Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day 2207

It's been an odd year. Who would have thought that Dr. Huxtable would turn out to be a rapist, that Bruce Jenner would be named Woman of the Year, and that Donald Trump would be the most popular candidate for President of the United States. It makes you wonder what is going to happen next year. I wouldn't even hazard a guess these days. The world has simply become too strange.

I went out for breakfast this morning, just like I did last Thursday, because tomorrow is a holiday. The restaurant was empty, but the breakfast was good. When I got home I took a quick shower and got Dot ready for her weekly physical therapy session. We were late again, but so was everybody else. Last week Dot's vet told me she was coming down with the flu. It turned out she had pneumonia instead and had been extremely sick for most of the week. She said she thought she caught the bacterial pneumonia from treating a cat. I didn't even think that was possible.

Dot did very well in the underwater treadmill today. I was surprised, since she seemed slow on her morning walk. Maybe she was just slow because she had to wear her winter coat under her Help 'Em Up Harness. It was extremely cold this morning. For the past two days it has been clear outside when we start our walk, but completely cloudy by the time we return. Could sunrise and the heat of the sun cause clouds to form? I don't know enough about weather to know the answer, but it seems plausible. If it clears up in the next day or two, I'll be able to see Mercury in the evening sky right after sunset. Later in the week, Saturn will be right next to Venus in the morning sky. I enjoy watching the seasonal progression of the stars and planets. I don't particularly enjoy the seasons themselves. The weather is always too hot or too cold.

I decided to go ahead and upgrade my Avid Media Composer application like I did earlier with Pro Tools. I'd be very surprised if I got any big video production jobs next year, but if I do I'll be ready. Avid has the most convoluted upgrade process imaginable. It takes me forever to upgrade and activate their products. Today the process became even more difficult when my bank rejected the online software purchase because they said it didn't match my "buying pattern." I didn't even know I had a buying pattern. When I explained that software like this isn't something you buy everyday, they released the hold on my credit card and I began the download process all over again. I never did get around to installing the software because by the time I completed the complicated purchase, it was time for the dogs dinner. Since Dot hadn't pooped yet, I knew I was playing with fire if I altered their feeding schedule. Hopefully, I'll get around to installing Media Composer sometime this weekend. Lord knows when I'll ever get around to using it.

New Years Even is pretty quiet at our house. Years ago when I played bass guitar in a band, there would always be a big New Years Eve gig. We made some of our best money playing New Years Eve parties, but I don't remember the events as being very fun. By the time I packed up all the equipment and got home around 2 AM I was dead tired. Watching crowds of drunks from the stage while you're still sober didn't really make me want to join the festivities either. A quiet celebration with the dogs is much better. A quiet evening at home certainly seems better than watching a fireworks display while a gigantic 63 story high rise hotel goes up in flames nearby. This happened in Dubai today. People were literally standing in the streets cheering the fireworks while a skyscraper that looked like a scene from Towering Inferno burns. Unreal. Like I said, it's been an odd year.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Day 2206

Dash went to the vet today for some routine maintenance. He needed his anal glands expressed and was due for a Bordetella shot. Dot has become such a high maintenance dog that it's easy to forget that Dash still has his own needs. Luckily, he is pretty healthy right now. His cancer is still in remission and his blood pressure is finally under control. One we got the dose of Phenobarbital right, Dash hasn't had a seizure in years. When we first got the dogs, Dash was the one with multiple problems, while Dot was always a picture of health. Now it's exactly the opposite.

After I upgraded Pro Tools last week, I started thinking that maybe I ought to upgrade Media Composer as well. I don't use either of these applications very often anymore, but since they remain the gold standard for professional audio and video editing, I still like to stay in the loop. Avid Media Composer, like Pro Tools, has it's own special end-of-the-year upgrade offer. Upgrading isn't easy though. Before you download the software, you need to determine if your computer hardware will still run the newer program. You don't want to discover that you need a new operating system to use the upgrade either. Then you need to make sure your license will still be good after the upgrade. The last thing I want to do is accidentally switch my perpetual license to an annual subscription model. I think I'm OK, but I still need to make a call to customer service to make sure. Do I even need software that could be used to edit a feature film? Probably not. I'm not sure I need anything at this point in my life.

Since today was even slower than yesterday, I thought it would be a good day to repair a large rug in the living room that had gotten torn last month. Dot's rugs help give her traction and keep her from falling, but they will never get our house in Architectural Digest. Most of the rugs are pretty ugly. The torn rug was the ugliest of all, so I got a large upholstery needle from the sewing basket and hand stitched the tear back together. My stitch-work wasn't very precise or beautiful, but it did the job. The ugly rug looks much better now.

After using the dehumidifier for several weeks, the house feels much drier. The air even smells different. I wish I had bought the little machine twenty years ago. It would have made a big difference. When I started using the dehumidifier, the average humidity level in our house was over 55%. Today, the humidity inside was only 35%. This is almost Arizona desert humidity levels. I like it. The only downside to low humidity is that occasionally I wake up with nosebleeds.

I was pleased that I remembered the sanitation department was still on holiday schedule. I took the trash out last night and sure enough, a big garbage truck came lumbering down the street when we were returning from our morning walk. Now I need to remember that we go back to our regular Friday morning trash pickup next week.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, but I'll be lucky if I'm still awake at midnight. If I am awake, I'll have a glass of champagne and a slice of pumpkin pie or maybe a piece of cheese while I watch the celebration in Times Square on TV. I have no resolutions. Just the hope that Dot will stay with us one more year.

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Day 2205

It was nice to see a little patch of blue sky for a change. It was still cold and damp, but things are definitely improving. The White Pelicans have returned to the lake, which is a sure sign that Winter is here. These large birds return year after year and stay in the vicinity until Spring. The Pelican sighting was probably the high point of the day. There certainly wasn't much else going on.

Today was really uneventful. I got so bored at one point that I got in the car and got gas. I didn't really need any gas, but it was something to do. I also got a bag of Fritos, because that's what you do when you're bored. When I was fixing breakfast this morning, I dropped one of my pills on the floor and couldn't find it. I didn't want one of the dogs to eat the pill, so I stopped everything, got a flashlight and made a major search. What I discovered was a kitchen floor that was covered with dog hair, dirt, and food crumbs that Dot had dropped out of her mouth. One thing let to another and pretty soon I had the vacuum cleaner out and was cleaning the vent registers. Eventually, I found the missing pill and went back to preparing breakfast.

When I turned on the computer there was a request to make a small website update. This task only took about twenty minutes, so there was still a large chunk of time to fill. Most of my e-mail is junk, but occasionally there are great deals. The B&H Deal of the Day was a nice LED film lighting fixture that I had been thinking about getting at full price. When they knocked $300 off the retail price, it was very hard to resist. I did some quick research on Google, discovered that filmmakers generally thought this was a high quality product, and bought the light 30 minutes before the one day deal expired.

As if it wasn't already enough trouble when Dot poops in the house, she has added something new to the mix. Now, if I don't catch her quickly right after she goes, she will eat the poop. Not good. I don't know why she is doing this now, because she has never eaten poop in her life. Maybe this is just something that happens when you get old and a bit senile. On the other hand, she may have noticed all the commotion around her whenever Janet and I try to clean up her mess and she might just be trying to help.

Last year at this time I was going to physical therapy for my dislocated shoulder. The shoulder still hurts. I was taking Dot to physical therapy too, but it seems like she was a lot stronger a year ago. Maybe this is what entropy is all about. There seems to be a slow, inevitable decline to almost everything. Some days I accept this decline as gracefully as I can. Other days I wish I were 25 again.

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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Day 2204

It was 70 degrees on Friday. There were tornadoes on Saturday. Sunday there was flooding. And today feels like snow. That's almost like having all four seasons within four days. Welcome to Texas. I don't even think this was all that out of the ordinary. It was certainly cold when we took the dogs on their morning walk. It's quite an undertaking to get Dot's winter coat on under her Help 'Em Up Harness, but we managed. We were the only dogs walking this morning. It seemed a little strange that an old crippled Dalmatian still has more stamina than all the other neighborhood dogs, but that's Dot for you. She is definitely the energizer bunny of the dog world.

I didn't want to go up on the roof today, but I didn't want the water to freeze up there either. What the hell. I haven't been to the gym in a while, and I needed the exercise. I bundled up in warm clothes and swept away yesterday's rain and the few remaining leaves from the roof before the water had a chance to freeze. Since ice expands, it can cause cracks and shifting in the ceiling Sheetrock. I still haven't finished patching the ceiling after a big ice storm a few years ago. I certainly don't need more cracks. One good thing about all the recent bad weather is that the strong winds finally blew all the leaves off the trees. I won't have to worry about removing leaves from the roof for another year.

The dogs were restless today. It was too cold for them to stay outside long. And they were too bored to lay around the house all day. I was constantly letting them in and out the back door. With Dot, the simple act of going outside is a lot more trouble than it might seem. If it looks like she needs to go outside, I suit her up in her special harness and follow her out, holding up her rear end. She'll sniff the air for about thirty seconds and then decide she doesn't want to be outside after all. Back inside we come and I take the harness off again. I guess I could just leave the harness on, but I've discovered that Dot can move around on her own in the house much better without it. The harness comes on and off many times a day. It takes a certain amount of patience to keep doing this day after day.

After I cleared all the water off the roof, I came back inside and wondered what to do next. I took a shower, emptied the water that had accumulated in the dehumidifier bucket and sat down to watch the Dr. Who Christmas Special on the DVR. Most Christmas Specials seem to involve aliens invading London, but this one was a bit different. The Doctor and River Song were reunited after an absence of several years. I don't remember seeing much of River since Amy Pond and Rory discovered that she was their daughter. River has a very complicated timeline. This show was an attempt to tie up the loose ends. We finally discover exactly when the Doctor gave her the sonic screwdriver that she used in the Forest of the Dead episode. She died in this episode, but somehow came back to life later. Her final words were "You took me to Darillium to see the Singing Towers. What a night that was." Well, seven years later, this Christmas Special was when the Doctor actually did take River to see the Singing Towers. This season's scripts have been far too complicated for my taste, but I'm sure that is exactly why some people love them.

I'm not exactly sure what I'll do tomorrow. We'll have to wait until 2016 to see if I've still got a company. Nothing ever happens between Christmas and New Years. I'd like to get some interesting writing assignments next year. I'm not so sure about mobile websites. Designing responsive websites is a lot more work than I expected. We'll see. Things always improve when the days get longer. I don't do well on short, cold, grey days like these. When I was up on the roof today, I kept thinking about all the first responders toiling a few miles away helping people sorting through the soggy wet wreckage and debris left behind by the tornadoes. Where do they find the strength? I'm having trouble just dealing with dog poop.

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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Day 2203

I had no idea how bad last night's storm really was until I turned on the television this morning. This wasn't your usual Texas tornado scare. It was a major disaster. I had always thought we had been spared from tornadoes in the past because we lived next to a lake, but the worst damage from last night's storm was right next to Lake Ray Hubbard to the northeast of us. Entire blocks of houses were completely destroyed. At least eleven people died. Cars filled with people were literally blown off a freeway overpass. This was a very serious storm.

It was unbelievable how many dogs got lost during the storm. All day long my Facebook feed was filled with shared requests to look for a lost family pet. There were hundreds of lost dogs. Someone I know actually saw the tornado pass right in front of her while she was trapped on a busy road with no place to hide. We didn't realize just how lucky we were when the worst of the storm passed a few miles to the east of us on its way to causing so much destruction in Garland and Rowlett.

The tornado danger passed as soon as a cold front arrived from West Texas. The temperature dropped forty degrees, but the rain continued. It's been raining all day. I can't blame the dogs for not wanting to go outside today. I didn't want to go outside either. The rain never really stopped, but I did manage to find a few periods when it slowed down a bit. It was too cold and nasty to take Dot outside, but I did take Dash for a short walk. Luckily he was sensible enough to do his business quickly.

Other than two short walks so Dash could poop in his favorite place, I didn't leave the house all day. With the furnace working properly and the dehumidifier sucking moisture out of the air, the house was actually quite comfortable. I spent the day updating the Dalmatian Rescue website and watching Dr. Who episodes I had missed.

Updating the Dalmatian website wouldn't have taken so long if I could remember how to code responsive websites. I don't do these things frequently enough for the knowledge to stay permanently in my brain. It's complicated, and every time I have to update a mobile friendly site, I end up having to relearn things I've already done before. Initially the code looks like someone else wrote it. Hopefully, the new skills I've learned will eventually become second nature. I don't think anybody's going back to using Dreamweaver and it's getting frustrating becoming baffled by my own code.

It's a good thing I viewed the Dr. Who season finale a second time this afternoon. I found Hell Bent to be confusing the first time I saw it, but it made a lot more sense when I realized that I had missed a full twelve minutes of the show the first time around. Maybe I fell asleep when I was watching on my computer. Maybe the dogs distracted me. Those twelve minutes made a big difference though. I actually liked the show this time. I didn't get around to watching the Christmas Special. I'll save that one for another rainy day.

I hope everyone finds their missing dogs. I'm going to put leashes on ours the next time we sit huddled in a corner waiting for the all clear signal after a bad storm. Dash panics easily and if our house was damaged, he might run away too. Hopefully, the weather will clear up soon. There is too much to worry about already.

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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day 2202

We've spent the evening listening to tornado sirens and weather alert messages beeping on our phones. So far, there have been three tornado alerts with the storm track passing fairly close to us. I hate it when the TV weatherman tells people to "go to your safe room now." We don't have a safe room. We don't even have a safe closet. Every room in the entire house has an exterior wall. There is lots of glass too. Basically, if a tornado hit our house, we're toast.

Luckily, today's storms passed slightly to the East of us. There was lots of lightning and a few moments with very high winds, but that was about it. Our power is still on too. When we were all huddled together in the little hallway that is a pitiful excuse for a safe room, I was sure Dot was going to poop. She kept her composure though and we rode the storm out. We've been lucky over the years. There have been several close calls, but no direct hits. A tree blew over on our roof once, but in Texas that was nothing. You've got to take the weather seriously in Texas.

I was able to get the grocery shopping done and the dogs walked before the bad weather arrived. The grocery store wasn't nearly as crowded as I expected. I guess people don't return groceries after Christmas. I don't go anywhere near shopping malls on the day after Christmas, but Janet said those places were a zoo. A lot of people must have gotten drones as gifts. There were certainly quite a few folks making their maiden flights in the park today. I'm not sure I understand the current fascination with drones. They're basically just model airplanes that can carry a Go Pro camera. Judging from the piloting skills I witnessed today, a lot of these things are going to be broken before New Years Eve.

I was going to watch the Dr. Who Christmas Special this evening, but ended up watching the weather on the local news instead. I'm really glad that we didn't lose power during the storm. The fast moving storm caught me by surprise and virtually nothing was charged up. With dead batteries on the laptop and phone, I might have had a hard time posting the blog this evening. I'll be better prepared tomorrow. A cold front is headed our way, but I don't know what that means. As long as it doesn't snow or do anything weird, I'm fine.

As the year draws to a close, I don't have any resolutions for the New Year whatsoever. It would be nice if next year wasn't quite as grueling as this one, but we'll just have to see what happens. You really can't predict the future. Expect nothing, but be prepared for anything might be a good motto. In less than a year, I'll be halfway to my goal of blogging for 5000 consecutive days. There's still room for a lot of surprises.

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

Friday, December 25, 2015

Day 2201 - Christmas Day

We had a pleasant day. It was unusually warm for Christmas Day, but that's Texas for you. The warm weather was fine by me, because it made it much easier to walk the dogs. As far as Christmas activities go, that's about all we did. Dot and Dash got two nice walks and then slept for the rest of the day while Janet cooked a Christmas dinner and I cleaned up around the house. With eggs and bacon for breakfast and a big traditional Christmas dinner, I feel like I've had a week's worth of food in a single day.

Dot and Dash have always enjoyed unwrapping presents. They are convinced that every package is for them and seem genuinely disappointed if it doesn't contain something they can eat. We give them a taste of each of their food gifts and then put them away. If they had their way, they would eat everything at once and make themselves sick. It's fun to watch them get so excited over a simple bag of dog treats or a piece of cheese. Dash got a little too excited. Once he started barking, it took him about thirty minutes to calm down.

I was surprised at how many people were out in the park today. Maybe taking a walk after your Christmas meal is a thing to do now. At any rate, there were entire families walking on the trails and plenty of other dogs. One dog got loose and came running over to Dash. Luckily, it was a friendly dog and no harm was done. I do wish people would keep better control of their pets, however. This happens far too often.

I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to get on the Internet to write the blog tonight. Nothing was wrong as far as I could tell, but everything was impossible slow. It finally dawned on me that the fancy U-verse connection just didn't have enough bandwidth. Janet was talking to her niece on the phone. I was taping the Dr. Who Christmas Special on one TV while a Hallmark movie was playing on another TV in the kitchen. There just wasn't enough bandwidth left over for me.  I wasn't going to let this stop me however. I fired up the little T-Mobile WiFi hotspot and kept on writing.

Our holidays have become very quiet and stress free. It's surprising how enjoyable doing nothing can be. We didn't go to a Christmas movie. We didn't visit family. We didn't do much of anything. Janet cooked and went to the gym. I cleaned and fiddled around with the dehumidifier. I thought the thing was broken for a while, but apparently cooking a big meal raises the humidity a lot. Now, everything is back to normal again. My favorite Christmas gift was a pair of soft grey fleece running pants with Dalmatians printed on the fabric. These pants will make your average ugly Christmas sweater look tame by comparison. To each his own. Hey, the pants are very comfortable and will probably become my new around the house uniform.

We slept in until after 7 AM this morning. Janet, Dash and I could have slept longer, but Dot couldn't. We all had to get up when she pooped in her bed. She had another accident in the kitchen while Janet was cooking Christmas dinner. We didn't let this slow us down a bit. I took the big rug outside and hosed it down. The little rug went in the washing machine. This is life with a very old dog. We are just happy that she is still here to share this special day with us. Getting to spend another Christmas with both dogs was the best Christmas gift of all.

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Day 2200

Today felt like a holiday, but it didn't really feel like Christmas Eve. I went out to breakfast this morning, because I knew the place would be closed tomorrow. The roads were empty and so was the restaurant. It was quite pleasant. Breakfast almost felt like I was on a road trip somewhere and had stopped at a small roadside cafe in Wyoming. I savored the quietness, because I knew it wouldn't last.

Later in the morning, I took Dot to her physical therapy session. The clinic was closing early for Christmas, and we were the last appointment of the day. Dot's vet had the flu and wore a mask so she wouldn't give her cold to me. I felt bad for keeping the appointment because she probably could have gone home earlier if it wasn't for us. Dot seemed tired today, so we kept the treadmill at a slower speed. I was a bit tired as well. Both dogs kept us up last night. Dash had gotten into something the day before, and had diarrhea during the night. He kept scratching at the door to go outside about every ten minutes for a while. Not to be outdone, Dot pooped in her bed. By the time the sun came up, both dogs were back to normal and seemed just fine.

I thought I might be able to fix the sliding glass door myself by using a metal file to smooth out some irregularities in the track. Logically, this should have worked, but it didn't. It looks like I'll have to contact a professional. Since I couldn't really fix anything today, I decided to just wash the car and call it a day.

Apparently colder weather is on the way, but it certainly didn't arrive today. It was in the mid-70's for most of the afternoon. I wore shorts when I took Dash on his afternoon walk and turned on the air conditioner briefly when it got too hot in the house. This would have been a good day to clean up the yard, but I sorted through a stack of old mail in the office instead. I really ought to start opening mail when I receive it. In today's stack of mail, I found a letter from my bank saying that I needed to renew my safe deposit box. The letter was dated sometime in October. I'm sure the bank probably just automatically renewed the box for another year and deducted the rent from my account. I'll need to check though, because I'm just guessing on this.

I think I finally fixed the problem I've been having with WiFi reception on my phone. It took quite a bit of research on Google and a certain amount of guessing, since the problem could have been caused by any number of things. The phone still works after I reset everything, so I must have done something right. Now that I have installed a more modern operating system on my main computer, fixed my phone, and upgraded the software on my watch, maybe I can start the new year with all my devices working properly for a change.

Janet baked a pumpkin pie this evening, so there is a holiday smell in the house. There are more presents for the dogs under the tree than for us, but that's the way it should be. Maybe we'll get to sleep in tomorrow morning. That would be a nice Christmas present from Dot and Dash. We'll have Christmas dinner at home this year and whatever happens, we're looking forward to a quiet, enjoyable day.

Dash is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Day 2199

It was a quiet day. I don't think I'll hear from my clients again until the first of the year. I'm more or less caught up on things, so I spent the day catching up on correspondence and wrapping Christmas presents. Correspondence these days mostly consists of talking to customer service about broken things. My favorite weather radar application crashed recently, so I needed to figure out how to get it running again. Since the application is subscription based, I couldn't just download a fresh copy and start over. First, I had to prove that I actually had a subscription when no records of it seemed to exist. It was my fault, since I apparently forgot to register the software, but the whole process was still far more complex than it needed to be. The fact that I subscribed to this service in the first place shows how addicted to weather radar I am. I generally hate the entire software subscription model and stubbornly continue to use outdated copies of all the Adobe products to avoid subscribing to the dreaded Creative Cloud. It's a good thing I wasn't busy, because it took several hours to get the weather radar working again on all my devices.

Two more watch winders have broken, so I sent another letter to the watch winder company, asking for a return authorization number. Hopefully, they will fix these two like they did with the first one. The company was very nice when the first winder broke and sent me a brand new replacement at no charge. I wonder if they'll continue to be this nice when they discover that every product I've bought from them has turned out to be defective. Truthfully, I probably don't even need the watch winders anymore, since I've gone over to the dark side and wear the Apple Watch almost exclusively now. Judging from the reviews I'm probably in the minority here, but I really like the Apple Watch.

I finished wrapping my Christmas presents this morning and put them under the tree. Dalmatian Rescue used to do gift wrapping at local bookstores during the holiday season as a fundraiser and I got surprising good at wrapping packages. It's not a skill I use much anymore, but my packages do look clean and crisp. I doubt that I'll wrap any more packages until this time next year.

When we were returning from walking the dogs this morning, I saw the garbage truck coming down the street. WTF? My trash can was not out at the curb yet and neither were the cans of most of my neighbors. Why was trash pickup two days early?  Maybe it was because Christmas was on a Friday this year. At any rate, since the automated trash truck goes up one side of the street and then returns along the other side, I had time to get my can in place just before the truck picked it up and dumped it in the hopper. Of course the can was mostly empty. Most of this week's trash was still in the house.  It's silly to obsess about the garbage truck, but since the city only picks up once a week now, trash can pile up fast.

The humidity was so low today that I didn't even need the dehumidifier. Since the temperature was in the low 70's, I opened the back door and a few windows and let the dry outside air come inside. I used to just leave the back door open on rare days like this, but now I'm afraid that Dot will try to wander outside without her harness and hurt herself. A single unsupervised attempt to chase a squirrel could instantly erase months of physical therapy. I let Dot stay outside as long as she wants, but I'm always there to hold up her rear legs. There was only a small amount of poop to clean up today. It was a big improvement over yesterday's disaster. I'm getting almost as good at cleaning up poop in the house as I am at wrapping packages. I should add these skills to my resume.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day 2198

I thought I'd finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, but I forgot something important. Yup. I didn't have any wrapping paper. I got back in the car again after breakfast and went to the Container Store. They had an entire store full of overpriced wrapping paper. I found what I needed and went back home again. Hopefully, I really am finished with shopping this time.

I was surprised to find a UPS package on my doorstep from a distant cousin I rarely see. I was even more surprised at the contents. One of my elderly aunts had passed away not too long ago and this cousin was the executor of her estate. He send me decades of family photos that I never even knew existed. I should have known they existed, since I was in many of them. It seemed strange that this aunt, who I hadn't seen in years, kept a much better record of my family than I did. I should have asked her to tell me the story behind these pictures while she was still alive. Now she and her brothers and sisters are all gone. It's odd. I've been a professional photographer for many, many years, but I've never kept a family album. There are very few pictures of me as an adult at all. I do have thousands of pictures of my dogs though.

I knew there were going to be problems with Dot when she went to bed without doing her business last night. Sure enough, she pooped in her bed around 3 AM, and then pooped again in the kitchen a few hours later when she was eating her breakfast. As messes go, this was a big one. Hopefully, she will be back on schedule for a while. It's sad to see Dot's neuropathy progress. There is no cure and her condition will gradually get worse. The spinal surgery helped. The water therapy we do every week continues to help, but the nerve damage is still there. The only comforting thought is that Dot is still happy and doesn't seem to be in any pain. I just try to make each day as easy as possible for her.

I installed the new version of Pro Tools this morning. I added a few essential plug-ins, made sure everything worked and then quit the application without making any music at all. It will probably be months before I even think about Pro Tools again. I don't know why it is so important for me to stay current with Pro Tools, Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and a few other tools that my business used to depend on. I was a good editor, but I've kind of lost my chops, since it's been a while since anyone's needed me to open up these applications and actually use them. I'm sure that there will be a day when I'll get bored enough to open Pro Tools again and learn to use some of the fancy new features. Maybe I'll write a song again some day. That would be nice. It's such an uphill battle. To write a song again, I'd have to get my keyboard out of the storage warehouse and teach myself to play piano again.

I paid the last of the December bills and took them to the post office. With this year's humongous plumbing bills, dental bills, and cancer treatment bills behind me, maybe now I can finally get ahead of the game. Oh, wait. There isn't time. The year is already over. I'm sure that next year will bring a whole new set of surprises. I guess I'll wrap packages tomorrow. It would be a good idea to get them wrapped before Christmas.

Two sisters are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, December 21, 2015

Day 2197

We started the day walking through a thick layer of ground fog in the park. Fourteen hours later, I still feel like I'm the one in the fog. Maybe it's brain fog. I did quite a bit today, but it still feels like I spent my time floundering around. Right after breakfast I went to the mall to finish the small amount of Christmas shopping I had left. I thought if I arrived right when the stores were opening, I could avoid the crowds. Apparently, other people had the same idea. I was amazed at how crowded things were at 10 AM. On a normal day, the place would be completely empty. Even though there were more shoppers than I expected, my instincts were right. I found a parking place without any problems, did my shopping, and was back home again in less than an hour.

Today seemed like a good day to upgrade Pro Tools, so I bit the bullet and downloaded the latest version from the Avid site. I always forget what a pain it is to install Avid software. There are multiple layers of registration and license codes. Before you can even begin, you have to download your new software license to the iLok dongle that Avid uses to prevent people from copying their software. I hate dongles. Why does Avid continue using them? Most manufacturers abandoned this form of copy protection long ago. I can never remember my password to the iLok license manager. I can't usually remember my password to the Avid download site either. When you are finally authorized to download the software, you are presented with a long list of items to choose from. It would be nice if they told you which of these things you actually needed. The software is huge and takes a long while to download. Today, my computer froze during the download process, so I had to reboot and start the whole registration and download all over again. What a waste of time. I don't know why Avid makes it so hard to upgrade. I might upgrade more often if they just made the whole process easier. Maybe tomorrow I'll actually install the software. Maybe in a month or two I might even use it.

Dot is way off schedule today.  She didn't poop after lunch and despite taking her outside four separate times, she didn't poop after dinner either. This makes me nervous, because it practically guarantees that she's going to poop in the house right when I'm in the middle of something else. It hasn't happened yet, but it will.

I watched the launch of the Space X Falcon 9 after dinner and was pleased to see a successful soft landing of the booster at Cape Canaveral. Elon Musk always said he could do this and he delivered today. Once this reusable rocket gets perfected, it will dramatically lower the cost of space travel. I hope that Space X continues to push the boundaries. I'd love to see someone land on Mars in my lifetime.

I should have returned to the lake with a camera after I finished walking the dogs this morning. Heavy ground fog is rare, and if you're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, you can get some spectacular pictures. Being in the right place at the right time is difficult when you're walking Dot though. Maybe there was still enough time to take a few shots of boats half hidden in the mist, but I suspect that the moment had already passed by the time we returned home.

It certainly didn't seem like the first day of Winter. It was 70 degrees outside. Texas weather is always full of surprises. I'll take a camera with me tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll be surprised with more ground fog. I'm sure there will be more brain fog whether I find anything to photograph or not. Brain fog is pretty common these days.

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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day 2196

I made it back to the gym today. I wish I enjoyed this more, because it seems pretty obvious that this is a much more effective way to ward off heart attacks and diabetes than working around the house. Housework can be strenuous, but I'm slow and methodical and vacuuming or sweeping leaves off the roof seldom elevates my heart rate. When I'm at the gym, my body knows I've done something. Cleaning the house leaves me tired, but I'm not really feeling the burn. The weariness probably comes from the futility of it all. When I go to the gym regularly, I actually do feel stronger. When I clean the house regularly, it is still old and falling apart. It never really gets clean either. I continue to be amazed that week-after-week the Dyson canister continues to fill up with dust and dirt while the dehumidifier bucket continues to fill up with water. Where does all this dirt and moisture come from. It's almost like the house manufactures it.

When I was young and starting out in advertising, my boss came up with the famous "There is no finish line" theme for Nike. This was a brilliant headline, but it also summed up my feelings about exercise. I want there to be a finish line for everything. I'd like to be able to get into shape and then be able to say "been there, done that," so I could go back to eating donuts. Life doesn't work that way unfortunately. If I don't continuously keep practicing my skills, I lose them. If I don't continuously stay active, I become fat. If I'm not comfortable with the idea of continually being my own personal drill Sargent, I'll probably just sink into a deep depression and give up.

It's more about perseverance than pleasure these days. That's not entirely bad. There is a quiet satisfaction in hanging in there and being able to get up and face another day. I see this determination in Dot every day. Her brain isn't all there anymore, and her body definitely isn't all there. Aging and adversity doesn't seem to phase her though. She wakes up every morning comfortable in the knowledge that she is a dog. This seems to be enough. She enjoys smelling things. She loves to eat. And she sleeps a lot. I have a feeling that she doesn't search for the meaning of life at all. This is probably a better way to live.

I seldom think about the meaning of life on Sundays. I'm too tired. In addition to burning off a lot of calories at the gym, I cleaned the entire house with the Dyson and made a valiant attempt to straighten up my office. It's gotten so bad that I have to approach cleaning the office like archaeology. Today I removed hundreds of small tools, broken watches, computer cables, and other dusty objects off an unused workbench. I cleaned each of these objects and then cleaned the workbench itself, which was covered by a thick layer of dust. I should have cleaned the bench months ago, but it was just too much trouble to clear it off. It looks better now. Things that have been out of place for years are now back where they belong. A few things were thrown away and I even found a couple of things that had been lost for months. Was it worth the two hours it took to de-clutter a small two foot by six foot surface? Maybe. The problem is that the dust will return. Remember, there is no finish line.

I took today's picture of the moon before I went to bed last night. I just pointed the little point-and-shoot camera I take with me when I walk the dogs at the moon and clicked the shutter. There was no telescope, no tripod, no exposure calculations, no real effort at all. When I was in high school I became fascinated with astronomy and would spend hours trying to take pictures of the moon through a small telescope. Most of my efforts didn't turn out as well as this lazy, effortless shot. That's the way life should be. As you continue doing the things you have always done, they should gradually become easier. My aching body and somewhat muddled brain beg to differ. Like it or not, most things become much harder as we grow older.

Lexi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Day 2195

The dogs let us sleep in this morning, but I still woke up tired. I got to bed late last night because I was still ironing out the bugs resulting from yesterday's big computer upgrade. Not that it matters, but I think I finally regained the ability to run Linux software on the computer. When I did go to bed, I discovered that Dash was in my place. This happens a lot. I either have to move him, which wakes everybody up, or just sleep on the edge of the bed. To avoid a lot of barking and commotion in the middle of the night, I just slept on the edge of the bed.

It was really cold last night. I remember waking up at some point to put a blanket on Dot. When we went on our morning walk, the grass felt crunchy under my boots and there was frost everywhere. In the Summer I always think it would be nice to retire to Wyoming or Montana. In the Winter Florida sounds better.

When we were walking this morning, I noticed that the city street crews were repaving one of the roads that leads into the park. This road doesn't get a lot of traffic, but I guess it was on the city's list anyway. Right next to the road the city was fixing was a residential street with some of the worst potholes in the city. I don't think this street has ever been fixed. You'd think the city would pave both streets, since all the paving equipment was here anyway. Nope. As soon as they finished the short road into the park, they left. The nearby street with giant potholes was ignored.

It took me a long time to do my Saturday errands today. I just wasn't in the mood. It was actually a beautiful, somewhat chilly day, but taking a long nap seemed much more appealing than putting on a warm coat and going grocery shopping. Eventually I pulled myself together and got everything done, but I still feel sleep deprived. The roads and stores were really crowded today. If Dallas traffic is any indication, retailers should have a good Christmas this year.  Maybe taking a nap wasn't such a bad idea after all.

I really need to go to the gym tomorrow. The combination of too many holiday sweets and too little exercise is starting to take its toll. You'd think that the four all day photo events earlier this month would have provided all the exercise I needed, but apparently not. I think all the Santa Paws events did was ruin my knees and make the carpel tunnel in my left wrist worse. I'm certainly not any stronger. Like it or not, I'm going to have to hit the treadmill and hand bicycle again.

I wish I had the willpower to go back to the austere diet I was on while I was being treated for Hepetitis C. I was a bit thinner then and generally felt healthier, but I didn't enjoy living without wheat and sugar. Meals are important to me. Sadly, bread is very tasty and sugar and salt are the secret ingredients that make almost everything taste good. Once I started having the occasional cheeseburger again and returned to eating bread and crackers it was all over. I just can't go back to kale salads. I still don't drink, but I'll have to admit that a few Martinis would have made this a better day.

Ranger is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, December 18, 2015

Day 2194

I spent most of the day replacing my computer's obsolete operating system with another obsolete operating system. The move from Lion to Mountain Lion was much more complex than simply downloading the current operating system, which is what most people would do. I'm very wary of new Apple operating systems. All too often when you install a new system, you have to update half your software as well. I'm happy with my old software and the last thing I want to do is buy it all over again.

Eventually, even people like me are forced to upgrade though. It's almost a law of nature. I picked Mountain Lion because it was old enough to support most of my existing software and still new enough to support Pro Tools 12. The problem with installing something so old and using it as a new system is that there are a lot of dependencies that need to be resolved. X Code wouldn't work anymore which meant I could no longer run Unix programs on my Mac. I couldn't just install the new X Code, because it was too new. I had to find am old copy of version 5.1.1 which Apple no longer supported. Some of my security software wouldn't work either. It could have been worse, but I ended up spending most of the afternoon testing each of the applications I use and making upgrades when necessary. The important things all work now, but it was a monumental effort for a system that is already obsolete. I've still got Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan to go.

I built some online forms for a client today. I made sure to do this before I attempted to upgrade my system. You never know what is going to be broken after the upgrade. It could easily have been Dreamweaver. Luckily Dreamweaver, Photoshop. Microsoft Office, Colorburst, Final Cut Pro, and Quickbooks Pro still work. That's all I really use these days anyway. I thought about upgrading my phone as well, but that would just be asking for trouble. One major upgrade a day is plenty. I'm sure IOS 9.2 can wait. I still don't know why I bothered to upgrade to IOS 9.1. Basically all these software upgrades are a giant pain.

Breakfast was good today. Actually, everything was pretty good today. The weather was nice, the humidity was low, there were very few surprises, and the bird didn't poop on my car. Dot didn't have any accidents today either. As far as I'm concerned, a day without poop is always a good day.

I don't have any big plans for this weekend, but I'm sure I'll be busy. There are leaves to rake, software to debug, rugs to clean, and dogs to walk. I need to remember to turn the outdoor faucets on just a bit so they drip a little. I don't want frozen pipes, especially in the greenhouse. If it doesn't get down to freezing tonight, it will soon. It's weird. Even though I accomplished virtually nothing today, I felt oddly energized. Trading one obsolete operating system for another equally obsolete system is fairly complex. My brain got a little exercise today. Sadly, that's somewhat of a rarity. Most of my daily activities require no thought at all.

Alvin is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 2193

Dot was tired today. So was I. We soldiered on however and did our Thursday routine. I try not to push Dot too hard, but you've got to keep moving. When you quit moving, it's all over. We slowed down the treadmill a bit and Dot did just fine. Dot's vet spent a little extra time with her acupuncture session, trying to ease the tension in her back. I think it worked, because Dot was more relaxed when we got home again.I wish I could think of a better way to transport her to physical therapy. It's becoming routine to stop along the way, so I can re-position her. If she doesn't stay still during the trip downtown, she can get her rear legs twisted in an awkward position. If she struggles to re-position herself while the car is moving, sometimes it just makes the situation worse. The physical therapy is beneficial though, so we do the best we can.

I did the best I could with my assignments today.  Sometimes it's harder to write about nothing than to write something of substance. I've been doing a lot of writing about nothing lately. Hey, it's the Christmas season and that's what marketing is all about. I've developed a pretty vocabulary of superlative adjectives. Everything I write about is a marvelous, must have item, even if it was made in China. Personally, I don't think many people even read the ad copy. It's all about Instagram and images these days. Whenever I see someone send a Tweet or text message using nothing but emojis, I think the language is reverting to Hieroglyphics.

I had to unclog a bathroom sink today. Unclogging a sink or shower drain is even more unpleasant than removing wet leaves from the roof. I remember when taking care of a house was mostly just arranging furniture. Now, taking care of a house is almost entirely about fixing broken things. The older the house gets, the more things break. My next task is finding somebody to fix an oversize sliding glass door. The sliding part of the door is about twelve feet long and quite heavy. I had the rollers on the bottom of this door replaced once before, but apparently they need to be replaced again. The door is very hard to open now.

I ran out of laundry detergent this evening. This is a dangerous thing to do when you've got a dog who poops in the house. I'll need to remember to stop by a grocery store and pick up a big bottle of Tide on my way home from breakfast tomorrow. It's amazing how quickly we go through laundry detergent now. I'm washing something all the time now.

It's hard to believe it's going to be Christmas next week. This entire year has gone by in a blur. If this year was one of those word clouds you often see on people's blogs, the words that would stand out most prominently would be cancer, surgery, neuropathy, physical therapy, and incontinence. Sick dogs and our ongoing efforts to rehabilitate them have definitely defined the year. At least my own health hasn't been much of a problem this year. It's nice to have my Hepatitis C problems behind me so I can concentrate on the dogs. Maybe next year will be easier. I doubt it. The dogs will continue getting older and so will I. As hard as you try, you can't cheat time.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 2192

I got the Christmas tree up today. It seems to go up a little later every year, but that's OK. Putting up the tree reminded me that I still hadn't sent my out of town presents yet, so I went on for ten minutes and did all my shopping. What did people do before Amazon? They take care of the shipping. They'll wrap the package for you. They'll even enclose a little note if you'd like. Amazon and gift cards have revolutionized holiday shopping for me. I'll never spend hours wandering aimlessly through a crowded shopping mall again.

When I was picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy today, I noticed that my doctor has increased the amount of Metformin I take. The pills are larger now. Ordinarily, this would have alarmed me, but I read an article recently saying that researchers now think Metformin can slow the aging process and increase lifespan. I'll go with that. I need to take these findings with a grain of salt however. So far, the researchers have only tested their hypothesis on worms.

Every Christmas I get a $50 gift card from my favorite clothing store. These guys used to be a client and I'm still pretty loyal to them. On my way back from the pharmacy I stopped by the store to see what I could find. You have to spend at least $100 to use the $50 card, but it's still the same as a 50% off sale if you choose wisely. I used to be able to get quite a few clothes this way, but times have changed. Prices have really gone up for clothing that's not made in China. I looked around and saw some nice things, but had a hard time finding anything under $200. Is a $200 shirt nicer than a $12 shirt from Sam's Club. Definitely. Did I buy anything? Nope. I don't think I can afford this store anymore.

I finally got some new work assignments today. I've got an article to write tomorrow and there were several website modifications that I worked on today. Some people send me layouts that they've done in Photoshop and want me to match them exactly on their websites. Whatever. I can match just about anything. Even layouts that are butt ugly. Clients who think they are designers used to infuriate me. I don't even care anymore. We live in a world where everybody thinks they're a designer.

I'll be glad when all the leaves are finally off the trees. There are so many leaves on the ground now that every time I open the back door to let the dogs out, a bunch of leaves blow in the house. The leaves are everywhere. It probably didn't help matters when I pushed a ton of dead leaves off the roof yesterday and now they are on the ground too. I got out the electric leaf blower to blow them all away, but the only long extension cord we have now is up on the roof to run the sump pump. I found a smaller extension cord and was able to get the leaves off the front porch, but that was about it. Ironically, I almost bought a heavy duty outdoor extension cord at Home Depot last week when I was shopping for mini-blinds. I didn't buy it though because it was more expensive than the blinds. Do you see a theme here? Everything is too expensive these days.

Dot pooped in the house again. So what else is new? At least I did a deft save and caught her before she stumbled and fell in the poop. I could write a book on the best ways to clean up poop by now. This is not something I was planning to become an expert on, but sometimes you don't have a choice.

Hannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Day 2191 - Blogiversary

I'm beginning my seventh year as a blogger. Seven years is a long time. When I started this journey in December of 2009, I never dreamed that it would become such a marathon. I remember that people were amazed when I posted for five hundred consecutive days without missing a day. That was nothing. Tornadoes, power outages, computer crashes, Internet problems, illness, business travel, and a simple lack of anything to say haven't stopped me yet. At two thousand one hundred ninety one days and counting this blog has acquired a life of it's own. What started as a simple daily journal has slowly evolved into a chronicle of the aging process. I'm not the same person I was seven years ago. If I can manage to continue for another seven years, I'm sure there will be further changes that I couldn't possibly anticipate. I know blogging isn't as popular as it once was, but I hope that some of you will stay for the journey.

The journey is certainly a slow one at times. I inch along trying to keep my head above water while still making a little forward progress. Today, I picked up where I left off yesterday. I climbed up on the roof and got all the water off. It's a good thing I did because the roof was covered in a thick blanket of wet leaves. The leaves had to go. They're heavy and the roof has enough problems as it is. I finally replaced the mini-blinds that I burned with the ceramic heater. The new blinds look good, but cutting them to length wasn't nearly as easy as the instructions said it would be. The process involved tying precise little knots in the string that connected the blinds together. I'm evidently not very good at tying tiny knots.

While I was trying to put the blinds together, Dot woke up from a nap and pooped in her bed. I didn't notice this right away, but I did notice something brown on her paw when she came over to watch me work. Hmm. I've got to quickly get the poop off her paw, so she doesn't track the mess all over the house. She doesn't have her harness on, so it's going to be a bit difficult to lift the paw without causing her to fall. And where is the wet rag when I really need it?  This happens almost every day. I cleaned Dot up. I retraced her path back to the source of the poop. I cleaned everything up using a couple of doggie poop bags. I put the soiled blanket and a small rug in the washer and went back to assembling the mini-blinds.

While all this was happening, I got a call from someone wanting some website changes. I listened to what was needed, asked for some files, and never mentioned that I was cleaning up dog poop while we were talking. When I was younger, the work project might have assumed a higher priority. Now, I know better. Getting rid of the smell of poop in the house as quickly as possible trumps everything.

I foolishly thought I might have a little money left over this month. What was I thinking. I forgot that my property taxes are due this month. It's always something. Inside my tax envelope was a little note saying that my bill was $150 lower because of some referendum that voters passed earlier this year. My first thought was that this was a pretty pitiful savings. Then, I looked up last years bill in Quickbooks and just as I thought, my new bill was actually larger than last year's. Yup. Taxes never really go down.

Jasper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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