Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 1803

It's hard to believe that it has already been 51 years since John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I was already in high school at the time, so this makes me feel really old. I didn't realize it then, but 1963 was an eventful year. The Beatles made their debut in 1963. Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech. And the very first episode of Dr. Who was aired by the BBC.

I used to go down to Dealey Plaza on November 22, just to watch everyone with a conspiracy theory have their moment in the sun. Dealey Plaza used to be a zoo on November 22, but it's pretty quiet these days. Most of the eyewitnesses are very old now and some of the more vocal ones have died. I guess if we haven't discovered what really happened by now, we never will.

I don't know what caused me to look up on a shelf this afternoon, see a dusty Diskwarrior software box and decide to see it it still worked. It didn't. I used to defragment my hard drives frequently and run Diskwarrior to rebuild the directories. It was all part of owning a Mac. Nobody seems to do that stuff anymore. If your computer is running slow, you just buy a new computer. I really thought I could get Diskwarrior to work. I downloaded the latest update, burned a new start up CD and looked up the installation instructions on Google. I should have been suspicious when I noticed that the last update occurred in 2011. Apparently Diskwarrior just doesn't matter anymore. Probably 95% of the software titles sitting on shelves in my office don't matter anymore. Times have changed.

The last thing I'd ever do on the day after Thanksgiving is go to a Black Friday sale, but I'll have to admit that I was tempted when I saw a flyer in today's mail saying that the Black Friday price for a Dyson vacuum cleaner was $199. These things are usually well over $500. I'm not going to go to Walmart and fight a mob of crazy people for a vacuum cleaner though. No thank you. We'll just use our old Hoover for a few more years.

The dogs and I got wet on our evening walk. The skies had been grey and cloudy all day, but unfortunately the overcast day turned into a very rainy day while we were out in the park. I kept thinking if we walked a little further that Dash would finally poop. He never did. All I got for my efforts were two very wet dogs. Now Dash will probably wake up me in the middle of the night frantically wanting to go outside. This always happens when he doesn't poop on his walk.

I hope I come up with something more useful to do tomorrow than wasting hours trying to get obsolete software to work and spending even more time cleaning up wet, dirty dogs. I had a much smaller slice of cake for desert tonight in an effort to curtail my sugar intake. Hmm. Rain and no cake. That's the kind of day it was.

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 1802

I had my annual physical today. As usual, the exam consisted of long waits in various rooms, followed by a much shorter visit with the doctor. I think doctors call their customers "patients" because you have to be very patient to deal with all the waiting. My doctor loves blood tests. Every year, he comes up with half a dozen new things to test me for. Years ago, the technicians only drew one vial of blood for lab work. Now they routinely draw seven or eight vials. It is pretty amazing how much information about your health can be gleaned from a sample of blood. Now, in addition to the usual tests for PSA, glucose, cholesterol, and liver enzyme levels, my lab work includes a variety of genetic RNA markers to determine if I am predisposed to develop certain diseases. Here's the weird thing. My copy of today's lab work was 12 pages long, but I still don't know my own blood type. Doctors never bother to order the simple blood type test anymore, because unless you are in the ER and need a transfusion, they don't need this information. I've meant to ask one of my doctors what my blood type is, but while I am actually in the exam room, I always forget.

For the past several years I've been telling my doctor that I don't want a flu shot and then end up getting one anyway. "Nobody ever died from getting a flu shot," my doctor told me today. OK. Go ahead and give me one. It's really futile trying to argue with doctors. Flu shots aren't a big deal anyway. At least my lab work was good. The only thing I need to keep an eye on is my blood sugar.  I'm not a diabetic, but I could easily become one if I'm not careful. My glucose and a1c levels were a little higher than last year. They were still in the normal range, but headed in the wrong direction. I think these levels were better last year because I had given up sugar and eating bread almost entirely. Eventually, my sweet tooth got the better of me and I went back to having dessert with my evening meals. It looks like I'm going to have to curtail desserts again.

When I was having breakfast this morning, the sky was very grey and the restaurant was playing sad country songs instead of the usual Austin hipster music. For some reason this moody ambiance brought back memories of ancient road trips. You'd never know it now, but before I had dogs or responsibilities, a long straight road and a hearty meal at a roadside diner that I would never see again was my idea of fun. The destination was never that important, but I would often drive 800 miles in a day. I've driven through virtually all the Western states, but never had much desire to point the car in an easterly direction. For just a moment this morning I imagined my favorite restaurant was a roadside diner in Wyoming. The moment didn't last long. By 10AM I was back at my desk writing ridiculous advertising messages.

Dot stumbled and fell on her walk today and Dash had an upset stomach and frantically wanted to eat grass for a while. Both dogs recovered quickly, but I still worry about them a lot. My job is to keep them both safe and healthy. Everything else I do is basically just to kill time. It's a good thing my doctor never takes my blood pressure when I'm having a dog crisis. Lord knows what he'd try to prescribe for me then.

Chelsey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 1801

It's nice to feel caught up on things. I've finished this week's writing assignments. My websites are up to date. The vet bills at the cancer center have been paid. Even the trash has already been taken to the curb for tomorrow's pickup. I'm sure there are still a lot of loose ends, but everything seems reasonably tidy. I like a tidy life.

I continue to be pleased with Dot's progress at her physical therapy sessions. Our vet cautioned us not to expect miracles, but now that we've been doing this for over a year, I can really see a difference. Even after her battle with cancer, she is still stronger than she was a year ago. I would highly recommend physical therapy for anyone with a senior dog. I'm sure physical therapy is equally beneficial for people, so I ought to consider finding a good therapist myself. With the proper care and exercises, my shoulder might actually begin to heal.

The temperature has warmed up considerably, but I'm still dressing as if it were below freezing. Consequently, I felt hot for most of the day. I definitely overdressed for this morning's walk. I always have this problem, because I don't respond quickly to change. I'm inclined to wear my Winter clothes all Winter long, but you can't do that in Texas. You always have to be ready to put on a pair of shorts one day and a parka the next.

Once again, I had a choice between going to the grocery store and picking up some take-out at a nearby restaurant. I should have gone to the store, but I took the easy way out and brought home a burger for dinner instead. It was just one burger and an order of fries, but I feel so full. When did restaurant portions get to be so huge? I never eat like this at home. I have a feeling that diabetes, heart disease, and a half a dozen other ailments could be cut in half if we just quit going out to eat so often. A special breakfast once a week is fine, but I think this is where I should draw the line. If I ate out more frequently, I'd gain ten pounds before you could say do you want fries with that.

Much to my surprise, people are actually buying my pictures on Shutterstock. Unfortunately, I only uploaded ten images to my account before I lost interest. If I can make a little money with ten pictures, just think of what I could do with a hundred, or a thousand. I need to get serious about uploading more pictures. I've certainly got plenty. Who knows. Maybe even some of my blog pictures might get accepted.

There was another package from Klout in the mailbox today. This time it was a big box of dog biscuits for Dot and Dash. They could smell them before I even opened the box. My influence seems to be limited to dogs and thermostats, but I can't complain. Free stuff is fun. Hey, with a cheeseburger in my belly and an empty to-do list for tomorrow, I'll have to admit that life is pretty good.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 1800

I like big round numbers like 1800. They give me hope that I'll be able to continue doing this for 2000, or if I'm lucky, even 5000 days. As incremental days go, this really wasn't much of a milestone. It was still chilly outside, although the temperature was warmer than yesterday. The day went fast, because there were a ton of minor chores to do. After walking the dogs and fixing myself some oatmeal for breakfast, I went to the bank. Then I went to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, did a load of laundry, and balanced my checkbook. Each of these things took a lot longer than it should have, but like I said, the day went quickly.

I don't know why it takes me so long to balance my checkbook these day. This used to be a snap. Now, I'm always entering something twice, or not at all, and ending up with a perplexing discrepancy after all my efforts. Since I'm an obsessive type by nature, I keep checking and rechecking until I eventually find my error, but I doubt that all my calculations even matter. It would probably be a lot easier if I just accepted what the bank said I have each month and let it go at that.

My writing assignments took longer today as well. I wish I could do these things faster since they don't pay a lot, but there are days when my mind is a blank. Just like the checkbook, I eventually get all the words in the right place, but there is often a lot of staring off into space involved. By the time I got all the writing, bookkeeping, and other errands taken care of, it was time for dinner. It wasn't an exciting day, but it was a productive one.

We skipped dog training class for the second week in a row. It's just too cold for Dot. Her joints are old and stiff and the ground is damp and cold. On nights like these, she prefers to sit on a pile of blankets in a warm house. Dash doesn't seem to mind missing class either. He enjoys seeing the other dogs, but I think he lost interest in being obedient several years ago. When it warms up a bit, we'll be back. It's good for the dogs to stay active and mingle with other dogs.

It's time to start thinking about Christmas pet pictures again. I can't even remember how many years I've been shooting pictures of dogs sitting on Santa's lap, but it's been a long time. Janet and I got a new backdrop for this year's round of pictures. Since a lot of the same people come to these events year after year, it's nice to have something different to offer them. I think we have five events this year, so I hope all my equipment still works.

The refrigerator looks pretty empty, so I'll probably have to go to the store tomorrow. Dot has her physical therapy session as well. We'll see how the day goes. I'd like to go see Interstellar at an IMAX theater sometime soon, but tomorrow looks pretty busy. Maybe Friday might work.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 1799

Sometimes I have trouble telling the difference between a cold day and a slow day. On cold days like today there is often plenty of work to do, but it still feels like I'm doing nothing because I never leave the house. Even though I kept myself busy and finished several writing jobs, my mind still wandered. I wanted to hear more about the report I heard that the Rosetta lander had discovered organic molecules on the comet. This would be very big new for anyone with an interest in astronomy or planetary science. I was confused when I heard that the Keystone Pipeline bill failed to pass in congress after receiving 59 votes. I guess I've forgotten everything I learned in high school civics class. After looking the topic up on Google, I discovered that 60 votes were required to prevent a filibuster. And what exactly is a filibuster? I know it's a bunch of people talking endlessly to delay things, but why?

The temperature was in the low 20's when I woke up this morning. The only advantage to this frigid weather was that the dogs don't get muddy on our morning walk. The ground was frozen solid and my boots made a crunching sound when I walked over the frost covered grass. Frost covered plants are actually kind of pretty, but we didn't linger long to observe. It was cold and we all knew that the house was much warmer. The only reason we made it as far as we did this morning was that there was absolutely no wind. On a windy day we would have just stayed inside.

I thought making a fancy omelet this morning would make the day more interesting, but it really didn't. I've seen the early morning Dr. Who re-runs on the BBC channel so many times that I've practically memorized them. Out of boredom I've gone back to watching the news. I flip back and forth between the liberal and conservative channels and find them equally irritating. There just isn't that much to like about a completely polarized society. Occasionally CNN is OK, because they seem to focus more on plane crashes and volcanoes than politics. I hate politics. I wish there was a TV channel that just showed interesting Ted Talks, or maybe featured obscure news about black holes or CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

You may wonder why as a writer, I often talk about watching television and seldom mention anything about reading. I used to be an obsessive reader, but my eyes have gotten bad and reading just isn't that satisfying anymore. The last book that made any impact on me was A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn was pretty good too. I used to love everything that John Fowles wrote, even the non-fiction. I was such a fan that I even visited his home in Lyme Regis once. When Fowles died, so did a lot of my desire to read. I'm so far behind that The Shipping News still seems like a new novel to me. I bought a copy once, but have never gotten around to reading it.

There are more articles to write tomorrow and I'll probably go back to having oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. I hope the dogs aren't getting too cold on their walks. They both seem to like the brisk weather, which is more than I can say.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 1798

There was a light dusting of snow on the ground when I walked the dogs this morning. The snow had all but disappeared by the time I finished breakfast, but it served to reinforce what I already knew. Winter is here. I haven't gotten out the little ceramic heater yet that I often keep under my desk on cold days, but I have started wearing a fleece pullover while I work. I'd better get used to this. There will still be some warm days, since this is Texas, but basically things are going to be a bit cooler than I prefer from now till Spring.

Today was much busier than a typical Monday. I had major website revisions to make, a couple of new articles to write, and a big stack of bills to pay. It seems like there ought to be more to life than doing the same repetitive tasks over and over to pay the same bills that seem to keep accumulating over and over. That's what it comes down to sometimes though.

I don't know how two people and a couple of dogs can accumulate so much trash. Since the city only picks up our trash once a week now, I am forced to compact the big black trash bags as much as possible, so they will all fit in the garbage can. If we had a new, modern house, I think the appliance I would want the most is a trash compactor. Without one of these devices I am continually forced to stamp on these bags with my hiking boots and even sit on them when necessary to squeeze them down to 1/3 or their normal size. Life was so much easier when they picked up our trash three times a week.

Dash startles easily and this morning a weird noise caused him to freak out and get his leash tangled around my legs. Lassoed by the leash, his antics quickly knocked me over. When I fell, I knocked Dot over and we all ended up in a pile on the ground. Nobody was hurt, but when we got home there was a lot more mud to clean up than I had hoped. Muddy clothing, bills to pay, and lots of garbage. It was that kind of day.

I still have another article to finish, but hopefully sanity will return tomorrow. Maybe I'll make myself a spinach omelet for breakfast. That sounds like a good way to start a cold day. Maybe I'll go to the storage warehouse and retrieve the little ceramic space heater. I think I write better when my feet are warm.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 1797

It's been cold recently, so I decided to get a pair of those compression pants I always see runners and cyclists wearing. You can put on as many sweaters and jackets as you like, but a pair of blue jeans just doesn't offer much protection from the cold. Twenty years ago I would have just bought some old fashioned cotton long underwear, but you don't see that stuff in regular stores anymore. I figured that the local Sports Authority store would have what I needed and sure enough they did. There was a whole section of high tech "cold wear," which basically looked just like women's yoga pants except that they were twice as expensive. "Don't you have anything with pockets in them," I asked the sales guy? Nope. No pockets anywhere. "I guess that's why men always seem to wear a ridiculous pair of baggy shorts on top of these things," I said. "Exactly," said the sales guy.

Even with their drawbacks, these tight fitting leggings did seem to provide an easy alternative to freezing on dog walks, so I bought a pair. Now I know why Under Armor has been such a hot stock for the past several years. These guys are the Apple Computer of underwear. There is no logical reason why a pair of spandex leggings should cost so much.

I was expecting to wake up to freezing rain this morning, but we had the non-freezing kind instead. There were reports of sleet a little north of us, but even though it was pretty damp, the temperature stayed above freezing all day. The dogs didn't seem to mind walking in the light mist. I think the cold weather invigorates them. I wish the cold invigorated me, since we've got a lot of cold days ahead. I've never liked the cold though and the best I can do is just try to stay warm.

I had to choose between cabin fever and getting the car dirty this afternoon, and surprisingly I choose to go to the gym anyway. On cold, wet days like this, my office is always the coldest room in the house. Somehow, a good workout at the gym seemed a much better way to stay warm than sitting at the computer and revising websites.

We had beef stew and cornbread for dinner tonight. The only thing missing was a roaring fire in the fireplace. Oops. We don't even have a fireplace. We do have two warm dogs though. That's almost as good. I think I'll go curl up with the dogs and hope for a warmer day tomorrow.

Alvin is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 1796

Today was one small errand after another. I don't know why there were so many things to do, but it was definitely a busy day. The car needed gas, there were groceries to buy, the dogs needed a new stash of dog treats. I needed to pick up a bottle of astringent at CVS. As the day progressed, the sky got darker and darker. I'm glad I got everything done, because it looks like we might have sleet or freezing rain tomorrow.

While I was  out and about, I stopped by an AT&T store to take a look at the new iPhone 6. I don't think I like it very much. Even the smaller of the two new models is too large to fit comfortably in my pocket. Even worse, the phone is so light and thin that it appears flimsy. I think I'll just stick with my current phone, especially since Apple replaced mine with a brand new one just a few months ago.

I received a bunch of new assignments towards the end of the day yesterday and I felt compelled to work on some of them this afternoon. I could have easily waited until Monday, but I hate to have work looming over my head.  I did a little writing and updated a website before I remembered that I still needed to do the laundry and change the sheets on the bed. Weekends have their own set of priorities and writing assignments aren't usually high on the list.

While I was walking the dogs this evening, we encountered another search and rescue team, presumably searching the lake for a drowning victim. When I first moved to this part of town, years would go by without anyone drowning in the lake. Now, I see the fire department rescue crews out here several times a month. I guess that's just what happens in a growing city. There are an abundance of people with no common sense at all. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen kayakers or people using those popular new SUP boards without even bothering to wear a life jacket. It's easy to tip a kayak over or fall off a SUP board. The water is pretty cold at this time of year too. You'd have to be crazy to go out on the water on a day like this.

I continue to be impressed by the new thermostat. I programmed it to turn the temperature down while we slept and then raise it back to normal again when we woke up. Everything worked like a charm. We didn't even realize that it was 65 degrees inside during the night. By the time we got out of bed this morning, everything was toasty warm again. It's weird. A thermostat may seem dull to most of you, but Klout couldn't have send me a better product to evaluate if they tried. All I do these days  is fret about the temperature.

I hope the rain we're having now doesn't freeze on the roads tonight. Even a small amount of ice can bring this city to a standstill. If the weather's OK, I'll probably go to the gym tomorrow. If it's sleeting outside, I'll just curl up with the dogs and take a nap.

Honey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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