Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 806 - Leap Day

Leap Year is a weird concept for me to wrap my head around. This extra day inserted right in the middle of things pushes everything else out of whack. I'm not very hard to confuse. The watches I have with perpetual calendars usually aren't smart enough to compensate for leap year either, so tomorrow they'll need to be reset. I used to actually reset all the errant watches, but that's become too anal even for me. These days I just don't worry about what time the watch says until I actually wear the thing again.

It turned out to be really convenient to have Fedex hold my package for me. They sent me an e-mail when the package was ready to be picked up and then I just drove over and got it. This was much more convenient for me than waiting for the truck to arrive. I discovered at the Fedex office that you can only request a package be held if it was shipped by air. If it was shipped Fedex Ground, you're stuck with waiting for the truck. If you wonder why this is a big deal, you probably don't live in a large city. There are people who follow the trucks around and routinely steal unattended packages left outside.

I'm beginning to think we may have avoided Winter entirely. So far, there have only been a couple of days where the temperature even got close to freezing. Today it was over eighty degrees again. I'm delighted by the mild weather. The only downside to the unseasonably warm temperatures is that it never got cold enough this year to kill the bugs. The dogs are picking up more fleas and ticks than usual. Wasps and Mud Daubers are beginning to build their nests again. Worst of all, some nasty looking roaches have made their way inside. A few days of below freezing weather usually puts an end to this invasion of pests, but I don't think it's going to happen this year.

The weather this evening was perfect for training class. The lack of wind and nice temperatures didn't seem to impress Dash though. He barked continually and disrupted the rest of the class. I have no idea what he was barking about, but I did hear some of my classmates complain. Eventually, Dash did settle down and we did pretty well with the remaining exercises.

Tomorrow is March 1st and that means it's time to start looking for a new tenant for my rental property. I hate interviewing renters. I just don't seem to be able to pick a good one.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 805

I just found out that if you call FedEx in advance, they'll hold your package at the nearest Fedex facility instead of putting it on the truck. I wish I'd known about this earlier. I've wasted entire days waiting for the FedEx guy to come, just so I could sign the little electronic "signature required" form. I started requesting "signature required" after FedEx started leaving packages with a neighbor who never bothered to tell me that he was holding them for me. At any rate, spending five minutes driving up to the Fedex facility vs waiting an entire day for the truck to arrive is a no-brainer. I may never have them put anything on the truck again.

I've been hearing so much about Pinterest lately that I've been thinking about setting up an account and then using it to drive more traffic to my site. Well, maybe that's not such a good idea. I just read the Terms of Service and discovered that if you pin your own original material on Pinterest, you are essentially giving them unlimited rights to do whatever they want with it. According to the Terms of Service agreement, Pinterest can re-purpose, edit and even sell your content. No thank you. I don't think I'll be putting any stories or photos on Pinterest.

I got a cool little USB Flash drive in the shape of a wristband from Klout today. It's probably the last perk I'll ever get though. My score has been dropping like a stone. That's the trouble with social media. It demands continuous attention. To avoid actually talking to anyone, I've linked virtually every story, photo, and song I've ever created to my Twitter account. I'm running out of new stuff to Tweet though. The original content is drying up and I'm discovering that nobody will re-Tweet something they've seen five times already. Maybe I could just start chit-chatting like everyone else to keep my numbers up. That's not me though. I'd much rather put notes in bottles and throw them out to sea than actually participate in a conversation with someone.

I don't have that much time to talk anyway. Just writing a few articles and running a couple of necessary errands used all my time today. At least I can cross a few things off my list. The big poster that I've been afraid the dogs would wrinkle or damage has been safely delivered to my veterinarian client. A new employee photo shoot has been scheduled with my doctor client. Another round of prescriptions have been picked up from the pharmacy and the dogs have had their dinner. I'll start tomorrow by going to the FedEx office.

Connor is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 804

So, I get this letter in the mail today from the Missouri Department of Revenue. It says I haven't paid my taxes for 2007 and 2008. What the Hell? I've never lived in the state of Missouri in my life. I always pay my taxes. I don't have any clients in Missouri either. I have no connection with Missouri whatsoever. Eventually, this will all get sorted out, but I don't look forward to the process. Every time I've had to deal with the government on any level, it has turned into a giant hassle. There is just no easy way to deal with a bureaucracy. My accountant will probably be happy enough if I can't get this mess sorted out at all. I'm confident that he can get to the bottom of things, but it will cost me. Jeez, I hate dealing with government officials. It doesn't matter whether you're trying to get your drivers license renewed or your property taxes reviewed, it's a big hassle.

Sometimes I think my clients have no idea what they're paying me for. I get calls all the time from clients asking me why their internet is slow, or what their e-mail password is. I don't know these things. I don't even want to know these things. Today, I spent quite a while on the phone trying to explain why I didn't have administrative access to a Facebook page I never created in the first place. Somehow these folks thought that because I was their webmaster, I also knew everything about their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Nope! The ironic thing is that the people who called me probably created the Facebook page themselves and just forgot their own user ID and password.

Where is the big job I've been waiting for? Every year there is usually one big job that pays for the whole year. In good years, there are two or three of these lucrative assignments. So far this year? Nada. Zip. Nothing. I'm certainly busy enough, but I feel like I'm being nibbled to death by ants.

I need to find something interesting to do on Mondays. On Tuesdays, I almost always take a dog to the vet. On Wednesdays there's dog training class. Not much on Thursdays, but Fridays have become more interesting just by the simple act of going out for breakfast. I need an equally simple diversion for Monday and Thursday. You may wonder why Saturday and Sunday aren't on my list. That's simple. Any day where I don't have to work is automatically interesting.

Princess is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 803

The Dogwood and Redbud trees are already in full bloom. Kites are flying everywhere. Spring is definitely in the air. The only trouble with going to the dog park on a beautiful day like this is that it's hard to find a parking place. A lot of other people with dogs must have had the same idea today. After circling around the park a couple of times, we eventually found a spot and Dot and Dash joined the frey. There were so many dogs in the park today that you had to be real careful where you walked. Lots of dogs usually equals lots of poop.

I'm watching the Oscars with one eye as I write this. For the first time in several years there are actually several films I'd really like to see among this years nominees. I've always liked Meryl Streep and The Iron Lady seem like her best since The Devil Wears Prada. I'd definitely like to see War Horse. Hugo seems like a winner, but maybe I'm just intrigued because I like both clocks and train stations. I probably won't see any of these movies until they're available on cable though. Even though it used to be one of my favorite things, I rarely go to theaters anymore.

The pile of leaves in the back yard is getting large enough now to catch my attention. There are no more leaves left on the trees, so it's just a matter of time before I'll need to rake them into a huge pile and start bagging them up. After the leaves are all gone, it will be time to till the soil and plant new sod again. Sadly, planting new grass has become just as regular an occurrence as raking leaves. It's a miracle if the grass in our back yard lasts more than one season. The grass in the front yard is just fine, but the back yard grass always fall victim to a lack of sunlight, grubs, and four large Oak trees that suck up all the water. Hope springs eternal though. Probably sometime in late March, I'll go up to Miller Grass, fill my car with Saint Augustine sod and start all over again.

I don't know if I finished all my chores today, but I certainly got quite a few started. I did some laundry, cleaned up the office a bit, wrote a couple of articles and made a mess in the bathroom while learning how to use my new waterpic. Through all this activity, the dogs just slept. It must be nice to be a dog.

Bingo is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 802

The vacuum cleaner isn't working as well as it should, so I think the vacuum cleaner bag is full and it's time for a new bag. Then I start looking at the vacuum cleaner and realize its time for an entirely new vacuum cleaner. Then I look down at the carpet and wonder why I'm even bothering to vacuum. It's time for a new carpet. Then I start thinking, what's the point of even installing a new carpet if the day after its installed the roof starts to leak and makes a big stain. You can see where I'm going with this. To me, this is entropy. It's not stars and galaxies dying. It's just every every single element in the house slowly coming apart. With so much broken and decaying, where do you even start to reverse the process.

We went and walked the rescue dogs this morning. Lady is becoming less timid and walking much better on a leash. Odie has Giardia, which is a surprisingly common parasite in dogs. Dogs often show no symptoms of being infected, so it can be difficult to diagnose. I'm not sure if Odie is being treated with Metronidazole or Fenbendazole, but he should be fine again pretty quickly. We had to remember to wash our hands before we went home though, since Giardia can be easily transmitted from one pet to another.

When I went to the vacuum cleaner store to get some more bags for my Hoover, I overheard a salesman trying to convince a woman to buy a Kirby instead of a state of the art Dyson. I'd heard about these Kirby sales pitches, but I'd never actually seen one in person. Keep in mind that a Kirby vacuum cleaner probably hasn't changed in fifty years and is still the most expensive vacuum on the planet. It does have one thing going for it though: the most elaborate sales pitch known to man. It didn't take me long to get my bags, but as I was leaving, I could see the woman was already wavering. I wouldn't be surprised if she actually bought the antiquated $1200 vacuum.

I think there are going to be a lot of disappointed people in Dallas if the weather turns cold again. Spring is definitely in the air. I saw kites flying in the park today and quite a few picnickers. I even saw some early blooming Spring flowers this afternoon. I'm not getting my hopes up though. It is still February.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 801

I was surprised to receive a plate of French Toast this morning when I went out for breakfast. I thought I had ordered a waffle, but then I remembered thinking waffle while actually saying the words French Toast. Oops. I do stuff like this more often than I care to admit. Later in the morning when I was paying a stack of bills, I realized I had paid Janet's cell phone bill instead of mine. Oops again. Hey, it's an easy mistake to make. Our bills are as similar as french toast and waffles. We both have iPhones and our names both start with a J. Occasionally, my lack of attention works in my benefit though. I was surprised to get a check almost immediately from my newest client and then realized I had forgotten to include the words "30 Days Net" on my invoices like I usually do. They must have assumed my terms were pay on receipt.

Texas weather continues to confuse me. The temperature must have dropped 30 degrees last night. Instead of yesterday's Springlike conditions, I was forced to dig my down jacket out of the closet again. Back and forth it goes like this. Tomorrow it could be 80 degrees again. At least the furnace is still working. It would be embarrasing to have to call the furnace guys out for a fourth time this Winter.

We're going to go up to the boarding kennel tomorrow and walk Odie and the other Dalmatians. I don't think we'll be bringing Odie over to the house again this time. Dot made it pretty clear last week that two Dalmatians were enough. We'd like to see Odie again before he finds his forever home though. He's already getting some interest and I have a feeling he's going to find a home quickly.

I turned in this month's assignment for my writer's group this afternoon. The topic this time was "Patience." I've got lots of patience. I just don't know what I'm waiting for.

Nora is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 800

We had a scary incident in the park this morning. A large white dog that looked almost identical to the one that attacked Dash when he was younger came after us again. If it was the same dog, it was considerably older now, and maybe that's what saved us this time. I screamed at the dog to stay while keeping my body between it and Dot and Dash. Amazingly, the dog did stay, while we made our retreat. Dash was terrified. I don't think he will ever forget the attack that almost killed him. I was bitten during the attack as well and will never forget the incident either. To this day, I am extremely nervous around loose dogs in our neighborhood. People need to keep their gates and fences secure and always keep their dogs on a leash in public areas. I just don't understand why so many people let their dogs run loose in a busy city like Dallas.

I think the groundhog might have been wrong this year. It was over eighty degrees today. I can't remember a February this warm. Usually, this time of year is pretty nasty. If there is going to be snow or ice in Dallas, it almost always happens in February. Hey, maybe we'll catch a break this year. It was so warm today that I seriously considered turning on the air conditioner. The only reason I hesitated is that I remembered doing unseasonal things like this with the HVAC system usually causes it to break. I left the AC alone and opened the windows instead. It's such a novelty to actually open your windows in Texas. It's almost always either too cold or to hot to do this. Today was the exception though, and we enjoyed a nice breeze through the open windows and hopefully cleared out some of the stuffy air inside the house.

Did any of you guys actually think I would be able to go 800 days without missing a single post? I certainly didn't. This is day 800 though. I made it, despite neck problems, power outages and the occasional weird travel schedule. Now, 1000 days really seems within reach.

Joey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 799

Here's why I hate computers. I get this e-mail from Quark Express about a month ago telling me not to upgrade to OS 10.7.3 yet, because it was not compatible with Quark. I dutifully go to my control panel and deselect the automatic upgrade option. Several weeks go by and one morning when I start up my computer I get a dialog box asking if I'd like to upgrade to OS 10.7.3. By this time, I've completely forgotten about the earlier message from Quark, so I just click "yes" and the upgrade is installed. About an hour later a client says they need a reprint of a poster I did for them last year. I click on the Quark application so I can print the file, and you guessed it, the application doesn't work anymore, just like Quark warned me. Very frustrating, to say the least!

My Quark Express is toast. I finally figure out how to print the poster my client wants from an old PDF file and then halfway through the printing process, I run out of ink. I drive over to the printer store and buy $150 worth of ink, just so I can make a single courtesy print of an old poster I'd completely forgotten about.

Talking with tech support at Quark while trying in vain to revive my ailing application wasted several hours this morning. Talking with Network Solutions to help another client move one of their domains to a less expensive registrar ate up even more time. Evidently my name was listed as the technical contact for this domain, but it didn't show up in the list of domains I manage. I must have created an account for the domain years ago and then totally forgotten about it. The client forgot too, because no website was ever developed for this domain. Since I couldn't figure out how to log-in to the control panel of the mystery account I have created, I had to convince Network Solutions that I really was who I said I was and get them to make the changes for me. Maybe we should have just let the domain expire. It will probably still sit around unused for another five years.

For some reason Dot didn't want to go to class tonight. She refused to get out of the car and glued herself to the back seat, just like she does when we take her for a bath. She wouldn't budge. I finally had to get in the car and carry her out. Once she was out with the other dogs, she did just fine, but she clearly would have rather stayed home this evening. I can't figure out why she balked tonight. It was really one of the nicest evenings we've had all Winter. Even after dark, the temperature was still over 70 degrees.

A large printing company that used to send me lot of annual report writing work finally responded to my query. Apparently, all their customers are writing their annual report copy themselves this year. Why am I not surprised?

Maggie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 798

It was an absolutely beautiful day. It's hard to believe this is still February and we could still have snow. Somehow, snow doesn't even seem a remote possibility when it's 75 degrees outside and you can see green buds on the trees everywhere you look. I'll have to admit though that maybe the trees are getting a little ahead of themselves. We've had terrible weather during the second half of February before. I can even remember snow in March, although it's been a long time.

If I had more time, today would have been a good day for birdwatching. I must have seen at least twenty different species of birds on my morning walk with Dot and Dash. Unfortunately, just because I can see the birds doesn't mean I can photograph them. Many birds have a habit of flying into thick brush just as I approach. My bird photography has no technique whatsoever. I never wait patiently in a hidden blind for birds to approach. Instead, I announce my approach with two barking Dalmatians who like to chase birds. Amazingly, I still get a good shot now and then.

I can tell tax season is approaching by the increasing number of envelopes that come in the mail with "Important Tax Information" printed on the outside. I seldom understand what this information means, but I put all the messages in a big manilla envelope for my accountant anyway. Since it was a holiday yesterday, quite a few things came in the mail today, including another package from Klout. This time it was a poster autographed by the cast of a TV show I had never even heard of and definitely never watched. I could understand getting the dog blanket. I write about dogs all the time. This poster was a mystery though. Why they thought I should have this, I'll never know.

Either I'm getting more work than I had last year, or I'm just getting slower at completing assignments. I can never seem to get caught up anymore. Just when I think I'm getting close to catching up, more things for me to do arrive in my in-box. I guess it's good to be busy, but I really don't have time to do anything new anymore. I get up in the morning, walk the dogs, fix breakfast, take a shower, write and update websites, walk and feed the dogs again, eat dinner, write the blog and go to sleep. This routine almost never changes.

Maybe if I was smarter with my investments, I wouldn't have to work so hard. The Dow briefly hit 13,000 today. It's been a long time since the market was this high. Sadly, I have less money than the last time the Dow hit 13,000. This is counter-intuitive, but I bet a lot of other folks are in exactly the same situation. I would have been better off if I had quit looking at my brokerage statements for the past three years, and instead of trying to course correct, did absolutely nothing instead. During the big financial crash of 1978, I did absolutely nothing. I just quit looking at my statements and ignored the market. Eventually, the market rebounded and I did just fine. It's hard to ignore the market when everyone around you is saying the sky is falling however. This time, I listened to my friends and my broker and tried to outwit the market. Bad move! I would have been much better off today if I had just ignored the big crash three years ago. Markets eventually rebound. It just takes a while.

Lizzy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 797 - President's Day

What a busy day! Janet and I picked up Odie this morning. Odie is what is called an owner surrender in animal rescue circles. He wasn't running stray or lost. His owner just didn't want him anymore. I can never understand why so many people just turn their backs on their pets like this. We see cases like this again and again. Often someone has lost their job, is involved in a messy divorce, or is moving to another part of the country. There is always a reason for dumping the dog, but these reasons never make a lot of sense to me. I think when times are tough is exactly when you'd need a dog the most. Dogs never criticize when you get yourself into a mess. They're just as loyal when you screw up as when you are doing great. If things were going poorly for me, I'd never want to give up my dogs. I'd eat dog food myself before I'd abandon a dog.

Our job this morning was to take Odie from his former owner and deliver him to the Dalmatian Rescue vet. The vet was closed for lunch when we picked him up however, so we brought the dog over to our house for a while. Odie, the new guy, seemed much more well adjusted than our own dogs. Territorial Dot barked at Odie and timid Dash was scared of the big guy's size. To calm the waters, we took all the dogs on a walk together. Cesar Millan says the best way to introduce dogs to each other is to take them on a walk together. This tactic has certainly proved to be true in our own experience. At the end of the walk, all three dogs were getting along fine.

President's Day certainly wasn't much of a holiday. In theory, Janet got the day off, but she had to go back to work anyway after we took Odie to the vet. I never get holidays, or maybe everyday is a holiday. I can never decide. I did have plenty of work to do today however. Once Odie was safely at the vet, I went back to the business of writing articles and updating websites. Even with all the other activities going on today, I seemed to get as much done as I usually do.

Tomorrow, Dash goes back to the vet for his bi-weekly antigen shot. Our mail carrier will start delivering the mail again and hopefully it won't rain. I'm actually looking forward to a boring, uneventful day.

Odie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 796

We spent most of the day at the Krewe of Barkus Mardi Gras parade in McKinney, Texas. McKinney is one of those beautiful small towns with a town square that has a courthouse in the middle. Most of the shops in the historic town square have been converted into chic restaurants and antique stores, but visiting this town still brings back memories of the town I grew up in. This is what America used to look like. It's kind of sad that towns like McKinney survive by turning themselves into architectural theme parks, but what are you going to do? The industries that used to keep towns like these thriving all across America left long ago. I have a feeling that places like McKinney will become thriving retirement communities. When you think about growing old in a quaint little town like this or a crime ridden city like Dallas, the choice is pretty clear.

Dalmatian Rescue has been coming to this Mardi Gras parade for three or four years now. I don't think the dogs understand the tradition of pre-Lent reveling, but they do seem to enjoy being outdoors and getting to see lots of other dogs. Dot seems to enjoy being in charge of the Dalmatian Rescue booth. As soon as we get the tent set up and are ready for business, there she is, standing tall at our table and greeting visitors. People seem to love seeing Dot take charge this way. She's a bossy girl, but she can be quite charming.

Dash was a hit during the parade. As the procession wound its way around the town square, Dash barked continually at everything he saw. He was wearing a Texas Rangers baseball costume and the crowd would yell "Go Rangers" as we passed. He seemed to enjoy the attention, especially when an endless stream of little kids came up to pet him at our booth. Both dogs were tired at the end of the afternoon and slept on the way home. We didn't hear a peep out of Dash during the entire long ride back to Dallas. Our strange boy is finally starting to mature.

Tomorrow is President's Day. This holiday has become so vague that I can't even remember which president's we are honoring anymore. Janet gets the day off, but I still have to work. I was hoping to get a little writing done today, but the day went by too quickly. Hey, I can write any day of the week. It was nice to get out in the sun today and enjoy a little taste of an early Spring. Tomorrow, I may need to forgo the pleasant weather. I'm behind on everything.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 795

Today was a day only a duck could love. It rained and rained and rained. In fact, it's still raining. You guys probably know how I feel about rain by now. Janet wanted to give the dogs a bath because of the big Mardi Gras parade tomorrow. It was hopeless keeping them clean though. It was equally hopeless trying to keep the water off the roof. I went up twice today to sweep away the standing water and both efforts were futile. Within thirty minutes, the roof looked like a stock pond again. I'm surprised there were no ducks swimming around on the roof. There was certainly enough water for them. The rain will eventually stop, but until it does, I've resigned myself to cleaning up the dripping spots inside. Hopefully, the rain clouds will move on to the East tonight. This certainly isn't the best weather for a parade.

I connected the new shock mount I got yesterday to the microphone I got 25 years ago and everything screwed together perfectly. I was absolutely amazed. How many products stay exactly the same for 25 years? Not very many! the microphone was so old it said "Made in Western Germany" while the shock mount just said made in Germany. Despite the age difference, not a single dimension had changed. Best of all, the old mic is even more desirable today than it was then.

I like products like this. That's why I like my Defender 90 so much. The car has remained essentially unchanged for decades. Back when photographers still used film, I loved shooting with a Leica. There were no batteries. No real frills at all. It was just a precision tool that took great pictures and remained essentially unchanged for over thirty years.

A lot of people worship change these days, but not me. I'm irritated that my computer is continually out of date. I was happy enough with the computer I had ten years ago. It did everything I needed. It might not have been fast by today's standards, but it certainly seemed fast at the time. You couldn't give this ten year old computer away now. Nobody would want it. People collect old watches, old cars, and old cameras, but old computers are destined to become land fill.

When we took the dogs for a bath today, we discovered that the place is moving. The landlord had doubled the rent for the building and the owners are being forced to move elsewhere. What a shame. This place is so convenient that I can walk the dogs over to give them a bath. Once again I am reminded that change is not always for the better.

I do hope the weather changes soon though. We'll be going to the Krewe of Barkus parade whatever happens, and it would be so much nicer for everyone if the weather is cooperative.

Bailey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 794

I went out for breakfast again this morning. On one side of me were two old ladies who kept taking the cash out of their purses and counting it over and over again for the duration of their meal. I don't know whether they were trying to calculate their tip or were worried that they didn't have enough to pay for their eggs. On the other side of me was a young couple wearing Doc Martins and festooned with tattoos. The shabby way these two were dressed, you could have sworn they lived in a trailer park. I knew better though. They were probably just advertising creative people. She was carrying a $1500 Coach purse and he had a pair of Porsche Design sunglasses perched on the top of his head.

I was trying to explain Klout to Janet recently. "It's this new website that sends you free stuff, based on how popular they think you are on the Internet," I told her. "If you're really popular, you might get free airline tickets or even a cruise. If you're like me, you'll get this grey dog blanket that came in the mail today." Hey, I'm not complaining though. Dot and Dash can always use a new dog blanket to go with the 27 others they already have.

Along with the grey Klout dog blanket, I also received a shock mount in the mail for a microphone I bought over 25 years ago. Why did I wait twenty five years to get a shock mount for this particular microphone? Lord only knows. Twenty five years ago, I was a serious songwriter. I wrote a new song every couple of days and was even considering moving to Nashville. I wonder what happened? Today, I'm just a guy who likes to get stuff in the mail.

I spent most of the day writing watch articles. My watch client has started a new marketing push that will keep me busy until the middle of March. I really need to check the Guinness Book of Records and see if this category has been covered. I can't imagine anybody writing more watch articles in a single year than I have.

Janet is finishing up costumes for the dogs to wear at the big Mardi Gras parade on Sunday. I think Dot is going as Miss America and Dash as a baseball player. Why? You'll have to ask the dogs about that.

Lexi is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 793

Why do software updates come so frequently now? I just installed Lion on my computer a few weeks ago and I'm already getting e-mails about the impending release of the next Apple OS, strangely named Mountain Lion. I'm assuming that this breed of Lion is different than the Lion I already have and will cause me just as many problems when I eventually decide to upgrade. I'm having the same problem with the Avid Media Composer software I recently started using. I literally just finished installing version 6.0 of Media Composer when I get an e-mail saying that version 6.01 is here and that it is an essential upgrade. Avid never makes it easy to upgrade either. You usually have to completely uninstall the previous version of the software and start over from scratch. Sometimes you even have to re-register the upgrade.

I just don't get the necessity for all these upgrades. Most people, including myself, don't even fully learn the old software before it's time to trade up to something new. Personally, I was happy enough with Photoshop 6.0 and would still be using it if my clients hadn't shamed me into upgrading to CS5. I'm sure it's better, but after years of use, I still hadn't learned all the secrets of Photoshop 6 and 7.

As recently as five years ago, I would have been knee deep in annual report writing by mid February. New annual report jobs awarded so far this year? Zero. That's not good. Writing annual reports used to be a good source of income for me. It was a good source of income for a lot of photographers and designers I know as well. Somehow it has totally fallen out of fashion for companies to produce elaborate annual reports these days. I guess they don't want shareholders to think they are being wasteful. The old style reports were a bit expensive, often having a unit cost as high as $5 each, but they kept a lot of small businesses like mine alive during the Winter and early Spring. Jeez! What's a boy to do when companies of all sizes just staple a cover to their 10-K Form and call it an annual report? There's nothing to write anymore.

I think I'll go out for breakfast again tomorrow. It's a sign of just how boring and predictible my life has become when I start looking forward to a waffle in a restaurant once a week.

Joshua is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 792

It was a busy day. I methodically moved from one thing to the next and by the end of the day I had accomplished a lot more than I thought I would. I used to have at least one day a week where I would work in the yard or tackle some household repair project. These days, I can't seem to get away from the computer. Between the website updates, the writing assignments, and the seemingly futile efforts to get my Klout score above 50, there just isn't any extra time. I've settled into a routine that starts with the dogs and ends with the blogs. I guess I'm glad I've gotten playing in a band and having gallery shows out of my system, because I really don't know where I'd find the time for these activities anymore.

Even with too much on my plate already, I still keep adding more things to my daily routine. I'm actually glad I added daily photographs to my list, even though it makes the walks with Dot and Dash a bit longer and more difficult. I've taken more photographs in the past month than I typically take in a year. I'm developing a whole new style of shooting as well. If you don't think it's difficult to take nature photographs while holding two very strong and rambunctious Dalmatians on a leash, just try it sometime. I've learned to quickly wrap the leashes around my foot when I see something interesting, so I can steady the camera better. I've also learned to start shooting as I approach something, because if I wait for the perfect vantage point, the dogs will invariably scare the critters away. Thinking quickly and shooting fast isn't usually the way I approach photography, but this run and gun style has actually improved my eye. I'm starting to see things I never noticed before.

I wish I could figure a way to do my writing assignments as fast as I do my photography now. I don't think it's going to happen though. Writing has always been a slow, methodical process for me. I write a sentence, take a sip of coffee, change a word or two in the previous sentence and then move on to the next sentence. I have to concentrate more when I write as well. When I'm working in Photoshop, it's fine to listen to music, but I never listen to music when I write. It destroys my concentration.

I don't think music affects the dogs one way or the other. What destroys their concentration are other dogs. At training class tonight, there was a young pit bull in the beginners class that would snap and growl at any dog that came anywhere near it. Even though we were in a completely different class, this behavior put all the dogs in our class on edge. They knew exactly what was going on.

Even though it was sunny most of the day, it must have rained again last night. There's water up on the roof again. I didn't have time to get up there today, but it's first on my list for tomorrow. Water leaks are kind of like death and taxes. You can ignore them, but you can't make them go away.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 791 - Valentine's Day

You could tell that I didn't have much going on today. Once again, I waited forever in an impossibly long Valentine's Day line for some seriously overpriced cupcakes. Yup. I went to Sprinkles. I'm not complaining though. I really like these cupcakes. Sprinkles is a way to be genuinely indulgent without actually spending all that much money. Hey, you don't have to go out and buy a Porsche 911 or a Cartier Santos watch. Just go pick up half a dozen cupcakes at Sprinkles.

Texas weather keeps confusing me. This morning I wore a down jacket while I walked the dogs. By the afternoon, it had warmed up so much that didn't need a coat at all. It was practically T-shirt weather this afternoon. I hope the warm spell lasts through the weekend. We have a big outdoor Dalmatian Rescue event this weekend. It's an annual Mardi Gras pet parade and you never know what to expect because the date for Mardi Gras changes every year. This year it's a bit earlier than usual, but if this nice weather continues, everything will be fine.

I'm watching Westminster Dog Show as I write this. This year a Dalmatian actually made it to the finals for the best of show competition. Amazing. Dalmatians never seem to win this show. I can't even remember the last time a Dalmatian won the Westminster. Maybe this will be their lucky year though. As soon as I post this, I'm going to go root for the Dalmatian in the best of show competition.

The Sprinkles cupcakes were delicious. Especially with a glass of champagne. Valentine's Day is a weird little holiday. Nobody ever gets off work for Valentine's Day and yet it's quite important for many people. It's kind of like Halloween. Merchants love this day, even though nobody gets the day off. I think we should get off work on Halloween and Valentine's Day and just forget about President's Day. Who even cares about President's Day?

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 790

I'm still thinking about the Grammy's from last night. I didn't even realize that Glen Campbell had Alzheimer's until Taylor Swift announced it on the show. Such a long time. I remember years ago that my ex-wife once played the cello in the string section of his touring band. I briefly met Brian Wilson once at a book signing. At that point in his life, he was a mess. I never dreamed that he would ever be back on stage with the Beach Boys again. I never thought that I'd see a big chunk of the Beatles Abby Road album performed live on TV either. Especially not with Paul McCartney jamming on stage with Bruce Springsteen and Joe Walsh. I don't spend much time watching TV at all, but I love this kind of stuff.

It's bird identification time again. I saw what I think is a large hawk on our evening walk today, but I'm not exactly sure what kind of hawk it is. There are actually quite a few varieties of hawks and falcons in the area. I wish I could have gotten closer to get a better picture, but these birds don't let you get very close unless you happen to be a rabbit or something else that's tasty to eat.

One of my favorite clients is driving me crazy. They love to barter and make deals. I don't know how to tell them that I'm Swedish, not Middle Eastern. The bartering gene just isn't in my DNA. Sometimes I'm amazed that my little company has done as well as it has. I don't like to make deals. I'm not very competitive. And I absolutely hate dog and pony shows. Hey, Just give me some work to do. Pay me fairly. And leave me alone. That's all I ask.

It was still very cold and wet today. That meant I spent a lot of time sweeping standing water off of the roof and cleaning mud off of the dogs every time they came inside. I did manage to get some work done, but it was kind of accidental while I was waiting for wet clothing to dry.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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