Sunday, August 2, 2015

Day 2056

I saw something on the news this morning that today is the thirtieth anniversary of the Delta Flight 191 crash at DFW. It seems impossible that it has already been thirty years since this happened. I flew a lot on business then, and I remember driving by the wreckage on my way back from the airport several times. It doesn't seem that long ago.

It would be five more years before I would leave the ad agency world and start my own company, but I'd already been living in Dallas a quite a while. I moved here from Seattle in the Summer of 1977 after working my way up to Senior Writer status at several well known Seattle ad agencies. The Delta crash and the continuing parade of historic anniversaries is making me feel really old. Woodstock and the moon landings remind me of my college years. The assassination of John Kennedy in Dealey Plaza and the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show remind me of high school. Sputnik, bomb shelters, and cars with huge tail fins remind me of grade school. It's been a long, long journey and it's easy to forget that most of it took place before the Internet even existed. I thought we'd be on Mars by now, but the Internet caught me by surprise. Who would have thought that I'd end up spending my evenings talking to the world this way.

Sleeping in on weekends is a thing of the past. We don't need an alarm clock. The dogs know that they get an early morning walk now and they wake up up well before the sun comes up. Even in August it's reasonably nice outside at 6 AM. Dot seemed strong and steady this morning and hasn't pooped in her bed for several days. It's always nice to get the day off to a good start. Our new routine involves taking Dash to a nearby dog park right after we return from Dot's morning exercise walk. Dot is tired after her walk and just sleeps while we are gone. Again, doing all this before breakfast is mainly to beat the heat that comes later in the day. We didn't stay long at the dog park today. Vandals had broken the latch on the airlock style gates where you can safely get your dog in and out of the park without all the other dogs escaping. Dash never misses an open gate, so he noticed the broken latch right away. It was so much trouble keeping him from making a quick exit though the easily opened door that we just packed up early and went home. It's a shame that this newly refurbished park has only been open a few months and vandals are already doing their best to ruin it. That's Dallas for you though. I often wish we lived in Wyoming.

There was an extra loaf of bread in the refrigerator, so I made French Toast for breakfast. French Toast with real maple syrup and a side of sausage patties are comfort food. I can't eat this way all the time,  but it's a nice treat on weekends. To burn off the extra calories, I went to the gym later in the morning. My workouts are more focused now and I think they are doing some good.

When I vacuumed the floors later in the day, I noticed that the rotating brush on the Dyson wasn't working. I took the machine apart and put it back together again after cleaning the really dusty bits. It must have just been a loose connection, because the vacuum worked fine after I reassembled everything. The only problem I have with the Dyson is that it is made of plastic. The whole thing feels flimsy. You should be able to bang a vacuum cleaner into walls and furniture without worrying about it breaking. I can't imagine building a car out of plastic. Why would you make a vacuum cleaner out of plastic with a bunch of fragile snap together components? If the thing was made out of aircraft aluminum, it would be fabulous.

The house is reasonably clean. I've more or less caught up on all my work projects. The dogs are happy and sleeping, and Janet fixed some delicious pork chops for dinner. I think I'm ready to start a new week.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Day 2055

There are few things that will destroy your faith in humanity faster than running errands on a hot Texas Summer day. The roads are filled with disgruntled drivers who aren't paying attention to the road. The parking lots are filled with people who can't manage to park their oversize cars between the white lines. Grocery stores are the worst. There's always some 400 pound person blocking the aisles with their motorized cart while they fill their buggy with the same sugar filled, fattening foods that gave them diabetes in the first place. I always seem to get behind someone at the automated checkout kiosks who keeps inserting their expired credit card in the machine over and over again and wondering why it doesn't work. No wonder Amazon Prime is so popular. I just look around and think we are doomed, because all these people can vote.

There seems to be a big controversy on social media entering around the fact that many people are showing more compassion for Cecil the Lion than for their fellow man. This is a no brainer to me. Of course Cecil the Lion is getting more sympathy. He deserves it. Humans are in many ways the worst animals on the planet. We've reproduced like rabbits, taken all the planet's resources for ourselves, cut down the rain forests, and poisoned the waters. And then we sit around blaming each other for climate change. We operate on fear and greed and survive only because there's nobody higher than us on the food chain to eat us for lunch. Cecil the Lion and all those sharks swimming around East Coast beaches this Summer are actually the good guys.

I should have gone to the gym today, because it's about the only quiet place on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I burned my calories outside today by mowing the grass. The lawn is growing slower now, due to the heat, but it's still growing. After I mowed and watered the shrubs, I washed the sheets and made the bed. We've got plenty of bed sheets, but I like the bamboo sheets that Janet got in the Caribbean best, so I wash them over and over again and put them right back on the bed. If you've never tried bamboo bed sheets, I highly recommend them. They're softer than even the very best cotton and surprisingly durable.

The armadillo was back on our porch this morning when we got up. I thought I had blocked the area where he usually crawls under the fence, but the little guy seemed to have had no trouble removing my barrier and getting in the yard again. Now, I know who is making all the little trails through the Asian Jasmine ground cover in the back. The armadillo doesn't seem content with destroying the grass. Now, it is messing up all the shrubs and ground cover as well. I wish the critter would just go away. It's just one more thing that I always need to be aware of before I let the dogs outside.

Dot had a good day today. She was able to get up by herself when she woke up this morning and was steady and surefooted on our early morning walk. She still slept for most of the day when we returned, but that's OK. Janet and Dot both have birthdays this month. After all these years, we still don't know how old Dot actually is. They said she was four when we adopted her, but she was so active in her younger years that we began to think she was only three. Now, that she really is getting old, I'm beginning to think she might have been four after all. At any rate, on her birthday she'll either be fourteen or fifteen. I doubt that she's sixteen, because she sure seemed older than two when we got her. We'll never know for sure.

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 2054

I repaired something fairly complex today by watching a YouTube video. I set my laptop next to the project and every time the guy on the tape said to unscrew a certain bolt or grab a wrench, I would pause the video and do that step exactly the way he said. The whole process took about 45 minutes and worked like a charm. I'm going to start looking for YouTube videos every time I need to fix something. Watching someone else repair the exact same thing you're trying to fix is so much easier to understand than reading poorly written instruction manuals, or my time honored method, taking something apart without following any instructions at all. I think Ikea should include an assembly video with everything they sell. Trying to assemble something using those cryptic numbered drawings Ikea uses to avoid translating the instructions into forty different languages can be maddening. At any rate, YouTube has become my go-to source for learning things these days. I've managed to find detailed instructions on everything from designing mobile websites to fixing the refrigerator.

As I suspected, it was a slow day, so I went out and bought a pair of shorts and some new shoes at an end-of-Sumner sale. I didn't really need any new clothes, but 70% off is hard to resist. I don't think Summer is ending any time soon in Dallas, so I ought to get a lot of use out of these bargains. I also picked up some groceries for the weekend while I was out and about. No bargains here, but I always find it easy to rationalize purchasing the tasty things I find at Whole Foods and Central Market.

Maybe I'm watering the lawn too much, because I'm starting to see mushrooms growing in the back yard again. I always try to remove these as soon as possible, since I don't know my mushrooms well enough to recognize the ones that could be harmful to the dogs. Dot probably wouldn't eat mushrooms, but Dash would. He'll eat just about anything under the right circumstances. If mushrooms are an indication that the yard is too wet, the frogs that appeared out of nowhere to get under the sprinkler while I was watering shrubs this morning, are an indication that things are too dry. I'm never sure what to do about the lawn. I try, but I definitely don't have a green thumb.

Dot pooped in her bed again. There is no rhyme or reason to these accidents. Today's accident happened right after I'd taken her outside, so it caught me by surprise. I need to get one of those "Shit Happens" bumper stickers. This is quite literally what happens in our house these days. I try my best to be patient when Dot has an accident. She can't help it. I just hope the same thing doesn't start happening with me a few more years down the road. Getting old basically sucks, no matter who you are.

The weather forecast said there was a 20% chance of rain this afternoon. No such luck. After all the complaining I've done about rain over the years, you wouldn't think I'd be wishing for a downpour, but I was. It's gotten way too dry. The dogs hate the heat. The plants are dying. I'm ready for some rain.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 2053

When we went for our physical therapy session today, we learned that Dot's vet is going to be on Good Morning America tomorrow. The show is flying her and a cat named Skinny to New York this evening for a segment on how she helped this formerly 41 pound feline trim down to a svelte looking 19 pounds. Dot often barks at Skinny the cat when she's working out in the underwater treadmill. She doesn't appear to like a cat watching her exercise. Considering that Dot's limp is getting worse, she did amazingly well today. She was steady on her feet and was able to walk for seventeen minutes without wobbling back and forth like she did last week. We experimented today and did her acupuncture treatment before the treadmill workout. Maybe this relaxed her. I'm still not sure why, but Dot looked really good today.

I finished my writing assignment today, although it took longer than I expected. Sometimes simple product descriptions take longer to write than imaginative, creative pieces. Writing is unpredictable. There are times when even this blog is difficult to write. It shouldn't really matter what I write about, since I get paid by the word, but I still enjoy crafting a clever headline a lot more than cranking out catalog copy.

I wish I enjoyed working as much as Dash enjoys walking. He gets a long walk on Thursdays now, since Dot needs to rest before her physical therapy session. We walk twice as fast and three times as far during these Thursday walks. The fact that Dash still enjoys a long walk makes me really appreciate how good he is about walking very slow with Dot during the rest of the week. Dash is an essential component in our efforts to keep Dot moving. Without him, she has little interest in going anywhere. It's amazing how completely these two dogs have bonded. They trust each other, respect each other, and truly need each other at this point.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. There are a few website updates than need to be taken care of, but I don't anticipate anything major. After our pre-dawn walk with the dogs, I'll go out for breakfast and then pick up some groceries for the weekend. That's what I always do on Fridays. If it's a slow day, as I anticipate, I may go check out a few Summer clearance sales. Since I wear the same things Summer and Winter, I sometimes pick up great, very wearable bargains at these end of season events. There's a rare blue moon tomorrow night. The moon won't actually be blue and will look exactly like any other full moon. I still don't know why they call the second full moon in a single month a blue moon if it isn't blue. Of course, I don't know why sad people are called blue either. Language can be strange.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 2052

I renewed my storage warehouse lease for another year. I always rent the storage unit for a year at a time, because I get thirteen months for the price of twelve this way. I've had the storage space for so long that I think I've received an entire year in free rent by now. When I first got the storage space, it was just a convenient place to store amplifiers and guitars between gigs and bulky lighting equipment between photo shoots. Now, it has become a repository of memories. The remains from just about everything I've ever enjoyed doing in my life is sitting on a shelf somewhere. There are wind surfing boards, electric trains, framed pictures from old gallery shows, obsolete computers, old guitar amps, and much more. I wish I didn't need a storage warehouse at all, but I get very attached to things. Even broken things are hard for me to throw away.

The latest thing I'm trying to resurrect is the old Sony laptop I told you about yesterday. I asked the guy in the repair shop at Fry's if he could install a new hard drive for this 1997 machine and he told that I could get a brand new laptop for less than the cost of repairs. When I explained that I didn't actually need the computer and that it was just something I wanted to fix, he gave me a blank look like he didn't understand. Maybe the guy had a point. Why would anyone want a computer that only ran Windows 98 and had a hard drive that with less capacity than the memory sticks I use with my cameras. I did a little research on Google and discovered that nobody even makes IDE hard drives any more. All the replacement hard drives are SATA. I found a website that showed how to disassemble the computer, but it looked a little tricky. The article with the hard drive upgrade instructions was dated 2008 and the author considered this particular computer to be ancient even back then. It might be harder than I thought to bring this thing back to life. Jeez, if it's this hard to bring a modern looking little Sony laptop back to life, I wonder how hard it would be to get my old Osborne-1 running again?

Dot had kind of a rough day today. She was a bit shaky on her morning walk and walked with a limp around the house. I still can't figure out what makes some days good and other days bad. I may be wrong, but I think it has a lot to do with how she sleeps at night. If she goes to sleep with her bad leg tucked under her, she always seems to have a limp the next day. I always try to make sure she is sleeping on her side with the bad leg on top, but it doesn't really help. She always wakes up two or three times a night to circle around and reposition herself. Usually when I wake up the next morning, she has managed to get the bad leg tucked up under her.

I managed to find a replacement the tiny watch part I destroyed yesterday. The little screw cost me $5.00 but I considered that a bargain. I'll try to be more careful when I try to reassemble the watch this time. I received another writing assignment toward the end of the day, so maybe doing this new article will keep me busy enough so I won't be tempted to fix anything else this week. I've broken enough things for one week.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day 2051

Nothing went as planned today. I woke about 4 AM to the now familiar smell of poop. Dot had pooped in her bed again. I cleaned up the mess, took it outside in a plastic bag and found myself face-to-face with an armadillo on the back porch. The armadillo seems to return every August like clockwork to tear up the yard, and here he was, right on schedule. After I put Dot's soiled blankets in the washer, I went back to bed and tried to go to sleep again. Unfortunately, I was wide awake by now.

When everybody else woke up about an hour later, I was already tired. I kept thinking that Dot looked a little unsteady on our morning walk, but probably the only unsteady one in the group was me. I really need to start getting more sleep. When we returned from our walk, the dogs still had enough energy to bark at me as I ate my breakfast.  I can quiet them for a while by feeding them slices of banana, but barking has just become a part of their morning ritual. They think it's fun.

Work is still pretty slow, so I organized files for a while and did my bookkeeping. For some reason I decided to recharge a very old Sony Vaio laptop and see if it still worked. It didn't. I kept getting an error message saying "operating system not found." I did a little investigation and realized that the hard drive had gone bad. It wouldn't have been that difficult to replace the hard drive and install a new operating system, but I wondered it it was even worth the trouble. This was an old, very slow computer that was running Windows 98 the last time I looked. I guess I could install Linux on the thing and keep using it, but why bother. An old, slow computer that won't boot is basically just a paperweight.

Since I failed to resurrect the old computer, I thought I'd try to resurrect an equally old watch. There was nothing special about the watch, other than the fact that I had to remove eight very tiny screws to open the case and replace the battery. The tiny screws were why I had avoided the watch for so long in the first place. I carefully removed each small screw, replaced the battery and just about had the watch back together when I managed to strip the threads reinserting the very last screw. Clumsy me. Now I need an exceedingly small screw extractor so I can try to remove the broken screw from the watch. Again, is it even worth the trouble? It's a cheap watch that I'd only worn twice in five years. With this dismal track record, I didn't even try to fix anything else today.

I managed to fix my dinner without burning anything and got Dot situated in her safe place again, so I could go to an evening animal rescue meeting. We talked about the next fundraising event and it was decided that I'll be taking a promotional picture for the event featuring dogs, cats, a parrot, a miniature pig, and a snake. This ought to be interesting. Tomorrow, I'll look for a source for very tiny screws.

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 2050

I actually got out of the house today. I took a couple of Janet's watches up to my watchmaker to get the batteries changed. She had stopped by the Omega store in the mall over the weekend and they wanted an insane amount of money to change a battery. The amount was so high that it was almost as if they were telling her, "We just want to sell you overpriced new stuff. When it breaks, we don't ever want to see it again." I told Janet that I knew a guy who was still reasonable and fair. I enjoy talking with the watch repairman. We are both relics from a bygone era. We talk about fast cars, fine watches, and the futility of running a small business in today's world. I don't see the watchmaker much anymore. I can't afford to collect watches anymore. I can't even afford to keep them all running anymore. I was pleased when the watchmaker told me that the new mobile website I'd built for him was actually helping his business. Evidently, people really do use their phones to visit websites these days. Who knew? I just use my phone to check the weather.

I also fixed Janet's running shoes today. She was ready to throw a pair of somewhat new looking Nike's away when I told her that I just glue mine back together. The soles never seem to wear out on running shoes. They just fall apart first. The glue that seems to substitute for any type of legitimate stitching begins to delaminate fairly quickly. I discovered one day that I could just use Superglue to re-attach the soles to the upper portion of these shoes and they were good as new. I just use an old Jorgensen clamp from my Dad's workshop to bind the sole to the shoe while the glue is drying and thirty minutes later they're ready to wear again. After fixing the shoes and getting the watch batteries replaced, I felt like I'd had a reasonably productive day, even though I'd done no design or writing at all.

All the dogs seem to want to do these days is eat. I try to be very quiet when I'm snacking in the kitchen, but they always seem to hear me and come racing out for a treat of their own. This is problematic now, because Dot can't get to the kitchen as fast as Dash anymore and she gets mad. To make the small journey from one end of the house to the other, I need to hook her up in her special harness and support her rear legs in case she starts to fall. This involved procedure kind of takes the fun out of eating a few Fritos in the kitchen. I shouldn't be eating these high cholesterol salty snacks anyway, but I'm kind of like the dogs. What else are you going to do on a hot Summer day?

I discovered a quick and fairly easy way to update the new Dalmatian Rescue website, so that's one more thing I don't have to worry about. I was a bit apprehensive about converting an animal rescue website to a mobile friendly format, because these sites change so frequently. I'm so used to making these periodic updates using Dreamweaver that I wasn't looking forward to changing the complex code required in a responsive site. The whole process wasn't as hard as I thought, so maybe this old dog still has a few tricks left after all.

While I was driving up to the watchmaker's office today I listened to someone on NPR talk about different things you could do to keep memories from fading away as you age. Supposedly, a seventy year old person only retains half as much new information as a child. Makes sense to me. I was like a sponge when I was younger, soaking up an enormous amount of information every day. Now I can barely remember where I put my reading glasses. Luckily, writing seems to be one of the best ways to ward off senility. If there are bonus points for developing an ability to write about nothing at all, I should be good to go for a long time.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day 2049

Dash seemed more comfortable at the small dog park this morning. He politely greeted several other dogs and there was even a brief moment when he ran from one end of the park to the other, just like the old days. Taking Dash to the dog park, as well as walking both dogs together first thing in the morning, has pushed breakfast back a bit, but it's worth it. Life around the house has changed a bit since Dot's spinal injury and it's important that Dash still has a chance to feel like a normal dog now and then. A trip to the dog park on Sunday isn't much, but it seems to help.

A trip to the gym on Sunday isn't much either, but it seems to help too. I've started going right after breakfast, since I've noticed that the longer I wait, the more excuses I come up with for not going. Since this token gesture to health and fitness actually seems to be doing some good, it has occurred to me that maybe I ought to designate a special day for other activities as well. If I devoted one day each week to practicing the guitar, I might actually become a decent player again. I used to play pretty well in my younger days when there always seemed to be a guitar in my hands. The old Stratocaster isn't going to play itself. Sometimes I think I just use carpal tunnel as an excuse not to play. I'm good at making excuses.

If we continue this theme, I could definitely benefit from spending one day each week honing my video editing skills. I used to immerse myself in film projects for weeks at a time and became an excellent editor in the process. Now, I edit video so infrequently that I've almost forgotten how to use Media Composer. Ironically, I tell people to "use it or lose it" all the time. Maybe it's time that I practice what I preach.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that priorities change. When I was a documentary filmmaker and guitar maven, I didn't have dogs. My late in life love affair with dogs led to having veterinarians as clients and then expanded to animal rescue. I wouldn't change anything for the world, but I still wish I could play guitar like I used to.

There isn't enough time and there isn't enough energy anymore. Instead of writing a new song, I vacuumed the house with the Dyson and got out a bottle of bleach and a scrub brush to clean the soap scum and mildew off the shower stall walls. The shower stall had been getting worse and worse for months and it finally reached the point where I couldn't stand it anymore. There you have it. Keeping Dot moving, keeping the house from falling apart, and keeping my aging body from deteriorating even further had used up the entire day.

I've got some websites to modify tomorrow. Several Dalmatians got adopted this weekend, so I need to see how hard it is going to be to update the new mobile ready site I designed a few weeks ago. Responsive websites are turning out to be a lot harder to modify than I expected. It's not a terrible problem since I don't have a lot of clients anymore, but small changes do take more time. The need to keep working is another reason why I don't practice the guitar as much as I should. I need to send a note to my primary writing client and ask why the article assignments have dropped off again. I don't have nearly as many writing assignments as I did last Summer. I'm not complaining though. Janet bought a fresh supply of bananas and peaches, so I'll have a delicious smoothy for breakfast tomorrow. Dot actually had a great day today and was even able to walk about the house without her harness for a while. One way or another, we're going to make it through this hot Summer.

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