Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 1751

It was interesting to see how the Ebola news developed today. First you would hear local chatter on Twitter. There are so many people who either work or have friends in health care that news travels quickly. Shortly after rumors start flying on Twitter, local talk radio shows are filled with callers talking about the same thing. A few hours later, the same stories start to appear on prominent local, and even national, media blogs. TV news crews seem to pick up the story very late in the game, and finally, at the end of the entire process, a public official eventually issues a statement. There were Tweets about where the Ebola victim lived, what airline he flew to Dallas on, and where the children he exposed went to school several hours before the same news appeared on the local television stations.

With all the talk about how Ebola is transmitted, there's been a lot of local interest in the safety of the sewage system. Surely the guy pooped after he arrived in town. Where is that poop now? They say the virus can live a long time under moist conditions. At any rate,  I wouldn't want to be a worker at the local sewage treatment plant. I don't think I'd want to be a plumber either. One of the most persistent questions I hear is "If there is nothing to worry about, why are all you guys wearing HazMat suits?" I wonder about this myself.

Other than the occasional worry that Dallas will be where the zombie apocalypse begins, it was a fairly normal day. I spent the day doing the usual mix of website revisions and writing assignments. Some of the website work I did today involved redoing what did yesterday. That's pretty normal too. If I didn't redo a lot of things, I would have very little to do.

When we went to dog training class tonight, the sodium vapor lights that illuminate the field at night unexpectedly went out. Without these lights, it is really dark. I'm surprised that the dogs did as well as they did under these conditions. I could still see Dash pretty well, since he is basically white with a few black spots. The owners of the Labs weren't so lucky. Their dogs just seemed to disappear in the darkness.

I thought my fire ant bites would be gone by now, but they seem to have gotten worse. After doing a little reading, I discovered that this was normal. When the hard red welts caused by the bites start to blister, they can itch intensely. I'm in the itchy stage right now. They say that this can last for up to a week. It helps to keep things in perspective though. An ant bite is no big deal when there's an Ebola outbreak a few miles down the road.

Tori is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 1750

Good grief. Flu season is here. The State Fair of Texas just started. And a guy with the Ebola virus was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital after wandering around town for a week. What could possibly go wrong? I guess it was inevitable that Ebola would make it's way to America, but did it have to come to Dallas first? This is a little too close to home. Presbyterian Hospital is only four or five miles from my house. The gym that I go to is actually owned by the Presbyterian healthcare network.

I listened to the press conference held this afternoon by the CDC. The only thing I could think of was that every single post-apocalyptic end-of-the-world movie I've ever seen starts with some government bureaucrat standing in front of a microphone telling people that there's "nothing to worry about." Every time I hear that this disease can't be transmitted through the air, I think of all the other things that couldn't possibly happen, like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

I'm sure for the next week of so, everyone who gets a fever in Dallas will think they've come down with Ebola. It doesn't help that officials are very close-lipped about the whole situation. They won't reveal the airline the guy flew here on. They won't reveal who his family is, or where he was seen in town before he arrived at the hospital feeling sick. Why do they let people from West Africa continue to fly here? This is an uncontrolled pandemic that has already claimed over 3,000 lives in a short amount of time. It is insane to keep pretending that "there is nothing to worry about."

I awoke this morning to the sound of a dog trying to throw up in the bed next to my head. I've heard this sound before, so I immediately picked Dot up and quickly took her outside where she proceeded to throw up on the back porch. It's probably nothing, but when a dog is recovering from cancer you always worry that the cancer may have returned. Both dogs have sensitive stomachs and are prone to eat crap in the park. It's not a good combination. I've been keeping an eye on Dot today and she seems completely normal. All dogs throw up from time to time and hopefully this was just a fluke.

I completed my troublesome website project today and wrote two new articles. I consider this a good day. It would have been an even better day if the stock market hadn't taken a tumble. It's depressing to toil away at the computer to earn a few hundred dollars when you're simultaneously losing thousands in the market.

The yard is rapidly becoming covered with dry, yellowed elm leaves that the dogs and I inevitably track inside. The elm tree loses its leaves first, and then the oaks and pecan trees quickly follow. Fall has definitely arrived.

Thelma is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 1749

I wish there was a longer gap between the end of Spring allergies and the beginning of Fall allergies. Fall allergies are back with a vengeance and it seems like I only had a single month of relatively pollen-free peace. With literally hundreds of different plants continually shedding their seeds and spores in the park behind our house, I've just about resigned myself to a lifetime runny nose.

Since antihistamines leave me loopy, I've resorted to using those big, blue rolls of shop towels like Kleenex. It's good that I work alone, because it seems like I spend the entire day blowing my nose. I think the dogs are having seasonal allergy problems too. They've certainly been licking  their coats a lot lately. Allergies usually affect a dog's skin instead of their nasal passages, but I'm sure it is equally irritating. I've got my own skin irritations this week as well. I thought yesterday's fire ant bites would have gone away by now. Instead, the red puffiness around my knee has resolved into dozens and dozens of hard red little bumps. It kind of looks like I have chicken pox. I don't know how long it will take for this mess to go away, but at least the ant bites don't itch as much as chigger bites.

I only had one thing to do today, but the task proved so difficult that I still haven't finished everything. I'm not sure I even want to be a website designer anymore. I initially got interested in doing this type of work because it seemed well suited for a solitary guy like me. I could sit at my computer and create beautiful things without having to deal with printing companies and production managers like my print-based contemporaries. This business model worked for a long time, but lately I find myself spending very little time actually doing graphic design. It's all about Javascript, PHP, and SEO these days. The thrill is definitely gone. I don't like modifying other people's Wordpress themes either. That's what I was doing today.

I often envy the dogs. We like a lot of the same things. They like to eat. So do I. They like to smell every bush while we take our walks. I like to photograph every bush. It works out nicely. When we come home, the dogs go to sleep. I wouldn't mind going back to sleep either, but unlike Dot and Dash, I've got bills to pay. I wonder if they realize how lucky they are.

I hope I can get my website project finished quickly tomorrow, because some new writing assignments came in late in the day. Tuesday is usually when I have to update one of my animal rescue websites as well. No rest for the weary. I'm already looking forward to Friday.

Sweet Pea is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 1748

The golf tournament photo shoot ended well, but it certainly didn't get off to a good start. I loaded my gear in a golf cart after I arrived and was just about ready to get in the cart myself when two other golfers commandeered the cart and drove away. I had turned away for just a few seconds to talk with someone and when I turned back, my cart was gone. I told two nearby club pros what had happened and they went looking for the cart. Within five minutes I had all my gear back. No harm was intended. The other golfers just thought the cart was empty and didn't notice the stuff in the back.

About ten minutes later, I kneeled down to get a better angle on a guy teeing off and I stuck my right knee straight into a fire ant mound. Almost instantly I had hundreds of fire ants crawling all over my leg. I knew I shouldn't have worn shorts. Yikes! These little critters can really sting. One of the nearby golfers asked if I needed to worry about anaphylactic shock. Thankfully, no. Luckily, I'm not allergic to bee stings and ant bites because I tend to get stung a lot.

The day ended well and I wound up getting hundreds of nice shots of golfers, Dalmatians, and golfers with their Dalmatians. I did find myself briefly going the wrong way on a one way street while I was driving home from the tournament. It was just that kind of day. I'm glad we left the dogs at home today. As accident prone as I was this afternoon, I probably would have dropped Dash's leash and he would have run off.

It's hard to believe that the rescue group has been having these charity golf tournaments for well over a decade now. I think this year's tournament was our thirteenth. We're all older now and there aren't as many dogs in the program. Dalmatians aren't as popular as they were when the Disney movies made the breed famous. That's a good thing, because far fewer dogs are being abandoned. I doubt that we would have the energy to deal with twenty-five dogs at a time like we used to anyway.

Janet won a gift certificate for 24 Sprinkles cupcakes at the tournament silent auction this evening. At the rate we eat cupcakes, this should keep us in birthday and celebration cupcakes for another year. The birthdays are all finished for this year, unfortunately. We'll have to figure out something else to celebrate, because those cupcakes sure are good!

It looks like next week is going to be busy. I've already got several new projects queued up and it isn't even Monday yet. I could have showed you dozens of people hitting a little white ball off a tee today, but I thought the clouds overhead were more interesting. This was definitely a Texas sized sky.

Spanky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 1747

Today we declared war on fleas. Both dogs have been seen with fleas lately and we suspect that they are probably inside the house. Fleas love to hide in carpet, bedding, dog blankets, and of course on the dogs themselves. Both dogs got a bath this morning, and then to make sure new fleas didn't just crawl back on each dog, I started systematically washing and cleaning everything. I'm still not finished. I think there are enough dog blankets in our house to sink a ship.

The house needed a good cleaning anyway, so hopefully this will help. You might think it would be a lot easier to just use a topical flea preventative like Frontline, but our dogs have sensitive skin and products like these leave their skin red and raw. Personally, I'd rather deal with the fleas than with a bad skin condition.

It took forever to get the dogs washed this morning. The place where we go only has four tubs and they are often filled when we arrive. Today a mother and daughter cut ahead of us in line, saying they had an important school event to attend and were running late. The daughter, who supposedly was in such a hurry, proceeded to text her friends on her phone while she was washing her dog. She was impossibly slow. An employee was grooming a dog in one of the other tanks while we were waiting. This girl left to go on a break, just leaving her wet dog sitting in the tank. She could have easily moved the dog to one of the kennels in the back and let some of the waiting customers bathe their dogs while she took her break. She also could have finished her job before she took her break. That's what I would have done. I'd leave these people a bad review on Yelp if it weren't for the fact that, despite all the problems, it's still the best dog washing place in the neighborhood. The manager is a nice guy and keeps the place very clean. It's his customers and employees who are the problem.

I noticed that Dot's dog bed was wet this afternoon, but I couldn't tell whether she had peed in the bed again or whether she was still a bit wet from her bath. The wet spot didn't really smell like pee, but my sense of smell isn't so good, so I took the cover off the bed and washed it anyway. Once I get in a washing kind of mood, it's hard to stop me. I recorded the new Dr. Who episode on the DVR again this evening because it doesn't look like I'll have time to watch it any time soon. By the time I get all the cleaning done and charge up the camera batteries for tomorrow's photoshoot, it will be time for bed.

I saw our yard possum again this morning. Luckily, the dogs didn't. I have a feeling that the possum lives somewhere in the back of the yard, because it certainly doesn't go far. I don't know why it likes our yard so much, because their are plenty of larger and much grander yards just down the street. Maybe it feels at home here. I'll have to admit now that the St. Augustine grass is dying and the ground cover beds are full of spider webs and weeds, the yard does look like a place a possum might enjoy.

Tomorrow will be busy. I keeping thinking that I have way too many aches and pains to do sports photography anymore. Then I remember that I'm just taking pictures of golfers. It isn't all that strenuous. I just follow the players around in a golf cart and take picture of them teeing off and putting. Occasionally, I get a good shot. I know the golfers are having more fun than I am, because they're drinking beer, while I'm still just drinking water.

Sophie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 1746

There were no pretty wildflowers to photograph this morning. I didn't feel like waiting around for a sunset picture either, so this photo of my breakfast will have to suffice. You've heard about my Friday breakfasts for quite a while. This is why I like them so much. It's hard not to like a plate filled with fresh local eggs, chorizo, tortilla strips, tomatoes, onions, skillet browned potatoes and lots of savory spices. Oh, did I mention that the coffee is roasted on the premises too.

After a breakfast like this and a quick trip to Central Market to pick up something equally tasty for dinner, I'm usually ready for anything.  Fridays are typically busy, but since one of my clients has closed up shop for Rosh Hashanah, all I had to do today were several routine website revisions.

With a slow day, I had time to finish my September writer's group assignment a little early again. This month's prompt was "sleep," so I wrote about my dreams. I probably did this because I wrote something about dreams yesterday on the blog. Today's essay was a little longer, but it was essentially the same thing. When you write as frequently as I do, it's easy to feel like the well is running dry. This wasn't the first time I've borrowed from the blog to do something else, and it won't be the last.

My e-mail account has adopted a new way of identifying spam. Instead of dumping all the suspicious mail in a junk mail folder on my local computer, they keep it on the server and send me a summary once a day. I have to look through all the listings and choose whether to whitelist, delete, or block the detained mail. I know this is for my benefit, but it takes a lot more time than my old method of dealing with spam. I would routinely ignore everything in the junk folder, knowing that it would be automatically be erased when I closed my mail client. I'm sure I've lost a number of legitimate letters this way, but it sure was easy. I dread having to actually look at all the junk I get each day. On an average day there are over a hundred spam messages.

This weekend will be busy. The dogs get a bath tomorrow and Sunday is the Dalmatian Rescue golf tournament. I won't be able to go to the gym on Sunday, but shooting photos of the players on all eighteen holes of the golf course will be a workout in itself.

Suki is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day 1745

I finally saw our elusive possum. I got up last night about 2 AM to get a glass of water and there he was, methodically perusing the yard right outside the living room window. He wasn't digging anything up, but he sure was looking for something. This must have been a young possum, because he was much smaller than I anticipated. It's a good thing the dogs were both asleep, because possums move really slow. I asked our vet today if these animals posed a rabies risk like bats and racoons, but she said no. They are marsupials and are not carriers of rabies. This is good to know, but I still wouldn't want the dogs to tangle with one.

I've been having strange and complicated dreams lately. Unfortunately, I can't remember any of them. When the dogs wake me up during the night, I'll often think "this is a weird dream," and then the dream just vanishes about ten seconds later. I can't remember anything at all. I wonder if I'll recall these dreams later in life. I can't remember any recent dreams, but some of my childhood dreams are quite vivid. A few are so real that I occasionally wonder if they actually happened. It's hard to tell. All these dreams are floating around somewhere in my mind, but they are only accessible after a long period of time has passed. During those fleeting moments when the dream is fading away, I often notice that Dot and Dash are dreaming too. I wonder if we're all dreaming about the same thing?

Dot had another good physical therapy session today. We're back to our regular routine of a twenty minute workout in the underwater treadmill, followed by acupuncture. The vet was happy that Dot was responding well to the Incurin treatment and I was happy that there were no embarrassing fleas on Dot this time. I'm really glad that things are getting back to normal.

Today was busier than I expected. In addition to Dot's vet appointment, there were articles to write and several last minute website revisions. The fact that I got everything done with only a half a day of actual computer time means that I'm becoming more productive again. I think it helps that I don't have to get Dot up and outside to pee every few hours now. In fact, Dot gets indignant if I try to take her out too often. She gives me this look that says "Hey, I can hold it now. Leave me alone."

There's a mosquito buzzing around my office that I can't seem to find. I know I'm going to wake up with a mosquito bite in the morning, but it's not worth the trouble to get out the stepladder and a flyswatter to get rid of the irritating bug. It's a sign that it was a pretty good day if the mosquitoes don't bother me. Hey, if Thursday was OK, Friday should be great. You guys already know how much I love Fridays.

Zorro is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 1744

When I was walking the dogs this morning I noticed a bulldozer ripping up the trail we normally use. Now there is just a lot of loose dirt that will immediately turn into a mud pit as soon as it rains. I think the city is planning to replace the trail with a much wider concrete bicycle highway to accommodate all the cyclists who like to ride in the park. I'm not looking forward to this. The trail has been a nice, peaceful place to walk the dogs for many years and as soon as the cyclists arrive, it will just be another place to avoid. Bicycles and dogs on a leash don't mix. The dogs and I have almost been run over by Type-A cyclists too many times to count. When you're on the same trail together, these guys, and they're almost always guys, don't want to slow down or move over for anybody.

I probably won't have to worry about the bicycles for quite a while. City projects move exceedingly slow. It will take at least a month for them to rip out the old trail. Then it will take another month to construct the wooden forms and place the steel rebar reinforcement before actually pouring the concrete. Sooner or later though, this bicycle highway will be finished and I'll have to find a quieter place to walk the dogs.

Life is gradually returning to normal. The dogs are healthy again and Dot's incontinence problems seem to be over. My workload has returned to a predictable mix of writing and website design. I'm busy, but not too busy. There seems to be plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast and long dog walks while still meeting deadlines. The familiar routines aren't all that exciting, but they're comfortable. As long as the dogs stay healthy, I'm OK with this.

Dot was stronger today and participated in many of the exercises at our training class this evening. Both dogs seemed to enjoy the cool, pleasant weather. Since the autumnal equinox was yesterday, the days will start to get noticeably shorter now. It's already dark by the time training class is over and pretty soon it will be dark before we even begin. The sky was clear and I recognized a few constellations overhead as Dash and I did our training exercises tonight. It made me wish I'd bought something when I went to the telescope store the other day.

Tomorrow is Dot's physical therapy day. She's still not quite as strong as she was before her illness, but she's getting close. Her progress reminds me that physical therapy actually works. I really need to get one of my doctors to refer me for physical therapy myself. It would sure be nice to have a functional shoulder again.

Scout is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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