Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 2023

I was hoping to see the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus this evening, but the Western sky was obscured by clouds. If you were looking for the Moon though, everything was fine. The Eastern skies were clear, so I did see a bright, almost full moon rising and a very nice sunset. I try not to miss comets, eclipses, meteor showers and other astronomical events. The constant haze and glare from all the city lights makes most of these night sky events almost invisible, but at least I make an effort to see them.

The weather continues to be unpredictable. If you remember, I was complaining about how hot it was getting yesterday. An unexpected thunderstorm blew through town around 3 AM this morning and cooled things down by at least thirty degrees. When we took our morning walk with the dogs just before sunrise, the air was crisp and cool again. What a nice surprise. According to the calendar it is the last day in June, but for a little while this morning it felt like early April.

I keep hearing about how today is a "leap second" day where an extra second is added to the year to keep our slightly imperfect calendar from getting out of whack. How will anyone ever know if this little slice of time has really been added? I have a couple of watches that are set by signals from the atomic clock in Colorado. I wonder if they'll reset themselves while I'm asleep tonight to add this extra second? If they don't, I'll probably be one second behind for the rest of my life.

I got a message from a cousin today saying that one of my aunts had died. She was 96. There is one aunt left who is 99 and still going strong. Amazing. The men in the family didn't do so well. An uncle died at a relatively early age from Alzheimer's Disease and my Dad has been gone for over a decade now. I wonder how I'll fare? They say genetics has a lot to do with it, but I think it has more to do with living a stress free life. People I've known who were under a lot of stress for a sustained period of time never lived very long.

We had a surprising amount of rain last night, so I had to get the water off the roof again. I think keeping the roof dry and cleaning up dog poop are starting to define my life. Oddly, I don't find these things stressful, so maybe I'll live to be 96 too.

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 2022

Dot broke a three day streak and pooped in the house again today. I guess this is the new normal. She seems happy and doesn't appear to be in any pain or discomfort, but it's sad to see her slowly deteriorate. Aging is relentless. You can't stop it and slowing it down is mostly just an illusion. We are all slowing down. Dot is the most obvious senior citizen in the family, but she has a lot of company. Dash is no longer a young dog. I'm a big bundle of geriatric aches and pains. Even Janet is getting older. I guess the trick is to slide into decrepitude with as much dignity as you can.

Today was pretty unfocused. There were no looming deadlines, but I still felt busy. I had to go to the vet and pick up more phenobarbital for Dash. Someone is always running out of pills these days. I went to the store to pick up some things I forgot when I went grocery shopping on Saturday. I washed the car even though it wasn't very dirty. There are still several websites I need to convert to a mobile friendly format, but I couldn't bring myself to start any of them. Like I said, it was a pretty unfocused day.

The stock market really took a tumble today. I've never been a huge fan of globalization and still find it distressing that events in Greece can affect lives in Dallas. I shouldn't have to care if Greece defaults on their debt, but everything is interconnected now. I'm convinced that this mutual dependance is not always a good thing. When I was a kid I remember that we used to go on school field trips to factories a lot. Every town large and small had a factory. We made everything and thrived by selling things to each other. We didn't need to import things from China. Now all the factories are gone and we make nothing. And people wonder why there aren't any jobs. America has always been blessed with an abundance of resources. We had everything we needed to have a nice self-sustaining economy, but we got greedy. Companies wanted bigger profits and customers wanted to buy things cheaper. Factories and jobs moved offshore and here we are, nervously wondering what's going to happen if Greece leaves the Eurozone. It didn't have to be this way.

We got lucky in June, but July is going to be hot, just like it always is in Texas. Dot and Dash don't even want to go out in the afternoon anymore. Dash usually takes a nice evening walk, but I had a hard time even getting him to go around the block today. He's no dummy. It's just too hot. Dogs don't sweat like we do. As temperatures increase you've got to worry about heatstroke and at some point, even the pavement gets too hot for a dog to walk on. Early mornings are still OK, but I don't think we'll be walking very far in the afternoon until things cool down again. If history is any guide, that won't be until October.

I shouldn't be tired, but I am. The dogs still need their evening meds and a final trip outside to pee. I need to run a test print through the large printer to keep it from clogging and then I'm done. I'll brush my teeth and watch another old episode of Perry Mason on TV to help me fall asleep. Maybe I'll have something interesting to write about on Tuesday, but I wouldn't count on it.

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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 2021

Sunday's are often the busiest days of the week. The dogs get longer walks because there are fewer work constraints. The lawn gets mowed, because what better is there to do after breakfast than mow the lawn. Sometimes the house gets cleaned, but not today. I was pleased the Dot had more energy today. She always walks better when Dash is with her. Since Dash was so good about walking slow for Dot's benefit, we took him to a nearby dog park as a special treat later in the morning. You can tell that Dash is getting older too. He used to race around the dog park with wild abandon. Now, he just walks slowly from tree to tree, smelling things and looking for new places to pee. He still enjoys being off leash though. I'd take him to the dog park more often if people were more responsible. There's always someone who brings an aggressive dog. Today we saw one dog get in a fight with several others. The dogs that got attacked didn't appear to be injured, but the whole episode was totally unnecessary.

Mowing the grass with a non-self propelled mower definitely burns up a lot of calories. I think I'm just about the only person in the neighborhood who still mows their own grass anymore. Most of the other neighbors have a lawn care service. I still do a lot of things that other people have given up on. I'm kind of a throwback to an earlier era, except when it comes to technology. I may still mow my own grass, vacuum my own floors, and fix my own refrigerator, but I'm not shy about adopting the latest technology if it will do the job better. This year I have become a huge fan of Keurig coffee makers, Dyson vacuum cleaners, and even though I collect vintage mechanical watches, I'm going to add the Apple Watch to my list of really useful technical innovations.

I watched the Space X Dragon 9 launch on NASA TV right after breakfast and was shocked to see the rocket explode two minutes into its flight. Space X has had a remarkable success record, so this was very unexpected. This is a major setback, since this same rocket is scheduled to start carrying people to the space station in a little over a year. The astronauts on the station must be getting nervous. This is the second supply rocket failure in a row and the third in less than a year. In a way, I'm glad I didn't go to this launch. I'd much rather cheer on a success than witness a failure.

There are some pilings in the lake that Double-crested Cormorants and Gulls like to roost on in the Winter. I've probably photographed these pilings hundreds of times. They look completely different in the morning than they do in the afternoon. On foggy days they look spectacular. Sometimes each pole has a bird sitting on top, and other days, like today. they are all empty. I find these pilings strangely beautiful, but the city wants to demolish them. Some neighbors love these things and others think they're an eyesore. There's no accounting for taste I guess.

I listened to a Ted Talk on the way to the gym where the speaker was talking about how technology is fundamentally changing what it means to be human. The guy's point was that people are slowly becoming more comfortable interacting with their phones and robots than they are with other people. I guess this is true, but from my perspective it's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll always use the automated checkout kiosk in a store instead of going to a cashier. It's quicker, easier, and you don't have to talk with anyone. I would probably never use a personal trainer at the gym, but I felt strangely motivated today when my watch told me that I only had a few minutes to go before I'd burned 300 calories.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 2020

I kind of hate to admit it, but I love to track things. I track the weather. I use fitness bands to track my steps. I use apps on my phone to track where I go in the car. Probably this blog is just a way to track how I feel over a long period of time. At any rate, now that I've learned how to use an Apple Watch, I've discovered that there are whole new worlds of things I can track. The device keeps a continuous record of your heart rate and the calories you burn and sends them to the Health app on your phone. If you are so inclined, you can add WiFi scales, blood pressure cuffs, and lord knows what else so you can track even more. I'm not interested in the day-to-day, but the long term trends are fascinating. The number of miles I walk each day has been in a slow, steady decline for almost three years. My weight peaked about twelve years ago and has been very gradually declining ever since. I'm almost back to my college weight now and I don't really know why.

There was certainly plenty to track today. I kept moving all day long. Dot was tired and needed a rest, so I let Dash walk as long as he wanted. We walked about three miles and were gone over an hour. A little later I burned 150 calories getting the water off the roof. It felt like I should have burned a lot more, but there wasn't a setting on my fitness app for pushing a broom. I set the thing for a brisk walk instead. I have a feeling that I should have used the setting for the elliptical machine, or something more strenuous. All these fitness things on my phone seem to be very goal oriented. They set goals for you and then when you reach the goal, they set a new goal to push you a little harder. The first thing I do when I install one of these apps and turn all the goal reminders off. I'm a curious person and am interested in everything, but I'm not very goal oriented. I certainly don't need my phone telling me to work harder.

Dash doesn't understand the concept of sleeping in on weekends. For the past several weeks he has started getting out of bed about 6:30 AM and barking at the foot of the bed until he wakes everyone else up. Dot would be content to sleep a bit longer on her own, but when Dash starts barking, she always joins in. At this point it is useless to try to sleep any longer. The only good thing about these canine alarm clocks is it forces us to get up and walk the dogs while it is still cool outside. It warms up so fast once the sun is up, that even an hour delay in getting the dogs out can make a huge difference in how hot they get. Since we had a long walk this morning, it literally felt ten degrees warmer by the time we got home.

I'll probably need to mow the grass again tomorrow. The yard has never looked this green so late in the year. I'm surprised at how fast the grass is growing, since some years it doesn't grow at all in the Summer. I wonder how many calories that mowing the grass will burn? There's not a setting for mowing the grass on the fitness app either. When are these people going to learn that there are more ways to exercise than going to the gym and spending thirty minutes on the Stairmaster?

Space X is going to launch another Dragon 9 rocket tomorrow. I had an opportunity to go to Florida and view the launch with the NASA folks again, but the trip was too expensive and I didn't want to leave Dot anyway. Oh, well. For the time being, life has become too complicated for these kinds of trips. I guess I'll just watch the launch on my computer.

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 2019

Today was stressful. Dot's platelet count was normal and she got the green light to continue her Palladia treatment, but the nurse had trouble finding a vein and Dot ended up having a big hematoma on her neck. I had the doctor look at it and she said Dot would be fine. The big swelling had to be uncomfortable though. Dot was also surprisingly shaky today, considering how strong she's been for the past week. There's really no rhyme or reason to this at this point. Dot has good days and bad days. Hopefully, she'll be feeling better tomorrow.

Hopefully, I'll be feeling better tomorrow as well. It's sucks getting old. Although I've fixed the screen door half a dozen times before, it has never been as difficult as it was today. I couldn't even raise my right arm enough to reach the top hinge and remove it so I could get the door off. My shoulder has really deteriorated since the last time I did this. I finally got the hinge off by standing on a chair, but it was so much easier when I could reach above my head with both arms. Carpel tunnel has taken its toll as well. I usually attach the screen mesh to the door using a staple gun and than attach the wooden trim back to the door using a different type of staple gun that shoots little brads into the wood. These are heavy duty staple guns, but I've never had trouble using them before. This time I often had to use both hands to squeeze the handle hard enough to fire a staple. To make matters worse, there were mosquitoes everywhere. I had to go back inside and change into long pants and a long sleeve jacket to avoid being eaten alive. It was 100 degrees too, so I was soaked with sweat by the time the job was finished. The door looks nice though. Hopefully, I won't have to do this again for a while.

I found a less expensive source for Dot's Palladia drug online and asked her oncologist if she'd write a prescription so I could purchase the chemotherapy pills this way. I was surprised when she was very reluctant to let me use the online source. She said that she couldn't guarantee that the pills would be effective. "They might have sat in the heat too long, or even be past their expiration date," she told me. "But these are sealed bottles in the pharmaceutical company's original packaging," I said. I knew that this was a reputable pharmacy, because I'd done my research. "Well, could you sell me full, sealed bottles like the ones I see here on the website," I asked? If I received sealed bottles from the manufacturer, I wouldn't have to pay the cancer center's $40 hazardous material handling fee every time I renewed my prescription. "We can't do that," the oncologist said. "We have to count the pills and repackage them to make sure you get the right amount." This made even less sense. I'm pretty sure the count would be right in a factory sealed manufacturer's bottle. Actually, I remember now that the cancer center miscounted Dash's chemotherapy pills once and gave me five fewer pills than I should have gotten. Five pills doesn't sound like much, but at $25 per pill, it can add up. The whole conversation was frustrating to me.

I watered the lawn this morning because it was really starting to get hot and dry. I shouldn't have bothered. As I write this, the dogs are both huddled under my desk and we are right in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. I wasn't expecting this storm and it caught me completely by surprise. Actually, quite a few things caught me completely by surprise today. My breakfast was good this morning though. No surprises there.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 2018

Today went well. We managed to get up early enough to give the dogs a nice walk just before sunrise when the air was still cool. Dot was surprisingly strong, so we let her go the full distance, even though it was her physical therapy day. There was time for a leisurely breakfast and I was still able to get all my work done before Dot and I headed downtown for her regular Thursday vet appointment.

Dot surprised me again in the underwater treadmill.  She went the full fifteen minutes today, and didn't falter or stumble at all. Everyone was amazed at her continued strength and resilience. She did poop in the vet's lobby, but we'll overlook that. Whenever Dot barks these days, something comes out the other end. I need to get one of those "Shit Happens" bumper stickers you used to see all the time in the 60's and 70's. It pretty well sums up my life these days.

I'm going to have to start watering the lawn again. The ground is drying out surprisingly fast, considering all the rain we've had recently. In less than a week the park has gone from a boggy marsh to a dry prairie. It could always rain again tomorrow, but I have a feeling that Summer is here for good. There's something about the weather in Texas that make me always wish it was a different season. In the Winter I wish it was Summer and in the Summer I wish it was Winter. Maybe it's just me. When it comes to weather, I'm very hard to please.

I'm going to try to get the screen door fixed tomorrow. It's just about dry enough to spray the yard with the pet friendly mosquito retardant we got recently too. This stuff probably won't work, but it's worth a try. With any luck, I'll have time to do both. I'm pretty well caught up with work again. The only important event on tomorrow's schedule is taking Dot to the cancer center for blood work. She's only been taking the Palladia pills for a week now, but it's important to determine whether the drug is adversely affecting her liver or red blood cell count. So far, I haven't noticed any obvious side effects, so I'm really hoping that tomorrow's tests will show she is able to tolerate the drug. Since surgery isn't an option, Palladia is probably the only thing we've got left that has a reasonable chance of shrinking the tumor or slowing down the cancer's advance.

This week went quickly. I've already taken the trash out to the curb for the noisy early morning garbage trucks to pick up and I'm looking forward to going out for breakfast again. Even though my favorite restaurant raised their prices recently, my special Friday breakfasts are still one of the few things left that I consider a bargain.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 2017

Today was slow. It was a good kind of slow though. We got up later than usual. The dogs got a long, leisurely walk before the temperature got too hot. I dawdled over breakfast, because there was no particular reason to be in a hurry. I did have a few website maintenance chores when I finally got around to turning on the computer, but I finished everything in less than an hour. By the time the dogs reminded me that I needed to fix their lunch, I had accomplished virtually nothing.

The afternoon was busier.  I went out and got a haircut, which took longer than usual because it was long overdue. I really should get my hair cut once a month, but often I go two or even three months between cuts because it's not really a high priority anymore. I feel better with a good haircut though, so I probably ought to make an effort to look presentable a little more often. I've worn my hair every which way over the years, but I think today's trim look is much better than those questionable years when I wore a mullet or tried to look like a member of The Grateful Dead.

On the way back from the hair salon, I stopped at the Apple Store to pick up my birthday watch. I wear lots of different watches, but I've got to say that I was impressed with the thought that went into the Apple Watch. It's extremely well made and a lot of the features are actually useful. I like that you can respond to a text message by just talking into the watch. Many apps are voice activated, so you don't have to do much typing on the tiny screen. A lot of things I typically use my phone for, like checking the weather or my appointment calendar are easily accessible on the watch. We'll see how long the battery lasts. Batteries usually end up being a disappointment on anything that Apple makes. I love the watch though. It's very useful and I have a feeling that it will be on my wrist a lot more often than the other watches I usually wear.

I've gotten into the habit of feeding the dogs little pieces of banana and kibble as I eat breakfast to keep them from barking at me. I think I've created a monster though. Now, they want me to do the same thing at dinner. Meals have turned into a ritual of one bite for me and one bite for you. I feed them tiny little pieces, so they won't get fat, but the ritual itself is getting complicated. Meals were much more relaxing when both dogs were just sleeping in the bedroom.

Dot resumes her physical therapy tomorrow. I assume that the underwater treadmill is fixed by now. Maybe I ought to check. I need to think about resuming my own physical therapy as well. I definitely have a greater range of motion in my shoulder now, but my therapist told me at the end of my first series of sessions that I ought to come in again in the summer. I'm not sure that insurance will pay for more therapy though. Another thing I need to check.

The Spring wildflower season is starting to come to a close. A lot of the flowers would be gone by now if we hadn't received so much rain in May. I'm starting to see seed pods though, and that's usually a pretty good sign that the flower show is over.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 2016

Dot almost made it through the night. I recognize the signs now. Whenever she gets up and leaves her dog bed in the middle of the night, she's had an accident. I took her on a short walk down the alley to see if she'd finish what she started and sure enough she did. When we got back inside, I cleaned up her mess, threw the blanket protecting her bed in the washer and we all went back to sleep. It's amazing how almost anything can become uneventful and routine if it happens frequently enough.

When the sun came up a few hours later, we ate breakfast and took our morning walk. Even before sunrise, I could tell it was going to be a hot day. There is nothing consistent about our weather at all.  A few days ago it was pouring rain and a bit chilly. Today was just a normal sunny Texas Summer day.

Since it looked like it was going to be dry for a few days, I decided to get the water off the roof. A lot of it had already evaporated, so the job didn't take long. I'm hoping the roof will stay dry for a while, so the roofers can come over and finish patching the areas where the Elastomeric coating has bubbled up during the May rains. The roofers have been pretty good about fixing these trouble spots, but after what I paid for this roof a few years ago, there shouldn't even be trouble spots.

After I took the outgoing mail to the post office, I stopped by Home Depot and got some wire mesh screening material to fix the screen door. To be on the safe side, I picked up some fiberglass screening material too. One of these items should do the job whenever I actually get around to fixing the door. It's not a fun job, so the screens I bought today could end up sitting around the house for weeks.

I noticed a small mistake in a website I'd finished about a month ago. Nobody has complained yet, but I thought it would be a good idea to fix everything before anyone else noticed. It was a simple mistake, but the bad code was found on every single page in the site. It took me quite a while to get everything back to normal. I could probably have just left things alone, but the mistake was mine and I couldn't let it go. I doubt highly that anyone else even noticed.

I went to an animal rescue board meeting tonight. I've skipped so many of these meetings that I was beginning to feel like they'd kick me out of the group if I didn't start making an appearance now and then. The meeting wasn't bad, and as an added bonus for fighting rush hour traffic to attend, they served pizza. I'd be fat and probably have diabetes if I ate pizza all the time, but it sure is good. I love pizza, but I still don't like meetings.

I'm perpetually tired these days. I'd go to bed earlier, but it's already pretty late by the time I finish writing the blog. I'd get up later, but the dogs wouldn't hear of it. They both like to walk at the crack of dawn, when it's still cool outside. To make matters worse, I've always been a very light sleeper. The dogs wake me up two or three times every night. Today is pretty typical. I can't wait to turn out the lights and go to bed. A little sleep is better than no sleep at all.

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

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 2015

Hmm. Today's blog day is the same as the actual year. I wish there was some significance to this, but there probably isn't. If I'd started the blog three days earlier, this all would have happened on my birthday. Now, that would have been weird.

The only thing weird about today was my doctor's appointment. I had been hoping to convince my doctor to discontinue two of my meds, simply because they were becoming too expensive. I got my wish, but not in the way I expected. When the doctor was explaining how various medications worked to control cholesterol, A1C, blood pressure, and various other things, I noticed something odd. As he  explained what the expensive drug was supposed to do, I stopped him and pointed to a row of numbers. "This drug doesn't appear to be working," I said. "If it was, these numbers would be going in the opposite direction." "That bothers me too," the doctor said. "Lets just quit taking this for two months and see what happens." OK. That's what I've been wanting to do for the last two years anyway. Since I was on a roll, I decided to bring up another drug I've grown to dislike. "Do I really need to take this Niacin," I asked? I hate the timed release Niacin, because in addition to being expensive, it causes an uncomfortable flushing reaction that turns my skin bright red for an hour or so. The doctor said that the special version of Niacin was supposed to cause the flushing to occur while I was asleep, so I would never notice it. Nope, usually I'm wide awake. "Well, if the delay isn't working right," the doctor told me, "why don't you just take inexpensive over-the-counter Niacin instead?" Sounds good to me. Over-the-counter Niacin is about $5. The special prescription version of this drug is costing me $80 a month.

My numbers weren't really bad today, but it would have been nice if they were improving instead of getting worse. I'm pretty sure that everything can be explained by a slight relaxation of the strict diet I was following when I was being treated for Hepatitis-C. I still eat very healthy meals, but there are more comfort foods now. Instead of a strict plant-based diet with very little red meat, I'll have a steak now and then and typically enjoy some sausage or bacon with my morning eggs. I didn't used to do this during the year I was eating oatmeal in the morning and kale salads at night. I guess it makes a difference. Probably throwing a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream into my morning smoothie isn't helping matters either. It's a shame that almost everything delicious or fun is bad for you.

The doctor asked me if I was experiencing anything stressful in my life, since one of the tests apparently shows different results under stress. Naw, everything's normal I thought. Just dogs with cancer and spinal injuries, lots of expensive dental work, and a declining income. Today actually was pretty normal. I had one article to write, but I had that finished well before noon. The dogs seemed strong and in good spirits, even though the temperature was a lot warmer. Dot slept well and didn't poop in her bed. What's not to like?

I made an appointment to get a haircut later in the week and finally had a talk with my insurance agent about my homeowners policy. Maybe if it's still sunny tomorrow, I'll get the water off the roof. It's amazing how everything does get done eventually.  All in good time, I say.

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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day 2014

Today was all about the weather. Things got off to a very early start when I smelled poop as I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Dot had pooped in the house again. I kind of suspected this might happen when she refused to stay outside long enough to do her business before we went to bed last night. Who could blame her. The yard was wet and she was tired. I cleaned the mess up, put the soiled dog blankets in the washer and we went back to bed again. The rain continued sporadically throughout the night, but when daylight arrived, it had stopped. Since the radar showed that more storms were on the way, we dressed quickly and used the opportunity to give the dogs their morning walk. Dot and Dash were in no hurry, so we barely made it home again before the next round of rain started.

Whenever Dot poops in the house, it sets off a clean frenzy. We start by cleaning the soiled blankets and rugs. Then we notice how dirty everything is surrounding these areas and the vacuum comes out. It doesn't take long for the house to get dirty with two dogs and the seemingly endless rain we've been having. I'm glad the new Dyson has a five year warranty, because we're going to wear the thing out. By the time I was finished cleaning today, I had emptied the Dyson several times. I'm glad I got the yard taken care of yesterday, because today would not have been a good day for yard work. It wasn't a good day to fix the screen door either. That will have to wait.

The skies had cleared quite a bit by mid-afternoon, so we decided to take Dash to a new dog park in the neighborhood. Since everyone in the house has been having cabin fever lately, it seemed like a good idea to let Dash do something fun for a change. We hadn't been at the park for five minutes before I noticed some ominous looking black clouds to the South of us. We made several circles around the park perimeter to let Dash smell things and then headed home again. On the way home, the rain started again. It was like this all day long. There would be a short torrential downpour, followed by a dry spell of an hour or so, and then the rain would start again.

It was just as well that I was mostly housebound today. I had a huge website update to complete and rainy days are generally good for this type of thing. I added over 60 new dogs and cats to a rescue website I manage. It's hard to keep these type of sites current. By the time the photographer has time to take pictures of the new animals, half of them have already been adopted. I imagine that I will get a call in the near future asking me to remove many of the animals I just finished adding today. It's not an entirely futile effort though. The dogs and cats do get homes and sometimes it is the website that brings people and pets together.

When I finished working on the rescue website, I started writing another article. By the time I managed to come up with a decent headline, I realized I was very tired and took a short nap. That was it for writing today. When I woke up, it was time for dinner and a brief evening walk with the dogs. Dot pooped right on schedule this time, so maybe we'll all be able to get a good night's sleep tonight.

Next week is already looking pretty busy.  There are two vet appointment, a doctor's appointment for me, an appointment to get a haircut, and then there is a meeting I really ought to attend even though I detest meetings. Of course there are still all the usual articles to write and websites to update. I often feel like a hamster with one of those exercise wheels in their cage. I'd like to get caught up on everything and have absolutely nothing to do, but I don't think it's going to happen.

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

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 2013

No symbolic milestones today. The day after your birthday is just another day. Since it was Saturday, it was a day for chores. We got started early, because Janet had a class she needed to attend. The dogs appreciated our early start and got a nice morning walk before the weather got too warm. After fixing a Smoothie for breakfast, I mowed the grass in both the front and back yards. I removed all the standing water from the roof, which turned out to be a futile exercise, since it is raining again right now. I filled the car with gas, went to the bank, and picked up some things at Sam's Club. That should have been enough for one day, but there was still a lot of time to fill, so I finished writing an article that wasn't really due until Monday.

So far, Dot isn't having any adverse reaction to taking the Palladia pills. I know she's only taken a single dose on Friday, but this is still a good sign. I've got to find some new stickers to put on the dog's pill calender. The calendar is getting pretty crowded. There is a sticker for their monthly heartworm pills. There are little colored dots to indicate when we've given the dog's their regular daily morning and evening meds. There is a different color sticker for Dash's doxycycline, because these pills must always be given with food. I need to find something important looking for the Palladia pills. A gold star maybe. It may seem silly, but it is the only way I can remember all these things.

Tomorrow is the first day of Summer. It's also Father's Day, but since I'm not a father, this holiday has always been somewhat of a non-event for me. Maybe we will have a mild Summer this year. The continual rain is certainly keeping the temperatures down. For the dog's sake, I hope the cool weather continues. Dot has always had a tough time dealing with the heat. With all her problems now, I was really dreading a month of triple digit days. Maybe we'll get lucky. After all she's been through, Dot deserves a cool Summer.

After all the mosquitoes I've killed inside the house, you'd think they'd all be gone by now. Nope. I just got bitten again. The city doesn't seem as worried about West Nile Disease this year, so maybe these are just ordinary mosquitoes. They are certainly a nuisance. I'm debating whether to spend tomorrow afternoon putting a new screen on the back door instead of going to the gym. Screen doors and Dalmatians don't co-exist very well and I've fixed the screen door in the back more times than I can count. The torn screen is probably one reason that so many mosquitoes are getting into the house. Doors have gotten wider over the years and I can no longer find screen wire sized to fit our narrow door frame. I have to go to Home Depot and buy a wider screen and then cut it down to size. The screen has been repaired so many times that it's getting hard to find good wood on the frame to staple the screen wire to. Actually, it's hard to even find staples for my ancient staple gun. At times like these, I realize that the house is only five years younger than I am. I guess we're both Mid-Century Modern relics. All I know is that keeping the two of us patched together is getting to be a full time job.

Alamo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 2012 - My Birthday

I'm 67 years old. When I started blogging, I was still a little reluctant to reveal my age. I work in an industry that worships youth and I thought that my age was starting to hurt my business. I don't really care anymore. We all get older. Even though we are both old and tired, Janet and I can still run circles around most Millennials. I wear my age like a badge of honor now. I grew up in the best of times. I got to experience Woodstock, the moon landings, the Beatles, and president Kennedy firsthand. The Internet was so new that when I first began designing websites, one of my early creations was included in a book listing the top 1000 websites in the entire world. Jeez. Now, there are probably more than 1000 websites in my own zip code.

The world has definitely changed. My parents took long car trips in the Summer and we visited almost every National Park. None of us wore seat belts. I climbed trees when I was young and walked to school when I got a little older. On the Fourth of July we bought M-80s and Cherry Bombs. On Halloween we wandered around the neighborhood for hours at night in strange homemade costumes and nobody got hurt or abducted. Our parents didn't drive us to ballet lessons and soccer practice. They just told us to go outside and play. The world was a safer, much kinder place and I grew up confident and secure as a result. It was the best of times. Although it sucks to watch as your body and mind slowly begin to deteriorate, I wouldn't trade places with today's Millennials for all the money in the world.

Giving the dogs their daily meds just got a little more complicated. Dash still takes the most pills. He needs phenobarbital for seizures, allopurinol to prevent kidney stones, benezepril for high blood pressure, levothyroxine because he lost his thyroid gland to cancer, and doxycycline to cure his Lyme Disease. Dot only takes Palladia, but chemotherapy is more complex than all Dash's meds put together. When I give Dot her pills, I have to put on purple rubber bio-hazard gloves, pen Dash temporarily in the bedroom so he won't inadvertently grab one of the pills by mistake, and then wash everything I've touched before I put the pills away again. I hope that Dot tolerates the Palladia well and doesn't suffer from any of the potential side effects. Palladia, like any cancer drug, doesn't work for everybody. We'll discontinue the drugs if they make Dot miserable. She has lived a long and happy life. The quality of the time she has remaining with us is much more important than the length of time. I just want her to be happy.

My own meds aren't complicated, They are just expensive. When I went to get some prescriptions refilled today, the pharmacy declined my credit card. WTF? I always pay my balance in full every month and was puzzled why anyone would decline my card. I called Visa when I got home and they told me that they had flagged the pharmacy transaction as suspicious since the dollar amount was much higher than usual. I told the Visa lady that I thought the amount seemed suspicious as well. "I am in the Medicare Doughnut Hole," I said, "and the cost of my meds has literally doubled overnight." The Visa lady said she was sorry and reinstated my card. I still don't understand what this Doughnut Hole is all about. When I had private insurance, my prescription costs always stayed about the same. Medicare Part D is different. They pay for a while. Then they quit paying while you're in the Doughnut Hole phase. Eventually they come back and pay for virtually everything in the "Catastrophic" phase, after they feel they have punished you enough. Only the government could create something so needlessly complex.

We had a nice birthday dinner with Sprinkles cupcakes for dessert. Janet surprised me with an Apple Watch for my birthday. I wasn't expecting anything and felt a bit guilty since we are both spending so much for the dogs medical care. I was delighted to get the watch though. 67 is a lot different than 37, but life is still good. Thanks to all of of you who sent me birthday greetings on Facebook today. You guys probably raised my Klout score by three or four points.

Inky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Day 2011

I went and picked up Dot's chemotherapy medication after breakfast this morning. When Dash finished his year long Palladia treatment, I was hoping that I'd never see this drug again. The trouble with cancer drugs is that you can't be sure if they really work. The oncologist can cite all sorts of statistics, but in the end they are just statistics. You can still die of cancer even after extensive chemotherapy treatment and it's still possible to go into remission if you do nothing. My instinct is to find the best doctors and just do what they say, but the ambiguity of cancer treatment is still unsettling. Dot will initially take the drug for one week and then she'll have a blood test at the end of next week to determine if the Palladia has adversely affected her red and white cell count. If her blood chemistry looks good and she doesn't have excessive diarrhea, Dot will probably continue taking Palladia for the rest of her life, or until we run out of money. Chemotherapy can be very expensive.

I thought I'd get a lot done today since Dot had to cancel her physical therapy appointment because the underwater treadmill was broken. Unfortunately, I didn't get any more accomplished than any other day. Little things kept getting in the way. I'm beginning to wish that e-mail was never invented. Janet is continually answering work related e-mail at home and even with a smaller client base, I spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with e-mail myself. I'd like to say "not my circus, not my monkeys" to everyone, but if you have a small business like I do, you quickly realize that the problems actually are your monkeys.

At least the weather was nice today. There was a cool breeze when we took the dogs on their early morning walk and the temperature was still reasonable later in the day when it was time for the evening walk. Tropical Depression Bill has moved on and there was actually lots of blue sky today. I don't think there is any rain in the forecast for tomorrow either. All this really means is that it's time to get all the water off the roof again. We got a couple of products to control mosquitoes recently that are supposed to be organic and pet friendly. I did a little research on the Internet and discovered that one of the products was probably as safe as it claimed to be, while the other one was poison. The second product was so hazardous that I can't believe that someone sold it to us as safe to use around dogs. It's hard to trust anyone these days. While the mosquito treatment products may be questionable, at least there was some satisfaction in learning that the food Dot and Dash eat was still the best available. I saw a recent independent study that tested and ranked over 2000 types of dog food and the brand our dogs have eaten for years was among the elite top 25. Hey, at least we're doing something right.

I finished another article today, but I still have several more to write tomorrow. There is a long list of websites that I still need to convert to a mobile friendly format. Since I am no longer doing this for free, the list might actually be shorter than I think. I don't think I'll ever completely catch up with everything. It's an impossibility. I'm glad it's Friday tomorrow. Although the day happens to be my birthday, the important thing is that I'll get to go out for breakfast again.

Rugby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 2010

We woke up again to the sounds of rain pounding on the roof and flood alerts beeping on the mobile devices. As soon as I looked out the window, I knew it was going to be a long day. Not surprisingly, both dogs refused to go outside and pee. Dot is like a ticking bomb these days. If you don't get her outside to do her business quickly, she's almost certain to poop on the floor. You can't stop the rain though. What are you going to do? Today's early morning downpour didn't begin to abate until well after Janet had to go to work, so we didn't get the opportunity to walk the dogs together. Amazingly, Dot managed to hold it until the rain took a breather around 9:30 AM. I walked both dogs in turn and a few minutes after I got Dash back to the house, the downpour started all over again. The rain, accompanied at times by very high winds, continued throughout the day. The lights flickered a few times, but the power didn't go out.

I didn't get a lot accomplished today because I spent way too much time answering questions that had piled up in my inbox. Why do people hate to talk these days. They text, they send e-mails, but they never call. I'm so sick of explaining complex technical issues to clients via e-mail that I could scream. I always send detailed answers to all the questions, but it takes so long to type everything.  At least I didn't have to drive up to North Dallas in the rain to meet with my financial adviser. After I told his secretary yesterday that I might want to cancel the meeting if the rain scared the dogs, he called me back and suggested that we just have a conference call instead. This worked out great. I may never go meet anyone in person again. What is the point?

Dot was supposed to start her Palladia treatment today, but the oncologist didn't get things coordinated with the pharmacy in time, so we'll postpone beginning chemotherapy until Friday. I told the cancer center not to include a pair of the special purple hazardous material gloves every time I refilled Dot's Palladia prescription. When Dash was taking the same drug during his year long cancer treatment, I noticed that they charged me five dollars for each pair of these gloves. The gloves last a long time and I've got a ton of them now. You may not think five dollars is much, but it adds up when the chemotherapy lasts for years at a time. I hope these pills don't make Dot's poop soft. Pooping in the house is bad enough, but soft stools will make things even worse.

Maybe I can finally get caught up with work tomorrow. Thursday is usually Dot's physical therapy day, but the clinic called me late this afternoon and wanted to postpone her appointment because the underwater treadmill had broken. I wonder who fixes underwater treadmills?  Dot could probably use a rest anyway. The clinic wanted to reschedule for Monday, but I have an appointment with one of my own doctors on that day. I'm sure Dot won't mind waiting until next week to get back in the tank again.

I usually just throw leftovers in the microwave for dinner, but tonight I decided to cook a warm braised kale salad from scratch instead. The spicy, warm salad was quite good. I surprise myself sometimes. I'm really a pretty decent cook, but I hate the cleanup aspect of cooking. It's a rare day that I ever use more than one pot. Making smoothies in the Vitamix is so much easier.

Tomorrow is a new day. I suspect that it will be exactly like today though. There is more rain in the forecast.

Bali is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 2009

Take care of your teeth. I've always had good strong teeth and when I was younger I would frequently go decades between dental visits. This was a mistake. Just because my teeth didn't hurt didn't mean there weren't any problems. The problems grew slowly and painlessly year-after-year, until one day my mouth just imploded with bad news. If you take care of your teeth you can probably just go to a regular dentist. I had to go to a place called The Center for Complex Dentistry.

I was in the chair for over three hours today. The dentist talked back and forth with his assistant throughout the procedure. At one point I heard him say "This isn't supposed to be that difficult." At another point he called hurriedly for a second assistant, saying "I don't have enough hands to do this." Toward the end, he told me "I think you've made my top 10 list." Apparently, the work I had done was very difficult. I only had two fillings and one crown replaced, but one of the fillings was almost impossible. The dentist lived up to his reputation though. He was very, very good.

Be sure to pee before you have major dental work. Three hours is a long time to sit in that chair. I still have to go back in early August to have my permanent porcelain crown installed, but my long dental saga is almost over. My teeth are in good shape again, and most importantly, I won't need to get implants. I still don't know why it takes over a month to get a crown made, but I guess it does. The temporary crown they made me today fits well and I don't expect problems. They dentist just told me not to eat anything really sticky like taffy or caramel while I have the temporary crown. No problem. I don't eat many sweets anyway.

I didn't get a lot of work done today, since I was at the dentist for so long, but I did figure out a clever way to do a lobby slide show for one of my clients. These type of things used to involve dragging a ton of still images into an editing program, creating dissolves or other transitions between each image, and then burning the Ken Burns style Quicktime movie to a DVD in continuous play mode. I hated to make these things. Now you just have to plug a little Chromecast stick into the back of your TV, link the TV to one of your existing Google photo albums using your phone and you're done. It took me less than 45 seconds to have a nice looking slide show up and running.

It rained sporadically throughout the day but I was lucky enough to have a dry spell at both the beginning and end of the day so I could get the dogs walked. Dot hasn't had any more accidents in the house since I started being much more conscientious about getting her outside frequently to poop.  The days of trying to fit the dogs activities to my schedule are over. In the long run it is a lot easier just to change my schedule to meet the dogs needs. My financial adviser called today to confirm an appointment for tomorrow. I told him I'd be there unless there was a bad storm and I needed to stay home with Dot and Dash. Nobody even questions these type of things anymore. They all know who comes first in my world.

Hershey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 2008

It was definitely Monday this morning. Monday is always the day when things get off to a slow and often rocky start. When I woke up this morning, Janet was already on the phone, having trouble getting an appointment to get her car in for service. Both dogs were barking at me because I wasn't fast enough getting their breakfast. After a fairly peaceful walk, I turned on the computer and discovered even more problems. Somebody must have gotten up even earlier than me. There were short, ambiguous e-mail questions that required long, detailed answers. There was confusion about who was in charge of certain projects. Was I ahead of schedule, or falling behind? I still don't know.

It took a while to get everything sorted out, but after I did, I noticed a letter in yesterday's mail offering me a two month free trial of satellite radio in my car. Since the was no obligation to continue the service after the two months were up, I decided to give it a try. I signed up, and of course when I started the car later in the day, the satellite radio didn't work. It took two more calls to tech support before the satellite found me. "You have to turn off Bluetooth before you can acquire the signal," someone in a far away call center told me. "But I'm talking to you right now using Bluetooth," I said. "If I turn it off, this call will go dead." That's kind of how it went. Eventually the satellite did find my car and I discovered that SiriusXM was just as boring as regular radio. I tuned into a live traffic report channel and found that it only monitored traffic conditions in Boston and Philadelphia. The Rock and Roll channel was just playing very old Elvis Presley tunes. I'll still probably continue listing to NPR instead. National Public Radio does have some good programming, but I wish they quit talking about the Middle East. I'm tired of hearing about problems in the Middle East. I wish there was a channel that just played Ted Talks. A veterinarian channel would be nice too. I'm always interested in learning how to keep the dogs healthy.

Summer has definitely arrived. Every morning I wake up with a new batch of mosquito and chigger bites. I don't know how all these mosquitoes got inside, but they're very hard to get rid of. The air has turned hot and muggy and the fire ants have returned. The birds that poop on my car have returned as well. I don't know where these irritating birds go in the Winter, but our house has definitely become their permanent Summer home. At least we are in no danger of a drought. There is more heavy rain in the forecast for tomorrow, as a big tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico heads inland. I'm glad I don't live in Houston. We'll get wet, but Houston is in danger of flooding again.

I need to get up early tomorrow because I've got a dental appointment in the morning. I hope there are no complications and I can get home again before the rain arrives. I hate leaving storm phobic dogs alone in the rain. I don't like being out in the rain myself, but I want to put this dental work behind me. There's no point in postponing things anymore. The only thing I'd like to postpone is my upcoming birthday. I used to look forward to birthdays, but the years go by too fast. We need to slow these birthdays down.

Shadow is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 2007

When I went to the gym this afternoon, I thought I'd try to resume the strenuous workouts I used to do this time last year. I was exhausted. Somehow, being one year older, dislocating my shoulder, and going to the gym on Sunday afternoons instead of three days a week have taken their toll. I made it through the routine, but I'll be sore tomorrow. Perhaps I should have skipped getting the water off the roof and vacuuming when I got home.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the little Philae spacecraft that landed on a comet seven months ago has come alive again. The space geeks among you might remember that Philae's batteries went dead after just 60 hours because it landed next to a cliff and wasn't receiving enough sunlight to recharge the batteries. The comet kept moving though and as the sun got closer and closer, the solar panels began receiving more sunlight and the batteries slowly recharged. It amazes me that we know how to build things this well, and yet we rarely do it. I'm lucky if I can get the equipment around the house to run for two weeks without some sort of mishap, and yet the Philae comet lander and several incredibly durable Mars rovers just keep on working. It's a shame that we've almost lost the concept of things that last a lifetime. People seem strangely content to buy something amazingly cool and just throw it away when it inevitably breaks. I wonder how long our cool new Keurig coffeemaker and Dyson vacuum cleaner are going to last?

The dogs had a good day today. They seem much more content on weekends when everybody is home and the pace is a little more relaxed. The recent rain has cooled the air down a bit too. When you're walking old dogs, every degree counts. It's a shame that Dot is so fragile. She had a playful moment today where I could tell that she wanted to race around and play with Dash like she did in the old days. I quickly put her harness on and tried to follow her around so she wouldn't fall and break a hip or something, but I think I spoiled the moment. All the vets have warned me that Dot will injure herself if she tries to run without assistance. Watching her move slowly around the house, I believe them.

Protecting dogs from harm while still allowing them to be dogs is difficult. Instincts are strong and Dot would still like to chase after anything that comes down the alley, while Dash continues to follow his nose to the most appealing smells, even if they lead to something dangerous. Since Dash likes to walk along the shoreline, I have to keep a sharp eye out for poisonous snakes in the Summer.  Today, Dash stubbornly wanted to go down a street where I knew there was a dangerous, aggressive dog that sometimes gets loose. We did walk home the safe way, but Dash wasn't happy about it.

I get the rest of my dental work done later this week. Hopefully when this is complete, the onslaught of ridiculously high bills will abate somewhat. It would be nice to have a Summer without any medical emergencies, car problems, or major appliance meltdowns whatsoever.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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