Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 959

Mercifully, the robo-calls and insanely negative TV ads have stopped. I don't know which of the many candidates calling the other guy a liar won today's election, but I'm sure I'll find out soon enough. Maybe we'll get a brief respite before the onslaught of political advertising begins all over again. By the time November arrives, I'll probably be wishing we had a monarchy.

I finally got the company who told me that I owed them $672 a few days ago to admit they'd made a mistake. They had the audacity to tell me that they'd only received my check a few days ago. I might have bought this lame argument if there wasn't a canceled check showing that they received and cashed my payment over a month ago. These guys ought to run for public office. They've certainly got the lying part down.

Apparently, the document that I hand delivered yesterday isn't finished yet. Even though I used the exact pictures the client specified, they told me that they didn't think the photos would look this way in the finished brochure. We've got to try some new pictures now. Why is it so hard to look at the components that go into something and visualize the finished result? I can do this. A lot of people can't though. Sometimes, I think I spend half my time doing layouts that will never see the light of day, just so people will have something tangible to circle and draw lines through with their felt tip markers. It always seems to be much easier to edit something than to fill a blank page.

Did I tell you I got the job to cover the big Women's Wear Daily fashion event in Las Vegas next month? This ought to be a fun project. I'm already starting to make arrangement for interviews and location photography. Since most of my work is done staring at the same computer I use to write the blog, it's nice to get out occasionally. Who knows. Maybe the Singapore job will come through as well.

The dogs and I certainly aren't getting out quite as much as we did earlier this Spring. It is relentlessly hot outside now. Dot and Dash can't take the heat and neither can I. Our walks are shorter now, but we still make an effort. I'm ready for Fall. Believe it or not, I'm even ready for rain.

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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 958

I burned some PDF files to a CD and drove them over to a client this morning. It was easier to drive across town than it would have been to explain yet again how to use YouSendIt or Unzip large files. Sometimes I worry that I could lose all my clients at the drop of a hat. None of them are very tech savvy, and most don't seem to have any use for the Internet at all. One client still prints out their website so they can read it on paper. You might think that dealing with Luddites would be stressful, but I find the old ways reassuring. Truthfully, it's still a lot easier to send a fax than it is to communicate using GoToMeeting or Evernote.

It appears like I'll never be able to completely relax when walking the dogs. There is always some sort of danger on the horizon. Last week I noticed that a guy with two aggressive dogs had moved into one of the rent houses down the street. The house where the guy lives has a very rickety back fence. I know that the previous renters who lived in this house have had their dogs escape through this fence. When I see the aggressive dogs racing around in the back yard, I have this sinking feeling that this isn't going to end well.

I just don't have a whole lot of faith in my fellow man anymore. Some of the nicest people I know are completely incompetent. On the other side of the coin, many of the most competent people are complete jerks. Where is the balance? It seems like there should be more people who are brilliant, completely practical, and nice all at the same time.

The new website I launched yesterday seems to be getting good reviews. This is a huge relief to me, because I don't think that all the king's horses and all the king's men could put the old site back together again. When I was going through the process of updating the site, I frequently became baffled by the code I wrote in 1995. What was I thinking? A lot of this code doesn't even make sense to me anymore. Of course, the Internet was different then. Most of my clients were using Windows 95 and Flash hadn't even been invented yet. Those were the days. I don't think I would even hear about PHP, API's and all the other complexities that bedevil me today until quite a few years later.

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 957

Dash was better behaved in the car today than he's been in a long, long time. It would be nice to know what causes his panic attacks, but maybe we'll never know. The only thing that I can think of is that we have finally weaned him off of the Phenobarbital he's been taking for several years. The vet wanted him to take Phenobarbital to reduce the chance of another epileptic seizure, but he hasn't had a seizure in so many years that Janet and I decided to take him off the drug. It takes a long time to get off Phenobarbital. You have to reduce the dose very gradually, so there will be no side effects. The whole process took about three months, but last week he finally had the drug completely out of his system. Maybe there is still a risk of seizures, but I think Dash is better off without having to continually deal with a powerful barbiturate in his system.

I finally completed the animal rescue website I've been renovating this afternoon and re-launched it early this evening. Doing something over again is never quite as much fun as doing it the first time. I think the makeover is actually a big improvement over the original site I designed, but I'm certain that, in my desire to simplify things, I accidentally eliminated some stuff that needed to stay. The original design evolved over a period of many years and eventually became so complex that it was difficult to navigate and almost impossible to update. This new design will be easy to update. In fact, making the site easy to modify was my primary objective. Being the webmaster of an animal rescue site is kind of like being the manager of a motel. You get new visitors almost every day.  Maybe this time around, I won't be faced with re-inventing the wheel every week.

Dot and Dash had a great time at the dog park today. I was really surprised, since it was just as hot outside as it was last Sunday. Somehow, both dogs had more energy this week and raced around like it was a Spring day. I have no idea where this burst of energy came from, but some of it must have rubbed off on me. When we got home, I mowed the grass, vacuumed the house and had enough mojo left over to finally finish the animal rescue website.

I was pleased to get a lot done today, but I don't really expect today's get-up-and-go to last through tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is Monday. You can't expect much out of a Monday. I'll dip my toe back into the muddy waters of deadlines and delays. When I pick up the phone, I'll probably get put on hold. The postman will probably bring a pile of bills as well. That's what happens on Monday's. I suspect that I'll eat cold cereal for breakfast. I never have a desire to cook on Monday's. I don't have a desire to do much of anything on Monday.

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

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 956

If you work in customer service, I apologize in advance. Probably the next time I talk with you, I'm going to be angry. Why? Because customer service can't seem to solve customer problems anymore. It doesn't matter if I'm talking to tech support about a website problem, or to my bank about an erroneous charge on my statement. Whatever the problem happens to be, it doesn't get solved. Today, I got a bill for $672 that was paid in full several months ago. I have the canceled checks from my bank that prove I paid the bill. The canceled checks don't seem to resolve anything though. I just keep getting billed again and again. Customer service agents probably don't even listen anymore. If I got screamed at eight hours a day for ineptness and broken promises, I probably wouldn't listen  either. What a horrible job being a customer service representative must be. You don't really have the authority to do anything, or fix anything, but you've still got to be friendly and keep saying "I understand" over and over again.

Janet had a similar problem last night making airline reservations. She got a brochure in the mail promising a special discount, but when she entered the promotion code on the airline website, it refused to take it. A friendly customer service representative said that the discount was real and that the promotion code should work.  Unfortunately, it didn't. I suggested just calling the airline and making reservations the old fashioned way. You know what was wrong with that plan?  The airline charges more for tickets if you talk to a real person. Catch-22. The extra charges for talking with a real live person would just about negate the discount anyway.

I'm increasingly convinced that the world is just broken. There is an election in Texas next Tuesday and as voting day approaches, there has been a relentless barrage of TV ads and robo-calls from all the candidates. The message is simple. All the candidates are essentially just saying "my opponent is a liar."  Enough already!  Maybe you're all liars, but after listening to all these negative commercials, I don't think I want to vote for any of you.

At least the dogs continue to bring pleasure.  Dot's visions isn't so good, and for the past several weeks she's been thinking that an old burned fireplace log in the neighbor's driveway is actually the neighbor's cat.  The log and the cat are about the same size and both are black, but that is the only resemblance. She has been so frantic to chase the log that I let her get up close to it today. She was so embarrassed to discover that the cat she wanted to chase was just a piece of wood that now she won't go anywhere near it.

We go to the dog park tomorrow. The sight of happy dogs playing brings a smile to my face as well.

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

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 955

I saw a woman make the sign of the cross before diving into a humongous platter of food this morning. I don't know whether she was blessing the food, or asking for God's assistance in finishing her plate. Yes, you guessed it. I went back to the restaurant with good bacon today. I often overhear people talking about losing weight in this restaurant, but I seldom see thin people. I guess we all have good intentions. I didn't notice whether the woman invoking God finished her plate, but I certainly finished mine. Bacon tastes even better when you haven't had any for several weeks.

Do you ever have days when you feel you are literally drowning in e-mail? Today was one of those days. Every time I tried to answer a question, it seemed to generate two more questions. I never did manage to get all the questions answered. Lots of the mail I received had pictures attached. The pictures were supposed to go on various websites, but as you might expect, none of them were the right size or format. I used to work myself into a panic and ruin my weekends in an effort to get these Friday afternoon assignments off my desk. Now, I just save most of the work until Monday. I can usually work in peace on Mondays, while everyone else is having staff meetings.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Summer to be over. It's too hot to walk the dogs unless I get them out really early in the mornings. The grass is drying up because of the city's watering restrictions. The air conditioner runs constantly now. I don't even want to see what this month's electric bill is going to be. I think people are generally in a better mood in the Winter as well. The phrase "hot and bothered" isn't just an expression, it's the literal truth.

At least it's Friday. Despite the heat, that's good enough for me. Hey, the stock market was up today. My clients all seem happy. Janet and I had a delicious dinner tonight. As far as I'm concerned, all is well with the world.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 954

It's weird that after all these years, certain things still baffle me about HTML. Today, I noticed that when I inserted a rather ordinary nested table into a page I was working on, the entire page shifted a few pixels to the left. If I took the table out again, everything would shift back to the right. Obviously, there was something wrong in the code, but I just couldn't find it. Maybe it was something as small as a single misplaced tag. I wasted a huge amount of time looking for discrepancies, but the table itself seemed to work perfectly. I finally gave up and inserted a similar invisible table in all the other pages on the site, so everything would shift a few pixels to the left. The site looks and works perfectly now, but two or three years from now I won't have a clue why this particular website has tables with nothing in them strewn all over the place.

Project Runway is back. It's hard to believe that this show has been on the air for ten seasons now. Back when I still drank alcohol, Janet and I would have Martinis while we watched the show. I never cared much for shows like Survivor or even American Idol, but Project Runway was always one of my favorites. As contrived contests go, this one seemed pretty genuine. I can hear the show off in the distance on the TV in the kitchen as I write this. Janet must be watching. I've got to finish the blog first. The show's not the same without a Martini or Cosmopolitan in my hand anyway. I only watch TV during breakfast now. A long leisurily breakfast has become my one remaining luxury.

I read something recently that said dead Blue Jays were a sign that the West Nile Virus might be in the area. I saw a dead Blue Jay this afternoon while I was walking the dogs. Actually, you see quite a few dead birds if you are walking in the woods, but mosquitoes are bad this year and I'm starting to get nervous about the West Nile Virus. That's all I need on top of everything else that's wrong with me. Thinking you're not going to get bit by a mosquito in the South is ridiculous though. There are millions and millions of the little bugs and even if you spray a whole can of Off® on your arms and legs, you're still going to get bit occasionally.

I'm already looking forward to my regular Friday breakfast outing. The trash has been taken out to the curb. All my e-mail has been answered. It's been so hot this week that I even went up on the roof today to look for tiny cracks. I found some too. All in all, it's been a very productive week. I'm ready for bacon now.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 953

What a weird day. I finally arranged a meeting with the client who unceremoniously dumped me earlier this month. I wanted to find out what had happened. Before I could even get a word in edgewise about how shabbily they had treated me, my former client started asking me how they could get the website back to the way it used to be. Apparently, the new guys had made such a mess of things in just two weeks that the client wanted to hire me back. This was certainly fine by me. The whole meeting had kind of a "let's just forget this ever happened" tone to it. That was fine too. I've been in situations where I felt like saying "let's just forget this ever happened" myself.

It looks like I got the job to cover the big fashion event in Las Vegas too. I may be doing a lot more than I thought I would, but it doesn't really matter, since I'll be working on a day rate. I'm used to being busy and I'll get as much done as I possibly can in eight hours.

I'm making good progress on the animal rescue site I'm currently revamping. This new site will be a lot simpler and easier to navigate than the site I initially designed over twelve years ago. One thing that I've learned over the years is that people don't really care how clever you are. They just want to find what they are looking for as fast as possible. Sure, it's nice to have a pretty looking site, but that's not usually why people are visiting. Hopefully, this new version I'm designing will connect stray dogs and cats with potential new owners even better than the original version.

Training class was kind of a mess tonight. Our teacher was gone for some reason and nobody else seemed to want to step up to the plate and lead the class in his absence. Dash and I certainly didn't help matters any. We didn't want to lead the class any more than anyone else did. Somehow, we managed to muddle through most of the exercises anyway. Dash actually did pretty well tonight. He's a self-starter. Since he never listens to me anyway, he was right in his element with a leaderless class.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 952

What is wrong with the world these days? We have become so fragmented and divisive that I feel like I can't even leave the house without someone asking me to choose sides. Everyone seems to have selected something to be passionate about, to the exclusion of everything else. In animal rescue circles I see people so passionate about spay and neuter programs that they wouldn't even consider that breeders might be good people too. Personally, I like the fact that there are Beagles and Poodles and Dalmatians. Responsible breeders are good pet owners too, but don't try to tell that to a spay and neuter zealot. They'll cut your balls off.

I heard recently that astronaut Sally Ride had died. By the time the news had made its way to Google+ it had turned into a heated argument about gay rights. Give it a rest guys. Sally Ride was always a very private person about her personal life. I think she would have preferred that people just say "Rest in peace."

Don't even get me started about religion. If there is a god who is smart enough to have created the universe, do you really think he'd approve of 37 different religions using his name to ridicule, diminish and even kill each other? I don't think so. Christians. Jews. Hindus. Muslims. Buddhists. Libertarians. Scientologists. All of you have a point, but you are only looking at part of the picture.

Maybe the polarized, divisive nature of today's society is what has caused me to become a bit reclusive. I used to be quite social, but it just isn't enjoyable anymore. People are always asking me to choose sides. I prefer the company of dogs these days. Hard work and dogs seem to make a lot more sense than arguing about health care and the middle east.

Today was all about hard work and dogs. I took Dash to the vet for his bi-weekly antigen shot and then I hauled a ton of brush and tree branches out the street for this month's "big trash" day. I think the bulky trash truck comes by tomorrow. Hopefully, it didn't come yesterday.  Oh, I did some website work too, but that doesn't even begin to compare to hauling several hundred pounds of wood out to the street.

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 951

I started work on another website project today. Even though designing and maintaining websites is an important part of my business, I'm starting to wonder if they even matter anymore. A lot of people I know think that Facebook is the Internet and never go anywhere else. I've found that I've been able to reach more people in a single year using Twitter than I have during the previous ten years using my own company website. There is nothing remarkable about websites anymore. They have become just the same as the boatloads of printed brochures and collateral material I used to write before the Internet became popular. I wonder what the next big thing is going to be? I've made my living for many years by becoming an early adopter of whatever was new and fabulous. Unfortunately, I don't have a good feel for what is coming next anymore. Even worse, I'm starting to long for simpler times.

I'm starting to long for Winter as well. The heat has become relentless. The air conditioner never stops now. Even at night, the AC can't seem to manage to cool the house down to a comfortable 75 degrees. This Spring, I really thought we might have a mild Summer. Hey, we actually did have a mild Winter. It seemed perfectly plausible that an equally mild Summer would follow. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen. Summer is half over now, and it is very, very hot.

I'm not taking nearly as many photographs anymore. The vegetation in the park is dry and brown. The animals are all in hiding under the nearest shady bush. Even the lighting is too harsh for pretty pictures. I guess I could still wait until sunset, but I prefer Spring and Fall when the sun is running on my schedule. When the last of the Spring wildflowers die, I don't know what I'm going to photograph on our daily walks.

Dash threw up again last night. I have no idea why he does this periodically. I've taken him to the vet several times and they can't find anything wrong. He eats exactly the same food as Dot, who never throws up. He doesn't get into the garbage or eat dead things either. It's all a mystery to me. When he does throw up, it's always on the carpet too. There are plenty of easy-to-clean brick floors nearby, but he seems to prefer the carpet. As soon as he's made a mess of things, he goes right back to sleep and everything's fine. It's enough to make me want to throw up.

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 950

Dot and Dash got to go to a Dalmatian Rescue event today. To ensure that they would be good little ambassadors when we arrived at the Petco store, they both got a long walk and a trip to the dog park first. When we take the dogs to rescue events, people inevitably tell us that they've never seen Dalmatians that are so calm. It's not rocket science. Any dog that has walked for several miles and then raced around a dog park a few hours later is going to be pretty calm.

The trip to the dog park and the rescue event took up quite a bit of time, so it was a good thing we got a lot of our weekend errands done yesterday. It was way too hot to do outdoor chores anyway. With triple digit temperatures outside, even the thought of going back to work in the office didn't seem so bad. I finished the afternoon updating a website and then writing another watch article.

I think next week is when the city comes by to haul away brush and old furniture. This means I'd better get busy tomorrow and haul all the tree branches I trimmed a few weeks ago out to the street. If I miss the pick-up day, I'll have to wait an entire month before the truck returns again. Maybe I should look on Angie's List and find someone to do this sort of thing for me. I just signed up for Angie's List a few days ago when I saw a 60% Off sign-up special on the Paypal website. I haven't used the list yet and have my suspicions about all the reviews being genuine, but I bet I'll use it soon enough. I just can't find anyone reliable to recommend things like doctors and contractors anymore. When I worked in an office, there seemed to be an endless stream of recommendations from co-workers whenever I went to the break room to get a cup of coffee. Now, I work alone and the Dalmatians aren't talking. I just don't know who to trust anymore.

Things usually slow down in the Summer, but somehow I still find myself with a ton of website work to complete. I did manage to re-launch the big site I've been working on lately last Friday, but there's another that I haven't even started on yet. I think Monday would be a good time to start.

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 949

On most Saturdays, I do what thousands of other men do. I go to Home Depot. I don't have a shopping list or a plan. I just wander aimlessly up and down the aisles, looking for things that might be useful. I always manage to come home with something, but some of my essential supplies don't get used for months or even years. The problem is that after running Saturday errands, the last thing I want to do is start a home improvement project. The various nuts and bolts and cans of paint get put in drawers, or on top of shelves and are eventually forgotten about. Typically, when I get one of those rare urges to fix something, I can't remember where I put my supplies and have to go to Home Depot all over again and buy the stuff again. This isn't the best plan in the world, but I do feel ready to repair at a moment's notice.

It turned out there weren't any Dalmatians to photograph today after all, because the new guy was already on his way to his forever home in Houston. It's great the dogs are finding homes so quickly. It wasn't always this way. When I took our two dogs on their afternoon walk, they didn't want to go far. It was just too hot. I think my hopes for a mild Summer have been dashed. It's just another blistering hot Texas Summer like last year and the year before.

All day, the television news was filled with the unfolding story of the theater shootings in Colorado. It's such a shame that you can't even go to the movies anymore. I used to love going to the movies when I was a kid and nobody ever worried about our safety. They didn't have to, because it actually was safe. Times have certainly changed. When I was growing up, there wasn't a murder in my hometown for fifteen straight years. Now, in most big cities, there's probably a shooting every fifteen minutes. I wonder when someone is going to look at the big picture and see the obvious. If you spend your time playing violent video games from the time you are five to the time you're twenty four, it is going to color your perspective on things. It just is.

I went to the pet store this afternoon to get some more rawhide sticks for the dogs to chew.  These sticks look like fat little pencils and are made of shredded rawhide, so they will digest easily. Dot and Dash love them. The guy at the store told me that they no longer carried the sticks, because they were trying to eliminate products that were not made in America from their inventory. This seems like a good thing, but I still think the sticks are harmless. The pet store guy tried to sell me some raw butcher bones instead, saying it would be good for their teeth. I'm not so sure. We gave our first Dalmatian those cow hooves that pet stores used to sell and they almost ruined his teeth. They were too hard. Butcher bones seem just as hard and they're messy too. Our dogs would carry them right back to the bed and ruin the bedspread.

Why do I mention this? I guess because it's so hard to know what's right anymore. Everything from choosing healthy dog treats to raising kids so they will become responsible adults has become a lot more difficult.

Katie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 948

Today was full of odd little surprises. When I went out to the street this morning to retrieve the garbage cans after the trash truck arrived, I came back to find a small bushel of fresh tomatoes on my doorstep. I was only gone for a minute or two, but I didn't see any sign of who had left the tomatoes. They just appeared, and I still don't know who to thank.

Later, when I went to the empty restaurant for breakfast, it wasn't empty. There was already another couple eating breakfast. I was kind of disappointed, because when the place is empty, I get to choose the music. The food was still good though. I can't for the life of me think of a single good reason why this isn't the most popular restaurant in the neighborhood.

There were scattered storms in the afternoon and the dogs didn't want to go outside.  I finally found a little break in the weather on the iPad radar and took the dogs outside. Things were going well until Dot heard thunder off in the distance. I told Dash that if he would poop right where we were, we could all go home immediately. Amazingly he did. It was the first time he's ever pooped on command. I was very proud.

I took my video camera to the dealer this afternoon to get the firmware upgraded. I'd been dreading doing this myself for months, because the instructions from Panasonic were so incomprehensible that I was certain I was going to screw things up and turn the camera into an expensive doorstop. When I was at the Panasonic seminar yesterday, I ran into my sales rep and he told me that they'd do the firmware upgrade for me. What a relief. The camera still works fine and has even more capabilities than it did yesterday.

It looks like it's going to be a dog filled weekend.  We've got new Dalmatians to photograph at the Velvet Snout tomorrow and I think we're going to take Dot and Dash to a Dalmatian Rescue meet and greet at a pet store on Sunday. It sounds good to me. Spending time with the dogs definitely beats mowing the grass.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 947

Have you ever noticed that if you took away all the cute cat and dog pictures on Facebook, all you would be left with is an endless stream of politically correct and occasionally incorrect opinions from people you actually know? I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want to know this much about the beliefs of people I actually know. Please guys, just let me live in blissful ignorance. All this being said, I still think my Facebook stream is better than my Google+ stream, where everyone seems to think that a dash of science and a giant group hug will cure all the world's problems.

Coming face-to-face with all these opinions everyday is a bit discouraging for me. It has made me realize that as a society, we have reached a point where we will never come to a consensus on anything. Instead of uniting behind a common goal, like going to the moon or winning WWII, we have  become a bunch of ineffectual competing tribes, with no loyalties beyond our own tribe. Maybe it won't even matter. I have a feeling that in thirty years or so our world will start to resemble that Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome movie.

Since there's a good chance I won't be around in thirty years, I concentrate on more pleasant things. I really enjoyed going to the Panasonic seminar this afternoon. I couldn't begin to afford most of the video equipment that the manufacturers demonstrated today, but it's nice to know that it's out there. So, who goes to these types of seminars? Increasingly, it is the cameramen and editors who are employed by professional sports teams. I routinely see folks who work for the Cowboys, the Mavericks, and the Rangers at these events. I guess it makes sense. Professional sports organizations still have the money to buy boatloads of this expensive high-tech equipment. The rest of us don't. The rest of us are faced with the prospect of making cheap YouTube videos on our iPhones.

I think I'll go back to the empty restaurant with good food tomorrow. It's really peaceful there. I'll listen to a piano concerto and watch birds splashing in the bird bath right outside the front window while I eat my whole grain pancakes and a pulled pork breakfast taco. It's only Thursday evening, but TGIF anyway.

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 946

I found out today that one of my clients is considering sending me to Las Vegas to cover a big fashion event next month. That's certainly an improvement over yesterday's dismal news. I just wish the good news was more consistent. If I had known what a roller coaster ride owning a small business was when I started my company in 1990, I probably would have been a lot nicer to the creative directors I used to work for.

Hey, I've got my freedom though. Today it was the freedom to be stupid. I mistakenly took my evening meds this morning instead of my regular morning meds. There is a reason that I'm supposed to take the evening meds just before bedtime. One of the pills I take is Simcor. This drug causes the small blood vessels near the surface of the skin to expand, resulting in a pronounced flushing sensation. All morning I felt like I was burning up. My skin was bright red and blotchy and I felt like I had a bad sunburn. This is normal, but usually you're asleep when the flushing occurs and you never notice it. It didn't help that I had four cups of coffee this morning either. You're not supposed to have hot beverages right after you take the pill. Oh, well.  I'm fine now and I'm less likely to absent mindedly make this mistake again.

If I can get my work finished in time, I'm planning on going to a video production seminar hosted by Panasonic tomorrow afternoon. I used to go to these type of things quite often when I was doing more video production. Now, it is becoming harder to justify the time away from the office when I'm bogged down in website work. I think I'll go anyway though. For some reason I still think video production is fun and you've got to take your fun wherever you can get it these days.

Dot and Dash did well in training class tonight. It was hot this evening, but that didn't seem to slow the dogs down. They both had one of their better nights. I'm proud of the little rascals.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 945

Not really a great day. When I was monitoring the websites I manage this morning, I happened to notice that one of them had been completely replaced with another design. That caught me by surprise. Hey, I'll be the first to acknowledge that clients come and go. I've lost clients because they grew larger and wanted something so fancy that I was unable to deliver it. I've lost clients because they became smaller and no longer wanted to pay my fee. I don't think I've ever lost a client because I did shoddy work. It bothers me that these guys nuked my site and hired another design firm without ever calling me to say there was a problem. The last time I talked to these guys, I had just finished some updates that they requested and was told to expect some new bios for two new employees. Everything seemed fine. Obviously it wasn't, because it appears that I've been fired.

Personally, I just think it is extremely rude to dump a vendor without any sort of a notice or explanation. If there was a problem, I'm sure it could have been resolved. Most problems can be resolved fairly easily. I'm still not sure what is going on, since the client didn't return my calls. I do have my suspicions however. I know that one of the client's children works at the firm that did the new website. That's life. I've never been one to cry over spilled milk, so I'll just move on.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. I wrote a few articles. I prepared to re-launch another client's website after an extensive makeover. I went to the bank to deposit a few small checks that probably won't even pay this month's electric bill. I didn't deal with the bug problem yet though. I'm going to save that loathsome task for a day when I have a bit more positive energy.

If you asked either of the dogs, you would never have guessed that anything was wrong at all. They're both sprawled out on the bed right now, lost in dog dreams. To them, it was another perfect day.

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

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 944

Do you procrastinate? I do. Although I get quite a bit done on most days, I am continually reshuffling the deck and putting the most loathsome tasks at the very bottom of my to do list. There is a downside to this strategy. If you haven't guessed it already, there comes a time when all the fun projects are finished and you are left with an endless list of things you never wanted to do in the first place.

I can probably stave off disaster for a few more days, but pretty soon I am going to have to buckle down and do the nasty Javascript coding for the pretty website shell I have already finished. Even worse, I'm going to have to rid our house of bugs. Bugs have been particularly bad this year. With dogs in the house, I hate to use insecticides. About the only safe way to exterminate the little beasties is to use a a special poison bait that you place inside your electric wall outlets where your pets can't reach it. This involves removing all the baseplates in the house and sometimes even unscrewing the metal outlet box itself. You put a little of the putty-like bait inside each outlet and light switch and then put all the baseplates back on again. This technique actually works, but the last time I did it, it took me all day. Yeah, I know that it's disgusting to think that bugs make their home in between your walls, but they do. I'd much rather have the bugs die quietly behind the sheetrock than inside the bathtub.

I woke up to sunlight this morning. The power is back on, all the battery devices are charged again, and life is back to normal. In a surprising move, the power company restored the electricity last night exactly when they said they would. Power outages are so common in our neighborhood that I've seriously considered getting a big backup generator. So, what stopped me from this practical solution to an ongoing problem? Well, the expense, for starters. A generator to power your television while you're camping is one thing, but a generator large enough to power your house and keep the air conditioner running is an entirely different animal. Not only is the generator itself quite expense, you then need to hire an electrician to install a switching system to take your generator power on or offline. This is not something that you would want to do yourself. If you hook things up wrong, you could end up sending your generator power back through the grid and fry the repairmen on the pole behind your house who is trying to restore your power. I've decided that a better solution is just to go to bed early when the power is out.

If there is anyone from the BBC reading this blog, please send some new episodes of Dr. Who and Top Gear over to the states. I think I've seen every available episode at least five times by now. Too bad these shows are the only thing I like on TV.

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

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 943

We almost got struck by lightning today. The lightning strike was so bright that it seemed like studio strobes going off directly overhead. The thunderclap came just milliseconds later. I would think that the lightning strike was less than a 1000 yards away, since the sound of the thunder arrived so quickly. The thunderclap was so loud that it set off car alarms on a nearby street. It goes without saying that the dogs totally panicked. I had a hard time controlling them as we tried to get back to the house before the real downpour started. This storm just came out of nowhere. Luckily, we returned home safely about two minutes before the skies opened up and the rain began in earnest. I usually look at the weather radar on my iPad if I'm going out in questionable weather, but the radar wouldn't have helped me in this case. The storm didn't blow in from the West or the North; it just materialized directly overhead. When I looked at a time lapse view of the weather radar later, it appeared that the storm didn't even exist when we started our walk. The storm cell just suddenly formed right over the lake in less than five minutes. That's Texas weather for you. It's always full of surprises.

The storm apparently wasn't through with us when we got home. About ten minutes after the rain started, our power went out. Three hours later, the power is still out. I'm making today's post using my laptop and a portable 4G hotspot.  Reporting a power outage is frustrating now because everything is automated. It is impossible to talk to a real person. After you answer enough automated questions using your cellphone keypad, you eventually get an ETA for when the lines will be repaired, but you can never find out what is actually wrong. According to the phone message, it will be another three hours before power is restored. I'm sure the laptop battery will be dead before then.

As you can see, Dot and Dash got a bath today. It definitely wasn't a very auspicious day to give the dogs a bath, but how were we to know? They both got soaked all over again when we made our retreat from the park and tried to get home before the next lightning strike. At least the weather was nice when we went to the dog park earlier this morning.

It's so quiet in the house when the power is out. Usually, there is always the hum of the air conditioner, which is frequently augmented by the sounds of the dishwasher, the washing machine, or the dryer. Even the main computer makes a lot of noise. Now the house is silent. All I hear are a million cicadas outside. I have a feeling the the television won't work when the power is eventually restored. That's what happened the last time the power went out.  The U-verse box lost all it's programming and we ended up having to call AT&T to get everything working again.

Oh well, tomorrow's another day. I wouldn't be surprised if it's dry as a bone again by noon.

Gypsy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day