Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 2054

I repaired something fairly complex today by watching a YouTube video. I set my laptop next to the project and every time the guy on the tape said to unscrew a certain bolt or grab a wrench, I would pause the video and do that step exactly the way he said. The whole process took about 45 minutes and worked like a charm. I'm going to start looking for YouTube videos every time I need to fix something. Watching someone else repair the exact same thing you're trying to fix is so much easier to understand than reading poorly written instruction manuals, or my time honored method, taking something apart without following any instructions at all. I think Ikea should include an assembly video with everything they sell. Trying to assemble something using those cryptic numbered drawings Ikea uses to avoid translating the instructions into forty different languages can be maddening. At any rate, YouTube has become my go-to source for learning things these days. I've managed to find detailed instructions on everything from designing mobile websites to fixing the refrigerator.

As I suspected, it was a slow day, so I went out and bought a pair of shorts and some new shoes at an end-of-Sumner sale. I didn't really need any new clothes, but 70% off is hard to resist. I don't think Summer is ending any time soon in Dallas, so I ought to get a lot of use out of these bargains. I also picked up some groceries for the weekend while I was out and about. No bargains here, but I always find it easy to rationalize purchasing the tasty things I find at Whole Foods and Central Market.

Maybe I'm watering the lawn too much, because I'm starting to see mushrooms growing in the back yard again. I always try to remove these as soon as possible, since I don't know my mushrooms well enough to recognize the ones that could be harmful to the dogs. Dot probably wouldn't eat mushrooms, but Dash would. He'll eat just about anything under the right circumstances. If mushrooms are an indication that the yard is too wet, the frogs that appeared out of nowhere to get under the sprinkler while I was watering shrubs this morning, are an indication that things are too dry. I'm never sure what to do about the lawn. I try, but I definitely don't have a green thumb.

Dot pooped in her bed again. There is no rhyme or reason to these accidents. Today's accident happened right after I'd taken her outside, so it caught me by surprise. I need to get one of those "Shit Happens" bumper stickers. This is quite literally what happens in our house these days. I try my best to be patient when Dot has an accident. She can't help it. I just hope the same thing doesn't start happening with me a few more years down the road. Getting old basically sucks, no matter who you are.

The weather forecast said there was a 20% chance of rain this afternoon. No such luck. After all the complaining I've done about rain over the years, you wouldn't think I'd be wishing for a downpour, but I was. It's gotten way too dry. The dogs hate the heat. The plants are dying. I'm ready for some rain.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 2053

When we went for our physical therapy session today, we learned that Dot's vet is going to be on Good Morning America tomorrow. The show is flying her and a cat named Skinny to New York this evening for a segment on how she helped this formerly 41 pound feline trim down to a svelte looking 19 pounds. Dot often barks at Skinny the cat when she's working out in the underwater treadmill. She doesn't appear to like a cat watching her exercise. Considering that Dot's limp is getting worse, she did amazingly well today. She was steady on her feet and was able to walk for seventeen minutes without wobbling back and forth like she did last week. We experimented today and did her acupuncture treatment before the treadmill workout. Maybe this relaxed her. I'm still not sure why, but Dot looked really good today.

I finished my writing assignment today, although it took longer than I expected. Sometimes simple product descriptions take longer to write than imaginative, creative pieces. Writing is unpredictable. There are times when even this blog is difficult to write. It shouldn't really matter what I write about, since I get paid by the word, but I still enjoy crafting a clever headline a lot more than cranking out catalog copy.

I wish I enjoyed working as much as Dash enjoys walking. He gets a long walk on Thursdays now, since Dot needs to rest before her physical therapy session. We walk twice as fast and three times as far during these Thursday walks. The fact that Dash still enjoys a long walk makes me really appreciate how good he is about walking very slow with Dot during the rest of the week. Dash is an essential component in our efforts to keep Dot moving. Without him, she has little interest in going anywhere. It's amazing how completely these two dogs have bonded. They trust each other, respect each other, and truly need each other at this point.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. There are a few website updates than need to be taken care of, but I don't anticipate anything major. After our pre-dawn walk with the dogs, I'll go out for breakfast and then pick up some groceries for the weekend. That's what I always do on Fridays. If it's a slow day, as I anticipate, I may go check out a few Summer clearance sales. Since I wear the same things Summer and Winter, I sometimes pick up great, very wearable bargains at these end of season events. There's a rare blue moon tomorrow night. The moon won't actually be blue and will look exactly like any other full moon. I still don't know why they call the second full moon in a single month a blue moon if it isn't blue. Of course, I don't know why sad people are called blue either. Language can be strange.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 2052

I renewed my storage warehouse lease for another year. I always rent the storage unit for a year at a time, because I get thirteen months for the price of twelve this way. I've had the storage space for so long that I think I've received an entire year in free rent by now. When I first got the storage space, it was just a convenient place to store amplifiers and guitars between gigs and bulky lighting equipment between photo shoots. Now, it has become a repository of memories. The remains from just about everything I've ever enjoyed doing in my life is sitting on a shelf somewhere. There are wind surfing boards, electric trains, framed pictures from old gallery shows, obsolete computers, old guitar amps, and much more. I wish I didn't need a storage warehouse at all, but I get very attached to things. Even broken things are hard for me to throw away.

The latest thing I'm trying to resurrect is the old Sony laptop I told you about yesterday. I asked the guy in the repair shop at Fry's if he could install a new hard drive for this 1997 machine and he told that I could get a brand new laptop for less than the cost of repairs. When I explained that I didn't actually need the computer and that it was just something I wanted to fix, he gave me a blank look like he didn't understand. Maybe the guy had a point. Why would anyone want a computer that only ran Windows 98 and had a hard drive that with less capacity than the memory sticks I use with my cameras. I did a little research on Google and discovered that nobody even makes IDE hard drives any more. All the replacement hard drives are SATA. I found a website that showed how to disassemble the computer, but it looked a little tricky. The article with the hard drive upgrade instructions was dated 2008 and the author considered this particular computer to be ancient even back then. It might be harder than I thought to bring this thing back to life. Jeez, if it's this hard to bring a modern looking little Sony laptop back to life, I wonder how hard it would be to get my old Osborne-1 running again?

Dot had kind of a rough day today. She was a bit shaky on her morning walk and walked with a limp around the house. I still can't figure out what makes some days good and other days bad. I may be wrong, but I think it has a lot to do with how she sleeps at night. If she goes to sleep with her bad leg tucked under her, she always seems to have a limp the next day. I always try to make sure she is sleeping on her side with the bad leg on top, but it doesn't really help. She always wakes up two or three times a night to circle around and reposition herself. Usually when I wake up the next morning, she has managed to get the bad leg tucked up under her.

I managed to find a replacement the tiny watch part I destroyed yesterday. The little screw cost me $5.00 but I considered that a bargain. I'll try to be more careful when I try to reassemble the watch this time. I received another writing assignment toward the end of the day, so maybe doing this new article will keep me busy enough so I won't be tempted to fix anything else this week. I've broken enough things for one week.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day 2051

Nothing went as planned today. I woke about 4 AM to the now familiar smell of poop. Dot had pooped in her bed again. I cleaned up the mess, took it outside in a plastic bag and found myself face-to-face with an armadillo on the back porch. The armadillo seems to return every August like clockwork to tear up the yard, and here he was, right on schedule. After I put Dot's soiled blankets in the washer, I went back to bed and tried to go to sleep again. Unfortunately, I was wide awake by now.

When everybody else woke up about an hour later, I was already tired. I kept thinking that Dot looked a little unsteady on our morning walk, but probably the only unsteady one in the group was me. I really need to start getting more sleep. When we returned from our walk, the dogs still had enough energy to bark at me as I ate my breakfast.  I can quiet them for a while by feeding them slices of banana, but barking has just become a part of their morning ritual. They think it's fun.

Work is still pretty slow, so I organized files for a while and did my bookkeeping. For some reason I decided to recharge a very old Sony Vaio laptop and see if it still worked. It didn't. I kept getting an error message saying "operating system not found." I did a little investigation and realized that the hard drive had gone bad. It wouldn't have been that difficult to replace the hard drive and install a new operating system, but I wondered it it was even worth the trouble. This was an old, very slow computer that was running Windows 98 the last time I looked. I guess I could install Linux on the thing and keep using it, but why bother. An old, slow computer that won't boot is basically just a paperweight.

Since I failed to resurrect the old computer, I thought I'd try to resurrect an equally old watch. There was nothing special about the watch, other than the fact that I had to remove eight very tiny screws to open the case and replace the battery. The tiny screws were why I had avoided the watch for so long in the first place. I carefully removed each small screw, replaced the battery and just about had the watch back together when I managed to strip the threads reinserting the very last screw. Clumsy me. Now I need an exceedingly small screw extractor so I can try to remove the broken screw from the watch. Again, is it even worth the trouble? It's a cheap watch that I'd only worn twice in five years. With this dismal track record, I didn't even try to fix anything else today.

I managed to fix my dinner without burning anything and got Dot situated in her safe place again, so I could go to an evening animal rescue meeting. We talked about the next fundraising event and it was decided that I'll be taking a promotional picture for the event featuring dogs, cats, a parrot, a miniature pig, and a snake. This ought to be interesting. Tomorrow, I'll look for a source for very tiny screws.

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 2050

I actually got out of the house today. I took a couple of Janet's watches up to my watchmaker to get the batteries changed. She had stopped by the Omega store in the mall over the weekend and they wanted an insane amount of money to change a battery. The amount was so high that it was almost as if they were telling her, "We just want to sell you overpriced new stuff. When it breaks, we don't ever want to see it again." I told Janet that I knew a guy who was still reasonable and fair. I enjoy talking with the watch repairman. We are both relics from a bygone era. We talk about fast cars, fine watches, and the futility of running a small business in today's world. I don't see the watchmaker much anymore. I can't afford to collect watches anymore. I can't even afford to keep them all running anymore. I was pleased when the watchmaker told me that the new mobile website I'd built for him was actually helping his business. Evidently, people really do use their phones to visit websites these days. Who knew? I just use my phone to check the weather.

I also fixed Janet's running shoes today. She was ready to throw a pair of somewhat new looking Nike's away when I told her that I just glue mine back together. The soles never seem to wear out on running shoes. They just fall apart first. The glue that seems to substitute for any type of legitimate stitching begins to delaminate fairly quickly. I discovered one day that I could just use Superglue to re-attach the soles to the upper portion of these shoes and they were good as new. I just use an old Jorgensen clamp from my Dad's workshop to bind the sole to the shoe while the glue is drying and thirty minutes later they're ready to wear again. After fixing the shoes and getting the watch batteries replaced, I felt like I'd had a reasonably productive day, even though I'd done no design or writing at all.

All the dogs seem to want to do these days is eat. I try to be very quiet when I'm snacking in the kitchen, but they always seem to hear me and come racing out for a treat of their own. This is problematic now, because Dot can't get to the kitchen as fast as Dash anymore and she gets mad. To make the small journey from one end of the house to the other, I need to hook her up in her special harness and support her rear legs in case she starts to fall. This involved procedure kind of takes the fun out of eating a few Fritos in the kitchen. I shouldn't be eating these high cholesterol salty snacks anyway, but I'm kind of like the dogs. What else are you going to do on a hot Summer day?

I discovered a quick and fairly easy way to update the new Dalmatian Rescue website, so that's one more thing I don't have to worry about. I was a bit apprehensive about converting an animal rescue website to a mobile friendly format, because these sites change so frequently. I'm so used to making these periodic updates using Dreamweaver that I wasn't looking forward to changing the complex code required in a responsive site. The whole process wasn't as hard as I thought, so maybe this old dog still has a few tricks left after all.

While I was driving up to the watchmaker's office today I listened to someone on NPR talk about different things you could do to keep memories from fading away as you age. Supposedly, a seventy year old person only retains half as much new information as a child. Makes sense to me. I was like a sponge when I was younger, soaking up an enormous amount of information every day. Now I can barely remember where I put my reading glasses. Luckily, writing seems to be one of the best ways to ward off senility. If there are bonus points for developing an ability to write about nothing at all, I should be good to go for a long time.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day 2049

Dash seemed more comfortable at the small dog park this morning. He politely greeted several other dogs and there was even a brief moment when he ran from one end of the park to the other, just like the old days. Taking Dash to the dog park, as well as walking both dogs together first thing in the morning, has pushed breakfast back a bit, but it's worth it. Life around the house has changed a bit since Dot's spinal injury and it's important that Dash still has a chance to feel like a normal dog now and then. A trip to the dog park on Sunday isn't much, but it seems to help.

A trip to the gym on Sunday isn't much either, but it seems to help too. I've started going right after breakfast, since I've noticed that the longer I wait, the more excuses I come up with for not going. Since this token gesture to health and fitness actually seems to be doing some good, it has occurred to me that maybe I ought to designate a special day for other activities as well. If I devoted one day each week to practicing the guitar, I might actually become a decent player again. I used to play pretty well in my younger days when there always seemed to be a guitar in my hands. The old Stratocaster isn't going to play itself. Sometimes I think I just use carpal tunnel as an excuse not to play. I'm good at making excuses.

If we continue this theme, I could definitely benefit from spending one day each week honing my video editing skills. I used to immerse myself in film projects for weeks at a time and became an excellent editor in the process. Now, I edit video so infrequently that I've almost forgotten how to use Media Composer. Ironically, I tell people to "use it or lose it" all the time. Maybe it's time that I practice what I preach.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that priorities change. When I was a documentary filmmaker and guitar maven, I didn't have dogs. My late in life love affair with dogs led to having veterinarians as clients and then expanded to animal rescue. I wouldn't change anything for the world, but I still wish I could play guitar like I used to.

There isn't enough time and there isn't enough energy anymore. Instead of writing a new song, I vacuumed the house with the Dyson and got out a bottle of bleach and a scrub brush to clean the soap scum and mildew off the shower stall walls. The shower stall had been getting worse and worse for months and it finally reached the point where I couldn't stand it anymore. There you have it. Keeping Dot moving, keeping the house from falling apart, and keeping my aging body from deteriorating even further had used up the entire day.

I've got some websites to modify tomorrow. Several Dalmatians got adopted this weekend, so I need to see how hard it is going to be to update the new mobile ready site I designed a few weeks ago. Responsive websites are turning out to be a lot harder to modify than I expected. It's not a terrible problem since I don't have a lot of clients anymore, but small changes do take more time. The need to keep working is another reason why I don't practice the guitar as much as I should. I need to send a note to my primary writing client and ask why the article assignments have dropped off again. I don't have nearly as many writing assignments as I did last Summer. I'm not complaining though. Janet bought a fresh supply of bananas and peaches, so I'll have a delicious smoothy for breakfast tomorrow. Dot actually had a great day today and was even able to walk about the house without her harness for a while. One way or another, we're going to make it through this hot Summer.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Day 2048

On hot July days it's a miracle if I can come up with anything to tell you at all. There's certainly not much going on today. There is little incentive to go out in this heat. We mostly just hunker down, hoping that the air conditioner stays cools and the cars don't break down. Neither of us like to drive in the Summer. Janet has been getting nails in her tires recently and even though I have a reliable car now, I have too many memories of sitting on the side of the road in 100 degree weather, waiting for a tow truck to come haul the Defender back to the dealership. I'm always worried that the car is going to break down when I'm taking on of the dogs to the vet.

Luckily, the dogs didn't need to go anywhere today. I only got out of the house briefly to get more Palladia pills for Dot at the cancer center and pick up Keurig pods and blueberries at Sam's Club. I should have picked up a sprinkler at Home Depot, because the sprinkler in the front yard broke while I was watering the lawn this morning. Sprinklers, especially the unreliable oscillating kind, never seem to last more than a year.

When I was walking Dash this afternoon, I saw a small plane circling the lake towing a banner asking someone to marry them. I wonder if the girl even saw the proposal? Who would just happen to be outside looking up at the sky on a hot 100 degree July afternoon? I certainly didn't see many people out on the lake today. Most people had the good sense to stay inside. We didn't stay out long either. As soon as Dash did his business, we headed straight back to the air conditioned house. I bet that girl would have preferred a nice candlelit dinner instead of an airplane towing a big red banner.

I rarely watch TV, but when I do feel like watching, there never seems to be anything I'm interested in. How long do I need to wait before there's a new season of Dr. Who? Top Gear seems to have disappeared from the airwaves entirely after Jeremy Clarkson got fired from the show. At the very least there ought to be an old episode of Firefly that I haven't already seen. This afternoon I would have settled for a channel that played Faulty Towers over and over again. Since I have little interest in reality TV, real estate and home improvement shows, or news about the middle east, I just turned off the television and took a nap with the dogs.

Dot and Dash must have been bored too, because they weren't content with napping. As soon as I got comfortable, they both started barking and wanted to do something. I got Dot hooked up in her harness and took the dogs outside several times. As soon as they got out in the back yard they remembered how hot it was and wanted to come in again. We did this over and over until it was time for their dinner.

Maybe tomorrow will be more interesting. If it's not too hot, we'll take Dash to the small dog park again. He seemed more comfortable with the little dogs last week. I'll probably go to the gym in the afternoon. If I've got to work up a sweat, I'd rather do it indoors than mowing the lawn in 100 degree weather.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, July 24, 2015

Day 2047

Breakfast was the high point of the day. I like predictable, consistent things and this place doesn't let me down. I always order the Amigas plate with Chorizo and tell the barista that I want three cups of coffee. Since I've never varied my order in over two years, I don't even have to say anything when I walk up to the counter. They start cooking my breakfast when I walk in the door. Amigas is basically a plate of scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, Chorizo, cheese, onions, and a very spicy tomatillo sauce. It is served with three flour tortillas and pan fried potatoes. It's a hearty meal, so it takes me three cups of coffee to finish it.

I'd like it if the rest of my day was as relaxing as breakfast, but it seldom is. Apparently, Friday is stressful for a lot of people. I couldn't even get anyone to return my calls today. They were all in meetings or in crisis mode. I kept getting put on hold or dumped to voicemail. I always think my calls are important, but to a lot of people I'm just an old man who asks way too many questions. People prefer to send three word text messages these days. They don't want to spend fifteen minutes going over things in detail. I often realize when people ask me a question they don't really want an explanation at all, they just want me to say yes or no. At any rate, when people say "please call us if you have any questions," and then they won't take your call when you actually do have a question, you can start to feel irrelevant.

Dot ran out of Palladia pills today. This was one of the many questions I was calling about. "What do I do now," I wanted to ask? How can a major cancer center run out of one of their most frequently used medications? When one of the nurses finally returned my call, I was told that all they had left were the 10 mg Palladia pills. The 50mg and 15mg pills were unavailable anywhere. At any rate, next week I will be giving Dot six small pills three times a week instead of two larger ones. The total dose will be 60 mg each day, instead of her usual 65 mg. The oncologist said that this would be fine. I don't know what was wrong at some of the places I called today, but I'm sure the Palladia shortage contributed to the stress at the cancer center.

The temperature continues to get hotter and hotter. I'm impressed with how smart Dash is. He instinctively knows not to walk on pavement now and always chooses to walk on the grass at the side of the road. He never used to do this when the weather was cooler. Even the mornings are getting warmer now and I've had to delay our evening walk until the temperature starts to drop a bit as the sun nears the horizon. My water bill has certainly gone up. It was almost twice as much as it was last month. August will probably be even worse. We've still got grass though. That's a plus. By this time last year, the grass was gone.

It looks like it's going to be a slow weekend. I've got to pick up Dot's Palladia pills in the morning and get a few groceries, but that's about it. Work has slowed down. The dogs have slowed down. There's really no reason for me not to slow down as well.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 2046

We had to decrease the amount of time that Dot spent in the underwater treadmill today. She just didn't have the same amount of energy that she did last week. The vet confirmed what I've been observing all week. Dot's left rear leg is definitely growing weaker. Why? We don't really know for sure. The problem could be caused by the Palladia medication. The vet suspects that the weakness is a neurological problem caused by another shifting disc in her spine. It could be something else entirely. The only way to know for sure will be to systematically eliminate each possible cause. After her next Ultrasound scan, we will stop the Palladia for a while and see if her condition improves. If discontinuing the Palladia makes no difference, we can have another MRI done to see if one of the other discs in her spine has slipped or ruptured. If we can find out what is going on, there may be something we can do to reduce any discomfort Dot may be feeling. I don't think further surgery is an option though. Dot is too old and has been through too many major surgeries already.

I feel kind of helpless at this point. Dot still has the desire to be active. She just doesn't have the strength. It's hard not to feel that I'm letting her down in some way. I had the same feelings during my Dad's last days. I knew he wanted to get out of the critical care facility and go home. The doctors wouldn't release him though. Once certain things have been set in motion, they can end up being almost impossible to reverse. At least Dot is still happy and in good spirits. She may never walk unassisted again, but I'm happy to assist her for as long as she's willing to continue this journey we've embarked on.

The Summer has returned with a vengeance. The air conditioner runs pretty much non-stop now and I'm having to run the sprinklers in the yard almost every morning to keep things from drying out. Friends who spend time on the water say lake levels are still high for July, but other than that our wonderfully wet Spring is becoming a distant memory. Just about everybody was complaining about the rain in April and May, but a lot of people, including myself, would like to see some of that rain return. The only real reminder of the massive Spring rains are all the potholes in the city streets. It will probably take several year to fix all these potholes. My roofer tells me that one of the reasons he hasn't been out to fix the defective elastomer coating on my roof is that his company had an unprecedented number of leaks to fix this Spring. I'm just glad that my own roof wasn't one of them.

I remembered to take the trash out to the curb this evening, but it's hard to remember everything. I forgot that the brush and bulky trash truck was coming last Wednesday and I continually keep forgetting to wear my retainer at night. I never forget the dogs pills or my own meds. I never forget my keys when I leave the house. And I never forget a work deadline. I think my brain is too crowed with routines and details though. For everything I do remember, there's something else I forget.

I'll definitely remember to go out for breakfast tomorrow. My Friday breakfast outings are often the high point of my week. I was excited to learn that one of my favorite downtown restaurants will soon be adding a second location in my neighborhood. By Fall I may have two restaurants to tempt me.

Jewel is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 2045

It was an exceptionally slow day. Now that we're getting up early to walk the dogs before sunrise, the days seem even longer. Sometimes they're too long. After I spent as much time as I could watering the lawn, eating breakfast, checking my stocks, and making sure Dot was comfortable, I realized I still had to get to work. I got on the Internet and reviewed how to install and configure Chromecast. I promised a client that I would set up Chromecast to play videos and slide shows in their lobby tomorrow and I've already forgotten how. I just added Chromecast to my own office network a few weeks ago, but since I was alone at the time, I didn't need to act like I knew what I was doing. It's weird how quickly I forget things. The online instructions were clear, so I think I've got my ducks in a row. You never know though; I could forget a lot by tomorrow morning.

Since there wasn't much work on the agenda today, I though I'd play my guitar for a while. I always play through a preamp using headphones, so I won't disturb the dogs. Unfortunately, when I'm wearing earphones, I can't hear what the dogs are doing. I would periodically get up, take the headphones off and check on Dot and Dash, just to make sure they were both still sleeping. It's hard for me to relax anymore. I seldom play entire songs. I usually just noodle around, playing random blues scales and riffs. I find this relaxing. I used to write songs this way. I would just aimlessly play random things until something melodic struck my ear. Sometimes it would take hours of aimless playing, but a song would eventually appear. I would then sit down and write lyrics to this scrap of a melody by hand on a big yellow tablet. If the tune still seemed like a song a couple of days later, I would call some friends and we would record it. I haven't written a song in a long time. I wrote sad songs mostly and I'm not sad anymore. I'm just tired.

I buy most of my camera gear from B&H in New York. Unlike most spam, I love getting e-mail from companies like B&H and Sweetwater. Every once in a while B&H sends me an e-mail with a Daily Deal that is impossible to resist. Today, they tried to tempt me with an HDMI field monitor at a ridiculously low price. It was a good brand too. I realize that most deals like this are for merchandise that will soon be discontinued, but what do I care. I still work with a lot of equipment that is thirty years old. When I realized that I could get the monitor for almost nothing if I used an B&H gift card that was lying around in my desk to lower the price even further, I was hooked. Lord knows when I will actually use this cool little field monitor.  I've only been asked to produce a single corporate video this entire year.

I'm worried about Dot. If she sleeps well, she's usually pretty good early in the morning. She still really enjoys her pre-dawn walks, but she tires quickly. After she and Dash have had their breakfast and morning walk, they basically just sleep for the rest of the day. As the day progresses, Dot goes downhill. By dinner time she has a pronounced limp and often can barely walk. We're trying to use acupuncture to stimulate her weak leg at our Thursday therapy sessions, but it doesn't seem to be working very well. The leg has a constant tremor now. It's almost like she has Parkinson's Disease. I really don't know what to do. Dot has a fabulous medical team and is receiving the best possible care, but sometimes you just run out of options.

I always look forward to the Thursday physical therapy sessions. The acupuncture really does make Dot feel better for a few days and I think the muscle atrophy in her rear legs would be even worse if she didn't use the underwater treadmill. We're just slowing down the inevitable though. I wish there was more I could do.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 2044

Dash's blood pressure medication isn't working. When we tested him today, his blood pressure was just as high as it has always been. The vet asked me if I'd like to borrow the blood pressure cuff and take another reading at home when Dash was calm. "He is calm," I said. "This is the way he always is." We're going to have to try a different blood pressure medication. It will probably take just as long to find something effective for Dash as it did for me. I've tried three different blood pressure medications, and none of them is perfect. The reason I took Dash to the vet in the first place was to see if his treatment for Lyme Disease worked. It turns out that that there is no reliable way to test whether the antibiotics worked. We'll just have to have a urinalysis done frequent to make sure there is no kidney damage. I suspect the treatment worked though. Dash shows no symptoms of Lyme Disease whatsoever.

My new website project is finished. I was told today that the design was approved and to go ahead and bill the project. This is good news, but now I'm going to have to find something else to do. Web projects are nice because they keep me occupied longer than writing. I can usually finish my writing assignments in a single day, but it usually takes me at least a week to design a new website from scratch. It's hard to find the right balance of work. I like to be busy enough so I'm not bored, but I don't want to be so busy that I'm stressed out all the time. There's enough stress just dealing with the dogs. I don't need work related stress in my life anymore. Been there, done that.

I guess whatever the U-verse technician did yesterday worked. I've had no problems with my connection all day. Actually, my download speed seem faster, which is almost unheard of with U-verse. They rarely make anything faster. I wish the service was reliable enough that I could just drop my backup T-Mobile broadband account. Every time I think I don't need the T-Mobile hotspot though, our power goes out, or the U-verse Internet gets flaky. I've posted by blog entry quite a few times using the little T-Mobile  4-G hotspot. When it works, U-verse is fabulous. I just don't think it's ready for prime time yet.

I was editing pictures today and came across some old photos I'd taken of Dot and Dash when they were young and active. It was startling to see the differences between then and now. Both dogs were racing around in an open field at full speed. I had forgotten how fast and graceful Dot used to be. She absolutely loved to run. It was sad to see these pictures of her flying through the air and realize that she will never run again. We will be lucky if she can even continue walking using the Help 'Em Up Harness. Dash is still as healthy as a cancer survivor can be, but he's slowed down quite a bit too. I suppose from the right vantage point, Janet and I have slowed down as well. I prefer not to think about that though. The dogs are lucky in a way. When my own legs begin to get wobbly, I'm not sure who's going to be there to keep me moving.

That's all in the future though. I'll still be moving tomorrow. There are dogs to take care of and assignments to finish. It's going to be another hot July day. I wish it was Friday tomorrow, but I can always pretend it's Friday. All these days are more or less the same.

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 2043

Having the cable guy in the house with a dog who can't walk and is suspicious of strangers, along with a friendly escape artist who will dart through any open gate or door and disappear, was not an experience I'd want to repeat any time soon. I'm sure the service technician would agree. Dot barked incessantly the whole time, causing Dash to race excitedly around the house. I couldn't keep the dogs safely corralled in one room because the technician needed to check the entire network. I had to keep moving the dogs from room to room. I had a hard time hearing what the technician was telling me above all the commotion, but it appeared that the router had gone bad. I really didn't want to replace this piece of equipment, because then I would have had to reconnect everything in the house with the WiFi network all over again. There's a lot of stuff on the network. I've done this before and it's a pain. The technician told me that she might be able to configure the new router from a backup copy of the old router's settings and save me the trouble of starting over, but that this procedure only worked 50% of the time. This seemed strange to me, but I told her to go for it. What did I have to lose? All I was really worried about at that point was Dot pooping in the house.

Amazingly, the backup proceedure worked. Even the WiFi thermostat and the weird WiFi Skype phone stayed connected. The technician was somehow able to trick new router into thinking it was the old router, so nothing had to be reconfigured or paired with the network. I'm a happy camper. I need to be real careful never to press the red re-set button on the back of the new router though. If I ever mistakenly restore the thing to its factory settings, it will forget everything and ask me for a different password while everything on the network becomes disconnected.

Once the technician packed up and left, the dogs calmed down and life returned to normal. Amazingly, Dot didn't poop in the house, although she was so upset that I thought she was going to have a stroke at some point. Dash didn't escape and run off, although I could tell that he was looking to see if the technician inadvertently left the front door open while she was working. It was hard to keep Dot and Dash in the same room while I was holding Dot's harness to keep her from falling while Dash was racing around, looking for opportunities to be bad. This would have been so much easier if the problem was with the outside line. I apologized to the technician about the dogs behavior, but I think she could tell that I had my hands full.

It's hard to believe that it's been 46 years since we landed on the moon. July 20 will always be etched in my memory because of what happened 46 years ago today. I thought I was an adult back then when I watched the landing on an old black and white Magnavox TV. What did I know? I was only 21. So much has changed and yet we still haven't returned to the moon. I was excited to see the first pictures of Pluto a few days ago, but I'd be even more excited if we had a colony on Mars. In 1969, most people were convinced that we'd have planted flags on several planets by now. When Stanley Kubrick made 2001, A Space Odyssey, he never would have dreamed that 2001 would actually end up being remembered for the attacks on the World Trade Center instead. I have a feeling that we'll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing without ever returning to the moon.

It's Dash's turn to go to the vet tomorrow. We need to do a test to make sure he's been cured of Lyme Disease. At least I think it was Lyme Disease he was exposed to. When I called the vet to make the appointment, I couldn't remember whether he'd been treated for Lyme or West Nile. Hopefully, nothing else will break in the house for the rest of the Summer. I don't know if I could handle another day like today.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Day 2042

We took Dash to a dog park for small dogs this morning in hopes that the little dogs wouldn't scare him and he would have more fun. Since Dash isn't that small, we were a bit worried that somebody might object to him being there. Nobody had a problem with Dash. It quickly became apparent that he was the most timid dog in the park. Pretty soon a bunch of Yorkies were chasing him around with his tail tucked between his legs. It's a shame that Dash has lost his nerve. He used to love going to the dog park and would frequently find other timid dogs to play with. I think Dot gave him confidence. They always used to do everything together and as long as she was around to protect him, he had a lot more confidence. Sadly, Dot's dog park days are over. Dash will have to find another way to build his confidence back. It's not going to be easy. Dash was attacked by an aggressive dog when he was young and almost died. I don't think he will ever forget the experience.

I took some more stuff to the storage warehouse on my way to the gym this afternoon. Most of the stuff that gets relegated to storage these days are things that Janet wants out of the house. She is trying to declutter. I have little interest in decluttering. I just fantasize about having a huge place where I could spread out and never have to put things away. There would be a big room for music and another even bigger room for photography. I would have a quiet room for writing, a room with powerful computers for developing websites, and a huge kitchen with lots of shelves for pots and pans. We don't have any of these things, so I am constantly taking things out of closets and putting them away again when I'm done. I don't understand the tiny house movement at all. I want lots and lots of space.

My Sunday workouts must be doing me a little bit of good, because they don't seem quite as onerous  as they did a month ago. I still feel like packing up and going home during the first ten minutes, but then my heart rate starts to increase, I begin to sweat, and everything settles into a rhythm. After about an hour, I begin to think that just maybe, going to the gym isn't as bad as I thought it was.

Our U-verse service has gotten flaky again, so I'm going to need to have a service technician come over and check things out tomorrow. I hate it when the cable guy comes over. When I have plumbing or HVAC problems, the repair people usually stick to one room. The cable folks are all over the place though, and the dogs hate it. Now that Dot is weak and has trouble walking, having service technicians of any kind at the house is an even bigger problem than it used to be. When Dot gets upset, she poops. I'm sure she's going to poop in the house tomorrow.

When we were walking the dogs this morning, I noticed that all the neighbors had stacks of brush and trash stacked near the curb in their front yards. It must be time for big trash day again. If I've got time tomorrow, I need to gather up the fallen tree branches, dead bedding plants, and other junk that has accumulated in the yard since the last big trash day and take them out to the curb myself. With only one bulky trash pickup a month, it can be easy for things to get out of control. Monday's aren't usually very busy, so I should have plenty of time to do this. Oh wait, the cable guy is coming over. I won't have any time at all.

Jade is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Day 2041

People give me Starbucks gift cards from time to time. I always used to use these cards for having coffee with friends. Today I used my gift card  to get more Keurig pods. I had no desire to chat with anyone over coffee. That pretty much says it all. I've gone from drinking alcohol alone to drinking coffee alone.

Dot still does OK on her early morning assisted walks. She's not getting any stronger though and it worries me. It's going to be a really tough choice if it comes down to continuing her chemotherapy and facing increasing lameness, or stopping it and watching the cancer become more aggressive. I have to remember that the Palladia may have nothing to do with Dot's recent difficulties, but my gut feeling is that there is a connection. She started having problems with her legs again about the same time she started chemotherapy.

It was a busy day. I took a small check to the bank and then paid the utility and cable company bills for July. A lot more money went out the door than came in. I picked up some more prescriptions on my way back from the post office. It's seems like I am always renewing prescriptions. All of the pharmacists know me by name. I filled the car up with gas, got Stevia at the health food store, and picked up trash bags and other staples at Sam's Club. Instead of mowing the grass, I watered it. Things are starting to look pretty dry.

There wasn't much point in doing yard work today. It was just too hot. After finishing my Saturday errands, I spent the rest of the afternoon inside. There are always websites to update, so I added some new dogs and cats to a rescue website I manage and then took a short nap with the dogs. I should have taken a much longer nap, because I've not been sleeping well lately. My Jawbone UP band says I'm only getting about five hours a night. Most of this isn't deep sleep either. If Dot starts breathing irregularly, I wake up. If her leg gets stuck, I get up and reposition her. If the temperature goes up two degrees, I wake up. Sometimes I wake up remembering that I forgot to wear my Essix retainer before I went to bed and I get up and put in in my mouth. I often wake up with a dry mouth and go to the kitchen for a drink of water. Sometimes I wonder why I bother to sleep at all.

We had Cowboy Burgers from Central Market again tonight. If you haven't tried these, they are the best hamburger patties ever. I don't know what kind of beef or spices they use, but to me, this is what a burger was meant to be. It doesn't matter whether you grill them or pan fry them on the stove, they always come out great. Having a big meal like this tonight almost guarantees that I will have to go to the gym tomorrow. With the complexities of my current life, I think once a week on Sunday afternoon is the only workout I'm going to be able to manage. It's hard to get Dash to the dog park too, but that's on the schedule for tomorrow as well. For now, it's about time go call it a day. Everyone else in the house has already gone to bed. I've still got to brush my teeth and take my evening meds, but I'll be joining them soon. Maybe watching some really old Dr. Who episodes on TV will help me get to sleep.

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

Day 2040

I think we've got a plan for Dot. The oncologist agrees that the Palladia could be causing Dot's recent lameness. The only way to know for sure would be to stop the chemotherapy entirely and see if her condition improves. The oncologist and I agreed to continue the Palladia for another three weeks and then take another Ultrasound scan to measure the tumor again. Comparing the results of this scan with the initial scan we made at the beginning of her treatment should give us a baseline that can help determine how quickly the tumor is growing, or hopefully shrinking. Once we have this information, we can then stop the chemotherapy for a few weeks to see if her rear legs start to get stronger again. Palladia may not be the problem, but at least a test like this would help eliminate the drug from a long list of possible suspects. Maybe by the end of August, we'll know what is actually going on.

Breakfast was enjoyable this morning, but the rest of the day was kind of stressful. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get Dot back and forth between her various vet appointments. She knows where she is going now, and when she decides she doesn't want to get in the car, even a short journey seems to take forever. Before we begin, I've got to get her harness on and take her out in the back yard to see if she'll poop. Then I need to get Dash situated in the room with the pet cam while simultaneously leading Dot toward the front door while I'm holding on to a short least attached to the rear of her harness. Getting both dogs in the right place requires lots of dog treats. If Dot poops in the car, it can get really messy, so I always make sure to line her space with protective mats first. When my shoulder is acting up, it can difficult to even lift her up and get her in the rear door. If I don't get get her positioned just right, her rear legs can get tangled up when I'm going around a curve, so occasionally  I have to pull over to the side of the road and reposition her again. I try to allow plenty of time, but it goes without saying that I am frequently late for my appointments.

I managed to finish my third article this afternoon, so I'm good to go for the weekend. Our wet, mild Spring is starting to seem like a distant memory. July is always hot in Texas and this July is no exception. The grass is starting to dry out and the dogs are no longer eager to go outside in the afternoons. Water restrictions are in place, so if I want to water the grass I need to remember to turn the sprinklers on first thing in the morning or late at night. Our air conditioner still seems to be working fine, but the electric bill is going to be much larger next month. I couldn't wait for the endless days of rain to stop last May, but now I'd welcome an occasional downpour as long as it wasn't accompanied by thunder and lightning. I've got enough problems with the dogs already without throwing thunder and lightning into the mix.

I keep seeing workshops and seminars on the Internet that I'd like to attend. Most of these involve film-making or audio production. This is a bit strange, since I'm not very involved in either of these areas anymore. Even though an interesting workshop has always been my idea of a vacation, I'm never very interested in in attending the many web design workshop that are out there. Web design is what occupies most of my time these days, but I never have fantasies about coding. It's curious that although I'll probably never make another documentary film again, I'm still fascinated by almost every aspect of film-making. I don't like setting up all the equipment any more, I don't have the patience to deal with hiring crews, and I hate all the travel I used to do, but there's still something that attracts me like a moth to a flame.

I doubt that I'll be thinking much about making films this weekend. Weekends are for mowing grass and picking up dog hair with the Dyson. If I'm lucky, I'll get to catch up on some sleep as well.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day 2039

I had way too much on my plate today. The dogs were unusually restless and a lot of my time was consumed just taking them in and out of the house over and over again. Dash just wants to eat June Bugs when I let him out and Dot has to get suited up in her special harness before she can even make it out the back door. I must have taken her harness on and off ten times today. She can't rest comfortably when the harness is on, so I always take it off while she is sleeping. Every time she wants to go outside, I have to put it back on again. Since she is shaky to begin with, getting the harness on and off is not as easy as it might seem.

The article I had scheduled to write today took a lot longer than I expected. I worked on it off and on all day and didn't finish the thing until just before dinner time. One of the reasons the article took so long was that I kept getting interrupted by website emergencies. There were lots of little things that needed to be fixed today. There was also a website so unremarkable that both the client and I had completely forgotten about it for two years. The client finally remembered the website today and asked me why he couldn't find it on the Internet. Hmm. It turned out that he couldn't find the site because it wasn't on the Internet at all. We had forgotten to move it to the new server over two years ago. When you forget about a website for two years, chances are that you don't really need it.

Dot did great during her physical therapy session.  Physical therapy Thursdays are another reason why I was so busy today. I was a little worried about Dot's weak rear leg, but she had one of her best days in several months. She went seventeen minutes on the underwater treadmill, which she hasn't been able to do for a long time. The fact that she seems reasonably strong during therapy and on her morning walks, while still having increasing difficulties around the house is a mystery to me. I wish I knew what was causing the sporadic lameness and leg tremors. Maybe I'll find some answers tomorrow when I take her back to the cancer center for another periodic re-check.

The refrigerator is getting pretty bare, so I ended up making breakfast again for dinner. There are always more breakfast items around the house, since I am more or less fixated on breakfast. Biscuits and gravy with a little breakfast ham actually makes a pretty good dinner. We bought too many bananas this week, so Janet is making banana bread with the rotten ones. I love the smell of fresh baked banana bread. It almost makes me forget what a hectic day it's been.

Tomorrow will probably be more of the same. I've got another long article to complete and Dot has another vet appointment at the cancer center. Maybe the dogs will be calmer tomorrow. That would be nice. At least it's Friday. I'm looking forward to a nice, relaxing breakfast with no barking dogs at my feet. Maybe when I get home from the restaurant, there will be new pictures from Pluto to see on the Internet. I complain a lot, but actually I'm pretty easy to please.

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day 2038

I got a lot done today. I finished my new website project and loaded it to the server. Yes, I did finally manage to find out where I was supposed to upload things. I'm sure there will be changes, but the client seems to like it. I'm always pleased when things go relatively smoothly. After finishing the website, I still had enough time left to write a new article and send it off to be published. There are two more articles in the queue, so I should have work for the rest of the week.

Instead of fixing my regular banana smoothie, I decided to make biscuits and gravy this morning. It was actually surprisingly easy, so I will probably do this again. Everything would have come out perfectly if Dash hadn't started barking at a critical moment, causing Dot to get excited and fall over. Janet suggested gating the dogs in the back of the house while I ate my breakfast, but that didn't work very well. They still barked and when I rushed back to help Dot get up, my gravy burned. The commotion also caused me to get things out of sequence with the Keurig and it brewed too much, spilling coffee all over the counter-top. I think tomorrow, I'll just keep the dogs by my side. They're loud, but much easier to control that way.

Even though I had a lot of work to do today, I found time to watch the New Horizons press conference on NASA TV. I'm a bit envious of the New Horizons science team. They're all doing something that actually matters. Occasionally I do something that matters, but not very often. Designing websites is not quite like discovering giant ice mountains on Pluto. I wonder what these guys did during the nine years New Horizons was traveling to Pluto. I'm sure that most of the team had jobs while the spacecraft was silent, but there couldn't have been much to do but just wait until it arrived.

Dot pooped in her bed again last night. There doesn't seem to be any way to predict when this is going to happen. I was pretty sure that last night would be accident free, since she had pooped before we went to bed. It wasn't meant to be unfortunately. Dot is such a clean, fastidious dog that she would never do this if she had any control over the situation. It's just kind of sad to watch age take its toll on her. The good news is that we are all learning to cope. Dot still loves her meals and her early morning walks. I've gotten much better at quickly and efficiently cleaning up her occasional accidents. I'm also getting better at anticipating when she might fall, so I can be there to support her and keep her upright. I'll ask again tomorrow at her physical therapy session if there is anything else we can do to improve her chances for a full recovery. I think I already know the answer though. We are already doing everything we can.

This week has gone quickly. I need to start looking for another new website project. It's always nice to have something new to work on. The articles I write are not new anymore. I appreciate the work, but I could write most of them in my sleep by now. The same goes for the bread and butter website updates I do every day. I'm not complaining though. I know it's not rocket science, but this quiet life of mine has paid the bills for a long, long time.

Lizzy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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