Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 867

My inability to multitask is getting frustrating. I have so many unfinished projects right now, and what I'd really like to do is methodically finish each of them one at a time. I can't do that though. Most of my clients wouldn't react very favorably if I left a message on my answering machine that said, "I'm landscaping the back yard. Please call me back in a week and a half." That's what I'd like to do though. I'd finish the yard first, because with one patch of grass that needs to be watered everyday and an adjacent patch of tilled dirt that turns to mud every time I turn the sprinklers on, it's getting harder and harder to keep the dogs clean. Dot races through the mud every time I let her outside, and then I've got to clean her paws before I let her in again. This sequence of events happens many times each day and it's already getting a little old.

I'd finish moving the storage warehouse stuff next. This is important because I can't put anything new in the storage space until I get things organized and on shelves again. The whole point of the new storage space was to have enough room so that I could start clearing necessary, but infrequently used stuff out of the office. So far, things are still piling up in the office.

Only after these two important tasks were complete would I start working on client projects. Unfortunately, the way things work in the real world, I find myself doing exactly the opposite. I spend most of my day writing and coding websites, just like I always do. The moving and landscaping tasks get relegated to leftover time. I'm sure the back yard makeover will eventually be finished. I'm equally sure that the rental property will eventually be sold as well. These things won't happen fast enough for me however. I just want to get tiring these tasks behind me.

My real estate agent called today and said he'd like to photograph the rent house on Wednesday for the MLS listing. I wasn't expecting things to move so quickly, since the place is still empty and hasn't even been staged yet. Tomorrow will probably be a very busy day. I can only hope that the actual sale goes quickly as well. I still hear tales of people who had their properties on the market for two or three years with little to no interest. I don't want this to happen to me. One good thing about investing in stocks and bonds as long as I have is that I no longer have unrealistic expectations. Prices for everything go up and down. At any given time, there is always a market price for whatever you have to sell. If you want to find a buyer, you have to learn to accept this price.
Bea is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 866

I'm increasingly feeling like the captain of a sinking ship. Everything is broken. Lately, when I embark on a repair project around the house, I find myself having to repair my tools before I begin. When I retrieved the handy aluminum garden cart from the greenhouse this morning to begin installing the St. Augustine sod, I discovered that both tires were flat. No problem, I thought. I got the air compressor out of the utility shed and began pumping them up. Neither tire would hold air. The rubber was so dry and brittle that the tires wouldn't make an airtight seal around the rim. Oh, well. I tried. While I had the air compressor out, I decided to check the tires on the Defender. One rear tire was inflated to 40 PSI, while the other was only inflated to 17 PSI. I could understand the low, leaky tire, but how did the other tire get more air in it? A mystery for sure. I never inflate tires to more than 32 PSI.

After two trips to the grass store and many more trips transferring the grass sod from my car to the back yard using my broken garden cart, I was ready to begin. Janet bought some top soil in big bags yesterday. We spread the top soil on the tilled soil to smooth it out and then put the squares of St. Augustine sod on top. The grass looks good, but after we installed all the sod I bought today, only 1/3 of the yard was actually covered. Either the yard had gotten bigger, or the squares of sod had gotten smaller. By my rough calculations, this means at least four more trips to the grass store and 100 more squares of sod before the job is complete.

Our regular Sunday trip to the dog park was the most relaxing thing we did all day. The city could stand to plant some new grass too, because the park is starting to look just as bare as our back yard. The dogs didn't seem to mind the lack of grass. There seems to be an unwritten rule among dogs that the dirtier you are, the more status you have. All the dogs in the park today seemed perfectly content digging holes and rolling around in the dust.

It's hard to believe that it's almost May already. April just zipped by. With tax season out of the way and a real estate agent trying to sell my rent property, there is nowhere to go but up. Hey, I may even try to make some new business calls next week.  That would be a first for a year that is now almost half over.

Parker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 865

Getting the rototiller going this afternoon wore me out. For starters, gas engines that haven't been used in four years don't like to start. I must have pulled the starter cord a hundred times before I got any type of combustion. Once I got the tiller to start, it refused to stay running. Finally, after the engine had warmed up and the lines had been cleared, I got the raucous two-cycle noise I was looking for. Once I actually started tilling the soil, I wondered why I even bothered. It was like tilling an asphalt parking lot. The ground was so hard that the tiller would bounce a foot in the air when it hit a particularly hard spot. The machine was vibrating so badly that my right hand kept bumping into the kill switch and stopping the engine. I thought about duct taping the kill switch open, but I was getting tired and I knew that if the tiller got away from me, there could be some serious damage.

Somehow, I remember that tilling the soil used to seem a lot easier. Today I had trouble even getting gas into the tiller. It used to be that filling your gas powered yard tools was as simple as putting a spout on your gas can and pouring until the tank was full.  Now, with all the child proof safety features on modern gas containers, you practically have to read an instruction manual to figure out how to get the gas to flow. I sprained my thumb trying to get one of the child proof latches to open and I don't even have children. After all my efforts, I will admit that the back yard no longer looks like an asphalt parking lot. It looks like a field of boulders instead. Dash certainly likes the new look. As soon as I let the dogs out to inspect things, Dash immediately started digging holes in the newly loosened earth.

The only easy thing I did today was finish writing my April writer's group assignment. I wish that real life was as easy as doing things on the computer. Sure computers crash from time to time, but they seldom make you sweat or cause you to sprain an ankle. I wish that cleaning the house was as easy as defragmenting my hard drive. Just hit the start button and wait till it's finished. That would be nice.

The worst thing about getting ready to plant grass is that I've still got to go buy the grass and actually plant it. St. Augustine sod is heavy, because each square consists of a tiny surface of light grass attached to a base of heavy clay. The grass people say that this clay will dissolve and disappear as soon as the roots get established. The clay actually never disappears. It turns into a rock hard layer that practically has to be dynamited if you ever want to plant grass again.

We'll try to go to the dog park early tomorrow. If we waited until we finished planting the grass, I'd be too tired to go to the dog park. I'm sure Dot and Dash will enjoy having a green yard again. For a while they'll be able to sun themselves without turning into little dust balls. Then, the inevitable will happen. They'll race around and tear the grass up again and we'll be right back where we started.

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

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 864

Jeez, I lost two blog followers today. Is my life really that unexciting? Hang in there guys. Something interesting will happen sooner or later. I don't think today is the day, however. Virtually nothing happened today. Even my diversionary restaurant breakfast seemed dull this morning.

At least I'm making progress with the storage warehouse. There is a lot more stuff in the new space now than remains in the old space. One or two more visits and I'll have everything moved. Once everything is organized, I should have a lot of extra room available and I can start clearing out some of the clutter in my office. I really need new carpets in the office, but there has always been so much gear and clutter on the floors that it would take forever to get ready for the carpet installers. Maybe I'll have new carpets by the end of the year.

I got an e-mail to take something off one of my websites this morning. As soon as I took it off, I got another e-mail telling me put the removed item back again. The confusion was all over the word may. When I got a message saying the picture may come down, I took it down. I was thinking that may meant the same thing as can. What the client really meant was that it may come down at some point in the future. She was thinking that may meant the same thing as might. Language can be confusing.

I've been hoping that I'd get asked to provide blogging coverage again at the big oil and gas conference in Houston next week. I did this last year and it was one of the better jobs I had all year. It doesn't look very auspicious this year however. The conference starts in three days and I still haven't received any response from my client. I think it's a pretty safe bet that the answer is no this year.

It's still up in the air whether the new grass gets installed this weekend. I went out and bought a gasoline container and the two cycle oil for the tiller, but I haven't tried to start it yet. If the tiller starts tomorrow morning, I'll prepare the soil and go buy some St. Augustine sod so we can get started. I wish the sod wasn't so heavy. That's all I remember from last year. The squares of sod were a lot heavier than I though. It was a lot of work carrying a full carload of sod from the driveway to the back yard. Oh, the tires on my garden cart are flat too. Time to find the air compressor again.

Bowser is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 863

It's a shame that allergy season coincides with the nicest weather we have all year in Texas. The temperature is perfect, but I can't go outside for more than ten minutes before my eyes are burning and my nose is dripping like a faucet. I have to carry a pack of Kleenex wherever I go and my nose is starting to look like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. The seasonal grass seed allergies that bother me the most usually subside by late June, but by then Summer has arrived and it's too hot to spend much time outside anyway. I used to live in Seattle where it rained continually. I think I prefer the rain to this hodgepodge of dust storms, tornadoes, droughts, and wind blown pollen that we have here. Of course I didn't own a house with a flat roof that leaks all the time when I lived in Seattle. I probably wouldn't think so fondly of the place with memories of a leaky roof.

I got the second of three large shelves disassembled and moved over to the larger storage space today. I'm glad now that I kept both storage rooms rented for the entire month. I never could have moved everything in a single day. I've been down to the storage warehouse at least five times now and I've still only gotten about 2/3 of the stuff moved. This little project is turning out to be hard work. I should just throw away stuff I don't need as I go, but I don't have time to think about which things are keepers or not, so everything gets moved. I'll have plenty of time later to throw away all the old computers, scanners, and printers from the 1980's later.

Janet wants to plant the new grass this weekend. That means I'll need to till the soil tomorrow. I'm fairly sure the little tiller I keep in the greenhouse won't start using the two year old container of gas I keep for the lawnmower I no longer use. That gas wouldn't work anyway, since the tiller uses a gas and oil mixture like you use for a chain saw. I'll need to go to Home Depot and buy a little gas can and some of that two stroke oil you mix in with it. Finding all this stuff will take longer than actually tilling the soil. Hopefully, the tiller will start after I've found the proper fuel for it, or I've really wasted a lot of time.

I never have enough time anymore. I had to go to a planning meeting for one of the animal rescue groups I work with this evening and didn't have time to eat dinner until I got home. Hmm. Do I fix myself a nice dinner, or do I write this blog? I heated up a pizza that was in the freezer because the box said it would cook in 11 minutes.
Brady is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 862

I finally got all the new orphans added to the rescue site I've been working on for the past several days. I wanted to get things finished before the backlog of animals became an issue at the board meeting we're having tomorrow. I have a sneaking feeling that when I go to the meeting, I'll discover that there are dozens of other animals that still need to go on the website.

I found enough time this afternoon to disassemble one of the big shelves and move it over to my larger storage space. With the shelf in place, I can now start clearing away some of the clutter that has accumulated on the floor of the new room and hopefully begin to realize some of the benefits of the additional real estate I now have. I need to ask my accountant how long I need to keep financial records and receipts. I didn't realize I had so many records. If I can get rid of some of this obsessive record keeping, I'll have more room for obsolete electronic equipment.

I'm going to have to come up with a new route for our daily dog walks. The poison ivy is everywhere this Spring. There are entire fields of the stuff. Luckily, Dot and Dash haven't walked through a big patch of poison ivy yet, but it will happen sooner or later. As soon as the oil from the plants gets on the dog's fur, I break out in a rash. I don't think there's been a single Summer in the last ten years when I didn't catch a case of poison ivy. You'd think I'd build up an immunity to the stuff after all this time, but I think the opposite has happened. It seems like I've actually become more sensitive to poison ivy lately.

It's finally become warm enough that I don't need to wear a coat to our Wednesday evening dog training class anymore. At first glance this is a good thing, but I no longer have a convenient pocket for the treats I take to reward Dash when he does something good. If I just put the treats in a pants pocket, Dash smells them and spends the entire evening trying to stick his nose in my pocket. I guess I could put the treats in a fanny pack, but I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a fanny pack. I'm certainly not at my sartorial best during dog class, but I do draw the line at fanny packs.
Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 861

Dash had his annual exam today. This exam is pretty much the same as my own annual physical, except that I don't get a rabies shot. Dash actually seems to be getting healthier as he gets older. His heart murmur has almost disappeared. His eye infection has cleared up. His coat is thick and healthy looking, which is amazing considering how bad his skin allergies were just several years ago. I was really pleased today that I got the vet to agree to trying to wean him off the phenobarbital he's been taking for almost four years now. He has never had another seizure, so I'd really like to see how he does without the barbiturates. Phenobarbital is very effective at controlling seizures, but it can have its own bad side effects if taken for a lifetime. I wish I could get my own doctor to reduce the amount of drugs I'm taking as well, but that's going to be a much tougher sell. Pharmaceuticals rule these days.

I had the best of intentions to return to the storage warehouse and continue moving things today, but I never managed to complete all my work assignments. I'm still trying to get all the animals updated on the rescue site I'm behind on. Now that Facebook and Twitter are so popular, people seem to think that the website modifications I make are just as easy as posting a status update on Facebook. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Designing nice looking rollover buttons and writing Javascript code takes me just as much time as it did ten years ago. I'll get caught up eventually though. I always do.

I signed up for an Adobe seminar a few weeks ago that sounded interesting. Unfortunately, when the time arrived for me to drive downtown to the appointed location this afternoon, I just couldn't bring myself to get in the car. This was one of those seminars disguised as a cocktail party and it began about the same time as rush hour traffic usually starts in Dallas. I guess this thing was designed for downtown ad agency people to attend on their way home from work. It wasn't for me though. Maybe I would have learned something new about Photoshop, but the knowledge wasn't worth fighting the drive time traffic. I much prefer seminars that start at 2 PM. Learning something when people are off the roads is much more enjoyable.

It got up to over 80 degrees this afternoon. It's almost time to start wearing shorts and sandals again. I don't really like the way I look in shorts, but once the temperature reaches a certain level, it's hard to care about appearances anymore. Dallas Summers are about comfort, any way you can achieve it.
Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 860

I resumed moving things over to the new storage warehouse today. I finally managed to completely clear off one of the large shelves in the smaller storage unit and was preparing to move the shelf itself when I realized that it wouldn't fit through the door. How could I have forgotten that I had assembled each of these shelves in place to take maximum advantage of the space available? Damn! To get the shelves over to the new location, I will need to completely disassemble each of them and then put them all back together again in the new space. This is turning into a lot more work than I had anticipated. So far, I have only emptied out half the contents of the old space. The new larger space already seems full, since nothing is stacked on tall shelves yet. As I'm starting to rediscover what I've been storing all these years, I'm having second thoughts about the whole endevour. A lot of this stuff is worthless.

Sure, I've discovered some useful stuff. I've discovered some valuable stuff. I've even discovered some very rare stuff. The trouble is that the time for all this stuff has passed. What do you do with a 5 GB hard drive that's the size of a shoe box these days?  What do you do with an electric typewriter, or even worse, a manual one? If I hired somebody to inventory all this stuff and then systematically sell it on eBay it would cost me more than the stuff is worth. On the other hand, if I try to sort through everything myself, I probably won't live long enough to make sense of it all. I'm in over my head here.

When I wasn't lugging stuff from one storage unit to another, I was updating various animal rescue websites.The Dalmatian Rescue updates went quickly, but the other rescue group was another story entirely. I used to get new animals to list from these guys once a week. Now I get one big list once a month. There are so many animals that I typically can't get all the new pages coded before some of the animals get adopted and immediately have to come down again. It's a quixotic task. Nevertheless, I thought today would be a good day to get started, mostly because the rest of my clients are mired in status meetings on Monday's . Tomorrow, I probably won't have time to work on the rescue sites.

I told the real estate agent that I was ready to list the rent property, but evidently there's still a lot that needs to be done before the sign goes out front. When I bought the place, I just looked at it empty and decided I liked it. Today, properties need to be staged. This means that furniture and artwork is brought in to make the place looked lived in, even though it is empty. I can imagine what an empty place would look like with furniture, but apparently a lot of people can't. When the staging furniture is in place, a photographer comes out and takes pictures for the MLS website and the game begins. I told the agent that I was a professional photographer and was once an architect. He still preferred to use his own photographer. Whatever! I'm just going to go with the flow on this one.
Wyatt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 859

The Casino Party went well last night. Sometimes we get a crowd that seems very reticent about gambling. They'll bet one chip at a time and seem to forget that they're gambling with play money. Last night's crowd wasn't like this. They bet with wild abandon, filling the entire board with huge piles of chips. Everybody seemed to be having fun. We didn't get home until well after midnight, but the time goes quickly with a good crowd like this.

I can't say that today was all that fun. The weather was beautiful, but I spent most of the day working. After taking Dot and Dash to the dog park this morning, I went down to the rent property and spent the afternoon trying to get the place cleaned up enough to put it on the market. The inside was clean already, but the windows needed washing and the patio area was full of leaves from last Winter.

The place looks pretty nice now. To get things looking even better, I would have to start spending some serious money for things that might not mean much to a potential buyer anyway. With any luck, I'll sign a contract with the real estate agent and have the place on the market next week.  I guess I am what you would call a motivated seller. I really don't want to be a landlord anymore.

Big sections of the park where I walk the dogs are native prairie. In the Spring these grasslands are filled with wildflowers. In the Winter, I'm the only photographer in the park, but this time of year I share the space with hundreds of other shutterbugs. We saw a ton of people with cameras today wading through the tall grass to take macro shots of flowers. I felt like telling these people that they were walking through areas filled with snakes and poison ivy, but I guess they'll figure things out for themselves soon enough.

I saw lots of people lounging around today. Several people hung hammocks between trees in the park. When I went downtown to clean the rent house, I saw tons of people having cocktails at sidewalk cafes. I wish my clients would do a little more lounging. They tend to send me work on Sundays. The last thing I wanted today was more work. I'm tired. I'd like to do a little lounging myself.
Mindy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 858

What a busy weekend it's going to be. After breakfast this morning, we met some other volunteers to set up the gaming tables for tonight's Casino Party fundraiser. Since Dalmatian Rescue hasn't done one of these events in a while, I'd forgotten how heavy the tables are. Actually, the tables seem to get heavier with each passing year. Luckily, we still have enough volunteers to lug everything around to events. Casino Parties have been a good source of revenue for the group over the years.

I went over to my storage warehouse after we set up the tables to dispute a recent bill. They had charged me twice last month. I took my credit card statement to show them the mistake and all they did was show me their own records showing that I had only been charged once. "But it's right here on my bill," I said. "Two charges on the same day from you guys that are identical to the penny." "We'll look into it," was all the manager said.  Things like this are happening with increasing frequency. I used to get one mistake on my credit card bill every five years. Now I get them virtually every month. I think people just don't care anymore. They just run whatever you're buying under the scanner that reads the bar code and they're done. Same thing for running your card through the credit card reader. I remember running my card through twice at the storage warehouse last month, because the manager said my first try didn't go through. Obviously, it did go through since two transactions made within minutes of each other are on my bill.

This is once of the things I hate about modern life.  You car gets repaired wrong. Your mail gets delivered to the wrong house. Erroneous charges wind up on your credit card bills, and still nobody really cares. When you talk to someone about all these annoying little problems, you can tell they wish you would just go away. Nobody wants to deal with your little problems, because they're tired, want to go home, and all have bigger problems of their own to deal with.

When I took Dot and Dash on their evening walk, crews were still disassembling all the tents, banners and porta-potties from this mornings big March of Dimes race in the park. These charity runs and walk-a-thons have become big business. I'm amazed at how complex it has become to stage one of these events. Even though the charities that have these large fundraisers are non-profits, there are a ton of small businesses that actually do make a profit from helping the event run smoothly. That's one thing about Dalmatian Rescue. Our charity events are simple. Just a few volunteers trying to save one dog at a time.
Joe is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 857

I returned to the trendy restaurant this morning to see what their breakfast was like. When I arrived around 10:30 AM, the place was virtually empty because all the cool people were already at work. The cool food was still being served however, so everything was fine with me. I ordered eggs over easy, served on a bed of succulent pulled pork with home-made hash browns. The eggs were just right; not too runny and not too hard. The music was just right too. No old Eagles tunes transformed into elevator music here. The soundtrack of my breakfast sounded like I was at at a pleasant Sixth Street bar in Austin. Even the coffee met with my approval. I certainly didn't get freshly made French Press at my regular breakfast restaurant. I'll definitely go back to this place again. It's not often that you get to enjoy a genuinely cool restaurant without all the irritating cool people.

On the way home it rained just enough to force me up on the roof with the push broom again. I wish there was something useful to do with all the water that accumulates on the roof. This water didn't even look drinkable though. The green flowers that form as the Oak trees are budding had all fallen to the roof and stained the water a dirty yellow green. It looked like a giant had peed on the roof.

Jeez, I just noticed that Blogger has changed its layout again. As I'm composing this, I'm noticing that all the buttons and widgets are in different places. Why?  It's not that different. Just different enough to slow me down a bit. Google+ did the same thing with their layout a few seeks ago, and the whole desire to freshen everything up was probably started when Facebook switched to their new timeline format. It's almost like the entire population has ADD with the attention span of a fruit fly. If all these new formats were better, it might actually mean something. They aren't better though. They're just different. I guess I'm not easily bored. I haven't changed my company website in over ten years. I may never change it.

Dalmatian Rescue has another casino party benefit this weekend. We haven't had one of these events for quite a while now. It's a good thing my job is easy or I would have forgotten it by now. I just spin the roulette wheel. You throw the ball in a counterclockwise direction while spinning the wheel clockwise. That's it. If only my real job was that easy.
Wilson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 856

Slip sliding away. That's the way I'm feeling these days. Every week, checks for $200 or $300 dribble in, along with bills for several thousand dollars. I wonder how long you can sustain this kind of impossible math.

Luckily, I had some very good years. I don't think those days will return however. The world has fundamentally changed. I listen to all the politicians promising jobs if you'll elect them and I wonder what on earth they are thinking. You can't promise jobs in a global economy. If someone in China or India can do the job for 1/3 of what I would charge, they're going to get the job. End of story. To survive in this brave new world, you have to lower your prices to stay competitive and hope that a larger audience for your products or services will make up the difference. This strategy might work well for Coca Cola and McDonald's, but it certainly doesn't help me much. I just end up working longer and harder for less money.

It doesn't help much to fret about such things though. Once the metaphorical Pandora's Box has been opened, it can never be closed again. In an increasingly interconnected world, great economies are trying their best to equalize. It's like those science experiments in high school chemistry class where liquid in two connected containers always stayed at the same level. My economy is getting worse. Yours may be getting better. Maybe in three or four generations, everything will be wonderful, but it's not a pretty sight now.

At least I still have things to do as I slowly get poorer. I worked on some websites today. I sent out invoices like notes in a bottle and continued writing articles. The dogs did their part to keep the leaky ship afloat. They chased squirrels in the backyard.

I asked the real estate agent today why he wanted to price my rent house so low, especially when there were similar properties for sale in the same neighborhood at considerably higher prices. "Look at how long those houses have been on the market," he told me. "When a house has been on the market for 400 days, the seller just hasn't come to grips with reality yet."

I'm sure the agent is right. It's no fun to come to grips with reality. Reality can be downright depressing. That's why I'm going to try the trendy restaurant my advertising friends like for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe they'll have a great breakfast that will perk up my entire day. Maybe if I continue going to this place, it will become "my" trendy restaurant. Stranger things have happened.

Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 855

I had lunch today with Alan and Dick, two old friends from my ad agency days. The phrase "old friends" used to just be a figure of speech with me. Now, it quite literally means old friends. My friends and I used to talk about who had the fastest car, or the most exciting job. Now, we talk about who has had the most complicated medical procedure. Alan wanted to go to a trendy new restaurant in the neighborhood. I seldom go to trendy new restaurants because it's hard to find a parking place and I don't feel comfortable dressing shabbily. I'd hate to run into someone I know looking as ratty as I usually do.

Every once in a while, its worth looking presentable and fighting for a parking place though. Today, I caught up on several year's worth of gossip, and as a bonus, got to bitch and moan with two like minded friends about how the ad business has basically gone to hell in a hand basket. I don't think the young pierced and tattooed ad folks sitting at nearby tables even realize how much more fun their jobs would be if they had been born twenty years earlier. Every time I see that show "Mad Men," I realize I was right there in the middle of it all.

Alan and Dick both do yoga. When they asked how I stay in shape, I told them that I walked dogs. I was in just as good shape as the two of them, so there's a lot to be said for walking dogs. Personally, I think walking two strong Dalmatians who have their hearts set on chasing squirrels is more challenging than anything you could dream up at a gym.

I think I'm going to go ahead and have the real estate agent I talked to yesterday list my rent property. After thinking about it overnight, I realized that I have no interest in having another renter whatsoever. The market isn't very good, but if I wait to sell until the market improves, there's a good chance that the building would disintegrate first.

The weather was beautiful for dog class this evening. Unfortunately, there was a lot of pollen in the air, so I spent the entire class wiping my eyes and blowing my nose into a shop towel. Allergy season seems even worse than usual this year, but at least I haven't caught poison ivy yet.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 854

When I met with the real estate agent this afternoon, I got a dose of reality that I wasn't expecting. I've known for some time that real estate prices are falling in Dallas, but I had no idea how far they had actually dropped. When the agent showed me a comp list of what similar properties in the area were selling for these days, I was shocked. I had actually been inside a few of the houses on the comp list and never dreamed that they would ever be priced so low. Let's just say that if I sold my house just before the market peaked, I could have made 40% more than I would probably make today. I've owned the rent property so long that I'll probably still make a small profit if I decide to sell. I understand now why there is so much talk these days about people being underwater on their mortgages. If you bought in 2005 you'd be selling at a loss today.

Hindsight is always 20/20. I would have been much better off selling the rent property years ago, rather than convincing myself that I could always sell the place later, after a succession of renters provided me with an income for a while. Like many others, I used to think that real estate would never actually fall in value. I never planned on modern houses coming back in fashion either. My place use to be a very desirable rarity for people who liked such things. Now modern houses are so commonplace in Dallas that the rent property is just another modern house without all the amenities of the newer ones.

I liked the agent though and will probably use him to list the place. I wasn't even insulted by how little he thought my place was worth. Hey, how can you not like a guy who loves Citroen automobiles and wears a vintage Hamilton Ventura watch? The guy had an encyclopedic knowledge of Dallas architects too, and said he had enough mid-century modern furniture stored away that he could stage the place without charging me anything extra.

If I haven't learned the perils of hanging on to things too long by now, I probably never will. The house isn't the only thing I should have sold a long time ago. I had a beautiful vintage Vox Mark VI guitar in the storage warehouse that got totally ruined when water leaked into the room one Summer. Some of my favorite Bulova Accutron tuning fork watches are no longer repairable because I waited too long to restore them. Now most of the Accutron repairmen are dead and the supply of spare parts is gone. Nothing lasts forever. Apparently nothing is valuable forever either. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, or so the saying goes.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 853

What is it about Monday's? I never get much done on a Monday. I actually got up earlier than usual, but by the time I got the dogs walked, ate breakfast, washed the dishes, and answered this weekend's accumulated e-mail, it was time for lunch.

I did get a couple of new assignments today, but there wasn't time to complete them, so I mowed the grass instead. I wish I'd mowed last week, or the week before. The grass was so tall and thick that it kept stalling the mower. It took me forever to mow the tiny little patch of grass that is our front yard. It's still a mystery to me why the grass in the front yard grows much faster than normal and the grass in the back yard hardly grows at all. I wish it was the other way around. The front yard faces a busy road and hardly ever gets used.

Some of you may remember that a breakfast networking group wanted me to join them last Summer. I think it was last Summer anyway. It's been a long time. At any rate, the group never actually asked me to join and I forgot about them. Now, almost a year later, they're asking me again if I'd be interested in joining them. These guys should have made me a member last year. I remember being kind of intrigued at the time. Now, the thought of getting up early once a week and putting on nice clothes for a breakfast meeting makes me want to throw up. There are only a few good reasons to get up in the morning anyway, and I don't think going to a meeting is one of them.

I lost the lens cap on my camera again when I was taking the dogs on their evening walk. When I discovered the missing cap, I wanted to retrace my steps, but the dogs didn't approve of this idea. They stood their ground and eventually we continued on home. Neither dog seems to like the idea of going backward. Once they've covered some ground, they just want to keep moving forward. After I got home with the dogs, I took the car and went back to the spot where I thought I might have dropped the cap. I'm a methodical person, so after fifteen minutes of searching, I spotted the missing lens cap and returned home again. The weird thing is that both dogs have such a great sense of smell that they could probably smell lost photo gear almost immediately if I could just train them to do it. Finding things that I dropped on our walks would probably be a lot easier than learning to be a bomb sniffing dog. I don't seem to be able to train the dogs to do anything though. After four years of training class, Dash still won't even come when he's called.

Tomorrow, I meet the real estate agent and find out how marketable my rent property is going to be. I'm going to try to keep an open mind and not let my own thoughts on the matter get in the way. I have a tendency to think everything I own is worth a lot more than it really is. Janet keeps reminding me that if I really want to sell the place, I need to forget about what I think it's worth. It's what other people think the place is worth that matters.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 852

I managed to get about a third of my stuff moved over to the new storage warehouse today. The whole process of moving is a bit like an archeological dig. Today, I uncovered the entire PA system for my old band, a high performance windsurfer that would probably get me killed if I ever took it out on open water again, and a nice old leather motorcycle jacket that somehow lasted a lot longer than the motorcycle. Another couple of weeks and I'll probably have everything moved. Then the hard part starts. I've got to decide what to throw away. Probably a lot of old Macintosh computers won't make the final cut. What good are these things anymore? They don't even make good doorstops. They say you need to keep financial records at least three years. I've got some that go back at least thirteen years. Maybe they can be tossed as well. All the cameras stay.

I watched the tribute to Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes tonight. What an amazing life that guy had. I think he met just about every person of significance that ever lived. I've met relatively few famous people in my own life. I remember having dinner with Rudee Vallee and his wife at their house near Mulholland Drive. I remember listening to Larry Storch tell me how to hypnotize a chicken. I got invited on stage once by Steppenwolf back when they were really popular. I remember eating fried chicken with Richard Petty while filming a television commercial and realizing the guy was stone deaf from all those years on the NASCAR tracks. For the most part, my life has been fairly solitary though. Sometimes I envy people like Mike Wallace. I think you learn something from every person you encounter in life. I've learned a few things, but not much lately. How much can you really learn from two Dalmatians?

The dogs didn't get to go to the dog park today because the weather was pretty marginal. Instead of racing around smelling other dogs butts, they sat under my desk at home while I built new webpages for Betsy and Bogart, our newest members of the Dalmatian Rescue Program. As the day progressed, the weather improved and by dinner time, we were able to take our regular evening walk. Dot and Dash got the exercise they needed and I got a few more pictures of birds and squirrels.

Tomorrow I need to remember to pay my First Quarter Estimated Taxes, as well as a few overdue bills. I also need to call the plumber again. I've figured out what the problem is at our house. It's just not something I can fix myself. There's always something that needs to be done. As much as I'd like to sleep in to 10 AM every morning, I don't think it will ever happen.

Krissy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 851

Today was more or less of a lost cause. I wasted an enormous amount of time this morning trying to renew my Skype accounts using Paypal. I've renewed my Skype phone number this way for several years now, but for some reason it didn't work this time. Paypal technical support, which is very good, said there was nothing wrong with my Paypal account. Skype technical support, which is terrible, ate up my morning with their silly live chat system. After explaining my problem over and over again and waiting up to five minutes for a reply in the chat window, the service representative typed that they had no idea what the problems was and they would have to "escalate" my service request. Jeez, Skype is a phone company, or at least kind of a phone company. Why can't you ever talk to someone on the phone at Skype? I guess I didn't need Skype anyway.

I was supposed to photograph two new Dalmatians today, but the weather was bad and the dogs didn't appear to be comfortable posing in a windstorm. In most of the pictures, the dogs ears were blowing backwards like they had stuck their head out the window of a car going sixty miles an hour. I think I'll have to go back and take these pictures again on a nicer day.

I think the really bad weather is North of us in Oklahoma and Kansas. All we have here is a lot of wind and some ominous looking clouds. There were a few light sprinkles while I was getting groceries, but I was still able to give the dogs their evening walk without any of us getting wet. Things don't look so good for our Sunday trip to the dog park however. Everyone says it is going to rain buckets in Dallas tomorrow.

I'm going to try to get some stuff moved to the larger storage warehouse tomorrow. I've got to get things moved before the end of the month when my contract for the smaller warehouse runs out. So far, I've moved virtually nothing. Why do I wait until the last minute for everything? If I hadn't waited until the last day before my Skype accounts expired, I probably wouldn't have had so many problems with them either.

Flash is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day