Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 1446

It's hard for me to remember what day it is on holiday weekends. Since I did most of my regular weekend chores yesterday, there was little for me to do today. With Thanksgiving out of the way, it was time to go looking for the Christmas decorations at the storage warehouse. I'm always amazed at how neat and tidy the warehouse looks in comparison to our house. I wish my office looked as nice as my storage warehouse. Maybe it would if everything in the office remained untouched for months at a time.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that doing things almost inevitably creates a mess. Doing things with dogs creates an even bigger mess.  I don't help matters by being such a pack rat either. Almost everything in my tidy storage warehouse came out of my messy office. It's hard to believe that I have removed so much stuff from the office and it still looks full.

The weather was so warm today that I decided to wash the car. I like washing the car. It is a simple task with tangible results. Getting my large format printer working again is a much more difficult task. I've been using the supplies that UPS finally delivered with mixed results. I think I'll eventually be able to clear the clogged lines, but it is almost certain that I will use up all my ink in the process. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a point to this madness. I feel the same way about the watches I've collected. At some point in the distant past they all worked. Now, the batteries in the watches with quartz movements are all dead and many of the mechanical watches need cleaning. I took three of these watches to my watchmaker over two years ago for service. They still aren't done. These watches are still making better progress than the repairs on my Citro├źn Maserati. That car has been in the shop for over nine years.

My possessions are literally screaming at me to simplify my life. I won't live long enough to replace all the dead batteries,  re-solder all the loose wires, and clean all the gunk out of various dirty fuel lines. Mechanical things make me happy, but why do they always break? Oddly, things seem to deteriorate whether you use them of not. Batteries corrode and leak inside of old tape recorders. Gas goes bad and won't even ignite after several seasons of sitting in the fuel tank of an unused rototiller. Radiator hoses crack and break even if the car they're connected to is sitting on blocks inside a garage.

What's a boy to do? I don't need to be reminded that it's all ashes to ashes and dust to dust in the end. My own body has been telling me that for years. All is not lost though. There's actually a smile on my face right now. As I was writing this somewhat gloomy missive, I received a message on the printer display panel that the lines are clear. The printer lives!

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 1445

We thought today might be a good day to go see the new presidential library here in Dallas. How wrong we were! When we arrived, there was already a long line of people snaking around the building. The line wasn't moving either. We decided to come back another day. I guess this library has replaced the city zoo and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza as the go-to place to take visiting relatives on the day after Thanksgiving.

I'm still interested in seeing the library. I've never been to a presidential library before. I've driven past LBJ's library in Austin several times, but I've never gone inside. I should have seen Clinton's library by now, since I grew up in Arkansas, but I haven't been there either. I did visit Dwight Eisenhower's home near Gettysburg once and found it very interesting. Presidents lived pretty simple lives in the 1950's.

Since the library was so crowded and it was already too late to go to an afternoon movie, Janet and I both went to the gym instead. Her gym was crowded and mine was nearly empty. I don't understand why young people don't go to my gym. It is the easily best equipped facility in the city. There is a heated Olympic size pool, a regulation size basketball court, a huge, well equipped weight room, a boxing area, and every type of resistance machine and treadmill ever created. I suspect that the young people who keep all those trendy new LA Fitness Centers busy just don't want to be seen with the old geezers who frequent my gym. I see an older gentleman almost every time I'm working out wearing a t-shirt that says "I wish I was 88." He is actually 94.

My missing UPS package mysteriously appeared on my doorstep this afternoon. Nobody knocked on the door and there was no explanation. I still don't know whether the UPS driver found the missing package and re-delivered it, or whether the person who actually received the package last Tuesday  finally decided to drive it over to my house. I'll probably never know what really happened, but at least I now have what I need. Hopefully, these new supplies will revive my hopelessly clogged printer and get it working again.

Although we didn't do any of the fun things we had planned, Janet and I both got a lot done today. She braved the Black Friday crowds and got a new Winter coat, while I found a replacement for the blinking, non-functional overhead light in my office. I'm sure I could have found a cheaper light fixture at IKEA, but it was worth paying almost any amount just to be able to avoid going to IKEA.

When I went to my regular breakfast restaurant today, I noticed that the other customers looked like hell. Actually, they just looked very similar to what I look like every day. I figured that most of these  people must still be on vacation. I guess this proves that without a dress code to conform to, almost everyone will immediately sink to the lowest common denominator. Personally, I don't know why I bother to get dressed anymore. The dogs don't care what I look like and my Internet-based clients will never know the difference. Wearing a suit on Wednesday mornings is still a novelty, but I'm sure this will wear off soon enough. The day I show up at one of these networking meetings wearing a Nirvana t-shirt and sweat pants is probably the day they'll kick me out of their club.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 1444 - Thanksgiving

All days should be like this. I got up late. I spent most of the day eating. I walked the dogs in a vain effort to to burn off my gargantuan meal. Then I watched TV for the rest of the day. We gave up entertaining on Thanksgiving years ago when the dogs embarrassed us by eating the guests dinner. We gave up on cooking a few years later when we realized it just wasn't worth the effort for two people.

Ever since, we've been going out to eat on Thanksgiving. We pick a nice restaurant and enjoy having someone else serve us dinner. Some years, we have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, sweet potatoes, green been casserole and pumpkin pie. Other years we are more adventurous. This year we went to The Mercury. They have a great Thanksgiving buffet. The food is fresh and varied. As always, I ate way too much.

Although it was chilly this morning, the day ended up being quite nice. Since there were no time constraints, the dogs got some bonus time on their walks. Janet walked them in the morning and I walked them in the evening. I was in such a good mood after my fabulous dinner that I though I'd take a decent camera along with me. That was a mistake. I used to take a DSLR with me frequently when I walked Dot and Dash, but I think they were better behaved then. Lately, I have trouble even getting the scene in focus before one of the dogs knocks me off balance chasing a squirrel or trying to eat something nasty they've spotted on the trail. Once the leashes get tangled around my camera strap, it's hopeless. I snapped a few sunset shots, but failed to capture anything spectacular. The shot you see above shows what happened after Dash flushed a covey of birds out of some bulrushes along the shoreline.

Although Thursday is one of my regular days to go to the gym, it seemed wise to postpone any sort of a workout until tomorrow. After the monster meal I ate this afternoon, I don't think my workout would have lasted long. Probably, the gym wasn't open today anyway. I never bothered to check.

Few things seem less appealing to me than fighting crowds of shoppers on Black Friday. That being said, I'll probably end up going to Home Depot tomorrow anyway. The blinking overhead light in my office is driving me nuts. I've got to find a new fixture soon. I hope I can find what I need at Home Depot. I would dread having to go to IKEA tomorrow.

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 1443

Dot had a really good physical therapy session today. The water therapy and acupuncture has already resulted in an improvement in her balance and muscle tone. It's kind of amazing. Although she will never be a young dog again, she seems much stronger on her daily walks and doesn't stumble nearly as often now.

I wish my own day had gone as well as Dot's. UPS still hasn't found my misplaced package. The overhead light in the office is still blinking on and off and driving me nuts. The temperature turned cold again and it's supposed to get down to 26 degrees tonight. The weather changes so quickly here that it's hard to adjust. Yesterday, I was convinced the cold wave had moved on to the East and now it's back again.

The roads were unbelievable crowded today. I think everybody in town left work early and was out buying a turkey at the same time. I went to a nearby Albertsons this evening to pick up a prescription and was amused to see a long line of people at the checkout stand with big frozen turkeys in their buggy. Jeez, Thanksgiving is tomorrow! They'll never even get those turkeys thawed out by then. There was no frozen turkey in my buggy. We're going out to eat.

Even though this was a short week, there was still plenty of work to do today. I guess I should be thankful for the work, but I'm even more thankful that I'm looking forward to a few days where I might not even turn the computer on. Don't worry, faithful readers. There will still be a blog post tomorrow, but that's about it.  Janet gets two days off this week, so we might even do something fun.

This year has gone by so fast. It will be Christmas before you know it. I'm already writing Christmas ads and articles. When I was taking Dot to her physical therapy session today, I saw three cars with Christmas trees strapped to the roof. Maybe some people put their tree up the day after Thanksgiving. The Christmas tree definitely won't be going up that early in our house. With two Dalmatians, the later the tree goes up, the better.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 1442

UPS lost another package today. In the misplaced delivery derby, UPS is definitely ahead of FedEx. This isn't the first time that UPS has claimed they delivered something that I never received. At least with FedEx, you have the ability to contact the driver directly and find out exactly what happened. When something goes wrong with your UPS order, they initiate this convoluted investigative process that takes weeks. I have a feeling that I'm never going to get this package. Too bad I already paid for this stuff.

With the exception of my lost order, it wasn't really a bad day. The sun came out around lunchtime and seeing our shadows again did wonders for me and the dogs. If I was the analytical type, I'm convinced that I could track my moods pretty accurately using a light meter. The greater the number of Footcandles the meter showed, the happier I'd be.

When I took Dash to the vet for his antigen shot this afternoon, they said he had no appointment scheduled for today. He probably didn't. Even though Dash will be going to the vet for this routine shot every two weeks for the rest of his life, there doesn't seem to be a way to enter these ongoing appointments into the vet's computer. I often forget to remind them to renew the appointments for another month when I tear off a new calendar page. All's well that ends well though. The clinic was nice enough to work Dash in and he got his shot anyway.

It's difficult to make it to the gym on these vet appointment Tuesdays. I did manage to make it today, but I had to cut my workout short in order to get home again in time to walk the dogs before sunset. With such a simple life, you'd think I'd have plenty of time for everything. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I never seem to have enough time. I did manage to get most of the things on my list finished today, but that was only because of the sun. Without a patch of bright sunlight to spur me onward, I probably would have been hopelessly behind.

Tomorrow will probably be a day in customer service hell. I need to find out where my UPS package went and why I received an erroneous "final bill" for a service I discontinued long ago. There will be more articles to write and Dot needs to go to her acupuncture appointment as well. I'm glad it's a short week.

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 1441

Dash ate crap in the park again this morning and came home with a belly ache. Every time I sat down at the computer to work, he started pacing and whining. I would open the back door to let him outside and he'd either refuse to go out the door because it was cold, or race around the yard and return a few minutes later without doing anything. After about three hours of this, he went outside, threw up, and then was fine for the rest of the day. It would be nice if dogs would learn that history tends to repeat itself and that it's not a good idea to eat stinky things in the park. I guess that's too much to ask though. Most people I know haven't learned that history tends to repeat itself either.

Last night, I thought I'd come up with a brilliant plan to unclog my large format printer. When I called my Epson dealer this morning to order the necessary supplies, I was told that if I followed this plan, I'd void my warranty.

So, what was Epson's alternative? They said I should buy a complete new set of eight ink cartridges at $77 each and run a power clean cycle. This, of course, would use up almost all of the ink I had just purchased. If this didn't work, I was to buy even more ink and run the power clean cycle again. I hate this printer. It's just a complicated machine designed to sell expensive pigment ink while it's simultaneously driving me crazy.

With the exception of two damp and chilly dog walks, I didn't leave the house today. There wasn't much point in going anywhere. I had plenty of work to do and I didn't really feel like driving in the rain anyway. While I tended to Dash's belly ache, I also completed a major update to one of the websites I manage and wrote a couple of new articles. Most of this work is boring, but it pays the bills. If someone gave me something truly interesting to work on, I'd probably do it for free. There's not much likelihood that this is going to happen though. People keep the interesting things for themselves. Occasionally, someone unfamiliar with advertising will ask me what I do for a living. "My job is just like a prostitute," I tell them. "The only difference is that people rent my mind instead of my body."

It wasn't all bad today. The temperature was much warmer than yesterday. When I went up on the roof, there was no ice. There was a lot of water, but I'm used to water.

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 1440

One of the overhead lights in my office keeps blinking on and off. It's one of those new LED bulbs that are supposed to last forever and it's driving me nuts. I get out the ladder and climb up and tighten the bulb in it's socket, thinking I've solved the problem. About twenty minutes later, the light starts blinking again. It is a bad bulb? A bad fixture? Or bad wiring? It could be all three, but I hate to call an electrician just to have him tell me to screw the bulb in tighter.

At least this problem is indoors where it's warm. Earlier in the day I was up on the roof trying to remove the standing water before it all turned into ice. I was a little late, since a lot of the water had already frozen. I can tell you from experience that it's a lot harder to remove ice from the roof than water. When the water and the falling leaves freeze together, you've got a real mess on your hands.

It's hard to stay a fan of mother nature when the elements are relentlessly trying their best to destroy your house. Hopefully, the new roof is genuinely waterproof, since ice brings out the worst in a leak. Heat from the house melts the bottom of the ice and the cold keeps the surface frozen. As a result, it is nearly impossible to remove the water from the roof until the weather gets above freezing again. Indoors, water condenses on the inside of large expanses of single pane glass. This water drips to the sill below where it soaks through tiny cracks in the paint and rots the wood. Water pipes freeze. Rats and squirrels aggressively invade the greenhouse, looking for someplace warm. All in all, life is much easier in the Summer.

I  watched the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Awards ceremony on TV this evening where they honored Carol Burnett. Maybe I'm showing my age, but those old sketch comedy segments are still funnier today that almost anything I've seen on SNL lately. Granted, Saturday Night Live was fabulous in it's day too, but those days are long gone. I occasionally see a funny episode of Modern Family, but it's nothing like vintage Sienfeld or All in the Family. I think we've collectively lost our sense of humor and just like to make fun of people instead. Don't even get me started on music or reality shows. The world has changed. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone like John Kennedy again who could actually keep a promise to send men to the moon, invent the Peace Corps, and still be tough enough to put Khrushchev in his place. We have iPhones now, but we are a pale shadow of our former selves.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 1439

Two down. Three to go. We've been to today's Santa Paws location before. This venue always has the smallest amount of space to set up our backdrop, but always seems to attract the largest dogs. Our first dog today was a giant Great Dane. When the dog arrived on the set with Santa, there wasn't room for me, so I had to back off and take the photos through the doorway. Next was a woman who wanted all five of her dogs to sit on Santa's lap. That's the kind of day it was. I'd like to think I learn some kind of life lesson from these odd photo shoots, but I don't. People seem to like their pictures though and I guess that's all that matters.

The sleet and freezing rain that everyone was anticipating didn't materialize. The weather was still nasty, but at least there wasn't the worry of driving on icy roads. There are few things worse than driving on icy roads in Texas. Only about one driver in fifty has ever had any experience in driving on ice and when the roads get slick, the highways instantly turn into a demolition derby. I learned how to drive when I was going to high school in Alaska, and I can still remember the basics of driving on ice. Unfortunately, I've discovered that it doesn't really matter if I can keep my car going in a straight line if everyone else can't.

I'm looking forward to watching the new Fiftieth Anniversary episode of Dr. Who later this evening. The premiere was at an odd time during the afternoon, since the BBC simulcast the show in the US at the same time they aired it in the UK. I've got the show recorded however, if the DVR worked. I think I've finally figured out how to work the DVR on the cable box. Even if I didn't record the show properly, I'm sure the BBC will air it again and again for the next six months.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow. There's standing water on the roof, but it's very cold and I'd rather stay inside. I still have unfinished articles to write, but I hate to work on weekends. The dogs need a trip to the dog park, but I suspect that the place is a mud pit and will probably be closed. I probably need to go back to the grocery store and get the things I forgot today. I should never go shopping without a list. Who knows what will happen. The entire day is completely up in the air right now. It might even snow.

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 1438

What a miserable grey day. A cold, penetrating rain kept threatening to turn into sleet, while a brisk wind made the Wintery mix even more uncomfortable. With this kind of weather, it's easy to see why so many people decide to retire to Florida or Arizona. Tired old bones and damp, frigid days just aren't a good mix.

The conditions have to be pretty bad before the dogs prefer to stay inside, and they definitely didn't feel like going out today. Even though I warmed up their Winter coats in the dryer before I put them on, they made sure to let me know they were ready to go home again as soon as they has done their business.

As you might expect, I didn't attend the Dealey Plaza ceremonies today. I didn't have a ticket anyway, but I'm not sure if I would have attended even if the weather was warm and attendance was open to everybody. I've gone down to Dealey Plaza quite a few times on November 22, just to see the interesting crowd that gathers there. All these people were banned this year. The city fathers wanted a dignified ceremony for the 50th Anniversary. The aging eye-witnesses to the event, the protesters, and the conspiracy theory nuts hawking their self published books weren't invited to today's event. I'm sure they'll be back next year though. I"ll probably go back next year myself.

I went to the Land Rover dealer today instead. There was nothing wrong with my car. I just missed seeing everybody. There were so many things wrong with the Defender 90 in its later years that a trip to the dealership was just about as common as a trip to the grocery store. I knew everybody at that place. Repairs to the Defender grew quite expensive once the warranty ran out, but the service folks were always as nice as they could be. They were still nice today and gave my car a quick check to make sure it was ready for tomorrow's freezing weather.

The thought of doing pet photography during a sleet storm isn't the most appealing thing in the world, but what are you doing to do? You can't take Santa pictures in the Summer. We always get some bad weather during the Santa Paws photo season. I just hope that tomorrow turns out to be a little better than the weather forecasters are predicting.

Since I didn't want to go outside any more than the dogs did, I managed to get quite a bit of work done. The stock market went up today, which helped to compensate for the miserable weather. The house was toasty warm and the furnace appears to be working flawlessly this season. We had a delicious dinner this evening as well. I guess it wasn't such a bad day after all.

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 1437

I'm sure that a lot of you have already seen the new Bob Dylan video. I'm usually not that impressed by music videos, but this one totally blew me away. The song was Dylan's classic Like a Rolling Stone and the format was an interactive TV set where you could change the channels and see people from real shows like The Price is Right, Pawn Stars, and The Property Brothers, lip syncing the lyrics to the song in perfect sync. There were dozens of channels to choose from and as you changed the channels, you essentially created your own private version of the video. I played the song three times and never saw the same sequences twice. I've been producing videos for decades and have made a few music videos myself, but it never occurred to me that you could do something like this. It was inspirational and somewhat humbling to see something this imaginative and fresh. It makes me realize that most of what I do is pure crap.

I prepared for bad weather today, but the rain never arrived. You'd think since I got all my out-of-the-office chores done early, well before the rain was supposed to arrive, that I could have used the afternoon to get caught up the rest of my work. It didn't work out that way. I ended up getting less done today than on a normal day. I did make it to the gym though. Since I went in the morning this time, I was surprised to see many of the same people I typically see later in the afternoon. I'm convinced that some of these people must live at the place. They're always there.

Janet showed me a new app on her phone that lets you quickly and easily animate a still picture of your pet and make it talk. The results are surprisingly realistic and totally cute. I predict that in a week or so, there will be talking dogs and cats all over Facebook.

I'm having second thoughts about going down to Dealey Plaza tomorrow. I had wanted to see the fiftieth anniversary observances, but from what I hear on the local news the place is going be a media circus. All the major networks are going to be doing live broadcasts from Dealey Plaza tomorrow. The city is already blocking off streets around the Book Depository and parking is going to be impossible. Somebody told me that you're going to need tickets to get in. What's that all about? You've never needed tickets before. Maybe I'll just wait until the fifty-first anniversary when things settle down to normal again.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 1436

I woke up late and barely made it to my breakfast meeting. Wednesdays aren't my favorite day anymore. There's just too much going on. I usually change three times on Wednesdays. I wear a suit to the networking breakfast. I change into raggedy dog walking clothes and work boots when I return. Then later in the day, I put on some respectable casual clothes to take Dot for her weekly physical therapy session. I try to complete at least one writing assignment between the dog's morning walk and Dot's vet appointment. Then when I'm back to the office for good, I tackle the day's website revisions.

I'm sure that many of you have much more hectic days than this, but I don't do hectic anymore. If I did, I'd still be sitting in a status meeting at a big ad agency somewhere, instead of working in a quite room with a dog under my desk.

I'm still having problems with my large printer. I guess I waited too long between cleaning cycles. Since I no longer have a need for large museum quality prints, maintaining this complicated printer has become a giant nuisance. The printer is so heavy that I can't even move it by myself, so taking it to a repair center is problematic at best. I had to have a friend help me install the thing years ago and it's sat in the same dusty office corner ever since. Remind me to never buy anything that uses ink ever again.

One of my doctors wants me to take a pill that he says will improve my cognitive abilities. I scoffed at the idea at first and was actually a bit insulted. Hey, my business is thinking up solutions for people and I feel at times that my life is like doing a complex Sudoku puzzle that never ends. Maybe the Doc is right though. Janet changed the dog's food recently and now I can't seem to remember which dog eats which bag of kibble. I have a feeling that I've been feeding Dot's food to Dash for several weeks now.

There are thunderstorms in the forecast for tomorrow. I hope the forecast is wrong. Rain slows me down tremendously. I think I'm only half as productive on a stormy day. The dogs are terrified of thunder and lightning. I don't like to drive in the rain. And even though I put an entirely new roof on the house this year, I still worry about leaks.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 1435

I haven't picked up the guitar in quite a while. It's been even longer since I've taken the telescope outside on a clear evening to look at Jupiter's moons. I can't even remember the last time I spent an entire evening reading a good book. I enjoy these things. So why am I spending so much of my time doing things I don't enjoy? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

I'm not trying to make excuses here, but life has fundamentally changed. The changes aren't big, in and among themselves, but they add up. It takes longer to fix healthy meals than to pick up a burger at a drive-thru. It takes longer to maintain an exercise regime than to watch TV on the couch. It definitely takes longer to earn a decent living. Where are all the assistants and copy typists I used to have? Where is the world I used to love?

Personally, I think that globalization and technology have combined forces to destroy a delightfully inefficient world where jobs were abundant and expectations were low. It isn't really surprising to me that health care isn't working anymore and entire countries are going bankrupt. The complexity of modern life is simply staggering. It is still a world of amazing opportunities, but it's all getting a lot harder to understand and many of us are simply running in place.

I don't have a grand plan anymore. I just get up every morning and methodically move from one task to the next. I always start with the simple things, but sometimes that's as far as I get. I got about halfway done today. The dogs got a good walk. I made it to the gym. I got several articles finished and shipped off to the client. I got stuck on my website project though. I'm confused. I'll need to do a bit more research to figure this one out.

If I wasn't so busy, I might enjoy the beautiful Fall weather we're having a bit more. We're really getting some fabulous Fall color this year. Texas will never be New England, but I see a lot of brilliant reds and yellows as I walk through the park with the dogs. I wonder why the leaves turn bright colors one year and are dull brown the next? I have a feeling that I might be happier if questions like these were the only things I had to worry about.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 1434

I guess I waited too long to make Thanksgiving dinner reservations. I called a few of our favorite places and they were all booked solid. I did a Google search for Thanksgiving Brunch and came up with a few more interesting choices, but they were booked as well. This all seemed a bit strange to me. We haven't cooked Thanksgiving dinner in years. It used to be super easy to get Thanksgiving reservations at a nice restaurant, because everyone else in town was having a big family dinner at home. Maybe the rest of the world finally realized that big family meals were stressful and it was a lot easier to go out somewhere. I suspect that family meals are still the norm though. The more likely explanation for the dirth of available restaurants is that the entire family goes out to eat these days because not as many people like to cook anymore.

We finally found a nice place to eat, but it took a while. Just because the Internet gives you instant access to everything doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to find what you're looking for. I'm still looking for a nice looking cargo mat for the new car. I'm growing tired to throwing blankets in the back for the dogs and would like something fitted that looked like it came from the factory. As I said, I'm still looking.

I'm also spending a lot of time looking for ticks. I saw a tick crawling up my arm as I was writing this morning. Almost every day, I find a tick on one of the dogs. The weather seems perfect for an explosion of ticks in the park and they all seem to be looking for Dot and Dash. I don't like to use chemical deterrents on the dogs, since Dalmatians have sensitive skin. This means that I've got to make a careful search of their fur after every walk. I was hoping that our freezing weather a few weeks ago would last three or four days, to kill off some of the bugs, but that wasn't in the cards. Although it wasn't as hot as it was yesterday, I still had the air conditioner on for a while today.

I was surprisingly busy today, considering how dead Monday's usually are. I had a huge website revision to complete this morning and as soon as I finished that job, there were three new articles to write. I only managed to finish one of the articles today, but at least I know where we'll be eating on Thanksgiving. I'll finish the other articles tomorrow. I'm going to try to find some time later this week go go down to Dealey Plaza on November 22. The Grassy Knoll is an interesting place on a normal year. On the 50th Anniversary, it ought to be a bubbling caldron of conspiracy theories.

Puppies are our Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 1433

I'll never figure out Texas weather. Less than a week ago the temperature was below freezing.  Today it was 90 degrees. I was so confused that I got out the lawn mower and mowed the grass again. It was actually a beautiful day, but it still seems awfully warm for late November. Some years we've has snow before this. We even turned on the air conditioner today. I didn't think I'd be doing that again until late next Spring.

The dogs certainly liked the warm weather. They were excited to see some of their friends from training class at the dog park today. They weren't so excited about their new harnesses, unfortunately. Somebody needs to invent a safety harness that actually works in the car. Dot and Dash either manage to wriggle out of their harnesses before we even get out of the driveway, or get stuck in them and force us to pull over to the side of the road to free them from a seat belt that has retracted and pinned them to the back of the car seat. Dot got stuck today. Dash is usually the one to wriggle out of his harness.

I was listening to one of those Ted Talks on NPR while I was driving to the gym this afternoon. The guy on the radio said the secret to happiness was in having low expectations. This thought startled me and on reflection seemed a bit profound. Most of the happy people I've met in my life had very low expectations. Conversely, the perfectionists and super achievers I've known generally weren't happy at all. The premise of this Ted Talk was that we have too many choices today. If we only have two or three choices, we just pick something and move on. When we have thirty choices, we agonize over making the right decision and are never happy with the result. With thirty choices, you just know that you could have picked something better. I'd never thought of things this way before, but it makes sense. Maybe I just have too many choices in my life.

Amazingly, everything got done today. The dogs got their visit to the dog park, all the shopping errands were completed, I even found time to hang the muslin Christmas photo backdrop out in the sun and spray it with Outright to get rid of the smell of dog pee. The nice looking front yard was a bonus. I wasn't even planning to mow the grass.

Puppies are our Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 1432

It's that time of year again. We did our first Santa Paws photo shoot of the season today. At first I thought it was a little early for Christmas pictures, but so many people make elaborate holiday cards these days that this actually is when you need to get started. We had a good day. Photo sessions were booked solid from 10 AM through 3 PM. Only one dog peed on Santa. One more peed on the set. There were no dog fights or ugly incidents. When you're photographing dogs, you can't ask for more than this.

Since we were photographing city dogs today, our subjects tended to be smaller and a bit more upscale than their suburban cousins. Since most of today's dogs were small enough to sit on Santa's lap, we didn't have to worry as much about a dog inadvertently destroying the set. A single Yorkie is a lot easier to photograph than three full grown Rottweilers.

Somebody told me this afternoon that we've been doing these Christmas pet photos for seven years now. You couldn't prove it by me, but it does seem like we've been doing this for a very long time. I'm amazed that all the equipment still works. I hope that nothing self-destructs this season. We've got four more of these events to do before Christmas. My old Norman studio strobes are kind of like vintage Fender tube amplifiers. They just don't make them like this anymore. Hopefully, these trusty tools will keep working forever. I certainly don't want to invest in new studio lighting. I don't even have a studio anymore.

I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be even busier than today. Since the photo shoot took the entire day, all my normal Saturday errands got postponed. That means there's a lot of shopping that still needs to be done. The dogs are still going to expect a trip to the dog park as well. If there's time, I'd like to get to the gym, even though I feel like I've already been to the gym after a long day of alternately standing and kneeling to find the best angle for the perfect pet portrait.

I don't think I'll have any problems going to sleep tonight. These marathon photo shoots are tiring. The fingers and joints aren't as flexible as they used to be and I don't believe in pain pills. The arthritis isn't going away, but staying active is probably still the best medicine. You've got to keep moving.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 1431

Friday's typically start with two eggs, served over easy on a bed of roasted peppers, hash browned potatoes, and spicy pulled pork. I have other things occasionally, but this is my favorite. This delicious meal is preceded by a two mile walk with the dogs and followed by a trip to the grocery store for Friday's dinner. When I return with the groceries, I retrieve the garbage can from the curb and head back inside to begin my day's work. It is often 11 AM before I actually start writing anything. Typically this isn't a problem. I don't usually have anything else to do for the rest of the day.

I managed to finish two new articles today and used the remainder of my time to get ready for tomorrow's photo shoot. I charged all my batteries, gathered cords and connectors together, and aired out the large muslin backdrop, in hopes that some of the doggie smells that permeated the cloth would go away. Hand painted backdrops are always a problem with dogs. You can't just throw them in the washing machine when a dog pees on them. In most cases, the paint would wash away or come off. I try to keep the backdrops clean, but the dogs often have other ideas.

Once again, I waited too long between printing jobs with my large printer. The machine is hopelessly clogged again. I don't know why I continue to hang on to this thing. It's hard to imagine that I'll be having any more gallery shows in the foreseeable future and even harder to imagine that my clients will be demanding large paper prints. I used to make large window display posters for some of my retail clients, but there are so many better ways of doing this now. You never know when there might be a need to print something huge though, so every month or two, I painstakingly clean the printer, unclog the lines, make a test print, and then throw it away. You may think that this is an exercise in futility, but it is no more futile than endlessly cleaning water and leaves off the roof, or searching through the dogs fur for ticks.

I need to remember to get up early tomorrow. It takes me a while to load and unload the car. I wish I was one of those photographers who just showed up after a bevy of assistants had set everything up for him. Roadies would be such a luxury. It was the same way when I played in the band. I was always the last to leave with a car piled high with heavy amplifiers and PA speakers. This is the price you pay for being a gearhead. You're always the go-to guy with the gear.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 1430

I wonder what my day would look like if I just did what the dogs wanted? We wouldn't get up until 10 AM. Our walks would slow down to a snail's pace, so there would be plenty of time to examine and smell every single bush along the way. When we eventually arrived home, we would spend the rest of the day eating. Truthfully, this simple canine hedonism sounds much better than the way I actually spend my day. Although my own temperament is very much like a lazy Dalmatian, I spend my days like one of those caged Hamsters continually on the run inside one of those spinning exercise wheels.

Yes, it was another busy day. I had writing assignments to finish. I had to go back to the storage warehouse to get the photo equipment I forgot the other day. There were bills to pay, groceries to buy, and a DVD full of pictures and videos to burn for a client's Facebook page. I managed to make it to the gym again as well.

At least I'm not in the insurance business. Those guys must be tearing their hair out tonight. After the government forced them to spend three years radically changing their entire business model, the president gets on TV today and essentially says "Never mind, Just kidding. You can all go back to the way it was before if you want." Something tells me that it isn't going to be easy to go back to the way it was before. The horse is already out of the barn on this one.

We saw a fantastic sunset on our evening walk tonight. A couple of years ago I could have taken along a high resolution SLR and gotten some equally fantastic images. Not anymore. Taking a large camera with me is close to impossible these days. Dot has gotten frail and Dash has completely forgotten how to heal at my side. Keeping Dash from knocking Dot over as he roots around trying to find fresh horse poop along the trail is a two hand job. Having two dog that would dutifully heal at my side is just a distant memory now. The dogs enjoy their walks as much as the ever did. It just seems a lot harder to keep them moving in a straight line.

If I had the time and the money, I'd probably go out to breakfast every morning. I'm surprised at how much I look forward to my Friday morning breakfast outings. I don't understand all the people who bring their laptops along with them when they go out to eat. I see these folks all the time. To me, the whole point of my Friday breakfast is to get away from the computer for a while. That's exactly what I'll be doing tomorrow morning.

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