Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 1112

I plugged in the guitar and played a little blues today. There certainly wasn't much else to do. It was a very slow day. The good news was that I hadn't entirely lost my chops. The bad news was that playing guitar for any extended length of time with Carpal tunnel hurts like hell. Who knows though. Maybe playing with a wrecked left hand will give my riffs a note of authenticity.

I wonder how many years of sitting in a little room and writing inconsequential advertising it takes before you go stark raving mad? When you factor in that my primary diversions are sweeping standing water off the roof and killing cockroaches that wander into the house, maybe I've passed that threshold already. At least it was a bit warmer today. The dogs didn't even have to wear their Winter coats.

I was amused today when I noticed that the stock market had a substantial rally when the President came on television early in the afternoon to say that everyone was close to striking a deal on the fiscal cliff. Of course five minutes after the market closed, some senators came on TV and essentially said "just kidding." There is no deal tonight because nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news. I have a feeling that this impasse could go on for weeks or months.

If we can stay awake until midnight, Janet and I will bring in the New Year with some champagne and a selection of cheese. I can't imagine standing out in the cold for hours to watch a mirrored ball drop, but seeing the event on TV in a warm house with a flute of champagne in your hand is actually kind of nice. 2012 certainly wasn't that memorable, but maybe 2013 will be better. Remember 1999 when Y2K was supposed to bring the world grinding to a halt on New Year's Eve? Nothing happened. People still say "party like it's 1999" though. What's that all about?  I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot like 1999 when we all sail over the cliff a little later this evening.

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope your first New Year's resolution is to continue reading this blog for another year.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 1111

I made another trip to the storage warehouse this afternoon. Since I had already dealt with the vinyl albums, I decided to tackle the cassette tapes today. Since tape cassettes are so small, I was surprised to fill an entire packing box with the things. Some tapes were music I used to play in the car when I commuted between Seattle and Portland. Other tapes were samples of radio commercials I'd written and produced over the years. There were a lot of tapes.

The record industry has quite a racket going. They've somehow managed to con us into buying the same songs over and over again on different media. I've purchased vinyl albums, only to purchase the same thing again, first on cassette tape, then on a CD, and finally as an iTunes download. What will they think of next?

As I've been packing my music away, it has struck me that there hasn't been a lot of really memorable music in the past ten or fifteen years. The old albums I was packing away are still being played on the radio today. Actually, they're played everywhere from iPods to elevators. As I was watching the Kennedy Center Honors on TV the other day, I was mesmerized at the audience reaction to Nancy and Ann Wilson as they sang "Stairway to Heaven" during the tribute to Led Zeppelin. Everyone knew that song by heart and still loved it after all these years. Can you think of a similar reaction to anything you've heard recently? Probably not. Like it or not, the music that defined my generation, still defines music.

On the way back from the storage warehouse, I stopped by Home Depot to see if they had any less expensive floor lamps. They did. Although the lamps I looked at were dirt cheap, it only took a few seconds to see why. The pole lamps I looked at in the design studio the other day were fabricated from solid rods of stainless steel. The Home Depot poles were all constructed out of three foot sections of cheap aluminum that you had to assemble yourself. The lamps looked like they were made from old tent poles. The reason some floor lamps are $24 and others are $2400 is the same reason that a Lamborghini is not a Ford Focus. You get what you pay for. Too bad I can't afford either a Lamborghini or a fancy designer pole lamp.

The dogs don't worry about such things. For them, the best things in life are free. They certainly enjoyed their excursion to the dog park today. The weather was cold and brisk and it put all the dogs in the park in a frisky mood. Dash was exceptionally playful today and he even managed to get Dot to run with him for a while.

You'd think tomorrow would be a holiday, since Christmas Eve was a holiday last Monday. Apparently it's a work day though. Janet's working. Most of my clients are working. I'll probably be working as well.

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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 1110

I thought I'd go look for a lamp today. I've been so pleased with the LED bulbs in the ceiling can lights that I thought I'd find a nice looking floor lamp that used these high tech bulbs as well. The floor lamps in the living room and bedroom are the only lights in the entire house now that haven't been converted to LED bulbs. I went to a lighting studio that I remembered from the days when I was obsessed by furniture and was astonished at how expensive nice looking lamps had become. I found a lamp that would look quite nice in the house, but I wasn't about to pay more for a lamp than I paid for my laptop computer. A floor lamp is not a complex object. It's basically just a bulb at the end of a pole. How something so simple could get so expensive is beyond me. Maybe I should have gone to Ikea instead of a fancy contract lighting studio.

Although I failed to come home with a lamp, I did get a few things done today. I found the air compressor and my tires are now all at the correct inflation pressure again.  I got Janet some fresh blueberries at the grocery store. I got Dash's antihistamine prescription renewed at the vet. I even found a little time to practice my guitar.

Am I the only one who's getting completely sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff every time I turn on the television? If congress does nothing, very little will change in our day-to-day lives. Conversely, if they get their act together and pass some sort of legislation before the end of the year, very little will change either. The country will still be in debt and most of us will still personally be in debt. No matter what happens, we will continue to get up in the morning and plod along the best we can. Some things will get better and other things will get worse. The world will change and the next generation will still think all the changes are completely normal. What's not normal is listening to some of the local news anchors continue to call this year-end financial mess the "physical cliff."  Don't they know? The physical cliff has nothing to do with spending and taxes. The physical cliff was what Thelma and Louise drove their car over at the end of the movie.

I hope Dash's sinus problems clear up soon. I'm getting tired of getting up at 4 AM every morning to let him outside to throw up. Even though he's a lot lighter on his feet than Dot, he still tracks in a lot of mud too. I've got to get better at cleaning muddy paws when I'm half asleep. The bed was covered with paw prints when I woke up this morning.

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 1109

It must have rained last night. I slept through the shower, but there was ample evidence that a storm had passed through. The paths through the park were all muddy and the plants were covered with dew. There wasn't much evidence remaining that it had ever snowed however. That's the way the weather is in Texas. Easy come. Easy go. I was disappointed to see this new rain because it meant all my efforts to clear the ice off the roof yesterday were wasted. Of course, I didn't even have to look to know that the roof was now covered with two inches of standing water all over again. I really think I know how Sisyphus felt, pushing his immense boulder up that hill for eternity.

I got off to such a slow start this morning that I might as well just have ordered lunch when I finally arrived at my designated breakfast restaurant. Since I'm a stickler for ritual, I went ahead and ordered a big breakfast anyway. After I finished eating, I took my warm goose down jacket to a little neighborhood tailor to get a new zipper sewn in. The tailor said he could put a new elastic drawstring at the bottom of the coat as well. I'm glad there are still a few people like this around. I'd hate to throw away a perfectly good coat, just because the zipper was broken.

On cold, damp days like this I tend to get a lot of writing done. What else is there to do anyway? I wasn't under any deadline pressure, but I pretty much got caught up on things for the year today. I probably should have saved a few of these assignments for a rainy day, but hey, it was a rainy day.

I'm tempted to go buy a couple of bales of hay to spread around the back yard. It's going to be impossible to grow new grass until Spring anyway and the mud in the yard is getting worse and worse. I'm not really sure where you buy bales of hay in the city though. Some garden stores carry hay bales around Halloween to set your pumpkins on top of, but that's about it.

When I went to the grocery store today I noticed that my tires looked low again. It makes sense, I guess. Hot air expands and cold air contracts. I suppose I'll have to drag out the air compressor tomorrow and pump the tires up again. I can tell by looking that they only have about 20 pounds of pressure in them now.

I was looking forward to watching a new Dr. Who episode tomorrow, since I enjoyed seeing "The Snowmen" episode last week so much. Wouldn't you know. There isn't going to be another new episode until April. Didn't Series 7 begin last September? Jeez, I've never seen a show take so long to air 14 episodes.

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 1108

Somebody please send me a little glamor. I spent the day chopping a big sheet of ice up on the roof into little blocks I could remove. When I got cold, I would come back inside and write articles that seemed a lot like the metaphorical equivalent of blocks of ice. The whole process reminded me of the woodpeckers I see on our morning walks. Such industrious little birds, but there must be a better way of finding food and sustenance.

A note to the folks who depend on me to write their fake press releases. I've got a nice wool Ralph Lauren tux that still actually fits. You might consider actually sending me to a few of those glamorous events instead of just asking me to pretend I was there. Another note to those who continue to send me Christmas cards long after they have fired me. Wouldn't it have showed a lot more Christmas cheer to have simply kept me on your payroll a bit longer?

While I was eating breakfast this morning, Dot had to go outside and pee. When I let her back inside again, her paws looked like they were wearing clown shoes. Big, brown oak leaves had cemented themselves to a layer of sticky red clay that was all that remained from this Summer's St. Augustine turf. The whole mess, in turn, cemented itself to each of Dot's paws. She looked ridiculous and I had to laugh, despite the fact that it took me at least fifteen minutes to clean her up again.

This is the trouble with Winter. It's just so messy. I don't mind the cold nearly as much as I mind the mess. Every Winter I am continually wiping condensation off of large expanses of single pane glass, so the window sills won't rot. There is a continual load of laundry running from all the towels I use to clean mud off the dogs paws. I never seem to catch all the mud on their paws either. I'm always discovering muddy little surprises on the bedsheets, the sofa and the dog beds. The zippers on my Winter coats always keep breaking too. I've got to take another coat to the tailor tomorrow.

At least it's Friday tomorrow. I'm already thinking about what to order for breakfast. There's a short week to look forward to as well. I always like a week with a holiday right in the middle.

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 1107

At times like these I seem to spend my entire day lacing up heavy boots and piling on layer after layer of clothing to ward off the cold. I put the sweaters and jackets on when I go outdoors and take them all off again as soon as I come inside. The dogs have their own set of sweaters and jackets, because they get cold too. In and out we go, because dogs have an almost primal need to go outside no matter what the weather is doing. It is all very time consuming.

Since I didn't notice that Dash got the bed all muddy when I let him outside last night, I started the day doing several loads of laundry. Next, I washed a dishwasher full of dirty Christmas dishes and then when I could find no more domestic things to do, I finally sat down in my chilly office and began writing. My office should be the warmest room in the house, since I spend most of my time here. Unfortunately, it is the coldest.

I got two articles finished today, which is a pretty good day for me. I also took Dash to the vet this afternoon for his regular Tuesday antigen shot, since the clinic was closed yesterday for Christmas. For a moment I thought that my car wasn't going to start, but after sluggishly turning over half a dozen times, the engine finally coughed into life. Anyone who owns an older car will recognize the sound of an engine that will barely turn over when the weather is cold. I hate that sound, because I seldom have a backup plan if my car dies. In the Winter I always worry that my car won't start. Of course, in the Summer, I always worry that it will overheat. It's always something, isn't it.

In theory, there is no dog training class when the temperature drops below freezing. That's what it says on the training class website anyway. In practice, there is always training class on Wednesday, no matter what the weather is doing. There are always a few diehards who look at terrible weather as a challenge. These are the same type of people who love to run marathons in the middle of Winter and jump in freezing water for a brisk swim. Dot and Dash won't be joining these crazies tonight. They are sensible dogs who realize that sitting on the bed under a warm blanket and watching television is the preferable course of action on days like these.

I hope it warms up tomorrow, but I'm not counting on it.

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 1106 - Christmas Day

Christmas quite literally started out with a bang this year. Shortly after midnight, a fierce wave of thunderstorms started rolling through town, waking up both the dogs and ourselves. As Dot and Dash sat huddled under a blanket in the center of the bed, lightning bolts lit up the house while booming thunderclaps rattled the dishes. This was a long, very loud thunderstorm, and the dogs weren't happy about it at all. By morning, the thunder and lightning had moved off to the East, but the cold rain remained for the rest of the morning.

With the help of the weather radar app on my iPad, we found a little break in the storm so we could take the dogs outside to do their business. Shortly after we returned, the rain turned to snow and we had our first White Christmas in quite a few years.

The cold snowy weather was perfect for a day of Christmas cooking, and pretty soon the smell of Christmas ham and sweet potato casserole filled the house. I tried to get a head start on some of my writing assignments while our Christmas dinner was in the oven and Janet watched Christmas movies on the Lifetime channel. When we opened our gifts after dinner, the dogs had great fun tearing the paper off of colorfully wrapped up packages of dog biscuits. As a special Christmas treat, Dot and Dash got to share a boiled chicken breast for dinner. Even though the weather was cold and damp, it would be hard to imagine a better Christmas.

Tomorrow, all the wrapping paper in the living room will be bagged up and placed in the trash. Our Christmas dinner leftovers will be divided up and placed in Tupperware containers that will be my dinner for the rest of the week. Janet and I will both return to work, wondering when the next holiday will arrive. The dogs will just wonder where all the chicken went.

I've still got a week to come up with some decent New Year's resolutions. I'm not very good with resolutions of any kind. I'll probably just resolve to slog through another year, so I can enjoy Christmas again in 2013.

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 1105

It was a nice relaxing day. We got up late and had a hearty breakfast. Janet made a pumpkin pie. We both did a little shopping and wrapped packages. The dogs enjoyed having everybody home and alternated between chasing squirrels in the yard and sleeping on the bed. For the first time in quite a few years there were no Christmas Eve fundraisers for Dalmatian Rescue, so it was nice to have a day with no agenda.

My Jewish clients were still working today. I think I'll wait until Wednesday to start their assignments though. Jeez, they practically had the entire month of September off for their religious holidays. I need a few days off myself.

We opted to go out for dinner instead of cooking this evening and it was a good choice. We enjoyed an absolutely delicious dinner at Central 214. Janet had a Berkshire Pork Chop with Cream Cheese Grits and I had Wagyu Bavette Steak with Black Truffle Potato Puree. Yum! Since it was a holiday, I even had a Cosmopolitan before dinner. It's been over a year since I've had a martini, and depending on what the liver doctors say, it might be even longer before I have another one. Basically abstinence sucks. I really used to enjoy having a drink every evening before dinner. It was one of the most relaxing parts of my day.

We got the dogs all dolled up in their Christmas scarves for their evening walk. I'm not sure that anyone even saw them though. The park was empty. I guess there aren't many picnics in the park on Christmas Eve. It was cold today too. I don't think we saw another person on the entire walk. According to the weather forecast, we might even get a little snow tomorrow. It's been quite a while since we've had a white Christmas in Dallas. Whatever happens, I'll be watching the Dr. Who Christmas special tomorrow evening. I'm not sure what you guys will be doing, but I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 1104

I am finding it much more difficult to de-construct a life than it was to construct it in the first place. I've been trying, with some degree of difficulty, to fill the packing boxes I bought a few days ago and cart them over to the storage warehouse. When I discovered that the small book boxes I had bought were perfectly sized to hold vinyl record albums, I decided to retire my record collection. I should have done this several years ago, since I no longer have a turntable and couldn't even play these records if I tried.

Sometimes I wish I had Janet's ability to simply throw things away. I continue to make excuses and invent reasons why I need to keep everything a little while longer. Hey, I'll sell it on e-Bay someday, I tell myself. This brings back good memories, I'll think. Hey, what's wrong with good memories? Occasionally when I'm cleaning out the office, I'll become so enthralled with some old treasure I've retrieved that I'll actually start using it again.

I doubt that I'll be playing these vinyl records that I boxed up today anytime soon. It's much easier to listen to digital versions of the same songs on my computer or phone. One thing I noticed while I was boxing things up was that I used to have a very eclectic and extremely wide ranging taste in music during the days of vinyl. I sorted through hundreds and hundreds of records in every genre imaginable. Steve Reich's process music epic "Come Out" sat next to vintage Aerosmith, which in turn sat on top of a hodge-podge of Dave Brubeck, Paul Simon, The Doors, and Bedrich Smetana's The Moldau. There was a little bit of everything. Some of the albums I'm boxing up are quite rare, since DJ friends used to give me promotional copies of albums they received at the radio station from unknown musicians that didn't get any airplay. Like my watch collection, my record collection mostly consists of stuff that nobody has ever heard of.

Dash threw up again last night, which seems to prove that the antihistamines the vet prescribed aren't doing any good. Once again, after he woke everyone up at 4 AM, he was completely fine for the rest of the day. I don't know what is wrong with the dog. Maybe nothing is wrong with him. Dash has always been a very sensitive animal and manages to get himself worked up over nothing time and time again. Maybe he just got upset that Dot stole his place on the bed last night. If Dash could talk, I'm sure we'd get to the bottom of things in just a few minutes.

It's hard to believe that it's Christmas Eve tomorrow. Somehow it seems like we should still be getting ready for Thanksgiving. Things just move too fast these days. While those Mayans were predicting the end of the world, I wonder if anyone else was predicting that time would actually speed up some day and entire years would zip by before you could get anything accomplished. I think it's already happening.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 1103

If Christmas is for kids, then I guess it is Christmas memories that are left for the adults. My own memories are a bit muddled at this point, but I still have a few. I remember playing Joseph in a live nativity scene at some point in the distant past. I remember my parents taking me to visit an old German woman who was a friend of theirs. The lady decorated her tree with real candles. Even though I was very young, I distinctly remember thinking "why hasn't this house burned down yet?" I remember getting an electric train for Christmas when I was a young boy. I have no recollection about the type of electric train or what happened to it. I'm sure my mother gave it away. There is just a vague, pastel memory of waking up one Christmas morning and finding a train under the tree. Later in life, I bought another electric train, but lost interest almost as soon as I got the train working and discovered how much room the layout took up in the living room.

One Christmas, shortly after being hired at my first real job I took a real train home for Christmas, I rode the Great Northern Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago and then changed trains to take the legendary Santa Fe Super Chief the rest of the way home. It was an epic journey through Glacier National Park, the frozen great plains, the Chicago city center and the American heartland. I think it was the last time I went home to Arkansas for Christmas. It's hard for me to tell anymore whether I'm remembering the way things actually were, or the way I wanted things to be. I remember one Christmas in Alaska when Dad took us to cut down our own Christmas tree. We came home with a magnificent 16 foot tall pine, but I can't remember whether the tree came from deep in the forest or if my Dad just cut down one of the neighbor's trees by mistake. I remember Janet and I going to a comedy club in Las Vegas on Christmas Eve once and listening to Rich Hall tell us that spending Christmas in Vegas was a lot like spending Halloween at the Vatican. We don't do that anymore.

Christmas in recent years has been pretty low key. Most of the presents under the tree are for the dogs. Dot and Dash know that the gifts are for them and have even learned how to open them. Even though they are just looking for something tasty to eat, they remind me of little children on Christmas morning. They attack each package with wild abandon, and gleefully accept the treats inside. It's fun giving presents to dogs, because they are always appreciative.

I tried to keep my weekend errands to a minimum today because the traffic is horrendous. I picked up some things for the house at Home Depot, and got a few more essentials at Sam's Club. I didn't go anywhere near the shopping malls. I'm going to avoid the shopping malls until well after Christmas.

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 1102 - Winter Solstice

You can tell Christmas is just around the corner. When I went out for breakfast this morning, the restaurant was filled with people wearing reindeer sweaters and colorful vests with Christmas ornaments embroidered on them. At any other time of year, these outfits would seem ridiculous, but they all seemed pretty normal today.

After breakfast, I needed to do a little shopping and immediately discovered that everybody in Dallas was driving around doing the same thing. The traffic was horrible. When I got to the mall, things got worse. Half the parking spaces had been turned into valet parking lots. The valet parking was virtually empty, but the rest of the parking lot was a zoo. Whoever had the bright idea of  turning most of the mall into a giant valet parking lot should get a big lump of coal in their stocking. It's hard enough finding a parking place on a normal day. With a bunch of holiday entrepreneurs trying to charge you $10 for what was normally free, it was impossible.

Remember when I told you that I lost one of my web maintenance clients several weeks ago. Well, I had my exit interview today. It turns out that one of the reasons I lost the account was that the new guys offered something called "reputation management."  Evidently, if someone writes something bad about my client on Yelp, these guys can make it go away. Whatever happened to reality? Everyone wants to manage reality these days, by putting their own spin on things. It's getting harder and harder to know what's actually real. Somebody says something and then somebody else with an opposing point of view immediately sets up a counter-initiative to discredit what was said. It's all very confusing.

The dogs don't like it when I play my guitar. I can do a lot of other things and they'll stay sleeping on the bed, completely ignoring me. When I get out the guitar though, they immediately start to bother me until I put the thing away again. I don't know if it's my poor playing that bothers them or the fact that I'm having fun without them. I think Dalmatians invented "It's all about me."They want everything to involve them.

Today was the shortest day of the year. I'll look forward to the days gradually lengthening and growing warmer again. I hate to have to rush, just to get the dogs walked before the sun goes down. I know it's a long time until Spring, but I'm ready for it already.

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 1101

The world is supposed to end tomorrow. Of course, we all know that Friday will be just another uneventful day, but I couldn't help thinking that things would be easier if the world actually did end tomorrow. I wouldn't have to worry about my health deteriorating anymore. I wouldn't have to pay the big stack of December bills sitting on my desk. I wouldn't have to do any last minute Christmas shopping. I could even start drinking again during the final hours. I can't imagine that a few good martinis would even matter as the world wound to a close.

I'm quite certain that the world will still be here when I wake up tomorrow morning. There will be articles to write, dogs to walk, and maybe even a new breakfast restaurant to explore. I'll probably do some laundry. I'll go to the grocery store in the afternoon, because I always go to the grocery store on Friday. When Janet comes home from work, I'll tell her that it's been a long week and that I'm glad it's Friday.

Although it certainly wasn't the end of the world, we did have a bad storm last night. The rain didn't last long, but we had severe winds for most of the night. When the dogs and I took our morning walk, the park was littered with fallen trees. It's hard to think of trees as fragile, but I guess they are. Every time we have a wind storm, we lose a few trees. Since we had 60 MPH in-line winds at some points during the night, I thought we might lose the roof of our greenhouse. I saw a few roof panels flapping around in the wind just before I went to bed last night, but we got lucky and everything was still intact the next morning.

It just occurred to me that maybe my backup hard drive failed because I kept it running 24/7. I think I'll just turn the new backup drive on once a week to make backup copies. It should last forever then. If I could just turn myself on once a week, I might last forever too.

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 1100

The dogs and I pass by Erykah Badu's house almost every morning on our walks. For some reason when she initially built the house, Erykah wrote the words LOVE, FORGIVE, EVOLVE on her garage door with colored chalk. I've noticed recently that the word EVOLVE has faded away to near invisibility. Has the singer already evolved, or did she just give up on the matter?  In my limited experience, it is a lot easier to love and forgive than it is to evolve. Most people I know, including myself, are just the same as they've always been. It's easy to pay lip service to the idea of change, but it's incredibly hard to make fundamental changes. With all the talk about needing to change our violent society, I wonder if we have the collective will to do what's necessary. Any student of history will tell you that our country has been a pretty violent place almost since the day it was founded.

I was trying to tell a client that the the work I do for them is boring while simultaneously expressing gratitude for the dull assignments. I hope I threaded this needle properly. I certainly need the work. In truth, most of my work is boring. That's the nature of work. I guess I don't believe the people who tell me their jobs are fun. If working was fun, you'd think I'd have experienced the sensation by now.

When I was at the vet yesterday, Dash sneezed in the exam room. "Does Dash have a cold?" the vet asked me. It certainly was a valid question, since we were trying to determine why Dash was throwing up every night. "Haven't you ever seen this before?" I asked the vet. "All Dalmatians do this when they think they're being ignored or you aren't doing something fast enough." "This isn't a cold," I told the vet, "it's an indignant sneeze." I was right, of course, and every Dalmatian owner would recognize that sneeze as a sign that Dash was tired of being examined and was ready to go home. I only mention this because Dot and Dash both gave me simultaneous indignant sneezes tonight when I was late fixing their dinner.

The temperature is supposed to drop over 40 degrees overnight. A cold front is moving through town as I write this and the weather forecasters say it will be close to freezing in the morning. We saw the front approaching in the distance at dog training class this evening. I thought class would be called off the moment we saw lightning on the Northern horizon. Not a chance. Everyone except Janet and I seemed determined to ignore the approaching storm. I guess they don't have dogs who are terrified of thunder and cars that have been demolished by hailstones. Luckily, we made it home before the deluge started.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 1099

I got up extra early this morning, but it really didn't seem to make much of a difference. I still didn't get a lot accomplished. The problem with today's to-do list was that everything was tedious and time consuming. I did manage to get a new backup system in place, so I no longer have to worry about losing all my data in a hard drive crash. Not surprisingly, the very latest external drives were both faster and less expensive than the slightly older ones that would still connect to my computer. I wish I could have hooked up one of those superfast new USB-3 or Thunderbolt drives. Without them, it took me a long time to copy several terabytes of data.

It also took me an exceedingly long time to re-install Pro Tools, which happened to be the next thing on my list. Avid has never made it easy to install their software. First you have to get all the registration codes and serial numbers. Then you have to load all the codes into an iLok dongle that slips into an available USB port. Only then can you actually download the software.

I took a break from the computer tedium around mid-afternoon to take Dash to the vet. He's been waking us up almost every night around 3 AM, frantically wanting to go outside. When he gets outside, he eats grass and then throws up yellow phlegm. After he does this, he's completely normal for the rest of the day. After waiting in the lobby for almost an hour, we finally got a verdict on the strange behavior. Dash has sinus drainage. I have sinus drainage myself from time-to-time, but I don't need to go out in the yard and throw up. Oh, well. We'll give Dash some antihistamines and see if that clears things up.

I took a camera with me on our early walk, hoping to get some sunrise pictures. Unfortunately, the sun was already up. Hey, I'm not a morning person. Needless to say, I don't have many good sunrise pictures. Typically, it is the sun that wakes the dogs and I up each morning when it comes streaming through the bedroom window. I did manage to get a few nice pictures of geese swimming around in the lake. They must have gotten up earlier than I did.

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 1098

I wasn't very happy with my doctor today. Instead of getting the upbeat and definitive answer I was hoping for, I got referred to the Baylor Liver Institute instead. This probably isn't a good sign. In my experience, doctors would rather refer you to another specialist than to make an ominous decision themselves. I shouldn't be hard on my doctor though, since he is very thorough and leaves no stone unturned. It's just that I've been trying to avoid a liver biopsy for years and it looks like my time might have run out. I don't mind non-invasive tests like sonograms, CAT scans, and MRI's. Sticking the equivalent of a large knitting needle all the way through your body is another matter entirely.

My doctor's appointment took so long that it was already dark by the time I got home to take the dogs on their evening walk. The lake looked quite beautiful under the moonlight. Moonlit walks would be a lot more enjoyable if I wasn't imagining a lunatic hiding behind every tree. Although the park is quite large and creates the illusion of being out in nature, it's really just another urban park full of crazy homeless people. The park is actually very safe, considering the city is serves, but there have been just enough murders over the years to warrant erring on the side of caution.

Back in the comfort of my own home, I pondered the many ambiguities of medicine while eating a semi-healthy dinner. Part of me would just like to abandon all the doctors and try to repair myself with good nutrition. There are a lot of books out there that claim this can be done. The friendly nutritionist who owns the health food store down the street from me is a believer. He's told me several times that everything from diabetes to liver and kidney problems can be reversed through diet and nutrition. It all sounds pretty good, but I'm still a bit skeptical. I remember the nutritionist's own wife died at a very young age from some strange debilitating ailment. If the nutritionist's plans couldn't keep his own wife alive, I wonder what he could do for me.

My backup hard drive is starting to fail. It's started disappearing from the desktop every couple of hours. I've verified and repaired the volume, but it doesn't seem to help. The backup drive is definitely on its last legs. I guess I'll go to Fry's and buy another backup drive tomorrow. Although losing all your files isn't even remotely in the same league as losing your liver, it is a hassle nonetheless. I've lost all my files twice already as a result of major hard drive crashes. Never again. I'm getting a new drive first thing in the morning.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 1097

I was watching PBS while eating breakfast this morning and happened to catch this program about how eating the right foods could prevent and even reverse the effects of everything from rheumatoid arthritis, to lupus, and even type 2 diabetes. I've heard this argument before, especially from the guy who owns the neighborhood health food store down the street from us. This presentation on TV was so clear and logical however, that I wanted to change my diet immediately. In short, eating the right amount of foods like beans, onions, mushrooms, raw nuts, kale, broccoli, and cabbage, while simultaneously limiting your intake of red meat, processed flour, and sugar can significantly boost your immune system and prevent disease. I wonder why more doctors don't tell you this? Probably because prescribing pharmaceuticals is a multi-billion dollar industry.

The only problem with eating lots of salads and fresh vegetables is that they don't stay fresh all week. With only two of us, it's hard to eat up lots of fresh produce before it goes bad. It's equally hard to find time to go to the grocery store more than once a week. It would certainly make more sense to go to the store once a day though and get a small amount of really fresh healthy food, than to continue to taking a mountain of pills for the rest of my life. I'm supposed to see my hepatoligist tomorrow. I'll ask him about rejuvenating my liver with a better diet. I bet he just prescribes another pill though.

Dot and Dash had a great time at the dog park today. The temperature was almost 70 degrees and all the dogs were friendly. We stayed about an hour and then returned home to finish our weekend errands. Janet went off in one direction, while I went off in the other. I wanted to find a high capacity USB-2 hub, so I wouldn't have to keep plugging and unplugging things from the main computer. I finally found a hub that would let me plug in seven different things. It wasn't enough, but it will have to do.

After a weekend of trying diligently to clear out my office, the room looks pretty much the same. There are lots of things in different places now, but the office looks just as cluttered as ever. I distinctly remember taking a big pile of stuff to the storage warehouse, but I still don't see any empty shelves or tabletops. How can this be? I was supposed to end up with a clean desk.

Hannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 1096 - Blogiversary

Today I begin my fourth full year as a blogger. Maybe if I had all my ducks in row when I started this venture, I would have waited a few weeks and commenced my blogging adventure on January 1. It sure would have made keeping track of things a bit easier. One day is as good as the next, I guess. I suppose the middle of December just seemed like a good time to begin a blog. I wish I could tell you that I had discovered something profound about either myself or the world in general during the past three years. I haven't. I'm no closer to having all the answers today than I was then.

Regular readers may have discovered a few things about me, however. I'm persistent and tenacious. How else could you explain 1096 consecutive posts without missing a single day? I'm also completely self-absorbed. After all this time, I still have no desire to blog about politics, or music, or animal rescue, or even watches. I'm perfectly content to just continue telling you what I did today. I think writing on such a regular basis has actually helped me a bit with my work assignments. I don't worry so much about deadlines anymore. It's just words. Put a blank page in front of me and give me a topic. I'll fill that page fairly quickly.

I think I've become more candid than I was when I started blogging. You guys probably know me as well as anybody by now. Candor doesn't always equal adventure though. There are very few wild rides and even fewer epiphanies here. Basically, nothing happens. I'm amazed that so many of you have continued reading. I certainly hope you stick around. If I can keep this thing going for three years, I can probably keep it going for ten. I appreciate that the blog is very gradually growing more popular, but I don't expect anything dramatic to happen for quite a while. Maybe when Day 5000 rolls around, morbid curiosity will kick in and people will start speculating about how long I can continue. They might even be taking bets in Vegas about what day is going to be the very last post.

If today wasn't such a momentous anniversary, I might have told you about last night's sudden rainstorm and all the water that accumulated on the roof. I might have told you about taking another batch of aging computers to the storage warehouse, so I could find room to plug in Janet's printer and keep it running until the next Dalmatian Rescue event. I might have told you about walking the dogs and enjoying a leisurely breakfast. Hmm. I've already told you about those things though. Many, many times. Hey, if you guys can stand all the excitement, I'll see you again tomorrow.

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