Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 1232

I took Dash to the vet today for his antigen shot. He seemed puzzled by the loaner car. Dash is very agile and usually has no trouble leaping into the back seat. The LR4 has a large rear door and plenty of room, but Dash didn't think he could get inside. We tried one door and then the other, but just before he would get to the open door, he would abort his leap and skid to a halt. After four or five tries, he finally realized that this car was just like any other car, and off we went. It is funny to see a dog do this, but I know I'm exactly the same way. I am very reticent to try something new. Once I work up my nerve though, I'm usually just fine. Dash and I are alike in many ways.

I talked to a friend today who is also in the market for a new flat roof. I was hoping that he'd have the answer to all my problems, but it doesn't look that way. My friend is having just as much trouble finding the holy grail as I am. I'm beginning to feel a bit like Don Quixote and have come to the conclusion that the illusive, affordable flat roof we all are searching for just doesn't exist.

I'm trying to decide whether I'd ever wear Google Glass or not. On one hand, I'm a huge fan of technology and a wearable heads-up virtual reality display certainly would be cool. On the other hand, I've never liked wearing glasses and don't even wear sunglasses in the summer. I think these things are going to catch on and will sell like hotcakes in a few years. I hear lots of talk about privacy issues with Google Glass, but I don't think privacy issues will derail this project. Privacy is still an issue with some people my age, but it's a completely foreign concept to many young people. Young people seems to want the world to know what they're doing at all times.

Privacy doesn't matter to me much one way or the other since I don't do much. Other than the trip to the vet with Dash, the only thing I did today was write several short articles. I do manage to crank out a lot of words. If I knew how to put these words together in the right order, I might be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Unfortunately, as it stands now, my words are just cannon fodder for SEO experts. Sometimes I wonder if anyone even reads the corporate stuff I write for a living.

Tomorrow we start another month. Dot and Dash will begin taking a new type of heartworm medication that hopefully is going to put an end to Dot's seizures. I'm hoping that the old medication was the problem. It certainly a lot easier to change a prescription than to deal with the possibility of mini-strokes and brain tumors.

Bea is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 1231

I seem to spend Monday getting ready for the rest of the week. It's not typically very exciting, but it's necessary. I took a bag of oranges and a pineapple and made another half gallon of juice with my new juicer. I washed a big load of towels. I balanced my checkbook and discovered that I'd already received my tax refund. As usual, the refund was just about enough to pay my accountant for figuring out my tax return.

I've just about decided on a contractor to replace my roof. It would be nice to have a knowledgeable person to confirm my decision with, but I don't know anyone who has a roof like mine. I have three different companies recommending three different processes and any or all of them could be pulling the wool over my eyes. The trouble with roofing contractors is that you don't really know if you've got a good roof until about three years after the job is finished.

It got warm enough to turn on the air conditioner today. I'm glad I have a fully functioning heating and air conditioning system this year, but I still find Summer more difficult to deal with than Winter. Air conditioning units extract moisture from the air and this condensate has to go somewhere. In a lot of new houses the condensation is piped directly outside. In my house, the condensation stays inside and goes down the same overflow drain in the utility room that is used by the washing machine. In the Winter, I plug this drain up, since the new front loader washer empties water too fast for the old 2 inch drain system. I can't leave the drain plugged in the Summer however. When the drain is plugged, the condensate from the air conditioner has no place to go and floods the utility room. I constantly have to remember to open and close this drain when I'm doing laundry. This seem easy enough, but I forget a lot. Winter is much easier.

I watched the old Pyramids of Mars episode of Dr. Who with Tom Baker as the fourth doctor this evening. I think the fourth doctor was my first introduction to the Dr. Who series. I remember the series used to come on after midnight on PBS a long time ago. Watching these old episodes from the 70's and 80's makes you realize how far special effects have come in twenty years. Old science fiction shows have incredibly crude and rudimentary monsters. If you forget about the poor production values, the show is basically the same though. Sara Jane Smith is actually one of the doctor's best companions.

I'm having a little trouble meeting my 10,000 step a day activity goal as the weather grows warmer. Dot is very sensitive to the heat and will turn around to go home a little earlier with each additional degree of temperature. I can almost predict exactly when she will want to turn around now by looking at the weather app on my iPhone. She's still fine in the morning, but that will only last another month or so. Another Texas Summer is on its way.

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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 1230

I got up this morning and then all of the sudden it was dinner time. It wasn't a particularly busy or stressful day. It just all went by in a blur. The dogs got their long awaited visit to the dog park. There was no need to dress as warmly as I did, because when we arrived at the park, it was already hot. Dot is well aware of the rising temperatures. She tires much more easily in the heat. As a result, we didn't stay at the park as long as we usually do. Dash could have stayed longer, but Dot gets to call the shots these days. It just isn't fair to push an older dog too hard.

Dot didn't get to choose whether to get a bath today however. I'm pretty forgiving about dirty, smelly dogs and even I had to admit that Dot and Dash were filthy. They both clean up well though. After a bath at Vhea's LaundroMutt, their coats shine and they smell wonderful.

Janet had to run some errands after we returned from our dog excursions and I used the afternoon to finish an overdue writing assignment. Ordinarily, I would do something outside on such a nice day, but the outdoor alternative was mowing the grass, so writing seemed the lesser of two evils.

It's hard to believe that April is almost over. We've probably got one more month of decent weather before another Texas summer rears its ugly head. I don't like the heat any more than Dot does. When the thermometer starts to hover around 100 degrees for months at a time, I start to questions my sanity for ever moving down here in the first place.

Some of my new exercise routines are starting to become habits. I find myself using the small hand weights around the house during the day. I continue to do planks on a daily basis too. Making something a habit is the key to success with me. I really can't depend on desire or passion to get me anywhere.

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 1229

I picked up some additional memory cards for one of my cameras today. I was amazed to discover that you can now buy 64GB high capacity SD cards for less than $40. Three or four years ago, these high speed, ultra high capacity cards were over $300, if you could even find them. Why can't everything work like the electronics industry? Electronics inevitably tend to get cheaper and better over time. Everything else seems to get more expensive while the quality gets worse. If roofing technology kept advancing at the same pace as solid state memory technology, I could probably get a brand new roof for $300.

It doesn't work that way though. Furniture is much more expensive than it used to be. The cost of a decent mattress is ridiculous. Cooking utensils keep getting more expensive. So do shoes and clothing. The cost of clothing should be coming down, since everything is made in China now. The clothes I buy keep getting more expensive though. What's that all about? The only sector of the economy that gives you a break anymore is consumer electronics. Large flat panel televisions are a bargain now. DSLR cameras are not only a bargain, they're amazingly capable. I love buying computers, because they're usually a fantastic deal.

When is all this innovation going to hit the roofing industry? If you can send a man to the moon, you ought to be able to develop an economical roof that doesn't leak. Maybe that's the problem. We can't sent a man to the moon anymore.

It was a beautiful day. When the weather is this nice, I usually putter around in the yard. There is no need to do this anymore though. The landscapers have done all my puttering for me. With no yard work to do, I ran errands instead. I'll be glad when I get my car back from the shop. I don't like driving the LR4 as much as my Defender. The car is too big. Instead of zipping in and out of tight parking spaces, I have to keep a close eye on what's going on around me. It's easy to get too close to curbs and other cars with this behemoth.

It looks like it's going to be a good day to go to the dog park tomorrow. It might be a good day to give the dogs a bath as well. They've managed to escape a bath for well over a month now, and it's about time to clean them up again. Dot and Dash are going to a Dalmatian Rescue event next week and Janet hates to go to these shindigs with a dirty dog. Luckily, she doesn't seem to mind what I wear though.

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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 1228

I'm always a bit disappointed when breakfast turns out to be the high point of the day. Friday's are often like that. A lot of my clients leave early on Friday, so there is seldom a lot of work to do. I usually go to the grocery store and look for something interesting for dinner on Friday. This little excursion tends to make the day even more centered around food though.

The Land Rover folks called and said I needed new points, plugs, and spark plug wires; plus a distributor rotor, and cap. I wasn't that surprised, since this is what I suggested to them yesterday. I'm still a bit skeptical that these additional repairs will make any difference. I'm getting tired of the rough running engine however, and I feel I've got to do something. Janet thinks I'm crazy for keeping the old Defender, but I can't afford a new car right now. I've always paid cash when I buy a car and I definitely don't ever want car payments again. Who knows? Maybe I'll start getting jobs with decent budgets soon. When pigs fly perhaps.

One of the reasons I can't afford a new car is that I need a new roof. There are few things less satisfying than putting on a new roof. A flat roof is expensive and you can't even see the finished product, since it's up above your head. I don't really have a choice. If I don't tend to the deteriorating roof, it's only going to get worse. I called the roofer I like the best today and asked if he could trim anything off his price. He managed to lower his bid by $4000 without comprising quality too much. It's still going to be expensive.

There's a new Dalmatian to photograph at The Velvet Snout. There's a new Dr. Who episode to watch as well. Maybe I'll get ambitious and buy a hedge trimmer at Home Depot this weekend, so I can get the hedge running along the back fence looking a bit tidier. My writer's group assignment is due this weekend too. I'm having trouble working up any enthusiasm for that one. The only thing for certain is that the dogs will want to go to the dog park on Sunday. Let's hope it doesn't rain.

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 1227

I took the back roads to the Land Rover dealer this morning. With all five living presidents in town, plus a ton of foreign dignitaries, I wasn't getting anywhere near the SMU campus today. Traffic was backed up in that part of town yesterday, and I suspect it was much worse today. I did watch the presidential library dedication on TV when I got home though. Wouldn't it be nice if politicians were always this nice and courteous to each other? Would that be too much to ask?

Dot's acupuncture doctor is leaving to pursue other interests. This is yet another reminder not to take anything for granted. I can't decide what to do now. I think Dot was benefiting from the treatments, but the improvements were subtle. The only other canine acupuncturist that I know of is in far North Dallas. Since Dot is never very excited about traveling around in my car, the stress of a long drive might negate the effects of the treatment. I'm not even sure that acupuncture is the right treatment anymore, since Dot's problems now seem to stem from vertigo instead of a slipped disk or spinal problem.

I talked to one of the roofers about their price today. He, like all the other roofers I've talked to recently, explained that the cost of materials had doubled. Fair enough. This still doesn't explain why the total cost of putting on a new roof has quadrupled. I still think that roofers are making way more money today than they used to. Unfortunately, that doesn't do me any good. The price of almost everything is based on what the market will bear. If enough people are willing to pay today's prices, they definitely aren't going to get any cheaper.

The Land Rover dealer gave me a new LR4 for a loaner car. This model has the same high-tech keyless ignition as the Evoque I drove last month. It's still hard to wrap my head around a car that unlocks itself as you approach and starts without a key, but I guess that's what's on the horizon for all cars. My Defender's manual roll up windows and separate keys for the ignition, doors, and glove box seems positively quaint by comparison.

I'm glad it's Friday tomorrow. This has been a long and tiring week. I'm already looking forward to having my new Friday treat: Black Bean Cake Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise sauce. Hey, you can't expect me to eat oatmeal all the time.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 1226

It continues to baffle me why everything I buy seems to get more expensive, while everything I sell seems to get cheaper. It hardly seems fair. The landscaper came out today to fertilize and treat the soil for grubs. He charged almost exactly double what I thought he'd charge. I take my car to the shop again tomorrow and I fully expect the same thing to happen. Appliance repairmen, plumbers, roofers, and auto mechanics all seem way too expensive these days. It wouldn't be so bad if people still wanted to pay for writing and photography. They don't. Everybody tends to think "there's an app for that" when it comes to creative endeavors. They all think they could do it themselves if they just had a bit more time. Clients only appreciate what I do after they've tried to do it themselves. They still don't want to pay, unfortunately.

Even though the landscaper is expensive, I asked him to give me a bid for re-doing the front yard when he was here today. The back yard looks so good now that is seems a shame not to have the entire yard look the same way. The landscaper still seems like a bargain compared to the roofers too. I still can't figure out why the cost of putting on a roof has gone up so much in the past ten years. My personal theory is that people don't get a new roof now until there is hail damage and their insurance company will pay the bill. It's probably a lot like health insurance. The roofers have probably learned that when people aren't paying with their own money, they don't really care what the price is.

It's a two way street though. Some of my clients think I'm too expensive. I think I'm still an incredible bargain, but it doesn't really matter if they don't agree. Probably the roofers are the same way. They've got to make a living too; paying the same ridiculously high real estate taxes, health insurance premiums, and utility bills that I do. Even though I hate paying through the nose for everything, I have a lot more sympathy for the landscaper, the roofer, and the plumber than I do for the folks on public assistance sitting home watching their big screen TV. At least these small business entrepreneurs are trying to earn a living on their own.

Now that I've taken almost two years of wildflower pictures, I've started to notice that each new variety starts to bloom at almost exactly the same time as it did the previous year. The master clock that controls nature is really pretty amazing. Today, the Antelope Horns came into bloom, right on schedule. These tennis ball sized clusters of small green flowers are among my favorites. They are so precise, they almost look like miniature radio telescopes made for ants.

Want to place any bets on whether my car actually gets fixed tomorrow?  I'm going to explain how the engine continues to run real rough between 1000 and 2000 rpm. They're going to nod like they know exactly what's going on. Then three or four days later, I'm going to pick up the car from the dealership and notice on the way home that it's running just as rough as it was before.

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 1225

Today was confusing. Another cold front blew through last night and suddenly it's Winter again. This cold weather won't last long, but it is odd to go from t-shirts to a down jacket in less than twelve hours. I got the third roof bid in today. I had convinced myself that this was going to be the low bid, based on my conversations with the roofer, but it actually turned out to be the high bid. There weren't any low bids. The Land Rover dealer called me today and made an appointment to get my car in for service again. The were real nice, but never acknowledged all the times they had ignored my calls last week. I didn't bring the subject up again either. It's time to move on.

Dash came close to getting a clean bill of health at his annual physical exam today. No crystals in his urine anymore. A strong, steady heart beat with no appreciable murmur. The skin problems that plagued Dash for years have vanished. The boy is looking good. The vet wasn't sure what was causing him to rub his snout on the carpet periodically though. She thought it was most likely either a minor gum infection or an irritation in one of his eyes. We're going to start with some eye drops and see if that clears things up. If that doesn't work, Dash is due for a dental cleaning early this Summer anyway. There's also the possibility that rubbing his snout on the carpet doesn't mean anything at all. I also made sure to get a new city tag for Dash, so he'll be legal with the city again. They always seem to think his tag has expired.

I don't know where my mind has gone. I heard Dot barking at a garbage truck this morning and raced out to get our garbage can out to the street in time. It was only when I had the can out at the curb that I realized that it was Tuesday and the trash wasn't picked up until Friday. I took the trash can back to the house and wondered why all days are starting to seem the same to me lately. I think Dot must have heard the trash being picked up in the neighborhood across the street from us. They have a different pickup schedule than we do.

I was a little more organized with my work assignments. I got two articles finished today, which is pretty good, considering that I had website revisions to do as well. Tomorrow, there is more to write and more to remember. Hopefully, it will be a little warmer though.

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 1224

I tried, with very limited success, to tie up some loose ends today. Everyone I called seemed to have a good excuse for why they were either late or had forgotten what I was asking about. The roofer was swamped with repair requests after a series of recent rains. The Land Rover dealer said they had left me a message. The insurance agent said my check was made out wrong. The accountant said the disk copy of my tax return wasn't ready yet. It was always something.

Of course, I'm not much better myself. I apologized to my vet for completely forgetting Dot's acupuncture appointment last Monday and then she regaled me with a long list of things she had forgotten during the same week.  I think life is too busy and too stressful for just about everyone. We are all being asked to do too much and given too little time to do it in.

I was just about ready to call the plumber this morning to come out and fix the toilet when I noticed that it wasn't the only thing that wasn't working. The water was turned off for the entire house. This seemed kind of odd, so I looked up the number for the water department and was preparing to give them a call when the water came back on again. I never found out what was going on until I took Dot to the vet later in the day and noticed a big pile of dirt in the front yard where the city had dug up and replaced the water meter. What was that all about? To the best of my knowledge, there was nothing wrong with the water meter. At least the city could have given me a call and told me what was going on. If I knew they were digging in the front yard this morning, I never would have wasted so much time trying to figure out what the problem was.

After we went to all this trouble to put in nice green grass in the back yard, Dot has decided that she would rather take her afternoon nap in the ground cover. I guess there's no accounting for taste. She can lie down wherever she wants, but I wish she liked the grass more. She's squashing the young Liriope plants the landscapers planted.

Dash has his annual physical exam tomorrow. I'm supposed to bring a stool sample to the exam with me. Hopefully I won't forget what's in the zip lock bag in my pocket like I did last year. There nothing like going to the grocery store and realizing that you've got a bag of poop in your pocket.

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 1223

I wish people who visited the park behind our house were as nice as the people at the dog park. The people we see at the dog park all seem to be considerate with very well socialized dogs. The people who visit the public parks on weekends are anything but. They change their babies in the bushes and leave the poop filled diapers on the ground. After their weekend picnics, paper plates and cups litter acres of greenery on Monday morning. Worst of all they let their poorly socialized, and often aggressive dogs off leash. I feel like I"m walking the dogs through a minefield on weekends. Happily, the same park is quiet and almost empty during the rest of the week. Today we avoided a loose pitbull, but weren't so lucky with a group of kids who wanted to pet Dot & Dash. The kids were nice enough, but they stopped us near a big pile of horse poop, which Dash proceeded to eat.

I wish they'd let Dash in the small dog park. He's been fearful of larger dogs ever since he was attacked several years ago. He seems to have overcome his fear of small dogs though. Today a small terrier befriended him at the dog park and the two of them had great fun running and playing. I think Dash looks forward to these trips to the dog park all week long. It is one of the few places he feels safe.

I made some more fresh juice today. A mix of half pineapple and half orange tastes quite good. Making the fresh juice is quite easy with the new juicer. Cleaning up the machine afterwards is another matter entirely. What a mess. I can't wash the pulp down the drain either. Even with the garbage disposal, I don't think our old pipes would handle it. I've taken to making enough juice to last a week, so I won't have to clean the machine so often.

I've taken to watching Dr. Who on Sunday afternoon as well. Watching the show on the DVR at a different time than it was broadcast is a little bit like time travel, which makes a show about time travel even more interesting. I wish I'd discovered the DVR earlier. Janet and I always used to complain that there was nothing worth watching on TV. We were wrong. It's all there. The problem is that the shows we like usually come on when we are working or busy with something else. The DVR solves all that. You watch what you want, when you want to watch it.

I need to make a list of questions to ask the vet this week. Dot has her acupuncture treatment and Dash has his annual exam. Dash has been rubbing his snout on the carpet lately and I wonder if he has a toothache. I need to know what the vet thinks about my decision to forgo the elaborate MRI and spinal tap tests for Dot. We're taken Dot and Dash off Trifexis for heartworms and switched them back to Sentinel. There's no conclusive proof that Trifexis can cause seizures, but there sure is a lot of anecdotal evidence on the Internet. Better safe than sorry, I think.

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 1222

The grass is growing fast now. It looks like I'll be mowing the front yard every Saturday from now through the end of September. The task wasn't as hard this Saturday as it was last week. Maybe I'm getting stronger already. The more likely answer is that the grass just isn't as tall as it was last week.

I had to pick up some things at Sam's Club this afternoon and I continue to be amazed that I seem to be the only one using the automated check out lanes. Scanning your own items with the little bar code scanner is super fast and convenient. I'm in and out of the store in half the time that it used to take me. It just seems strange to me that nobody uses this convenience. Maybe everyone else pays with cash. I don't think the automated terminals take cash.

I went up on the roof to see if I could determine how last week's rain got into the house. No obvious leaks or cracks that I could see. It's pretty apparent now that I'm not going to be able to stop this leak with a caulking gun. I wish the roofer I liked would finish their bid and get back to me. Maybe they're avoiding me just like the Land Rover dealer. I don't think I'm hard to deal with, but maybe I am. I'm beginning to think that if you're at all particular about anything, people just don't want to mess with you.

Dalmatian Rescue has another Casino Party today. These are great fundraisers and really help us care for the dogs we rescue. I think I've lost all interest in roulette though. Actually, I think I've lost all interest in games of chance. The last time I went to Las Vegas, I didn't gamble at all. I still like Las Vegas though. There are lots of fabulous restaurants and the shows are great if you haven't seen them already.

I entered a bunch of future appointments into my iCal calendar today. I don't want to miss any more of Dot's acupuncture appointments. It's probably not a good idea to miss doctor appointments, or my Quarterly Estimated Tax payments again either. Very little seems important enough to remember on my own anymore. I don't think we'll forget about the dog park tomorrow though. Dot and Dash always remind us about that one.

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

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 1221

I've been mesmerized by the coverage of events in Watertown today. The world has certainly changed. Even terrorists have Facebook pages these days. In this age of social media, it would probably be more conspicuous if you didn't have a Facebook page. Having a social media presence is just another way to blend in. Privacy is gone too. It was simply astounding how quickly accurate, detailed pictures of the two bombers were obtained. In a world where there are CCTV cameras every hundred yards and millions of people walking around with cell phone cameras, don't expect to keep your secrets very long.

I don't think this loss of privacy is necessarily a bad thing, but I wonder where it will lead. Technology is a Pandora's box that has been already opened. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if sometime within the next 50 years there will be a machine that can read your memories. When a suspect is apprehended, they will simply hook them up to the machine, look at their memories, and see if they did the deed. When the memory machine is perfected, a 2.0 version will probably appear that will just kill you on the spot if you are guilty. I'm not sure if this is a bad thing either. It will certainly put an end to a succession of sensational Jodi Arias and O.J. Simpson trials, along with their entourage of money grubbing trial lawyers.

I lead a simple life. I wish other people would too. This morning I had my blood work done again. I still have a celebratory breakfast after these routine blood tests, but it's not bacon and humongous piles of pancakes anymore. I had a plate of fresh fruit and Eggs Benedict with grilled tomatoes and black bean cakes. I'm starting to enjoy my new healthy diet, but I have to remind myself not to be judgmental about all the fat, out of shape people at the other tables. If you want to lose weight, just cut out wheat and sugar. It works wonders.

Work was a bit slow today, but it allowed me to catch up on other things. I balanced my checkbook, went to the grocery store, and even found time to do a little exercise. I'm certainly not going overboard with the new workouts. I'm just trying to do something every day, so it eventually clicks into place and becomes part of the routine.

I worry about Dot. She seems to sleep longer and walk slower with each passing day. I know aging is inevitable, with Dot and with me as well. I wish it wasn't so though. Dot and Dash have woven their way so tightly into the routine I call my life that I don't know what I'd do without them.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 1220

Around 8 PM last night I thought I saw a flash of lightning on the Southeast horizon. I'm always a bit worried about lightning at dog training class since our class takes place on top of a hill. Everyone walking their dog is a potential lightning rod. I didn't hear any thunder, so I thought the storm was still far away. It wasn't until this morning that I realized what I saw was actually the flash from the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Something similar happened back in 2003, when I heard the sonic boom from the space shuttle Columbia exploding overhead. I had no idea what that was either until I put the pieces together while watching a news broadcast several hours later.

I'm a big complainer. Ordinarily I would be complaining about the water leaking through the roof as a result of last night's severe storms. The recent events in Boston and West put everything in perspective though. I've got nothing to complain about at all. Actually, I'm quite lucky. When I was walking the dogs today, I noticed that a huge oak tree that Dash loves to pee on had become uprooted during the storm and fallen directly across the path. We have stood under this tree many, many times. It's just lucky that we weren't nearby when it fell.

I almost passed out when I was up on the roof sweeping the water away this morning. It's generally not a good idea to pass out on your roof. I'm almost certain that the lightheaded, fainting sensation was caused by the carvedilol I take. These meds slow down the heart rate and can make you quite dizzy if you stand up quickly from a squatting or sitting position. When I'm up on the roof, I'm constantly squatting to look for a leaking seam, and then standing up quickly again. I guess I'll have to avoid going up on the roof right after I take these pills.

I went to the battery store to pick up a replacement battery for a power drill this afternoon. The original battery was made in Japan, but I noticed that this new one was made in China. I'm seeing more and more of these Chinese batteries, even though some manufacturers specifically warn against using them. The instruction manual for one of my digital cameras even says that using Chinese replacement batteries will void the warranty. What are you going to do though? Everything is made in China these days. The only batteries that are made in the United States that I've heard of recently are the lithium ion electric car batteries made by A123 Systems. Oh, I forgot. That company filed for bankruptcy recently, so their batteries will probably be made in China soon as well.

I'm glad it's Friday tomorrow. It's been a long week and I'll be glad when its over. I'd like to do a whole lot of nothing this weekend, but the Dalmatian Rescue group has another Casino Party. Hopefully, that's the only thing that's going on this weekend. We don't need any more rain either. I'm tired of the rain. Like I said, I'm not complaining, but Mattie looks exactly the way I feel.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 1219

Some days are so vanilla that I have trouble remembering what I actually did at the end of the day. I certainly was busy today, but nothing stands out as significant. There was a little bit of everything. I went to the bank, went to the post office, picked up a prescription for Dash at the vet and another for myself at the pharmacy. I did a load of laundry, made a quart of fresh juice from half a dozen oranges and a whole pineapple, and still found time to update a couple of websites.

I thought we were going to get out of going to dog training class tonight, since we've been on the verge of a thunderstorm all day. The rains haven't arrived yet, however. According the the weather channel, that will come later tonight, right after I've settled into a sound sleep. I can almost guarantee that Dot will wake me up with another storm phobia panic attack. It doesn't even matter if there's thunder and lightning anymore. Even the smell of rain makes her freak out.

I saw a Spring wildflower that I'd never photographed before right in the middle of a big patch of poison ivy this morning. I was tempted to wade in and get the shot, but sanity prevailed and I left the flower alone. I can always come back later with a telephoto lens. A little further down the trail were some Pink Evening Primrose flowers that had just come into bloom. I photographed these instead.

I'm kind of irritated that the Defender is still running rough. After two major repairs during the past 60 days, it should be running like a well oiled sewing machine. Of course, maybe it actually is running like a sewing machine. The old Singer is running kind of rough too. I've called the dealership twice, but they haven't returned my calls. This usually means they have no idea what the problems is and just want me to go away. The problem could be anywhere. One of the motor mounts could be broken. There might be a bad spark plug wire. The carburetor might be dirty. Chances are it's something else entirely. I seldom guess these things correctly.

I've lost fifteen pound since I changed my diet. That's quite a bit for me, since I was never overweight in the first place. Now it's time to get serious about an exercise program before I waste away. A fellow blogger recommended that I start doing planks to build up my core. I like the idea of planks. Basically all you do is hold your body in a straight rigid position while resting on your elbows and toes. You hold your spine horizontal for as long as you can. So far, several minutes seems like a long time to me. Since this exercise involves no movement at all, and is basically doing nothing, I like it.

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 1218

Dot went to see the neurologist today. I don't know what Dot thought, but I found the entire visit a bit unsettling. After I described Dot's symptoms, the vet asked me a bunch of questions and then proceeded to tell me that in about 40% of cases like Dots, they were never able to determine what was causing the problem. After that, she proposed a number of tests, all of which required that Dot be under general anesthesia. The MRI she wanted to do would be taken at another facility, which meant that Dot would be transported to and from the specialty clinic on some of the worst freeways in Texas while still under anesthesia. I didn't like this idea at all. She also wanted to do a spinal tap, which made me nervous as well. I guess spinal taps are safe, but I've heard some terrible things about them.

I didn't mention this to the vet, but what made me the most nervous of all is that the recovery facility where Dot would be staying overnight after the MRI had gotten some terrible reviews on the Google Maps website. I know that some of the things people say online aren't fair, and in some cases aren't even true, but multiple bad reviews does make you stop and think things over. At any rate, I postponed the MRI and other tests until I could talk to Janet and my regular vet again. Dot is thirteen years old. Certain things could definitely help her, but sometimes the cure can be more traumatic than the disease. I think she's too old and frail to even consider spinal surgery.

I think my memory is shot. I completely forgot about Dot's acupuncture appointment yesterday. I looked on the computer and discovered that I had failed to make an entry for the appointment. I've gotten to where if something doesn't beep and remind me on my phone, I don't remember it at all. I didn't even think about the appointment until I was trying to remember my vets name at the specialty clinic this morning. There are just too many things going on for me to remember them all. At least I remembered Dash's antigen shot this afternoon. It seems like I spent my entire day at the vet.

I had terrible dreams last night. I frequently have dreams where I am lost and trying to find my way back home. Sometimes I am in a hotel, or in a city that I visited long ago. This time I think I was in Las Vegas. At least I started there. Every time I went through a door, or stepped out of an elevator in this dream, the environment changed completely and I was somewhere else. Then the door disappeared. There was no retracing my steps. I became increasingly lost and disoriented until eventually I didn't even know what planet I was on. Luckily, one of the dogs woke me up and when I got up to go to the bathroom, the dream disappeared.

In between the vet visits, I managed to complete quite a few small writing assignments. Dot ended up skipping breakfast for nothing, but she is happy to be home. I skipped breakfast as well. I didn't need to fast. I just ran out of time.

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 1217

The saddest thing about today's bombing of the Boston Marathon is that these horrific events are no longer surprising. Bombings, school shootings, mass murders and other horrors have become so commonplace that they are now just part of the tapestry of everyday life. I have to remind myself that the world wasn't always this way. I grew up in a small town that didn't have a single murder during the entire time I lived there. Neighbors didn't even lock their doors at night when I was a kid. I suspect that those days are gone forever.

The bombs that exploded in Boston weren't the only sign of the apocalypse today. The market had a huge sell-off, with the price of gold falling at an unprecedented rate. This extreme volatility is no longer uncommon either. The world has simply become a volatile and increasingly dangerous place.

If I hadn't turned on the television, I would never have known about all the turmoil however. My own world is quite calm. I walked the dogs, exactly like I always do, and ate a bowl of oatmeal mixed with fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries when I returned. I watched an old episode of Dr. Who while I was doing the laundry and cleaning up the kitchen. I paid a few bills, took my quarterly estimated tax voucher to the post office, finished an estimate that was due today, and even got a couple of checks in the mail. It was an absolutely normal day as far as I was concerned.

I hope I can maintain this fragile illusion of normalcy in the days to come. I have no desire to live on the bleeding edge of anything. A simple life like my parents enjoyed in the 1950's would be fine with me. Is this even possible? Probably not. If I'm being honest, I'll have to admit that during the 1950's, my Mom was wrestling with manic depression and my Dad was immersed in the cold war, making secret trips to the Nevada desert whenever there was a nuclear test. Maybe life never was normal.

I still find the innocence of the 1950's alluring however.  I enjoy watching old episodes of Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone as I drift off to sleep in the evening. The world seemed so simple then. It would be nice if we could figure out how regain the innocence we lost. I don't think it's going to happen though.

Dot has to fast for her CAT scan tomorrow. Janet and I have come up with a complicated plan to feed Dash in the morning without Dot knowing what is going on. The plan probably won't work though. Dogs always know what's going on when food is involved.

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 1216

I had to laugh this morning. When we arrived at the dog park, there must have been a dozen dogs sitting around a small tree, all looking skyward. You guessed it. There was a squirrel in the tree. Dot and Dash frequently do this in the back yard. They quickly lose interest though. A couple of the dogs in the park were more persistent. They continued to stare upward at the tree for the entire duration of our visit.

Janet often walks the dogs in the park on Sunday mornings and I am faced with a deficit of steps on my little activity tracking wristlet. I have become a slave to the thing. To meet my quota of activity, I've taken to looking for chores around the house. This is very unlike me, since I'm basically a lazy person. I guess it's a good thing though. Today I cut down a small, dead Wax Myrtle tree in the front yard and hauled the branches out to the street for big trash day next week. I meant to have the landscapers do this last month when they were here, but I forgot. This task seemed to compensate for the lack of a walk, and I felt better.

When I finished my self-appointed chores, I watched the Dr. Who episode I recorded yesterday. I guess I could have bought a TiVo box years ago and discovered this brave new world of re-arranging the natural order of things on TV much earlier, but I'm still a late bloomer about some things. I wonder what this all means for the traditional networks. With DVRs, Hulu, Netflicks, and shows like Game of Thrones, the networks don't really matter anymore. When I was a kid, every family subscribed to TV Guide magazine. They literally planned their lives around this diminutive programming bible. How things have changed.

I need to remember to send off the voucher with my first quarterly estimated tax payment tomorrow. I forget this a lot. In the euphoria of getting all your tax issues sorted out for another year, it's easy to overlook the fact that April 15 isn't the end of anything. It's just the day when you begin the whole cycle all over again.

Next week looks busy already. Dot has a visit with the neurologist in addition to her regular acupuncture appointment. Dash has his antigen shot. There are several writing assignments already on tap. This takes us up to Wednesday. After that, anything could happen.

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