Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 1171

I kept myself busy writing for most of the day. Writing would be a very pleasant occupation if there were more money in it. Writing used to be a lot more lucrative for me. Truthfully, nobody ever paid all that much for the writing itself, but there was usually travel involved, plus lots of needless meetings that could be billed out as well. That all changed after the crash. Most of the self-important middle managers who scheduled all the needless meetings got fired and all that was left were the words on the page. That's the way it remains today. Microsoft Word files travel back and forth electronically and eventually a check arrives in the mail.

Although most of the glamor is gone, writing is still a very pleasant way to spend the day. It certainly beats dressing up in a suit and making Powerpoint presentations to an audience of vultures eager to steal anything that resembles an idea, so they can claim it as their own.

As I was eating breakfast this morning, I watched the pope fly away in a helicopter to begin a monastic life of quiet contemplation. I wouldn't mind living a life of quiet contemplation. Especially if I were living in a beautiful castle overlooking the sea, surrounded by carefully manicured formal gardens, and waited on by two full time secretaries and four domestic servants. Not a bad life at all.

The pope probably doesn't have Dalmatians though. Dalmatians have a certain beauty all their own.  I amused myself today watching Dot and Dash try to find the possum they saw in the yard last night. The possum was long gone the minute the dogs started barking at it, but that didn't deter them one bit. When they weren't possum hunting, they occupied themselves lounging on the new velour blankets Janet got them this week. They both love soft things. I guess it makes sense, since they have a pretty soft life.

One of my favorite breakfast restaurants closed its doors for the last time this week. It was sad to see the place go out of business. I knew the owner and she had poured her life into building a great little neighborhood eatery. The food was fantastic, but I guess there just weren't enough customers to make a go of things. The restaurant business is hard. It's probably even harder than writing for a living.

No wildflower pictures today. Just houseplants. I've always been fond of orchids.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 1170

I paid a visit to a client that hasn't been very active lately. I don't think they remember me. When I arrived, the receptionist seemed to know who I was, but nobody else did. I did my best to light a fire and get these people thinking about doing something new on their website again. I'm not sure my visit had any effect however.

There are several stages of website development. The first stage is always the best. Everyone is excited and full of ideas. I'm usually very busy during this stage of development, adding pages and moving things around. Eventually, disillusionment sets in. The company discovers that all their competitors have good websites too and they no longer feel like they have an advantage.

Sometimes, there's a third stage when the clients go to a seminar and get re-invigorated about their website after listening to presentations about all sorts of new bells and whistles. They learn all sorts of stuff about, SEO, video, databases, and interactive forms. If I'm lucky, I get to add the new bells and whistles to their site. If I'm not, I lose the account to someone they met at the seminar.

It usually doesn't take long for disillusionment to set in again. Websites have become a commodity. If one site has bells and whistles, it isn't long before they all do. Once the client decides that the website is no longer a magic bullet, I am no longer as valuable as I was in the beginning. I'm not saying that websites aren't important. They are. They can definitely help a good company get even better. They can no longer separate a nondescript company from the pack however. Most website problems aren't with the website itself. They usually originate with the company behind it.

I turned in my new writing assignment today. Writing is much more reliable than website development. While everybody and their uncle has hung out their shingle as website developers and SEO experts, there are still relatively few good writers. The only thing that endangers my security as a writer is that fewer and fewer people bother to read anymore. We have gone from a per-literate society to a post-literate society. It's only a matter of time before we're communicating with hieroglyphics again.

It was a pleasant day, but it still gets cold very quickly after sundown. It got cold so quickly today that we decided to skip dog training class. Dot doesn't enjoy the cold damp ground on days like this. Dash doesn't enjoy the wind. We had both this evening, so we stayed home. A wise decision, I think.

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 1169

The Winter winds subsided as the day progressed and by mid-afternoon it was warm again. As the weather improved, so did my mood. I continued to make good progress on my new writing assignment. The roof is drying out again. I've even lost a couple of pounds as a result of my new diet.

The challenge will be to stay engaged in the months ahead. I get bored easily. Watches hold little interest anymore. My carefully collected watch repair tools are all gathering dust on the workbench. I know I should be practicing the guitar more. I do enjoy playing, but this always used to be a group activity with the band. Playing rock and roll in an empty house to an audience of dogs is kind of weird. Yes, I could always read a book. I used to read a new book each and every week. I love books. I wonder why I don't have the urge to read anymore.

Photography is still fun, but I need to expand my horizons. I've started to notice that I've already photographed almost every single interesting object along the path where I walk the dogs every day. My small world has been very well documented. This month, the White Pelicans are getting ready to head north for the Summer. In previous years, I would be setting up a tripod with a long lens to capture these magnificent birds before they left for the season. I already have so many pictures of Pelicans though that I don't really feel like photographing them anymore. That's the problem really. Been there, done that. Totally.

Enough complaining though. It really was a beautiful day. There are tell-tale signs of Spring everywhere you look. The dogs are much happier with the warmer weather and are enjoying spending time outside again. Maybe I ought to let them decide what we are going to do tomorrow.

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 1168

I didn't leave the house all day. Well, technically I guess I did leave the house to walk the dogs, but that is such a predictable, rain or shine activity that it doesn't really count. I occupied myself with a new technical writing assignment that should take me two or three days to complete. Technical writing is a little different than the consumer oriented writing I usually do. Advertising writing is almost totally BS. Technical writing, on the other hand, is only about 50% BS.

While we were walking this morning, I noticed multiple small Zip-Lock bags with white pills inside strewn along our path through the woods. What was this all about? Did somebody finally get disgusted and throw away all their meds in favor of some vigorous exercise? Was this the remains of a drug deal gone bad? Was someone trying to poison the birds and squirrels? I don't know. I'll probably never know. I have seen stranger things in the park, however. This is one reason I always try to avoid walking the dogs after dark.

It's too bad that the roof wasn't quite dry enough for me to make my repairs yesterday while the weather was nice. It rained again overnight and now I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope for an extended dry spell, so everything can dry out again. I have already learned the hard way that patching a crack on the roof while there is still trapped moisture underneath doesn't accomplish anything.

Would you believe that it might snow tonight? If it does, it will be Winter's last hurrah. There's always one really cold day in late February or early March just to freeze all the early blooming flowers and plants. That's the way it works here in Texas.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 1167

On days like this I realize that I'm no match for Mother Nature. Since it is supposed to be cold and possibly wet later in the week, I took advantage of today's nice weather to get an early start on Spring cleanup activities. It only took a cursory inspection of the house to reveal galvanized gutters that had rusted through, rubber window seals that had dried and cracked, and a lot of peeling paint. The sun, the wind, and the rain had taken their toll, like they always do. I find it harder and harder to stay ahead of the game. Inexorably, the house and the yard it sits in are being reclaimed by the forces of nature.

I remember seeing a short animated film a few years ago that illustrated how cities like New York and Paris would revert to nature if all the people that inhabited them disappeared. In only a few hundred years, the cities were crumbling. In less than a thousand years, all traces of them were gone. We may think we have tamed the earth, but in the end nature always wins.

I'm not comfortable with decay. I wish our bodies didn't deteriorate. I wish my aging but beloved Defender 90 wasn't falling apart. I am continually irritated to see the sun, wind, and rain do their best to convert my house back to the elements from which it came. Wood rots quickly. Metal rusts faster than you think. Constant painting and upkeep just slows the process down. Like Dr. Who said in the Waters of Mars episode. "Water is patient. Water always wins."

There are some good things to this constant cycle of birth and decay. Last week's rain and this week's warm weather have already produced a bumper crop of early Spring flowers. When we took the dogs to the dog park today, I noticed that all the trees had already started to bud. In a few weeks the redbud and dogwood trees will be in full bloom. I will continue to try my best to stay on top of things. We'll plant some new grass next month and hope for the best. I'll put on a new roof which will immediately come under attack from the sun, wind, and rain. Life will go on. For a while anyway...

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 1166

It was another day that started out cold and ended up surprisingly warm. That's fine by me. All's well that ends well, as far as I'm concerned. There were quite a few picnickers out in the park today. It's probably a good time to have a picnic. The ants aren't out in force yet.

While I was at the grocery store today, I wandered aimlessly through aisle after aisle, looking for something that was completely healthy, could be kept in the freezer, and was microwavable. The illusive, easy-to-fix, healthy meal didn't exist. Oh, there were tons of things that met this description, if you just ignored the word healthy. Everything that looked the least bit tempting was chock full of salt, sugar, and trans fats. Even a bag of Chinese stir fry vegetables, which reminded me of my ill fated attempts to fix simple Thai food in a wok, contained an alarming amount of salt. Too bad I don't like to cook. Cooking meals with fresh ingredients seems to be the only real solution.

With Spring on the horizon, I'm starting to lust after photo gear again. This happens every Spring. I'll see something pretty to photograph and realize that the picture would be much better if only I had a different kind of lens. Sometimes I will actually buy the lens, take the photo I'm imagining, and then never use the lens again. When I'm thinking rationally, I just do nothing and wait for the gear lust to subside.

I'm certainly not thinking rationally when it comes to my car. My fear of another random breakdown overcame me today and I filled my tank with premium gas instead of regular. Maybe I thought I was doing the car a favor and it would respond in kind. Who knows? Rationally, filling my tank with premium will make no difference whatsoever. The Defender engine was designed to run on regular.

A friend of mine who also has a flat roof told me recently that the foam roof solution I've been thinking about won't work unless the roof is completely dry, with no residual moisture beneath the foam. That's discouraging. I don't don't think the plywood decking under my roof has ever been completely dry.

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 1165

There must be some money in the neighborhood. When I left the cool restaurant this morning, I noticed that my car was parked right next to a brand new McLaren MP4-12C. What a beautiful car! I've seen plenty of Ferrari's in Dallas, but this was the first time I've spotted a McLaren. I was curious who actually owned the car, since everyone in the restaurant was dressed like a homeless person. I guess this just underscores how blurred the boundaries between style and substance have become. Any one of the disheveled looking guys wearing grungy wool hats and plaid shirts could have been a hedge fund manager or the star of a new reality series. Maybe the guy who owns the McLaren will give me a ride someday. I'd love to tool around the neighborhood in a 618 horsepower rocket that goes from 0 to 60 in three seconds.

Sadly, my "go-to" breakfast at the cool restaurant may soon be off limits. I ran the scrumptious concoction made with two over-easy eggs on a bed of spicy pulled pork, spinach and hash browned potatoes through my tracker app and discovered that this single dish contained 171% of my entire daily cholesterol allotment. I had always considered this dish a "healthy" meal too. Sad!

I finally got a new assignment that isn't due in two hours. One of my European clients has given me an entire week to write an article for them. Such luxury! I've also been asked to bid on a new video project. Things are looking up.

When I was walking the dogs this morning, Dot tripped on a rock and started limping. We stopped for a while and I gently massaged her leg. Within a few minutes she seemed fine again. Dot is getting old and it is sad to see her start to fade. She seems a bit fragile now. Dot is the most athletic Dalmatian we have ever had and it's going to be hard on her when she starts to lose her mobility. Aging isn't much fun, for humans or their pets.

Maggie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 1164

I'm amazed at how much daily temperatures have been fluctuating this February. This morning I wore a heavy goose down ski jacket while I was walking the dogs. We barely missed getting soaked by a chilly Winter rainstorm. When we walked again late in the afternoon, the skies had cleared and the temperature was over 70 degrees. I wore a t-shirt. The entire month has been this way. One day, signs of Spring are everywhere and I'll see daffodils along the path. The next day, it's 35 degrees outside and feels like it is going to snow.

I took a break from my writing chores around mid-afternoon to pick up some new slacks I was having hemmed. I wonder how long it will be before I actually wear these pants. There is literally no reason for me to dress up anymore. All my work is conducted over the Internet these days and the dogs certainly don't care what I look like. The neighbors probably don't care either. It's probably only a matter of time before I start taking the trash out to the curb on Thursdays in my bathrobe.

I made a big salad for dinner using all the leftover vegetables in the fridge. Tomorrow I'll go to the store and get a new supply. I think I'm learning to manage meals better than I used to. Usually, something has gone bad in the fridge by Thursday, because I've simply forgotten about it. This week, I made a conscious effort to eat the things with the shortest shelf life first. Other than that carton of milk that inexplicably turned sour, everything stayed fresh this week. The big chef salad was actually pretty good too.

I'm fascinated by the little activity tracker I wear on my wrist. I never realized that it almost always takes me exactly 38 minutes to get the water off the roof. I usually burn up 250 calories doing this. My longest activity of the day is my morning walk with the dogs, and I am sometimes more active sleeping than I am writing. It's a good thing I take the dogs on long walks, because I burn up no energy at all writing.

I'm disgusted with the stock market again. As recently as a month ago, I was doing pretty well. Now, everything is headed downhill again. There is no rhyme or reason to anything anymore. I have no idea why gold and commodities are in the toilet right now. The price of gas is going up, but oil stocks are going down. I have shares in a 3-D printing company that were stratospheric a few months ago. Now, the shares are going down as quickly as they went up. Nothing has fundamentally changed about the company.

If yesterday was full of bad omens, today was full of good ones. The car ran smoothly. So did the furnace. I got a large number of website updates finished today, so it doesn't look like I'll have to work this weekend. We'll just forget about how much I lost in the market today and concentrate on what I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 1163

It was not an auspicious day. The furnace went out during the night and I woke up cold. Yes, it was the brand new furnace. When I fixed my breakfast, I noticed that the milk had gone sour in the fridge. We just picked up the carton this weekend. It definitely shouldn't have gone bad this soon. Then there was the weather. A cold front came through last night and the temperature was somewhere between thirty and forty. This wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't raining.

When I got the dogs cleaned up after a damp morning walk, I prepared myself for a day of barking and called the furnace repairman. Marty was as perplexed by the malfunctioning new furnace as I was. At least he was able to replicate the problem. After fiddling around for a while, he got the furnace working again and told me he thought the natural gas coming in from the gas main was dirty. Evidently the flame sensor was covered with dirty gunk, which usually doesn't begin to occur until a furnace has been running for several years. I guess it wouldn't really surprise me to learn that our gas was dirty. We've already discovered that our tap water isn't always clean.

Dot and Dash wore themselves out barking at the furnace repairman and napped all afternoon to recuperate. I wrote a couple of articles while the dogs slept. I didn't even bother to go up on the roof today, because the rain never really stopped.

There's a video production seminar I'd like to go to tomorrow, but I'm still a little leery about driving very far in the car. The gas may be flowing normally in the house again, but I'm not so sure about the gas in the car. I still haven't figured out what caused that vapor lock that made me stall out the other day. Maybe the gas in my car is dirty too. I usually buy gas at Sam's Club and lord knows where they get it from. It's probably not as good as everybody else's gas, but it sure is cheaper.

No dog training class tonight. It's much too cold and wet outside to tramp around in a field doing obedience exercises. I think Dot and Dash are happy for the reprieve. With the house nice and toasty  again, they are both sacked out on the bed. The only command I'm going to give them tonight is to ask them to move over a bit when I join them a little later.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 1162

I've totally lost faith in my car. I had to take Dash to the vet and run a lot of errands today and the entire time I was on the road, I kept expecting a repeat of yesterday's mysterious mishap. I don't claim to be a master mechanic, but most car problems at least make sense to me. It's the ones that make no sense whatsoever that worry me. These mystery problems make me realize that I am out of my depth and probably just need a new car.

Luckily, nothing went wrong today. Nothing ever goes wrong when I'm just driving around the neighborhood. It's only when I'm on a busy freeway during rush hour that disaster strikes.

It looks like I'll be getting a new assignment from one of my German clients. I'll be writing about waste water treatment. If this doesn't sound very exciting to you, you're probably not very familiar with what I do all day. Water treatment is actually a lot more exciting than some of the things I write about. At the very least, I'll get to learn something new. New subjects are always more interesting than regurgitating the same old facts over and over again.

Dash's nurse at the veterinary hospital told me that there is supposed to be a big rainstorm tomorrow. Why? I'm just starting to get used to the unseasonably warm February weather we've been having lately. I'd hate to spoil things by going back to the cold, wet weather of a normal February. At least I don't have any out-of-the-office appointments tomorrow. Having the car die in the rain would be even worse than a normal breakdown.

Every time there's rain in the forecast, I wish I'd already gotten an estimate from the foam roof people. I'd rather wait until it's warmer to put on a new roof, but then again, I'd also rather have this whole mess behind me. No worries though if it does rain. The dogs and I will just watch old Dr. Who episodes on TV until the sun comes out again.

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 1161

I had another MRI today. The massive MRI scanners are fascinating. The technology works because our bodies are largely made of water. The hydrogen atoms in our bodies can be aligned using a powerful magnetic field. Then, when radio waves are passed through the body at just the right frequencies, a radio signal is generated that varies according to where the magnet is. The distribution of protons within the body can be mathematically recovered from this signal, allowing the creation of a precise image of the body's inner workings. It would take a physicist to explain how these things really work, but I like to think it's just a giant magnet interacting with a small TV transmitter broadcasting on channel 3. One of the strangest things about the MRI is that early research was largely funded by the Beatles. Yes, those Beatles. British music giant EMI wasn't just a music publisher, it was also an electronics company specializing in medical research. Many say it was profits from EMI's Beatles albums that funded the development of the first commercial scanners.

Although MRI scans are completely painless, I ended up grinding my teeth a bit today. Before they slide you into the long cylindrical tube to begin the scan, you are asked to stretch your hands behind your head. There's only one problem with this. Since I have a dislocated shoulder, my right hand won't go all the way behind my head. I have trouble raising this hand all the way above my head standing up. It's no easier lying down horizontally on the MRI cradle. Somehow they slid me into the tube anyway, but I felt that dislocated shoulder during the entire 45 minute scan. Ouch!

Although the scan went fine, the drive home wasn't quite as uneventful. My car stalled out in a bad part of town a few miles from the hospital. I wasn't looking forward to leaving the car here. Luckily, the problem was just vapor lock. I took the gas cap off, waited a few minutes for pressure to equalize, and the Defender started up again. This is the trouble with driving a 1995 car around in 2013. It isn't very reliable. Wherever I go, there's always some sort of problem that crops up. There are oil leaks, mysterious rattles, and all sorts of minor electrical problems. Most of the problems are minor and easily dealt with, but you never know when your luck is going to run out.

Despite spending part of my day inside a giant magnet, I still managed to get some articles written. It wasn't a bad day at all. Our unseasonably warm weather continues. The dogs are happy and I haven't gotten sick of my austere new diet yet. I saw my first daffodil of the season too. That's bound to be a sign that Spring is just around the corner.

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

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 1160

It was a good day to go to the dog park. The weather was nice and all the dogs were playful. We stayed quite a while at the park because it is much more enjoyable to watch dogs play than it is to clean the house. Since Janet and I both have the little activity wristlets now, we were probably looking for an excuse to boost our step count too. I feel compelled to walk 10,000 steps a day now. I've probably always walked that much, but now that I'm being measured, I hate to be a slacker.

When we got home from the park, the dogs did the smart thing and took a nap. I decided to clean the bathroom instead. I don't know why it's so hard to get soap scum off the shower tiles. In those Scrubbing Bubbles commercials, the tiles are glistening in just a few seconds. In real life, it never works that way. It's harder to clean shower tiles than it is to clean a barbecue grill.

It's supposed to be a holiday tomorrow, but it doesn't look like I'm going to get any time off. I've already got several jobs on tap that I need to work on in the morning and then I need to go over to Baylor and have an MRI done in the afternoon. I filled out a big stack of pre-admittance paperwork this afternoon, but I'll bet there's more paperwork for me tomorrow. An MRI is pretty painless. The only thing I don't like is when they inject you with dye. It leaves an odd metallic taste in your mouth for some reason.

I'm glad Janet approves of my new diet. It would be much harder to maintain my resolve if she wanted to continue eating cheeseburgers. Luckily, she's been eating healthy all along. All I have to do it eat the same things she does. Well, almost the same things anyway. I'll have to forgo the scotch and red wine.

Too bad I've had to give up alcohol. Drinking all that extra water I'm supposed to have would be a lot easier if I could add a little single malt scotch and a few ice cubes to every glass.

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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 1159

It was a beautiful day. On clear, unseasonably warm February days, everyone is out and about in Dallas. The roads are crowded. The stores are full. The park is filled with people who never walk their dogs on cold, rainy days. The whole town was a three ring circus. Although it actually would have been a good day for me to stay home and read a good book, I decided to join the fray and went to Guitar Center. Not surprisingly, I was already too late for the President's Day doorbuster deals. The AKG headphones that were marked down 79% from list price were long gone. I looked around, couldn't find anything else I needed or even wanted, and left.

The next stop was the grocery store. I didn't even bother to look for deals here. I just put stuff in my buggy as quickly as I could, used the handy automated check out station, and left. Probably the only fun thing I did today was photograph a new Dalmatian in the rescue program. The boy's name was Bosley, which reminded me of those hair loss commercials. This seemed like a strange name for a dog with plenty of hair, but there's no accounting for dog names.

An imaging center sent me six pages of forms to fill out for an MRI I need to have next week. Most of this information I've already filled out hundreds of times before. If we can go to the moon, why can't we figure out an efficient way to have a master patient database, so you'd only have to fill out this information once. Oops, I forgot. We can't go to the moon anymore. Maybe the medical industry can't figure out how to get beyond paper files either. It's weird. All this expensive high-tech diagnostic equipment and still everyone relies on paper records. Every doctor's office I've been to seems to have entire rooms devoted to storing mountains of file folders filled with patient records. Everyone is very particular about their forms too. I've tried Xeroxing forms from another doctor's office to save time, but it's never good enough for them. I'm always handed a ball point pen and told to fill out all the information from scratch.

So far, drinking a lot of water is proving more difficult than eating vegetables. I see people all the time who continually walk around with a bottle of water in their hand. I never understood this obsession with hydration before, and I guess I still don't understand it now. 8-10 glasses of water a day?  Wouldn't two be enough?

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 1158

I kind of wish that the lawyers hadn't canceled my deposition today. It would have given me something to do. More importantly, it would have given me something to talk about. As it stands, there isn't much to talk about at all. The weather turned cold again. The work-front turned quiet. There weren't even any overheard conversations when I went out and had a veggie omelet at my favorite breakfast restaurant.

Out of boredom, I drove over to my nutritionist and asked him why my potassium levels continue to rise. Jeez, I like bananas, but I certainly haven't been eating that many bananas. He told me I wasn't drinking enough water. In fact, he told me that I should be drinking twice as much water as I am now. Damn! I really don't like water. I guess what has happened is that as I've been slowly been eliminating beer, wine, liquor, lemon aid, soda, and all sorts of other tasty beverages from my diet, I haven't been replacing the liquids with water. I never really noticed the change, since I am seldom thirsty, but it evidently made a difference. Now, I've got to drink a lot of water in addition to all the other stuff I'm doing. You'd think there'd be a least one vice that was actually good for you, So far, I haven't found any.

Wasn't it weird that the ten ton meteor that injured thousands in Russia arrived on the very same day as that asteroid that nearly hit us today. I wonder if the meteor was a chunk that fell off the asteroid? Maybe this is how it will all end someday. They say than an asteroid hitting the earth was what wiped out the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs were pretty tough. I bet a much smaller asteroid could wipe us all out pretty handily. We probably won't need a stray asteroid to finish us off though. I'm sure we'll figure out how to totally screw up the planet all by ourselves. Here's something to think about. That Russian meteor came to earth only 60 miles away from a massive Russian nuclear facility that currently holds tons of weapons grade plutonium. In cosmic terms, that's almost a direct hit.

Enough about the end of the earth though. I'm more concerned about putting an end to the bugs that have invaded my house. I saw only one bug today, and that was a dead one. This is a dramatic improvement from this time last week. This is one battle I'm going to win. I think I'll eventually win the battle against diabetes and liver disease too. It just might take a little longer.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 1157 - Valentines Day

I stood in a long line to get overpriced cupcakes at Sprinkles. I remembered to get extra doggie cupcakes for Dot and Dash. I went and got a pretty orchid to put on the coffee table in the living room. Yes, it's Valentines Day. I may not have the most original ideas in the world, but at least I don't forget. I'll miss drinking copious amounts of peach champagne this evening like we used to do on Valentines Day, but I think my drinking days are over.

I'm hoping the invasion of bugs we've been having this Winter is over as well. I've been seeing fewer of the critters since I started squirting the encapsulated power bait into every crack and crevice I could find. Since it was pleasantly warm outside this afternoon, I escalated my coordinated bug attack to phase two. I sprayed the exterior bricks with a solution that dries on the surface and can kill roaches for up to three months. I only applied the solution to parts of the house that the dogs don't have access to. Hopefully, this will be enough.

The deposition I was supposed to give tomorrow got canceled again. I think this is the third time it has been canceled or postponed. Hopefully, the two parties will just settle this thing and leave me alone now. Since I don't have to go to court tomorrow, I think I'll go and have another tasty veggie omelet for breakfast. My first experience eating an omelet without any meat was so delicious last week that I'm actually looking forward to having something similar this week. I think my dietary efforts are starting to show some results too. I got some blood work back in the mail today and was quite encouraged by the results. My liver enzyme levels were much closer to normal this time. My glucose levels actually were normal for the first time in many months. My cholesterol levels were a little high, but since I'm currently not taking any statins or cholesterol medication as part of a test, even these numbers were encouraging.

The dogs loved today's Springlike weather. They both wanted to go outside and roll in the grass. There was only one problem. There isn't any grass. They had to settle for taking a nap in a pile of leaves instead.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 1156

The specter of medicare on the horizon is already starting to bother me. I've finally got a group of doctors that I like along with some pretty decent health insurance. I'd hate to lose all this when the government takes over. Since nobody seems to know anything specific about medicare except the people who are already using it, I thought I'd do a little research. I discovered that medicare advantage plans and supplemental insurance are completely different. I also learned that you don't need both. I learned that part-d prescription drug coverage is really just another form of supplemental insurance. Most importantly, I learned that insurance companies and health care providers make a ton of money from selling medicare advantage programs and aggressively try to sign you up for their particular plan when you begin to approach the magic age of 65. It all comes down to money. Are you all that surprised?

I'm really hoping that my latest blood test results will vindicate my new somewhat austere diet. Although I'm slowly acquiring a taste for fruits and vegetables, I do miss bacon, french toast and cheeseburgers. When I asked my nutritionist why my new diet wasn't more popular if it could actually reverse diabetes, prevent heart attacks, and improve liver health, he told me that there wasn't any money in a good diet. The pharmaceutical industry is a billion dollar empire with tentacles everywhere. Selling pills is big business. Eating broccoli isn't. Maybe it is really that simple. Look at the ads you see on TV. It seems like 80% of them are selling pharmaceutical products. When you go to the doctor, there are often more drug company reps sitting in the bobby than patients. The pharmaceutical lobby in Washington DC is probably even more powerful than the gun lobby. Everyone wants you to take a pill because pills are wildly profitable. Again it all comes down to money.

Maybe the medical industry's fixation with money wouldn't be so irritating if I made more of the green stuff myself. I consider my company successful because I've managed to stay in business for over twenty years during a period of time where many businesses like mine have failed. I've never been wildly profitable though. I work hard for my money and profits are somewhat self-limiting. I have never been able to take advantage of economies of scale, since it is only me doing all the work. I'm very reluctant to hire people and grow, because that's exactly why several friends of mine failed. Growing too fast can be much worse than not growing at all.

Maybe I should resign myself to walking the dogs and making just enough to pay the bills. I wrote two articles today. That ought to pay the electric bill.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 1155

I joined HARO a few weeks ago. HARO, which stands for "help a reporter out" is kind of a neat idea. Participating reporters and TV producers send out e-mail queries for story ideas they'd like to pursue. If you've got the information or expertise they need, you reply and maybe you'll be a feature story in a newspaper or a guest on a talk show. On the other hand, maybe someone will just steal your idea and you'll get nothing. I'm not sure if crowdsourcing creativity will work, but it has been interesting to see what reporters are looking for these days. "Looking for chefs who have converted pot pie or other comfort foods into soup." "Looking for experts on eyebrow transplants." "Looking for someone who has added a third story to their house." "Looking for lawyers to discuss the different types of hit and run." "Looking for bullies who are willing to tell their stories on camera." "Looking for medical doctors willing to share old wives tales their moms told them growing up." "Looking for hermaphrodites who have been through puberty."

I get these e-mails every morning, filled with dozens and dozens of equally ridiculous story ideas from reputable newspapers and TV stations. It certainly wasn't what I thought reporters spent their time thinking about. Who knows. Maybe if I keep reading these queries, I'll find a reporter who is looking for an expert at removing water from a flat roof, or maybe someone will want to interview me about the best techniques for removing mud from a dog's paws.

It was another gray, rainy day. There's not much to do on days like this. I try to avoid driving because I'll just have to wash the car all over again. I'm always doing laundry on days like these because the dogs get filthy. Today, I miscalculated and we all got soaked on our morning walk, even though I'd already checked the weather radar on my iPad before we left the house. After I dried everyone off, I looked for new places to place the roach bait I bought yesterday. Like I said, it wasn't a very interesting day.

You'd think by looking at the little orange flower I photographed this morning that my day was filled with subtle beauty and wonder. Nope!  It was just another rainy day.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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