Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 990

When I was eating breakfast this morning, I noticed that the waiters knew sign language. "That's cool," I thought. I hear waiters speaking to customers in Spanish all the time, but I run into very few who sign. I actually wish everybody used sign language. The world is way too noisy. Year ago, when I worked on the American Airlines account, I proposed that the airline scrap their smoking and no smoking sections on the planes and substitute talking and no talking sections instead. As you might expect, that went over like a lead balloon. I still think it is a good idea though.

Lots of older people go to the restaurant I visited this morning. I've noticed that the older women tend to eat in groups of three or four and are almost always happy and smiling. The old men almost always eat alone and look miserable. The only time when the old women seem to look miserable is when they are dining with their grumpy old husbands. There were a few younger people in the restaurant too. One young woman was wearing a t-shirt that said Kiss Me in the Dark. A bright shaft of light was shining directly on her through the restaurant window. I thought that was funny.

I didn't really get caught up today, but I feel more or less up to speed again. There's only one article left to write and it isn't due until sometime next week. All my websites are current again. My clients are happy with the stuff that I sent out by FedEx yesterday. It seems like a good time to slack off a bit and enjoy the Labor Day holiday.

Dot and Dash have a rescue event to look forward to this weekend. They've both turned out to be good little ambassadors for the breed. Dot likes these rescue events because she gets to be bossy and act like she's running the show. Dash, always the social butterfly, just likes to get petted by strangers.

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 989

I knew this was going to happen. I've finally used up the stack of pre-printed FedEx forms that's been sitting in my desk drawer for ten years. Without the forms, I have no idea what my FedEx account number is, so I take my packages down to the FedEx office to find out. They've never heard of me. "But I've been coming to this office for almost fifteen years," I tell the woman at the desk. "I must be in your computer somewhere," I say. "I've used up a two inch thick stack of pre-printed forms mailing stuff with you guys." "We have no record of you." says the woman. "Would you like to set up an account with us?" "But I already have an account," I say. "When was the last time you shipped something," says the woman? "I know I shipped something last year," I say. The woman starts laughing. "You're an inactive account," she says. "We deleted you."

I finally get my packages shipped and go home to feed the dogs. They both want to lay outside in the backyard after lunch, but the mosquitoes are back. After all the spraying the city has done this Summer, there are still just as many mosquitoes as there ever were. Two friends of ours in the neighborhood have already caught the West Nile Disease. They said for them it was like a bad case of the flu. I wonder if I've been infected as well. Some people just don't show any symptoms. All I know is that I've been bitten by a ton of mosquitoes this Summer. I guess I'll find out when I have my annual physical next month. West Nile Virus antibodies do show up in blood work.

After a week of feeling like I've had too much to do, I've just about caught up with my workload. By this weekend, I think I will have caught up completely. With a three day weekend coming up, having nothing to do appeals to me. Maybe Janet and I will think of something fun to do with the dogs on Labor Day. 

Since things are more or less back to normal, I'll be looking for somewhere interesting to have breakfast tomorrow. I may even venture out of the neighborhood.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 988

A guy came out to look at the tree on the roof today. The first thing he said was "I should have brought my saw. This will only take me twenty minutes or so." Too bad he didn't bring his saw, because he had plenty of time today. The tree guy was very talkative. Nothing happened with the tree, but we spent the next hour up on the roof solving the world's problems. The guy wanted to talk about politics, which is probably my least favorite subject. At first I thought he was a Democrat. Then I though he was a Republican. Then, I finally figured out that Ron Paul was who he really liked. I kind of like Ron Paul myself, but he could never get elected president. He is just too blunt and too honest. Even though a lot of time was wasted chatting on the roof, I liked the tree guy. Too bad he can't  trim my trees until the middle of September.

I had to print some DVD labels today and discovered, much to my surprise, that my label printing software didn't work any more. It used to work. I haven't really changed anything. What's the problem? This kind of thing happens far too often. Probably some minor system upgrade conflicted with the Epson printer driver and the whole thing went kaput. I tried to look on the Internet for a solution, and the most recent reference to the problem I was having was dated 2004. I think it was probably a different problem back then. Now I'll probably have to go buy a whole new kind of label printing software and hope that it works. Of course, I could always just write the title on the disc with a laundry marker, but I like to look professional.  Oh, well.  One more unsolved problem to deal with tomorrow.

I'm finally getting caught up with my work. I added a bunch of Boxer puppies to a rescue website. I added a page about a Halloween party to another website. I think I've only got one unfinished article to write. Things are definitely looking up.

I know it's still Summer, but it seemed like a pleasant Fall evening at dog training class tonight. There was a nice breeze. The temperature wasn't bad. The only thing that put a damper on the evening was that it's starting to get dark again during class. I think the dogs would agree that our class is much more enjoyable when the sun is up.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 987

Has your life become a poor re-make of Groundhog Day? You remember that movie, don't you? Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he finally gets it right. I feel that way sometimes. I look for a flower, or something vaguely interesting to photograph for the blog on my morning walk with the dogs. I stay in the shower until the hot water runs out. I eat breakfast while watching an old episode of Dr. Who that I've seen five times already. Then I go to work. The work is almost always the same. It's usually slow and tedious. I add something to a website. I subtract something from a paragraph of text. I blend something together in Final Cut Pro. I crop something in Photoshop. I rarely talk to anyone. My marching orders typically come in the form of terse e-mails sent from smart phones. I don't even bother to answer these messages. The results will be on the web soon enough anyway. I just follow my instructions and move on to the next task.

I wonder if I will ever get it right. It would be nice to move beyond the boredom of endless repetition. The lesson of Groundhog Day was that even in the most boring of scenarios, there is plenty of room for improvement and personal growth. In theory, what I do should be fascinating. The problem is that I've done it all too many times already. This is the challenge of daily life. How do you take something that you have done 1000 times and make version number 1001 fresh and new? I don't have the answer, but I'm working on it. Let's just call it a work in progress.

Maybe I've become fixated on repetition because I've seen a lot of it on TV today. There's a political convention going on right now. It's exactly the same as every political convention I can remember. There's a hurricane headed straight for New Orleans. How many times has this happened? I don't know how the people of New Orleans have the tenacity to keep rebuilding on the same spot over and over again. Maybe they will never get it right. I would have moved to higher ground right after the first hurricane and never returned. That's just me though. I'm always looking for the practical solution. Could it be that being practical is right at the root of my boredom?

Hey, Wednesday is French Toast day though. I know it's just another part of the endless repetition, but I like French Toast. I look forward to it. Maybe the dogs and I will see something new on our walk.  Maybe I'll get an assignment I've never done before. Something brand new! One can always hope.

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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 986

I hope today wasn't a precursor to what I have to look forward to during the rest of the week. I was way too busy today. I'm still trying, without a lot of success, to work my way out of last week's backlog. Today was video editing day. I cut together several short videos and managed to get one shipped off to the client. The editing would have gone a lot smoother if I wasn't constantly interrupted by other things. I have a feeling that this is the new normal. Instead of having the luxury of working three weeks on a project, I'm given three hours instead. Lord help me if I decide to skip a day. Skip three days and I'm screwed. With a steady succession of small tasks that command equally small budgets, the only way to succeed is to keep moving. I've more of less mastered this treadmill, but I regret that I never realized just how good I had it fifteen years ago.

One thing did please me today. One of the impromptu videos I put together about the WWD Magic show looked just as good as a similar video put together by a local Las Vegas TV news crew. The news crew had a cameraman, a sound man, an announcer, a producer, and lots of expensive equipment. I just had me. When I saw the news crew photographing some of the same stuff I was, I was afraid they would make my own video look pitiful. The two videos ended up looking very similar however. Both were hurried and rushed. I guess nobody has the luxury of a three week deadline anymore.

The dogs are the only ones who still seem to lead the life of luxury. Dot and Dash consistantly get up late, eat frequently, and are always looking to be entertained. Luckily, it's easy to entertain a dog. If people were even half as accomodating, life would be good.

Tomorrow, I've got another video to edit, along with the usual array of short articles and website updates. If I can find the time, I need to look for an arborist to finish the job of removing the tree on the roof. Hmm. I wonder how much that is going to cost?  If experience is any guide, getting rid of the fallen tree will cost me a lot more than I could earn for a similar amount of effort. I can't complain though. I tried to do the job myself and I failed. I'll always hire a pro when necessary. I hope my clients continue to feel the same way.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 985

I wouldn't make a very good lumberjack. I wrestled with the tree on the roof this afternoon with very limited success. It was easy enough to trim away the small leafy branches. Some of the smaller subsidiary branches came off pretty well too. It was when I got the tree whittled back to the trunk that I began to have problems. Each two to three foot log I sawed away from the trunk seemed to weigh about a hundred pounds. I never dreamed that trees were so heavy. When I got to the point that the remaining section of tree trunk was too thick for my humble reciprocating saw blade, I just gave up. From the amount of wood I was able to remove, I would guess that the remaining section of tree trunk weighs about the same as a small car. My poor roof gets no respect. At least the leafy branches cushioned the fall. Without them, the heavy tree trunk would probably be in my living room.

Dot and Dash were delighted to resume their weekend visits to the dog park.  They knew exactly where they were going and were both quite good in the car on the way to the park. The only snag in our little outing was an unexpected rain shower. After about twenty minutes at the park, it started to pour. We got the dogs back in the car just in time and drove home in a downpour.  I wonder if this sudden storm had anything to do with the approaching hurricane? It might have been one of the outermost rain bands. One thing we discovered is that rain in the car bothers Dot just as much as rain at home. She punctuated our journey with lots of frantic barking and shivering.

I still haven't managed to catch up with last week's accumulated workload. It would be nice to have a lot of projects already queued up, if it weren't for the fact that everybody wants their particular project done yesterday. Be patient folks. I'm working as fast as I can.

I fell asleep last night watching Willie Nelson perform with Merle Haggard and Ray Price on TV. I thought Willie looked old until Ray Price came on stage. The guy is in his late 80's and looked like he came straight to the concert from the rest home. The remarkable thing was that his voice still sounded fabulous. I guess the voice is the last thing to go. I remember seeing Pat Benatar recently. She certainly looked a little worse for wear, but when she started singing "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" it was 1979 again. Since I never could carry a tune to begin with, I wonder what will keep me vital and relevant as senility sets in. It certainly won't be my tree trimming abilities.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 984

Life is full of little surprises. I went up to inspect the roof this afternoon and discovered that a huge branch had broken off one of the large Oak trees in our back yard and landed squarely on the roof. The branch extended from one end of the roof to the other and was ten inches in diameter where it broke off from the tree. I'm kind of glad we were gone when the branch fell. The sound must have been horrendous and I'm sure it would have had me fretting about structural damage to the house. Fortunately, I don't think anything is wrong. The tree missed the natural gas line angling across the roof and didn't appear to tear up any electrical cables either. I'd like to blame this mishap on the multitude of squirrels that live in our trees, but judging from the size of the trunk, I think the tree is just getting old.

Now, I've just got to decide what to do with the thing. The branch looks way too big for me to cut up using my trusty reciprocal saw. I think this is a job for professionals who are still foolish enough to walk around with big chain saws. I won't use a chain saw myself. I had a friend who slipped while using a his chain saw and seriously injured himself when the blade hit him in the face. Ten years later, he still has a huge scar. I don't even think plastic surgery can fix the damage that saw did.

I just heard on the news that Neil Armstrong has died. I'll always remember where I was on that eventful day in 1969 when he said "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," All the Apollo astronauts are getting older now. It won't be long before there won't be anyone left on the entire planet who has set foot on the moon. I think that's extremely sad. We had such potential as cosmic adventurers. I wish our country was still spending money trying to expand the boundaries of what is possible instead of wasting money trying to make failure impossible. When are we going to learn that building safety nets is ultimately futile. We should be working a lot harder to give people the confidence and skills they need to work without a net.

Performers always work without a net. We're going to see one of Janet's friends sing tonight. She's quite good. Few people realize the hours and hours of practice that take place between each concert she gives. I admire people who have the patience and tenacity to keep practicing something until it's perfect. We need a lot more people like this. It has always been difficult to do great things, but isn't that the whole point? We need more great artists. More brilliant scientists. And definitely more folks like Neil Armstrong. RIP Neil.

Pinky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 983

I should have stayed another day in Vegas. I guess I wasn't thinking ahead. By returning to the office before the work week was actually over, I opened a big can of worms. I started receiving requests before I even finished breakfast to finish projects that people thought were already late. Jeez, if I'd just stayed one more day. That would have been enough to postpone all these attempts to cram an entire week's worth of work into a single day. Sure, I'd still have to play catch up on Monday, but the weekend definitely would have been nicer.

Needless to say, I was very busy today. Between the phone calls and all the replies to e-mail messages, I managed to update three websites, edit 100 photos in Photoshop, and write another article. Did I get everything done? Nope.

The dogs must have had a good time at the boarding kennel. I can't think of any other reason why they were so active today. They got us out of bed at least an hour earlier than usual, and once they had everybody up, there were places to go and things to do. Usually Dot and Dash are lethargic on a hot day like this. Today they were eager for activity. They raced around the back yard, got us to take them on long walks, did some energetic counter surfing during meals, and generally acted like puppies.  Maybe playing with other dogs for a week did them good.

I forgot to take the garbage out to the street last night. I actually totally forgot that it was Friday today, until the calls to get back to work started pouring in. Forgetting to take out the garbage isn't a good thing. Now we'll have to wait until next Friday, while the can gets filled to overflowing with the remnants of our seemingly excessive consumption.

There was no breakfast outing at a neighborhood restaurant this morning. I was too busy working. I guess it's just as well that this little ritual was disrupted. I've been eating breakfast in restaurants all week long.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 982

Everything is normal again. I'm back in Dallas. The dogs have returned from the boarding kennel and have resumed their regular routine. Although I have learned what the fashionable will be wearing next Spring, it really doesn't matter since I'll still be wearing a black t-shirt and jeans for the foreseeable future.

I hated to say goodby to Las Vegas. It was a nice change of pace. We got off to an exceptionally early start this morning. It actually seemed like we got up before we went to bed. I'm definitely not an early riser, but I've learned that there are advantages to getting to the airport at the crack of dawn. The line at the TSA checkpoint is much shorter, for starters. Getting through security at McCarran Airport has always been daunting, but we sailed right through this morning. There wasn't a line at all. Janet and I ate breakfast at the airport and then had an uneventful flight home.

Since I'm not one of the ones who immediately checks their cell phone the instant the landing gear hits the runway, there was a ton of e-mail for me to sort through when I got back to the office. Hidden away among hundreds and hundreds of spam and marketing messages were at least ten legitimate letters telling me that I was already late on something. Tomorrow will be a busy day. There are dogs that need to be added to rescue websites. There are new services that my clients think the world needs to know about. There are articles that need to be written. Could all this wait? Probably. Would I have any business at all if each of these projects didn't receive top priority. Probably not.

Yesterday, at the WWD Magic show, I walked right past a panel discussion of fashion bloggers. They were all talking enthusiastically about emerging trends and the importance of the Internet to the fashion industry. And why wasn't I included in this illustrious panel, I wondered? Hey, I write about fashion. I blog. Hmm. Maybe it's because I'm not 22 years old. These kids were all so young. I say hats off to these young bloggers. I'm all for any 22 year old who is actually out in the world doing something and not still living at home with their parents.

I'm a reluctant traveler, but once you pry me away from my routine and get me out of town, I never want to return. It's nice to do something different. Regular day-to-day life can be mind numbingly boring no matter what you do for a living. OK. Maybe it's not boring if you are an ER nurse or a fireman, but I have a feeling that even those jobs eventually become largely routine. I need to mix things up more often. It's probably my own fault if life is a little dull. Now, if only that assignment in Singapore would come through.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 981

It was a good day to be inside. It rained most of the day, but it didn't matter to me, since I was working inside at the Convention Center anyway. I got up early, so I could get my badge and be at the show when the doors opened. These trade shows typically let exhibitors in an hour or two before the event opens to the public, and this is usually the best time to photograph the booth and merchandise.

As usually, the hall was extremely noisy and the lighting was terrible. I did the best I could, trying to color balance for mercury vapor, fluorescent, and incandescent lights all at the same time. Everyone at the booth seemed pleased with the videos and pictures I shot. Trade show environments are so challenging that the clients who actually attend these shows are usually delighted that I managed to get anything at all. The clients who stay home are almost universally disappointed and wonder why the images aren't better. "You had to be there," I tell them. 

At big industrial trade shows, the exhibitors give away all manner of trinkets at their booths. You can pick up boatloads of ball caps, flashlights, laser pointers, USB Flash drives, and umbrellas. Fashion people are different. There wasn't a lot of swag at the booths at all. There was a lot of activity though. All day long, the Convention Center was filled with frenzied buyers trying on clothes and manufacturers taking orders. I guess selling gas turbine generators and offshore oil rigs is a little different than selling shoes. and purses. I enjoy working these shows though. Fashion is fun.

Las Vegas is fun too. To me, Las Vegas is the quintessential American city. It's shallow, flashy, elegant and tacky, all at the same time. People's dreams and heartaches are close to the surface here. There is more wealth in this city than you can imagine, and yet the city has the highest home foreclosure rate in the country. If you stay here any amount of time, you do learn that you've got to know when to hold em and know when to fold em.

I'm looking forward to dinner tonight. I haven't eaten all day. I skipped breakfast and went straight to the Convention Center early this morning. The photos and videos are done though, and everything has been saved to the hard drive. I'd say it's time to look for a nice place to eat and maybe do a little gambling.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 980

No time for the pool today. I was busy. One of my clients has a retail location in Caesar's Palace, and I went over to the store to interview the manager and take lots of pictures of the place. I wish I had an assistant, or at least a roadie. By the time I carried my 35 pound bag of gear from the Bellagio to Caesars, I was already tired. The interview went well though. The manager was delightful and regaled me with stories of what it was like to run a high-end business inside a casino. I'm glad I brought good lapel mics and a mixer with me. Las Vegas is a noisy place. You don't do anything in this city without a soundtrack in the background. You seldom see where the speakers are hidden, but the music is everywhere. Just going to the drugstore to get some toothpaste can feel like you're inside your own music video. Actually my video interview worked out pretty well. I won't need to add a soundtrack later. It's already there.

Janet won $200 last night while I was writing the blog. She said I brought her luck by staying away from the casino while she was gambling. Works for me. I have terrible luck at the tables. Playing slots is definitely not a game of skill, but I think having the right attitude helps. Janet thinks the glass is half full, while I tend to think it's half empty. It's not surprising to me that she consistently wins more than I do while we're in town. I've usually convinced myself that I'm throwing money away before I even start.

Now that I have today's pictures and video clips safely saved to a hard drive, I feel better about tomorrow's busy schedule. I will be doing several more interviews at the big WWD Magic show that's currently underway at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Janet want's me to scour the booths for free fashion swag while I'm at the show, but I'm afraid if I put one more thing in my already heavy bag, I won't even be able to lift it.

It's hard to know what to wear in Las Vegas. While it's blistering hot outside, the casinos and hotels are always freezing cold. It's disorienting to spend the day going from one extreme to the other. When I'm inside the casinos I'm always looking for a sweater. Outside, it's a much different story. It's almost impossible to dress light enough to be comfortable walking down the strip.

I'm going to have to get a wake-up call tomorrow morning. We have one of those blackout curtains in our room. No light gets in whatsoever. If nobody opened the curtains, I'd probably sleep till noon.

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 979

I could learn to live this way. We just finished enjoying a wonderful dinner at Todd English's Olives Restaurant while watching the sun set through a nearby window against the backdrop of the spectacular Fountains of Bellagio. It was a nice ending to a relaxing and enjoyable day. I actually like living in hotels. Someone comes and makes your bed every day. They bring you clean towels and leave little chocolates on your pillow. What's not to like? 

We don't have a pool at home, so it's always enjoyable to take a swim after breakfast. When I'm in the water, I realize I should swim more often. I still have a dislocated shoulder and swimming would really help build up those muscles. I'd never swim at home though. There's too much to do. It's only on days like these that I realize how enjoyable being in the water can be. Yeah, I know. I live right next to a large lake. I'd never swim in the lake. Many say it's polluted and it's full of snakes anyway. I think the pools at luxury hotels are much nicer places to swim.

I miss the dogs. We watch them every day on the webcam, and you can tell they don't really like being boarded. We could never bring them to Las Vegas though. I haven't seen a single dog since we arrived. I wish the dogs traveled better in the car. We could take them down to the Gulf Coast and let them run along the beach. We've got a long way to go before we can get them to Padre Island though. Dash totally freaks out in a car and we're lucky to get ten miles down the road without a major panic attack. A long trip would be a nightmare. Since Dash is a rescue dog, we think his previous owners might have just dumped him on the side of the road and left him. He definitely doesn't have positive associations about riding in a car.

This might be the last lazy day I'll have while I'm in town. Tomorrow is a work day. I'm covering the WWD Magic show for one of my clients and since since this is the magic show, I'll somehow manage to transform myself tomorrow from an old guy in swim trunks at the Bellagio pool to a hip young fashion blogger. I'll admit I'm an unlikely fashionista, but I do like the industry. The Devil Wears Prada was one of my favorite movies and I seldom miss an episode of Project Runway.

I used to like playing the penny slots in Vegas, but they're all gone now. In the old days you could stretch out losing your money over an entire afternoon, while friendly waitresses brought you free drinks. Now the electronic machines literally suck the money out of you. I put a twenty dollar bill in a slot machine this morning and it was gone in less than five minutes. What's the fun in that?  I love Las Vegas for the food and the shows and the people watching. I'll leave the gambling to someone else.

Blackjack is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 978 - Janet's Birthday

I wonder how many hours I've spent on planes? A lot. I don't fly very much anymore, but whenever I get on a plane, the whole routine seems so familiar. It just takes longer these days with all the additional security at the airport and planes that are even more crowded than they were twenty years ago. Today's destination was Las Vegas. It's Janet's birthday today and she loves Las Vegas.

Some of you may remember my last trip to Las Vegas. That trip was a disaster. I had injured my neck just before we left and was in terrible pain. The pain killers my doctor gave me didn't work and gave me hallucinations instead. I saw bugs in the bathroom that Janet said didn't even exist and I had to sleep sitting up in a chair. I hardly left my room the entire time we were in town. At the time, Janet swore that she'd never travel with me again, but things are much better this year. I feel great this time around. Of course, some things never change. I'm up in the room writing the blog and Janet is already off gambling somewhere. We'll meet up later.

I continue to be amazed at how connected the world has become. Our plane had WiFi and everyone just continued using the Internet while they were flying. Remember when those TV's used to descend from the roof of the place and the flight attendant would come by and give you a headset? Not anymore. A lot of planes don't even show movies anymore. Everyone is doing their own thing on their laptops, Kindles, iPads, and phones. Who would have thought that I could be flying over the Grand Canyon and be able to check in on the dogs using a live webcam.  Yep, they're doing fine.

I'm terrible at packing. I always take too much of some things and not enough of other things. I often forget the basics, like a toothbrush, or socks. I think I remembered everything this time. We'll see. I'm glad I remembered my little 4G hotspot, because I couldn't seem to login to the hotel's free WiFi. When you go to Las Vegas, cab drivers at the airport always ask you if you want to take the fast route to your hotel. I've finally learned to say no. "No, I'd rather take the shorter route," I said today. "Oh, you want the lower fare," said the cabbie. The fast route just means that you drive faster on the freeway in the opposite direction of your hotel. Since the airport is located right next to the strip where all the hotels are, you really don't need to go on the freeway anyway. We were at our hotel in minutes.

Wish me luck. I never win in Vegas, but there's always a first time.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 977

Dot is sitting shivering under my desk, wrapped in a blanket. It's raining again. I wonder how she knows it's going to rain. She's better than the weatherman. Over an hour before the rain started, she was nervously pacing around the house, trying to tell us that the world was about to end. I've gotten to know her mannerisms so I checked the weather radar on my iPhone. It didn't look so bad. Dot knew better. Almost on cue, the rains started immediately after she went to her protected spot under my desk. It's a good thing I got my chores done earlier. I mowed the grass and got all my weekend shopping done before the deluge started. I hate rain at this time of day though. By the time the storm passes through, it will be too dark to go up and get the water off the roof. It will be another night of listening for leaks.

I got a good example of why Apple is so successful this afternoon. I needed to buy an audio cable, so I went to Guitar Center because they have tons of cables. "Oh, you've got to go to the Apple Store for Apogee cables," the sales guy said. "Apple owns Apogee, so they'll have all the cables there."  I stopped by Radio Shack first.  The Apple Store is always crowded on Saturday and Radio Shack has lots of Apple stuff too. The Radio Shack manager told me that I needed to go to the Apple Store too. "That's not a very common cable," he said. "We don't carry those." So, I fight the mall crowds and go to the Apple Store. "That's a specialty item," says the Apple sales guy. "You'll have to order that from our online store." Two different stores, who probably had this particular cable online too, just lazily sent me to the Apple Store instead of trying to get me to buy from their online stores. Apple got the sale.

I'm trying to decide which gear to take on an assignment next week. The assignment involves taking both video and still images. Since DLSR cameras take pretty good video these days and many video cameras can capture high quality JPEG stills, it's not an easy decision anymore. Of course, I could just pile everything I own in the car, but I'd rather travel light and take no more than I need. I wish these companies would make it a little easier for me. My video camera captures sound better, but I like the picture on the DLSR the best. Writing jobs are so much easier. All I need is a laptop and a ten year old copy of Microsoft Word.

I wonder if all the rain we've been having is going to wash away the mosquito spray? It's been bone dry around here for weeks, but just as soon as the city began its aerial spraying program to combat the West Nile Virus, it began raining cats and dogs. Mosquitoes love the rain, so probably this wasn't exactly what the city had planned. So few things go according to plan for me personally, that it's kind of reassuring to know that they don't go according to plan for anyone else either. I wonder if the city has a Plan B if the mosquitoes come back? I learned long ago that you've always got to have a Plan B.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 976

I don't visit my safe deposit box very often. Perhaps I should go a little more frequently. I had to retrieve something today and discovered a household inventory list that hadn't had any new entries since 1990. I also discovered a very out-of-date will where all the beneficiaries were already dead. These worthless documents will go straight to the shredder, but I wonder how many other totally worthless documents still remain. There's probably plenty of worthless documents over at the storage warehouse. Once, my accountant told me that I needed to save all my financial records for at least three years. At another point in time, the same accountant told me that I should keep things seven years. I think I've been keeping records for ten years just to be safe. What is the point though?  Most of these records could have been generated by aliens from another planet and I wouldn't know the difference anymore. I just look at this stuff and wonder what it has to do with me.

I will admit to saving a few totally worthless documents from the shredder today. They were both publishing contracts from record companies that had gone out of business over a decade ago. I saved them because they reminded me of a day when I actually thought I had a future in the music business.

As you might expect, the city didn't get finished with their aerial spraying program last night. I don't know if they ran out of insecticide, or the planes were too slow, or what, but they only got half the city sprayed. That means the spray planes will be back tonight. They're starting earlier this time as well. The dogs will have to get all their peeing done by 8:30 PM this evening. Why do I think this isn't going to work? The dogs always want to go out around midnight. On a positive note, I didn't see any mosquitoes today, so maybe the spray is working.

I got a great little condenser microphone today that connects directly to an iPhone or iPad. The sound quality was amazing. It sounded very similar to some Neumann microphones I've used. It makes as much sense to use the phone for interviews now as anything else I've got. I predict that in a couple of years, I'll be using the phone for everything I do.

Unfortunately, the iPhone still can't cook breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict this morning on my weekly breakfast outing. I thought they would be a real treat, but Janet's Eggs Benedict are a lot better.

Toby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 975

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about the outbreak of West Nile Virus in Dallas. The mayor has declared a state of emergency and the city is beginning aerial spraying of the entire city this evening. I got two phone messages from the city telling me to stay inside after dark tonight. There is a lot of controversy about the spraying program, but personally, I have no problem with it. When you compare the downsides of the Pyrethenoid insecticides they'll be using with the downsides of having the disease, I think I'll go with the insecticides.

I'm not sure it matters anyway. I've been bitten by mosquitoes several hundred times this summer and nothing has happened. Either I've gotten lucky or I've got an immunity to the virus. Truthfully, I'm more worried about the dogs. They get bitten by mosquitoes a lot more than I do. Mosquitoes are just a fact of life down South. No matter how much mosquito repellant you spray on yourself, you're still going to get mosquito bites.

I think people forget how common spraying for mosquitoes used to be. I grew up in Arkansas and during the Summer the spray trucks would come down our street at least once a month. A lot of times people didn't even bother to go inside when the trucks came by. They would just continue barbecuing, or sitting on the porch, or whatever they were doing as the cloud rolled past and dissipated in the evening air. It's kind of amazing to realize how many people survived and continued living perfectly normal lives after breathing in insecticides every Summer and driving around without seatbelts smoking cigarettes.

I wish I'd start getting some money in the mail. I've been billing things out at a fairly normal rate, but the checks are arriving slower and slower these days. It wasn't that long ago that just about everyone paid within 30 days. Now the average is somewhere between 45 and 60 days. Sign of the times, I guess. I still have to pay my own bills on time though. That's what I did this afternoon. I paid the electric bill, the water bill, various phone bills, and my car insurance. The depressing thing is that most of these bills will arrive again next month, whether any money arrives in the mail or not.

At least it's Friday tomorrow. I've still got enough money to buy myself a little bacon for breakfast. I've still got about 20 minutes left today to let the dogs outside to pee before the mosquito spraying planes begin their flyby. I'm hoping that the spray kills some roaches and spiders too. We have entirely too many bugs this Summer.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 974

Do you ever get those e-mails asking you to write a review after you've bought something online? I get them all the time. Today, I was kind of bored, so I looked through my inbox for some of the review requests. I wrote about five quick reviews and then is dawned on me. Hey, this is exactly what I do for a living. The reviews were like little ads. There was a headline and a short paragraph of body copy saying nice things about the product. And I was writing these things for free. No wonder it's harder to get copywriting jobs these days. Manufacturers and retailers have discovered that people will do their marketing for free. All they have to do is offer some sort of contest or incentive and they've got thousands of people writing for them. The company I wrote the reviews for today said that if you submitted a review, your name would be entered in a drawing and you could win up to $1000. How likely is that? Jeez, I've bought stuff from these guys for years and never once heard anything about anyone winning a prize.

The weather is so weird in Texas. There was a big storm last night. Some parts of town got huge amounts of rain and their power went out.  Other parts of town got no rain at all. We were somewhere in between. We got rain, but not enough to upset the dogs. I must be getting better about patching too, because there were no water leaks in the morning. I was actually kind of amazed. There seemed to be no downside to this particular downpour at all.

Since it was a slow day, I made French Toast and sausages for breakfast. I must be easy to please. French Toast, sausages, and a couple of hours of Dr. Who in the morning and I'm a happy camper. The dogs were in a good mood today as well. The rain cooled things down, so dog class was actually pleasant for a change. The days are getting shorter though. By the time class was over, it was already dark.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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