Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 1628

Sometimes I wonder what is going to happen on Day 2000, or Day 5000. On any given day, what I write is trivial, but I keep on writing for the same reason I keep doing a lot of things. I always think that if I just continue doing what I'm doing a little longer, it will eventually add up to something. Maybe it will in this case. How many people have even attempted to document every single day of their life? Probably not many. I've only been doing this for about five years and I'm already starting to see subtle changes in the way I think and act. Maybe you are too.

Aging is a tricky business. At first you deny it. Then you fight it. Finally, you embrace it. I spent so many years in advertising that I probably held on to my youth for much longer than I should have. It's a business where youth is worshiped and age is discarded. In my early thirties, we always used to wonder where they put the 40 year old ad guys out to pasture. We never saw any. If you wanted to keep your job and prosper, you needed to figure out how to stay young.

I find that I no longer care what people think of me or how old I might appear. I've become one of those people who talks back to the television, drives slower than the rest of the traffic, and feels no shame in wearing the same shirt for days at a time. In the beginning I briefly thought that having a blog might help my business. Later, I entertained the idea that I was a humor writer who always saw the glass as half empty. Now, I realize that what I'm doing is accurately describing the aging process, one day at a time. If you only read the blog sporadically, it probably seems like an Andy Warhol movie. Nothing seems to happen. If you started reading on Day 1 and continue reading until the end, you might discover something quite remarkable. On the other hand, you might discover nothing at all. Like I said, aging is a tricky business.

Today, I opened a check from a client and discovered that it wasn't all there. I'd been shortchanged. Either this client is having money problems and couldn't send me any more this month, or they're just fucking with me. Either way, it's not a good sign. I wish money was no longer an issue, but I'm afraid it always will be. Globalization has changed everything. A few people have been able to make the transition and everyone else is fighting over table scraps. The way I see things, if you don't lose your job to someone in a third world country who is willing to work for pennies, you will be replaced by a robot.

I will never be replaced by a robot, but my writing and photography efforts have certainly been marginalized by a sea of people who have turned my profession into their own hobby. Everyone is creative these days. It's hard to compete with that. I shouldn't complain though. I'm much healthier than I ever though I'd be five years ago. I've got two great dogs. Janet seems to tolerate me. And even though the market is terrible, my financial advisor tells me that I still stand a reasonable chance of outliving my savings.

I don't believe him of course, because I know he always sees the glass as half full. Who knows what will really happen? It's all a crap shoot as far as I'm concerned. I guess you'll have to keep reading to find out.

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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 1627

The day started out well. We had a nice walk this morning and there were even patches of blue sky, instead of the predicted rain. I had a fabulous breakfast at my favorite restaurant, got groceries for the weekend, and then returned home to begin the day's work. I made surprisingly good progress on several writing assignment and even thought I might have time to go to the gym this afternoon. Then I hit the save button in my open Microsoft Word document and nothing happened. I kept getting a message saying that I didn't have the right permissions to save anything to my own hard drive.

This has happened before. For a computer system that is supposed to be as effortless and trouble free as a Mac, permissions problems are surprisingly frequent. It's a lot harder to repair a drive or a volume than it used to be too. Life was so much easier when you could just slap the appropriate CD in a slot and repair your drive locally. Now you have to re-boot your computer holding the option key down and select a special online disk repair utility. When you re-boot this way, the computer doesn't recognize any of your stored passwords, so I had to search all over the office for my WiFi password before I could even access the handy fix-it tools hidden away in the cloud. It took me forever to find this unnecessarily long and extremely easy to forget password, but eventually I was able to get online, find the repair utility and repair my hard drive. I never did figure out why my disk permissions had gone bad in the first place, but I wouldn't be surprised if Google or Amazon had something to do with it. According to my Little Snitch application,  these two snoopy companies are constantly trying to access my data. By the time I finally managed to repair and save my hastily written Microsoft Word file, it was pointless to go to the gym. It was almost time to feed the dogs again.

I'm seeing a lot more bunnies and baby ducks this Spring. I suspect this means that the neighborhood coyote pack has moved on to greener pastures. One year the coyotes had their den in a dense grove of trees near our house and they decimated the small animal population in the park. I would see duck and bunny carcasses almost every morning. Sometimes the pack would wake me up in the middle of the night when they were making a kill. It was kind of spooky. I like that the owls and hawks feed on the ubiquitous mice and rats in the park, but I would just as soon see the coyotes go elsewhere. If the new neighborhood cat knew about the coyotes, it would definitely want to be an indoor cat.

It seems like it should be a holiday weekend since is so near the end of the month, but I guess that was last weekend. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow. I could always clean the house, pull weeds, or stock up on toilet paper at Sam's Club, but I hope I find something more exciting to do.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 1626

We all keep getting healthier. Dot had dental x-rays today and got years of tartar removed from her teeth. There were no abscesses and no teeth needed to be pulled. Now that Dot and Dash both have clean, pretty teeth, I'm the only one who still needs to go to the dentist. I'm always a little worried when Dot needs to go under anesthesia, since she's so old, but she did fine. She even took a walk this evening.

I got a call from one of the nurses at the liver center saying that my hemoglobin and blood platelet levels had all returned to normal. I won't need another blood test until July. Now that Dot's seizures and muscle atrophy has been stabilized, Dash's cancer is either in remission or entirely gone, and I have been cured of Hepatitis C, my faith in doctors and veterinarians has been renewed. It's really been a pretty remarkable Spring.

I managed to get quite a bit done today while I was waiting for Dot's dental procedure to be completed. I finished a rather lengthy article, retouched some images for a client in Photoshop, and did several loads of laundry. You notice how I lump my creative efforts in with doing the laundry? It's all the same to me. I do think I'm a good commercial writer, but my work appears on cereal boxes and in the junk mail you receive. You can't really take it too seriously.

I think I've figured out why the new cat in the neighborhood wants to spend so much time in our yard. This morning while I was walking Dash, I saw one of the regular neighborhood alley cats chase the new cat at full speed all the way down the alley, hissing all the way. Apparently all the existing alley cats have their own territories and don't tolerate interlopers well. They don't like the new cat and want to keep all the mice and rats to themselves. The new cat apparently thinks our yard is a safe zone, since the alley cats don't come here. The little cat should have asked the alley cats why they don't come here. Sorry, little cat. No safe zone here either. Your new owners need to keep you indoors.

The weather forecast has been wrong every day this week. Severe weather and thunderstorms have been predicted every single day, but so far we've only had a few light showers. This has been great news for me. I managed to get all my important out-of-the office errands completed without the worry of hail damage to my car, or a stray tornado hitting the house. If we can just keep this dry streak going for one more day, I might be able to enjoy my regular Friday breakfast outing as well.

I'm not sure what I'll be working on tomorrow. I'm just sure it's going to be Friday. That's enough for me.

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 1625

Medicine gives my life structure. The doctors, veterinarians, pharmacists, and technicians have become my equivalent of co-workers. I've seen some of these people periodically for many years. A few have even become clients. These people know me by name and we exchange the same kind of banter that regular co-workers do on a coffee break. The blood tests are becoming less frequent now. Dash and I have both moved on. I had a routine blood test at the liver center this morning, just to make sure my hemoglobin levels were returning to normal. Pretty soon, these tests will cease completely. You'd think I'd be delighted to put this all behind me, but even though I'm delighted that Dash and I are getting better, I'm going to miss the interaction. I like asking questions and learning something new. That's what you do with doctors and pharmacists. You ask lots of questions.

The neighbor's cat returned to our yard again today and drove the dogs crazy. Our neighborhood is filled with feral cats. Most of them learned to avoid dogs years ago, so it's still rare to actually have a cat in the yard. You'd think that one little cat couldn't cause so much chaos, but Dot and Dash have always seen a cat as a sign of the apocalypse. I had to remove the cat from the yard three times before it decided to look for mice elsewhere. It's a friendly little cat and I don't want the dogs to hurt it. I wish the neighbors wanted to keep their new pet indoors, but they obviously don't. You can't really convince people that having a barn cat in the city isn't right. If they think their cat is happier outdoors, you're not going to convince them otherwise. These outdoor/indoor cats do seem to enjoy roaming around and catching mice and birds. Unfortunately, my dogs enjoy catching cats. Dalmatians seem slow to learn that the cat usually has the upper hand in a confrontation. I had to take Spot, our first Dalmatian, to the vet several times when he got too close to a cat and it scratched him on the nose.

I'm pretty much caught up with work again. I checked the article I wrote yesterday for spelling errors and submitted it for publication. I made some minor website updates and uploaded them to the server. That was about it. The remainder of the day was spent going to the bank, picking up prescriptions, and dealing with the curious cat in the yard.

Although the forecast predicted rain again, it was actually pretty dry today. There were lots of dark clouds, but most of the thunderstorms went either to the North or the South of us. Since it was pretty dry, I went up on the roof and removed the standing water. This almost guarantees that it will rain again tomorrow, but I can't leave the water up there too long. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and I don't want my house to become a source for West Nile Virus in the neighborhood.

Dot gets her teeth cleaned tomorrow. This means she has to fast tonight and won't get the usually treats just before bed. We'll drop her off at the vet early tomorrow morning and if things go well, she'll return with sparkling white teeth by mid-afternoon. Hopefully, this will be the last vet procedure that either dog will need for a while.

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 1624

I got up early to walk the dogs before Dash's 8:30 AM vet appointment. Although the skies looked dark and foreboding during the entire walk, we hardly got wet at all. Just a few sprinkles. No rain during the trip to the vet either. We got lucky. Dash is now current on all his vaccinations and should only have to go to the vet once a month for routine chemotherapy blood tests.

Today was busier than I expected. I completed a big website revision and returned to writing again, completing my first new article in over a week. It's good to stay busy as long as you're not too busy. Today was just about right.

Sometimes I wonder whether the Internet is increasing knowledge and awareness at all. Lately, it seems that our interconnected world is just providing a forum for idiots to find their soulmates. Today, I followed two different threads on Facebook that would have been hard to take seriously if it weren't for the hundreds of people who fervently seemed to believe them. One thread was filled with people claiming that airplanes never crashed into the world trade center towers and that the entire event was an elaborate illusion created by the CIA using holographic projections of commercial aircraft coordinated by a nearby invisible B2 bomber. I'm not making this stuff up. Next was an old thread that resurfaces every once in a while, claiming that the moon landings were a hoax and that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin never went to the moon at all. Why do people love conspiracies so much?  It's been around forever. Kennedy was assassinated by the mafia. All new advances in technology have been reverse engineered from wreckage found in the Roswell flying saucer. I was shocked to read recently that almost 40% of the world's population don't even believe the Holocaust ever happened. I guess it's not surprising that Duck Dynasty, The Kardashians, and monster truck shows are so popular. We're doomed.

I try not to get involved in arguments about whether we went to the moon, or if there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark. It's just not worth it. If I can't even convince the dogs that the cat they're obsessed with had left the yard, how am I going to convince someone that there's nothing worth looking at in Area-51? The ironic thing is that conspiracies do exist. We just don't seem to care about the real ones. I'm sure that the NSA knows much, much more about all of us than we could ever imagine. We did go to the moon though.

If I don't make an appointment to go to the dentist within the next month, I need to have my head examined. Despite brushing several times a day and using a water pic, I've still got a tooth that bothers me. I've also got a persistent metallic taste in my mouth, but I don't think that has anything to do with dental hygiene. The metallic taste is probably a side effect of the Metformin I take to control blood sugar. I wonder if I even need to take Metformin anymore? I've dramatically cut back on my sugar intake during the past year. Who knows if I am even at risk for developing diabetes? My blood chemistry is close to perfect now. I am at risk for needing a root canal though. Remind me to make a dental appointment soon.

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 1623 - Memorial Day

It was not an eventful day. It rained sporadically, but not nearly as much as I expected. Janet ignored the holiday and went in to work. I tried to ignore the fact that I didn't have much work. I added some new cats an animal rescue website, but that was about it. This task only took a couple of hours, so there was still plenty of time to wonder what to do with the day.

At one point, I got so bored that I took a camera out in the back yard and photographed squirrels. They looked exactly the same as all the other squirrels I've photographed though. Nothing new here. I thought about getting the guitar out of the closet and seeing what I remembered, but the dogs were restless, so I took them on a surprise mid-day walk instead. Since the weather was cool, they both enjoyed the additional activity. Even Dot seemed strong today.

It would have been a good day to go to the gym, if I hadn't just been yesterday. Any time I've gone two days in a row, I usually regret it the next morning. Exercise is great, but the last thing I want to do now is dislocate my shoulder or throw my back out again. If work doesn't pick up again soon, they'll be plenty of time to return to the gym later this week.

I kind of wish we'd had our severe weather today, since I was prepared for it. The bad weather isn't over yet, unfortunately. The rain just got postponed and should arrive tomorrow or Wednesday. If it's going to rain tomorrow, I hope it waits until I get Dash back from the vet. He's got an early appointment tomorrow morning.

I thought that the park would be packed with picnickers since today was a holiday. It was relatively empty though. Maybe everybody else was expecting severe weather as well. If you listened to last night's weather report on TV, the last thing you'd probably want to plan today was a barbecue in the park.

We'll see what happens tomorrow. Dash gets a Leptospirosis vaccination. I'll probably just get oatmeal. If it does rain, I hope there's no thunder and lightning. Dot doesn't need that kind of stress at her age. Whatever happens, we'll work on making it a calm, peaceful day. I've learned that when the dogs are happy, I'm a lot happier too.

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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 1622

On my way to the gym on Sunday, I often listen to the TED Radio Hour in the car. The show starts at 2 PM, and by coincidence, that's usually when I leave for the gym. TED talks are one of the few things I continually find interesting. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but these wide ranging talks can be about virtually anything. I always learn something. I wish there was a station that ran these talks non-stop, because they are a lot more interesting than listing to Hip Hop, old 80's rock, or ads from mattress stores. Today's talk was about fear and I listened to a fascinating conversation with astronaut Chris Hadfield as he explained what it was like to be strapped to the top of a rocket when the odds were about 1 in 35 that it would explode.

The odds were much better that I'd have a good workout today. I'm getting stronger now. I'm sure that having a fully functioning liver again helps. If I can manage to find the time to get back to my goal of three good workouts a week, I imagine I'll really start seeing some progress. Something is always better than nothing though, so for the moment, I'm trying to make the most of my once a week schedule.

I wrote my monthly essay for my writers group this afternoon. Why this afternoon? Well, the deadline was today. Like I've said many times, I'm very deadline oriented. Without a deadline, I'd probably do nothing. I'm skeptical of people who tell me that they are motivated by simply loving what they are doing. That isn't enough for me. I need a deadline, combined with the fear of public humiliation, to find the motivation I need.

The neighbor's new cat returned to our yard this morning. It's a shame that Dot has such a strong prey drive, since the little cat is very friendly. I think it has decided that it would rather live with us than with the people next door who adopted it. I've got to figure out how to convince the neighbors to keep their new cat indoors. If this is going to be an outdoor cat that is attracted to our yard, Dot will eventually hurt the cat, or hurt herself. She is much too old and frail to be chasing cats.

We had burgers and home made potato salad for dinner. It seemed like a perfect meal for a three-day weekend. I'll be the first to admit that I've led a fairly sheltered life. Like many baby boomers, I spent my life living between major wars and never served in the armed services. The period between the Vietnam War and the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was probably the longest period of extended peace in our country's history. It's easy for people like me to forget what this Memorial Day holiday really means. My parents both served proudly in World War II. They had something most of my own generation lacks. Patriotism wasn't just a word to them, it was a way of life. In honor of their service and of the service of the thousands who continued to fight and die after them, I hope that we can all agree to start treating our veterans better. It is simply unbelievable to me that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay receive better medical care than many of our own veterans. Maybe this Memorial Day holiday, we can finally decide as a country that the time has come to do much, much better.

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 1621

Most of the neighborhood cats have learned to avoid our yard. Dot and Dash love to chase cats. There hasn't been a cat in the yard for quite a while, so I was surprised when I saw both dogs circling a tree today and barking like a pair of Coonhounds. I suspected that they were barking at a possum and went out to investigate. There was a scared little orange tabby sitting up in a branch. I recognized the cat. It was the same one my neighbor had lost two days ago. They had just adopted the cat and it ran out an open door and escaped the day after they brought it home. When I got the dogs back inside again, I talked the cat out of the tree and took it back to the neighbor's house. Hopefully, this will be an indoor cat. If it's an outdoor cat who decides to hang around our yard, it's going to be miserable. I need to go look for dead birds in the yard tomorrow morning. Usually, when there's a cat in the yard, there's a dead bird nearby.

We went and photographed a new dog at the Dalmatian Rescue kennel today. Max was a very small male and is a bit shy. We was very friendly though and will make someone a wonderful pet. I used to find myself taking pictures of new members of the rescue program almost every week. There aren't nearly as many abandoned Dalmatians anymore though. That's a good thing. There are so few Dalmatians in the rescue program now that there's a waiting list to adopt one. That's a good thing too.

Dash finally got a bath today. Considering how much he generally hates getting a bath, he was surprisingly good today. Maybe after all he's been through at the cancer center, he finally realized that getting a bath isn't a big deal. He does seem more comfortable now that he's clean again. There wasn't nearly as much scratching and itching today.

I'll be glad when the Spring allergy season is over. My eyes itch and water constantly now. I practically have to carry a bottle of Visine around in my pocket these days. It's a shame that my allergies are worst during the one time of year when the weather is nice in Texas. By the middle of June, the seasonal allergies have usually disappeared, but so has the nice weather.

I think I'll go to the gym tomorrow. Once a week isn't great, but it's better than nothing. Since life is slowly returning to normal, I may be able to find time to go two times a week soon. It won't be next week however. Dash gets his annual vaccinations on Tuesday. I go for another blood test on Wednesday. And Dot has an appointment for her dental cleaning on Thursday. There's rain in the forecast for next week as well. I'll be glad when Dot's dental exam is over. She's pretty old to have anesthesia, but we don't want her to get gingivitis or gum disease either. Her rear molars look pretty bad too and the vet says she really needs her teeth cleaned. I guess there's always something to worry about.

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

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 1620

I would have preferred to sleep in this morning, but Dot had other ideas. When Dash and I didn't get up immediately, she started barking at us. Dot was ready to walk. I've learned not to ignore a barking Dalmatian, because they'll just keep barking forever. I put the leashes on and we were on our way by 6:30 AM. It was just as well that we left the house early. There was a breeze and the temperature was still nice and cool. When the weather is this pleasant, Dot is still able to go the full two miles. Maybe that was why she was so eager to get started early.

As soon as we return from these morning walks, these two high energy dogs immediately go to sleep. I don't know if they are worn out, or just lazy. It's probably a little bit of both.

While the dogs were sleeping, I went out for breakfast. I parked between a Ferrari and a beat up Kia. When I got inside, I couldn't tell who belonged to which car. Everyone looked the same. It's that kind of place. Breakfast was delicious as usual, and when I couldn't linger any longer, I went to the grocery store and got some fresh food for the weekend.

I got such an early start this morning that it was only 10 AM by the time I returned and sat down at the computer to finish the week's work. When I completed my website revisions for the week, I decided to tackle a tedious retouching job I'd been avoiding. I usually try to avoid doing complicated work in Photoshop when I've got deadlines. Today was as good a day as any however, since I haven't had a tight deadline all week.

There's a big meteor shower tonight, but I won't be able to see it since it's cloudy outside. I probably wouldn't see much anyway. The sky never really gets dark in the city. You can see the moon and the bright planets, but that's about all. I could go out in the country to watch the night sky, but I probably never will. My fascination with astronomy is about the same as my obsession with guitars. There's a lot of interest, but not much action.

We've got a three-day weekend on the way. There are supposed to be thunderstorms on Memorial Day, but you never know here in Texas. Two days from now, the forecast could be completely different. I'm hoping for another nice day.

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 1619

I think one of my clients has fired me. They haven't told me yet, but I see all the signs. The workload has slowed down. I'm starting to get that weird "it's not you, it's me" vibe from the client. And most telling of all, I saw an ad today searching for my replacement. Oh, well. I thought I did a good job. For the most part, I even enjoyed working with these guys. Nothing lasts forever though. I learned that a long time ago.

What I work on changes continually. At the first of the year I was doing mostly writing. Now, after almost two years of inactivity, my photography business has mysteriously come alive again. It's hard to believe that when I started my company in 1990, I was doing big budget network TV commercials. Things ebb and flow on an almost daily basis and I've never been able to predict what's coming next. That's why I wear many hats. I'm still busy, but I no longer look for new business. I've grown tired of updating Photoshop and Dreamweaver every year, and when clients start demanding a faster, cheaper, younger version of me, I'll know it's time to retire.

Until then, I'll just take things one day at a time. Today I helped one client find some pictures for a brochure and helped another edit an article she wrote. The weather was nice and the dogs got two very pleasant walks. I was hungry and finished off the last of the fresh food in the refrigerator. Tomorrow I'll go to the store again. I found some bleach in the utility room and cleaned up the blood stains Dash had made on the wall the day he came home from the cancer center with a bloody tail. Yes, I know that was several weeks ago, but it takes me a while to get around to things.

I've already taken the trash out to the curb for tomorrow morning's pickup and washed a load of towels as well. There are still several website revisions to complete, but I think I'll save those for tomorrow. It's always nice to have something to do on Friday. I'd watch TV if there were anything worth watching. I miss the days when there were shows like Firefly, Farscape, Babylon 5, and Lexx on TV. Nothing like that anymore, because young people seem to prefer zombies these days. There's still Dr. Who of course, but new episodes are few and far between. I think I've seen all the old episodes five times by now. I watch them every morning while I eat breakfast. I've practically memorized these old shows, but they're still better than watching the news.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 1618 - Dash's Birthday

Dash got a birthday treat today. We returned to our Wednesday evening training class for the first time this year. Dash was so excited to see the other dogs again that he could hardly contain himself. Actually, he couldn't contain himself and barked incessantly throughout the class. Everyone was really glad to see Dash again until the barking started. Then they probably remembered how peaceful it had been without him. I was actually surprised at how much Dash remembered tonight. He still did some of his exercises perfectly. It was hard to get him to sit or stay, but it didn't really matter. The class was very forgiving tonight.

I spent most of the day working on a project that doesn't even have a deadline yet. It was actually kind of relaxing to have time to experiment with things without worrying about being late. Sadly, a lot of the projects I get these days have almost impossible turnaround times. Probably the only reason I get these jobs is because I'm very fast. "Hey, can you get this back to me this afternoon," they ask?  No problem.

Somebody called this afternoon to tell me that they had my blood test results. It wasn't a voice I recognized, so I was totally confused. Were they talking about me, about Dot, or about Dash? All three of us have had blood work done recently. Eventually I realized that this was a nurse from the cancer center who was talking about Dash. Evidently, the blood panel they ran Monday when I took him in for an exam came out fine. It could have been any of us though. Dot has had blood work done recently in preparation for next week's dental cleaning. I still have frequent tests as well to make sure the Hepatitis-C virus hasn't returned. I know people who haven't had their blood tested in years. I rarely go two weeks without some kind of test.

It looks like this is going to be a good year for wildflowers. There are a rainbow of different colored blooms in the meadow behind out house. I like watching each new variety appear. This week the Firewheels started blooming. I can't remember if Firewheels are the last to bloom, or if there is another wave of flowers that has yet to appear. Even though exactly the same flowers appear year after year, it is still interesting to anticipate what I'm going to be seeing next. Some of these flowers will last into June, but by July the lush meadows will be dry and brown again.

This week has gone quickly. Not quickly enough however. I wish tomorrow was Friday. Maybe I could pretend it was Friday by going out to breakfast tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 1617

Today wasn't bad at all. My photo shoot went well. I never really know what to expect when I'm photographing animals, but these guys had my back. The images were in focus, cute, and won't require a lot of work in Photoshop. I always consider my day a success when a re-shoot won't be required.

Dot had a fabulous physical therapy session. It's hard to believe that little more than a year ago, she was having terrible seizures and her rear legs were so weak that she was having trouble walking. She's still an old dog, but she's an old dog with a lot more energy and visibly less pain. I can't attribute Dot's remarkable transformation entirely to acupuncture and water therapy, but I know they have helped. The water therapy has dramatically slowed down the atrophy in her leg muscles and the acupuncture has reduced a lot of the tension in her back and leaves her feeling much more relaxed. Did the acupuncture have something to do with eliminating Dot's seizures?  I'll probably never know for sure. I do know that since we've added underwater treadmill workouts and acupuncture to Dot's regular routine, she has become a healthier and happier dog. That's enough to make me a believer.

When we were taking our evening walk, I noticed three helicopters hovering overhead, two fire department rescue boats on the water, several fire trucks, and an ambulance. I thought somebody's sailboat had capsized again, but when I got home and turned on the news to see what had happened, I discovered that a guy had jumped off a bridge and apparently drowned. It was weird that after two hours of searching, nobody could find the guy. The news anchor covering the story said that two people saw the guy jump and immediately tried to save him. One swimmer almost reached the guy before he disappeared from view. The lake isn't that big or that deep. You'd think the guy would be easy to find if the rescue folks already knew exactly where he hit the water. It's sad that events like this have become so commonplace. Years used to go by without any sort of mishap in the park. Now, these drowning incidents seems like an almost weekly occurrence.

I'm going to have to make going to the dentist a higher priority. One of my rear molars is starting to hurt and I'm starting to worry that I might need a root canal. As many of you probably already know, I have an irrational fear of going to the dentist. I don't even like to take the dogs to the dentist, although I know it is very important. I eventually do the right thing. Dash had his teeth cleaned earlier this year and Dot has her dental appointment scheduled for next week. Yes, I know. I should probably schedule my own dental appointment as well.

I'm scared of taking the dogs to the dentist because I had a friend once who had a dog who died after a routine dental exam. I trust my vet, but I still worry. My own worries are different. Every time I go to the dentist, they want to take out my wisdom teeth. I've seen how deep the roots are on x-rays. Removing these wisdom teeth seems like major surgery. I always tell the dentist that I've had these teeth my entire life and they don't bother me. My dentist always responds by telling me that the wisdom teeth are slowly pushing all my other teeth out of place and that if I do nothing, I'll regret it later. I'm sure the dentist is right, but this does absolutely nothing to alleviate my irrational fears.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. I've got a lot of projects in the development stages, but no looming deadlines at the moment. It's hard to get me motivated without a deadline.  I've never missed a deadline, but I don't finish many things early either. You'd think there would be a few things that I'd actually look forward to doing for the shear joy of it all. What would those magical activities be? I guess they'd be like sleeping, eating breakfast, or walking the dogs on a nice day. I do enjoy those three things.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 1616

Today was a typical Monday. Everything was disorganized. Things got delayed, or in many cases, they never happened at all. Dash's routine exam at the cancer center ended up taking most of the day, mostly because there were a lot of unexpected emergencies with other dogs. Dash seemed happy about the situation though. He got to play with the other dogs at the cancer center while he was waiting to see the doctor, instead of spending another boring day at home with Dot and I. When I did go to pick him up later this afternoon, I received a glowing progress report from the oncologist. Dash is doing great! We don't have to go back for another exam until the middle of June. Dash can have a bath again now, which is very good news because he is getting filthy.

I was a bit worried that the chemo pills might be causing the diarrhea Dash was having this weekend. The nurse said that this was possible, but not very likely, since he's been taking the pills for over three months now with no adverse effects. She said it was much more likely that he ate a small lizard. Apparently a lot of dogs have been finding lizards in the yard this Spring. Sounds about right. Actually I did see Dash chasing a lizard in the yard last week. It wouldn't have been hard for him to catch one without us noticing.

Not only have real estate taxes gone up this year, our homeowners insurance rates just went up as well. When real estate values dropped significantly after the big market crash in 2008, real estate taxes and insurance rates didn't go down at all. They just held steady for a few years. Every time the real estate market rebounds however, taxes and insurance rates immediately go up. This is what is happening this year. We've had a little rebound and the city and county can't wait to get their hands on this new source of revenue. Somehow this doesn't seem very fair, but as we all know, taxes almost never go down.

I fell asleep briefly at the computer a few minutes ago. This is the second time this month this has happened. Jeez, if I can't even stay awake writing the blog, lord knows how you guys feel reading it every day. You never know though. Things still happen. Just not every day.  Maybe tomorrow will be exciting. It certainly should be busier. Dot has her weekly acupuncture and water therapy session, and I have a photo shoot. Dash has nothing planned, but he had a big day today.

If it weren't for my Spring allergies, I'd have no complaints about the weather at all. There's been enough rain to keep things green, and enough sunlight and cool breezes to keep the dogs and I happy. Today was absolutely beautiful.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 1615

The gym is always empty on nice sunny days. I guess most active people prefer to be outside on days like this. Inside is fine by me. The temperature is a constant 72 degrees, the air is filtered, and the lighting is subdued. I don't have any problems with Spring allergies when I go to the gym. Outdoors it's a completely different story.

I spent quite a while outdoors this morning, sneezing and wiping my watering eyes the entire time. I got a long pole saw and decided to remove the remaining dead limbs on the two Live Oak trees in the back yard myself. I thought the tree guys would have taken care of this when they came over a couple of months ago, but apparently these smaller dead limbs weren't in their bid. The landscape guys could have taken care of this too, but it wasn't in their bid either. Heaven forbid that anyone might decide to be proactive and do something extra. I guess that just isn't done these days.

It took quite a while to remove all the small dead limbs the power company guys left up in the trees when they were restoring power after last Winter's ice storm. They made sure that the trees weren't touching the power lines, but they couldn't be bothered to remove the branches they cut. At any rate, the work I did today was probably worth the effort. I bet if I called the tree guys to come back and do this job, they would have charged me $300.

I stopped by Central Market on the way home from the gym. I never used to go to the store this often. Everything changed when I stopped eating out of cans and started eating something fresh every evening. Things don't stay fresh all that long, so I go to the store frequently. I still think that improving my diet has done more to improve my health than anything else I've done. It's definitely been worth the effort.

Dash's health seems to be improving even more dramatically than mine. The skin on his neck is a healthy pink color now and you can barely see the incision scar from the initial surgery. He goes back to the cancer center tomorrow for a post-radiation follow up visit. I hope his doctors think he's doing as well as I think he's doing. After all he's been through this Spring, Dash is making an amazingly recovery.

Next week looks like it's going to be busy. Dash goes to the cancer center on Monday. Dot gets her acupuncture and water therapy on Tuesday. I've got a location photo shoot planned, and there are sure to be the usual writing assignments and website revisions as well. Pretty soon it will be June. Since I'm a Gemini, June is a birthday month. I'd like to say I'm getting wiser, but I'm afraid I'm just getting older.

Skippy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 1614

While I was mowing the grass this morning, I kept wondering why the weeds always seem to thrive in our yard, while the things I want to grow usually die. The rain we've had recently has given the weeds a giant head start. There are weeds trying to crowd out the Saint Augustine grass in the front yard. There are different kinds of weeds in the back yard competing with the Asian Jasmine and Liriope. Worst of all, there are aggressive climbing vines everywhere that curl around the branches of ornamental trees and kill them. I clear away mountains of these vines every year, but they always come back stronger then ever the next season. There is a nice Wax Myrtle in the front yard that the vines have just about destroyed. Usually, just about the time I've gotten the invading vines tamed, the bagworms appear and finish things off.

One reason that the weeds are so ubiquitous is that we live right near a large park that is basically miles and miles of weeds. The Texas Native Prairie that everybody loves is basically just a lot of weeds. Some of these weeds flower in the Spring and can be quite pretty, but they're still weeds. I've just about given up on weeds.

I had to go to Sam's Club today to stock up on things like bottled water, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and other stuff that is way cheaper in large sizes. I used to like stores like Costco and Sam's. I'm not so sure anymore. Customers apparently are a lot more concerned about low prices than they are about quality. To maintain the low prices that customers are hooked on, these stores have gradually been replacing top brands with lesser quality items, or in many cases, their own house brand. I would prefer that these warehouse stores just raise the prices a bit and keep the brands I like. I think I've been outvoted though. The buggies were piled high with crap today and I couldn't find anything I wanted.

I thought about going to the gym this afternoon, but mowing the lawn and fighting the weeds seemed more than enough exercise for me. Maybe tomorrow. There is still a lot that needs to be done around the house. I did manage to unclog the large printer again this afternoon, but it was a shallow victory. The printer will clog again just as quickly as the weeds I pulled this morning will grow back again. The weeds, the spider webs, the ants, and the water on the roof all seem to be more tenacious than I am.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 1613

I picked up Janet at the airport today. DFW seems to be permanently under construction these days. Every time I go to the airport there seems to be a new temporary access road to get to the terminals. Since American Airlines just got out of bankruptcy recently, I wonder where they're getting the money to finance this huge expansion. Maybe it's not a problem though. They're probably making enough from what they charge for your bags these days that they could finance several new terminal buildings.

The dogs were certainly glad that the family is back together. They don't like surprises. I wonder how they'll feel when they discover they don't have as much space on the bed tonight. It's amazing how much room two Dalmatians can take up when they put their mind to it. They didn't want to let any empty space go to waste and quickly figured out how to occupy almost the entire bed while Janet was gone. On many days, I had trouble finding even a small space for myself.

I finally got my car in for its overdue service appointment this afternoon. It costs a bit more to work on this car than the old Defender, but hopefully it won't break as often. Maybe I'll get lucky and it won't break at all for a while. There was nothing wrong when I took the car in today. It was just one of those preventive maintenance service visits where they change the oil and all the fluids and charge you a lot of money for basically nothing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure though. I always change my oil every 3000 miles, whether it needs it or not.

There still wasn't much work today, even though I did have a few website updates to complete before the weekend. It's just as well it was a light day. A trip to the airport, two dog walks, a service visit at the car dealership, some light grocery shopping, and a trip to the post office for stamps seemed to take up the entire day.

Our Spring weather continues to be exceptionally nice and I don't think it is supposed to rain all weekend. How did we get so lucky? It's still snowing in some parts of the country and California's wildfire season seems to have started early this year. Sure, we have the occasional tornado and it's beastly hot in July, but right now Texas seems like a great place to live.

Liberty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day 1612

Buzz Aldrin couldn't have said it better. "You promised me Mars colonies. Instead, I got Facebook." When I saw this quote today, it summed up the last several decades for me. There are no large dreams that capture the imagination of entire countries anymore. Instead, we have become a fractured, totally divided world that agrees on nothing and can't get behind anything of consequence. When I was growing up, the best and the brightest went to work in places like Los Alamos and Oak Ridge. Today they work for Google. I was an Oak Ridge kid myself for a while, since my Dad was doing something secret at one of the labs. My young friends and I were science nerds before the term was even invented. We were convinced that we'd be traveling among the stars by now. None of us ever dreamed we'd be downloading funny cat pictures instead.

Not only has the world become trivial, I have become trivial as well. When I was a young kid in Oak Ridge, I thought I'd be an astronomer when I grew up. I actually ended up becoming an architect. Then in my mid 20's I had an epiphany. I realized that I was a fairly shallow person and became an ad man instead. I thrived in advertising, largely because my shallow nature fit me like a glove. I thought having a few people like me made the world a more interesting place. It probably did. The entire equation changed when everyone decided to get a degree in marketing. You don't really need that many people like me. There is a reason why big companies hire most of their advanced technical talent from India and China. American college grads no longer want to split the atom and go to the moon. They'd rather have their own reality show.

I don't know where we go from here, but I do know that people like John Kennedy and Buzz Aldrin don't resonate with today's young people like they did with me. Going to the moon in ten years from a standing start was a ridiculously ambitious goal and we did it. These days it would take ten years just to agree on what we wanted to do.

I certainly didn't do much today. I went to my breakfast restaurant a day early, because I'm going to be busy tomorrow. The first thing I noticed was that the restaurant, which is typically packed on Friday mornings, was virtually empty. Could this mean that we already have a de facto four day work week? All my clients seem to have flex-time employees these days and I know quite a few people who don't work on Friday already. What's going to happen when the robots get really good?

Maybe some of my clients have started taking Thursday off as well. It was certainly slow today. The dogs got two nice walks, including one in the morning where the temperature was brisk and cool. Dot and Dash love the cooler weather. Later in the day, I filled the car with gas, went to the bank, and paid a quick visit to a Fry's electronics store in the neighborhood. The store was almost as empty as the restaurant was this morning. Sign of the times, I guess.

Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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