Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day 1986

We got a new vacuum cleaner today. The old Hoover had done a yeoman's job picking up dog hair over the years, but it was no match for two aging Dalmatians, a wet muddy Spring, and a house filled with mismatched rugs. Could a Dyson Animal restore order to this mess? Before we could answer this question, I had to assemble the Dyson. Inside the box were a bunch of pieces and the world's worst instruction manual. Dyson may have re-invented the vacuum cleaner but their instruction manuals are even worse than Ikea.

Eventually I got the thing put together without breaking anything and put it to the test. I thought the house was relatively clean and was dumbfounded by the huge amount of dirt and dog hair the machine was able to pull out of the carpets and rugs. We have a small house, but I had to empty the Dyson canister twice before I was finished. Janet said the house even smelled better after I finished, but I'll have to take her word for it. All I can smell anymore is sausages cooking and good barbecue.

Tornado warnings woke us up twice during the night. Now the phones and WiFi devices seem to have their own weather warnings. These weather warning are kind of like Amber Alerts. They are almost impossible to turn off. I think I have been more successful at turning off notifications than Janet, because most of last night's alerts came from her devices. Maybe the real sirens went off too. It was hard to tell. At any rate, we turned on the TV in the middle of the night and learned that the really bad weather was to the North of us and then went back to sleep.

It was still raining when we got up in the morning, so the dogs didn't get their morning walk until after 10 AM. Luckily, Dot didn't poop in the house this time. Maybe the new Dyson will help remove any remaining evidence of her previous storm related accidents. The ads are true. That machine is remarkably powerful.

When the skies cleared, I removed the standing water from the roof. I have a new system now. I leave the pump in place and plug in the extension cord dangling over the edge of the roof right after I wake up in the morning. By the time I have finished breakfast and walked the dogs, most of the main roof is clear. When I climb up on the roof to move the pump to the smaller carport, all I have to do is sweep the residual standing water from the main roof. This system only works when there is not a lot of gunk on the roof to clog the pump, but it worked today.

I didn't bother going to the gym because I felt like clearing the roof, walking the dogs, and testing the new vacuum cleaner was all the exercise I needed. I probably wouldn't have had the time to go out anyway. The new website forms I built for my client yesterday already needed to be changed today.

I noticed that there is another opportunity to apply for NASA press credentials to view a Space-X Dragon launch in late June. As much as I'd like to go, I'm going to have to pass on this one. Dot still needs to be supervised during the day. I've got some major dental bills in June. And our annual homeowners insurance is due. I think Dot needs another ultrasound scan at the cancer center too. A three day trip to Kennedy Space Center would be a little much on top of all this. I'm glad I had the opportunity to go to the SMAP launch at Vandenberg back in January. Life was less complicated then.

Ziggy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Day 1985

Things are looking up. The U-verse technician was already out in the alley working on the line when we took the dogs on their morning walk. By the time we returned, our Internet was working again. I'm still not sure how U-verse actually works but I'm glad it's up and running. U-verse is supposed to be a super fast fiber optic connection, but a copper wire actually comes into the house. This copper wire is necessary, because very few televisions, computers, and phones will connect directly to a fiber optic cable. I'm sure the copper slows things down though. U-verse isn't really much faster than anything else. To the technicians credit, our Internet is faster than it was last week though. I guess the technician accomplished something.

I got my car back today as well. It's nice driving a decent sized car again. I've never felt comfortable in small cars. Before I had dogs, I used to drive Citroëns. The Citroën is the Tardis of automobiles. These eccentric French cars don't look that big on the outside but the interiors seem huge. Having Dalmatians made me a believer in driving something even bigger than a Citroën, and I've had various SUV's ever since. The gas mileage is horrible, but the trips to the vet are a lot easier.

Luckily, we didn't have to go to the vet today, because the rain continued unabated. I don't know what I used to do before I had weather radar on my phone. I totally depend on the radar app now, checking it multiple times a day to find the perfect time to run errands and walk the dogs. I used to live in Seattle, and it never used to rain like this. Who would have thought that Texas would be wetter than Seattle someday. The rain has become a nuisance, but things are sure looking green. I think when July arrives, we're going to appreciate our exceptionally wet Spring.

I worked on websites again this afternoon. I don't typically work on weekends, but there's a lot of stuff I need to get finished and what else are you going to do on a rainy day anyway? If you've got a kid who can't find a job, tell them to learn how to build mobile websites. I noticed that the mobile traffic on my own website went up dramatically since I converted it to a mobile friendly design last week. This either means that Google really favors mobile now, or that I was getting no mobile traffic at all before I made the switch. Creating mobile websites is going to be a boom industry for a while. I suspect that every single website on the planet will eventually find it necessary to scrap their static sites in an effort to attract mobile traffic as well.

Janet and I are getting forgetful. Dash had a birthday a few days ago and we completely forgot about it. We tried to make amends by having a little party for the boy this evening. We used to make special cakes for the dogs and everything. I even went to a cake decorating class once, just to learn how to make the ultimate dog cake. Today the dogs got a doggie cupcake from Sprinkles, and more importantly they got to share some of the burgers we were having for dinner. It's hard to believe that Dash is ten now. I still go around telling people he is seven. How time flies.

Neither of the dogs understands that holiday weekends are for sleeping in. They got us up early this morning and I suspect that they will do the same tomorrow. It's OK though. I'm glad both dogs are still energetic and eager to start the day after all they've been through the past year. I'll be checking the weather radar again tomorrow to see if I can find them a little dry time.

Willie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Day 1984

Today didn't exactly go as planned. I didn't get my car back from the shop because, after the wheel was repaired, the paint shop didn't match the color of the other three wheels. It has to go back to the paint shop for a new, and hopefully more accurate, powder coating. The U-verse service technician didn't arrive as promised either. I waited and waited and finally the guy showed up around 4:30 PM. He was supposed to arrive at 1 PM. Since Dot is hard of hearing, she didn't notice when the technician knocked on the door. Several minutes later she saw him in the living room and barked so hard that she pooped on the carpet. This is why you don't want to get an old dog too excited. Barking and pooping often happen simultaneously.

It turns out that the U-verse problem wasn't the router, the TV receiver, the WiFi hub, or anything else in the house. The entire line that runs down the alley has gone bad and needs to be replaced. My technician said that they needed a different type of technician to fix the wire, so I've got a new service appointment for tomorrow. U-verse service is still down. Oddly, even though U-verse is down, Roku, Hulu, Chromecast, and the pet cam, which all connect to the same IP network still work. In many ways losing U-verse is no great loss. Telemarketers are the only people who call on the land line. Roku and Hulu a pretty good alternative to U-verse TV. And my little T-Mobile 4G hotspot is even faster than U-verse Internet service. I wonder why I even bother with U-verse.

Since I was stuck in the house for most of the day waiting for the U-verse technician to arrive, I had lots of time to work on various Internet projects. I added some online forms to one client's site and had enough time left over to finish my first real mobile site. The site looked pretty good, so I went ahead and launched it. Hopefully the client will like what I've done. If they don't, I built in a back-door that will let me revert to the old site very quickly if needed. Working this way is so much faster than trying to schedule a meeting to present something. I don't mind changing things if I've gotten something wrong. It's easy to get feedback from clients if a site is live and almost impossible if they're just speculating about something that doesn't even exist yet.

It looks like the rain is going to continue through the weekend. According to the long-range forecast on my phone, the rain will continue forever. The app looks ahead two weeks and there is a little thunderstorm icon on every single day. It's rained so relentlessly that I'm actually starting to adapt to it. I've rigged up a pump on the roof that will remove about 80% of the water with me needing to be up there. This won't keep the roof dry, but it will significantly reduce the weight of the standing water and make it easier for me to sweep off the remaining water when the rain quits. I'm becoming adapt at finding dry intervals to walk the dogs too. Even the rainiest days have little gaps between the storms.

Supposedly my car will be finished tomorrow and U-verse service will be restored. I kind of doubt that either of those things will happen. The only thing I'm sure of is that the dogs will get two walks and we'll all enjoy a good breakfast

Rosco is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 1983

It's been a long day. It was raining again when we woke up this morning, so I had to wait until later in the day to walk the dogs. As usual, they refused to go outside and do their business while it was still raining. They acted agitated and upset until I got the bananas out, and then they both completely forgot that they wanted a walk. The rain was already diminishing by the time I finished breakfast, so I only had to wait an additional thirty minutes before the morning showers stopped and I could take Dot and Dash to the park.

When I finally got the dogs taken care of, I turned on the computer and discovered that the Internet was down. Actually, the entire U-verse service was down, because the land line phones and televisions weren't working either. I tried re-booting the router several times and when that didn't work, I called tech support. After spending forever in automated call center hell, I finally got to talk with a real person. AT&T couldn't get things working from The Philippines, or Malaysia, or wherever their call center is these days, so a technician is going to come out tomorrow. I hate it when the network goes down. Usually the problem turns out to be a defective router and when they replace it, I have to reconfigure every WiFi device in the house so all the devices can join the network again using the new router's password. Even the thermostat and several of my cameras are on WiFi now. It's going to be a lot of trouble to reconnect everything.

Luckily, I have access to an alternate WiFi network, so I could still get my work done today. Having U-verse down definitely slowed me down though. Just calling tech support took forever. In today's world, having a network outage is just about as bad as a power outage. This is why I always have a backup network. You can't really be a web developer without access to the Internet.

Dot did great today during her physical therapy session, but she hated riding to the vet in the loaner car. It's too small and the rear seats don't fold completely flat like they do in my car. I had to pull over to the side of the road several times to reposition Dot, because the slight incline of the folded rear seatback made her slide backwards and get stuck every time I went up a hill. I would never buy a small car. Large dogs and small cars just aren't a good mix. The old Defender 90 was the perfect vehicle for hauling dogs around in. The entire back of the car was completely flat and there was tons of headroom. Dot and Dash enjoyed riding around in that car. Too bad I couldn't keep it running forever.

I had been planning to do some additional work on my mobile friendly test site today, but several real jobs got in the way. I was surprised that I got as much done as I did, since I was uploading files using the much slower backup WiFi hotspot. Where there's a will, there's a way, I guess. I'm just glad it's Friday tomorrow. A week of relentless rain, car problems, dental problems, and a bad case of cabin fever have taken their toll on me. I'm looking forward to the long Memorial Day weekend, even though I have no plans whatsoever.

Casey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day 1982

I've been telling people that I've got a huge hole in my jaw where my wisdom tooth used to be. No one believes me. They think I'm a whiner. Well, the dentist believed me. "That's a mighty deep socket you've got there," he said. He was surprised that it had been a month since I had the tooth extracted and said said the socket usually starts filling in by now. I asked him how long it would be before my extraction site would fully heal and he said it could be as long as six to nine months. Great. I'm going to have to keep doing salt water and antiseptic rinses after every meal for the rest of the year.

The dentist can't even begin to repair the adjacent tooth for another six weeks. He said that filling this particular tooth would be very difficult because of the location of the cavity, and he wanted the empty wisdom tooth socket to heal some more before he even attempted to fill the tooth next to it. He also said I need a new crown on the tooth next to the one that needs to be filled. Basically, the last three teeth on the lower right side of my jaw are toast.

I just got finished paying for the oral surgery and now it looks like fixing the next two teeth is going to cost even more. Yikes. I don't know why crowns are so expensive. The last time I had a crown it cost me $500. Now it costs two or three times as much for a dentist to create these pricy little porcelain caps. Growing older sucks. It was much more fun to spend my money on cameras and guitars than on medical bills and prescription drugs.

I'm taking what I've learned playing around with my responsive test site and using this somewhat fuzzy knowledge to built my first mobile site for a client. CSS classes and structured HTML are finally starting to make a little sense. It's kind of sad that I'm probably not be able to use Dreamweaver and Fireworks in the future. Adobe has basically abandoned these stand-alone products anyway. The Dreamweaver software I use isn't even updated anymore. If you want the latest and greatest Adobe innovations you have to get a subscription to their Creative Cloud products. The software I'm using to build responsive websites is all cloud based as well.

Dot seems a bit stronger today. I don't know shy she has good days and bad days, because life is very consistent around here. I don't know why I have good days and bad days either. I hope Dot does well at her physical therapy session tomorrow. I've got lots of questions for the vet. I don't know how hard I should push her. She really needs the exercise to build muscle, but she's very old too. Since Dot is extremely food motivated, she's starting to gain weight again as well. Extra weight makes it even harder for her to stand under her own power. Without treats, it's hard to get dogs with limited mobility to do anything though.

Tonight is the very last David Letterman show. I saw the show live once when I was in New York, but I wouldn't be surprised if I slept through tonight's finale.

Harley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 1981

My loaner car has a new feature called intelligent start/stop. I hate it. When your car comes to a stop at an intersection, the engine shuts off completely. When you take your foot off the brake and press the accelerator again, the engine starts and off you go. Who thinks of these things? I've spent almost my entire driving life trying to avoid having my engine stall out at a busy intersection with a bunch of angry drivers behind me. Now this behavior is called a feature? It's crazy.

My service adviser  told me that intelligent start/stop systems will be mandatory on new cars starting in 2017. Maybe these things will work for a little while, but what happens when the car gets older and your battery starts to get weak? Dead batteries are another thing I try to avoid. I noticed that all the electronics on the car, even the air conditioner, continue to run while the car is sitting at a stop light with it's engine off. That probably puts a strain on the best of batteries. Call me old fashioned, but I think a car's engine should always be running when you're behind the wheel. I don't know how long it will take to repair my damaged wheel, but while I'm driving this loaner, I'm going to disable the fancy Eco-Start system.

Dot seemed really tired today. I hope she hasn't strained a muscle or injured anything. Progress is much slower now than it was during the initial weeks following her surgery. I need to remember how far she's come. Considering that she was completely paralyzed a few months ago, it's remarkable that she's walking at all. I still hope her legs continue to get stronger and that she will eventually be able to walk without the Help 'Em Up Harness. Maybe that's expecting too much though. Dot is a very old dog. I let her set the pace these days. On a good day, we'll have a nice slow walk in the park. When she's tired, we don't even make it around the block.

I've noticed that Dot is never too tired for breakfast. Janet feed the dogs their regular breakfast when she gets up, and later they get to share a banana with me. Dot and Dash used to get excited when I cooked sausages, because they always got a taste. I think they like bananas even more than sausage though. They're going to be really disappointed if I ever lose interest in having banana smoothies.

I spent a long time today learning how to make responsive objects that you can click with a mouse on your computer and swipe with your finger on your phone. I see these things on mobile websites all the time. Swiping to the left or right with your finger is the primary way you navigate when viewing a mobile site. Mouse-over behaviors don't work at all, since you don't use a mouse on your phone or tablet. It's still seems pretty complicated to me, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Each time I update my test site, it gets a little better.

I have an appointment with the dentist tomorrow. This is the dentist that fills teeth and makes crowns. My other two dentists specialize in oral surgery and dental implants. I hope the dentist I'm seeing tomorrow can successfully repair tooth #30 and send me on my way. If he can't, I may have to go back and see the other two dentists. Like I said earlier, I've opened a Pandora's Box of dental misery.
Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 1980

I had to renew some prescriptions today and a bottle of pills that cost me $30 last month suddenly increased to $160. Yes, I've entered the so called doughnut hole again. Part-D prescription drug plans have always seemed overly complex to me. There are six or seven different categories of drugs, each with it's own co-pay rate, and then there are three different benefit stages that plan members must navigate during your plan year. You start out with a reasonable co-pay, then after you've received a certain amount of benefits, you enter the doughnut hole, where rates skyrocket for a while. If you keep refilling your prescriptions, you eventually reach what they call the catastrophic coverage stage, where you pay next to nothing for your meds. I know the government is trying to save money, but do they really need to make things so complicated? Wouldn't it be much simpler to just have a somewhat higher co-pay all year long and keep the coverage constant? I feel the same way about taxes. A simple flat tax would be so much easier for everyone.

It was strange to see blue skies this morning as we walked the dogs. I haven't seen the sun for quite a while, so today's mild weather was a welcome treat. The dogs enjoyed the sunshine as much as I did, and Dot had one of her best days in a long time. We walked up and down several hills and she got some much needed exercise. Since the long range weather forecast is still predicting rain for the remainder of the week, I thought I'd take advantage of this rare clear day to mow the grass. The grass had grown so rapidly as a result of almost a month of solid rain that I had to raise the mower blades a bit. At the regular setting, the thick grass was just too much for the little mower.

It was pretty busy for a Monday. In addition to going to the pharmacy and mowing the grass, I began working on my first mobile website for an actual client. My initial efforts are nothing to write home about, but I'm definitely making progress. Two months ago I didn't even know what responsive web design was. Since I'll probably eventually have to redesign every site I manage, I'm trying to tackle the easy problems first. If this goes well, I'll try something a little more difficult next time.

All the rain we've been having must be causing the foundation to shift a bit. The screen door at the back of the house is getting sticky again and this morning I watched a ceramic tile in the bathroom crack right in front of my eyes. I thought I'd superglue the chipped tile back together again and ended up gluing my fingers together in the process. I need to make a mental note that nail polish remover does not work to remove superglue from skin. Acetone does work though. Luckily, I had a small bottle of acetone in the utility room, or my thumb and forefinger would still be stuck together.

The dogs immediately started barking this morning when they saw me get the bananas out for my breakfast smoothie. They wanted to make sure that I remembered to save a banana for them. I didn't forget the dogs, but in the confusion of the moment, I did forget to add the eggs to my smoothie. Oh, well. This morning's concoction probably wasn't as nutritious as it should be, but it still tasted good. At least the dogs were happy. In addition to remembering to add eggs tomorrow, I need to remember to take my car to the dealership. I have an appointment to get the wheel fixed that I damaged hitting a large pothole. Hopefully, I won't hit another pothole driving up to the dealership. The roads are really that bad.

Skippy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 1979

Although we had heavy thunderstorms last night, our power stayed on. When the skies cleared and the sun came out later this morning, our power went out. Go figure. It's anybody's guess what caused the problem this time. It wasn't the weather, and it wasn't the trees. The power company had just finished trimming all the trees in the neighborhood a few weeks ago. Maybe a piece of equipment at one of the sub-stations was underwater. We've certainly had our share of flooding recently. I haven't seen the lake this high in years.

There's not a lot you can do when the power goes out. We walked the dogs and Dot did surprisingly well. Earlier in the morning, she threw up, but it was probably just storm phobia stress. The thunder was loud and relentless last night and Dot didn't like it a bit. I was afraid she would try to hop up in the bed and hurt herself, so I slept on the floor with her to keep her calm. No wonder the dogs like to sleep in the bed so much. The floor is pretty hard. Sleeping with Dot calmed her down though, so it was worth the sore back in the morning.

Since the computer, the television, and even the coffee maker were all dead, I decided to wash the outside windows. I've been avoiding this task, since the windows were not only dirty, they were filled with spiderwebs as well. I think most of our resident spiders are harmless, but I've never liked spiders and do my best to avoid them. I disturbed a couple of big ones today, but the windows are a lot cleaner.

Since clean windows didn't bring the power back, I had no choice but to go to the gym. I think it's been well over a month since I've visited the gym and the dogs aren't walking very far either. I'm out of shape again. I tried to do my regular workout routine and was amazed at how quickly I'd regressed. It seemed like I was starting all over again. My doctor says I need to get on the treadmill more, to counteract a gradual loss of bone density, My physical therapist says I need to do lots of stretching exercises to keep from getting a frozen shoulder. If I did everything I am supposed to do, I'd be at the gym all the time.

The power company eventually restored our power and life returned to normal again. I cleared all the water off the roof from yesterday's storms. I fired up the computer and made a few minor website updates. Janet fixed a nice dinner. And I didn't need to worry about making today's blog bost using a laptop with a half dead battery.

My mouth has finally healed enough from the wisdom tooth extraction for me to go see a different dentist next week. I'm not looking forward to this, but it would be silly to postpone things. The whole reason I had the wisdom tooth removed in the first place was to save the tooth next to it. If I delay getting this tooth repaired, it might have to be pulled as well. This whole dental journey has been like opening Pandora's Box. I just hope it all ends reasonably soon.

I think we'll see a little sunshine tomorrow, but starting Tuesday the thunderstorms return. The long range weather forecast says to expect the storms to continue all the way through Memorial Day. Too bad we can't send some of this water to California. We've got way too much here.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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