. Writing helps. Working helps. Walking helps. That's what we'll be doing tomorrow.

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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 2118

On Saturdays we make lists. There are groceries to replenish. Sometimes we need furnace filters. Other times its light bulbs. Clothes get taken to the dry cleaner and dogs get washed. We seem to run out of everything from dog biscuits to bottled water at an alarming rate. I like to think we lead a simple, frugal life, but maybe we don't. We never shop together. That would be pointless. Sometimes if I find a better deal on something, I'll text Janet so she can take it off her list. Often I'll come home and discover that we already have something I just got at the store. Hey, the lists aren't perfect.

The dogs did a much better job of sleeping in this morning. I don't know if they understand the concept of weekends, but they did let us sleep until almost 7 AM this morning. No accidents either. That's always a good way to start the day. I was amazed that it was only 57 degrees when we left the house this morning. If only it were this nice all the time. I'd better enjoy the nice weather while it lasts. Usually around Halloween the rainy season starts again. April and October are my favorite months in Texas. The other ten months make me wonder why I moved here.

I did a little website work this afternoon. I certainly didn't need to work today, but the dogs were sleeping nicely and I didn't want to wake them. If I go outside, they think it's time for a walk. If I go in the kitchen, they think it's time for dinner. They seldom get excited when I'm in the office though. Even a dog knows that what I do at the computer is boring. I got quite a bit done before Dash realized that it actually was time for dinner. Once he sounded the alarm, Dot was quick to follow.

I'm not really wild about the new season of Dr. Who, but I'm eagerly watching each new episode anyway. Maybe they'll get better. The relationship between Clara and the Doctor has always seemed a bit odd to me. Rose and Amy Pond were much more effective as the Doctor's companions. The thing that bothers me is that Clara and the Doctor both seem to have embraced the role of superheros. They start each episode looking for trouble and they find it. It's almost like a cartoon. I still watch though. I can't think of anything better to do on a Saturday night.

The Martian is in movie theaters now. Will I go watch it on the big screen or just wait a few months until I happen to see a the DVD in Sam's Club when I'm out buying toilet paper? You guys probably already know the answer to this one. You never know. I could be super bored on a Tuesday afternoon sometime and notice that the movie is still playing at a nearby dollar theater. It's not likely that I've ever drive across town to see it.

Tomorrow it's time to go to the gym again. It's probably time for vacuuming, mowing and all the other Sunday chores too. Time sure flies. This time last week I was charging camera batteries and getting ready to take pictures at the Dalmatian Rescue golf tournament. If you're wondering what the strange looking flower is, it grows on an aptly named tree called a Buttonbush.

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2117

The furnace came on this morning. I wore a light jacket and jeans on our morning walk, instead of a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The Elm tree in the back yard has started losing its leaves. The grocery stores are full of pumpkins. And the State Fair of Texas has taken over Fair Park. Could it be that Fall is officially here? I hope so. The dogs and I like the cooler weather. I just wish we'd go back to Standard Time. The days keep still getting shorter and even when we sleep in a bit, it's still dark when we get up. Sometimes it's fun to look at the stars, but walking in the dark every day gets a little old.

Today was busy. After I had my usual Friday breakfast and made a trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients for a cheeseburger dinner, I started to work on my new website projects. Much to my chagrin, I'm already having to re-learn some of the coding tricks I mastered just a few months ago when I decided to build mobile friendly websites for all my clients. When I'm faced with a choice between use it or lose it, I usually lose it. To really become familiar with something, you have to use your skills every day. I'm just not involved with enough new web projects to remember all this complicated responsive design stuff. I floundered around for a couple of hours, but eventually it all came back to me. This would be a good time to send a new project my way. I'm sure I'll remember the coding tricks I brushed up on today at least until Thanksgiving.

The Land Rover dealer surprised me by calling mid-afternoon to tell me that my car was finished. When I took the Defender in for service, it would often stay in the shop for weeks. This time, they had everything finished in two days. I don't think service has really improved. It's just a different car. There is only one guy who works on the older Defenders, while all the mechanics work on the newer cars. I wish I hadn't told them to change the oil. I'm so used to changing my oil every 3,000 miles, that I continue these frequent oil changes even though my service representative keeps telling me that the synthetic oil I use now is safe for much longer intervals. I'm learning the hard way that synthetic oil changes can get pretty expensive because my engine seems to hold an enormous amount of oil.

Dot had an accident in the house this morning, but it was really our fault. Janet and I were both very tired last night and we all went to bed early. When Dot woke up in the morning, she overslept with the rest of us and was already an hour overdue for a trip outside. She just couldn't hold it any longer. It takes split second timing and a careful eye on the clock to keep a poop free house these days. Some days, I'm just not up to the challenge.

The UPS man delivered some new ink for my large printer this afternoon. Epson pigment ink is the only thing more expensive than synthetic engine oil. I'm determined to keep the old printer running, even though I've spent a lot more on ink than I initially paid for the printer. I try to keep my machines operational, my watches wound, and my dogs happy. What else is there?

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 2116

We started the new month with a new schedule. We go to our physical therapy sessions in the mornings now. Mornings are good because Dot is less likely to poop in the car. On the other hand, mornings are not so good because there isn't much time to get ready. By the time we took the dogs on their morning walk, ate breakfast, took a shower, and got the car ready, it was time to go. Dot definitely didn't like riding in the Evoque. I tried my best to make a comfortable flat surface, but her bed still had a bit of a tilt to it and Dot managed to get stuck. I had to stop a couple of times along the way, but eventually we made it to our destination.

Even though Dot wasn't happy about her ride, she did amazingly well in the treadmill today. She was strong enough that we were able to increase the speed and do a small amount of interval training for the first time in several months. No accidents in the house today either. Actually, we have had very few accidents this entire week. I'm not sure we can attribute this pleasant turn of events to the Melatonin we've started giving her before bedtime, but it's the only change I can think of.

Work was surprisingly busy today. I got two new website projects that will keep me busy for a while. I'm not sure how excited I am though. One of the projects is kind of a pro bono deal that I won't make any money on. The other project has such a low budget that it's hardly worth talking about. That's the state of web design these days. Take it or leave it.

There was another tragic school shooting today. Once again the shooter was a young male. Hasn't anyone figured it out yet? Terrorist shootings. Gang related shootings. School shootings. They all have one thing in common. These crimes are almost universally committed by young men. Instead of endless agonizing about mental health and gun law issues, just ban young men from having guns. Period. Make the penalties for possessing a gun so severe that no young man would even want to go near one. So, how would you enforce such a ban? You couldn't. You probably can't enforce any other solution either. That's the problem of living in a free society. The obvious solutions are impossible to implement without destroying the free society we all claim to love. Do we want safety or freedom? Eventually, we have to decide.

I got a call from the Land Rover dealer today telling me that they are working on my car. Does this mean it will be done soon? Not necessarily. I've gotten these sorts of calls before and then waited a week or more before the car was actually finished. I don't really care how long it takes, but I'm guessing that Dot would really like to have things wrapped up before next week's physical therapy session. She hates the Evoque.

There's already another update to the buggy IOS 9 on my phone. I'm downloading it now. The current system is causing all sorts of problems with my WiFi network, but you have to be connected to WiFi to download the new system. This may take a while.

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