Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 2328

There was an educational event in the park today to build awareness about the remaining segments of the Blackland Prairie in the area. Only about 1% of the original prairie still exists, but a lot of the remaining grassland is right in our neighborhood and the dogs and I walk through it every day. I was tempted to go to the event and see if I could learn the names of some of the over 190 species of plants that grow in the prairie. A lot of the plants are familiar to me, but there are still a lot that aren't. I notice something new almost every week and am always curious to know what it is. In the back of my mind, I knew I would end up skipping this event, because that's just what I do. There just doesn't seem to be enough time any more. By the time I finish running errands, caring for the dogs, and doing regular weekend chores, the day is gone. I have my priorities too. I would much rather relax and enjoy a leisurely meal, than grab a bite at at a fast food restaurant just so I could drive across town to see something.

I really didn't have much of an excuse for missing the talk about the Blackland Prairie. The event was free and it was only a five minute walk from my house. What did I do instead? I took a nap. I felt quite justified in taking a nap because I don't sleep well these days and my regular routine is tiring. I'll probably miss an upcoming home tour that I used to go to every year for exactly the same reasons. I forget sometimes that I used to enjoy gallery hopping and going out to movies. I don't anymore. I watch movies on a large flat screen in the bedroom and satisfy my curiosity for everything else by looking it up on Google.

Janet is at a Dalmatian Rescue event this evening. She says it would drive her crazy to live like I do. It's a good thing that the reclusive life doesn't bother me, because I'm convinced that Dot depends on having me nearby. Since she stumbles and falls so easily, you can't let her wander around the house unsupervised. She will inevitably fall somewhere and hurt herself. You can't crate her anymore either. Since she is incontinent, she becomes frantic if she poops in her cage and can't get away from the mess. Writing the blog while the dogs sleep actually works out pretty well. I can always see Dot from where I work. If she starts to struggle or need assistance, I'm right there.

I was going to watch the White House Correspondents Dinner on TV tonight, but I discovered that like most events, the dinner was preceded by a pre-game show and a long red carpet segment where reporters gushed about what celebrities were wearing to the event. I got bored and turned the TV off long before the actual jokes even started. It is mush easier to watch events like this on the Internet. I found a live feed from the Washington Post that excerpted the funniest jokes and printed them out in real time. I was able to scan the whole thing in less time than it took to write this paragraph.

I might not know the names of all 190 plants in the park, but I did recognize a patch of Oenothera Speciosa while I was walking Dash this evening. Let's just call the plant a Pink Primrose. It's been a quiet, uneventful day and I'm grateful for that. As soon as I give the dogs their evening pills and take them out to pee, I'm going to bed.

Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 2327

I enjoyed breakfast this morning. I returned to the hipster cafe and for a moment it felt like I was back in Seattle. It was a dark rainy morning and the place was filled with young people in plaid shirts sitting silently nursing their coffee while some slide guitar blues played on the sound system. Forty years ago I used to eat breakfast in the original Starbucks at First and Pike before I went to work at a downtown ad agency and the ambience felt the same. Everything old is new again I guess.

Occasionally, I really miss Seattle.  This is where I made the transition from architecture to advertising. Young architects don't make much money and when I realized I could double my salary almost overnight by becoming an advertising copywriter, I never looked back. It was surprisingly easy to get a job. Nobody majored in advertising in college back then. I once had an art director partner who used to be a Navy fighter pilot. One of my supervisors used to be a wrestling coach. Everyone was an extremely good bullshitter. I didn't have much of a portfolio at the beginning. I just told them I was an architect and I was in. Good times. It was just like that Mad Men show on TV.

Seattle was where I discovered music. I started writing jingle lyrics at the ad agency and decided I wanted to become a songwriter. I met a lot of musicians and had a great time, but never became the next Bernie Taupin. I did gradually start acquiring gear like I saw at the studios where we recorded the jingles however. Some of the gear, like the vintage multi-track recorder that just came back from the repair shop, still exists. I spent quite a bit of time on Google this morning searching for a PDF copy of the instruction manual for this recorder. When it returned from the shop, I realized that I no longer remembered how to use the machine. I've been using Pro Tools for so long now that using an actual analog tape recorder seems a bit like alien technology. After quite a bit of searching, I found a copy of the manual and downloaded it. Wow. This was a complicated machine. I must have been a lot smarter in my twenties and thirties.

Since it seemed a bit ambitious to re-learn audio engineering before lunch, I moved on to something much simpler. I installed the new cartridges in the big production printer and began the cleaning routine to unclog the lines. The printer works again. The tape recorder works again. I'm not sure that I'm running on all cylinders though. I find it harder and harder to begin anything that is remotely arduous or ambitious. I hope I don't become like my Dad. He was an excellent wood carver and continued to buy carving tools almost until the day he died. Somewhere along the line he got Parkinson's Disease and could no longer use the tools. They just sat there and accumulated dust in their original boxes. I don't want my gear to wind up that way. It needs to be used.

There were more tornado warnings today, but the really bad weather stayed to the West of us as it traveled rapidly to the Northeast. We got enough rain to scare Dash, but not enough to wake up Dot. Since she is almost deaf now, she slept peacefully through the storm. I'm glad I figured out my air conditioning problem yesterday, because it would have been hard to get a technician to come to the houes today. I canceled the emergency service call and rescheduled a regular Spring system checkup for early next month.

It's hard to believe that April is almost over. Summer will be here before you know it. I need to learn to appreciate the rain because it isn't going to last. In just a few months from now, I'll be begging for rain.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day 2326

You'd be proud of me. Instead of wasting time on Facebook and wondering why nobody was reading the blog anymore, I decide to be productive. I cleared all the water off the roof, along with a huge messy pile of wet catkins that was trapping the water and creating duck ponds that would never evaporate. After the roof was dry and clean, I called the roofer and got him to agree to come out and patch the areas where the elastomer coating was peeling away again. I'll probably have to wait until the rainy season is over before the roofers actually get here, but at least I got the process started.

Since I was semi-successful with the roofer, I  called my watchmaker and asked if the watches he was repairing for me would ever be finished. I hate to bother the guy, since I know he's busy, but he's had three watches of mine for over two years now. He told me that the watches would be repaired by Summer and I reminded him in a friendly way that he told me the same thing last Summer. This watchmaker is very good and I'm in no hurry, but I still think two years is long enough.

The watchmaker isn't the only one who's slow. I took a tape deck in for repairs last November and just got a call yesterday saying that it had finally been fixed. To be fair, these guys did have to custom make a rubber pinch wheel that no longer existed anymore. When I went to pick up the multi-track deck, I dropped off a mastering deck that had the same problems with disintegrating transport belts. Rubber doesn't last forever. The rubber hoses in your car's engine eventually become brittle and crack. The protective foam in camera cases eventually turns into an awful goo. I'm discovering now that the rubber transport belts in tape recorders don't last that long either. I'm sure my Beta SP video recorders are going to suffer the same fate soon. The only difference is that they'll be even more expensive to fix than the audio recorders. Why do I punish myself this way? All this stuff is obsolete.

I was feeling pretty good about getting things accomplished when I returned from running errands this afternoon, but the feeling was short lived. The house felt warm and Dot was panting. It didn't take me long to figure out that the air conditioner had broken. I immediately called my HVAC guy, but they had already closed for the day. I methodically tried to revive the air conditioner by throwing breaker switches, rebooting the fancy WiFi thermostat, and disconnecting the entire system for a while. Nothing worked. I finally decided to try a new air filter, just in case the new thermostat software had some sort of sensor that would shut down the system if the filter got too dirty. The filter actually seemed reasonably clean, but I didn't have much to lose. Surprisingly, replacing the filter worked and the air conditioner roared back to life. This was a disaster averted, since Dot can't handle the heat anymore. I was worried about her. Hopefully the compressor will keep running through the night, but I probably should have the HVAC guys come out anyway. Better safe than sorry.

I had some website updates to finish today and did a good job of biting my tongue when the client suggested a number of things that I thought were silly. I don't fight these things anymore. If you want something that looks a bit clunky or might confuse your customers, it's your call. At this stage of my career it just amuses me that everyone thinks they're a creative genius. Ten years ago silly suggestions would have driven me crazy.

I hope I get to go to breakfast tomorrow. The next wave of severe weather is supposed to arrive around midnight tonight. Maybe the storm will be out of the area by morning. It's hard to tell. The weather forecasts haven't been very accurate lately. Accurate or not, I should have looked at the forecast before I went up on the roof this morning. If it rains, that was a wasted effort.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 2325

Things seemed kind of chaotic when I took Dot to her therapy session today. It turned out that there was a termite infestation in the building and termites were falling out of the ceiling. I kept looking overhead, hoping that none would fall on me. Dot must have sensed that something was wrong because she pooped in the lobby as soon as we arrived. Actually, this was a good thing. If she'd gone any sooner, it would have been in my car. If she had waited, she would have gone in the underwater treadmill, which would have been a real mess. Dot's vet often tells me how much trouble it is to clean the large water tank after a dog has pooped in the water. I keep thinking it's just a matter of time before Dot gets on the shit list. Putting an incontinent dog in water is just asking for trouble.

I never get much done on physical therapy days. It takes me longer and longer to do the most basic things. We get up early and walk the dogs. I fix my breakfast after Janet has gone to work. I check my e-mail, take a shower, and clean up poop in the yard so I won't step in it when I take Dot outside after dark. Sometimes I water the grass or do a load of laundry before it's time to feed the dogs their lunch. Then I fill the back of the car with waterproof protective pads and get Dot ready to go for therapy. By the time we return, there's usually just enough time to do some simple website updates, feed the dogs their dinner, and take Dash on his evening walk. If Janet gets home early, we walk Dot and Dash around the block. Dot won't walk without Dash anymore, so it takes two of us. One of us walks ahead with Dash, so Dot has something to follow and the other holds up Dot's rear legs as we slowly make our way around the block. It's not very exciting, but that's it. There just isn't time for anything else.

Web design keeps changing. I have a growing list of things I need to learn to refine my skills creating responsive, mobile-ready websites. I wish I could get more excited about doing this. I often find myself thinking "what's the point." There might be some incentive if I were getting lots of new design assignments. I'm not. I've actually done a pretty good job of staying current and relevant, but it doesn't seem to matter. I've still got a little curiosity, even if it doesn't generate much money anymore. Maybe I'll read some of the tutorials I've been accumulating tomorrow. It looks like it's going to be a slow day.

Yesterday's severe weather wasn't as bad as everyone was predicting. There were no tornadoes and the hail was only pea sized. Everything blew through overnight and it was mostly clear today. It was so clear this evening that I was temped to go down to the park after sunset with my binoculars and look for Mercury again. Actually, I think the moment has passed. Mercury doesn't stay above the horizon for very long and it is already setting again. I didn't have time anyway. If I were looking for Mercury, I wouldn't be writing tonight's entry.

I wonder if I'll eventually wind up being one of those people who goes to Luby's every evening for the early bird special? I'm completely losing interest in cooking. It would be tempting to go out for breakfast tomorrow morning, even though it isn't Friday. I'm resisting this temptation for the moment because if I ate out all the time, meals would become much more expensive and I'd definitely gain weight. Friday's are fine. It's important to have a little discipline in your life, even if nobody else is watching.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 2324

The severe storms that everybody's been talking about are supposed to arrive between now and midnight. On the news they say there's a strong possibility of tornadoes, 80 MPH straight line winds, and baseball size hail. I hope none of this is true, but in Texas it's better to be safe than sorry. We've had some terrible tornadoes in the area during the past several years and you never know where one is going to strike next. I worry most about falling tree limbs, broken glass, and power outages. I don't know what the dogs worry about, but a bad storm must be the equivalent of the end of the world to them. They both totally freak out when we have severe weather.

I went through a big stack of mail I've been avoiding and sorted it into categories this afternoon. Most of the mail was either medical records, bank statements, or stock transactions. Whenever I read a bank statement, there would always be something on the bottom of the page in very tiny print telling me that the bank had changed its policy on something. Interest rates have declined. Service fees have gone up. It's always something. No wonder I hate to read this stuff.

I was going to sort through a big pile of socks and throw away the ones with a hole in the toe, but sorting through the mail took too long and I'll have to postpone this task for another day, or more realistically, another year. I could spend the rest of my life clearing out the clutter in the office. Stuff piles up and I just don't care anymore. I always used to wonder how my parents house became so cluttered as they grew older. Now I know. The truth is that it takes a lot more effort to maintain a zen-like minimal lifestyle that it does to just let stuff pile up.

Against my better judgement, I ordered some more ink for the big production printer. I really should throw this thing away, but like the video tape machines, mixing boards, and synthesizers that are gathering dust, it is a link to a very productive past that I find difficult to abandon. My Dad was kind of like this. After he retired, the University let him keep his lab for a few years and he went there every day and just puttered around. Absolutely nothing was accomplished, but these familiar surroundings kept him from having to acknowledge that a chunk of his life was over. I feel like I am the guardian of this old gear that served me well for so many years. It's totally obsolete now, but I can't part with it.

Dot had a good day. She slept all night and didn't poop in the house at all today. After dinner this evening, I took her out in the yard and she did her business just like a normal dog. When something good happens, Janet and I like to think it is because we discontinued the chemotherapy. When something bad happens, we don't know what to think. We are doing everything we can to ensure a good outcome for Dot. We aren't really in control of everything though. Often bad things happen despite out best efforts.

I'm certainly not in control of the weather. The storm has gotten much closer as I've been writing. There is no escaping this thing. It is a solid wall of wind and water extending from the Oklahoma border down past Waco. The laptops and phones have been charged. There are fresh batteries in the emergency lights. The dogs have been outside to pee. All we can do is wait.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 2323

I think we ought to just eliminate Monday from the calendar. I almost never accomplish anything of any consequence on Monday. It would be fine by me if we just went straight to Tuesday. Certainly not much happened today. I felt some momentary elation when a long overdue check arrived in the morning mail. Unfortunately the feeling was quickly replaced by itchy, watering eyes and the smell of poop. Dot set some kind of record for pooping in the house today. Six times is a lot. I was worried about her yesterday because she didn't poop at all. Today she made up for lost time and kept the washing machine running continuously. If there is a hell, it probably isn't fire and brimstone. It's probably just picking up dog poop for all of eternity.

The camera I'd been hoping to get is no longer on sale. Snooze, you lose, I guess. I didn't actually expect the camera to stay on sale forever, but it would have been nice if they could have given me a few months to pull some funds together. It's just as well. I didn't really need another camera anyway. I vented my frustration by going back to the sporting goods store and buying another ridiculously cheap winter jacket. If we ever have a cold winter, I'm good.

Every Spring I'm convinced that my allergies have never been worse. Maybe they actually are worse this year, but I suspect that I just forget all the sneezing and watery eyes as soon as the allergy season is over. It's a shame that seasonal allergies are worst when the weather is the nicest. By the time the pollen is gone, we will be in the middle of a Summer heat wave and I won't want to go outside anyway. For now, I just need to make sure I always have plenty of Kleenex in my pocket. I don't take antihistamines because they make me feel worse than the allergies, but there's got to be something to keep my nose from running all day. I'm tired of this.

They are predicting severe weather with the possibility of tornadoes tomorrow.  It looks like the storms will be strongest in Oklahoma and Kansas, but we're still in the zone. Hopefully, the worst of the weather will pass North of us. I absolutely hate hearing those tornado warning sirens and realizing that we have no safe place to go.

My Facebook feed is filled with tales of parents who are taking their kids to visit various colleges. I guess this is the time of year when you decide where you want to go to college. Have I really become so old that even my very youngest friends have kids in college?  I guess so. Kids in college is a good thing though. Many of my older friends are already dead.

The ducks are nesting in the park again. In a month or two there will be lots of little ducklings. I don't think ducks are very smart. They search forever for the perfect nesting spot and then pick somewhere where the ducklings are sure to be eaten by coyotes, if the park department lawn mowers don't run over them first. When I see where these ducks nest, I keep wanting to tell them that it would be wise to move.

Maybe Dot will make it through the night without any accidents. She pooped so much today, that there couldn't be much more left in her. Here's hoping for the best. I might not need a new camera, but I do need a good night's sleep.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 2322

Dot's injuries have caused me to worry more. There is absolutely no reason to worry any more than I usually do, but I still wake up every morning expecting something terrible to happen. Today, when I was at the gym, I checked on the dogs with the baby monitor and got a weird error message. I get error messages with this camera all the time, but I'd never seen this one before. It seemed to indicate that the camera had been physically moved. The only thing that I could think of was that Dash had another epileptic seizure and knocked the camera off the low table where it was sitting. This was an irrational fear since Dash hasn't had a seizure in years, but I cut my workout short and went home to check on things anyway. Everything was fine. When I re-booted the WiFi network, the camera worked perfectly.

My seasonal allergies are worse than ever this year. My eyes were itching when I woke up and I spent the rest of the day sneezing, blowing my nose, and squirting Visine in my eye. It probably didn't help matters that I mowed the grass this morning, but it had to be done. I wish I had a self-propelled mower, but I'm tired of trying to start gas powered mowers. I like my simple electric lawn mower, but it's getting harder and harder to push it up the hills. Elon Musk needs to design a decent electric lawn mower. Most of them are pretty crude and basic.

My new activity monitor send me a message saying that based on a twelve day analysis, my resting heart rate is considered normal for a person who eats well and is physically fit. That was kind. If the message was honest, it would say that the heart rate is normal for a crazy old man who still mows his own grass and vacuums up dog hair obsessively with the most powerful Dyson available. I do stay active, even though taking naps is one of my favorite activities.

On my way to the gym this afternoon, I stopped by the sporting goods store that is going out of business again. They keep lowering prices further every week and I'm drawn to a bargain like a moth to a flame. I walked away with a big plush dog blanket for Dash. The last thing we need are more dog blankets, but this looked pretty and was marked down from $70 to $14. I couldn't resist. Dash liked the blanket, but he always likes new things.

Dot hasn't pooped all day. Ordinarily, you'd think this was a good thing, but it's making me nervous. She should have done her business after lunch, during her evening walk, or at least after dinner. She just wasn't in the mood. Now, I'm sure she's going to explode when I'm not looking and make a big mess all over the house. There's nothing you can do. Incontinence and old age are just a fact of life.

The Foxglove and Milkweed plants are starting to flower behind our house. Wildflowers always bloom in a distinct sequence. I see pink and yellow Primrose flowers first. Then there are a lots of Horse Nettle, Grape Hyacinth, and Crows Poison blooms. The Firewheel and Mexican Hat flowers always seems to arrive last. The meadows and native prairie around our house look so lush now that it's hard to believe that everything will be brown and dry by early July.

The refrigerator is stocked with strawberries and blueberries and there's a big bowl of fresh bananas on the kitchen counter. I'm ready for another week to begin.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Day 2321

I thought Dot would get stronger when we discontinued her chemotherapy, but she appears to be getting weaker. Maybe she just had a bad day. Sometimes if her bad leg gets in the wrong position while she's asleep, she has trouble getting it moving again the next day. Maybe the weather is bothering her. It certainly is bothering me. The humidity is bouncing up and down like a boomerang with all the Spring storms moving in and out of the area. Allergies are terrible this Spring too. My eyes are watering constantly and I'm sneezing most of the day. Hopefully, Dot will feel better tomorrow. We've still got a few more days of nice weather before the next wave of thunderstorms is due.

I was surprised to get a text message from an old friend of mine who I hadn't heard from in years. I think the last time we talked, texting hadn't even been invented yet. I still don't understand the fascination with texting. Everybody I know seems to love texting. I still prefer to use the telephone. Of course, I don't answer the phone much anymore. Maybe that's why people text me. The way we communicate has gotten so complicated. I have a sister who refuses to use the Internet, so I write her old fashioned letters in longhand. Some friends only communicate using that message thing on Facebook. Others prefer e-mail. Janet is the only person I text regularly and usually it's just about whether to pick up strawberries at the store. Life was much simpler when we all talked to each other on the phone. That was the only option we had. Increasingly, I don't think a wealth of options makes life better. It's just makes life confusing.

I didn't accomplish much today, but somehow the day went quickly anyway. I need to change the alarm setting on my activity tracker because I'm always up well before the alarm goes off each morning. What was I thinking when I thought I needed an alarm at 7 AM? I'm lucky if I sleep until 5 AM anymore. Dot was restless this morning and got us all up early. When she appears restless, we try to get her outside as soon as possible, so she won't poop in the house. We were successful this morning, but of course she pooped in the house later in the day anyway. Several walks for Dot and Dash, a few loads of laundry, breakfast, dinner, and a trip to the grocery store seemed to consume the entire day. I did complete one small website update, but it was so minor that I almost forgot about it.

My Facebook feed is still inundated with tributes to Prince.  I always liked his music, but never realized what a big deal he was to a generation slightly younger than me. Prince had a huge influence on this generation, just like The Beatles, The Stones, and Pink Floyd had on me. Ever since I was a sophomore in high school, I've been able to measure time by which Rolling Stones song was popular at the time. Truthfully, Prince was a better musician than any of my rock heroes, but he wasn't around when I became fascinated with music. I was preoccupied trying to learn Jimi Hendrix songs.

It looks like it's time to mow the grass again. I never notice until the neighbors mow theirs, and then almost instantly my yard looks like shit. Hopefully, after I mow the grass I'll still have energy to go to the gym. Shooting baskets in a climate controlled gym seems far more appealing than working outside where the air is filled with ragweed and pollen.

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