Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 928

Summer has its own set of rules. The other day, someone was asking me why I wear black t-shirts almost exclusively during the Summer. I guess they were expecting to hear that I admired Steve Jobs, or that I thought it looked stylish or something. The truth is that black is just about the only color you can wear outside during Texas Summers that doesn't show huge ugly sweat stains under your armpits after about five minutes. You still sweat of course, but it doesn't look like it.

We tried to get up and photograph the new Dalmatians at the Velvet Snout early this morning, but beating the heat was a futile effort. It was hot in the middle of the night last night and it's still hot right now. I took the pictures quickly today, so the dogs could get back inside again.

Do people tag you on Facebook a lot?  I hate to be tagged, because usually someone has dredged up an old picture that is so dismal it makes me look like warmed over death. Nobody needs to see my high school pictures again. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my wall this morning and saw an old picture that I actually liked. Someone had posted a picture of me playing in a band long, long ago. I couldn't remember where the picture was taken, or even the name of the band I was playing in. It was definitely me though. I recognized the Vox Mark VII guitar that I bought from the earnings of a high school summer job. I wish I had taken better care of that guitar. It would be worth quite a bit now if it hadn't gotten ruined by moisture when I stored it away in a damp closet for ten years. This was before I even moved to Dallas, mind you. Water damage problems have followed me around for a long time.

It's amazing how quickly things go from one extreme to the other here in Texas. At the beginning of June, we were drenched with rain. The grass and the shrubs were growing like wildfire and I thought we were finally going to have a decent Summer. Now, just a few weeks later, everything is bone dry. I need to remember to deep water the Photinia Bushes in the backyard and the Wax Myrtle out front. I got behind on things last Summer and a few trees died as a result. Not this year. We'll just have a humongous water bill instead.

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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 927

I got my car back today. It's always nice to be able to return the loaner car before I inadvertently wreck it. This time I was a bit reluctant to give up the loaner though. It was so nice to be driving a brand new Land Rover with sat-nav, a performance handling package, and nice smelling leather seats. I knew it was going to be a low blow to return to the old Defender. Land Rover repairs are so expensive that I almost didn't notice there was a discrepancy in my bill. As my service advisor handed me the keys and I was preparing to drive off, I asked him if they had done anything extra, since my bill seemed a bit higher than the price I remembered on the estimate. The service guy said he'd take a look at the bill and discovered  he'd charged me for the power steering pump twice. Oops. They refunded me $822 and off I went.

As often happens when I take my car in for repairs, I hadn't driven ten miles before I discovered that the overhead lights no longer worked and the clock stopped when I opened the driver's side door. I went back to the dealership again and they fixed this problem as well, while I sipped a Dr. Pepper in the showroom and fantasized about a nearby Range Rover I could never afford. I never get upset about little service glitches. I think they are a car dealer's equivalent of the spelling errors I sometimes make when I am updating websites. If you get distracted, you are going to make a mistake, and Lord knows there are plenty of distractions these days.

I started on a new website project today. Amazingly, these guys want to simplify their current site, instead of making it more complicated. Yay! I'm a big fan of keeping things simple. Hopefully, I'll have this new site finished in about three weeks. When I have a lot of writing jobs, I wish I had more website work like this. Of course, when I have a lot of website jobs, I wish I had more writing jobs instead. I'm never really happy.

I am happy that it's the weekend again. I'm happy that the market went up today as well. Especially since I bought some shares yesterday when everything was down. It's rare that I actually guess an entry point correctly. The dogs are certainly happy it's the weekend. It's all about dogs during the weekend at our house.

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 926

I was surprised at the Supreme Court's decision this morning. It wasn't what I was expecting. This just goes to show that what I was telling you yesterday is true. Nobody, including myself, can predict the future. I've got a lot of mixed feelings about health care. Health insurance is my biggest single expense. I would love to have a high quality, affordable health care system. Somehow, I don't think what we got today is the solution though. Human nature says otherwise.

I'm convinced that health care is so expensive because hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and everyone in the entire flying circus we call the healthcare system knows that people are scared of dying and charge accordingly for their services.  They could charge less, but they don't, because we will pay exorbitantly to live.

How do I know this? Well, for starters I take very good care of our dogs. They get CAT scans, MRI's, complex orthopedic surgery and more. They get whatever they need, no questions asked. Since I have had some of the same procedures myself, I know what things cost. The difference in cost for an MRI for your dog and an MRI for yourself can be staggering. The imaging equipment is exactly the same. The technicians have exactly the same training. Some vets even have more extensive training than their physician counterparts, because they have to deal with a multitude of different species. The difference in the cost of care is almost entirely due to the fact that hospitals and doctors know they can get away with charging more to people.

If there were no insurance and everybody knew that the money was coming out of their own pocket when they went to the doctor, most medical procedures would cost a lot less. If people didn't sue their doctors at the drop of a hat, things would be even less expensive. I trust my vet more than I trust my own doctors. My vet provides top quality care at a reasonable price. Isn't that what we all want?

Vets aren't free though, and health care shouldn't be free either. I've worked hard all my life and I don't mind paying a fair price for health care. I don't like footing the bill for totally irresponsible people who don't even try to do the right thing though. This drags us all down. Remember that old Seinfeld episode about the Soup Nazi? I feel that way sometimes. Everyone should have access to quality health care, regardless of their income or circumstance. This doesn't mean that health care should be free however. I've got only one thing to say to those people who think they are entitled to completely free health care: "no soup for you."

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 925

I met with my financial advisor today. I know that I gripe and complain about this guy occasionally, but basically I still think he's pretty sharp. The market has just become so completely irrational in recent years that it is almost impossible for even the best of analysts to be a consistent winner. Especially in the short term. Almost every day, something unpredictable happens that throws the market into a turmoil. Hopefully, over the long term, the laws of sanity still apply.

Today, we were evaluating some new positions and my advisor showed me some advanced software he was using that he said could help predict future performance based on a huge array of past historic data. I think he called the program Backtrack or something. I told him there was a basic flaw in this type of strategy. He needed a different program called Forwardtrack, that could actually look into the future. That's the trouble with all these predictive models. Nobody really has any idea what is going to happen in the future. Nobody even knows what is going to happen tomorrow.

The best thing my advisor has been able to do for me is convince me that it's a fool's game to chase the evening news. Day traders try to do this, and most of them just can't react fast enough to emerge as consistent winners. I try to take a more disciplined long-term approach, following some basic investing principles year in and year out. Occasionally, there is a year like this one where nothing seems to work. It can be very frustrating.

The dogs were frustrated by something a lot more basic than stock market gyrations tonight. It was the heat. Even at 8 PM, it was over 100 degrees. Everyone brought water for their dog and we had frequent water breaks in the training routine. The dogs weren't really into the training exercises though and I can't blame them. It was just too hot.

If anyone knows of a completely pet safe way of treating white grubs, please let me know. I really hate to see the pretty St. Augustine turf I installed just a month or two ago start to deteriorate already. I've been told that beneficial nematodes are a safe and effective way of controlling grubs, but it's already too late in the season to apply the nematodes. Nematodes don't like the Texas heat either.

Rascal is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 924

Around this time of year, I start to daydream about nicer places to live. Officially, it was 106 degrees today. Unofficially, the thermometer in my car said 113. There's got to be somewhere better than this. Maybe Montana would be nice. I vaguely remember idyllic Summers at Flathead Lake when I was young. Colorado would be nice. When I graduated from College, I lived in Aspen for a while and I remember the Summers there were fabulous. Oops, I forgot. I can't afford to live in Aspen anymore. I can't even afford to live in Seattle, where I got my start in advertising. Nice places are so expensive now. Nice places even have problems now. There are huge forest fires in Colorado this Summer. I spent almost a decade living in Colorado, Idaho, and Washington State. I don't remember a single major forest fire. Maybe Texas isn't so bad.

I don't blame Dot for not wanting to go outside. I don't want to go outside either. It's very hot and it's muggy. Texas heat isn't like the dry desert heat you find in Las Vegas. It's a sticky, wet heat that makes you want to change your clothes every time you come inside. The cicadas must enjoy this heat. As the day grows warmer, they start to sing in early afternoon and the chirping goes on until long after I've gone to sleep. Cicadas seem particularly loud this year. Wasps seem to enjoy the heat as well. The mud daubers are active again, building their ugly mud nests all over the exterior of our house. Although I don't like stinging insects of any kind, I cut these guys a lot of slack, because they feed on Black Widow spiders. I'd much rather have wasps buzzing around the house than Black Widow spiders.

It was time for Dash's bi-weekly antigen shot today. While we were waiting in the lobby at the vet, all the nurses greeted him by name as they walked by. Dash seems to be quite well known at the vet. I'm not sure if this is because he is a very good dog, or a very bad dog when I leave him there. It could go either way. He was certainly good today. I was proud of the boy.

I have one of my periodic reviews with my financial advisor tomorrow. Whenever I see my advisor, he's got something he wants me to buy. I'm going to try my best to avoid buying anything at all. Wednesday just isn't a good time. I think the Supreme Court is supposed to announce their decision on the health care law this Thursday. Depending on what the justices say, the market could go way up, or way down. Seems like a good idea to just lay low for a while. I have no idea what the justices are going to say.

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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 923

I wish I were more of a morning person. Summer has arrived with a vengeance and the only decent time to be out and about is right after sunrise. I try to get the dogs out on their morning walk by 7:30 AM, but since the sun rises more than an hour earlier these days, I'm really not doing all that well. The temperature rises amazingly quickly. If it's 85 degrees at sunrise, it will be 105 degrees by lunch. The trouble is that the dogs aren't early risers either. By the time we all drag ourselves out of bed, it's usually already too late.

No matter what the temperature is, mornings are delightful compared to afternoons. Afternoons are beastly. Dot is getting older now, and she can't take the heat. In the afternoon, we usually just walk until both dogs have done their business and then beat a hasty retreat to the air conditioned confines of the house.

Now that I've had time to get used to the quirks and peculiarities of U-verse service, I've come to the conclusion that it's really no better than cable. The picture freezes on the TV periodically. I'll lose my connection to the Internet for short periods almost every day. Occasionally, even the phones go out.  Usually, these outages are brief and service returns while I'm still  sitting on hold, waiting to talk to tech support. Nevertheless, the whole situation is irritating. Cable and U-verse certainly cost enough to warrant good service. Maybe the only solution is to switch back and forth between cable and U-verse once a year to keep them from taking me for granted.

My broker called the other day and suggested that I buy Microsoft. Microsoft? Keep in mind that this was the same guy who convinced me to sell Apple just before it went up another 200 points. I told the broker that selling Apple and buying Microsoft just seemed all wrong and I wasn't having any part of it. I've been somewhat gratified to see Microsoft continue to slide in the days following this errant recommendation, but I'm a bit irritated by this as well.  Just like with Time Warner Cable and U-verse, it would be nice to get a little more for my money. At the prices most financial advisors charge, they should be right 90% of the time, instead of just 65% of the time.

I called Land Rover today to see if my repairs are finished yet. Nope. They're still working on the Defender. While I was talking to my service representative, I remembered that I had forgotten to tell him about the problems I was having shifting from first to second gear. I asked him if repairing or replacing the gear synchronizers in the transmission was expensive. What do you think? Of course it is.

Oh, and I got a guitar today.  More on that later.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 922

The dreaded white grubs have returned to our yard. Later in the Summer they will become June Bugs. Right now they are still in the larval stage, feasting on the roots of our new St. Augustine grass. These little beasties are hard to get rid of without harsh chemicals. Janet found something on the Internet today that was supposed to be effective at controlling the grubs while being completely harmless to dogs and other animals. My mission this afternoon was to go to garden stores and get some of this stuff. It didn't take me long to discover that Milky Spore, the grub eradicating bacteria that Janet found, wasn't effective on our kind of grub. Milky Spore was meant for controlling the grubs that turn into Japanese beetles. Since we don't have many Japanese beetles in Texas, the garden stores didn't carry any of the stuff.

I did discover that beneficial nematodes were the safest, most effective way to control grubs in Texas. Unfortunately, you are supposed to introduce the nematodes to your environment in February. It's too late in the season for them to do any good now. As so often happens, I acquired the right knowledge at the wrong time.

I've been trying to acquire the right knowledge at the right time before I buy a guitar. I've been learning all sorts of fascinating things about Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters. When you go into a music store, you will see a huge variety of Stratocasters at prices ranging from under $300 to well over $3,000 dollars. All of these guitars look identical. At first this odd pricing structure mystified me, but apparently Fender is determined to make something for everybody. The $300 Stratocaster Squire may look pretty much the same as the $3,000 Custom Shop Stratocaster, but there are a myriad of subtle differences.

If Land Rover followed this kind of marketing strategy, you could buy a very inexpensive Range Rover that had vinyl covered seats, a Honda Civic engine, and no four wheel drive at all. For a little more you could get a car that looked the same, but had a better engine and leather seats. Pay yet a bit more and you could get the normal Range Rover you buy today. At the top of the scale would be a Range Rover that was hand assembled using titanium screws by technicians with a minimum of thirty years experience. I can't decide whether Fender's pricing strategy is brilliant or idiotic. It does allow a kid just learning to play to have a guitar that looks essentially the same as the customized rarity that some rich collector just paid $10,000 for.

It's getting hotter at the dog park. This means that there are a lot of clean, well groomed dogs that head straight for the nearest mud puddle to cool off. Labs and Goldens seem to be the first to occupy these mud puddles that appear near all the park water fountains. Luckily, Dot and Dash won't get anywhere near these muddy areas. They won't even drink out of the doggie water fountains. We have to take their own water bowl along with us and fill it up for them before they will drink anything. You may think the Dalmatians are spoiled, but I suspect they are just trying to avoid all the dog spit left behind in the common bowls by the messy Labs.

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

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 921

I finished this month's assignment for my writer's group this morning and turned it in. I've written some good things, as well as some not so good things, for this group, but I don't think I would have written anything at all without the discipline of an assignment and a deadline. Sometimes I wonder if there's anything I still do for the sheer pleasure of it. There certainly isn't much. In the early 1980's I loved to write songs. I wrote and recorded tons of original songs during this period. There were some who said I had a promising career ahead of me in Nashville. I signed several publishing contracts with obscure record labels, but never made a dime from my music. There was one fatal flaw in my plan to become a famous songwriter. I couldn't sing. Labels were looking for promising singer/songwriters, not the next Bernie Taupin.

Several years later I became very excited about becoming a fashion photographer. I left the advertising world and spent two years putting together a portfolio. My work was good enough to land me a job at a leading photo studio. I didn't become the next Richard Avedon however. I shot catalogs. Catalogs were boring and mundane. I quickly returned to advertising where there was at least a thin patina of glamor.

The last time I was really excited about something was during the mid-1990's, when I convinced myself that I wanted to make another documentary film. I started going to film festivals and was even asked to be a speaker at SXSW in 1997. The film never got made. I had already made several extremely low budget documentaries in the 1970's, but by 1990 I had grown too practical. Documentaries don't make money and I wasn't willing to risk my life savings on a project that didn't even matter anyway.

When I hear people on television self-help shows tell their audience that the key to success is to follow your passion, I just don't buy it. Anything that I was even mildly passionate about ended up costing me a fortune. I never made a dime by following my heart. Fortunately, I've done extremely well doing things I hate. I've done so well doing things I hate that it's made the world topsy-turvy for me. When I meet someone who tells me that they love what they do, I generally don't believe them.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I visited another guitar store today. I actually took a couple of guitars off the wall and started playing them. I can't play well anymore. If you heard me this afternoon, you'd probably agree that I suck. Holding the guitar in my hands brought back memories though. There was a time when my chops were pretty good. I miss those days. When I was a good guitar player, I never thought about the staggering cost of health care. I never worried about whether I'd have enough money to retire comfortably. I didn't really worry about anything. I just played.

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

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 920

I could write a book about the breakfast choices in my neighborhood. Every Friday morning for the past three months, I've been sampling the menus of all the restaurants within a three mile radius of my house. OK, so I've only been to four different restaurants. There aren't a lot of restaurants close to where I live. Nevertheless, a full breakfast menu times four still gives you a wide variety of choices. After all this frivolous experimentation, I still haven't decided on a favorite breakfast destination. One restaurant has the best service. Another has the best ambiance. A third has the best food. And the fourth has the best coffee. None of them are very consistent. 

One thing I have learned is that restaurant quality can vary dramatically, depending on who shows up for work that day. In some restaurants, I've ordered the same thing over and over again, but it never comes out the same way twice. One restaurant never puts salt and pepper on the table because they think their food is seasoned just right. It isn't. Another restaurant is so stingy with the coffee that they make you pay a dollar every time they refill your cup. All of them use too much salt when they cook. All in all, the food is delicious though, and I've picked up some great ideas if I ever decide to cook on Friday again. I've kind of gotten addicted to eating out on Friday morning. It's a simple pleasure, but a very genuine one.

I had to run a bunch of errands today, and on the way back from the grocery store, I decided to stop in the local Guitar Center and look at guitars. I am baffled by the huge variety of absolutely identical looking Fender and Gibson guitars at totally different price points. You could buy a Fender Stratocaster for $300 or $3000. There is almost a mythology built up around why the more expensive versions are worth more. Was the guitar manufactured in Mexico, Japan, or the USA?  Was the wood aged and seasoned before it was shaped into a guitar body? Are the pickups hand wound? Did the electronics come from China? The list goes on and on. To the untrained eye though, the cheap Fender Stratocasters look exactly the same as their expensive cousins. If cameras were marketed this way, it would drive photographers crazy.

I'm amused at all the New York news anchors and talk show hosts going on and on about the awful heat wave they're having. They ought to come to Texas. The temperatures that New Yorkers are experiencing now aren't just a two day event in Dallas. We have to deal with 100 degree days for months at a time.  In addition to the heat, I also have to deal with mushrooms. Mushrooms are starting to appear everywhere in the new grass we just planted. Mushrooms normally grow in the dark. This isn't very auspicious. If I needed a sign that the St. Augustine grass isn't getting enough sunlight, this is probably it.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 919

Like many of you, I missed the Summer Solstice this year. It was yesterday. How did that happen? I thought the longest day of the year was always on June 21. Today still seemed pretty long and very hot anyway. I'm afraid that Summer has arrived in earnest.

During breakfast, I watched the "Girl in the Fireplace" episode of Dr. Who for probably the fourth time. This is one of my favorite episodes, surpassed only by "Vincent and the Doctor." What's the connecting link? Maybe it's just that both of these episodes take place in France. Paris is my favorite city. For many years a Citroën was my automobile of choice. I drove a Citroën in Seattle, and against all logic, I drove a Citroën when I first moved to Dallas. In a world of Ford F-150 pickups, this car definitely didn't blend in.

I don't know what it is about France. I'm drawn to Philippe Stark furniture, even though it is wildly impractical. I even have a French Porcher toilet. I wouldn't recommend French plumbing products however. When they start to leak, it is almost impossible to find replacement parts. It's pretty hard to find parts for Citroën automobiles in Texas as well. That's why I switched to Land Rovers.

I found myself thinking about guitars again today. I've got a birthday gift card that's burning a hole in my pocket. Maybe I can find myself a nice used Les Paul. A real Les Paul is probably too expensive. I'd likely have to settle for the less expensive Epiphone version. I'm getting way ahead of myself though. I need to go to a guitar store, sit down with a guitar, and see if I can still play. My carpel tunnel is getting pretty bad in my left hand. If it hurts to squeeze a tennis ball, I have a feeling that playing a guitar might not feel so good either. We'll see.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 918

I was invited to one of those business networking breakfasts this morning. In theory, these type of things seem like a good idea. A group of non-competing business owners get together for breakfast and agree to use each other as vendors and suppliers whenever possible. There is supposed to be only one member in the group for each type of business. You might be sitting at a table with a dentist, a real estate agent, a body shop owner and an insurance agent. This sounds like a good way to introduce your services to a receptive audience, but whenever I'm invited to one of these things there is already somebody else who does websites. Today, the other guy who did websites was making the morning's presentation. When I was introduced, I just said I did the same type of thing as the other guy.

I honestly don't know why I'm even invited to these things. I don't seem to fit in. I don't even want to fit in. While the others around the table are talking about their Spring ski vacations or the upcoming marriages of their kids, I'm just wondering when I can get home to walk the dogs. The last time I was excited to be around a group of people talking about their chosen profession was when I used to go to SXSW in Austin every Spring. Being around a bunch of talented indie filmmakers was exhilarating. I always came home from the festival wanting to make another film myself. Somehow, looking at a PowerPoint presentation describing yet another small business marketing plan isn't quite the same. I shouldn't complain though. Breakfast at the Park Cities Club is always great. If the breakfast were served at 9 AM instead of 7 AM, the whole thing might be worth a try.

A lot of people in our dog training class must have gotten caught in last week's big hailstorm. When we got to class tonight, everyone was showing their iPhone videos of the storm to each other. I'm still amazed at how much damage a twenty minute storm like this could cause. Janet finally managed to get her car into the body shop today, so we're both driving loaner cars at the same time. I just hope that there's not another hailstorm in the near future. I want to get these loaner cars returned safe and sound. I've already learned the hard way that damaging someone else's car is much worse than damaging your own.

I noticed that all the birthday greetings on Facebook yesterday caused my Klout score to go up three points. Hmm. Is this what Internet influence is all about? Maybe so. Probably the folks with really huge scores are the people who post all those LOL Cat pictures.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 917 - My Birthday

"Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 64?" When I first heard these lyrics during the Sergeant Pepper summer of 67, I never dreamed I'd eventually be 64 myself. It was simply impossible. I was playing in a band at the time and thought I was ageless. My feelings of being impervious to age lasted a long, long time. I soon entered the world of advertising where youth is almost a prerequisite. When I was a 26 year old creative director, we used to wonder where they put the 40 somethings out to pasture. There simply weren't any old people in ad agency creative departments back then. Maybe there still aren't. At any rate, it should come as no surprise that I've always been reluctant to reveal my age. I have always looked younger than I am and have used this to my advantage for many years.

I think the jig is up, unfortunately. When you wake up feeling 70, it's hard to pretend you're 40 anymore. In the inner recesses of my mind, I may still be 18, but my body begs to differ. What a compendium of aches and pains I have become. There is a pill for every perceived problem, but I'm not really fond of pills. I think its actually the dogs that have kept me alive. I walk Dot and Dash five miles each and every day. Dalmatians are very strong and active animals. The daily exercise keeps the dogs happy and helps keep me in much better shape than I would be otherwise. As an added benefit, everything else I do during the day seems easy by comparison.

I was thinking of going to a daytime movie as a birthday treat. Janet doesn't really like science fiction and it would be nice to see Ridley Scott's new Prometheus prequel on a big screen. I should have known better. By the time I finished the day's writing and website work, a movie was out of the question. As usual, when the work is finished, the day is usually over. I heated up a pizza in the microwave and treated myself to the remaining Shiner beer in the refrigerator. When Janet came home from work later in the evening, she brought Sprinkles Cupcakes with her and we had a little party. All in all, it was a good day to turn 64. Even the stock market was up today.

Ironically, if I had been born one day earlier, I would have shared a birthday with Paul McCartney, who wrote the song I can't help humming today.

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

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 916

It was a slow day. I did what I normally do on slow days. I tried to tidy up loose ends. In retrospect, I should have just left well enough alone. Today's loose ends were a bunch of marginal, small jobs that had somehow slipped through the cracks. I wasn't particularly interested in any of these jobs. They didn't pay much and some were just favors that didn't pay anything. After I finished contacting clients, I realized that all I succeeded in doing was reviving a few jobs that the clients weren't interested in either. If I had just kept my mouth shut, these jobs probably would have just gone away on their own accord. Now, I've got to do them.

I'm beginning to see the wisdom of the cloud. I needed to reprint a large banner I'd done for Dalmatian Rescue about three years ago. I couldn't find the file anywhere on my computer. This wasn't that surprising, since I am working on a different computer now. When I called the printer however, they instantly knew what I was talking about. They had archived the file when I initially uploaded it long ago. It is already prepared and ready for printing. I like it when other people already have my files. Maybe someday, I won't need to save anything.

I've noticed that people have been leaving birthday greetings on my Facebook page and it isn't even my birthday yet. Some of these people have known me long enough to know perfectly well when the real day is, but they tend to believe Facebook anyway. Even when it's wrong. What is this all about?  Information is so easy to obtain on the Internet that we all want to believe it. It's much easier this way. I'll admit that I'm guilty myself. Whenever I casually look something up on Wikipedia, I am inclined to believe it is true. It's just so much easier to believe everything I see on Wikipedia than to do careful research and find out the real story.

I've noticed that squirrels are eating the new grass we just planted. The nerve of those cheeky squirrels! I thought that squirrels liked nuts anyway. They apparently like fresh grass too. I see them nibbling away every day. They grab a single blade of grass in their paws and nibble it down from the tip to the root. You'd think that a blade of grass wouldn't even matter, but we've got lots and lots of squirrels. I'm beginning to think that this is one of the reasons why our grass didn't last long last Summer.

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

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 915 - Father's Day

Since I've never had children myself, Father's Day has always been pretty much of a non-event. Even when I was a kid, I can't remember Father's Day being a big deal like Mother's Day. We had a good Dad, so probably we should have paid more attention to him. Dad was a quiet man and it was easy to forget he was around. Of course there's always the possibility that he talked a lot to everyone else but me. I just don't remember. He certainly knew how to keep a secret. I'm convinced that he took a lot of secrets to the grave with him. He made a lot of trips to Nevada in the 1950's when the government was testing atomic weapons in the desert near Las Vegas.  We used to live in Oak Ridge, Tennessee when we were little kids too, but I never did learn what he was doing. Maybe there really were flying saucers in Roswell. Men like my Dad didn't talk.

I'm just the opposite. I'll blather on about anything. I love to gossip and have a rather tenuous grip on reality. I've learned to recognize this odd worried look that bosses and co-workers get whenever I open my mouth. Janet occasionally gets this look as well. I may be a slow learner, but I'm not stupid. When I see the worried look now, I just shut up and say nothing. It's probably for the best.

The dogs had a great time at the dog park today. I guess they always have a great time. It's too bad the place is so far away, or I'd take them everyday. Dot and Dash have learned the route by now. They bark to tell us which freeway exit to take and they bark some more if we aren't driving fast enough. I wish I were as easy to please as a dog. When we take the pair to the dog park and let them off their leashes for an hour, they're happy as clams for the rest of the day.

Even though I'm not a Dad, I did dad-like things today. I mowed the grass and ate barbecued ribs for dinner. It was a good day, even though Dot and Dash may beg to differ. They both got a bath today.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 914

I think we are transitioning from the allergy season to the bug bite season. My allergies don't bother me nearly as much when I'm working outside now. It's a small consolation however, since I'm being eaten alive by mosquitoes. The chiggers and mosquitoes are terrible this year. It's been years since they've been this bad. Probably the moist, rainy Spring has created just the right conditions for bugs of all kinds. I wish they'd go away. I had to mow the grass today, and by the time I finished, I must have gotten a hundred mosquito bites.

One reason that my allergies aren't bothering me as much is that I've started eating local raw honey. I've heard that since bees pollinate many of the same plants that cause Spring allergies, you can build up an immunity to these allergies by eating several tablespoons a day of local, raw, unfiltered honey. It's seems to work. Then again, maybe the allergy season is over anyway. I guess I won't know for sure until next Spring.

I'm still seeing cars with broken windshields and dented hoods all over town. Janet finally got an insurance adjustor to look at her car today. She said it took forever, since the adjustor insisted on counting every single dent. This ferocious hailstorm leaves me more nervous about rain than ever. It seems like nothing good happens when it rains. The roof leaks. The power goes out frequently during storms. The dogs panic and occasionally have seizures. Now, I have to add the total destruction of your car as yet another rainy day hazard. I guess a dry climate isn't much better though. Look at all those forest fires they're having out west right now.

When I was walking the dogs this afternoon, it looked like a good day to take the kayak out. I saw lots of kayaks out on the lake. I wish it wasn't so hard to get my kayak down to the water. I have two choices. I can strap some little wheels to the boat and drag it down the hill to the water. Alternately, I can bolt a roof rack to the car and drive the kayak down to the water. Neither of these alternatives are great. Since the hill is steep, it can be quite tiring to pull the boat back up the slope to the house when you're finished. Going to the lake by car seems like a good alternative until you realize that there aren't many entrances to the park by road. I can see the water from my house, but I have to drive quite a ways to get to the same place. The roof rack won't fit on the loaner car anyway, so this is all a mute point. Needless to say, the kayak doesn't leave the backyard very often

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

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 913

The rent house was sold today. I signed all the papers this afternoon at the title company, turned over the keys to the new owners, and that was that. It's over. I was relieved that the whole process was finally finished, but I can't say that my mood was exactly celebratory. I guess my initial thought was "one down, one to go." I've got one more mid-century modern house, but hopefully, I'll continue living in the remaining house for a while. I was really happy with my real estate agent. He really understood the peculiarities of selling a 1960's house in 2012. My agent is young. I suspect he'll still be around when it's time to retire and sell the other house. I'd definitely use him again.

I tried to help Janet get her car into the body shop today for repairs. I guess I didn't realize how bad the hailstorm actually was.  All the rental cars in  town are already gone. The Land Rover body shop said the soonest they could start repairing Janet's car was July 14. There are literally thousands and thousands of cars in Dallas that were seriously damaged by yesterday's storms. The Land Rover dealership itself was right in the path of the storm and my service representative told me that over 200 of their cars were damaged, including all of their loaner cars. When they told me this, I started to worry, because my own car is still at the dealership for repairs. I had them check and they told me I was one of the lucky ones. My car was already inside the shop when the storm hit. Some people weren't so lucky. The body shop told me that several cars they had just finished repairing were damaged all over again before their owners had a chance to pick them up.

With all the water problems I've been having with my roof, I was kind of hoping that yesterday's hail storm might have have left enough dents in the roof that my homeowner's insurance might finally spring for a brand new roof. I climbed up on the roof this afternoon to look for signs of damage. Nothing! No signs of damage at all. The roof looked exactly the same as it did before the storm. It's just a leaky old roof.

I went to Cafe Lago for breakfast this morning. This is the place where we sometimes take the dogs for dinner. I don't know why I haven't thought of this place before. It's right in the neighborhood and I've always liked their dinner menu. I guess I just forgot that they served breakfast as well. I came at 10 AM, which is when I usually eat breakfast, and I was the only one in the place. The owner cooked my omelet. The food was great and I kind of liked being the only one in the restaurant. I'll be back.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 912

The hailstorm last night was even worse than I thought. In the light of  day, Janet's Land Rover looked pretty well demolished. The hood looked like someone had spent ten minutes banging on it as hard as they could with a hammer. The windshield was broken. Some of the taillights were broken. There were even some serious dents in the doors. I'll bet that the insurance adjusters are going to be very busy today. There are probably thousands of cars like this all over town. It's weird. Janet and I will probably both have loaner cars at the same time. My own car is still a long way from having its own extensive list of repairs completed.

Luckily, there's one thing that does appear to have reached its conclusion. The buyer of my rent property got their loan approval this morning. We are scheduled to close tomorrow. I never dreamed that buying and selling property would become so complicated. The last time I did this, the whole process seemed much, much simpler. Oh, well. At least selling a house is safe. If you sell something to a stranger on Craig's List, you have to worry about getting abducted or killed.

Can you believe that it's the middle of June already?  I've got to remember to pay my quarterly estimated taxes tomorrow. Next week, it's going to be my birthday again. Seems like we just did this not too long ago. Jeez, where does the time go.  I've still got a few Christmas thank-you letters that I haven't written yet.

I hope the buyers enjoy my rent house. I still have a lot of fond memories about that place. I guess it would be hard not to have good memories. I was younger, healthier, and had a glamorous ad agency job when I lived there. I didn't have Dalmatians though. I didn't have a dog at all. On balance, life now is much better.

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