Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 777

One of my European clients paid me using Paypal this morning. I couldn't believe how easy and painless the whole process was. I can still remember the days when I used to get a check in the mail from international clients. I would take the foreign check to my bank where they never knew what to do with it. They usually told me to go downtown to the main bank where there would be someone who could exchange my Deutsche Marks for dollars. The process varied, depending on who I talked to, but it was always a giant hassle. Paypal changed everything. These days, working internationally a snap. The sender just makes a deposit in their own currency and it automatically comes out in dollars on my end.

It still seems amazing to me that it's just as easy to get work from people living thousands of miles away as it is from a neighborhood business down the street. This is one aspect of the online age that I'm pretty happy about. I could do without social media however. It's a giant black hole that sucks up all my time and most of my energy. Life was much easier when I just met people for coffee.

Thanks to Alan from Birding in the Falkland Islands I now know that the lonely bird in yesterday's photo is an American Kestrel. This happens to be the smallest falcon in North America, which is pretty cool. It's nice to have this amazing little bird in the neighborhood. I won't need any help identifying today's picture. Yes, I know it's a squirrel. It's easier to photograph birds than squirrels and other animals. The birds know they can fly away and aren't scared of the dogs. Anything on the ground is fair game though and the dogs make every effort to catch it.

People keep asking me who I'm rooting for in the Superbowl. I don't know. I like Dallas, but they didn't even get in the playoffs. I like Pittsburgh, but they didn't do so well this year either. Towards the end, I was rooting for Denver because I like Tim Tebow. That didn't work out either. I guess I'm just hoping that Budweiser runs a commercial with a Dalmatian in it.

Cooper is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 776

Another day, another doctor's appointment. Sometimes I think my physician's have made me a test case to see how effectively they can manipulate blood panel results to tweak my physical condition. It doesn't matter which doctor I see; a new blood test is ordered with virtually every visit. I've got a whole ring binder full of blood test results now. I used to hate these things, but now I think I'm becoming addicted to them. I've learned all the nuances associated with the rise and fall of liver enzyme levels and know what my glucose levels should be at different times of the day. I know what a perfect blood panel looks like now and so to the doctors. They keep adding and subtracting medication in search of the Holy Grail. Am I any healthier after all this experimentation? Your guess is as good as mine. There were more tests today though. There are always more tests.

Entrecard appears to be back online again. I probably should find a better way to blog hop and build traffic, but I've gotten used to using services like Entrecard and Adgitize. I will go back to dropping tonight and visit some of my favorite blogs that I've missed while the site was down.

Maybe, now that my visitors are returning, someone will be able to identify the little bird that I photographed today. I see this bird every morning and it sure seems like a lonely bird. It is always sitting on the same telephone line or tree. This solitary bird never flies in a flock with other birds. It is always alone. At first I though it might be a feral parrot, but now I think the bird could be a small hawk instead. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about birds though. Maybe one of you could tell me what I've been looking at every morning.

It's hard to believe that January is already over. Pretty soon it will be time to prepare my taxes again, and then it will be my birthday, and before you know it, election day will be here. I'll be glad when election day arrives, because I'm getting sick of the relentless campaigning. I know what everybody thinks now and still they have more debates. Somehow, I don't think any of these debates are going to change anything. There aren't going to be a lot of new jobs because we don't manufacture anything anymore. The housing crisis isn't going to go away any time soon because nobody can qualify for a mortgage anymore. Europe's problems are really our problems, because that's what happens in a global economy. Somebody opened Pandora's Box a long time ago and I don't think any of these politicians will be able to close it again.

Malcolm is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 775

There was a big fight at the dog park today. Two dogs went after each other and within seconds, ten more joined in the ruckus. By the time the owners got their dogs separated, there was definitely a little blood spilled. I'm really glad that Dot and Dash don't have the desire to pile on when they see other dogs get into a scuffle. They both walked away from the commotion this morning and retreated to the other side of the dog park. Maybe they take after me in this regard. I avoid confrontations whenever I can. I don't agree with other people about very much, but our differences are seldom worth fighting about. If I fought with everyone I disagreed with, I'd be battling someone 24/7. It's much easier these days to publicly ignore what goes on around me while privately thinking that everyone has gone nuts.

The weather was so nice today that I though it would be a good time to trim all the low hanging tree limbs hanging over the roof. One of our large oak trees has become quite overgrown and some of the limbs are actually touching the roof now. When I go up to get the water off after a rain, I am continually bumping my head on these low hanging branches. I'm certainly no arborist, so I just copied what I'd seen other tree trimmers do when I used to hire professionals. I thinned and I pruned and after a few hours, the two trees that overhang the roof looked a lot better. I think I may have found where one of the leaks might have started while I was up on the roof as well. Most of the roof was dry, but there were a few areas that were still damp right at the edge of a seam. I should have spray painted an arrow to mark these areas, because when the roof dries completely, they will look absolutely normal. This was just the right time to see the telltale signs of a leak. I couldn't find any spray paint around the house unfortunately, so I'll just have to remember where these problem areas are. I can't patch anything until the roof is completely dry.

I don't remember manual labor always being this hard. Maybe I'm out of shape, or maybe I'm just getting old. Trimming trees seemed like hard work this afternoon. Maybe it was just the saw. The big reciprocating saw is pretty heavy, but it's a lot safer than a chain saw. A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine slipped while using a chain saw and the blade caught him in the face as he fell. After seeing what happened to this guy, I don't think I'll ever use a chain saw again.

Do any of you other bloggers use Entrecard? For the past several days I've noticed that I can't login to Entrecard anymore. The site seems dead. Maybe this is the end of the blog advertising sites. Adgitize closed its doors last month and before that several similar sites met their demise. It would be a shame if all these sites were gone. I discovered most of the blogs I currently follow using Adgitize and Entrecard.

Spirit is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 774

Some of you might remember me talking about the house lizard that I occasionally see darting around the house. Lizards are pretty agile and I've never been able to catch this guy. Until now, that is. This morning when I went out to the kitchen to make my morning coffee, I saw the lizard right in the middle of Dash's dog bed. It looked like he was sleeping on the bed, and maybe he was. At any rate, I seized the opportunity and carefully scooped him up in a dish towel and took him outside where he belongs. Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against lizards. The little guy was a well mannered house guest, but he was all over the place and I really didn't want to wake up some morning and see him next to me in bed.

I had to get another credit card to replace the one I canceled last week and when I went to activate it this morning, I got a surprise. Usually when you activate a new credit card they ask you for a password or some secret word you gave them in the past. This time the security folks at the bank had a whole new way to determine if I was who I said I was. Instead of asking me questions based on information I had given them, they asked me questions based on information they had found on their own. They said all the information they had was in the public record, but the information was very personal. I don't know how they found this stuff. I was given lists of things that might have happened to me but only one of the things was actually true and I had to correctly identify the event. This kind of questioning would be much harder to hack than a simple password. I still don't know how they knew all this stuff though. It's kind of spooky. There is no privacy anymore. Anybody who still thinks their secrets are safe is just living in a dream world.

Janet and I went and walked some of the rescue Dalmatians this morning. It's nice to see these dogs improve week by week. Some of the ones who looked pretty scruffy when we picked them up just a month ago now look sleek and beautiful. It's amazing what a good diet and a little veterinary care can do.

I upgraded my Avid Media Composer application to the new 6.0 version last night. If any of you out there edit video for a living, this upgrade is well worth the money. I've not always been happy with Avid in the past, but this is the best iteration of Media Composer the company has ever introduced. It's more powerful, easier to use, and comes packed with all the things I felt were missing. I was very impressed. Now I just need to get some video production jobs that are worthy of this fabulous new software. Most of the videos I edited last year were so simple that I could have edited them using iMovie.

Tomorrow it's time to go to the dog park again. The dogs have grown to love these weekly outings. I wish there was a human equivalent of going to a dog park. It would be nice to feel as exuberant and happy as Dash looks when he's racing around with his ears flapping in the wind.

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 773

Marty, the good technician, came out to look at the furnace this morning and had the problem solved in thirty minutes. He said the gas pressure on the pilot light flame was too high and it was making the hot part of the flame go above the flame sensor, causing it not to ignite the burners. He lowered the gas pressure to the pilot light and everything seems to be working perfectly now. Why the previous two repair people didn't come to the same conclusion, I'll never know. One thing I've learned over the years is that really good repair people are like diamonds. You've got to treasure them, because they are scarce and quite valuable. Whenever I find a good carpenter, plumber or auto mechanic, I really want to hang on to them. Good, practical problem solvers are hard to find these days. I just hope a few people out there value good writers the same way I value good plumbers and HVAC repairmen, because my future is depending on it.

The dogs barked a lot and made a big commotion this morning, exactly as I expected. When Marty finished his work, I didn't really have the energy to cook breakfast. I walked the dogs and then drove over to a nearby cafe and had them cook my breakfast. The waitress seated me between a table full of teachers and a table full of cops. The cops were all in a good mood and seemed to be talking about different techniques they used to get cars to stop during a high speed chase. The teachers were totally full of themselves, talking about some seminar about raising self esteem they were planning to attend. I couldn't tell if they were trying to raise their own self esteem or their student's. The contrast between these two groups couldn't have been more stark. On one hand you had a group of practical problem solvers in crisp uniforms. On the other hand you had a bunch of fat, whiny bureaucrats who probably couldn't inspire a flea to sit on a dog's back. I remember a few high school teachers who really changed my life. They were smart, tough, and to my young eyes, a bit dangerous. The overweight, bland bureaucrats sitting across from me would never inspire anyone. I really wish the teachers were a bit more like the cops. The cops were all in great shape too. Not an ounce of fat on these guys.

Since I was already out and about, I drove over to my doctor's office on the way home and asked if the results from my MRI had come in yet. Sure enough, they arrived over a week and a half ago. They just hadn't bothered to tell me yet. Jeez, guys! Here I've been sitting around wondering if I had cancer or not and not a peep out of anyone. This is just one more reason why I think vets are better than doctors. My vet always lets me know what's going on with the dogs almost immediately. Since I couldn't get the doctor's attention, I asked for a copy of the radiologist's report. After looking up some of the incomprehensible medical words on Google, I discovered that it is very unlikely I have cancer at this point. The radiologist never says to come back next year for another test if something really serious is going on.

I'm glad it's the weekend, but then you already know that. I'm always glad when the weekend arrives. We may go walk the rescue Dalmatians tomorrow. We'll probably go to the dog park on Sunday. Either of those things is preferable to getting up on the roof with a saw on the end of a long pole and trimming trees.

Sophie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 772

I got up much earlier than usual this morning. There weren't any early meetings or places I needed to be. The only reason I can think of for bounding our of bed at the crack of dawn is that the dogs were good last night. I finally got a decent night's sleep. Usually Dot and Dash wake up three or four time a night to bark at imagined noises or try to find a better spot on the bed. They wake me up every time. Last night for some unexplained reason, they both curled up in a ball and didn't move a muscle until morning.

Did I get a lot more done with my extra hour of time? Not really. Just when I was getting ready to take the dogs on their morning walk, it started raining again. Since the weather radar showed that the rain would only last an hour, I just watched TV for a while until the clouds lifted.

When we returned from our morning walk, I was right back on my usually tardy schedule. Today I finished up a little promotional video for one of the rescue groups I work with. This video was due so long ago that I doubt anyone still remembers why it was needed. I finished the video anyway, because I knew the group was meeting tonight and I wanted to be able to say I'd done something this week in case I was asked. This just happened to be the first video I'd shot using the Panasonic AG-AF-100 camera and I was kind of surprised at how good the footage looked. I really need to start using this camera more often.

Since it looks like it's going to be clear and dry for the rest of the week, I spent more time than usual getting the water off the roof. I'm hoping that the roof will actually dry out, so I can inspect for cracks again and do my best to seal them. At least that exceptionally windy day we had sometime last week blew all the dead leaves off the roof. The roof is finally clear of debris and ready for repairs. Unfortunately, it still leaks.

The furnace repairman is supposed to come out to the house tomorrow morning at 8 AM to fix the furnace. I'm surprised they even bother to come out anymore. The problem is intermittent and the dogs bark so loud that it is impossible to hear odd little furnace noises anyway. I wish I knew how to fix the furnace myself. This whole process seldom comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

Jazz is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 771

There was an unbelievable amount of rain last night. Of course, Dash would have to choose this nasty weather to have an upset stomach, so I ended up spending half the night letting him outside. I know he wanted to eat grass, but with the rain pounding down, he didn't even get off the porch. On our third attempt around 2 AM, he finally threw up on the porch and we all went back to bed.

This morning on our walk, we got to see what the rain had brought with it. The water level in the lake had risen at least three feet and had flooded a lot of nearby low areas. We live quite near the lake, but luckily we are on high ground. From the news helicopter I saw hovering nearby, I got the feeling that a few passing motorists weren't so lucky. There are a few streets in the vicinity that always flood when it rains this much and there are usually a few fools who think they can drive through anyway. They often end up on the evening news.

Dash seemed quite intrigued with all the water this morning. He tried to drink out of gutter spouts, and whenever we passed a nearby puddle, he would splash around with his front paws and try to dig a hole. Dot appeared to be disgusted with these childish antics and just wanted to go home where it was warm.

After breakfast, I got up on the roof and swept away all the accumulated water. There was a small leak in the living room last night, but nothing of any consequence. I've learned that if I can get the water off the roof quickly, there usually isn't any damage. The only time the leak gets bad is if I forget that there is standing water on the roof and it gradually leaks in, one drop at a time.

So far, so good with OS 10.7. I've been using the new system software for two days now and haven't had a single crash. I'm impressed. In the past, whenever I've updated my Apple system software, there were so many problems that it took me weeks to get everything sorted out again. No problems at all this time. In fact, things have been going so well with Lion that I've decided to retire Firefox and switch to Chrome while I'm changing things around on the desktop. I've become a big fan of Google+ recently, so I might as well start using a browser that is optimized for Google+.

No training class tonight. Actually, there might be training class, but we're not going. Although the rain has stopped, it's certainly not dry outside. The field where we train the dogs is a giant mudhole right now. I think Dot and Dash would agree that it is much more enjoyable to sit at home on their blankets and watch TV than to have their trainer tell them to sit in a puddle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 770

I spent the day straightening up loose ends. There were a lot more loose ends than I thought. I canceled the credit card, because after a day and a half of thinking about what I could have possible bought from Luxembourg, I came up with nothing. I even checked all of the domains I own to make sure that none of them had accidentally auto renewed. Auto renewal is an increasing problem with online purchases, because it seems to be the default setting for any recurring purchase made with a credit card. It doesn't matter if it's the cable company or Network Solutions, once they've got your credit card number, they want to keep charging you forever.

Later, I called the furnace people to have them come out again, even though it means another morning of non-stop barking. I kept hoping that the furnace would just fix itself, but it's become apparent that this isn't going to happen. This time I asked the HVAC folks to send Marty out to look at the problem. He got promoted to commercial installations, but since he's been the only person who's been able to fix the problem in the past, it makes sense that he would be my best bet to fix it again.

When I was checking on my computer to see if the iCloud synchronization worked, I discovered that I'd written down a doctors appointment on a different day on my phone than I had on the computer. After calling the clinic to see which day was correct, I looked at the calendar again and sure enough I had double booked myself. You'd think conflicting schedules wouldn't be a problem, since I leave the house so seldom, but I double book myself again and again. It's probably because I only like to do things out of the office between 2 and 3 PM.

Dash kept us awake most of the night last night. For some odd reason this dog refuses to poop in the yard under any circumstances. He kept waking us up by barking and slapping his paw at the back door. I'd go let him out and he would just stand around and do nothing. This happened over and over again. He wanted to go down into the park on a walk to do his business. No thank you! I'm not going down into the park at 3 AM. This is Dallas. Somehow Dash made it till morning without pooping in the house, but he didn't do us any favors in the sleep department.

It's pouring rain again. When I went to the bank this afternoon, the people standing in line with me were all commenting about how much we needed rain. Maybe they need the rain, but I sure don't. I can tell by how hard the rain is beating on the roof that there's a 50/50 chance I'll have a leak in the ceiling by morning.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 769

A guy down the street is all worried about some new website where you can apparently roll your mouse over a picture of your neighbors house and find out everything about them. I asked him if he was thinking of Google Streetview and he said "No, this is much more powerful than Google Streetview." I'd never heard of a website like this and really couldn't get too concerned about it because I was wondering why charges from someplace in Luxembourg were showing up on my credit card statement. I've never bought anything from Luxembourg and don't even know anybody in this little country. When I called the credit card company, they didn't appear too concerned and just asked me if I wanted to file a complaint. I just wanted to know what the company in Luxembourg was selling, in case I had bought something over the Internet and forgotten about it. I've canceled credit cards before over charges that I had actually made, so I didn't want to go off half cocked on this one. You've got to be careful though. Once somebody tried to charge the down payment to a new car on Janet's credit card. They didn't get away with it, but it just shows you that scammers are everywhere these days. Life is becoming way too complicated for my taste.

Since the day was off to a dismal start anyway, I decided to go ahead and install Lion on my main computer. I always like to install new system software on days where I figure that things couldn't possibly get much worse. So far, so good. The download took a long time, but everything seems to be working. Photoshop works. Dreamweaver works. Microsoft Office works. I'm sure that there are half a dozen little applications that will never open again, but all the stuff I need on a daily basis to earn a living seems to be fine. I hate updating system software. No matter how careful you are, there's always a gotcha moment when you realize that you've actually made your life more difficult instead of easier as you had planned. You can postpone upgrades with Apple, but you can never avoid them altogether. The next time I buy a computer, it will only run on Lion, or whatever animal comes after Lion. I might as well bite the bullet now.

Since it was such a nice day today, I though I'd complete the tree trimming I'd started this weekend. I got out the reciprocating saw and headed for a dead tree in the back of the yard. Unfortunately, the longest extension cord I had wouldn't reach the tree, so I had to put all my tools away again. I thought I had an extension cord long enough to reach the back of the yard, but I'd forgotten that it's up on the roof now, hooked up to my next to worthless sump pump.

I got a call reminding me about Dash's antigen shot appointment tomorrow. This got me wondering why nobody has called me about the MRI I had done several weeks ago. You'd think that if the vet can remember my dog's allergy shot, that someone might remember the MRI they took of my liver.

Chloe is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 768

Another weird Winter day in Texas. It was clear and cool when I woke up this morning. As the day progressed, it got much warmer and windier. By the end of the day the winds were quite strong and seemed to be bringing the remains of a West Texas dust storm with them. The setting sun was almost totally obscured by dust and haze. I've been waiting for one of these days to get one of those pictures of a red ball sun hovering just above the horizon. Unfortunately when the conditions were perfect, I only had my iPhone with me. I could have gotten a lot better picture with a proper camera and a telephoto lens, but at least I have a record of this dusty, hazy day.

Earlier today at the dog park, we had trouble even finding a parking place. The warm weather brought people and their dogs to the park in droves. There were plenty of small, well behaved dogs for Dash to play with, but he didn't seem to be in the mood. I still can't figure out what it takes to bring out Dash's playful side. Some days, he'll race around the park with great abandon and other days, like today, he's kind of shy and never leaves our side. Even when the dogs aren't playful, I still think they enjoy the trip to the dog park. They love being off leash and having the opportunity to roam around and take in all the new smells.

Even though I would have preferred spending the afternoon watching Dr. Who re-runs on TV, I took advantage of the nice weather and did some tree pruning in the back yard. I removed all the dead limbs on the Photinia Bushes that I could reach with a pair of pruning shears. Some of the branches were too big and I'll have to go back later with a saw. While I was working, one of our older neighbors was walking down the back alley and told me how nice our yard looked. This is a sure sign that the poor guy has gone senile. The yard actually looks terrible.

I continued downloading Logic Pro today. I didn't realize how long it would take to download 15 GB of files over a WiFi connection. When I get everything in place, I'll be all set to do nice scores for TV commercials again. Never mind that nobody has asked me to do music for a commercial in almost three years. When they do, I'm ready.

Raider is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 767

Janet and I went to Grand Prairie this morning to pick up Molly and take her to the vet. Another pair of Dalmatian Rescue volunteers had taken Molly on the first leg of her journey from the Burleson, Texas pound to a PetSmart parking lot in Grand Prairie where we met them to pick her up and take her the rest of the way. When we arrived at the rendezvous point, we saw that Molly was a small dog who had led a hard life. She had bad skin, was covered with ticks, and cried when you touched her feet. We made her comfortable in the back seat and headed back toward Dallas for an appointment with the Dalmatian Rescue vet. Although she had an ingrown dewclaw and was suffering from poor nutrition, Molly was basically healthy. I don't think it will take this girl long to find a home. She has a great disposition and is going to be a wonderful companion for some lucky person.

After Molly had been safely delivered to the Dalmatian Rescue kennels, it was back to weekend chores for us. I made a web page for Molly and then went to the grocery store and got gas for the Defender. Although it was still a beautiful day outside, it was considerably colder than it was yesterday. It felt much too cold to go around with a pruning saw and trim hedges in the back yard, so I downloaded some software instead. I love the Apple app store. One by one, all Apple's favorite applications are becoming available on the app store at much lower prices than I've ever seen them before. I noticed today that's Apple's Logic Pro Studio was available for less than half of what the boxed version cost just several months ago. I've been thinking of buying Logic for a while now and was glad that my indecision worked out in my favor. It's a large program though. I started downloading the application several hours ago and it still isn't finished yet.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting tired of non-stop political coverage on TV. I watched a few minutes of the South Carolina returns this evening and then changed the channel and watched Betty White's 90th birthday party instead. Tomorrow looks like it's going to be another good day for the dog park. Even the dog park is more interesting that all this political coverage.

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 766

Although my Northern readers might not believe me, it was eighty degrees in Dallas today. I walked the dogs wearing a T-shirt and we were all hot by the time we got home. It's hard to believe it's January. We saw people out flying kites in the park today. This type of Winter weather is one of the reasons I enjoy living down South. I'll admit that I am getting confused about my furnace problems though. I'm hesitating to call the repair folks again while it's this warm, because I'm afraid that when they arrive, I might have the air conditioner running. I just need to remember that no matter how warm it might be today, it could still be below freezing next Monday. Texas weather is totally unpredictable.

I finished the week by getting caught up on just about everything. My two big website remodeling jobs are complete and I don't think there are any stray writing jobs hiding on my desk either. This means the weekend is totally free for chores I don't want to do. If the weather stays nice, I think I'll trim all the dead branches off the Photinia Bushes in the back yard. Years ago, these bushes used to be a nice looking hedge, but they've grown unruly in recent years. Some of them have grown into full fledged trees. I'm not very picky about gardening. To me, if it's still green, it's great.

Janet and I are going to pick up a new Dalmatian named Molly somewhere West of Fort Worth tomorrow morning. Evidently this dog ran away and when the local animal control found it and called the owners, they didn't want it back. "Just keep the dog," they told the pound. This uncaring attitude continues to amaze me. Why do people like this even get a pet in the first place? At any rate, Dalmatian Rescue will find Molly a good home. I'm certain that her second home will be much better than her first.

I'm getting the urge to write songs again. In truth, this songwriting urge is just an excuse to buy gear. I find that I'm lusting after microphones and mixers again. The last time this happened was about eight years ago. I did write and record a few songs, but not nearly enough to justify all the gear I bought. It would be a lot less expensive if I had a craving for chocolate or single malt scotch. I love technology though. It's my downfall.

April is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 765

I spent most of the day creating individual web pages for each of the employees I photographed yesterday. This used to be a fairly straightforward process, but it seems to take twice as long now, since people expectations are higher. It's not enough to quickly slap a picture and a bio on a page anymore. Now, people expect me to remove blemishes and color correct blotchy skin. I really wish the general public had never even heard of Photoshop. What really gets me is some people will complain that their new picture doesn't look as good as the previous one that might have been taken five years ago. Jeez, you were five years younger. Of course you looked better then,

I noticed my neighbors hauling large, bulky items out to the curb while while I was taking our trash bucket out for tomorrow's collection day. I wonder if I'll have the time to trim all the dead branches off the bushes and shrubs in the back year before big trash day? They only pick up these bulky items once a month and I always seem to miss the day. I still have some writing jobs that need to be completed before the weekend, but maybe I'll have time tomorrow to get out the reciprocating saw and tidy up the yard a bit.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I don't have insomnia of anything. I just wake up over and over again. I go back to sleep quickly enough, but it is irritating. I think the dogs are waking me up in an attempt to push me out of the bed, but there's always a chance that a perverse part of my brain is causing me to wake up, just to see if the furnace is still working. This furnace is driving me nuts. It is absolutely reliable for an indeterminate amount of time, and then for no apparent reason, it becomes absolutely unreliable for another indeterminate period of time. Back and forth it goes like this; never really really stopping and never being totally reliable either.

The results of the blood test I took at the health food store last Saturday arrived in the mail today. For the first time on many months, every single parameter was within the normal range. Does this mean I can go back to drinking scotch and having bacon for breakfast? Sadly, no. I was puzzled why Janet's results didn't come in the mail along with mine. When I asked her later this evening, she said "Because I didn't go. Only you took the test." It's a good thing it was a blood test, not an IQ test.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 764

Nobody wanted their picture taken today. I asked several employees why I was even there if nobody wanted their picture taken and received the answer I kind of expected. The boss wanted everyone to have their picture taken. Of course, nobody bothered to do their makeup, so they're not going to be happy with these pictures either. Sometimes I think this particular client does these pictures just so they can all make fun of each other.

If you happen to be planning a new company website, I'd encourage you to just skip the section with the employee bios and pictures. It's a giant waste of time. Employees are never happy with their pictures. They leave and take new jobs as soon as you get their page in place. Job titles change with regularity. It's a lot of wasted effort.

I was so focused on getting my quarterly estimated taxes in the mail yesterday that I totally forgot there were a lot of other mid-month bills I needed to pay. I spent an hour or so writing checks and then it was back to the post office again. It would have been nice if I'd remembered this yesterday, but I can't remember anything anymore.

Do you ever go through periods where you feel that everything you do is pointless? I think I'm in one of those periods. I'm really busy and have plenty to do everyday, but I'm increasingly convinced that if I were to quit everything and didn't even bother to get out of bed in the morning, nothing I did would even be missed. Life would just continue to roll along like usual.

Maybe the dogs feel this way at training class. "Sit, stay, heel." What does it all really mean? Does it even matter? Sometimes I think my clients are saying exactly the same thing to me. "Sit, stay, heel." I listen and try my best to comply, but sometimes a client's directives make about as much sense as the English language does to a dog.

Complete silence from the shopping channel folks today. I don't think I'm destined to become the next Billy Mays or Anthony Sullivan.

Dovey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 763

I spent way too much time this morning putting together my little video demo for the Shop NBC folks. Honestly, I don't know why I bothered. I mumble when I talk. I often get a totally blank look on my face when I'm listening to someone else. When I look down, my chin disappears. I don't know what these guys were thinking when they asked me to be a pitchman on a shopping channel. Oddly, the video did have a certain charm. Janet helped me make it, playing the "host" while I was the "guest." We do have a good sense of humor. I don't know if they were looking for humor though. Like Janet told me when we finished the demo, "Hey, if they'd asked us to make this twenty years ago, we would have been pretty good." Somehow, I doubt if I'll ever hear about me selling things on TV again.

I may not get the Shop NBC gig, but it does look like I'll be getting more work from my German client. I got an e-mail today from the public relations coordinator I met with in Houston last month and they want me to bid on a good size project. This is great news! I really need to get more corporate work if I want my business to grow. I'm totally maxed out on small, low budget jobs that make me tired and earn me very little.

Remember that I told you I met with my financial adviser yesterday? Well, I got a message from the guy today telling me that all the charts he was showing me for a company he was recommending were really for another company that he wouldn't recommend at all. Really? You certainly could have fooled me. All these charts with their moving average lines look exactly the same to me. My adviser apologized for his mistake and then sent me new information about the "good" company. I'll have to call the guy tomorrow and see whether we actually bought the bad company or the good company. The two charts still look the same to me.

I've got a photo shoot tomorrow. I'm going to be taking more employee photos that will eventually wind up on the company's website. I've taken tons of pictures for this client before, but now they've gotten it in their heads that they need to look prettier. I'm kind of dreading tomorrow. I never take a makeup artist with me, because it's just not in the budget. Good makeup is what they need though. It's not the lighting, it's the makeup.

The furnace still isn't working properly. It will operate normally for about half a day and then the burners refuse to light for no apparent reason. The only way I can get it to start is turn the furnace on and off at the thermostat several times in a row. I know the service folks aren't going to want to come out again. They've been here twice already for this problem and told me they'd fixed things both times.

Chief is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 762

I had another quarterly review with my financial adviser today. These periodic reviews have been pretty depressing for the past several years. I'm a conservative investor by nature, and for many years my portfolio had a solid foundation of municipal bonds, treasury bills, and very predictable equities. All that is out the window now. The interest rate on treasuries is near zero. Municipalities are defaulting on their debts. Even the best blue chips can drop ten percent in a day if somebody sneezes in Europe. What's a guy to do? We ended 2011 right where we started, even though there were innumerable ups and downs along the way. People like me don't make money in the market anymore. There are very few attractive options. Day traders make money. Day traders lose a lot of money too. That's why I'm not a big fan of short-term trades. It's all a big gamble now.

I finally got the Dalmatian Rescue website updated today. I found time to write another watch article as well. Since it was a holiday, there weren't as many messages from clients. There was a message from the Shop NBC folks though. It said to hurry up and finish the demo I promised them. I've been avoiding doing this demo because I know I don't have the time to do it right. It's going to be a one take wonder when the time comes. Apparently that time is coming very soon. I had to promise them something by tomorrow. What the hell. Tomorrow doesn't look like a very busy day. I'm definitely not an on-air talent, but most of the people on these shopping channel shows aren't either. I just need to remember that they were the one to ask me to be on the show. I certainly didn't ask them. My goal is just not to embarrass myself too badly.

Quarterly estimated taxes are due tomorrow. I need to remember to send mine in this time, especially since I completely forgot about the last quarter. Oh well. I'll catch up on things tomorrow. It's not like I owe the government a lot of money or anything. I just didn't make that much last year. Maybe this year will be better. It would be nice to make enough to offset the loses my financial adviser told me about today.

Shelby is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 761

Even though virtually nothing happened, it still seemed like a busy day. Sundays are always like this. We get off to a late start, and by the time breakfast and the weekly trip to the dog park are finished, it is mid-afternoon. Today, the dogs got a bath at Vheas Laundromutt after the dog park. Last week, the dogs that drooled all over Dash while he was playing caused his coat to turn brown again and the vet suggested a bath after being slobbered on by other dogs. Dash seems allergic to just about everything, apparently including dog spit.

I asked our vet about the strange stains on Dash's coat last week and she said this sort of thing wasn't that uncommon. It seems that some dogs have a lot of bacteria in their saliva that can cause a reaction if other dogs are exposed to it. Even stranger, if a dog has been recently vaccinated, traces of the vaccine can show up in the saliva as well, causing a reaction if the other dog is sensitive to the vaccine. Now we have to add dog spit to the long list of things Dash needs to avoid.

Every weekend, I've been trying to print some new images on my large printer and put them aside for a future gallery show. This activity helps keep the printer lines from getting clogged and may even help me get another show down the road. The new images are actually better than the ones I displayed at my last show. I just need to get my butt in gear and pack them in a portfolio case and take them around to some gallery owners. So, when will I find the time to do this? Maybe next year sometime. It certainly won't happen any time soon.

Janet is off work tomorrow. Her office exchanged getting off on Good Friday for getting off on MLK Day instead. This seems a bit strange to me, but it certainly shows the direction the country is headed. I wonder what Martin Luther King would have thought? He was a religious man. I bet he would have wanted people to keep Good Friday as a religious holiday.

Tomorrow isn't a holiday for me. I've got a stack of website and writing work to finish and I need to drive up to North Dallas for my quarterly review with my financial adviser as well. I hope my financial adviser has some good news to report, but that isn't very unlikely.

Betty is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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