Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 1143

This is going to take a while. Usually, when I'm in a hurry and don't feel like cooking, I'll run down to a nearby barbecue joint and get the brisket platter to bring home for dinner. Tonight, I went to Central Market and got a broccoli, tomato and garlic salad; a grape, walnut and blue cheese salad; and a bowl of tomato bisque. The meal was tasty and satisfying but I couldn't visualize portion sizes very well and bought too much. That's one of the things I don't like about fresh vegetables. They don't stay fresh very long. I forget about the leftovers and they inevitably go bad. Cured meats on the other hand, seem to last forever.

I really haven't had any major goals for quite a while. I have a tendency to just get up and plod through the day, doing whatever is necessary to keep treading water until bedtime. Goals probably aren't such a bad thing. Maybe staying alive a little longer would be an excellent goal to start with. I'm going to try my best to make this healthy diet work. So, if you hear me talking about bacon and cheeseburgers in a month from now, you'll know I'm just another backslider.

We're planning on taking the dogs on a little road trip. We've always wanted to go on a real vacation with them, but so far we haven't been able to go more than five miles without a major mishap. Dot is just as territorial in the car as she is at home. When we pull up at a stoplight, she'll start barking like crazy at people crossing the street or waiting for a bus. Dot's barking usually throws Dash into a panic and he'll wriggle out of his car harness like a canine Houdini and then he's all over the place. Janet is an optimist though. She thinks that if she sits in back with them, the dogs will be calm and well behaved. I have my doubts, but since they spend most of their day sleeping around the house, there ought to be a way to get them to sleep in the car as well.

A friend of mine wants to send a little health care business my way. He asked if I had ever done any of this type of writing and of course I said "sure." I knew I'd done quite a bit of health care writing. I just couldn't remember what it was. A quick search revealed that I'd written an ad campaign about impotency, some brochures about surgical scrubs made out of paper, and a physical therapy video that featured a lot of old people bobbing around in a huge swimming pool. I've done a huge amount of work for veterinarians, of course, but I'm always a bit hesitant to tell doctors and hospital administrators that I consider veterinary medicine to be more or less the same as whatever they're doing. We'll see how it goes. My new business pitches usually go pretty well unless someone wants to actually see me in person.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 1142

I had an enjoyable lunch with a friend of mine today. We talked about how much ad agencies have changed since the "Mad Men" days when we both worked at an agency together. Then the subject changed to disastrous oil and gas investments both of us had made. Finally, we tried to top each other with stories about bad doctors and medical nightmares. It definitely wasn't a three martini lunch, since neither of us drank anymore. We both agreed that sixty was definitely not the new forty.

After lunch I went for a consultation with my new nutritionist. I was really impressed with the guy and learned more about the root causes of my various ailments in a two hour consultation than I have in several years of doctor visits.

I've known for some time that I needed to change my diet. I just haven't had anyone tell me exactly how or why. Now I have a plan. Right now, I'm consuming way too much protein and not enough vegetables. I need to cut back significantly on grains. Even whole grains are not that great if you have too much grain in your diet. The reason is that breads and grains easily converted to sugar and excessive sugar is one of the main causes of diabetes. I should be eating a diet that consists of no more than 10% grains and 20% animal proteins. The rest should be fresh vegetables. I should be eating four times more alkaline foods than acid foods to keep everything in balance.

Foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, artichokes and raw garlic are beneficial to the liver, while shellfish, alcohol, fats, and sugar are bad. Too much iron in the body is really bad for a person like me. Cauliflower and Oranges are good however. I'm going to have to make some changes. Some of my favorite foods like sushi, shrimp, bacon, and waffles are to be avoided. Oh, I need to excercise more too. Apparently, sweating is one of the most effective ways of eliminating toxins from the body.

None of this sounds like a lot of fun. Eating extravagantly rich food has always been one of my primary pleasures. On the other hand, I've been served vegetarian meals that are just as delicious as a well marbled steak. These meals always seemed difficult and time consuming to prepare, unfortunately. I may be a foodie, but I can't say that I really enjoy cooking. To successfully reform my diet, I need to find an easy, lazy man's way to enjoy my vegetables. The best solution for me would be a restaurant that consistently served delicious, totally healthy meals. Chefs are notorious for their liberal use of salt, butter and fat unfortunately. It's not surprising. These ingredients are usually what makes food taste so good.

It's not going to be easy, but radically improving my diet is going to be one of my primary goals for 2013. It might even take precedence over getting a new roof.

Malcolm is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 1141

I don't know how I used to survive without weather radar apps on my phone and tablets. I totally depend on these things now. Even on days like today when the rain never seems to stop, I manage to find little pockets of calm when I can walk the dogs.

I used to live in fear of being struck by lightning when I found myself miles from home with two panic stricken Dalmatians in the middle of a sudden thunderstorm. This doesn't happen anymore. I carefully plot wind direction and speed using the radar apps and take the dogs outside during lulls between the passing squalls. I tell Dot and Dash that we don't have much time. They know they only have eight minutes to pee, poop and finish their business before we have to be home again. So far this new plan works fabulously. The dogs storm instincts are much better than mine anyway. They only panic if they think I don't know what's coming and am leading them into danger. Today, although everything got soaked; we didn't.

There's not much to do on a rainy day. Since I don't like to drive in the rain, I'm usually just stuck inside with the dogs, waiting for things to clear up. Luckily, I had plenty of writing and website work to keep me busy today. One of the charities I work with has a new volunteer who is full of energy and new ideas. This is great for the charity, but I'm not sure how great it will be for me. My workload has already increased. Things were easier when my contacts were just as tired and overworked as I am. I seldom get behind if I'm working with someone who is in even worse shape than I am.

I'm having lunch tomorrow with a friend who had a heart attack recently. Hopefully, he can give me some tips that can help me avoid the same fate. When friends and I used to have lunch, the talk usually centered around fast cars, music, and weird things our clients did. Now the conversation always seems to be about who has had the scariest near death experience. Talking about health problems has its benefits though. I usually think I'm falling apart until I listen to other people's trials and tribulations. Then I realize that things aren't so bad after all.

The weather radar on my phone says that the storms are almost over. That's good!  Maybe I'll get a decent amount of sleep tonight.

Spirit is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 1140

It's hard to believe that it's been 27 years since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. It seems like yesterday. I was still working in an ad agency at the time, but only four years away from starting my own company. We all watched in total disbelief in the agency conference room as the shuttle disintegrated on live TV. Space flight has always been dangerous. I was an avid fan of the Apollo program when I was in college and was devastated when a fire destroyed the first Apollo capsule, killing all three astronauts. Years later, I actually heard the sonic boom as the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas during re-entry. I was walking the dogs at the time and didn't even realize what the loud noise was until I turned on the TV when I got home. Despite all the danger, I still wish we had become a spacefaring nation instead of a nation of whiners. It would be nice to see a colony on Mars during my lifetime. I have my doubts that this will ever happen though.

The law works in mysterious ways. I got a letter telling me that my subpoena had been withdrawn. Then, less than two hours later I got a call telling me that I had been subpoenaed all over again. WTF?  When I asked what was going on, the lawyer told me that after giving the matter some thought, they felt bad about having me served and decided to withdraw the first subpoena. He said they usually only served people who they thought would be hostile witnesses. OK. That sounds good to me. When I asked why I received a second subpoena, he said "Well, we still need your testimony."

I really can't figure out the weather we're having this winter. One day, it's bitter cold and I have to put on the dogs winter coats before we venture outside. The next day it could be sunny and seventy degrees. Back and forth like this it goes. Today was totally confusing. For most of the day it was gloomy and grey like you'd expect on a Winter's day. The temperature was 75 degrees though. This was much more like Summer.

Temperatures aren't the only thing that's been confusing me lately. I've been trying to come up with a healthy, low cholesterol diet that I can maintain indefinitely. It's not as easy as it seems. Yeah, I know I should eat oatmeal for breakfast, snack on raw walnuts, have plenty of fresh fruit, and substitute fish for red meat whenever I can. All this sounds great. I just haven't been able to put everything together in a tasty but brainlessly easy to follow menu yet. I did have some walnuts today though.

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 1139

I woke up feeling strange this morning. I couldn't pin down the feeling, but I suspect that it had something to do with the medication the team of hepatologists had me discontinue last week. I remember that there was a warning on the side of the bottle that clearly said Do not discontinue this medication without consulting your physician. Here's where things get difficult. A reputable doctor actually did tell me to discontinue the medication. Unfortunately it wasn't the same doctor who told me to start taking it in the first place. So which doctor is right? Which organ is more important, the heart or the liver? You can see why I get frustrated with medicine at times.

We took a gamble on the dog park today. It had rained at our house overnight, but there were indications that the rain never reached the northern part of town where the park was located. Weather is often like this in Dallas. It can be pouring rain in one part of the city at the same time it is sunny and dry in another. I wish the dog park had a webcam on a pole where you could just get on the Internet and see if there were dogs in the park before making the journey yourself. There are no webcams in any of the local dog parks unfortunately. The city must have spent all their webcam money putting stop light cameras at every intersection. Fortunately, the gamble paid off today and the dog park was open. Dot and Dash had a great time and both dogs have been calm for the rest of the day.

It's hard to believe that January is already coming to a close. Didn't we just celebrate Christmas? Apparently, a lot of my neighbors are having the same problem with time getting away from them. I still see Christmas trees being tossed out by the curb almost every time I walk the dogs. It's time to take down the Christmas tree folks. Pretty soon it will be time to start fretting about taxes again. With the simple life I lead, I don't know how my taxes have become so complicated. Selling a house this year probably won't help matters either. If I could have a say in where my tax money actually went, I wouldn't mind paying taxes so much. No such luck though. I'm sure that every cent of my tax dollar goes to fund something I hate. 

I'm glad I live in Texas. The temperature was over 75 degrees today. After watching all those dismal pictures of cars sliding around on icy East Coast highways this weekend, I'm happy to report that I wore a t-shirt up to the dog park today. Our chilly, foggy, days seem to be over for a while. Hey, t-shirt weather in January is just fine with me. T-shirt weather all year long is fine with me. That's all I ever wear anyway.

Sophie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day 1138

I went to see a nutritionist today. I've got to get beyond feeling good about myself for having a nutritious Kale salad one day and then going out and having a humongous bacon and chorizo omelet the next day. Consistency and discipline have never been my strong points. I need to clean up my act though. The team of hepatologists I saw earlier this week has put the fear of god in me. I definitely don't want to wind up on a transplant list.

It's too bad that eating unsalted nuts and fresh fruit isn't as appealing to me as a cheeseburger and a beer. Some people I know love to eat raw, unprocessed foods. Personally, I'd much rather have a pizza, or barbecued ribs. I have a feeling that those days are gone though. I'm going to have to learn to love something new.

This is the longest string of foggy days I can remember. One foggy day is a photo opportunity. A whole week of foggy days is just lousy weather. Although I have professed my love of fog many times on this blog, I'll have to admit I'm getting tired of it this week. I'm ready for a little sunshine.

I keep hearing on the news that stores are going to start adding and additional 4% to your bill for credit card transactions starting tomorrow. That sucks. I hate carrying cash around and use credit cards for virtually everything. I wonder if stores will actually try to pass on their transaction charges to customers, now that they're allowed to by law. It could go either way. Competition could keep prices the way are are currently. Or, the stores might get together just like the airlines have and try to stick their customers with every additional charge they can get away with.

I can't find anything on TV tonight. Sometimes I wonder why I even bothered to get U-Verse. There are dozens of channels filled with dumb shows like Storage Wars and Duck Dynasty. There's absolutely nothing that I want to watch though. You'd think with 500 channels, there would be at least five good ones. I find myself still watching old Seinfeld episodes because the new shows are so terrible. Sometimes I just stare at the NASA channel, watching astronauts floating around in the space station. It's not very dramatic, but at least it's not irritating.

Jazz is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 1137

Why do people want to get me involved in their legal troubles? I already have plenty of doctors who are trying to scare me. The last thing I need are a bunch of lawyers trying to do the same thing. It was hard for me to get anything done today because attorneys on both sides of this lawsuit I got the subpoena for were calling me to ask what I'd told the other side. My answer was simple. I just did exactly what the court order told me to do. No more, no less. At least both attorneys agreed that this was the best thing to do. One of the lawyers asked me who the opposing lawyer was. When I told him, he said "Oh, I went to law school with him. He's a great guy." Small world, isn't it.

Sometimes I think I'd make a good lawyer. This is usually just when I'm watching old episodes of Perry Mason though. Janet, who knows much more about the law than I do, tells me that I'd make a terrible attorney. She's probably right. I can't even get picked for jury duty. When I tell people that I'm a writer during voir dire, the attorneys from both sides shun me like I had the plague.

It was another foggy day today. The fog didn't lift this time though. It was grey outside all day. I meant to take my car to the Land Rover dealer this afternoon, but ran out of time. I went to Autozone instead and bought another quart of oil. This is probably how the roof problem got so bad. I just keep putting things off.

Did any of you buy Apple at 700?  I'm sure glad I didn't. I was very tempted to buy the stock several times when it seemed invincible. Reluctantly, I followed my financial adviser's advice and resisted the temptation. I think I owe the guy an apology, because he apparently knew a lot more about Apple than I did. He kept telling me that Apple was going to fall, while I kept thinking that it was headed straight toward 1000 like some of the analysts were predicting on TV. Oh well, live and learn.

I almost took the pills that my new doctors told me to discontinue this morning. I need to hide these pills away somewhere, so I won't take them by mistake. I'm a creature of habit, just like my dogs.

Bones is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 1136

I had an uneasy feeling when I pushed the elevator button to go up to the eighth floor. This wasn't the cozy little clinic I'd been used to. It was a huge, rather foreboding, research hospital. I had entered the big leagues for bad news. There should have been a sign on the front of the building that said "Don't even bother coming through these doors unless you have very good insurance." Everything about the place screamed expensive. There wasn't just one doctor this time. I had a team of doctors. They read through all the lab reports from the previous doctors and told me that things had changed. "We've learned a lot more about this disease," one of them said. At first I thought this was good news, but it wasn't. Apparently the doctor who told me that doing nothing was a viable option was completely wrong.

I was very disappointed to hear this, because doing nothing was exactly what I wanted to do. I was told to discontinue several medications. New tests were ordered. This was all just to determine if I was a good candidate for treatment. I have a feeling that this is going to be a very long year.

Despite my unsettling visit to the liver institute, it was a pretty good day. The weather was beautiful. We had heavy fog, followed by clear skies as the fog lifted. This is the kind of weather photographers love. The temperature was warm and there were photo opportunities around every corner. The dogs and I had a great walk before breakfast. I would have stayed out a lot longer if I didn't have work to finish.

One of the charities I work with wants to increase their exposure on social media. This certainly isn't news, since everybody wants to do this. We had a meeting tonight and I told them what I tell everybody. The secret to social media is consistent, original, interesting content. Tell a great story and people will start listening. It's that simple. This isn't what a lot of organizations want to hear though. They don't have the time to write interesting stories and take memorable pictures every day. What they want instead is some kind of nifty software that will automatically get thousands of new people to like them on Facebook. I keep telling them that what they are asking for is already out there. It's called Spam.

One of the doctors I saw today told me that he didn't think I was getting enough exercise. Are you kidding me? I walk five miles a day. Jeez! That should be enough for anybody. I proudly told the docs that I had given up drinking. I didn't tell them that I was still eating bacon.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 1135

When the dogs and I returned from our walk this morning, there was a process server waiting for us on the front porch. I was served with a subpoena. WTF? Why would anyone sue me? I am one of the most unlikely people on the planet to get involved with a lawsuit. I don't do much of anything and I rarely even see people. When I read through the legal documents I had been served with, I discovered that I wasn't being sued after all. Instead, I was being asked to give a deposition. It was one of my clients who was being sued and they apparently decided to drag me along for the ride. According to Janet, this probably wasn't a wise decision. She doesn't think I should even be allowed in a courtroom. "You talk too much," she tells me. When I told her about the deposition, she admonished me to just answer the lawyer's questions. "Don't try to regale the court with all your weird long-winded theories," she said. "It won't end well."

I saw some kids painting on the trunk of a dead tree the other day, so this morning I walked over to the tree to get a closer look at their handiwork. It actually looked kind of cool. Especially when framed as a square Instagram photo. This chunk of tree art reminded me of my friend Chuck in Seattle. He used to tell me that anything was art if you put it in a nice frame. To prove his point, he gathered up a bunch of trash he found on the street, flattened it out, and had the debris professionally framed. The resulting "pictures" eventually wound up in a gallery show and ended up getting good reviews.

Erykah Badu drove by in her big black Porsche Panamera while the dogs and I were walking past her house this morning. Sometimes I'd like to be a celebrity driving a big black Porsche. It probably isn't all it's cracked up to be though. I'm probably better off just walking dogs and taking pictures of painted tree trunks. I remember meeting Richard Petty once back in the days when I was doing Pepsi commercials. He was a real nice guy and insisted on eating Kentucky Fried Chicken out of a big bucket with me and the film crew at lunch instead of going off with the clients to a fancy restaurant. The guy seemed so tired though. You had to yell in his ear because he was stone deaf from years of racing. Whenever there was a break in the filming, his business manager put him to work signing autographed posters. All day long he signed these things wearing a special glove so he wouldn't get carpal tunnel. What kind of a life is that? I bet celebrities get sued a lot too.

I've got to go see the doctors at the liver institute tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to that at all.

Chloe is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 1134

I eliminated one of the two rattles I've been hearing in my car by stopping by an Autozone store and adding a couple of quarts of oil to the engine. Now, I've just got to figure out where the missing oil went. There were no drips or oily puddles under the car. I don't think it was leaking. There was no blue smoke coming out of the tail pipe either. I have no idea where the missing oil went, but I had to add a lot more than I thought I would to get the dipstick back in the safe zone. Although the mystery of the disappearing oil wasn't solved, the mystery of my expensive oil changes was. I had no idea that fully synthetic oil cost as much as it does. I used to think Land Rover was ripping me off when I went in for an oil change. Now that I know how much the oil itself costs, their price for the service is actually pretty reasonable.

I had a lot of website work today. Since there wasn't much else to do, I managed to get all of it done. Most of my remaining clients seem to like the time consuming custom work I do. I have a feeling that it's just a matter of time before they succumb to the lure of lower cost mass produced alternatives though. I wish I could get excited about cranking out template sites myself. I can't though. I'd rather create five totally unique sites than five hundred copies.

I took Dash to the vet today. Sometimes I think he doesn't even realize he's going there to get a shot. He's a social dog and just likes all the attention he gets during these bi-weekly visits. Dash's skin condition continues to improve, so we cut him back to a half dose of his medication this week. It's amazing how directly a dog's health correlates to a good diet. Once we got Dash on the right diet, his health improved dramatically. I'm sure the same thing is true with humans. If I ate a carefully formulated bowl of dry kibble every day, I'd probably be healthier too.

The monthly big trash truck comes tomorrow. I looked around the yard for fallen limbs and other debris to drag out to the street. I couldn't find much this month. I think most of the loose limbs have fallen off our trees already. I'd bag up some of this season's leaves and haul them out to the street too, if they weren't currently being used as a mud barrier to keep the dogs paws clean.

Raider is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 1133

After meeting with my financial adviser and confirming that I was not a rich man, I went up to Ikea and bought a cheap floor lamp. I'm sure that some of you have shopped at Ikea before. The stores are enormous and I always get lost in them. I usually get lost right after I pick up something heavy and then spend the next fifteen minutes looking for the check out aisles. Things are incredibly cheap at Ikea. That's why the stores are always crowded. People don't even care that most of the stuff is pure crap and will probably break before you figure out how to assemble it. It's just incredibly cheap, so you fill your buggies like everyone else. Ikea doesn't miss a trick. If you get hungry while you're lost in the store, they'll sell you some lunch. If you need something to carry your heavy purchases out to the car, they'll sell you a shopping bag at the check out counter. Everything is cheap, but nothing is free. I think you could furnish your entire house at Ikea for the same price as a single dining room chair at Design Within Reach.

When I got my floor lamp home, I had to assemble it. You have to assemble everything you buy at Ikea. My fully assembled lamp seemed to lean a bit to the left, but you can't expect perfection from a $29 floor lamp. The high-tech LED bulb I screwed into the socket to complete things actually cost more than the lamp. I still can't figure out why the lamps I was looking at a few weeks ago at the ritzy lighting studio cost $1500 and up, while this somewhat similar lamp cost $29.

Although today was a holiday, Janet and I certainly didn't take advantage of it. She cleaned the house and went to a Zumba class at the gym, while I got lost in the crowds of people buying baby furniture at Ikea. Tomorrow, it's back to work again. I've got a lot of website revisions to make this week, but none of them will make me much money. I was trying to explain to my financial adviser today why designing websites is no longer a winning proposition for me. I'm not sure he understood. He asked why I couldn't start offering cheap template driven sites myself.

I think the garage that did my safety inspection screwed up my car. It's been making an odd rattling noise ever since I got it inspected last week. This is a different kind of rattling noise than the rattling catalytic converter, so now I've got two rattling noises. I guess I'll have to stop by the Land Rover dealer later this week. It's always something.

Myles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 1132

It was one of those prematurely early Spring days that brought everyone outside. The dog park was absolutely packed. Dash was intimidated by all the people and dogs at first, but he adjusted quickly. Everyone was in a good mood. I rarely see this many people in the park and quickly noticed that everyone looked kind of similar. Virtually the entire crown consisted of singles or young couples without children. All were Caucasian. You would never have seen a crown like this twenty years ago. Some of these people will have children later, but others never will. For a variety of reasons, they have decided that dogs are a much easier kind of family.

Later in the day, the dogs and I see tons of families with children at the large city park where we take our daily walks. Virtually all of these people are Hispanic. The adults are fixing picnic dinners while the kids play soccer and other games. The demographics of the city and probably of the entire country are changing dramatically. One group is marrying young and having large families while the other postpones families and pursues careers until they eventually start to worry about down syndrome babies and cogitative disorders. The future is all in the demographics. Immigration reform is a big issue now, but eventually it won't even matter. In less than a hundred years, I am convinced that this country will simply become an extension of Mexico.

When I wasn't ruminating about the future, I spent my time doing an assortment of odd little tasks. Since my car was clean again, I got a bottle of Meguiar's Fine Cut Cleaner and polished out a couple of scratches in the paint. I also glued a wooden chopping block that had become de-laminated back together. Finally, I tried to clean up the little Japanese Garden in our atrium. When we first bought the house, Janet and I made a huge effort to make this little area pretty and green. We bought Japanese Maples, ferns and ivy plants. When the plants died, we bought replacements and continued our efforts to have a delightful little green spot in the center of the house. It was a futile effort. There wasn't enough light in the atrium and every two or three years there would be a big freeze that would kill everything anyway. At some point I made a rock garden because I figured nothing could hurt the rocks. The garden is a failure, but it still looks nicer when I clean it up.

I have an appointment with my financial adviser tomorrow. I'll ask him if Apple has dropped enough to consider buying some shares again. I'll ask him why my natural gas investments are doing so terribly if natural gas is still what is supposed to make us energy independent. We won't watch the inauguration, but I'll ask him how to make the next four years work in my favor. I doubt if he'll have a good answer.

April is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 1131

I took my car to the car wash today. Janet likes clean dogs, but it's a clean car that does it for me. The old Defender looks almost new when it is sparkling clean. The only problem I had was setting the side mirrors again. The side mirrors on the Defender are so tiny that unless they are positioned perfectly, you can't see anything at all. I need the side mirrors because a big metal dog crate obscures my vision from the rear view mirror on the windshield. There are no electric buttons to move these mirrors. You have to get out of the car, monkey around with the mirror, then get get back in the car and see if you'd adjusted things properly. After three of four tries, I could see the road behind me again and I was on my way. A clean car didn't make the grocery shopping go any faster, but I did feel better.

I got another gift card in the mail from Klout this morning. This time it was from McDonalds. I own some McDonalds stock, but I can't say that I eat at the place very often. A Big Mac isn't exactly my idea of a healthy meal. Hey, I'll eat anywhere if it's free though. Maybe I'll go have an Egg McMuffin for breakfast some day.

I watched a few old Top Gear episodes on TV while I was cleaning the house this afternoon. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are my heroes. They've managed to make a great living bumbling about, playing tricks on each other, and driving fast cars. Given a choice between being an accountant, a civil servant, or driving around in the latest Ferrari, I think most guys would choose to be James May. I probably shouldn't make such a sweeping statement though. Guys who drive a Prius probably don't like Top Gear at all. Most of them would probably rather be Al Gore than Richard Hammond.

The days are already starting to get longer. Since we tend to walk around sunset at this time of year, I can see small differences almost every day. Less than a month ago the sun was starting to set when the dogs and I started our evening walk. Now, the sun doesn't reach the horizon until we are almost home again. Lots of people were out in the park today. I heard a woman scream when I was watching the sunset today. It wasn't what I thought though. Somebody's radio controlled model aircraft had run out of gas and almost hit the woman when it unexpectedly fell out of the sky. You never know what to expect in the city. I'm glad the model plane didn't hit the dogs.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 1130

I paid a visit to my watchmaker today. Although I rarely even bother to fix my own watches any more, Janet still likes hers to run. I like visiting with the watch repairman. I'd drop by more often if he wasn't so busy. Guys like him usually have enough work to last a lifetime. The mechanic who works on my old Maserati is the same way. These solitary craftsmen work alone, slowly and methodically restoring odd little treasures from a bygone era. I used to know lots of people who could fix things. I knew several guys who could rebuild a Leica camera from scratch and one peculiar guy who did nothing but restore old electric fans. Most of these guys are gone now, but fortunately the watchmaker remains. He and I both collect things and enjoy sharing our discoveries. Guys like me rarely talk about feelings because we don't really have many. We do like to talk about stuff though. I had a very enjoyable afternoon and Janet's watch got fixed too.

I got quite a bit done today. I have a feeling that I was more productive because the skies were clear and the weather was warm. I think everything goes better on a nice day. The dogs enjoy sunning themselves in the back yard. The car starts effortlessly, and best of all, I don't have to muck about up on the roof. With the help of the suns rays, I managed to finish several articles and completely update an animal rescue website.

I think I'm going to contact the foam roofing company next week and have them come out and give me an estimate. I need to come up with a five year plan to get the house shipshape again if I ever want to sell it. I guess the roof would be a good place to start. It certainly wouldn't make sense to fix anything inside if the roof was still leaking.

I wonder how long it will be before I become bored with eating out every Friday morning. I found a really nice restaurant this morning, but nothing on the menu really appealed to me. Maybe I just wasn't hungry. I finally ordered an omelet with chorizo, shallots and cream cheese. When I got home I was so full that I almost went up on the roof just to push the broom around for exercise.

Dovey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 1129

I was hungry today, so I stopped by a nearby taco joint to get a taco. Four cops from the gang squad were sitting at the next table, watching ESPN sports on the big-screen TV behind me while they were drinking their coffee. All of them were laughing about Manti Te'o and his fictitious girlfriend. "How could that guy be so stupid," one of the cops said. I don't have the answer to that one, but I do think the whole fake girlfriend phenomenon is a lot more common than you might think.

I've known three people who were duped by fictitious girlfriends and I don't even know that many people. The first guy was a senior vice-president at an ad agency I worked at in Seattle. The Internet didn't even exist back then, so this guy was duped by plain old letters sent through the mail. He went on and on about this "perfect" girl he knew in Los Angeles. He had a picture of her on his desk and everything. After about six months, he finally flew down to Los Angeles to meet his perfect girlfriend and she stood him up. This rather obvious warning sign wasn't enough to dissuade the guy from his fantasy. He actually believed the lame excuse the people conning him made up and three months later, he flew to Los Angeles again. Only then did he finally admit the girl didn't exist. The poor guy took some time off from work for "personal reasons" and he never returned.

I needed to get some printer ink this afternoon and discovered that my favorite printer store had moved. Instead of a convenient 5 minute drive, the place was now over 25 minutes away via an inconveniently busy freeway. When I finally got there, my sales rep wanted to show me around. He was really proud of their new 40,000 square foot warehouse. I liked the little 11,000 square foot warehouse in my own neighborhood a lot better. The guy said that if I didn't like the drive, he could just FedEx my supplies to me. I guess that's what the world has come to: sending things all the way to Memphis on a plane so you can get them across town the next day.

I'm finally getting better about taking the trash out on Thursday evening. It took months to imprint this new habit on my brain, but I think I've got it down now. I haven't missed trash day for several months. Do you like the colorful electric sign I saw today? If I could find a smaller version, I'd put one in my office. It certainly seems to sum up the whole situation for me.

Chief is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 1128

I spent most of the day doing my bookkeeping and paying a bunch of bills. This took a long time, mostly because I'd been postponing the loathsome task for so long. The older I get, the more depressing dealing with financial matters becomes. When I was younger, it was easy to pay my bills. I didn't have many bills in the first place and I was lucky enough to work in an industry that was obsessed with youth. Bright, young people can do exceptionally well in advertising. It wasn't until much later that I realized in that quintessential race between the tortoise and the hare, I was the hare. All the tortoises eventually caught up with me and now they appear to be in the lead. I can no longer glibly tell people that the answer to all spending problems is simply to get a job that pays better. I must embrace frugality. And I hate being frugal.

The bills still get paid. Some months I make a little more than I spend. Other months I spend a little more than I make. It all seems to even out by the end of the year. I know I should be happy with this. In many ways I have what the working world wants. I don't have a boss. I don't have any debts. I don't have many responsibilities. Life is good. I walk my dogs. I write a little. I enjoy my bacon. Why do I even care that there's not going to be a Lamborghini in my future?

Klout sent me a gift card to Chili's today. I wonder if Chili's serves breakfast? That would be cool if Klout started sending me gift cards to breakfast restaurants. This gift card was certainly a better perk than the package of Zatarain's pasta I got last month. I still haven't figured Klout out. I enjoy getting little surprises in the mail, so the whole perks concept works for me. I just don't know what the companies sending me stuff get out of the deal.

It was too warm to cancel dog training class tonight. But it was too cold to actually enjoy it. I was surprised at how well Dash did this evening, considering how much he hates the cold. He still barked a lot and irritated some of the older people, but he did all his exercises perfectly. I was proud of my boy tonight.

I think I'm going to call that company that does sprayed on foam roofs and have them give me an estimate. It's been a wet Winter and I'm really getting tired of sweeping the water off the roof on an almost daily basis. There was still ice on the roof this morning and I had to break it into little chunks with my broom handle. When I slipped on the ice, I thought it might be a good idea to call the roofing company.

Shelby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 1127

What a surprise. I looked out the window this morning and the back yard was covered with snow. It's quite rare to get enough snow to cover the ground in Dallas. The dogs initially didn't want to go outside, because it was cold, but when they discovered the snow, they had a great time. We tramped around in the woods, leaving foot and paw prints everywhere and by the time we got home again, the snow had just about melted.

As luck would have it, the only snow that didn't melt was the snow on the roof. I decided to wait until it turned to water again before I dealt with the cleanup ritual. For the moment, the snow is just good insulation.

Today, I took care of keeping my car legal for another year. First I got a new registration sticker and then drove down the street to the little garage where I always get the car safety inspected. Even though they have inspected this car for at least six or seven years, I always have to tell them that it is a full time four wheel drive vehicle and ask them not to put it on the dynamometer. I must have been pacing around the lobby of the garage during the inspection because the owner asked me why I was so nervous. I made up some lame excuse for all the pacing because I was embarrassed to tell the guy that I was nervous that the mechanic would put my inspection sticker on crooked again. He always puts the stickers on the windshield crooked. Last year, he even put my registration sticker on upside down. The car passed inspection with flying colors, even though I hadn't bothered fixing the rattling catalytic converter. I guess I'll just live with the rattle for for another year. It doesn't hurt the engine and I'm kind of getting used to it.

While I was at the garage this afternoon, their web developer stopped by to renew their contract for another year. Since I was obviously too late to make a pitch for the business, I asked the garage owner what the other guy was charging to design a website after he had left. The owner said his new site was costing him $500 and acted like that was a lot of money. Sad. I don't know how you can make a living doing websites anymore, unless you're one of those big corporate interactive agencies like Razorfish. The budgets for the simple bread and butter jobs that keep little guys like me busy keep getting lower and lower and lower.

The price of Apple stock keeps getting lower and lower too. Apple closed below 500 today. I wonder how much further it's going to fall. I'm sure glad I didn't buy any shares at 700. I hate to admit it, but maybe my broker's decision to get me out when he did wasn't so stupid after all.

Betty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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