Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 1324

I'm always relieved when Dot and I return from her weekly therapy appointments. Driving an old, frail dog around in 102 degree heat in a less than reliable car is never something I look forward to. There are so many things that could go wrong. The car could overheat. The air conditioning could go out. The vibration damper I have on order from England could get worse and throw the fan belt off. Even a flat tire would be disastrous, since Dot's crate would quickly become too hot inside a stationary car. There isn't even a safe way to get Dot out of the car if the Defender broke down on a busy freeway.

At times like these, I wish I lived in a tiny little village that still offered big city services. Do places like this even exist? I'm kind of hooked on taking the dogs to big, full service veterinary hospitals. I like Central Market and Whole Foods for groceries. I enjoy having lots of interesting restaurants nearby and it's always handy to have a Guitar Center in the neighborhood. Everything else, I could live without.

I could certainly continue working from a small town. I never see my clients anymore. Even the folks that are right here in town find it easier to just send me an e-mail. My e-mail assignments kept me pretty busy today. Once Dot's vet appointment was out of the way, the day was virtually identical to yesterday. There was another website to update and three more articles to write. I didn't pay any bills today though.

I'm surprised that the dogs did as well as they did at training class this evening. It was really hot. Dash did a good job with the exercises that didn't involve moving, but I could tell that he would much rather have been at home, sitting near an air conditioning vent. I was so hot that I was very tempted to drink the dog's water. Luckily, the class only lasted an hour.

We start another new month tomorrow. It's hard to believe it's August already. The days are already starting to get shorter. We watched the sun set during training class this evening. Pretty soon the leaves will start to turn and before you know it, we'll be having class in the dark again. These cycles come and go so quickly now. I wish I could slow the clock down a bit. I find I still have time to make plans, but seldom have the time to act on them.

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 1323

Today was one of those "nose to the grindstone" days. I methodically worked my way through a long list of simple tasks. Articles got written, websites got updated, and bills got paid. There was even a conference call, although since only one person showed up, it wasn't really much of a conference. The dogs had nothing to bark about today, and other than the faint sound of typing, the house was quiet as a tomb.

I got an adapter in the mail this afternoon that will allow me to attach a professional matte box to my video camera. The device would be a lot more useful if I actually had a matte box to attach, but I'll worry about that later. With few upcoming video jobs on the agenda, I've got plenty of time to find that matte box.

I'm beginning to wonder if social media is worth the effort. Without the leverage and large numbers that blog sharing sites like Entrecard and Adgitize used to provide, it's getting harder and harder to attract new readers. Even during its heyday, a lot of people dismissed Entrecard as mindless widget clicking. I liked it though. It brought thousands of new eyes to the blog every day and some ended up staying to become regular readers. Sure, it's easy enough to re-share blog posts on Facebook and Google+ but it's not that same thing as having lots of people come directly to the source. Probably my main problem with social media is that I'm not a very social person. I think the only reason I'm on Facebook at all is to try to lure people back here to the blog.

Maybe declining readership is just another sign of Summer. Everything seems to go through a decline in the Summer. It's getting hard to find flowers to photograph in the park these days. The season is over and almost all the flowers have dried and turned to seed. The grass in the back yard is looking a lot thinner too. Even though the yard was professionally landscaped early in the Spring, the Summer's thick canopy of Oak leaves prevents enough sun from getting to the grass. Essentially, even after a lot of effort, the yard looks just like it always does at the end of July.

At least Dot seems to be improving. She's got another acupuncture session tomorrow. The girl's got a pretty full dance card now with the combination of water therapy and acupuncture. I think the treatments are helping though. Dot was pretty spry on her walks today, even though it was a hot day in July with very few flowers to smell.

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 1322

I have a working garbage disposal again. Based on what electricians typically charge, I will probably get a $200 bill for installing a simple $2 Single Pole Single Throw Toggle Switch that I happened to have on hand anyway. I suspected that the on/off switch might be the problem and bought another one last week. I should have just done the work myself. I'm a bit reluctant to get involved with electricity anymore though. After several dubious self-repair attempts where I nearly electrocuted myself, I now think it's best to leave these things to a qualified electrician. Live wires, running water, and stainless steel counter tops aren't necessarily a good combination.

I'm frequently faced with situations like this. I basically know what needs to be done, but don't have the tools or experience to do the job properly. I learned the hard way when I used to do a lot of my own auto repairs that there is nothing more irritating than getting an engine disassembled and not being able to get it back together again. Faced with the choice of doing something inexpensively myself or paying someone else to take responsibility for the whole mess, I'll usually opt to pay someone else. I'm convinced that there is good karma involved in paying someone too much to do something simple. I'm sure many of my website clients feel like they're paying me too much to do something simple. Maybe hiring an electrician to install a simple switch is just my way to pay it forward. I'd like to think so anyway.

I finally found a company in England that said it could send me the elusive engine part I need for the Defender 90. I copied down all the information about the part, drove over to the Land Rover dealer and told them to order it. Seems like they could have found this part themselves, but I'm not complaining. Maybe I'll have a reliable car again by the end of the Summer.

One good thing happened today. I stopped by my primary care physician to schedule my next round of blood tests and casually mentioned that I'm on Medicare now.  They didn't drop me! Yay! I've heard so many horror stories about doctors who refuse to deal with Medicare, even when someone has been a patient for years, that I'm a bit nervous to tell my doctors that my insurance has changed. My insurance agent told me that since I got the best available supplemental insurance policy, my medical coverage would be even better than I had before. Not true! So far, my old group plan appears to have been much better.

I did get to go to the gym today. I figured that I needed some kind of reward for dealing with Dot and the electricians. Dot absolutely hates to have visitors over to the house. The only people allowed are Janet, Dash and me. Once again, she got so agitated this morning that she pooped all over the hallway while she was barking. Somehow Dash even managed to get in the line of fire. When the electricians left, I found poop on him too.

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

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 1321

Today was pleasant. The weather was surprisingly mild for a July day in Texas. Janet fixed a nice breakfast. The dogs enjoyed their visit to the dog park. They even saw several dogs that they knew. When we returned home, I got the lawnmower out and mowed until the yard looked presentable again. I'm more or less caught up on work assignments too. The only thing that was missing today was a mid-afternoon Dr. Who marathon on BBC.

Since I finished my weekend cores early, I decided to brave the crowds at the mall and go looking for a better WiFi camera to monitor Dash when I'm away. I may have overdone it. The camera I came home with not only has a great picture, it also monitors sound, keeps track of the temperature and humidity, allows two way communication, and plays a lullaby on command. Yes, I really bought a baby monitor instead of a pet monitor. I guess people with babies are even more apprehensive than I am with the dogs, since this thing had features that had never even occurred to me before.

The icing on the cake was that the camera actually worked. Sometimes they don't. I read all the reviews and they were split 50/50. Half the people thought this was the best WiFi camera on the planet and the other half thought it was a worthless piece of junk. I bought the camera making the assumption that the 50% who hated the camera had never hooked anything up to a WiFi network before. Routers, firewalls, and wireless gateways aren't always friendly with each other and it is often difficult to introduce a new piece of equipment to the system. Luck was on my side today though. The camera works like a charm.

The electrician is coming to fix the garbage disposal at 7:30 AM tomorrow. Lord knows why he wants to come so early, but it's just as well. Maybe he'll be able to get the faulty wiring fixed in time for me to take the dogs on a walk at their normal time and proceed with my Monday work day. You never know with electricians though. He may fix the problem in five minutes, or he may tell me that the entire house is not up to code and that everything needs to be rewired.

I hope I have time to go to the gym tomorrow. It's been more difficult to establish a regular schedule than I anticipated. Dash has a vet appointment every other Tuesday and Dot has a vet appointment every Wednesday. Walking the dogs and carting them around to their various appointments eats up a lot of time. Work is erratic too. Some days there is so much to do that I don't even have time to eat. Other days are so quiet that I have trouble staying awake. Workout or no workout, I'll be a happy camper if I have a working garbage disposal at the end of the day.

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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 1320

I got a new push broom today. It was a day of very small accomplishments. I didn't have to pay for the broom though. I took my broken push broom to the store and they exchanged it for a new one after saying that they'd never seen a broom break like that after only a month of service. The rest of my Saturday shopping was equally uneventful. I got some more supplements at the health food store. While I was at the store, my nutritionist told me that he had some new ideas for me. I thought he was going to tell me about some interesting lifestyle or diet ideas, but he just recommended an additional pill. I was disappointed. I didn't buy the extra pills.

This morning we made juice with an apple, an orange, a mango, and a peach. The fresh juice was quite tasty. Oh, I put fresh sheets on the bed too. Did I tell you that not much happened today.

Since the day was so slow, I thought I'd get a head start on my monthly writers group assignment. I usually wait until the last possible minute to finish these things. Hey, I could have waited until tomorrow to finish the article. I've been writing so many articles and advertising assignments this year that I'm starting to get burned out on writing. I'm wishing I had more photography jobs now. I only want the type of jobs that don't require me to lug a ton of equipment around with me though. I'm tired of that too.

I almost went to the Apple store to look for a better WiFi camera. It's taking me too long to set up the laptop to monitor Dash every time I leave the house. Probably a dedicated camera would be much better. On my way to the mall, I remembered my iron-clad rule of never visiting a shopping mall on a weekend unless it is absolutely necessary.  I turned around and came home. The camera definitely wasn't absolutely necessary. I"ll go back sometime at 10 AM when nobody's there.

The weather was really mild today. It's been cooler than normal all week and I hope this trend continues. Dot has much more energy on cooler days and so do I. With any luck, the weather will still be nice for our weekly visit to the dog park tomorrow. It may seem strange that a visit to a dog park is the high point of the weekend, but it's actually quite enjoyable. Dogs are so open and direct about having fun that you feel good just watching them. It certainly beats buying a broom at any rate.

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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 1319

The plumber arrived promptly at 8:30 AM, right on schedule. Plumbers make a point of being on time. I see plumbing trucks all over town with big signs on the side saying "If we're late, we pay for the call." Unfortunately, a punctual plumber isn't always a perfect plumber. Sometimes nothing gets fixed at all.

That was certainly the case today. It didn't take long for my plumber to tell me there was nothing wrong with my disposal. "Your problem is electrical," he told me. He even took the disposal out and hooked it up to a wall outlet to prove that it still worked. "Can you fix it," I asked? "No, you'll have to call an electrician for that," the plumber told me. "Well, at least hook things back up the way you found them," I said.

When the plumber was hooking the disposal back up, he proceeded to blow a fuse, knocking out my kitchen TV and the coffee maker. Then he handed me a bill for $117 and left. Since the fuse he blew was one of the old fashioned glass kind that screws in like a light bulb, I had to search all over town to find a suitable replacement. My first try was a failure too. I brought home a fuse that had the wrong pitch on the screw-in threads and it wouldn't fit in the socket. By the time I found the corect fuse and went out for breakfast, it was lunch time. I had my eggs anyway, and then I called an electrician.

Yesterday I finally found the correct part number for the elusive engine part I've been trying to find for my Defender 90. I though I'd use this part number as a search term on Google and see what turned up. Much to my surprise, I found four places that still carried the hard to find harmonic balancer or engine damper as some places called it. Just to make sure I was buying the correct part, I called the contact number on each of the the websites instead of just clicking the "Buy Now" button. All four companies I called told me that the part had been discontinued several years ago and was no longer available. "Why is it still for sale on your website," I asked? The answer was always the same. It was just too much trouble to update the website. I asked one of the companies what would happen if somebody actually bought the part in question. "Oh, we just wouldn't fill their order," the guy said. Oh, well. So much for the digital revolution.

The day really didn't get much better. Dot got so worked up while the plumber was in the house that poop flew out her rear end whenever she barked. I had to clean up a lot of little poop bullets on the floor. Then, I broke my new push broom while sweeping water off the roof. I also broke my reading glasses while I was trying to replace the burned out fuse. On the positive side of things, neither dog had a seizure today and my car started nine times without incident while I was out running errands.  I'm still glad it's Friday.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 1318

Just before the appliance repairman was scheduled to arrive this morning, I got a call from the technician asking me if I really wanted him to come to the house. "Garbage disposals can't be repaired," he said. "They can only be replaced." "Can you just replace it then," I asked. "Only if the plumbing connections exactly match those on your old unit," the technician told me. "Well, what if it's just an electrical problem," I asked. "You'll have to call an electrician," said the technician. I canceled the appointment and called a plumber instead. It was apparent that this guy was going to come out to the house, charge me for a $75 service call and end up telling me he couldn't fix anything. Now, I've got to go through this whole charade again tomorrow with the plumber. Maybe I'll get lucky though. I did call a good plumber.

Since the appliance repairman didn't come today after all, there was little point in spending the entire day writing. I finished two articles with short deadlines and went to the gym instead. Some people must go to the gym every single day. No matter when I go, there are a few folks who always seem to be there. They are usually working out on the same machines too. Since I don't go at any particular time, I find this strange. It's almost as if these guys live at the place.

Dot seemed tired on her morning walk. Usually she is perky and energetic on these early walks, but she seemed lethargic today. Maybe she was sore from yesterday's water therapy session. I guess that would make sense. I'm certainly sore the next day after a workout. I didn't want to push her too hard, so we turned around and came home much earlier than we usually do.

I had an animal rescue meeting after dinner this evening. When the meeting was over, my car was hard to start. Hopefully this was just because it was so hot outside, or because the car was at an angle on a hill. I'm afraid the starter motor might be starting to go out though. That's about the only expensive thing I still haven't replaced. We'll see how the Defender starts tomorrow. If I have to wait for the plumber a long time, I might not be going anywhere anyway.

I'd hate to miss my regular restaurant outing tomorrow morning, but I'd hate even more to go much longer without a working garbage disposal. To keep the sink from clogging, I have to fish little bits of food out of the disposal every time I rinse the plates off after a meal. Even though the machine is completely turned off, I don't trust it. I certainly don't want the disposal to mysteriously come back to life with my hand is inside it.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 1317

Dot did a lot better during her first water therapy session than I expected. She doesn't like water and she doesn't like surprises, but she adapted to the underwater treadmill surprisingly well. It took her a few minutes to figure out what the treadmill was all about, but after sliding to the back of the tank a few times she quickly got the hang of walking underwater. The whole experience is very non-threatening. The tank is dry when the dog initially walks inside and then the water level is very slowly raised as the treadmill starts to move. I can see how this would be great exercise for an older dog. With the water level around her chest, Dot began to take exaggerated high steps, working muscles that are typically unused in a normal day. I was very pleased with her first session. I am hoping that this type of low impact exercise will help keep her muscles from any further atrophy.

Health and fitness seems to be a growing theme in my life. When I'm not trying to improve my own deplorable condition, I'm doing my best to keep the dogs healthy. If you lump together the dog's lengthy morning and evening walks, my own trips to the gym, shopping excursions for healthy food, and all the doctor visits for blood work and scans, it's a wonder I have time for anything else at all. Maybe if I'd paid more attention to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the first half of my life, some of this new found discipline wouldn't be necessary. I don't think I'd trade a life of bacon, burgers, and beer for a big plate of kale though. I really enjoyed all those years of gas guzzling cars and gut busting meals. A life of moderation would have been very boring.

The weather today was surprisingly mild. The weather reports on TV were predicting temperatures in the triple digits, but a surprise cold front blew through and left things almost twenty degrees cooler than I expected. There was a nice breeze when we took our morning walk and even though it warmed up quite a bit during the day, it was still pleasant when we went to dog training class this evening. Dot and Dash seemed to enjoy the temporary reprieve from the Texas heat. Both dogs did exceptionally well in class tonight. They didn't win any ribbons, but they didn't embarrass us either.

I should get a lot of writing and website work done tomorrow. I'm going to be stuck in the house all day, waiting for the appliance repairman to come fix the garbage disposal. Repairmen never come when they promise. If they give you a window of between 1 PM and 4 PM for a service call, it is almost inevitable that they will actually show up at 5:30 PM. Usually repairmen don't arrive until I've given up on them completely and have started to do something else. All will be forgiven though if the repairman is able to fix the disposal. I'm discovering that a functioning garbage disposal is a very essential appliance.

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 1316

Sometimes dealing with tech support is like Chinese water torture. I found myself locked out of my voicemail this morning and ended up spending hours talking to three different levels of tech support. When one technician couldn't solve my problem, they would escalate my call to the next level. I don't know why turning on my voicemail account again was so complicated, but it apparently was. At one point I was talking to one person on my cell phone, another person on the land line and had to put both phones on speakerphone and set them next to each other so the technicians could hear each other. Most of these folks spoke English as a second language, so I was constantly saying "Could you repeat that please." I did manage to talk to one native English speaker, but he had a terrible stutter, so I couldn't understand him either.

When the problem was eventually resolved, I listened to my new voicemail messages and they were all from telemarketers. Jeez! Why did I spend hours trying to listen to messages I didn't want to receive in the first place? On days like this technology hardly seems worth the effort. Everything seems to work for the moment though, so if an important call comes in tomorrow, I'm right on top of it.

While Dash was getting his antigen shot today, I talked to the vet about alternatives to Phenobarbital in case his seizures returned. She mentioned that she had success using Potassium Bromide and thought it was safer than Phenobarbital. I looked up the drug on the Internet when we got home and discovered that possible side effects include ataxia, increased urination, skin disorders, nausea and vomiting. Doesn't sound very safe to me. Potassium Bromide won't damage the liver like Phenobarbital though. Of course, the alternative I like best is not to put Dash on any drugs at all.

I routinely experience the same frustrations with my own meds. The devil is always in the details. I've been wondering why I've had this strong metallic taste in my mouth for the past several months. A quick Internet search revealed that the metallic taste was probably caused by the Metformin I take to control blood sugar levels. I have a feeling that my doctor didn't mention the metallic aftertaste because he was afraid I wouldn't take the drug if I knew about this common side effect.

After making a trip to the post office to pay some bills, I stopped by Home Depot to get some wasp spray to combat the growing number of wasps and hornets building nests near the house. After I got out my reading glasses and read the warning label on the side of the can, I took the spray back and exchanged it for a much milder organic product. It was amazing to me than anyone would even sell a product with so many potentially toxic side effects. I guess a bug spray that will kill a snake is too strong for normal use.

Getting to the gym several times a week is proving to be harder than I thought it would be. I only made it once last week and it looks like this week will be just as busy. Tomorrow Dot starts her water therapy and Thursday is when the garbage disposal gets repaired. Throw in an article or two each day, along with the usual website revisions and a dog walk and my day is gone. Maybe I can find some free time on Friday.

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 1315

It took forever to make an appointment with an appliance repairman to come out and fix the garbage disposal. After talking on the phone for fifteen minutes with a friendly, but almost unintelligible customer service representative based far outside the borders of the United States, the line went dead and I had to call again and repeat the entire process all over again. The actual repair visit seems like it will be just as convoluted as the call to set things up. I asked if the repairman could put a new disposal on the truck, just in case the old one couldn't be fixed. Nope, this couldn't be done, I was told. Repairs and installations were two different departments with completely different technicians. If the repair was unsuccessful, I would have to call a second technician to come out later and install a new disposal.

Not to worry, said the service representative on the phone. Apparently, my disposal was still under warranty and the repairs might be free. "If the disposal is still under warranty, why don't we skip the repairs and just install a new one," I said. Nope, they couldn't do that either. I apparently only had a "parts warranty," not a full warranty for the entire disposal. If the disposal was completely trashed and new parts couldn't fix it, there was no warranty at all.

It looks like my recipe will be included in the SXSW Cookbook. I won't know for sure until the book is actually printed in March of 2014 though. Truthfully, I was quite surprised that my recipe made the cut. I called my dish "Lazy Man's Savory Sausage Omelet" and the directions for preparing it would make any real cook cringe. The recipe was authentic though. I didn't copy anyone else's recipe. This mess is all mine.

Even though today was a slow day, I almost didn't make it to the gym. I wasted so much time making an appointment with the appliance repairman as well as answering several confusing client questions via e-mail that the day seemed over before it began. Nothing seems easy these days. Simple tasks that used to take five minutes now seem to drag on for hours. I don't know whether to chalk these frustrating delays up to simple incompetence or look for something more fundamental. Something has changed though. Nobody will give you a simple, straight answer anymore. You have to first fill out an online form, or answer a long series of automated questions on your phone. I usually just say "Speak to a Representative" over and over again when the phone asks me what I'd like to do next. Sometimes this gets me a real person, and other times it doesn't.

Dash seems completely back to normal again. I still set up the nanny cam every time I leave the house, but it might be years until he has another seizure. Dash's blood work came back completely normal today and he has no tick borne diseases. I guess I'll just add seizures to my long list of life's mysteries.

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 1314

I helped Janet get her laptop ready for making a presentation on a big flat panel TV and was a bit surprised that I'd never tried to hook up a laptop to our TV before. I guess that just shows you how important presentations are to me these days. I don't think I've made a formal presentation or even shown my portfolio to anyone in almost ten years. Hey, if you don't already know what I do, it's probably a little late to show you now.

Hooking up the Macbook Pro to the TV was much easier than I thought it would be. I went to Fry's and got a Mini DisplayPort adapter and some HDMI cables. I hooked the computer up to the TV, set the computer screen to mirror mode and all of the sudden I had a huge image of the computer screen on the TV.

It's to bad that it wasn't this easy to figure out why the garbage disposal isn't working. I'm going to have to leave that task to an appliance repairman who will hopefully come out and fix things very soon. A garbage disposal doesn't seem like a very essential appliance until you've got a non-working one still hooked up to your plumbing. I'm discovering that the sink clogs up very quickly when the garbage disposal isn't doing its job.

Dot and Dash really enjoyed their trip to the dog park today. Dash saw a dog that he recognized and liked and proceeded to race around the park showing his friend how fast he was. Dot took advantage of the mild weather to sniff every tree in the park. She seemed to have more energy today than she usually does.

I wish I had more energy than I usually do. Mowing the grass today was tiring. I think I've reached some sort of plateau with my new diet and exercise regime. I saw dramatic incremental improvements for a while, but now not so much. I think from now on out, it's going to take a lot more effort to continue losing weight while I'm building my strength and adding muscle mass. I probably don't actually need to lose any more weight, but I do need to keep working on building my strength.

I had a terrible dream last night. I frequently have dreams about being lost as I futilely try to find my way back to the dream's starting point. In last night's dream, not only was I lost, I also seemed to have lost my luggage and all my money. When I was young, I found myself lost in caves a lot during these types of dreams. Now I'm usually lost in labyrinth-like hotels. I guess that's an improvement of sorts.

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

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 1313

It's hard to believe that it's been 44 years since we landed on the moon. I still remember those grainy pictures of Neil Armstrong slowly exiting the Lunar Excursion Module like it was yesterday. I was in college at the time and watched the landing in the ballroom of the university student union because I didn't have a TV of my own in the rooming house where I lived while going to architecture school. Those were good times. The Summer of 69 was a magical period in history when anything was possible. A month after the moon landing was Woodstock. Jimi Hendrix and Neil Armstrong defined my world. A few years later I graduated, completely convinced that both the moon landings and the spirit of Woodstock would last indefinitely.

I was wrong of course, but I'm certain that the optimism I felt during the Summer of 69 contributed to my early success. It was easy to get a job back then. I was hired as a junior designer by a well known architect in Seattle. I was given an opportunity to make documentary films. Nothing really seemed like a struggle. I don't think I would have fared nearly as well in today's world.

I still can't really tell you how the kid who thought he was going to be the next Richard Avedon wound up taking pictures of Dalmatians instead. It's been quite a ride though and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Actually, taking pictures of Dalmatians is quite enjoyable. Janet and I photographed one of our new rescue dogs today. Sterling is a young guy who seems to be filled with the same exuberant optimism I felt in 1969. It was hard to get a good picture though, because Sterling wouldn't stay still. Hopefully, I captured the happy boy that he is. He should find a home quickly.

Later in the afternoon when I took Dot and Dash on their afternoon walk they both heard a loud thunderclap off in the distance. The noise triggered their storm phobia and I could barely hold on to them as they tried to make a hasty retreat back to the house. I tried my best to get the dogs to slow down, since this was exactly how Dot lost a nail last year. It never did rain very much, but the thunder alone was enough to convince Dot and Dash that the sky was falling. I got under a blanket with them and watched a cooking show on PBS until they calmed down.

I made another attempt to figure out what was wrong with the garbage disposal today. I took the faceplate off the control panel for the oven and other kitchen gadgets and tried to trace the wiring for the disposal. No loose or burned wire found. Everything seems completely normal. The disposal still doesn't work though. I added making an appointment with an appliance repairman to next week's to-do list.

It's hard to say whether the dogs will get their Sunday trip to the dog park tomorrow. The mornings start out clear and sunny and then by mid-afternoon little thunderstorms start springing up all over town. We'll see what happens. So far, it's been a nice weekend.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 1312

Sometime I wonder how people with small children cope with all the uncertainties that come along with the inevitable childhood illnesses and injuries. Just dealing with one sick dog is more than enough for me. I had a lot of errands to run today and I was still worried that Dash might have another seizure. I found myself checking the nanny cam feed on my phone every five minutes or so. Dash was fine. The only thing I observed was that he is a very lazy dog. He didn't move an inch the entire time I was away. I wish I could say the same thing for Dot. There were scattered showers again today and Dot was a nervous nellie. Even though I was watching the camera to check on Dash, it was Dot who forced me to return home. At some point during the afternoon, I could tell she was going into her storm phobia mode. I looked at the weather radar app on my phone and sure enough, there was a storm directly over our house. I knew what to do. I curtailed a trip to the gym and came home. The dogs spent the rest of the afternoon huddled under my desk until the rain stopped.

It would have been nice to go to the gym, but I probably got enough exercise today anyway. I swept the water off the roof again this morning after another overnight rain. So far, the new roof is exactly like the old roof except that it doesn't leak. I'm surprised at how much rain we're getting in July. Most of my efforts to get the standing water off the roof have been an exercise in futility. Usually it is dry as a bone at this time of year. Since the roof doesn't leak anymore, I'm actually kind of happy to have the rain. It keeps the temperature lower, which means that Dot can still take her walks.

The garbage disposal quit working this morning. It didn't get stuck or jammed. It just won't turn on anymore. I can't find a circuit breaker on the disposal either. Do I call a plumber, an electrician, or an appliance repairman?  It could be a mechanical problem with the disposal itself. It could be an electrical problem. Or maybe there's some sort of internal fuse that burned out. The only thing I'm certain of is that I'm not going to try to fix the garbage disposal myself. Years ago, I tried to fix one of these things and ended up with such a bad leak under the sink that I had to call a plumber anyway.

I still haven't picked a recipe to send to the film festival recipe book. I think the deadline is tomorrow. My few original recipes are so simple and boring that a child could make them. I asked Janet what I should do and she told me to just pick something I liked out of one of our many recipe books and change it up a little. Wouldn't that be cheating I asked? She said that most recipes originate from other recipes anyway. This is probably true. There are literally thousands of recipes for lasagna, but they are all just different kinds of stuff layered between lasagna noodles and cooked in a baking dish. Omelets are all pretty much the same too. Beat some eggs, pour them into a skillet, and fold in whatever you want. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a cook. I'd still like to be featured in that cookbook though.

Jade is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 1311

Dash had another seizure this morning. A bad one. I had almost convinced myself that these seizures were a thing of the past. Until today, Dash hadn't suffered from a seizure in over four years. We were so confident about his recovery that we were able to lower his Phenobarbital dosage and eventually eliminate it completely. Dash has been completely free of Phenobarbital now for almost two full years with no adverse effects.

Epileptic seizures can be quite alarming. At first your dog goes into convulsions, typically falling to the ground, gasping for air and twitching wildly like it has been electrocuted. There is not much you can do at this point. Vets tell me that once you make sure the airway is clear and the dog had not swallowed its tongue, to just leave it alone until the seizure subsides. When the convulsions stop and the dog tries to get up, it will often appear unsteady and even fall over like it is experiencing severe vertigo. This disorientation often causes the dog to become fearful and aggressive, and it will growl or even bite if you try to approach. Usually, after about twenty minutes, some sense of normalcy returns and you can take the dog to the vet to check all the vital signs. If you're lucky, there will just be the single seizure, but often they come in clusters.

Nobody at the veterinary hospital could tell me why Dash had a seizure today after so many years with no problems whatsoever. The violent seizure fell into the category of unexplained mysteries, just like my own elevated liver enzyme levels. It makes me nervous though. I have no idea when or where a seizure will happen again. I don't want to put Dash back on a powerful sedative like Phenobarbital again unless it is absolutely necessary. I don't want to become fearful to leave the house either. Life must go on. To add to the complexity, Dot has had her own problems with seizures. Either one of the dogs could have another seizure at almost any point. On the other hand, neither of them may ever have a seizure again. 

Since I was more or less confined to the house today while I kept an eye on Dash, I was able to get all my work finished with time to spare. Dash is back to normal now and there were no further incidents. If I didn't see the seizure with my own eyes, it would be easy to imagine it never even happened.

Since I didn't make it to the store today as I had planned, there wasn't much in the house for dinner. I found a can of Wolf Brand Chili in the pantry and heated it up. Although my nutritionist would have frowned on this meal, it tasted surprisingly good. It's probably back to Kale salads tomorrow though.

I took the dogs on their evening walk immediately after a short, but intense thunderstorm passed through the area. The air was much cooler, but the ground was still hot, creating a layer of ground fog that hovered above the roads and pathways in the park. The effect was surreal and beautiful, but it didn't last long.

Before I forget, thanks to Joan and Lynne for helping me identify the mystery plant I saw the other day as a Passionflower. I always enjoy learning something new. I now know that these beautiful vines have been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans for medicinal purposes and that they got their name because people thought that the different parts of the flower represented the Christian crucifixion story. The recent heavy rains flattened the plant I saw the other day, but I'm sure the Passionflowers will be back. I haven't seen a wildflower yet that didn't return the next year.

Beemer is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 1310

I had to give Dot the Heimlich maneuver today. She eats her food so fast that she occasionally chokes on it. This has happened before and I'm not really sure how to prevent it. I've tried putting some of her food inside a big rubber Kong to slow her down. I've tried putting a couple of rubber balls in her bowl so she has to push them around with her nose to get at the food. Nothing works very well. She always eats as if it was her last meal. Dash, on the other hand, it a very slow eater. This is probably one reason why Dot is in such a hurry. I'm sure she'd like to eat Dash's food as well.

There were still a few scattered showers today, but the weather is definitely improving. We were lucky and were able to get to Dot's acupuncture appointment and back without getting wet. Dot likes her acupuncture treatments now. I think she even looks forward to them.

Next week we're going to start alternating water therapy with the acupuncture treatments. This type of physical therapy is great for older dogs that are starting to experience some muscle atrophy. The dog is placed in a special harness and walks on a treadmill submerged in a tank of water. This low impact stress resistance helps to build the dog's leg muscles back without causing additional joint problems. Dot doesn't like water, but we'll give it a try and see how things go. I didn't think she'd like acupuncture either and that's worked out quite well.

I wish somebody would pay me. Bills are stacking up and way too many  invoices are past due. If you get a regular paycheck every two weeks, consider yourself lucky. Wild fluctuations in cash flow are all a normal part of owning your own business, but it's not a part that I particularly enjoy. I put up with the hills and valleys though, because it's still a lot better than having a boss.

The dogs did a good job of putting up with training class tonight. They actually did quite well this evening. I was proud of them. With nothing on the agenda tomorrow, I'm sure they'll quickly revert back to their stubborn ways, but they seemed like well trained dogs tonight.

I just noticed that I'm out of oatmeal. I could either go to the store after I walk the dogs tomorrow morning and get some more, or I could just go out to eat instead. Hmm. Tasty veggie omelet or oatmeal? You can probably guess what I'm going to do.

Riley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 1309

I'm starting to realize why I enjoy going to the gym. My body gets the activity it needs without the irritation that typically comes with household chores and yard work. Instead of going to the gym today, I got my exercise the old fashioned way. I swept standing water off the roof. Sweeping hundreds of pounds of water off the roof with a push broom is fairly strenuous activity, but there is no satisfaction in it. Today when I climbed up on the roof, I was met with the sight of a dead squirrel rotting in a puddle of water. Disgusting! Lord knows how long the squirrel had been on the roof. I haven't been up there for several weeks. With two dogs, I'm always apprehensive about dead animals in the yard. Was the squirrel poisoned? Did it have rabies? At least it died up on the roof where Dot and Dash couldn't get at it.

Does anyone know what today's flower is? I very rarely see these things. They are about two inches in diameter and usually only appear right after a heavy rain. The flowers bloom in the mornings for a few days and then disappear. The unusual delicate bloom reminds me more of a sea creature than a plant. I have no idea what it is.

It's a good thing I didn't have much writing work today because I was swamped with website updates. It seems like I spent the better part of the day adding and deleting text and resizing images in Photoshop to fit the layout. I finally got everything finished and uploaded to the server, but it definitely took a while. One of today's updates will only last about a week before it needs to be updated again. In that regard, it is much like the roof. It is raining again as I sit here typing, so all of my efforts to clear the roof of water earlier today are being erased.

A lot of yesterday's gains in the stock market are being erased today as well. I guess that's just the way the world is. Almost every week when we walk in the park, I'll see a large tree that has toppled to the ground. The large old Oak trees seem permanent and eternal until the day they fall and then they just slowly begin to rot away. As much as I want permanence, there just isn't any. If you pick the right vantage point, just about everything in this world turns into castles made of sand.

To continue this theme, I received an e-mail today announcing the debut of Apple Logic Pro X. The Apple Logic software I purchased last year as a potential alternative to Pro Tools is now officially obsolete. Jeez! I haven't even used the previous version yet, and now there's a brand new version to learn and grow frustrated with.

Dot has her acupuncture appointment tomorrow. The acupuncture treatments are simple and immediate. We spend an hour with the vet and Dot walks away feeling better. I wish everything in life were this simple.

Laura is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 1308

It's been raining for two solid days and I haven't gone up on the roof once. There's still a lot of water up there, but I'm not nearly as worried about it because there are no longer any leaks. Any regular reader will quickly realize that two days of standing water on the roof with no attempt to remove it is nothing short of astonishing. Even without troublesome roof leaks, rain can still be problematic though. It's hard to walk the dogs. Today was a waiting game. The rain was fairly steady throughout the day, but I discovered if I kept an eye on the iPad weather radar, I could still manage to find little pockets of relative dryness when the rain would slow to a trickle and the dogs became brave enough to venture outside. It was one of those days where I used up a lot of towels. We would get wet. Then I would dry everyone off. And then we would repeat the process again.

I was invited today to send a recipe to be included in the 2014 SXSW Interactive Cookbook. It was quite an honor, since my recipe will apparently be included with other recipes from luminaries like Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, and BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti. This invitation just shows how far I have fallen in recent years. Yes, I not only used to attend SXSW on a regular basis, I used to be a speaker there as well in the early years. There's only one problem with submitting a recipe of mine to this cookbook. I don't have any. I can only think of two original recipes I have created in the past twenty-five years and I can no longer eat either of them.

These days I hardly cook at all. I've succumbed to stopping by Central Market several times a week and picking up some tasty, semi-healthy items from the Chef Prepared section. It's kind of like eating out, except that I can eat at home with the dogs and there are no waiters to tip.  Today, I picked up a container of Kale, Chard, and Orange salad and another container with Walnut, Grape and Blue Cheese salad on the way home from the gym.

The gym is already starting to feel like a familiar place. I'm starting to establish a routine that suits me. I stay about an hour or so and work mostly on exercises designed to build up my upper body and core strength. A lot of people at the gym seem to be doing cardio workouts using treadmills and elliptical machines. I don't think I need this type of workout quite as much, since I spend so much time walking the dogs. Maybe I do though. I'm just making this up as I go along.

Even though it was a slow day, I still managed to get a few writing assignments finished. I have a feeling that tomorrow will be busier.

Lizzy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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