Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 1597

When I called to confirm my appointment at the liver center tomorrow, they congratulated me on taking my last pills today. I told them that I'd actually taken my last pills yesterday, and they seemed confused. "Do you think you lost a pill," the nurse asked me? Nope. I took every last one of them. I think I know what had happened but it would be hard to prove things at this point. The first batch of pills arrived a day earlier than expected and when I called the liver center to let them know that they'd arrived, whoever I talked to on the phone said to go ahead and start taking them immediately. They must have left the original projected start date on a spreadsheet somewhere. This just proves that if you do anything long enough, the inevitable memory fog trumps everything. I vaguely remember starting the pills one day early, but my memory of the whole situation is a bit suspect as well.

I've started to notice that when we tell the nurses at the cancer center that we're worried that Dash might be in pain, they give us a prescription for pain pills. When we worry about  infections, they give us an antibiotic.  When we say nothing, they give us nothing. So, are they just giving us these pills to keep us happy, or are they actually prescribing them because Dash really needs them? I don't know. Pain pills and antibiotics are among the most over prescribed medications for both animals and people. I think doctors have gotten used to passing out pills like candy because their patients demand them. We are a nation hooked on pills. I wish I knew if Dash really needed these additional pills, but he's not talking. I hate unnecessary medication, especially antibiotics. On the other hand, antibiotics are absolutely necessary at times. How do you know if you're are doing the right thing? The information I received about supplements from my nutritionist was largely proved wrong and some of stuff I took did more harm than good. Several medications my doctors wanted me to take ten years ago are now featured on those 1-800-BAD-DRUG commercials you see on TV.  Things change all the time, and doctors and vets, like everyone else, are far from infallible. All that being said, they know far more than I do about health and healing, so I usually do exactly what they tell me.

My work load is starting to wear me out. One of the animal rescue sites I maintain has tripled the number of animals in their program. I am constantly adding and subtracting adoptable pets from their website. As soon as I finish processing one batch of animals, there's another waiting for me the next day. Writing has been erratic lately as well. If I knew exactly what I was facing, it would be easier to plan. Now, I'm usually in a situation where I'll go several days with nothing and then have a ton of website and writing projects all due on the same day. I must have been dreaming when I though that I might be able to retire to a tropical island when I turned 55. If you have a small business in today's economy, you're probably doomed to keep working forever.

I had to pick up some more groceries on my way to get Dash this afternoon. The combination of trying to eat healthy, fresh food and being busy all the time is causing me to have to go to the grocery store a lot more often than I used to. You can't stock up on a week's worth of fresh vegetables and expect them all to stay fresh forever. I've started to buy food as I need it, but it's a lot of trouble. Life was so much easier when I could just pull a frozen pizza out of the freezer and grab a beer from the refrigerator.

Tomorrow, the dogs get their monthly heartworm pills. It's trash day as well, so I'll need to remember to take the garbage can out to the curb. Sooner or later, it will be Friday again. I can't wait.

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day 1596

I took my last Sovaldi pill this morning. There are still a few Ribavirin pills left, as a result of the time when they lowered my dosage to compensate for a low blood platelet count. I'll need to call my nurse at the liver center tomorrow and see what they want me to do with the remaining pills. Your guess is as good as mine on this one. Maybe the two pills are only meant to be used together, or just as plausibly, the Ribavirin may still be useful on its own. I'm just glad that I've just about put this segment of my life behind me.

Dash has some medication issues of his own. The cancer center gave him some Tramadol on Monday to alleviate pain associated with the radiation sore on his neck. He never seemed to be in pain though, and after only one day, the medication is making him wonky. One of the side effects of Tramadol is that it can make you very drowsy, or in rare cases even appear sedated. I'm not sure Dash was actually sedated, but he certainly seemed out of it for most of the day. I think I'll discontinue the medication. It would be one thing if he was really in pain, but I think this drug is making matters worse. When I told Dot's physical therapy vet what was happening with Dash, she said that she'd be more likely to prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent a secondary infection than to use a pain pill at this point. It's frustrating that vets, like my own human doctors, rarely agree on everything. All I know is that Dash acted perfectly normally before he started taking the pain medication. Now, he is acting loopy.

Dot wasn't as relaxed as she normally is at her acupuncture session. She appeared a bit stressed today. Maybe it was just that kind of day. Everyone I encountered today seemed a bit stressed. Sadly, I'd have to include myself in this category as well. We got slowed down by road construction on our way to the vet. One of my nagging website problems has reared its ugly head again. I'm even behind on my writing assignments. It's only Tuesday as well. At least there were no tornadoes here. The weather was beautiful again today. Lets hope these nice Spring days continue for a while.

I forgot to put a large black plastic bag full of garbage in the trash can yesterday evening and awoke this morning to discover that racoons had torn the bag apart and strewn garbage all over the back yard. I don't know why I left the bag at the back gate without actually placing it in the garbage can, but that's how your memory gets when you get older. I'll certainly remember to complete this chore now. Those racoons really made a mess of things. It took me forever to get everything cleaned up again so the dogs wouldn't go looking for stray chicken bones or other things they shouldn't be eating.

It's hard to believe that April is over already. Tomorrow is the last day of the month. Before long, I'll be complaining about the relentless Texas heat and wondering how to get rid of the wasp nests that appear every June. I seriously doubt that I could go a week without complaining if my life depended on it.

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 1595

Every time I see the devastation that tornadoes can create, I am grateful that Dallas has been spared. We live in an area where tornadoes are common. There have been many occasions where I have sat huddled with the dogs in a small hallway listening to the sirens wailing outside. So far we have been lucky. I don't think a tornado has actually touched down inside the city limits of Dallas since I moved here many years ago. Sometimes I wonder were you could live where tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, flash floods, and giant sinkholes weren't a danger. Unfortunately, the only places that come to mind have extremely cold winters. At any rate, my heart goes out to the people of Mayflower, Arkansas. They certainly didn't deserve what hit them last night.

Dash's oncologist didn't seem nearly as worried about the nasty red spot on his neck as I was this weekend. Evidently, this oozing sore, which the doctors euphemistically call "sunburn" is an almost inevitable side effect of the radiation. Over time, radiation breaks down normal tissue and makes wounds much harder to heal. As a result, humans and animals often have problems with moist dermatitis and even open sores during the latter stages of radiation therapy. Dash's nurse told me not to worry and said that the damaged tissue should heal within two weeks after the radiation therapy is finished. Luckily, Dash only has three more sessions to go. There isn't much we can do at this point. We are just supposed to keep the affected area as clean and dry as we can.

Work was busy today. I carefully followed a developer's instructions on how to add a new function to one of my client's websites. The instructions were quite detailed and I followed them exactly, but the site crashed anyway. Oops. This just proves that even detailed instructions with lots of notes aren't always right. I spent the next hour undoing the damage and returning the site to the way it was before. Hopefully, nobody noticed. I have a meeting with my client tomorrow, and I'll need to tell her that this new feature might not be a good idea.

The weather has been perfect for the past several days. I wish I knew of a place that had this kind of weather all year long. Seattle had nice mild weather when I lived there, but it rained all the time. California coastal cities are all delightful, but there's been a terrible drouth recently and of course there are all those forest fires. Arizona is too hot and Montana is too cold. I guess my favorite climate is indoors.

My teeth are telling me that it's time to see the dentist. My hair is telling me that it's way past time for a haircut. My car needs an oil change. It's been hard to deal with even simple tasks like these with the dogs complicated schedules. I'm hoping that I'll have more time when the radiation portion of Dash's cancer treatment concludes next week. Chemotherapy will continue much longer, but I can give the chemo pills myself at home.

My Baidu stock dropped 7% today, just because the Chinese government won't let them stream The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS, and The Practice anymore. Why should this even matter? And why do the Chinese want to watch these shows anyway? Personally, I don't need any of them, but apparently the market thinks otherwise. Market volatility. Cancer conundrums. Website mysteries. The world has definitely become too complicated for me to understand.

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day 1594

Janet and I went on the home tour today. All the homes were right in our neighborhood, so we didn't have to leave the dogs very long. We both like mid-century modern architecture, so whenever this era is featured on a tour, we tend to go. Over the years, the exteriors of these home all seem more or less the same, since most of them were built in the 1950's. The interiors and landscaping change according to what is currently in style however. This year, concrete driveways seem to be out and gravel and crushed granite are in. I guess this makes sense, since concrete work has gotten horrendously expensive. Shallow basin sinks and big tile showers without shower doors seemed popular as well. There are fewer extravagant houses and more creatively frugal ones. Most of the homes we visited today were pretty small. I suspect that this is all a sign of the times. Our entire society is downsizing.

We will have lots of questions for the oncologist when we take Dash back to the cancer center tomorrow morning. The more I read, the more I realize that moist dermatitis and non-healing wounds are common during the latter stages of cancer treatment. The radiation breaks down the tissue over time and makes it harder for wounds to heal. Optimistic websites said that most of the skin sores tend to heal within two weeks after ending treatment. Pessimistic websites said the process could take six months or longer. The key to a successful outcome seems to be in keeping the damaged area as clean and dry as you can and not allowing the dog to scratch or lick the area. We are lucky in a way that Dash's surgery was in his neck, which is a difficult area for a dog to reach. People who have dogs where the front or rear leg is receiving radiation tend to have a harder time controlling things. At any rate, I hope our oncologist can help us find an effective way to help Dash's wounds heal quickly. It is discouraging to encounter a setback when we are so close to the finish line.

I had a good workout at the gym this afternoon. I'm almost back to my old routine, even though I'm only able to go once a week now. I always do the same things. I spend 20-minutes on the hand bicycle to help strengthen my dislocated shoulder. I spend 20-minutes working my way through a line of ten different resistance machines to build muscle strength. I spend about 10-minutes using free weights. And then I spend my remaining time shooting baskets on the basketball court in the center of the gym. If I did this three times a week, I'd probably be in great shape, but once a week is better than nothing.

Next week looks like a busy one. I've already got several projects cued up for Monday. Toward the end of the week, I am scheduled to have my exit interview with my team of liver doctors. I hope that they just pronounce me cured and send me on my way. I won't be seeing the doctors much after this, but they have already told that they will monitor me periodically for up to two years, just to make sure that the disease doesn't reappear. I'm hoping that when all is said and done, Dash will have the same successful outcome that I seem to have received.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day 1593

Dash threw up last night. This hasn't happened since he started his cancer treatments and I was hoping that it wouldn't happen at all. Since it is important that he always has his phenobarbital pill, I instinctively looked through the mess on the carpet to see if the pill was still there. He had just taken his night time meds an hour earlier, so there was a good chance that it would be. While I was looking for the illusive pill, I remembered that the cancer center folks told me in the very beginning that if Dash ever threw up, I was supposed to consider it as toxic waste and not to touch the vomit with my hands while I was cleaning the mess up. Oh, well. Too late now. It seems almost inevitable that I will eventually poison myself before Dash is finally finished with his lengthy chemo regime. Since Dash has eaten two regular meals today and has seemed fine all day, I don't think the episode last night had anything to do with his cancer. We just ate dinner and fed the dogs way too late yesterday and Dash drank a lot of water just before he went to bed. Dogs frequently throw up for no reason at all. I just wish he would put this behavior on hold until we manage to get through with this cancer treatment.

When I was taking the groceries out of the back of the car this afternoon, I happened to look up and noticed that there were little spots of blood all over the headliner. Damn. I immediately knew what had happened, but it didn't help much. You know how dogs shake when they get out of the water? Well, Dalmatians shake like this after they do anything at all. One day last week, Dash had "happy tail" when he came home from his radiation treatment. Dalmatians often wag their tails very vigorously and end up hitting things with their tail that get in the way. If the wagging goes on too long, some times the tip of the tail starts to bleed. Usually when this happens, I just put a little Hydrogen peroxide on the tail and everything is fine a few minutes later. I guess I forgot that Dash always does this shaking routine right after he gets in the car. He must have ended up shaking little drops of blood from the tip of his tail all over the white headliner. So much for the new car look.

The scar on Dash's neck was still moist when he woke up this morning. This is not good. I need to figure out a reliable way to make sure the wound gets lots of air so it can dry out, while still keeping the area well protected from any attempts to scratch the incision site with a rear paw. Everything is fine if I make sure Dash is always nearby whereI can see him,. Unfortunately, he likes to wander off where I can't see him. I haven't come up with a good solution yet.

Dalmatian Rescue is having another of their periodic casino party fundraisers tonight. This is the first time in quite a while that I stayed home and won't be spinning the roulette wheel. It's just too long to leave the dogs alone. Ever since Dot ate the carpet, I've been penning her in a small brick area in the hallway where she can't get into trouble. I don't leave blankets, pillows or rugs in the area, just in case she might decide to chew them. Unfortunately, the bricks are pretty hard on her tired old bones and I hate to leave her here for very long. Since Dash threw up last night and has a scar that seems to be turning into an infection, I don't want to let him out of my sight at all. Hopefully, Janet won't get overwhelmed running the roulette table by herself.

I've been really tired and probably pretty irritable lately, The entire Spring has seemed like a long journey to an uncertain destination. I keep looking for the finish line, but I don't see it yet.

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

Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 1592

My breakfast restaurant is a great place for people watching. Every large city seems to have a little hole-in-the-wall place like this where the aroma of suburb simple meals seems to lure the wealthy and the working poor in almost equal numbers to the same humble tables. This is the only place in Dallas where I routinely see Ferrari 458 Spiders and McLaren MP4's parked right next to beat up white work vans filled with plumbing tools. Of course, since the place is still considered cool in some circles, there are an inordinate number of hipster bicycles as well.

When a diverse group of people start to gather in a small room, you begin to notice things. I've noticed that thin bald men of a certain age aren't really Olympic swimmers or in training for a triathlon. They are just making a fashion statement. I've noticed that it is remarkably easy to identify who is still working for a large organization. They are all wearing those laminated plastic badges around their neck with a bar code  that lets them enter and exit their permanently locked place of work. I guess it has come to this. We are all in lock-down mode now.

I have a certain amount of admiration for the young entrepreneurs. They arrive with a backpack full of electronic devices that all have to be turned on simultaneously. Many of these people seem to be trying to crowdsource their latest project on Kickstarter, or find an elusive venture capitalist who will watch the Powerpoint presentation on the iPad in their packpack. Most of these people will fail, but at least they are trying.

Dash's doctors are trying their best to keep his incision site from getting infected. The effects of radiation treatments are cumulative and after 17 visits to the cancer center, the area that is receiving most of the radiation is really starting to itch. Since Dash is a dog, it is hard to keep him from scratching something that itches. We've tried the cone of shame, a cloth scarf held in place with Velcro, and even leaving his special harness on during the day, but nothing seems to work. When Dash was attacked by another dog years ago, Janet sewed a special t-shirt that Dash wore permanently while his wounds healed. That seemed to work. Maybe she can make another this weekend.

Every Friday afternoon I hand my credit card to the receptionist at the cancer center and settle Dash's bills for the week. This is when I wish that all my client's paid me in 30 days like they are supposed to. Yes, you know who you are. What is the point of hanging on to the money for as long as you can when you are going to have to part with it eventually? I just don't get it. When I made most of my income producing commercials and corporate videos, I always paid my crews immediately. Life is just simpler that way.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 1591

I managed to compound the problems I was facing with an already busy day by making small mistakes in virtually everything I touched. Maybe I just had too much on my plate today. I suspect it might have been my tendency to ignore the details however. The details I forget are inevitably the first thing my clients always notice. All's well that ends well though. I think I managed to get everything fixed.

Dot did great at her physical therapy session today. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that she was actually getting younger. Her rear legs seem stronger now and she doesn't stumble as often. More importantly, she hasn't had a seizure since  we started to do acupuncture on a regular basis. I asked the vet if there might be a connection between the acupuncture and the seizures, and she said that although there was no way to prove things conclusively, at least two other patients of hers quit having seizures when they started having acupuncture. There is some anecdotal evidence that acupuncture can help prevent seizures in certain situations. Maybe Dot is one of the lucky ones where acupuncture really makes a difference.

I went back to eating oatmeal this morning, but the whole time I was fixing my breakfast, I kept thinking that tomorrow was Friday and I would finally get to go out for a real breakfast. I need to come up with a better solution for feeding myself. I'm actually a pretty good cook, but my OCD tendencies make cooking excruciatingly slow. I often find that I've wasted half the day fixing myself a simple meal. When I'm chopping vegetables, I have to cut everything into precise little squares. The meat has to be browned just so, and heaven forbid that I substitute another spice for the missing one in the spice rack. None of my compulsions make the food taste any better, but they sure do waste a lot of time. I've also noticed that I tend to wash all the dishes by hand before I put them in the dishwasher.  I don't know why I do this, but I suspect it has something to do with trying to make things easier on the machines. By some twisted logic, I think that the dishwasher will last longer if it doesn't need to deal with excessive amounts of dirt.

One of my clients mentioned that she had an idea for a TV series that she would like to pitch. There was a time when I would have jumped at this obvious opportunity to help her put together a pilot episode. I have the experience and I have the equipment. I just don't have the energy anymore. Production is a lot of work. Fifteen years ago I was going to SXSW every Spring, hoping to make connections and find funding for video projects I wanted to do. Now, I'm wondering if I'll ever get behind the camera again. Years ago, I was totally perplexed at all the changes my Dad went through as he got older. Now, I think I'm starting to understand.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day 1590

I woke up exhausted this morning. Dash got up in the middle of the night and seemed convinced that it was morning. He wanted his breakfast. He wanted a walk. He wanted everybody else to be completely miserable until he got what he wanted. He was acting so weird that I started wondering if the cancer center folks might have accidentally pointed the radiation machine at his brain instead of his surgery scar on Monday. Usually, in situations like these, I can bribe the dogs with a treat, but Dash was already fasting for today's radiation treatment, so he couldn't eat anything. Janet took him outside twice. I took him outside twice. We traded places in the bed, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, he wore himself out and went back to bed. Dot was the only one who got a good night's sleep. Her hearing is so bad now, that she slept through the entire commotion.

I got an e-mail from Network Solutions today asking me to confirm all my personal information. The letter said that if I didn't comply, my domains would be deactivated. This letter seemed like a textbook example of a phishing scam, so I didn't reply to the e-mail. I called Network Solutions technical support instead and after waiting on hold for fifteen minutes, talked to a friendly technician who informed me "Yes, the letter I received was genuine." "I bet you've received a lot of calls like mine this morning," I told the lady. "Yes, we  have." she said. "Why on earth would you format a letter to your customers so it would appear exactly like a phishing scam," I asked? The tech support lady didn't have an answer to this obvious questions, and blamed everything on ICANN instead. I made a mental note to move the rest of my domains to GoDaddy.

I think I solved the second of my three vexing website problems today. Only one more to go. I don't feel much joy as I continue to wade through this labyrinth of broken code and unrealistic expectations though. Times have changed and all I'm really doing is bailing water out of a leaky boat. Some people spend so much of their lives online these days that they start to think of their website as a member of the family. To me, a website today is not that different from what a Yellow Pages ad was to people in the 1950's. The difference is that back then, people wouldn't compulsively stare at the phone book all day.

It's getting harder and harder for me to eat oatmeal for breakfast every day. I made myself a sausage omelet this morning instead. The Kale salads in the evening aren't as tasty as they used to be either. The dilemma I'm facing is that I now know exactly what to do keep diabetes at bay, avoid a heart attack, and ensure that my liver stays healthy. There is no question that a good diet is the unequivocal secret to staying healthy. Just about anybody could lose weight, lower their blood sugar, and clear their clogged arteries just by eliminating all packaged and processed foods from their diet. No sugar, no salt, and no alcohol is a perfect recipe for no fun though. I have a lot of willpower, so I imagine I'll stick with this healthy way of eating, even though I'd rather subsist on cheeseburgers, pizza, and beer. Where's the fun going to come from though? In my younger years, most of my fun came from indulgent, self-destructive behavior. I'm not sure I've been passionate about anything healthy in my life.

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 1589

I stopped to get some tickets to a neighborhood tour of homes when I was driving home from the post office today. Unfortunately, they wouldn't take credit cards, so I'll have to make another trip later. Sometimes these local home tours are fun. I know where most of the houses are and and am often curious what they look like on the inside. Our house could easily be on one of these home tours if we had picked designer decor instead of Dalmatians many years ago. I'm glad we picked Dalmatians though, even though they've made a mess of the doors and the furniture.

If you know where to look, you can still see impressions in the woodwork left by Spot's puppy teeth when he was teething.  There is still a giant hole that Petey tore in the carpet while he was trying to dig a hole to China during a thunderstorm. I've conveniently covered up the hole by placing the large format printer on top of it. Greta was the most destructive. She chewed holes in most of the decorative throw pillows in the living room and completely destroyed a beautiful set of Palazzetti Tomasa dinning room chairs. Despite all this, there is no doubt that the dogs have made me a better person. I don't care about all the dents and scratches. It wasn't always this way. If you think I'm OCD now, you should have seen me back in the days when I arranged all the furniture with zen-like precision and didn't even want anyone to sit in it.

We watched a news crew from the local NBC affiliate set up for a live segment on the evening news while we were taking our evening walk. It looked like a big deal because they even had a news helicopter overhead. There's a big controversy right now about building a restaurant in the park. The city wants the restaurant. The neighbors don't. I have a feeling that the neighbors will ultimately lose this battle, but who knows. The city has already turned an arboretum on the other side of the park into a hugely profitable venture. They'd probably like to do the same thing with our section of the park. I'm sure the park department would monetize every square inch of the park if they could get away with it. Personally, I don't mind the idea of a restaurant. I don't like to drive and it would give me a place to eat that I could easily walk to. I do hate the city's efforts to turn the park into an urban entertainment center though. When I first moved to the neighborhood, the park wasn't even on the city's radar. It was largely abandoned and seemed authentically wild and natural. Now it's just becoming a park department version of Disneyland.

Dash sailed though his annual physical with flying colors today. This is usually when he gets his rabies shot and any other necessary vaccinations, but we decided to wait on these until his cancer treatment is finished. Dash has more than enough to deal with right now, without the addition of even more meds that might cause an adverse reaction or additional stress. We'll catch up on the vaccinations later.

Work has been unusually slow this month. Since I had the time, I decided to gather up all the twigs and dead limbs I could find and take them out to the street for bulky trash day. I was surprised that there was still so much brush around the yard to gather up. Wasn't this what I hired the landscape guys to do last month?  At any rate, for the first time in about six months, I managed to get this chore completed before big trash day. I think the trucks are coming to pick things up tomorrow.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Day 1588

I realized this morning that I've got an appointment for the dogs at the vet every single day this week. Today Dash had his fifteenth radiation treatment. Tomorrow he gets his annual physical and vaccinations. Wednesday it's more radiation therapy. Thursday Dot gets her weekly acupuncture and water therapy. Friday we finish things out with Dash's next to last radiation treatment. It's a good thing that I've got a flexible schedule.

I was expecting terrible weather today, but most of the bad storms went to the North of us. We still got a little thunder and lightning, but now that Dot's hearing isn't so good, the storms don't tend to bother her as much. The loud severe weather alerts that take over the TV from time to time during storm season bother Dot more these days than the thunder itself. I guess we're in the middle of tornado season, but it hasn't been so bad this year. Like I've said many times, you can never figure out Texas weather.

One by one, my laundry list of website problems is starting to get resolved. Today, the recalcitrant forms on one site finally started working again. Maybe one of the dozens of calls I made to technical support eventually resonated with someone. Hopefully, I can now check this problem off my list and move on to other things. Maybe this problem got solved first because it was basically a coding issue. Broken code is always easier to fix than finding the answer to vexing questions like "why isn't my site popular?"

I've been watching this show about FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals, Alabama on PBS this evening. I'd forgotten how many amazing songs had been recorded there. The show seemed like the sound track to my life. Everything from Percy Sledge's When a Man Loves a Woman, to the Rolling Stones Brown Sugar, and Paul Simon's Kodachrome were recorded at FAME Studios. Lynyrd Skynyr's Sweet Home Alabama was actually about Muscle Shoals. I only mention all this because this particular music is one of the few things that still manages to break through my somewhat stony indifference. I loved playing these songs when I was a bass player in an obscure rock band. When I wrote jingles for commercials, I would occasionally daydream about quitting my job as an advertising copywriter and moving to Nashville. It never happened though.

I guess everything works out as it should though. I've got no complaints. I understand Dalmatians better than most men and take some damn nice pictures of local wildflowers. All that being said, I still might dust off the guitar tomorrow and play a few tunes to make the day go faster.

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 1587 - Easter

I hope everyone had a pleasant Passover, Easter, or just a nice day. I certainly did. I knew it was going to rain sometime today, so I thought I'd get up early and get a lot done while the sun was still shining. As luck would have it, the skies were clear and sunny for most of the day. I got the lawn mower running and got the front yard looking decent again. I think the cause of my battery problems is my battery charger. It no longer shuts itself off when it reaches a full charge. I'll have to remember to manually unplug the thing this Summer after it charges for about three hours. Otherwise, I'll burn up the new battery fairly quickly.

After I got the yard looking nice, I weeded a few flower beds. I encountered quite a few honeybees while I was working. Hopefully, they were just passing through gathering pollen. I certainly hope they aren't planning on building another huge hive in my house. Once you've been stung by a bunch of angry bees, you don't tend to forget.

I took some more stuff to the storage warehouse this afternoon. If I lived in a rural area and had a bigger yard, I'd buy one of those metal warehouse buildings that all farmers seem to have. I'd fill it with industrial metal shelving and alphabetize each aisle from A to Z. I'd take great pleasure in categorizing and archiving all my stuff, until the zombie apocalypse came and I realized that all my treasured tools were hopelessly rusty with completely dead batteries. Janet thinks I'm dangerously close to becoming a hoarder, but I think my pack-rat tendencies are no worse than her own tendencies to always buy in bulk to take advantage of sales. I may still have every Macintosh I've ever owned, but at least I'm not responsible for the year's supply of soup in the kitchen pantry.

Today is a huge day for family picnics in the park. Typically, one family member arrives early in the morning to stake out a picnic table and the rest of the family arrives later. Some people erect elaborate tents and put up volleyball nets. By ten-thirty AM, the air is thick with the smell of barbecue and smoked meats. I try to walk the dogs in secluded areas on days like this. Dash loves an audience when he poops and never fails to embarrass me by pooping right in front of a large table of people eating their holiday dinner. There's way too much candy littering the ground too, since the kids seems to only find 50% of what their parents hide for the egg hunt. Easter candy is the last thing the dogs should be eating. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

The rain did eventually arrive late in the day, but we were all safely back inside by then, eating our Easter dinner. A great dinner is always a nice way to end a good day. Tomorrow, Dash goes in for his fifteenth radiation treatment. I'm on the home stretch of my own Hepatitis-C treatments as well. I usually don't look forward to birthdays, but this year might be different. By June, most of this Spring's long medical journey should be in the past.

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day 1586

I got lucky today. When I went to the Interstate battery store to get my lawn mower battery repaired, the technician noticed that the defective cells he was removing from the case were still under warranty. The one year warranty on the two battery cells was going to expire in four days. I had forgotten that the old battery even had a warranty. I've just gotten used to replacing these batteries every year. At any rate, the technician refurbished my battery for free. If I had waited until next week to take care of this chore, it would have cost me $90.

I finally made it back to the gym this afternoon. I really need to figure out how to do these workouts on a more regular basis. It was starting to seem easy when I went three times a week. Now that I can only make it to the gym sporadically, these workouts are killing me. It took me about three months to build up a good rhythm and now it appears I'll have to start all over again. No rest for the weary, I guess. I don't even like going to the gym, but I do like the results. I'd hate to start gaining weight again.

While I was at the gym, Janet called and said she'd lost her car keys at the grocery store. I drove home and found a spare pair of keys to take over to her. While I was home looking for the spare keys, the dogs were very indignant that I wasn't feeding them their dinner. Both of them started barking loudly when I left the house again about five minutes later. You'd think having their dinner thirty minutes late was the end of the world.

I got another letter from the city today saying that Dash's animal registration had expired. This happens every single year. I always get new city tags for the dogs when they have their annual physical exam. My vet sends the updated information to the city immediately, but somehow the city is permanently three weeks out of sync. If they would just wait a few weeks before they send out this noncompliance letter, they might realize that Dot and Dash always have current city tags.

The park is going to be a disaster area tomorrow. Every Easter, throngs of people descend on the park to have family Easter egg hunts. Nobody hides real eggs anymore though. They all just hide candy for the kids. For weeks after Easter, I have to be especially vigilant when walking the dogs. There are are tons of candy left in the grass that the kids failed to find, along with assorted chicken bones, beer cans, and dirty baby diapers. I liked this park a lot better before the city discovered it. It's still nice on weekdays after everybody has gone to work, but weekends and holidays are a madhouse.

I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow. If the weather's nice, there are still a ton of chores with my name on them. Mowing the grass will probably be at the top of the list. If it rains tomorrow, I'll probably just take a long nap  with the dogs.
Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 1585 - Good Friday

Good Friday seems to be an optional holiday. The stock market was closed today, but the post office was still delivering mail. The Interstate Battery store, where I was going to replace my lawn mower battery, was closed, but Dash's cancer center was still open. Janet's office was officially closed, but most people went in to work anyway because they were busy. All over town, some businesses were closed and others were open in a random sort of way. This is probably just what happens to religious holidays in an increasingly secular world.

I surprised the staff at my favorite breakfast restaurant this morning by ordering something different. I must have been really bored this morning, because I always order the same thing at this restaurant. Maybe I should take a chance more often, because my alternate choice was really pretty tasty.

I wonder if there is an effective way to get telemarketers and scammers to leave you alone? I've been feeling inundated with scams lately. Phishing scams are growing increasingly sophisticated. I get dozens of these each day. It's gotten so bad that I almost don't trust any e-mail  receive these days. Today I got a realistic looking confirmation of a hotel reservation I never made. Two hours later, I got an unsolicited credit card in the mail, with a letter urging me to activate it immediately to avoid fraud. Nope! Not going to do that. Many of these phishing scams try to alarm you enough to call a fake help line were telephone operators try to grab even more of your personal information. It's such a shame that our society has come to this. If spammers and scammers put as much energy into starting a legitimate business as they did trying to cheat people, our economy would probably be booming.

I got an e-mail today telling me that my company had been recognized as a 2013 Texas Excellence Award recipient by the US Trade & Commerce Institute. I looked on the web and there really is a US Trade & Commerce Institute. Sadly, I suspect this is a scam too. There are quite a few companies in the business of selling pretty looking, but entirely bogus professional awards to excessively vain people. The pretty crystal award, which recognizes my company for "Excellence in Marketing" would certainly look good on my desk, but I'm a bit suspicious. I don't pay any attention to marketing whatsoever. What a joke! Hey, the only award I want would be to get in the Guinness Book of Records for "Most Consecutive Blog Posts."

Today wasn't very productive, but I need to start looking at the glass as half full rather than half empty. I didn't resolve any of yesterday's vexing website issues, but I did discover something new and very tasty to eat for breakfast and Dash continues to do well at his radiation treatments. He only has two more weeks to go!

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 1584

I feel like I'm locked in my own personal Ground Hog Day. I've been trying to resolve a website problem for almost two weeks now. I call technical support every morning and talk a cheerful person who seems to understand my problem. He, or she, always says the problem seems easy enough to resolve, but that it will need to be escalated to the next level of support, because they don't have access to the information I need. The next day I get an e-mail saying that my problem has been solved and my ticket has been closed. I then go to the website in question and discover that nothing has changed at all. The problem has definitely not been resolved. I then call tech support again and explain the situation to another friendly person. They apologize for the mix up, telling me that they have reopened my service ticket and that the problem will be resolved properly this time. The next day I get another e-mail saying that my problem has been solved and my ticket has been closed again. Once again, nothing has changed. This has been going on for weeks.

I'm trying to solve a different type of problem with another client and have contacted a developer who supposedly knows all the answers. Today, he sent me detailed instruction, telling me exactly what to do to make the changes my client requested. So far, so good. At the very bottom of the letter was a final paragraph telling me not to do anything to the website during business hours and to be sure to back everything up before I attempt to make any changes. The developer concludes by telling me that if I follow his instructions exactly, I still might crash the entire site. WTF? I was hoping that thy guy would give me an answer, not a roulette wheel.

I went to my hepatologist for another blood test this afternoon. From now on out, these periodic tests are somewhat of a formality. By all indications, the treatment has already worked. These guys are just playing it safe. I will continue to get bi-weekly blood tests until June, and then probably once a year thereafter. One thing I have learned during Dash's cancer treatment and my own Hepatitis-C treatment is that doctors tend to take the amount of medication necessary to resolve a serious problem and then double it, just to make sure. This is especially true with cancer, since there is no definitive way to prove that the cancer will never return.

Maybe I'll have time to get the lawn mower battery replaced tomorrow. I can't put this off too much longer, since the grass is still growing. Dash has another radiation treatment in the morning and I have an appointment with an egg at my favorite restaurant. I hope I can get some of these ongoing website problems resolved soon. It's way too late in the year for Ground Hog Day.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 1583

I ran into a group of photographers when I was walking the dogs today. They had tripods and long telephoto lenses and were attempting to photograph barn owls in a nearby tree. Surprisingly, I knew exactly which owls they were talking about. I told the photographers when I usually saw the owls and they told me that one of them recently had three babies. I hope the photographers got the pictures they wanted, because they had traveled a long way. That's the difference between me and the other people in the park. I live here. I'm not much of a naturalist, but I'm here every day, year after year. I see patterns. I can tell you when the White Pelicans leave for the Summer and when the baby ducks take to the water for the first time. I can predict when and where flowers will bloom and can tell you where the sun will touch the horizon on any given day. Some people become experts because they are passionate about a subject. My own expertise is usually acquired simply by showing up.

I know every inch of the park because I have a high tolerance for repetition. I have walked a succession of Dalmatians in the park for well over twenty years. This ability to to the same thing over and over again is why I am writing to you for the 1583rd  consecutive day. Endless repetition either drives you crazy or gives you the ability to see nuanced differences. Hopefully, I am not crazy. When I have by favorite breakfast eggs, I can tell if the chef has cooked them 15 seconds too long. When someone takes a book off the bookshelf, I instantly know which book has been removed. Inside every web page is a lot of HTML code that is very similar to all other web pages. The same can be said of print advertising. The only important thing is the headline. The text is just words place together in familiar patterns.

Maybe this is why Texas weather bothers me so much. It seems completely random. I can predict a lot of things fairly accurately, but I can't predict the weather at all. If it rained every Wednesday, I could compensate for it. I never know when it is going to rain, or snow, or when we're in the path of a tornado. The stock market is basically unpredictable as well. There are a ton of people who will tell you that they have the market figured out. Since none of these experts can predict the future, most of them have been fooled again and again.

Today was certainly predictable. Dash had another radiation treatment at the cancer center. I got my exercise by sweeping standing water off the roof. I made an omelet for breakfast using a recipe that became stuck in my head long before I ever moved to Texas. I used to wonder how dogs could get so excited about eating the same bowl of kibble over and over again for breakfast. I do the same thing though. Maybe we just like the ritual of eating. Whatever it is, I think dogs have discovered the secret of life. Eat. Sleep. Play. Repeat. That just about covers it for me.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 1582

Not a bad day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was cool enough to keep the dogs happy, and warm enough to keep me happy. There aren't many days like this in Texas, so I try to take advance of them. As an added bonus, I was able to start the day off with a clear view of the total "blood moon" eclipse. As luck would have it, I actually did wake up to to to the bathroom about 2:30 AM and this was just about the middle of the eclipse in our time zone. I'm glad I went outside and took a look, since the dark red moon was quite spectacular. Red was definitely the theme of the night sky, since Mars made it's closest approach to Earth last night as well, glowing a rusty red slightly to the right of the blood red moon.

When the dogs were younger, it would have been impossible to go out in the back yard in the middle of the night without Dot racing out the back door and waking up the entire neighborhood with her barking. Neither dog woke up at all last night and slept soundly through the entire eclipse. I'm glad they didn't wake up. As soon as Dot and Dash wake up, they think it is breakfast time.

I generally don't like meetings, but I had a surprisingly good meeting with a client this afternoon. We tackled a tough problem and came up with a innovative solution that we both thought would work. Trust me. This doesn't happen very often at client meetings. I even got the go-ahead to develop a prototype and see if the idea works. If this happened every day, or even every week, I might actually enjoy working.

My mechanic called today and told me he might have a buyer for my old Maserati. The potential buyer is some guy in Holland why likes to buy cars in American and ship them back to Europe to restore. Unfortunately, the guy wants the car for a dirt cheap price. I could get a lot more for the car if it was running, but then I'd have to pay quite a bit to make the necessary repairs. Some of the parts the car needs are virtual impossible to find anymore. They just don't exist. My gut tells me that it would probably be better to sell the car "as is" in non-running condition. I could spend a small fortune fixing the thing with no guarantee of finding a buyer when all the repairs were finished. Selling an old car is a lot like selling real estate. Often the best time to sell is when you actually have a buyer.

I'm proud of myself. Janet got a free loaf of delicious looking artisan bread from Central Market last week when she was grocery shopping. So far, I haven't touched the bread, even though I would have loved to have turned half the loaf into a big stack of french toast this morning. As tempting as french toast drenched in maple syrup sounded, I had my regular bowl of oatmeal and fruit instead.

Sometimes it's hard to stay strong, but when I was watching Dot trotting along in the water treadmill this afternoon, I kept thinking "Hey, if she can do it, so can I."

Krissy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 1581

I can see the writing on the wall. I think I need to get out of the website business. All my clients are unhappy. They're not upset with the design or the writing on their sites. They all think that whenever someone searches for their type of business on Google, they should be at the top of the list. I try to tell them it's not that easy when you've got ten million other companies who also want to be at the top of the list. It used to be relatively easy to get on page one of a Google search, but when everybody on the planet has a website, the game changes a bit.

I know a lot of the unhappy folks think it's my fault that they're not on page one of every Google search, but there's not all that much I can do. I tell them why time honored SEO tricks don't work anymore and why Google wants everyone to buy Adwords, but they don't want to listen. Adwords are expense. SEO companies are expensive too, and don't always produce results. Most of my clients don't want expensive. They want their website to be like Facebook. Facebook is free. Their friends notice their Facebook posts too, so they think everyone should notice their website. Sorry guys. It just doesn't work that way.

I had to turn the furnace back on this morning. The temperature dropped from yesterday's balmy 80 degree weather, to a damp, chilly 40 degrees this morning. Winter is not giving up without a fight this year. I didn't think I would have to wear my goose down ski jacket again, but that's what I had on this morning when I walked Dot. With the addition of a nasty thirty mile an hour wind, it actually seemed a lot colder than 40 degrees.

I never dreamed that Dash would be so eager to go in for cancer treatments. He know when he gets radiation now, and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he's the first one up. Often he is waiting at the front door for us to put his harness on while we are still getting dressed. I'm really glad that he likes the other dogs at the cancer center and seems to think we're taking him to doggie day care. It's definitely not what I expected though.

I'd love to see tonight's total lunar eclipse. I'll probably miss it though. In the Central Time zone, the eclipse doesn't even start until 1 AM and won't reach totality until 2:45 AM. My only chance of seeing the thing is if I wake up to go to the bathroom during the middle of the night and happen to look out the window. There was a time when I would have spent hours setting up telescopes and cameras to document an event like this, but not anymore. I've seen dozens of lunar eclipses and they're all pretty much the same. Anyway, there will be tons of pictures of the moon on Facebook tomorrow anyway.

I moved Dot's acupuncture appointment to tomorrow, since I have a doctor's appointment when she typically goes for acupuncture and water therapy. I need to remember to send in my Quarterly Estimated Taxes tomorrow as well. I got another jury summons in the mail today, so I guess they didn't forget about me after I postponed my jury duty last month. I don't know why they would want me on a jury anyway. I'm convinced that everyone is guilty before I even get to the courtroom.

Flash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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