Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 1962

We're making progress. Dot walked in the underwater treadmill without her special harness for the first time today. Dash managed to keep his protective sock on during his entire walk and hardly limped at all. The bleeding has almost stopped from the empty socket where my wisdom tooth used to be. I fixed a fairly normal breakfast of scrambled eggs this morning and since I still can't drink hot liquids, I let my morning coffee cool down to a lukewarm temperature before drinking it. It wasn't the best coffee in the world, but lukewarm coffee is still better than no coffee at all.

I wisely postponed climbing on the roof to remove standing water until I'm finished with my dental surgery meds, but I'm pretty much up to speed on everything else. I completed all my writing assignments today, went to the bank, and made a few website revisions. I did most of this in the morning, because the afternoon was reserved for Dot's physical therapy.

I hope I sleep better tonight. Last night, I woke up about 3:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep again. I spent the rest of the night listening to the two dogs snoring on either side of me and counting the times the furnace went on and off. Ideas often pop into my head when I have insomnia like this but they are usually wasted. I recall thinking of several clever ways I could improve my responsive website experiment, but I forgot them all by the time I turned on the computer the next morning. I worried about getting a dry socket and got up and drank some water. By the time I got back to bed, Dash had stolen my covers. It wasn't worth waking him up to get the bedspread back so I grabbed the nearest dog blanket, pulled it over my head and tried to get to sleep again. Luckily, I don't have  insomnia very often, because I don't enjoy it.

Our rainy Spring weather been good for the wildflowers this year. The meadows in the park are becoming more colorful by the day. I see a new variety of flower coming into bloom just about every time we go on a walk. Today I noticed that the Milkweed plants are starting to bloom. I've always liked the symmetry of these odd little spherical bundles. We call the little five sided green blooms Antelope Horns down here. I don't know why. The Milkweed flowers will last about a month and then they'll be replaced by something else. It's a nice time of the year for a visual person like me.

Tomorrow I have a photoshoot. Dot is doing well enough now that I'm comfortable leaving her for two or three hours. I'll be able to go out for my Friday morning breakfast as well. I'm not sure what I'm having yet, but I'm sure there's something on the menu that's easy to chew. Most of the forbidden foods are back in play after 48 hours anyway. I've already taken the trash out to the curb, but I still need to remember to charge up the camera batteries for tomorrow. I think I'm ready fora good night's sleep this evening.

April has already come and gone. This month was tiring and a bit stressful, but it went quickly. It's hard to believe that it's the first of May tomorrow. May is usually when it starts to get hot here in Dallas. Let's hope our unusually cool Spring lasts a bit longer.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 1961

Maybe I was overly apprehensive about the dental surgery. Either the procedure wasn't as terrible as I anticipated, or the drugs haven't worn off yet. My jaw is uncomfortable, but the pain is nothing compared to the time I pinched a nerve in my neck a few years ago. Regular blog readers may remember this episode as one of the worst trips to Las Vegas in recorded history. Maybe I wouldn't be so fearful of dentists if there weren't all those consent form you have to sign. They are very graphic. Today, I had to initial a paragraph that said I understood that the dentist might break my jaw if the extraction was particularly difficult. To the surgeon's credit, he told me that he had never broken anyone's jaw, but that it does happen. I also had to initial another paragraph that said the dentist might have to leave a portion of the root attached to the jaw if he decided at his discretion that it would be more harmful to remove it.

Dentistry is a messy business. Unlike most other forms of surgery you can't just put a bandage on the results. Most dentist don't even suture the hole after they remove wisdom teeth. They just wait for a blood clot to seal the wound. Until that happens, you have to keep putting a gauze pad in your mouth to soak up the blood. I went through a lot of gauze pads today. I also wore a weird elastic contraption around my head that held a cold pack on the right side of my face. It looked like something out of a 1940's horror movie, but it worked. Whenever one of the cold packs melted, I would replace it with a frozen one in the freezer. I don't think I'll wear this device out in public, but it's great for sitting at the computer. I'm not a big fan of narcotics, so I definitely prefer ice as a pain reliever to Tramadol and Codeine. The dentist gave me a prescription for Codeine. I haven't used it yet, and doubt that I ever will.

The dogs are very intuitive. Whenever Janet or I have become sick, they become very calm and act like little nurses. Today when Janet brought me home loopy and full of anesthesia I knew the only thing to do was go back to bed. The dogs quietly curled up beside me and I slept for three hours. When I woke up, I couldn't really remember what happened at the dentist. I know that I talked to the surgeon right after I woke up, but I couldn't remember a thing. Janet said he gave all the same post-surgery information to her, telling her that I wasn't going to remember a thing. Those must be some powerful drugs.

As the day progressed, I began to feel increasingly normal. About mid-afternoon I felt good enough to sit down at the computer and write an article. It may not sound coherent to the client, but it looked pretty good to me. Dash is getting better too, so I took him on a longer walk this evening. His special sock stayed on for the entire walk and he hardly limped at all. I made sure he walked at a slow, measured pace, even though he loves to run. We've all got to do things at a slow measured pace these days.

I had Mac & Cheese for dinner, because it was one of the things on my "OK to eat" list. I should have had soup. I feel little particles of pasta stuck between my teeth and I'm not allowed to brush for another 24 hours. This is going to drive me nuts. I hate having little food particles in my teeth and use one of those dental water pics every night like a miniature pressure washer to remove the debris. Jeez, I'm not supposed to use a water pic for a week. What am I going to do?

Tomorrow that attention shifts from Dash's limp and my teeth to Dot's ongoing rehabilitation. We're scheduled for another session in the underwater treadmill. Things are getting back to normal.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 1960

I think the antibiotics are working. Dash did a lot better at keeping all four paws on the ground today. He still limped a little when he tried to walk too fast, but his condition was visibly better than yesterday. It wasn't all smooth sailing though. Dash woke me up twice during the middle of the night to go outside. He raced around the yard on three legs like he was possessed. Dash acted like he had an upset stomach and needed to poop. After several tries, he eventually did. It could have been the Clavamox. On the other hand, it could have been something bad he ate in the park. The important thing was that Dash eventually did his business and we finally got some sleep.

I made some website revisions today and after I uploaded the new content, the client sent me an e-mail saying that nothing had changed. This happens all the time. Am I the only one who regularly clears my browser cache? I patiently explained that he was looking at an old version of the site and that if he re-loaded the page, cleared his browser cache in the preference menu, or just restarted the browser he would probably see the new changes. Since I never heard back from him, I guess one of those remedies worked.

I had some writing jobs today, but I got side-tracked experimenting with my mobile friendly test site. Today I learned how to create drop down menus that automatically re-size for different devices. Life was so much easier when everyone was looking at the same 17" CRT display and used their phones for making phone calls. I'm slowly getting comfortable working in this new responsive design environment, but I'm also getting bored with it. It's a race against time to see if I can learn enough to be useful before I get sick of the whole thing. It's getting harder to find a reason to stay on the cutting edge of anything anymore.

Tomorrow is the big day. I can't eat anything after 10 PM tonight and Janet has to drive me to the dentist tomorrow. I'm supposed to take an antibiotic and a pain killer one hour before surgery. There is a nice steak in the refrigerator, but Janet froze it, saying that I'll probably be eating soup for the rest of the week. The procedure is only supposed to take an hour or so, but somehow I think I'll be dealing with the aftermath for a lot longer. I just hope when I wake up from surgery that only one tooth is missing. I still have a fear than more than one will be removed if the oral surgeon decides that some other teeth can't be saved either. I know that the tooth right next to the impacted wisdom tooth has been damaged, but I'm hoping that all it will need is a filling. If the second tooth has to be removed, I will need an implant. Dental implants are a long, expensive process. Let's keep it simple. Just remove tooth number 32 and be done with it.

Tomorrow will be interesting. I've got lots of writing and website work that needs to get finished. The dogs still need their walks. Tomorrow's blog post needs to be written and published as well. I hope the anesthesia wears off in a hurry. I don't have time to be loopy all day.

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 1959

When Dash woke up this morning, his limp was much worse. This was an unexpected surprise, since for several days his condition had been getting better. Dash refused to put any weight on the leg with the cut paw pad today and hopped around on three legs. This was not good. He could easily tear his cruciate on the remaining good rear leg if he continues to walk this way. It was clear that Dash needed immediate medical attention and I was lucky to be able to get him in to see Dot's vet today on very short notice. My initial worry was that he had torn a cruciate ligament, but the vet said that he was beginning to get an infection under his paw pad instead. It happens. We left with prescriptions for Clavamox, Rimadyl, and Tramadol, along with instructions to return for another exam if his condition hasn't started to improve within 72 hours. It's hard to imagine that a little cut could cause so many problems, but the vet said to imagine a paper cut on your finger, only ten times worse. There are lots of nerve endings in a dog's paw and this type of injury can be very painful.

Dealing with two dogs who are having trouble walking at the same time isn't quite as difficult as it was dealing with Dot and Dash when they both had cancer at the same time, but it definitely is tiring. Whenever you're trying to help one dog go outside, you're always wondering what the other dog is doing inside. When there's time, I always try to pen the dog I leave behind in a safe secure place. When either of these dogs has to poop though, you have to act fast. Neither one can hold it very long and there have already been a few accidents. Even the vet agrees that I have two very high maintenance Dalmatians right now.

Lately, every day of nice weather seems to be followed by a day of terrible weather. Today was grey and stormy again. Yesterday's nice weather didn't even last 24 hours. Luckily, it didn't rain while I was driving Dash to the vet. He doesn't ride well in the car even on a sunny day. Since he wouldn't go near the hammock contraption I use for Dot, I had to completely reconfigure the car and make the rear section flat again. Dash usually hops in the back when I open the tailgate, but since he can't hop anymore, I have to lift him up to get him inside. Did I mention that Dash hates to be picked up. He squirms around and squeals like something terrible is about to happen. I had a hard time even getting him in the car today. As I said, I have two very high maintenance dogs.

I hope the antibiotics kick in soon. Dash really needs to start getting better in a hurry. I have a feeling that I'll be having my own problems after the dreaded dental surgery. Maybe the dental work will go smoothly and there won't be painful side effects. I hope! I'm not expecting miracles though. Nothing else has gone smoothly this month. Why should my luck change now? It's weird that Dot was actually walking better than Dash today. It just goes to show that you should never take anything for granted.

Needless to say, work hasn't been going terribly smoothly either. There have been some miscommunication here and there this week and several things have had to be done over. I blame it on the weather. When is this rain ever going to stop? It's certainly not the end of the world, but a few days of sunshine and a little luck would definitely improve my mood.

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 1958

We went on a home tour this afternoon. Every year a local school PTA sponsors a tour of mid-century modern homes in the neighborhood and it's always fun to compare our house with similar houses that have been kept in much better condition. Seeing these cool houses used to be inspiring. Now it's a little depressing. Our house will never look this way. It seemed pretty obvious that none of the homeowners on today's tour had dogs. Well, they didn't have large dogs anyway. The hardwood floors were scratch free. The windows weren't caked with dog slobber. And the furniture wasn't coated with dog hair. Several of the homes had dangerous open stairwells where there weren't any risers between the treads to keep a smaller dog from falling through the opening. I sure have changed. I used to measure a home purely on design esthetics. Now, my prime concern is whether it is convenient and safe for dogs. Practical or not, it was fun seeing these immaculately preserved examples of 1950's architecture. With an unlimited pile of money and a year's worth of rehab work, our house could look just the same.

I never did make it to the gym today, but I did get the grass mowed in the front yard. It's kind of an unwritten rule that when all your neighbors mow their grass, you have to mow yours too. It's been so wet this Spring that the grass has been growing unusually fast. I thought I could wait to mow until next week, but the fast growing grass makes the yard stand out like a sore thumb. On close inspection, a lot of the greenery in the front yard turned out to be Chickweed and Henbit, but I'm not particular anymore. As long as it still looks green after its mowed, I'm fine.

The weather was nice today, but it doesn't look like it's going to last. I'm already tracking a bad storm on the weather radar that looks like it's going to arrive here about 11 PM. Tornadoes have already touched down west of Fort Worth and large hail has been reported in several places. I hope the storm dissipates before it arrives in Dallas. I'm really tired of the volatile and exceptional wet weather we've been having this Spring. I'm sure in July I'm be begging for rain again, but right now, enough is enough.

We finally found a sock that will stay on Dash's leg. We've got a whole pile of baby and dog socks that didn't work, but he managed to keep the latest pair we bought on his feet for his entire evening walk. It's not a big breakthrough in the whole scheme of things, but it does make life a little easier. I still keep thinking that it shouldn't take this long for his foot to get back to normal, but since three different vets have told me that Dash's limp could persist for up to two weeks, I guess I'll take their word for it. He does seem a little better today though. That's a good sign.

It looks like I've got a ton of work to do next week, but it's hard for me to focus on it. All I can think about is my upcoming dental surgery. I'll sure be glad when that's over with.

Brady is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 1957

The nasty storms that blew through town last night were followed by clear blue skies and mild temperatures this morning. The beautiful weather was a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one. The dogs both enjoyed their walk today and it was hard to get them headed toward home again before they became too tired. Although he is continuing to get better, Dash still starts limping if he walks too far, and Dot just doesn't have the strength for a long walk yet. While we were headed home, we passed a fire department ambulance hopelessly stuck in the mud. I hope that there was nobody in the back, because it looked like it was going to be a long time before this particular ambulance was going to be delivering anyone to the hospital.

As I do on most days following a hard rain, I removed the standing water from the roof. Today I let the pump do most of the work. It takes a lot longer and I have to climb up and down several times, but removing the water is definitely easier this way. I let the pump run on the main roof while we were eating breakfast, changing the bed sheets, and doing laundry. Then I went up again and switched the pump to the lower carport roof while I swept off the residual water from the main roof. Sound exciting? No, I didn't think so. Hey, at least I got something done. This seems like a much better way to spend my time than all those people down in the park today who spent their afternoon sitting in a hammock. I counted about ten hammocks today. Apparently sitting in a hammock on a nice day is a popular thing to do.

Since I was thinking I'd mastered the basics of responsive design, I thought I'd try something a little fancier this afternoon. Apparently, I didn't master all that much. I was trying to add drop down menus to my rudimentary mobile friendly site and even watching the tutorial video three times didn't help. This is a lot different than Dreamweaver.

When I was getting groceries today, I stopped by the pharmacy and filled the prescription the oral surgeon gave me in January. The prescription consisted of an antibiotic and two painkillers. Great. So, having your wisdom teeth removed is going to hurt and there is a risk of infection. I'm still not very happy about having this tooth removed. I'm a very symmetrical person and it's going to drive me crazy to have more teeth on one side of my mouth than the other. You might wonder why I don't just have the wisdom tooth on the opposite side of my mouth removed too, but removing more teeth than absolutely necessary would also drive me crazy. I'll just be glad when this is over.

Dot seems to be in a bad mood tonight. She's been barking at me and Dash for most of the evening. I don't know what she wants. I've taken her outside three or four times and she just stands there. I think she's frustrated that although she is much stronger now, she is still not strong enough to do the things she wants. It would probably be frustrating for anyone to get a taste of freedom and then realize you are still not really free.

I'll probably go back to the gym tomorrow for the first time in ages. I used to get a lot of exercise walking the dogs, but now that both Dot and Dash are taking short, very slow walks, these excursions hardly even register on my UP band. I'm definitely not getting my 12,000 steps a day anymore. I could always mow the grass tomorrow, but I think I'll wait until the ground gets dry again. I don't want the lawn mower to get stuck in the mud like that ambulance I saw this morning.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 1956

Good grief. We're under a tornado warning again. As soon as I heard the news, I began recharging my phone, laptop, and tablet. Strong storms and power outages go hand in hand in this part of the country. I'm slowly learning to stay prepared. We're eating dinner in a hurry too, in case the oven goes out. I wish the dogs had taken my advice and taken an early walk. They just stuck their nose out the door and didn't even go outside. I guess they could smell what was coming.

I feel better about Dash's limp. I called his oncologist today and asked about the possibility of bone cancer. He told me that it was very unlikely that Dash's type of cancer would ever spread to the bone. He also said it was unlikely that Dash would succumb to a completely different type of cancer at this point in time. It seems increasingly likely that the limp is caused entirely by the torn paw pad. The oncologist said that his own dog had injured a paw pad once and that it took several weeks to heal. "Give it time," he told me and asked me to call him again in several weeks if Dash's condition didn't improve. This specialist is always very busy. I was amazed that he spent ten minutes talking with me. Dot and Dash have some great doctors. I"m convinced that they get far better medical care than I do myself.

I spent most of the day designing a supposedly simple brochure for a client. They want to print the brochure using Vistaprint, but for some inexplicable reason Vistaprint won't accept Quark Express files. Why? I've been using Quark for decades. This venerable software used to be the gold standard for print designers. Apparently the software has fallen out of favor. I had to design the whole thing in Photoshop instead, which certainly wouldn't have been my first choice. It is cumbersome to have all these layers. The original brochure I was updating was done in PowerPoint and a lot of the images were created in Adobe Illustrator, but saved as a PDF. It was a mess. The actual design was pretty simple, but converting all the files to the proper size and format and remembering what layer they were on took forever. I hope everyone likes what I did today, because I definitely don't want to spend tomorrow doing everything over again.

I reluctantly confirmed my appointment for dental surgery next week. I was very tempted to postpone the surgery again, but I've got to get this done sometime. Since I was originally scheduled to have the wisdom teeth removed in late January, I guess I've delayed things long enough. I hope having this tooth removed solves the problems I've been having, but somehow I doubt that it will. Once you start going to the dentist, you have to keep going to the dentist.

While I was eating breakfast this morning, a group of guys at a nearby table were arguing about whether the original Star Wars trilogy should be viewed before or after the three prequel movies. There was a heated  discussion about whether the movies should be viewed in chronological order or in the order they were shot. Some said four, five, six, one, two, three. While others said, one, two, three four, five, six. They were serious. At another table, a group of older guys were talking about man caves. This pretty well summed up the state of the world today for me. It's hopeless.

I had weird dreams last night and woke up in the middle of the night worrying about Dash's leg. I hope I sleep better tonight. Actually, I'd like to sleep the entire weekend.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 1955

I had lots of small problems to resolve today. Individually, they were trivial, but together they wore me out. I was jumping back and forth between Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver all day. As many of you know, I don't multitask well. I would always rather have one complex project than a bunch of little easy projects that share the same deadline. Although some of today's projects seemed meaningless, they were all important to my clients, so I jumped back and forth until it was time to take Dot for her weekly physical therapy session.

I've got to come up with a better way to transport Dot to the vet. Traffic was bad today and twice I had to put on my brakes hard enough to cause Dot to slide forward in her hammock and get stuck in the foot-well between the rear seats and the back of the front seats. The hammock keeps her from actually falling into this hole, but she can still get stuck if her weight pulls her forward and the hammock dips into the foot-well. She got stuck at a busy intersection today and I had trouble crossing three lanes of traffic so I could pull over and move her out of the foot-well and back to her seat. Dot was squealing and whining the whole time I was stuck in traffic. It was stressful for both of us. I'm thinking of abandoning the hammock and just putting the rear seats down again and having a large flat surface in the back of the car. She's getting strong enough now that I think she's just about ready to start riding in the car again the way she used to.

I've got to find time to go to a Babies R Us store and get some of those baby tube socks with rubberized feet that Dash can wear on his walks. The torn paw pad is still tender and he walks a lot better when I put a sock on the injured foot. The problem is that the short dog socks we got at a pet store don't work very well. Every time Dash scratches the earth with his rear feet, the sock falls off. Longer socks would definitely stay on better. One more thing to add to my "to do" list.

This has been a long week. I'm beginning to understand responsive website design. Dot is beginning to regain her independence. It's still tiring though. All the new knowledge in my head is starting to give me a headache and even though Dot is able to walk around the house without her harness, I've still got to watch her like a hawk. Dash is still limping too. There's more rainwater to remove from the roof, but I'm not even going to bother with that until this weekend. What's the point? It might rain again tomorrow anyway. Our excessive amounts of rain this Spring has caused me a lot of trouble, but the wet, muddy weather definitely has a silver lining. The new landscaping in the back yard looks great and I haven't had to use the sprinklers very much.

I'm looking forward to going out for breakfast tomorrow. It's nice to have a little quiet time with no barking dogs, irritating telemarketing calls, or dishes to wash. It's amazing how that little hour and a half of tasty tranquility can make the entire day seem better.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 1954

Slowly but surely, life is getting back to normal. Dash still has a limp, but he is walking better than he was yesterday. Dot is still a little unsteady, but she is getting stronger everyday. I let her walk around the house without her harness for a while today and she seemed to enjoy it. It's a bit of a problem walking the dogs now, since both have leg problems, but we're doing OK. The big breakthrough is that Dot is confident enough now that her separation anxiety has subsided. I can leave her alone for several hours at a time and she is content to just rest on her dog bed. This allows me to run small errands like going to the post office or bank without worrying so much. To be on the safe side, I always leave Dot in a gated section of the hallway and take her harness off, so she can't get tangled up in something. I put a comfortable bed in this safe area and Dot is fine. She slept a lot before her injury and she still sleeps a lot now.

My website revisions have slowed down this week, but I'm trying to use my time wisely.  I'm still working on getting up to speed about responsive design, so when clients eventually discover that they've dropped in the search rankings, I'll have a solution for them. I learned how to apply transitions and animations across several platforms today. All I have to show for my several hours of study is a single line of type on my company website that slowly fades in and grows to its final size as the site loads. Although this doesn't really prove anything, it's the principal of the thing. I can move objects around and the effect stays the same whether it is viewed on a large desktop monitor or a small phone. Cool. If I contine to learn one new thing a day, I should be pretty good at this responsive design stuff by Summer.

An insurance guy came out to take pictures of the house this morning. He said that needed pictures to substantiate that the construction was load bearing brick. Jeez. I told them that house was constructed using brick bearing walls almost twenty years ago. They must not have believed me. It's weird that it took them twenty years to come out and take a picture though.

I got some more K-cup coffee pods in the mail today. I had written Keurig a while back and asked them what to do if one of the cups split during brewing. One of the cups actually did split and I ended up getting coffee grounds in my cup, but I didn't expect to receive a whole box of K-cups for a single defective cup. I wasn't even mad when I wrote Keurig. I just wondered if I needed to clean the machine after the pod broke. I like this company. It's a nicely designed product that's made in America. The coffee tastes great. And the service is pretty good. What's not to like?

I've got to stop listening to weather predictions I see on my Facebook page. They're almost always wrong. According to my Facebook friends, we were supposed to get huge storms and maybe even tornadoes tonight. I walked the dogs extra early to avoid this ominous storm. I also ate early to avoid a potential power outage. I'm not complaining, but so far it is still dry outside. I think the entire storm system passed about fifty miles south of us. Of course, things could change by morning. This is Texas after all.
Mindy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 1953

It's been a long day. Dash woke up limping and he's still limping this evening. I was hoping our vet could come up with a quick fix during his annual exam this morning, but a torn paw pad is painful and Dash will probably continue limping until the pain goes away. The vet cleaned the wound and then glued the split pad back together with medical suture glue. This will keep the cut from getting dirty or infected, but it will still be painful for a while. It's going to be tough on the little guy. He loves to walk and can't seem to keep his protective sock on for more than a minute. The rest of Dash's exam went well, although he does have high blood pressure and is going to have to start taking more or less the same blood pressure medication that I take.

On the way home from the vet, Dash peed in the car. He's never had an accident in the car before. I was really surprised, since he had already peed on his morning walk and again while he was at the vet. Oh, well. I reminded Dash that he and his sister were the reason I can't have nice things anymore, and then proceeded to clean up the mess when we got home. This wouldn't have been a big deal if Dash hadn't lifted his leg and made a direct hit on one of the speakers mounted in the rear door. Since the grill cover won't come off, I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to clean the speaker enclosure. The car will probably smell for a long time.

As I updated websites today, I kept wondering how much trouble it will be to convert these sites into mobile friendly versions. It's almost inevitable that I've have to convert all the sites I manage at some point. I"m not looking forward to this. Many of my clients are fond of their old designs and they're not going to be happy that these familiar workhorses will eventually have to be retired. I worked on my own test site a bit more today, but it was slow going. Just because something looks easy on the tutorial video, doesn't mean that it actually is easy. I learned some new things and made a few refinements today, but I'm still not ready for prime time.

Dot was really good while I was at the vet with Dash, This is the first time I've left her alone for any length of time and she did fine. I checked her on the baby monitor and she was just sleeping calmly on her dog bed. Actually, she seemed better behaved while I was away than when I'm home. When I'm here, she's either barking or getting herself stuck in tight places. I could just keep her penned while I'm working, but she's much happier being able to move from room to room. The bedroom and the office are pretty safe, but if she heads for the kitchen, I make sure to follow her. That's where she always seems to get stuck.

Dash's bad leg certainly complicates things. It took me forever to get both dogs walked today. Dot walks very, very slow and Dash seemed to lose his protective sock about every twenty yards. The dogs still want to walk, but they're not at the top of their game right now. If something happens to my own leg, we're really going to be in trouble.

I hope the dogs are walking well tomorrow. I hope I sleep well tonight. Neither of these things happened today. That's probably why everyone is so tired.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 1952

Jeez. Just as Dot is starting to walk again, Dash developed a limp. I noticed that something was wrong on his morning walk. Dozens of things can cause a dog to limp, so I was hoping that he just stepped on a thorn or something. The limp got worse as the day progressed unfortunately, so I began to get worried. I checked to see if he'd torn a cruciate. I felt his spine to see if there were any sensitive areas. I massaged his leg to see if anything made him flinch. Everything seemed normal. I always worry about dogs developing hip dysplasia as they get older. Dalmatians frequently tear cruciate ligaments as they grow older as well. I was expecting the worst, and then while he was sleeping, I noticed that Dash had cut one of his paw pads on the leg he was favoring. A cut or torn paw pad is not something to be taken lightly, but I was very relieved when I saw this cut. I'm almost certain that this is what was causing him to limp. Like many male dogs, Dash scratches the ground with his rear paws after peeing. He does this quite vigorously and he must have encountered a sharp rock or piece of glass. We'll find out how to fix the cut paw tomorrow when Dash has his annual exam. For the time being, I'm having him wear one of Dot's traction socks to keep the cut clean.

I made a breakthrough today in my ongoing effort to understand responsive web design. I've been using my own company site as the guinea pig to test out new ideas. It's been a slow process. I'll break part of the site and have to undo everything so the site works again before I try another idea. If I didn't take these slow painstaking steps, my errors would start to compound and pretty soon it would be impossible to get the site back to it's original state. I must be learning something, because I was finally able to put up a landing page that didn't look like shit. After several hours of tweaks and refinements, I actually got the page to function. By the end of the day, I had a site that passed Google's "mobile friendly" tester.  I've still got a long way to go before I'm ready to do this for clients, but "mobile friendly" is not a word I fear anymore. I can do this.

I wish I had my old mail carrier back. I used to have a fabulous mail carrier, but the post office changed her route and gave our neighborhood to someone else. I am not impressed. I've been waiting for a signature required package and it was supposed to arrive today. I don't like signature required packages because they always arrive when I'm taking a shower or am out in the back yard with the dogs. Today's mail carriers don't try very hard to find you. They leave a form telling you to go pick up your package at the post office. I left a note for the mail carrier saying she should call my cell phone if I didn't answer the door and to be sure to knock, because the doorbell isn't very loud. I needn't have bothered. While I was updating websites this morning, I saw the mail carrier out the office window just throw the package on the ground below the mailbox. She didn't even bother to get a signature. Little things like this drive me nuts.

Dot had one of her best days in a long time. She was strong and confident around the house and when we took our daily walk she didn't want to turn around. It probably helped that the weather was nice and cool today, but it wasn't just the weather. Dot is feeling better these days. Janet and I walked both dogs together this evening since Dash needed to take a short walk because of his inured paw. Dash walked slower than normal because of the sock he was wearing on his rear leg and Dot seemed visably pleased that she could keep up with him. She was even walking faster than Dash at several points. There was this look in her eye that clearly said "I'm back."

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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 1951

A few miles down the road, what is being billed as the world's largest award show concert is taking place right now. I would have enjoyed being in the audience at tonight's Academy of Country Music Awards if it weren't for the fact that I hate crowds, avoid freeway traffic at all costs, and am convinced that everything that takes place at Texas Stadium is hugely overpriced. The show looks pretty good on television though. Every time I see something like this, it reminds me that country has become the new mainstream rock and roll. There isn't a lot of difference between many of the groups that performed tonight and old school rockers like The Eagles, The Byrds, and Bon Jovi. That's OK by me. I always liked The Eagles, The Byrds, and Bon Jovi.

Instead of going to a live concert with 60,000 of my neighbors, I went up on the roof for the second day in a row and removed the water from last night's thunderstorm. Hopefully, today's efforts will last a bit longer than my futile effort yesterday. I hate doing this over and over, but I don't know of any alternative. Water is heavy and if I don't remove it quickly, the excessive weight will cause the roof to sag even more. Maybe I'll start going back to the gym when the rainy season is over. For now, this is all the exercise I need.

In case you're wondering, Dot and Dash were really quite good during yesterday's power outage and severe thunderstorms. They stayed quietly with me in the office during the entire event and didn't panic at all. It's a shame that they only listen to me when they're scared, but at least they listen sometimes. The power was only out for two hours, but when measured in dog years, it probably seemed longer.

I started creating a little test site this afternoon to see if I understand responsive web design. I didn't get very far. There's a lot of code involved to get a website to automatically resize and change its layout for tablets and smartphones. It would help if I understood Cascading Style Sheets better. I understand the basics and use CSS to set fonts, background colors and other simple tasks, but that's about it. This is much more complex. Even automation tools like Webflow and Macaw that are supposed to make the coding process easier are pretty complex. I feel like the last guy riding a horse when everybody else began driving automobiles.

I shouldn't complain though. I doubt that I'm going to be flooded with new web design jobs, even if I do learn to make them responsive. I'm doing this mostly for my own benefit. I'll practice a bit more with the fancy code tomorrow, but most of my day will be spent making updates to a very traditional website I created about ten years ago. Hey, it still works. That's more than I can say for myself these days.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day 1950

This may be shorter than usual. Our power just went out. There's a big storm headed our way, but it hasn't even arrived yet, so a power outage with no wind and no rain is a bit unusual. A feather could knock our power out though, so I'm not terribly surprised. If I'd known this was coming, I'd have charged up all the device batteries. The laptop is only half charged and the phone is even closer to dead than that. I do have the little generator now, but it's so much trouble to hook everything up, that I'm hoping that I can write fast and get this posted before everything goes dead.

The power outage wasn't the only thing that caught me by surprise today. I didn't have a clue that a big storm was headed in our direction. It was clear and sunny for most of the day. Since the weather was nice, I thought it would be a good time to get the water off the roof. I spent two hours getting everything cleaned up. That was a total wasted effort. In two more hours the storm will be here and the roof will fill with water again. I think the roof must have sagged a bit in the center, because a few years ago there was never this much standing water after a hard rain.

There wasn't really that much to do today. After I finished sweeping the water of the roof, I got groceries, filled the car with gas, and listened to a few more tutorial videos about responsive web design. Creating adaptive, mobile friendly websites might seem easy for a hard core coder, but the learning curve is going to be pretty steep for a visual designer like me. I'm curious whether I still have it in me to learn something difficult and new, so I'm going for it. Ask me in six months whether the experiment was a success.

It's harder to keep an eye on Dot now that she's feeling better. She wants to move around, but she's still pretty shaky. I try to maintain a balance between giving Dot some freedom around the house, while still being able to get to her quickly if she looks like she'd going to fall. I had to put her in her pen while I was up on the roof, but for the most part she wandered around the house on her own this afternoon. She's really a lot happier if she has a little freedom. We can't overdo it though. She was pretty tired after her short evening walk.

The first wave of rain has already arrived and we're starting to hear thunder and lightning now. The dogs are getting restless and my backup batteries are getting low. I've got both dogs penned in the office with me. We have two small camping lights and each dog has their bed. It seems cozy to me, but Dot and Dash still look nervous. I definitely don't want Dot to wander off in the dark house and trip over something. This seems as good a time as any to call it a day and get under a blanket with the dogs for the rest of the evening. This usually calms them down. I sure hope the power is restored before morning.

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Day 1949

I woke up with an uneasy feeling about today and as the day progressed, it turned out that there were good reasons for my apprehension. Service was unusually slow at breakfast this morning because they were trying to work in a new employee and I just barely got home in time so Janet could leave for work. I hate feeling rushed before eight AM. Later, someone from my insurance company called and said they needed to to photograph my house again. Why? This would be the third time they have done this. I called my agent and he didn't have a clue why the company was requesting these pictures. It can't be good. They probably want to charge more for insuring flat roof houses or something. If this were true, it would be totally unfair. I'm probably the only one in the neighborhood who hasn't gotten a new roof as a result of storm damage. Sadly, leaks don't count as storm damage.

These minor problems were nothing compared to my growing apprehension about my future as a web designer. For over a year, I've been hearing that the static sites I typically create will all be gone in a few years. Over 30% of people primarily use their phones to view websites now. To reach this growing audience, it is becoming mandatory to create responsive websites that automatically resize themselves to fit any platform they are viewed on. It is no longer enough to re-direct iPhone traffic to a much smaller vertical site. There are so many different platforms and such a multitude of potential sizes that making a separate static site for all of them would be impossible. What you need now is smart code that makes your site look equally good whether it is viewed on a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, or something that isn't even invented yet. This is responsive design and I don't know how to code it yet. To me, it's kind of like going from addition and subtraction to calculus in a single step. I've been reading tutorials for a month now, and it still seems Greek to me.

I got a call from the cancer center today saying it was time for Dot's six month recheck and another ultrasound scan.They didn't even know about her spinal surgery and the long journey to teach her to walk again. When I explained Dot's current condition to the doctors, we all agreed that it would be best to postpone the exam for a while. Dot is making great progress, but she's not ready to be a drop-off patient yet. Dot sailed through her last exam with flying colors, but I'm a bit apprehensive about going through all this again. If the cancer ever returned, I don't know what I'd do. The poor girl has been through enough.

I know I've mentioned that nothing happens on Fridays, but today was surprisingly busy. I finished two articles, did some laundry and household chores, and spent quite a while researching responsive web design. If I don't learn how to create these adaptive, mobile friendly sites soon, I'll probably be out of business within a year. I'm pretty good at dealing with today's increasingly interactive world, but I really miss print. Creating a 4-color magazine ad was fun. Creating a website that looks just as good on a phone as it does on a 30" monitor, not so much.

It's raining now. To beat the rain, I had to leave Dot alone again while I took Dash on a quick evening walk to do his business before the thunder and lightning arrived. I could hear Dot barking when we left, but she was just fine when we returned. I remembered to take her harness off this time as well. We're definitely making progress. I have a feeling that Dot will be doing back-flips and handstands before I even begin to understand responsive design.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 1948

It doesn't really take much to turn a bad day into a good day. It was supposed to rain this morning, but it didn't. I managed to located a missing UPS shipment and it will be here this weekend. I found a better source for my favorite Italian Roast coffee. I even took some decent photographs of baby ducks on my evening walk with Dash. Little things like these made me forget that I saw a giant spider in the kitchen this morning, woke up with a lot of shoulder pain, and discovered that one of my favorite watches had quit working. All you need is a little good to cancel out the bad.

Dot seems to share this attitude. Even though she stumbles a bit and can't seem to walk in a straight line, she seems quite happy with the limited mobility she has been able to regain. Dot's vet continues to be impressed with her progress, but she reminds me from time to time that Dot is fourteen and not to expect miracles. Dot gets stronger every day, but she gets older as well. I am so process oriented that I sometimes think if I faithfully continue her rehabilitation, she will eventually become a young dog again. That's not going to happen. The best we can hope for is a graceful balance between aging and recovery. Dot did great on the treadmill, but was very tired this evening. I guess that is to be expected.

I left Dot alone for the first time today. After we returned from physical therapy, I took a stack of bills to the post office and picked up some prescriptions at the pharmacy. I was only gone ten minutes, but you've got to start somewhere. When I returned, Dot was still sitting in her dog bed and didn't seem frantic at all. The experiment was a success. The only thing I forgot was to take off her harness before I left. Occasionally, one of her feet gets caught up in the harness while she is sleeping, and I don't want that to happen when I'm gone. We'll try this for a little longer when I take Dash for his annual exam next week. If that goes well, I think the dogs will be fine when I have to go for dental surgery toward the end of the month.

I hope I get some interesting projects next week. This week was slow and pretty dull. When I talk with clients they tell me that they have lots of stuff in the pipeline for me. I just hope it doesn't all hit the fan at once. There's only so much I can do in a day. I never seem to be able to regulate my work load very well. It's been feast or famine for over twenty years now, and I don't expect that to change soon.

It's a safe bet that tomorrow won't be very busy. Friday's never are. I think this is how the tradition of going out for breakfast on Friday got started. Without pressing deadlines, I finally had a little time for myself. I'll get up a extra early tomorrow and walk Dash in the dark, so there's still time to go out for breakfast before Janet leaves for work. This little oasis of time is often the high point of my week. As Dot continues to improve, I imagine that I'll be able to go back to my old schedule at some point. There's no hurry though. All in good time.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 1947

There are days when I feel like I don't even exist. I'm just a ghost in the machine, silently cleaning up dog poop, sweeping rainwater off the roof, and writing articles that are instantly forgotten if they are read at all. I'd like to convince myself that what I do actually matters, but there is often very little evidence that it does. This is the problem with depending on dogs for companionship. You learn to live in the moment, but you don't get a lot of feedback. I know when the dogs want to eat. where they want to walk, and if they are in pain, but I don't really know what they are thinking. Maybe life is just as much of a mystery to them.

It was a shame to waste such a beautiful day up on the roof, but I'm already starting to see mosquitoes and it's more important than ever to dry things out. The warmer it gets, the more the standing water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With more reported cases of West Nile Virus every year, you hate to tempt fate. Today, I mucked around in my bare feet so I wouldn't get my dog walking boots wet. The water was warm, but very slippery. I made a mental note not to get near the edge of the roof. The more I see how deep this water gets after a hard rain, the more impressed I am that the roof doesn't leak. It's almost like we've got a duck pond on our roof.

Dot is getting increasingly independent. I'm letting her wander around the house on her own now and I can tell she enjoys the freedom. She still wears the Help 'Em Up Harness all the time, but I seldom need to support her rear legs anymore. I've tied a lightweight nylon leash to the rear handle of the harness that I hold loosely as she walks around. If she starts to slip, this connection to the harness still lets me prevent her from falling. It gives her more independence though and she's learning to walk more confidently on her own. Dot still can't back up very well, or navigate tight corners in the kitchen, but she's getting there. I wonder if her vet will see as much improvement as I have this week when I take her for her physical therapy session tomorrow.

Tax day came and went without incident. My taxes are filed and I'll get a small refund. I can't believe how complex my taxes are, considering how little money I make. By the time the Schedule C, Schedule D, Schedule E, Schedule K-1, home office deductions and half a dozen other esoteric forms are completed, it feels like I'm submitting a book. My accountant makes fun of how little money I make. It's a joke to him, since he remembers when I used to make much, much more, but it's not very funny to me. I should make a lot of money, but my skills just aren't as valuable as they were in the 1980's and 90's. I guess I could have changed professions, but I continue to dance with the one who brung me. I'm a writer who hates meetings and can barely tolerate my fellow man. In many ways I feel lucky that I can still pay the bills on my own terms.

I wanted to install a free Unix program on my computer that could read the dogs MRI scans today, but I discovered that the X-Code application that allows me to run Unix and Linux applications on my Mac was out of date. Increasing, I am being prodded into upgrading to Maverick or Yosemite or whatever the current operating system flavor is these days. I'm still running Lion because this is the end of the road for most of my existing software. It's too expensive to upgrade everything and I don't feel like upgrading anyway. I'm tempted to dig an old computer out of the storage warehouse and start running System 9 again. I was happier in those days.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 1946

My impacted wisdom tooth is starting to hurt again, so I reluctantly re-scheduled my dental surgery. Since this surgery was supposed to take place in early February, I was kind of hoping that we would have to start all over again with new consultation visits and the surgery itself could be postponed until June or something. No such luck. They were able to work me in rather quickly. No extra visits needed. One of the reasons I postponed the surgery so long is that the money I had put aside to pay for it got used for Dot's spinal surgery. The other reason, was that I never wanted to have my wisdom teeth removed in the first place. I have been warned that painful teeth can go from mildly unpleasant to excruciating almost overnight, so I can't continue to delay this forever. I'm always a little nervous that even good dentists seldom use board-certified anesthesiologists for surgical procedures. They often just handle the anesthesia themselves. Jeez, I'd hate to wind up the way Joan Rivers did.

Since my mind was on medical things today, I also made an appointment for Dash's annual physical.  Last year when Dash had his annual exam, he was still going through radiation treatment for his thyroid cancer. I hope this year's exam is a lot more routine. The exam won't be long and Dash's vet is nearby, so this will be a good time to see how Dot does on her own. Since she can sit and stand reasonably well now, I think she'll be fine. I'll leave her in a secure area with a non-slip rug under her feet and hope she doesn't bark the entire time I'm gone. If this goes well, I'll feel better about leaving her for a longer amount of time when I go to have my wisdom tooth removed.

There was a noisy commotion in the alley behind our house this morning when city street crews brought in a road grader to grade the surface. Years ago the city greatly improved the dirt alley by mixing a cement product with the gravel that created a hard surface after being exposed to water. For some inexplicable reason, the grader removed all of this hard surface today. Now, the alley is just raw dirt, which will instantly turn into a mud pit the next time it rains. Luckily, we don't use the alley for our cars, but this new development will make the dogs harder to clean up on rainy days. I'll be the first to admit that the alley needed improvements, but the city just made it worse. Go figure.

Work was still slow today, so I continued my quest to rediscover my inner audio engineer. I downloaded missing instruction manuals for more old audio gear and began to re-learn what I used to know by heart. I could probably spend the rest of my life re-learning essential skills that I've forgotten. After I become competent at recording and mixing again, I could get out my watch repair tools and learn to fix watches again. I've certainly got plenty of watches that need fixing. I could learn to process black and white film again and start taking pictures with my old Nikons. I could hook up a keyboard and learn to play the piano again. The list is endless.

I enjoy dabbling. It's too bad I still need to work to pay vet bills, dentists, landscapers, and accountants. I'd be fairly content to get up every morning and re-learn things I've forgotten. If that got boring, I could start re-reading books in my library. These books will seem like new again, since I can't remember how half of them end anyway. I doubt that I'll get the opportunity to be this indulgent though. Re-learning how to record tunes on forty year old gear and re-reading a floor to ceiling wall of novels isn't going to pay the bills.

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