Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 898

Some days I think a robot could do my job. Other days I think I am the robot. How may days can you do the same thing over and over again before going quietly insane? I wonder about these things.

Today certainly wasn't the day to break free. I took some checks to the bank. I took some bills to the post office. I took some dogs on a walk. There was water on the roof. Dishes in the sink. And a load of dirty clothes in the washing machine. It was just an ordinary day.

My work assignment for today was doing a little Father's Day marketing for one of my clients. They want Mom and the kids to buy something expensive for Dad. Not very likely. Dads never get anything good on Father's Day. Since my birthday always fell fairly close to Father's Day, my Mom never got Dad anything at all. She claimed that I was his Father's Day gift. I think this always made my Dad mad. He would much rather have received tickets to a good basketball game, or at least a nice fishing rod.

The Spring allergy season seems to be waning. It's great not to go through an entire package of Kleenex every time I walk the dogs. The only problem is that the allergy season is always followed by the muggy season. Each day, within an hour after the rain quits, it becomes a steam-bath outdoors. During the muggy season I have to put on a new shirt every time I walk the dogs, because the shirt I was wearing is soaked. There are tons of mosquitoes during the muggy season as well. I really shouldn't complain about the weather we're having though. The muggy season is always followed by the impossibly hot season. During July and August in Texas, it feels like you are living on the surface of Mercury. I don't look forward to this heat. I don't think Dot can handle the heat anymore either. Her tongue is hanging out right now after our walks, and Summer hasn't even arrived yet.

Friday has arrived though. Almost anyway. I've taken this week's trash out to the curb for tomorrow morning's pickup and I'm already wondering what I'm going to have for breakfast on my weekly restaurant excursion. TGIF.

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 897

The day started badly, but it ended well. The dogs and I had to endure wave after wave of thunderstorms before the sun finally emerged late in the afternoon. Rainy days are not fun with Dot. She has one of the worst storm phobias I've ever seen in a dog. She shivers and shakes and looks genuinely pitiful during even the slightest rain. During a real thunderstorm, her reactions can be scary. I didn't used to worry about Dot's antics, but now that she's had a seizure, I'm afraid that the panic attacks might trigger another seizure.

We did OK today though. We even managed to squeeze a short walk in between downpours. The real-time weather radar app on my iPhone is incredibly useful on days like this. Even on soggy days like today, I'm usually able to find little gaps when I can take the dogs out to do their business.

I still had to sweep the water off the roof today, but at least I didn't have to deal with the ants. All the ants had been swept away. Ants are incredibly resilient though. Wherever the rain swept the little critters, they're probably still alive, planning another assault on the house.

I'll sure be glad when the sale of my rent property is finalized. After all the activity a few weeks ago, it's kind of weird that nothing is happening now. There really isn't much left to do before we all show up at the closing to sign the documents. I'm sure that everything is proceeding smoothly, but I've heard so may horror stories about deals falling apart at the last second that I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch.

The dogs did really well at training class tonight. I was proud of both of them. We did jumps tonight and both Dot and Dash love to jump. I'm probably a bit prejudiced, but there are few things prettier than a happy Dalmatian sailing over a hurdle.

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 896

It's election day in Texas. Maybe the incessant robo-calls will finally stop. Wait a minute, what was I thinking? Today's election was only a primary. The winners will be emboldened to make even more outrageous robo-calls and commercials in the days ahead. The commercials this year are particularly annoying. Every time you turn on the TV, you are greeted with the spectacle of one candidate accusing all the other candidates of being a liar. Jeez, they couldn't all be liars, could they? Sadly, they probably could.

When I woke up this morning, I thought one of the dogs had thrown up, because there was a suspicious looking puddle in the hallway. On closer inspection, the puddle wasn't dog vomit after all. It was something much worse. Paint, or glue, or a combination of the two was leaking out of a nearby cabinet where I kept supplies for household projects I hadn't gotten around to yet. When I opened up the cabinet, it became clear that a can of paint was leaking. I just wasn't sure which one, since several cans were suspiciously rusty and sitting in a big puddle of paint. I ended up throwing away all the old paint. I didn't stop there either. Since I had to take the old paint cans to the hazardous chemical disposal facility anyway, I figured that it would be a good idea to get rid of all the ancient cans of glop that I had around the house. I filled the car with old gasoline containers filled with gas that was so old I would never put it in a lawn mower. I found quite a few equally old cans of brake fluid, motor oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid. It was good to get rid of this stuff, but it left me wondering why I had bought it in the first place.

It rained a lot last night, so I crawled up on the roof after breakfast to get the water off. I was greeted with thousands of ants crawling all over my sump pump. Fire ants, chiggers, and mosquitoes have been particularly bad this Spring. I feel like I am being eaten alive. I got rid of the ants by dipping the pump in the deepest puddle of water I could find. Then it occurred to me that the ants might actually be useful. Ants are tiny. Probably wherever they congregate on the roof is both their entryway to the inside of the house and the source of the water leaks.

I'm glad it's a short week. A four day work week is just fine with me.

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 895 - Memorial Day

My Mom was from a military family, Her Dad was a career army officer and both her brothers were air force fighter pilots. My own Dad fought in the Pacific during World War II and my Mom served in the WAVES as a parachute rigger. That was the end of the family's military service. I don't think any member of the Sealander clan has served in the military since. I have tremendous respect for our armed forces. They are the best of the best. I'm not so sure I have the same respect for the politicians who have sent these brave man and women into battle recently. So many have died and absolutely nothing has been accomplished. The Crusades didn't solve any problems in the Middle East and neither has any subsequent war. As soon as we leave Iraq and Afghanistan, these countries will revert to exactly the way they were before we arrived. I don't think you should get into a war unless you are willing to win it convincingly. Harry Truman was the last president who knew how to win a war convincingly.

The park was filled with holiday revelers today. I don't think many of these people were honoring our troops, since most of them appeared for be from foreign countries. They were just families who had a day off from work and wanted to enjoy the nice weather with a little barbecue. There were helicopters  hovering over the park all day today. At first I though this was some strange new police surveillance program, but I learned later that a carjacker had fled to the top of a nearby construction crane when cornered and is currently involved in a standoff with the police. I think this confrontation is still going on. The carjacker has a gun and is sitting a hundred and fifty feet up in the air, so the police are cordoning off entire neighborhoods. The helicopters I saw were actually news helicopters using long telephoto lenses to record the ongoing action. I don't think the police would let them get any closer than the area where they were hovering over the park.

All this drama didn't prevent me from having a fairly dull day. I got caught up on a few writing jobs. I took my caulking gun up on the roof and looked for cracks where water might get in. I refinished an old cedar chest that Dot had scratched up. I even cleaned the toilets. Tomorrow, it will be back to business as usual. Pretty soon it will be June. Hard to believe the year is half over already.

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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 894

Dot and Dash had great fun meeting some other Dalmatians we know at the dog park today. The Dalmatians got so much attention that I started to wonder what would happen if even more Dalmatians appeared? What about 101 Dalmatians? It might be possible. I know that there are hundreds of Dalmatians living in the Metroplex. I've probably photographed 500 myself over the years. Janet and I are thinking of inviting all the Dalmatians we know to come to the park next weekend. If we could get a good showing, it would be quite an event. I bet if we could get 101 Dalmatians to show up, it would make the local news. We might get a write up in the local paper, or even a YouTube video that goes viral. It's worth a try anyway.

I wish the weather would stay like this all Summer. It was about 85 degrees with a nice breeze when I was out and about today. You can't get much better than that. When it's warm, but not oppressive, everyone is happy. The dogs like their walks, I'm able to work in the yard, and the electric bills are reasonable. We'll see what happens in July, but I have a feeling that nice days like today will just be fond memories when Summer really arrives.

I can't decide whether tomorrow will be a holiday or not. Some of my clients will probably send me things to do, even though I wish they would just take the day off. I think Janet has work to to too. We'll probably compromise. We'll sleep in late, but when we finally do get up, it will just be a regular workday.

We had a great holiday feast tonight: home made cheeseburgers, french fries, onion rings, cole slaw and Shiner beer. Since I'm trying to save my liver, I rarely get to drink beer anymore. This was a real treat for me. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get to enjoy some of my favorite beer again on my birthday.

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 893

Lots of errands today. There were the usual things, like grocery shopping and doing the laundry. Then, there were the unusual things, like looking for a sewing machine repair shop. Granted, there are still more places that repair sewing machines than repair typewriters, but these places are getting kind of rare. I finally found a shop that got good reviews off in an obscure industrial area of North Dallas and took the old Singer in for service. Yeah, I know that Janet just got a fancy new Viking machine, but I knew that if I didn't get this one fixed soon, she would just throw it away. I still haven't conquered my Gemini obsession with having two of everything. It's easy for me to rationalize fixing just about anything too. Hey, it's always good to have a spare sewing machine, isn't it?

On the way home from the sewing machine repair place, I stopped by my rent property to pick up some tools and touch up paint that I'd left there. A couple of neighbors saw me and congratulated me on selling the place.  How did they know already?  I doubt that these people are blog readers and the real estate sign out front didn't have an "under contract" banner on it yet. I certainly didn't tell them. I guess it all comes down to gossip. Neighbors everywhere gossip about everything. In my own neighborhood, I'm the last to know anything, because I don't keep up with the neighborhood gossip.

I do keep up with when the dogs have had their rabies shots and get their city registration renewed. Apparently, the city doesn't keep up with things quite as well. Every year about this time I get a letter from Code Compliance telling me that Dash's city registration has expired and that they are going to fine me form non-compliance. I always call them back and tell them that I renewed Dash's registration at least a month ago and then read them his new tag number. They apologize, update his records, and then I don't hear from them again for another year. This has happened now for four years in a row. You'd think the city would get it right by now, but they haven't even come close.

I thought I'd play a few tunes on the old ESQ-1 synthesizer I uncovered yesterday. When I hit the first chord, I heard nothing. "Damn," I thought. "I've gone to all this effort to uncover this thing and it doesn't even work." I eventually discovered that the keyboard was just fine, but that the powered speakers it was connected to were broken. One more thing to fix, I guess. I don't know why I even bother. I'm certainly not that good at playing the piano. Of course, I'm not that good at sewing either. I just like to be surrounded by working tools.

Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 892

Dash finally got his birthday dinner today. It was a little late, but it was a good excuse to go to Cafe Lago again. I think they have the best Cuban sandwich in town. I'm continually amazed at how well behaved our dogs can be when we take them to restaurants. They both bark like crazy on the drive over to the restaurant, but once we're sitting at our table, they look like contenders for the canine good citizen award. Other diners frequently come over to our table to pet the dogs and praise their good behavior. Nobody can believe that Dalmatians can be this good in public. Dot and Dash are both quite social. They both like an outing, especially when food is involved. Some of their good manners stem from the fact that they get fed when they're good. I also think that they just like to go out to eat. Who wouldn't? Going out to eat is always more fun than eating at home.

I've finally moved enough stuff to the new storage space that my office is actually starting to look shipshape again. All the bags of camera equipment are finally off the floor and neatly arranged on shelves where they should be. My big accomplishment today was clearing a mountain of paperwork off the top of an old ESQ-1 keyboard I have set up in the corner of the office. For the first time in several years, I can actually play the keyboard if I want. Amazing!

While I was sorting through the paperwork to determine what goes in the shredder, what goes in the trash, and what stays behind, I found an old unopened letter that looked suspiciously like a lot of the letters I'm getting from politicians lately. When I opened the letter, I was really surprised. It was an invitation to be part of a trade delegation to China.  Hmm. That would have been fun if I had opened the letter three years earlier. I still can't figure out how I got on a list to be part of a trade delegation.  The letter said I was selected because of my reputation and experience in the industry. It didn't say which industry though. The whole thing could have been some sort of scam. It definitely looked legitimate though. Jeez, I really need to start reading my mail.

It will be nice to have a three day weekend. This week has been so busy that I would be content to do absolutely nothing for the next three days. There are places to go and things to do however. Dot and Dash have a play date on Sunday. They're meeting two other Dalmatians. One of their spotted friends is a talented show-off who does agility. I think Dot and Dash can hold their own however. After all, how many Dalmatians are cosmopolitan foodies who go to restaurants for dinner?

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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 891

Yay! I think I sold a house today. I've signed so many documents this week that it's hard to believe the whole process has come to a conclusion. My real estate agent says that the amended contract I signed this afternoon was the final document though, and that the buyers have definitely committed to purchase the house. Hopefully, it will be smooth sailing from now till the closing in early June.

I don't know how real estate agents keep their sanity. The buyers, sellers, lenders, appraisers, and inspectors all have their own agenda and their own questions. "We know the air conditioner is on the roof" someone said to me today, "but where is the furnace?" "It's a heat pump." I said. "Everything is combined in one package." An hour later I got the same question. "Where is the furnace?"  They obviously didn't know what a heat pump was.

If the rent house sells as expected, it will be a major step toward my long term goal of simplification. Since I am a Gemini, I used to think I needed two of everything. I'll readily admit now that I took this principal to extremes. There had to be two cars, two guitars, two computers, and of course two houses. Sometimes things got totally out of control. Somehow my two watches turned into two hundred. There were other excesses as well. I'm trying to set things right though, and having just one house again has got to be looked at as progress.

You know that famous phrase from the Book of Common Prayer; "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust." I got a dramatic demonstration of what the phrase means today. Years ago, I received some sort of square Peruvian rug as a Christmas present from relatives. I didn't have anywhere to put the rug at the time, so I folded it up and placed it on a shelf in the bedroom closet. Over the years, I forgot I ever had the thing. I forgot until today, that is. When I was packing up more stuff to move over to the new storage warehouse, I saw the rug, high up on a shelf. "This is good storeroom material," I thought. I picked up the rug and it literally disintegrated into dust in my hands. There was nothing left! I don't know what the rug was made of, but I don't think moths got at it or anything. There were no signs of insect damage. The material had just turned to dust.

Janet will throw something away if she hasn't used it for several years. I will hang on to something forever, just in case I might have a use for it sometime in the future. I think Janet has the right idea. It's all going to turn to dust anyway.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 890

Politicians, are you listening? Please stop making those robo-calls to my house every five minutes.You guys are relentless this year. I must get ten calls a day. Day in and day out the calls continue. I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican. Your incessant badgering is irritating and the more I hear your message on my phone, the less likely it is that I will ever vote for you. Personally, I think if they played these robo-calls over and over again at Gitmo, they would be more effective than waterboarding.

One problem with managing dozens of websites is that occasionally everyone wants something at the same time. Today was one of those days. As soon as I finished making a change on one client's website, I got a request to change another. The website change requests today were almost as frequent as the political robo-calls.

At least the weather was nice today. I had a great walk with the dogs this morning. The temperature was mild. There was a nice breeze. Best of all, there was no pollen in the air and my allergies didn't bother me. I wish every day was like this, but I'm lucky if I get to enjoy three or four days a month without allergy related sneezing and wheezing. I'll take what I can get though. Today was perfect.

When I finished my webmaster and writing assignments for the day, I went over to the storage warehouse and started assembling another section of poorly made Chinese industrial shelving. I can't believe how flimsy these things are. The brand on the box says Gorilla or Rhinoceros or something. The blurb on the side of the box brags that the shelves are rated for commercial use and that each individual deck can hold over 200 pounds. That would mean that the six tier section I put together today should hold up to 1,200 pounds. Not very likely. The thing would crumple like tin foil if I loaded it with 1,200 pounds of stuff.

I don't know why poor quality bothers me so much, but it does.  Power tools are made of plastic these days. The bodywork on your car is half as thick as it used to be, and to add insult to injury, you are charged more for the flimsy material. Energy efficiency, they call it. All cameras should be made like Leicas and Hasselblads. All cars should be as durable as the old Saabs they used to make from Swedish steel. Who needs Wal-Mart at all? My problem is that I think my toaster should be just as good as my iPhone.

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 889

I know I complain about the trials and tribulations of running a small business. I shouldn't. Actually, I have it pretty good, because I don't have to deal with the general public. I can't imagine anything worse than dealing with the general public in a big city. I was picking up something this afternoon at the little neighborhood jeweler where I take some of my watches for repair and was surprised that I didn't have to ring the buzzer to get in like I normally do. I asked the jeweler why his door was unlocked and he said the fire department made him do it because it was against fire codes to lock a retail building during business hours. The jeweler was mad and said that the rule just wasn't fair. He said that every time he left his door unlocked, he was robbed at gun point. I feel sorry for the jeweler and hundreds of small retail businesses just like his. This is what our city has become. Dallas isn't as bad as Detroit, but that's kind of like saying it's not as bad as Beirut or Baghdad.

I'm glad my customers are in Germany. I'm glad that they are in New York and other places far away. The folks I deal with may irritate me from time to time, but I don't worry that they are going to hurt me. Maybe doing your work over the Internet is a good thing. The Internet is a very effective filter. I like to filter out the bad in life. I can't really get rid of it, but I certainly don't want to deal with it on a day to day basis. I wish there was an industrial strength Dyson Vacuum Cleaner thingy for sweeping up the bad in life and getting rid of it permanently. I'd buy one.

I can't remember being nearly this busy last May.  Every day has been a continual stream of small tasks that need to be completed quickly. I feel like one of those hamsters running continually inside the little spinning wheel in their cage. I get a lot of things done every day, but somehow when I wake up the next morning, there is always more to do. This perpetual busyness would be great if I truly loved what I did everyday. Not very likely! Most days I'd much rather just curl up with a good book.

No rest for the weary, I guess. I bought some more industrial shelving for the storage warehouse today, but didn't have time to assemble it. I've noticed that the power steering fluid leak in my car is getting worse, so I'm going to have to schedule another expensive repair at the Land Rover dealer sooner than I expected. I don't know why the buyers are asking so many questions about the rent property. I didn't know the answers when I bought the place. I didn't know the answers when I lived there. And I still don't know the answers today.

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 888

I almost got my car towed today. I went into an office tower to pay a bill and when I came out less than five minutes later, there was a big orange sticker on my windshield that said my car was scheduled to be towed away in two minutes. I pulled the sticker off the windshield and got out of there fast. As I left, I noticed a small sign that said there was no parking allowed in lots 3 & 4. All cars must park in lots 1 & 2 it said. Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 were all identical. There were other cars already parked in the same lot that I parked in too. Of course, some of these other cars also had orange stickers on their windshields when I returned to the parking lot. I still don't know what was so special about parking lots 3 & 4. There was no explanation. I did notice what appeared to be a homeless man sitting in a beat up old car with all the windows open. He was watching each car that entered the parking lot. I bet the building management had hired him to slap the orange stickers on errant cars like mine. I don't think I'll be going back to this building anytime soon. Next month, I'm just going to mail my payment in.

The rest of the day was uneventful. The dogs got their walks. The new grass in the back yard got watered. A load of laundry got done. A few more invoices got sent out. I updated two websites and wrote a watch article. That was about it. Even though it was a completely normal day, I found myself getting bored as the day wore on. Repetitive tasks wear you down, no matter how interesting they might have been in the beginning. I'd love to work on something completely new and different. If I can't even get caught up on the old tasks however, a switch to something new seems very unlikely.

The synchronizers on my Defenter 90 are starting to go out. I have to double clutch to get from first gear to second these days. At least I know how to double clutch and keep on moving, but I still find this new development disconcerting. I vaguely remember two service technicians laughing when I first bought the car, talking about how the Defender turned from reliable transportation into a money pit once the transmission and transfer case started to go. Maybe I won't even notice the difference. To me, the car turned into a money pit years ago.

The neighborhood dog friendly restaurant happened to be closed on Mondays, so we took Dash to a nearby pet store to pick out some special treats for his birthday. We brought home some yummy dog treats, but Dash seemed disappointed that we didn't get him a ferret or parakeet instead. He was trying so hard to get at the cage with all the birds in it that I'm surprised the manager didn't kick us out.

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

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 887

What a busy day. We tried to finish landscaping the back yard this morning and almost succeeded. The yard looks good now. All the grass is in place and appears to be growing. All we need now is a little more ground cover and we'll be done. After breakfast, we took Dot and Dash back to the new 22 acre dog park in far North Dallas. This is a great park since the grass hasn't been ruined yet and the dogs have plenty of room to roam. The drive is a little longer, but it's worth it.

On the way home, we stopped by Vhea's LaundroMutt and gave the dirty pair a bath. We've got clean dogs now, a clean house, and I even mowed the grass. Since I noticed some of the other neighbors hauling brush out to the curb for big trash day, I figured that now was the time to cut down the dead tree in the front courtyard as well.

The tree wasn't large, but it took me a while because I was using a reciprocating saw instead of a chain saw. Years ago, a friend of mine almost took off his face when he slipped while using a chain saw. That accident put the fear of God in me, since I'm fairly clumsy. I haven't used a chain saw since. It's surprising how much you can cut with a big electric reciprocating saw and the right blade though. In two hours, I had the tree cut into small enough pieces that I could drag it out to the curb with all the other neighbor's landscaping debris.

Dash's birthday is tomorrow. The little guy will be seven years old. I don't know if we'll have time to take the dogs out to dinner again, but we'll do something special. Years ago, I took a cake decorating class and Janet and I used to make special birthday cakes for the dogs on their birthday. Life has become way too hectic for hand decorated dogs cakes lately. Janet and I don't even have birthday cakes for each other anymore. Usually birthday celebrations just involve some wine and a few cupcakes from Sprinkles.

I hope I can get caught up with all my work projects this week. I'm way behind right now. I'm tempted to just turn the phones off until I get caught up on everything. That wouldn't be wise though. The minute I turn the phones off, someone is bound to call me with the job I've been waiting for all year.

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

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 886

I've gotten way behind on photographing the new Dalmatians that entered the rescue program this month. To make amends, Janet and I went up to The Velvet Snout this morning to say hello to the newcomers. We photographed Hershey, a handsome young liver spotted male, and Dottie, a sweet twelve year old female. It still astounds me that people will dump a loyal friend at the pound just because they're getting old, but that's what happened to Dottie. We're hoping she'll find a new family who will let her live out her remaining years with the dignity she deserves.

When I finished photographing the dogs, I went back home and generally wasted the rest of the day. I spent way too much time trying to fix a delicate brass thingy that I accidentally dropped off a six foot high shelf a few years ago. The proper way to fix this object would be for someone with exceptionally good brazing skills to use a micro torch to weld all the little pieces back together. I used Superglue. My repair looks good from a distance, but it is so fragile that the whole thing will fall apart if a mouse steps on it. Sadly, since the brass collectible thingy is destined for the storage warehouse, a mouse probably will step on it pretty soon.

After doing my weekend grocery shopping, I returned home again to discover more real estate documents in my inbox that I needed to sign. I've gotten spoiled with those Docusign documents that you can electronically sign using a web browser. The documents I received today were a little more difficult. I had to print them out, sign them all, scan the signed copies and then turn the whole mess into a single PDF file, so I could e-mail everything back to the real estate agent. When did selling a house become so difficult? The last time I was involved with buying or selling real estate, the whole process seemed much easier.

The dogs are filthy. I don't know how they got so dirty, but it probably had something to do with me neglecting to clean them up while Janet was out of town. They didn't look that bad to me. They didn't smell that bad either. It didn't take Janet ten seconds to notice how dirty they were however. They're both scheduled for a bath at Vhea's LaundroMutt as soon as we get back from the dog park tomorrow.

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

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 885

I went to a new breakfast restaurant this morning. I'd driven by the place many times but had never eaten there before. As soon as I went inside, I knew I had entered the Twilight Zone. I was the youngest person in the entire restaurant. Lots of people were reading the newspaper. No, they weren't looking USA Today on their iPads, they were looking at real paper newspapers. Nobody was using an iPhone or Android. The few people who were talking on cell phones had ancient brick-like models that I hadn't seen in years. The food was good though. Most importantly, the all important coffee refills just kept on coming.

After breakfast, I paid a visit to my safe deposit box to look for some documents that my real estate agent needed. I couldn't find the documents, but I did notice that there was nothing of real value or importance in my box. I found two old music publishing contracts with record labels that had gone out of business years ago. I found a detailed inventory of office equipment that I no longer owned. I found an expired passport. I found an old will that I should have thrown away because the beneficiaries are already dead. I don't know why I even keep this safe deposit box. Everything in it is worthless.

I had to fight rush hour traffic to go to the airport this afternoon. Ordinarily, I don't even leave the house at this time of day, but rush hour just happened to be when Janet's plane arrived from Las Vegas. I keep thinking we're in a depression, because that's all I hear on TV. When I'm out and about though, people look like they're doing pretty well. If you judged things by the volume of rush hour traffic, you'd have to call Dallas a boom town.

Neither Janet or I felt like cooking when we finally made it home again, so we took the dogs out for dinner at Cafe Lago instead. It's amazing how well behaved Dot and Dash are when we take them to a restaurant. They're been to this dog friendly restaurant enough now that they both understand how things work. If they're well behaved, they're going to get food. They just sit at our feet quietly like model canine citizens. People come over to pet them at our table on the patio and would never believe how badly behaved this pair can be at home.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 884

Today was a good day. My new client loved the website I designed for them. The presentation this morning went very well and there were virtually no changes. We are ready to launch. I now have three competing offers on my rent property and the best offer is above my initial listing price. To round things out, I also regained an old client that I lost several years ago when they decided to take their operation in-house. Not bad for a Thursday.

I never realized that there was so much paperwork involved in selling a house. My real estate agent has already given me a ton of documents to sign and the sale hasn't even taken place yet. I'm not even sure what stage of the process we're in right now. I don't think they've done the inspection yet. I do know the buyers want to close on the deal in early June, so I guess they're serious.

I've been so busy this month that I'm having trouble keeping up with everything. The transition I've made from doing a few high paying jobs each month to doing a whole lot of low paying jobs each month has been brutal. I have to be fast and fairly organized to make any money at all. The real trouble with the low paying jobs is that the low paying clients still think they're important. I find myself spending just as much time talking with clients and answering e-mails as I used to. Sometimes I spend more time answering the e-mails than I do actually doing the job. I guess it's good to have a backlog of work though. I always know what I'm going to be doing tomorrow.

The back yard is starting to look really nice. I think last week's rains helped. The dogs certainly approve. Dot and Dash go outside every day after lunch now to lounge in the sun. All I have left to do is plant some Asian Jasmine ground cover in the really shady areas and then we'll be done for another season. I definitely don't have a green thumb, but it is nice to see that I've done something right, even if the results are only temporary.

I don't know where to have breakfast tomorrow. Neither of the places I've been going recently sound appealing to me. I can't believe that my Friday breakfast outing idea has run aground so quickly. After all, I've only been doing this a few month's now. Maybe I can find someplace new. I'd hate to have to resort to my own cooking again.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 883

I've already gotten two offers on my rent property. What this seems to prove is that there is always a price where something will sell. The real estate market isn't dead. Current prices are just lower than most sellers, including myself, would like. The difference between actually selling your house and having it sit on the market forever is just a matter of setting a realistic price based on current values. That being said, my house hasn't actually been sold yet. I've just gotten offers. Selling real estate seems to be a complex game of offers and counter offers, inspections and financing. A deal can fall apart at any point along the way. I am encouraged though. Especially since several friends told me to expect to have the house on the market a long, long time. There are two houses in the same neighborhood that have been on the market over 300 days.

The corollary to this sad tale of falling real estate prices is that you can always find work if you are willing to work for less than you might like. A lot of the unemployed expect to eventually get their old jobs back. It just isn't going to happen. Globalization and new technologies have destroyed those old jobs just as effectively as the financial meltdown of 2008 destroyed the selling price of my rent house. There is work though. There is always work if you are willing to do it. The ironic thing is that I'm busier than I've been at almost any point in my career, but I'm effectively making less per hour than I was 25 years ago. To me, this all sucks big time, but since I'm not Dr. Who and I don't have a Tardis handy, there is no way I can recapture the glory days.

What the hell. Things change. You've got to keep moving. It's better to keep reinventing yourself and adapt to changing times that to pretend is is still 1985. I present a new website design tomorrow. I got another new client today. Neither of these opportunities represent a financial windfall for me, but they do allow me to continue. I know I'm going to be disappointed with the final selling price of my rent house. I'm continually disappointed by the performance of my stock portfolio. This is the world we live in though. On the bright side, if I ever buy another house, it probably won't be that expensive.

We didn't go to training class tonight. Maybe if I had two very obedient dogs, I could take both of them myself. That isn't the case however. Dash is still a handful for me. I hate to leave Dot behind, so we all just stay home on nights when Janet isn't around. The dogs seem happy enough. They are both asleep on the bed. I'm happy enough as well. There are no mosquitoes biting me and I'm inside, away from my allergy problems. We'll wait until next week to return to class.

Liberty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 882

I decided that I would sleep better if I just slept on top of the bed like another dog. This way, Dot and Dash couldn't bunch up on either side of me and pin me under the covers like they usually do. Surprisingly, the plan worked quite well last night and I had a lot more room than normal. As an added benefit, I didn't need to make the bed the next morning. I'm sure normalcy will return as soon as Janet gets back, but for now, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If I get cold? Well, there are dog blankets all over the house. I'll just grab a dog blanket.

There isn't as much to photograph on our daily walks anymore. The Spring wildflowers have all bloomed. The prairie grass is tall and the trees are green, so the animals have better places to hide. Even the light isn't as pretty, since the days are getting longer. The sun is usually up long before I am. I guess I could still walk the dogs at sunset, but they don't have the patience to wait this long. They don't care about photography anyway. I still take my camera though. I can always take pictures of dogs.

I paid a bunch of bills today. Inside every bill was a notice encouraging me to switch to an online payment plan. Everyone seems to want you to pay your bills online these days. I guess the companies make more money if they don't have to send out bills in the mail, but I still prefer paper. It's a lot easier to remember to pay your bills if there is a big stack of them sitting in front of you on your desk. The companies don't want you to have to remember either. They'd rather have you sign up for an automatic payment plan that just sucks money out of your account at predetermined intervals. I don't like this either. I'd rather decide when to pay my bills myself. Preferably when I have money in the bank.

I finished my new website today and make an appointment to present it to my client later in the week. I hope they like it and want to retain me to be their webmaster. Maintaining websites I built years ago has become the bread and butter of my business. Sometimes people don't want me to maintain their site though. They think they can do a better job of things themselves. Often these people call me back a few years later and want me to take over things again. Keeping the website current has turned out to be more trouble than they thought. I got one of those calls today. I looked at the site I had built three years ago and it was a mess. No wonder they wanted me to take it back again.

Facebook is going public soon. I wonder if this would be a good stock to buy? Facebook isn't like Apple or BMW. There is nothing elegant about it. To me, the company is more like Wall Mart. It's a bit irritating, but it is hard to ignore since everyone is already there. Maybe I should pass on Facebook stock. Especially since I'd secretly like to see Zuckerberg fail. Do we really need 28 year old billionaires anyway?

Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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