Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Day 1477

Here's how badly I've lost track of what day it is. I went to my Friday breakfast restaurant on a Tuesday, because it felt like a Friday. I guess the end of the year and the end of the week all seem pretty much the same. The surprising thing was that the restaurant was actually busier on Tuesday than it normally is on Fridays. Who would have thought?  I did remember that it was Tuesday when I went to the gym later in the day. Unfortunately, I forgot that it was New Year's Eve, and the gym was already closed when I got there. All was not lost however. I stopped by an office supply store on the way home and got a new accordion folder for my 2014 receipts. The 2013 folder will be on its way to my accountant soon, so I guess it's time to start over again.

It's hard to get very excited about New Year's Eve when you can't drink anymore. I'll stay up till midnight and welcome in the new year, but the celebration will be pretty sedate. Maybe I'll have some apple cider and a piece of pie. Years ago when I used to play bass in a rock band New Year's Eve was always a big deal. We always played our biggest parties of the year on New Year's Eve. I didn't drink much then either. It wasn't from lack of desire. I owned the PA system and was responsible for packing it up and taking all the heavy speakers home again after the gig. Hauling the PA system around was hard enough when you were sober and impossible to do when you were drunk.

It was interesting to see how many people I know on Facebook who posted something today about how terrible they thought 2013 was. Most of them thought that 2014 couldn't possibly be worse. I think it probably will be worse, but I'm not going to let that stop me. If I was waiting for a good year, I think I would have given up a long time ago.

I still had writing assignments to complete today, but it still felt more like a holiday. The dogs got extra long walks and I found myself turning on the TV a lot, hoping to be entertained. There wasn't anything interesting on TV, so it was actually good that I did have some writing work to do. I should make a New Year's resolution to clean my office next year. Oh wait, wasn't that last year's New Year's resolution? Maybe it was the year before last. It's been a long, long time since my office was really clean.

There will be another big meal tomorrow and maybe a little football on TV. Since the weather still looks nice, the dogs will get the gift they've been waiting for all December: a trip to the dog park. With rain and ice storms and holiday travel, it hasn't been easy to get to the dog park this month. Hopefully tomorrow we will make amends.

I hope that all of you have a fulfilling and prosperous year in 2014. If you can't think of a New Year's resolution, you could always resolve to introduce a friend to this blog. If each of you brought one new reader, my audience for this ongoing story would double. Hey, it never hurts to think big.

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Day 1476

Janet returned from her Christmas trip today. I only fly a couple of times a year these days, so every time I go to the airport, I'm amazed at all the changes. Anybody who expects job growth to return any time soon needs to take a good long look at DFW airport. People are being replaced by machines in droves. The attendants who used to hand you a parking ticket when you entered the airport have largely been replaced by machines. In many terminals, the ticketing agents have been replaced by machines as well. You print your own ticket and boarding pass without talking to anyone. In the international terminal, there is even a machine that will scan and verify your passport. Flying isn't very exclusive anymore either. To my untrained eye, it looked like the people waiting for their bags at the baggage carrousel had arrived directly from Walmart. I'm sure that all the machines keep costs down so these scruffy looking people can fly instead of taking the bus.

The year is finally winding down. By the end of the day, I looked around the office and realized there was nothing more to do. I'm caught up! Since tomorrow is New Year's Eve, I might actually be finished for the year. I'm not worried that this lull will continue. It never does. Traditionally, January is usually a busy month.

Although the year is ending tomorrow, there is still plenty of unfinished business from 2013. For starters, my neighbor's tree is still sitting on my roof. The owner of the aggressive dogs down the street hasn't fixed his fence either. I need to call my hepatologist and find out when he wants me to start my new Hepatitis C treatment. For several years my doctors have told me that January 2014 would be the date when the new treatment would be approved by the FDA. Now, 2014 is here. Oh, I guess I need to find out what this so called "donut hole" that has made the cost of my prescriptions skyrocket is all about as well.

I'm not making any New Year's resolutions this year. I've given up most of the guilty pleasures already, so there's not much more to abstain from. I'm not trying to better myself either. Maybe I could be a kinder, more sensitive, or harder working person if I really tried, but what would be the point? Life is difficult enough as it is. Maybe I'll just resolve to get up every morning and make the bed.  That should take care of things for another year.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Day 1475

I went to the pharmacy today to pick up some prescriptions and was surprised to see that the cost of my meds had almost doubled. I asked the pharmacist what was going on and he told me that I was probably in the "donut hole." WTF? How could I be in the donut hole already? I've only been using Part-D prescription drug coverage for six months. I'm not even sure what this so called donut hole actually is, but apparently it is quite expensive.

There was no equivalent of the donut hole, where you temporarily lose your coverage, when I had private healthcare insurance. You just paid your premiums and got your benefits. It was that simple. The government doesn't like simple. Almost everything the government does has a Byzantine complexity to it. In my opinion, there is no need for most of this complexity. I just don't get it. At any rate, I paid for my prescriptions and left. What else could I do?

Another cold front rolled through town this afternoon and yesterday's balmy weather is now ancient history. The high temperature was just after breakfast and things went downhill from there. At least there is no rain or snow. I'm thankful that all we have to deal with are windy grey skies, but it sure would be nice to see the sun again.

I threw away some of the Christmas leftovers this evening. I think the green bean casserole has gone bad. It sure didn't smell very good anyway. I wish my sense of smell was better. Maye some of the other food has gone bad as well. I can't tell. My rule of thumb is that if I don't get sick, the food is fine. I can't expect much help from the dogs in keeping the refrigerator fresh. They absolutely love stinky food. If I asked their opinion, I'd probably never throw anything away.

Two of my clients sent me work assignments today. It was cold outside, so I did both of them. One assignment was a small website revision and the other was a copywriting job. People aren't shy about sending me work on weekends anymore. Saturday and Sunday are just like any other day. The stores are open. My pharmacy is open. Even my gym is open. Hey, why shouldn't I work?

I hope it warms up tomorrow. It's looks like it's going to be a busy day and I'll get a lot more done if I see the sun.

Petey & Greta are our Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Day 1474

Janet called today and told me that young people with children have discovered the little town where we were thinking of retiring and that housing prices were on the rise. It was bound to happen. In today's world, nothing good stays a secret for very long. Maybe there's a silver lining to this dark cloud however. Younger people love dogs and if the town becomes full of dogs, a veterinarian is sure to follow. Dallas definitely has its flaws, but it is home to some really good veterinarians. I've gotten used to my dogs getting better medical care than I do and I'd hate to give that up.

I guess today was Saturday. It certainly didn't seem any different than any other day. We got off to a slow start, because now that I'm using two Dalmatians as an alarm clock, we generally stay in bed until the dogs are hungry. I would have thought that they would be feeling hungry much earlier, since Janet usually feeds them breakfast before she leaves for work at the crack of dawn. Nope. The lazy dogs seem perfectly content to postpone breakfast until well after the sun comes up.

I actually did some writing work today, since my only other alternative was cleaning the house. Writing is almost always preferable to cleaning. When I finished my articles, I decided to go to the gym. I'd never been on a Saturday before and will probably never go on a Saturday again. This appears to be the one day of the week where the gym is actually busy. I had to change my workout a bit, since some of my favorite machines were in use, and I didn't get to shoot baskets at all, since there was a pick-up game underway on the court. Nevertheless, I managed to burn up a few calories before I returned home to put them on all over again by eating Christmas dinner leftovers.

There really isn't much on TV these days. I channel-hopped after dinner, trying to find something that would pique my interest. I watched a bit of The Longest Yard, hoping to catch the scene with the Citroën SM in it. I've seen this movie again and again, but I always miss the chase scene with my favorite car. I watched a bit of a Terminator movie. I don't know which one. They all seem the same to me. It's still hard for me to believe that the Terminator was actually the governor of California. I watched the NASA Channel for a while. With all the government money that the NASA Channel gets, you'd think these guys would learn how to edit. Nope! They just continue to show raw unedited B-Roll. Where is a new episode of Dr. Who when I really need it?

The dogs are getting restless. I think they're trying to tell me that I've done enough writing for one day. One the other hand, maybe they're just being bad again.

Dot & Petey are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 1473

When I saw some aggressive dogs ahead on our morning walk, I quickly changed direction and picked an alternate route. This was fortunate for the dogs, but not so good for me. The new trail was filled with fresh horse poop, which Dash devoured at every opportunity, and lots of mud. I cleaned the mud off the dogs paws when I returned home, but I really wished I could have cleaned Dash inside and out. I don't know how Dash acquired his taste for horse poop, but it's fairly disgusting.

With the morning walk out of the way, I was off to my favorite restaurant for my perennial Friday favorite: two poached eggs served over a bed of pulled pork, peppers, and hash browned potatoes. Yes, it was another completely normal Friday.

After a leisurely breakfast, I picked up some groceries for the weekend, filled the car with gas, and settled down to another day of writing and website work. I often wonder why I stay so busy while doing stuff that really doesn't matter. I guess it must matter to somebody. I'm not exactly setting the world on fire here, but I am paying the bills. When I look at my Google+ stream, I'm humbled by all the people I see doing truly remarkable things. Of course, all I have to do is look at Facebook to realize that I'm actually still doing pretty well.

It's getting harder and harder to walk Dot and Dash together. Dot likes a sedate walk on level ground where she doesn't have to worry about falling or stumbling. Dash loves to race up hills, chase rabbits, and be as disruptive as he possible can. There's nothing wrong with either type of behavior. It's just hard for an old dog and a young dog to agree on things. It's my job to find a middle ground that will keep both of these dogs happy. I figure if I can do this, I can do almost anything.

With Janet away, I'm having a very difficult time telling one day from another. Her very predictable rituals always gave me a clue about what was going to happen next. The dogs don't care what day it is. To them, and increasingly to me, the weekdays and the weekends are all the same. I've got to be careful here, or I could easily end up working straight through the weekend and accidentally squander my two days of rest. My work is so amorphous that I sometime have difficulties telling the difference between work and leisure as well. Am I working all the time, or never working at all? I guess it all depends on your point of view.

I was thinking about going to see Gravity tomorrow in 3-D at a local iMax theater. The nearest iMax theater seems a bit too far away though, so I'll probably just wait until Gravity comes out on DVD in February. I'm not in much of a hurry about anything these days.

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day 1472

Today I served as a pet taxi, taking Dot, and then Dash to two different vet appointments in different parts of town. Thursday isn't usually our day to go to the vet, but both of these appointments had been re-scheduled due to the holidays. Dot got to experience something new today. She's has had some stiffness in one of her legs ever since she slipped on the ice a few weeks ago, so the vet thought she might respond to cold laser therapy. I'd heard of using low level lasers to treat treat dogs with arthritis and soft tissue injuries, but this was the first time I'd actually seen one of these lasers in use. Dot seemed to respond well to the treatment and I could tell she was feeling a bit better on her evening walk.

Dash's visit to the vet later the same afternoon was a little more prosaic. Instead of a soothing laser or water treadmill session, he got his anal glands cleaned. With a clean butt and his bi-weekly antigen shot, he was good to go. Dash shouldn't complain though. He's basically still a young, strong, and very healthy dog.

Work was slow today, so the two vet visits were the main events of the day. I did get a couple of new assignments, so there will be plenty to do tomorrow. I guess I could have started on some of the website revisions today, but the client said there was no rush. Even the writing assignments aren't due until next week. The year is definitely winding down. Nobody is thinking of anything new quite yet, and that's fine with me. There will be plenty of time for ambitious new plans in the Spring.

I need to make some ambitious new plans myself. I haven't made a film or done any video projects for a while and it's time that I do a little marketing again. I always like to do two or three video projects every year to keep the bread and butter website revisions and writing assignments from getting too boring. My veterinary and medical clients all seem to like video, so maybe I'll propose something to one of them. I need to be careful not to bite off more than I can chew with video however. I like to work alone, and after a certain point, you always end up having to hire a crew to deliver what you promised. Little video projects without tight deadlines are perfect for me. I can shoot and edit these things myself for a very reasonable budget when someone isn't in a hurry.

I called the Land Rover dealer today and asked about adding a towing package to my car. No problem, said my service representative. The price was way more than I expected though. I guess some things never change.

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Day 1471 - Christmas

Janet woke me up at 3:30 AM. I dressed quickly, packed the car, and at 4 AM we headed for the airport. The roads, even the freeways, were absolutely empty. I've had early flights before, but I guess never on Christmas morning. It was eerie, even a little spooky, to travel through a huge city absolutely devoid of traffic. When we entered the airport itself, traffic picked up a bit, and when I dropped Janet off at her terminal, there was actually quite a crowd. Apparently she wasn't the only one squeezing in a quick trip to visit relatives on Christmas morning.

When I returned to the house, I went straight back to bed again with the dogs and didn't wake up again until three hours later when sunlight began streaming through a bedroon window and Dot and Dash informed me that it was time for their breakfast.

It was a lazy day, since there was absolutely nothing to do. The weather was nice, so we took an extra long walk this morning. There were lots of joggers on the trails and many of them wore Santa hats. Almost everyone wished us a Merry Christmas as we passed by. I like quiet, amorphous days like this. There appeared to be lots of family activity up and down the street. The smell of smoke from dozens of fireplaces filled the air and cars filled with presents and food arrived and departed with regularity.

My own house was an island of calm. I fixed myself some oatmeal and fruit, brewed a pot of coffee, and watched a Dr. Who marathon that culminated with the annual Christmas special later in the evening. After breakfast I went through a stack of unopened mail and discovered that my stockbroker had made some trades that he had forgotten to tell me about. Actually they were probably trades that we'd agreed about several months ago at our last meeting, but you couldn't prove it by me. I never take notes at these meetings and promptly forget what we've talked about. I reviewed the trades and they all seemed quite reasonable. I still wonder whether we ever talked about this before though.

When I told one of my clients not to send me any work on Christmas Day, he probably imagined that I was off to a big family gathering. The truth is that I just enjoy doing nothing. The world won't end if I do nothing for a few days. I'm sure that all the crazy deadlines will return within a week or so wherever I do.

I found the Dr. Who Christmas Special a bit confusing. Somehow the doctor managed to age 300 years while Clara was having Christmas dinner with her parents. Throughout most of the show the doctor kept telling Clara that he couldn't regenerate anymore and was finally going to die. At the very end however, the time lords reached through a rift of time that I thought the doctor had already taken care of in a previous season, and brought him back to life again. The plot had so many confusing  twists and turns that I wonder if Steven Moffat just makes this stuff up as he goes along.

Tomorrow things will be more or less back to normal. Dot's physical therapy sessions have been rescheduled to Thursdays for the duration of the holidays. I need to get Dash back to the vet for his antigen shot. I wouldn't be surprised if there was work to do as well. There always seems to be work to do on Thursdays.

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 1470

Today was good. I slept in a bit later than usual. I fixed myself a leisurely breakfast. I finished up some writing work in the morning, but I wasn't in a hurry. By noon I was done with everything I usually do on a Tuesday. Since I felt I had the afternoon free, I decided to finish up my Christmas shopping and go to the gym. Unfortunately, since Janet was off work today and it felt like a holiday, I completely forgot that Dash was due for his antigen shot. Now, I'm going to have to reschedule his appointment ASAP before his skin starts to get irritated again.

My mind is a sieve. When anything deviates from my normal schedule, I completely forget what I'm doing. Sadly, I didn't remember that I'd forgotten Dash's vet appointment until I started writing tonight's blog post.

As I expected, the gym was empty and the stores were full this afternoon. Surprisingly, my doctor's office was still open today, so I stopped by on the way home from the gym to make them aware that they still weren't submitting my insurance claims properly. I don't expect anything to be resolved, but at least I made an effort. I got my workout and shopping done so efficiently this afternoon that I would have had time to take Dash to the vet, if I had only remembered. Oh, well. I'll try to get him rescheduled for Thursday or Friday.

Since Janet is traveling to visit relatives tomorrow, we had our Christmas celebration today. We enjoyed a fantastic traditional dinner of baked ham, whipped sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and Brussels sprouts. After dinner, we opened presents under the tree and Dash got so excited while opening one of his presents that he ate some wrapping paper. Luckily it was a small piece, and I think it will pass without incident. Leave it to Dash to do something like this though. Dot was a model of decorum opening her own presents.

The dogs never like it when Janet is away, but they'll have to buck up and get used to it. This happens almost every year. I'm sure they'll be fine when they realize they still get fed and that there's extra room in the bed. Maybe they'll even enjoy watching the Dr. Who Christmas Special with me.

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

Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 1469

I think the recession is over in Dallas. People are certainly buying things this year. I decided to brave the crowds and do some Christmas shopping this afternoon and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people at Northpark. My plan to avoid the crowds by shopping while everyone else was at work was a total failure. Evidently, very few people are at work this week. I'm not good with puzzles, but I could have solved Rubiks Cube in less time than it took me to find a parking place inside the giant shopping mall parking garage. They should ban people from taking their gigantic Ford F-250 Super Duty pickups into these parking garages. They don't even fit between the white lines. Every time I thought I'd found a place to park, there was a huge pickup truck in the adjacent space, leaving me no room to park my much smaller giant SUV.

I thought I was going to have a very light week, since tomorrow is Christmas Eve and many of my clients are on vacation anyway. I was just as wrong about this as I was about avoiding the Christmas crowds. When I turned on my computer this morning, there two new articles and a big website revision waiting for me. So much for taking it easy this week. I guess nobody really takes it easy during Christmas week. In my experience, this is always a very hectic time of year.

I feel sorry for that girl who had her life ruined by having a single snarky tweek to her less than 200 followers re-tweeted by Buzzfeed to the world. This is mob justice at its worst. The ironic thing is that she could have said exactly the same thing on her blog and nobody would have noticed. Nobody reads blogs anymore. A quick Google search will reveal that on any given day, there are literally  thousands of much more offensive tweets and Facebook status updates. Buzzfeed just chose to cast a spotlight on this one. This is why I prefer to write about dogs. The world has become a pack of sharks who flock to the smell of blood in the water. I don't like it. If I could borrow Dr. Who's Tardis for a few minutes, I would make a quick retreat to the much kinder world of Andy Griffith and Leave it to Beaver.

I haven't quite finished my Christmas shopping, but I'm definitely not going back to the mall again. I've had enough of that craziness for one year. I'm no sure what I'll do tomorrow. It's kind of a vacation day, but I've still got work to do. When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was the day. We opened our stockings on Christmas Eve morning, went to church in the evening, and then opened our presents under the tree much later the same evening. Christmas Day was almost an afterthought. I can't remember if I ever believed in Santa Claus.

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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 1468

Not surprisingly, the dog park was closed today after yesterday's downpour. There was no more rain today, but the ground was soft and muddy everywhere. I was disappointed that Dot and Dash missed their workout, but saw no reason why I should miss mine as well. Since there wasn't much else to do anyway, I spent even longer at the gym than usual. I guess it shouldn't seem surprising that something I don't particularly enjoy has become such a regular part of my life. The exercise is good for me and I have a strong sense of discipline. If I only did things that I thought were fun, I'd either be dead or broke by now.

There were only three other people in the cavernous gym when I arrived around 2 PM. All the other people must have been Christmas shopping. The traffic around popular stores and shopping malls was unbelievable. Shopping seems to be the one thing that unites the people of Dallas. Everyone seems obsessed with accumulating stuff.

When I went to pick up a prescription this afternoon, I found the wrong pills waiting for me. The pharmacist seemed to take the mistake in stride. He said that sometimes prescriptions just auto-renew themselves in the computer. He gave me the pills I actually needed and told me to come back in fifteen days for the others. Everything related to healthcare has become ridiculously complicated. How did it get this way? When I was a kid, our family doctor actually made house-calls with his little black doctor's bag. The pills he prescribed were so inexpensive that you didn't even need insurance to pay for them.

I don't have much Christmas shopping to do, but I do have some. I'm going to try to outwit the crowds by doing my shopping tomorrow after people have gone to work, but before they take their lunch breaks. This would probably be around mid-morning. We'll see how that goes. There's a good chance that everyone is on vacation already and my careful people-avoiding timing won't even matter. I've got to believe that Monday morning will be better than Saturday afternoon though. One can only hope.

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Day 1467 - Winter Solstice

Although today was the shortest day of the year, it certainly seemed long enough to me. For most of the day there was a steady, cold rain that kept the dogs and I confined indoors. With the exception of several attempts to get the Dot and Dash to go out in the rain to poop, I didn't even leave the house.

A lot of people might use a rainy day as an excuse to curl up with a good book, bake a pie, or go to a movie. Not me. I almost inevitably end up cleaning something. I vacuumed. I dusted. I did laundry. I sorted through piles of junk mail. It was all pretty boring.

I'm having increasing difficulty maintaining my no sugar diet during the holidays. Everywhere you look, there are cookies and pies nearby. It is especially hard to ignore the cookies when there's nothing better to do anyway. Needless to say, I ate quite a few Christmas cookies today.

Eventually, the rain stopped. Dot and Dash got their long awaited morning walk about three in the afternoon. The stubborn dogs absolutely refused to go out and pee during the rain, so they were both about to explode when I finally got them down to the park. You'd think a long mid-afternoon walk would be enough, but apparently it wasn't. As soon as they'd eaten their dinner a little later in the afternoon, they insisted on their regular evening walk as well.

Since it was a warm day, I made sure I got all the standing water off the roof before sunset. Now that the temperatures have gotten colder, I don't want to be faced with a huge heavy block of ice over my head again. This was pretty much the extent of my day. I went from cabin fever with the dogs in the morning to exercise on the roof in the evening.

After Janet's horror stories about shopping at the mall today, I don't think I'll be doing any Christmas shopping tomorrow, no matter how nice the weather might be. I've probably missed my opportunity, but maybe the crowds will thin out a bit on Monday when people go back to work. I'm already looking forward to the new Dr. Who Christmas Special. Hey, that's the kind of guy I am.

Willow is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 1466

I think I could spend the rest of my life just getting my ducks in a row. Now that I know I'm losing the aircraft hanger where my Citroën SM has been safely ensconced for the past decade, I'm scrambling around trying to figure out what to do next. Can I find parts? Can I find a mechanic? Can I find a buyer? One way or another, I've got to get the car running reliably again. Nobody in their right mind would ever buy a non-running Citroën SM. When you open the hood on this thing, you quickly realize that only the French could come up with something so mind-numbingly complex. The transmission is in front of the engine. There are inboard disk brakes, and you have to take off the right front wheel just to change the battery. The steering, brakes and suspension system all operate from a central hydraulic system. If there is a leak, the car sinks to about an inch above the ground and you can't even turn the steering wheel. After sitting ten years in storage, I'm almost certain that the hydraulic system has a leak.

Breakfast was definitely the high point of this day. I love having two poached eggs, served over a bed of spicy pulled pork, peppers, and hash browned potatoes. I linger over three cups of coffee while I eat this delicious Friday morning treat and then I start my day. For one reason or another, everything moved at a snail's pace today. Articles took longer to write. The grocery store was crowded. And the dogs weren't very interested in walking. I blame this all on the weather. After two balmy days this week where the temperature reached 70 degrees, it is turning cold again. A cold front blew through town around mid-afternoon and I'm afraid Winter has returned. Bad weather slows me down enormously. I don't like inclement weather at all. If I could find somewhere where the skies were always blue and the temperature was always 70 degrees, I bet my productivity would double.

While the rest of the world has probably finished their Christmas shopping by now, I haven't even started mine. It just doesn't seem like Christmas is just a few days away. We've got the tree up and a pretty wreath in the hallway, but some days I just forget they are there. It could just as easily be August or February. Maybe I'll get in the spirit of things this weekend. I certainly hope so, since I'm definitely running out of time.

I hope it warms up enough to take the dogs to the dog park on Sunday as well. With the ice storm and a busy holiday work schedule, Dot and Dash haven't had a dog park outing in almost a month. I can tell that Dash really misses these opportunities to be off-leash and mingle with other dogs. Even though he got to spend the night in a fancy hotel and join us on one of our Santa Paws photo events last week, it's not the same as going to a dog park. To heck with a White Christmas, I just want a warm Sunday.

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day 1465

The incompetence of government agencies continues to amaze me. I got a letter today saying that it was time for me to renew the vehicle registration on my Defender 90. What was all that paperwork I signed when I sold the car? Surely these guys must know by now that I no longer own the Defender. I get dozens of letters from Medicare and I have yet to understand any of them. I bet you could reduce the cost of healthcare significantly if you just fired all these useless letter writers. Even the dogs have their problems with government bureaucracies. Every year, Dash gets a letter from the city saying that his city registration has expired. This always takes place about one month after my vet issues Dash brand new registration tags. It's no real surprise that the ObamaCare website doesn't work. Nothing in government at any level works. I have no faith in government anymore.

Does anyone want to buy a Citroën SM that has sat untouched in an aircraft hanger for ten years? The car ran great a decade ago, but I suspect that it will take quite an effort to get it running again. I'm sure the fuel lines and gas tank are gummed up and will need to be removed and cleaned. I've done this once before and it's not an easy job. All five suspension spheres will need to be replaced. The car will certainly need a new heavy duty battery and probably new tires as well. Hopefully, no corrosion has taken place in the engine itself. I loved this car when I bought it in 1972, but in recent years it has become an albatross around my neck. The mechanics who used to keep the car running smoothly have all retired or moved on. My favorite mechanic is now a DJ on a local jazz radio station. Parts are next to impossible to find these days. Even ten years ago I was scared to drive the SM around town because I knew that there were no more new body parts available worldwide. If I had unlimited resources, I would ship the car off to SM World in California and have it completely restored. Unfortunately, I haven't had unlimited resources in a long, long time. Even though the car is highly collectible and Jay Leno has one, it's time to sell the thing.

I've had a lot of cars over the years and the complexities of keeping old cars running are one of the main reasons I switched to collecting watches instead. Watches are little and you can keep them in a drawer. I enjoyed watches for a while until they began to fall apart just like my cars. A good watch needs a watchmaker just as much as a car needs a mechanic. Watch repair is expensive and time consuming. In the long run, I don't think I will be any better off with watches than I was with cars. They all break eventually. I think Janet will have the last laugh at my obsession with collecting stuff. She has no interest in collecting things and prefers travel instead. Travel is all about collecting memories and in my experience, memories tend to get better over time. Eventually, the memory is better than the actual experience was. She'll have great memories, while I preside over a kingdom of rust.

To keep my body from turning to rust, I went back to the gym again today. Another week of regular workouts and I'll be back to where I was before the ice storm. I don't enjoy exercising that much, but I do enjoy seeing progress. Hey, I finally got the large printer working again. That's progress. The city hauled away most of my downed tree limbs this morning. That's progress too. Surprisingly, something seems to happen almost each and every day. There's always some sort of progress. Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll sell the Citroën SM too.

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 1464

Neither of the dogs seemed very excited about going to training class tonight. They gave us these looks that clearly said "What is the point of all this?" I certainly didn't have the answer. I couldn't tell you what the point is of much of what I do. We went to class anyway of course, because that is what we do on Wednesday evenings.

I've been noticing big piles of branches starting to appear along the curb on our street. Coincidentally,  I've noticed that nobody has returned to pick up the huge pile of branches the power crews left in the alley after the ice storm. Putting two and two together, I finally realized that the only way these branches were going to get picked up was if I dragged them all out to the street myself and piled them with the other branches for bulky trash day. So, when is bulky trash day? I've forgotten again. It must be soon though, since there is a lot of trash piled outside the neighbor's houses.

It took me more than an hour to drag most of the tree limbs out to the street. When I was finished, I noticed that one of my hip joints felt loose and wobbly, just like my shoulder typically feels. I hate growing old. After a while you began to feel like you are the caretaker of a rusty old machine that has seen better days.

I think Dot is doing better than I am about keeping in shape. She's doing great with her weekly water therapy sessions. It's interesting that she seems to like the underwater treadmill, but has become disinterested in the Wednesday evening training class. Probably the therapy session is just more enjoyable. The water is nice and warm and she gets tons of attention and positive reinforcement from the vet and nurses. Physical therapy is kind of like a spa day for Dot, while training class is more like military boot camp.

Somebody left a note on my windshield saying that they wished they'd known I was selling the Defender 90 because they wanted to buy it, and then going on to ask if I was planning to sell my house anytime soon. Maybe I should save the letter, since I will be selling the house when Janet and I retire. Then again, maybe I should just throw the letter away. Business propositions made to strangers that are written on a page torn from a children's Big Chief school tablet usually aren't very reliable.

Alvin is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 1463

There were moments today when I felt like things were being accomplished. I think I might have resolved a health insurance billing error that has been nagging me for months. The owner of the house down the street with the aggressive dogs has finally agreed to fix her deteriorating fence, so the dogs can't escape and kill me. I think all my missing UPS packages are now accounted for. This would all have been very satisfying if I wasn't left wondering at the end of the day whether anything had really happened at all.

You see, I've dealt with all these issues before. I've even thought that I'd resolved them before. These problems and many others keep coming back like a bad penny. I've come to the conclusion that it's virtually impossible to genuinely fix anything these day. All you can do is kick the can down the road like the politicians do.

I did manage to get back to the gym this afternoon. Now I know why you need to go to the gym on a regular basis. I've skipped my regular workouts for over a week and a half due to the ice storm and a host of work related deadlines. Today felt like I was starting over. How could I deteriorate so fast? Unfortunately, going to the gym is like everything else in life. You've got to be consistent and keep plugging away before you can reap the benefits.

When I don't write something every day, my writing deteriorates. If I don't clean every day, it doesn't take long before the house looks like shit. If I don't walk the dogs every day, I'm faced with some very angry dogs. Basically, just about everything in my life needs to be done every day. The only way you get good at something is to do it over, and over, and over again. I remember very early in my career when someone told me that the definition of a professional was the ability to do good work on a bad day. I never forgot those words of wisdom. They've gotten me through a lot of bad days.

I'm crossing my fingers in hope that this week's nice weather will continue through the end of the week. It was almost Springlike this afternoon. The dogs enjoyed sunning themselves on the back porch. I ran my errands without the need of a Winter coat. I think the roof is finally dry again. Against all odds, I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 1462

Well, UPS will probably never deliver to our neighborhood now. While I was writing this morning, I heard a huge crash out on the street in front of the house. When I went to investigate, I discovered that a car had plowed into the back of the UPS truck while it was delivering a package to my next door neighbor. Then a van hit the truck again, trying to avoid the first wreck. The woman who initially hit the truck said she didn't see it. Jeez, how can you miss a huge brown UPS truck? I can spot these things from a mile away.

The embattled UPS driver didn't have any packages for me. I divert almost everything to the main depot now and drive down to pick it up. I did that again today and ran into another long  line of angry people waiting to send, receive, or complain about their package. My advice. Just send your stuff FedEx instead.

The weather was nice again today. I only had to wear a light jacket when I walked the dogs. This would have been a good opportunity to clean up the debris from the ice storm in the back yard, but I still have too many holiday related advertising assignments to complete. As some of you have already guessed, this is not my favorite time of year.

Only one day after I washed my car, the neighborhood redbirds are already pooping on it again. The only thing these tiresome birds enjoy more than pooping on the car is pecking on my office window in a vain attempt to get inside. I don't know why anyone would want a bird as a pet. Birds are filthy creatures. If Dot and Dash didn't like to chase cats so much, I would get a cat, just because they like to eat birds.

Did you know that the Chinese successfully landed a rover on the moon a few days ago? I'm amazed that there has been almost no news coverage of this event. Hey, it's a big deal. This is the first time anyone has landed something on the moon since the 1970's. So what are we talking about instead? Obama's selfies at the Mandela funeral. More school shootings. The healthcare mess. When somebody actually does something truly impressive, nobody seems to care. Nobody seems to read blogs anymore either, but that's another subject entirely.

Hannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Day 1461 - Blogiversary

The sun returned today. The bright blue sky and warmer temperatures were a welcome relief from last week's icy weather. I was so happy to see the sun that I got an enormous amount accomplished today. The big pile of equipment from our Santa Paws photo shoots has been put back in its proper place. The car has been washed. I even cleaned all the leaves and ice off the roof. Yes, there was still ice up there after an entire week of gradually warmer temperatures. That was quite an ice storm we had! I finally got up my nerve to talk to my neighbor about the tree of theirs that was still resting on my roof. They were actually quite nice and said they'd already contacted a tree service to remove it.

Fortunately, there was more to the day than an endless progression of weekend chores. Janet and I also went to photograph a very old German Shepard, so the owners could have a nice portrait to remember the dog by when it went to The Rainbow Bridge. The old dog was weak and couldn't walk anymore, since her rear legs had become paralyzed from the canine equivalent of ALS. She definitely hadn't given up yet, however. There was a dignity in the dog's eyes that I often see in older dogs. I hope my photos captured this dog's spirit. Sometimes I think that dogs cope with their short time on Earth much better than we humans do with our much longer block of time. We could learn a lot from the dignity of dogs.

It was hard getting out of bed this morning. I've been tired all week and even though it is getting warmer, I still don't think my body has completely recovered from last week's ice storm. I spent quite a bit of time on my knees photographing the old German Shepard and I felt like joining her on her comfy fleece dog bed. My legs weren't working all that well either at that point. After a long day filled with indoor and outdoor chores, I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep.

I'm hoping that today's mild weather continues through next week. Even though I got a lot accomplished today, there's still a long list of chores on my to-do list. There are still Christmas gifts to buy, bills to pay, and an illusive UPS package to locate. Oh, I almost forgot. Today I begin my fifth full year as a blogger. It's my Blogiversary again. Can you believe it? Five years without missing a single day. I don't think I've been this consistent with anything before. It's been a lot of work, but it's been good for me to collect my thoughts like this at the end of each day. I see a rhythm and poetry to life that I never noticed before. Although I'm still a grumpy old man, I think this forced reflection has made me a better person in many subtle ways. Who knows how long this personal journey will continue, but as long as it does, I hope that each of you will continue to join me for a few minutes at the end of each day. I'll see you again tomorrow.

Jasper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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