Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 2115

I was glad the yellow warning light came on again when I was driving to the dealership this morning. At least the repair guys won't think my suspension problem is something I imagined. Who knows how long the repairs will take. It always seems to take much longer than I anticipate. This is probably why Land Rover has always been pretty generous with their loaner cars. If you've got a free loaner car, you're not going to complain as much about how long the repairs are taking.

Since I like to complain, I'll complain a bit about the Evoque anyway. The car is more expensive than the larger LR2 or the appealing new Discovery model. It has a small 4 cylinder engine and terrible visibility. The rear seats don't fold flat and the engine shuts off when you stop at a light. The stop and go engine is supposed to be a feature, but it is a giant annoyance to me. I never really believe the engine is going to start again when the light turns green. I hope they are able to fix my suspension quickly. I'm not looking forward to driving the Evoque for the entire month of October.

It was a nice warm day, so the dogs wanted to sun themselves in the backyard after lunch. Instead of lying in the grass, Dot now likes to lie in the Monkey Grass beds next to the greenhouse. This is killing the Liriope plants, but I don't have the heart to make Dot move. I did a little gardening while I was watching the dogs. It's always been difficult to grow the type of plants I want, but surprisingly easy to grow weeds. If I don't pull the weeds, they crowd out the good plants. As I was pulling weeds, I noticed that clumps of them made a pretty good makeshift broom. I used the clumps of weeds to brush away a dense mass of spiderwebs on the back windows. I thought this was pretty clever, since clearing away the spiderwebs with a regular broom typically ruins the broom. The webs stuck to the clumps of weeds like a charm and them I just threw them away.

I've been having trouble with my phone ever since I upgraded to IOS 9. A lot of the apps I use don't recognize the WiFi network anymore and use cellular data instead. I looked on the Internet and a lot of other people are having the same problem. Apple needs to fix this quickly. As soon as people start realizing that they've inadvertently maxed out their data plans by using cellular data when they thought they were using WiFi. My watch is having trouble getting the temperature from my phone as well. Makes me wonder about the wisdom of upgrading my laptop to the new El Capitan system. What could possible go wrong?

I still haven't figured out how to get Dot in the Evoque for tomorrow's physical therapy appointment. That will be my after breakfast project, unless a new writing job accidentally falls in my lap.

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 2114

At the rate I'm going, I could probably continue this narrative as a series of Tweets. 140 characters a day would be plenty. Today, I picked up some more Levothyroxine for Dash and went to the gym. That was about it. I read an article recently that said if you want to stay busy in your fifties and sixties, you need to spend your forties building a strong network of contacts and relationships. Oops, my bad. I was still kind of social in my late thirties, but by the time I turned forty, I had already started avoiding people. I stayed busy for a long, long time because almost everybody I knew eventually became a client. The fatal flaw in this plan was that I never knew that many people in the first place and had no desire to meet more. Now, it's become one of those Humpty Dumpty situations. All the king's horses and all the king's know the story.

If I wanted to make contacts, I definitely should have picked a different gym. I'm usually the youngest person working out. The people here are ancient.  I picked this cardiovascular and fitness center because the facilities were fabulous, but forgot that it is run by a major hospital. Most of the members seem to be recovering from heart surgery or cancer and almost everybody has a nurse or personal trainer. Needless to say, I usually have the basketball court all to myself. Usually, I like this somewhat unique situation, but on days where I'm feeling isolated, exercising with a bunch of geezers doesn't really help.

I'm not sure that I even have the capacity to get out and about anymore. Even when I'm at the gym or running small errands, I worry about Dot. After all the time I've spent with her, I'd feel terrible if she ended up spending her final hours alone and scared. Dot knows that I am her legs and she depends on me. I don't know how much time she has left, but I want her remaining days to be happy ones, right up to the very last day. This is why I kind of liked it when work kept me chained to the computer. Dot was always nearby. The work kept me busy. And the money the work generated allowed me to buy enough technology toys that I never had to think about my dwindling circle of friends.

I passed a bookstore on my way to the gym and briefly thought about stopping and picking up some more books to read. That would be too spontaneous though. I'll probably pass this same bookstore three or four times before I actually stop and look for a book. I've passed the new breakfast restaurant a couple of times too, but still haven't gone in and ordered breakfast.

I need to remember to take my car to the dealership tomorrow morning. I'm pretty sure that the suspension problem is real, since the yellow warning light has come on several times now. The car still handles well, but the squeaking noise is kind of ominous. I hope this is a warranty item. Anything that isn't covered by warranty at the Land Rover dealer usually ends up being very expensive. I hope they don't give me an Evoque for a loaner car. It's too hard to load Dot into the small Evoque when we go to our physical therapy sessions. If I'm lucky, they'll give me one of the last remaining LR2s in their loaner fleet.  I learned a long time ago that they'll never lend you a Range Rover.

It's too bad the Pope isn't still around. The messages of hope on TV have already been replaced by politicians accusing each other of being liars. By the time the election actually rolls around, I suspect that everybody will hate all of them.

Sweat Pea is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 2113

Each day is kind of like our morning walks. We cover the same terrain over and over again, but still manage to find something new. I like the way the seasons change and the stars progress across the sky. I see faces and shapes in cloud formations and notice the migration patterns of birds. I'm quick to notice a new flower along the trail and can detect a temperature change of one or two degrees. Noticing the little things keeps life interesting. Well, it helps anyway.

Appreciating nuances is an acquired taste that has taken me decades to master. I'll try different blends of coffee each morning, but I'll always limit myself to two 10 ounce cups. Sometimes I'll substitute strawberries for peaches in my morning smoothie. I try to find variety within a two mile radius, but I'll seldom venture further. I'm fascinated to discover there are still things to learn from books I've already read and movies I've already watched. Even though my job requires me to keep up with the latest technology, I'm still discovering new things I can do with Photoshop 7.0.

If I didn't appreciate nuances, I'd probably go stark raving mad. Not much happens in an average day. I submitted some new photos to Shutterstock this morning. At this rate I should be able to earn a comfortable living from stock photography by the time I'm 95. I vacuumed the house this afternoon because I promised Janet I'd clean all the rugs and carpets if things weren't busy this week. Why postpone things? I couldn't even pretend that things were busy today. Dot seemed to appreciate the effort I made cleaning things, because there were no accidents today.

The geek community on the Internet is buzzing about the discovery of liquid water on Mars. I guess I always suspected there was water there somewhere. Comets are made of water. Hydrogen and oxygen are among the most abundant elements in the universe. Temperatures on Mars are often above freezing. Why wouldn't there be water? I doubt that the water on Mars is drinkable, but some of the water on Earth isn't either. I imagine that we'll find lots of water on other planets in the next hundred years. What really surprises me is that we live on a planet where the sun and the moon are almost exactly the same apparent size in the sky. What are the odds of having a moon that almost exactly covers the disc of the sun during an eclipse? That certainly doesn't happen on Mars.

I need to find a more interesting way to spend my days. This minimal life of mine can't really be healthy. What to do? I don't really like volunteering or travel, and I'm not sure that work will ever pick up significantly. I thought my clients would be excited when I learned how to do mobile websites, but most of them didn't even notice the improvements I made to their sites. I doubt that they are going to tell their friends how cool their new responsive websites are if they don't even understand what they've got. Oh, well. I'll upload some more images to Shutterstock tomorrow. Maybe I'll go photograph a squirrel.

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 2112

A yellow warning light appeared on the dashboard this morning when I was driving to the golf tournament. Suspension Fault the message said. The warning light was a little alarming, since I was driving on a busy freeway.  At least this warning will validate my assertion that something is wrong with the suspension when I take the car in for service next week. I continued on my way to the tournament, not really knowing if the warning meant a wheel was about to fall off, or that I should just prepare myself for a big repair bill next Wednesday.

This was our fourteenth annual golf tournament. It's hard to believe that Janet and I have been working with the rescue group this long. We didn't even have a golf tournament when we initially started volunteering with Dalmatian Rescue. Tournament attendance probably peaked a few years ago, but there were still a respectable number of players today and everybody was having a good time. The weather was great and the course at the Tour 18 club was in good shape. All we needed were a few more people. It's really hard to sustain an event like this. People get older and interests change. Die hard golfers always enjoy a round of golf though, so I imagine that we'll continue having our tournament for many years to come. This is almost always our biggest fund raiser of the year and we've helped a lot of dogs along the way.

Even though the tournament was a long way from Dallas, our dogs didn't have to stay alone long. Janet went first to check people in and then when I arrived to take pictures a few hours later, she went home again. Dot and Dash were fine today and probably end up being left alone for much longer periods of time on a normal weekday. It would have been a lot different if we'd just taken one car. Neither dog can really handle being left alone all day anymore. When Dot and Dash were younger, we used to take them with us to these tournaments. The rescue group always picks a dog friendly golf course and many people still bring their dogs with them. Those days are over for us. Dash would freak out on an hour long car ride and Dot is simply too frail.

There were light clouds on the Eastern horizon this evening, but I still got to see tonight's rare super blood moon lunar eclipse. There have been a lot of lunar eclipses this year, but there won't be another super blood moon until 2033. I wonder if I'll still be around then? At least this eclipse was early in the evening, so I didn't have to get up at three in the morning like the last blood moon. I need to get a bit more serious about taking pictures of the moon. Once again, I just pointed a hand held camera at the sky and depended on the camera's image stabilization to keep the moon in focus. It was interesting that I could see the red color more clearly in the camera's electronic viewfinder than I could with my eye. Maybe the sensor is more sensitive to red light.

There was no time to clean the house or go to the gym this weekend, but there should be plenty of time to catch up on things next week. Work is still alarmingly slow. Maybe when the Jewish holidays are over, my writing jobs will pick up again. Until then, I've got plenty of time to read. I think I'll go out and buy a copy of Jennifer Lawson's new book. She was one of the people who got me interested in blogging back in the beginning. I wish more bloggers would break out of obscurity and wind up on the New York Times best seller list. It doesn't happen nearly often enough.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 2111

I had to make some changes to a website this morning and was quite surprised that the hosting company no longer accepted my password. Since I'm one of the only people who has the password, this could mean one of two things. Either the site had been hacked, or my client had fired me without bothering to tell me about it. Either way, it wasn't good. I couldn't get any help from tech support because they needed the password to verify my identity. I couldn't get any help from the client because you can never get hold of clients on weekends. Maybe some people can, but I've never have much luck.

The weekend definitely wasn't getting off to a good start. Earlier, both dogs woke me up around 4 AM when I heard them wandering around the bedroom. We immediately took Dot outside to pee. I looked around to see if there were any accidents and then discovered there was poop in the bed. It wasn't in Dot's bed, it was in ours. This totally baffled me. It is physically impossible for Dot to get in the bed anymore and Dash has never, ever pooped in the house. What was going on? Is there a racoon living in Janet's closet? Did something scare Dash enough to poop? The dogs weren't talking. The only thing that I can think of is that Dot actually did poop in her bed like she often does when she gets up to shift positions. Maybe Dash saw the little turd in the dark, thought it was a dog treat, and then immediately spit it out when he discovered what it really was.

The bedspread immediately went in the washing machine and then a little later a rug went in the next load of wash when Dot pooped again while she was eating her breakfast. After that, life got back to normal. Well. it wasn't completely back to normal, because I was still wondering if I had gotten fired from one of my busier website accounts. I wasn't getting many answers today.

After breakfast, I started charging batteries for tomorrow's photo shoot at the golf tournament. I still can't decide whether to take my favorite DSLR with the optical viewfinder, or the newer and more reliable mirrorless camera with the electronic viewfinder. I really like the older camera but sometimes the auto focus motor gets stuck and I have to focus manually. Digital cameras with optical viewfinders are on the way out, so when this one finally gives up the ghost, it may be my last. I'm not looking forward to this photo shoot at all. It is too tiring for me.

The suspension didn't squeak at all today when I went grocery shopping. Intermittent problems drive me nuts. I've already made an appointment to take the car in for service and if the mechanic can't replicate the squeak, they'll say nothing is wrong. I know something is wrong. Yesterday, the suspension made a lot of noise.

Late in the day, the website client returned my call and told me that he had changed the password because he had forgotten the old one and needed to change something on his e-mail account. The e-mail he needed to change wasn't on the webserver though; it was on the GoDaddy server. Nothing got changed on the web server except the password. Oh, well. I wrote down the new password and spent the rest of the day doing what I had hoped to finish early in the morning.

I wish I'd never upgraded my phone to OS 9. The battery definitely isn't lasting  as long as it used to. I hope my batteries last tomorrow at the golf tournament. I always seem to be at the mercy of batteries.

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day 2110

Today was filled with familiar routines. As the days get shorter, it gradually gets darker and darker when we begin our morning walk. Orion was high in the sky and I could see all three morning planets as we left the house. Venus was highest in the sky, followed by Mars, and finally Jupiter, low on the Eastern horizon. It takes us about 45 minutes to complete the walk, and by the time we return, it is almost daylight. I make the bed when we get home and make sure to put a couple of packets of Stevia in my pockets before I leave for breakfast. I like it that everybody knows me at the restaurant. The barista knows my coffee order. The cook has my breakfast cooking on the grill before I even get up to the counter to pay for it. I rarely talk to people, but I feel like I know the other customers too. Most of the regulars have been here as long as I have. Everyone has their favorite table, and most people seem to order the same thing every week too. Maybe I'm not so strange after all.

When I go to the grocery store after breakfast, the butcher knows which cuts of meat I'm going to select for dinner. The guys at the Sushi counter usually know what I'm going to want as well. There a Chef Prepared section in the store where I usually pick up pre-cooked side dishes. With only one or two people eating dinner during the week, it's hard to keep fresh vegetables from going bad. You just can't buy things in small enough quantities to cook for one.

The dogs always get a rice cake for lunch. They both love to eat and this is one way to let them enjoy the pleasure of eating without gaining weight. There are practically no calories in a rice cake and the dogs seem to love them. Going outside after lunch is part of the daily ritual as well. Dot still likes to go outside, but she often forgets why she's there. Sometimes she'll stand in the same place for minutes at a time and other times she'll just wander around aimlessly. You have to be patient with her. I know Dot is getting senile, but that's OK. She still seems very happy with her life.

The dogs sleep enough during the day that I've never had any problem getting my work done. I give the dogs my undivided attention when they're active and then I work while they're asleep. Lately, there hasn't been enough work to fill the dog's sleepy periods and I've been getting bored. I used to try to make new business contacts or learn how to use a new software application when work was slow. Now, I mostly just read a book or watch something on Hulu. Life is definitely slowing down. The Pope is ten years older than I am and he seems to have the energy of a forty year old. It's almost embarrassing how much energy he has compared to me. How does he do it? Maybe if you have something important to do, you rise to the occasion.

My career as an ad man may be on the back burner, but the dogs still think I'm important. They both depend on me and I try not to let them down. For the time being, this means watching the sun rise every morning, serving as Dot's rear legs, and doing lots and lots of laundry. If you'd asked me ten years ago what I'd be doing when I was sixty seven, I wouldn't have imagined this. It's OK though. I just wish Dot were healthier.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 2109

I finished the book I've been reading. I watched the Pope's address to Congress. I deleted a section on a client's website that was no longer necessary. I paid a few bills and took them to the post office. It was a very uneventful day. I should use days like this to embark on ambitious personal projects, but I haven't been very ambitious lately. Most of my energy is spent taking care of Dot. Anything that is left over is usually frittered away. I wonder what to put in my morning smoothie when peaches go out of season. I wonder why some of my watches run fast and others run slow. I do the stretching exercises for my shoulder without a lot of enthusiasm. I'm torn between wanting more excitement in my life and being terrified of it. When all else fails, I take a nap with the dogs.

Yesterday I updated the operating system on both my phone and the Apple Watch. Battery life seems better on the watch now, but worse on the phone. This happens every time I update an Apple operating system. Location services is what kills your battery on the iPhone. Apple is very sneaky about trying to get information from the millions of phones it sells. If you're not careful, your phone is constantly sending information back to Apple about all manner of things. I learned today that the phone sends your GPS location back to Apple when the motion sensors detect that you are in a moving car. Apple uses this information for a crowd-sourced database of traffic conditions that can be used with their map application. I don't really care about the privacy issues. I turned this function off primarily because it is a battery hog. As soon as I manage to find all these hidden battery drains, Apple will update the system again and I'll have to start all over.

I find it interesting that both the Democrats and the Republicans are already trying to spin the Pope's speech to congress to support their own agendas. The speech seemed pretty clear and direct to me. I don't know why the politicians and pundits are spending so much time explaining what the Pope was trying to say. They should have just listened to what he actually did say. As I said earlier, I'm not a terribly religious person, but the Pope's speech today made most of what I've heard from the current crop of presidential candidates seem pathetic. How did we ever become so divided?

This weekend the Dalmatian Rescue group has its annual charity golf tournament. I have taken pictures at this event for many, many years. Every year it seems a little more tiring. I don't understand the fascination people have with golf. It takes a long time to play eighteen holes. It is often hot and muggy. Last year, I inadvertently knelt down on a fire ant mound to get a shot of someone on the putting green and was instantly bitten by hundreds of ants. It took almost a week for the swelling to go away. I'm not going to kneel anywhere this year. We can't leave Dot for very long, so Janet and I will trade off this year. She'll check people in before the tournament starts and then come home. I'll go take pictures of the golfers and then come home. Then Janet will go back to the awards dinner. When this event is over, I don't think I have any more events until it's time for Santa photos again.

I'm still debating whether to try the new restaurant tomorrow. It's tempting, but I hate dealing with those school zones. I'd better not postpone this too long or the place might go out of business.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 2108

It seems to take longer and longer to get Dot to her physical therapy sessions. Today, when I started to get her ready, she didn't have her harness on. It took quite a while to get her suited up, since she wanted to sleep instead. When I got her ready to go, she wanted to go out in the back yard instead of to the car. Once I had her outside, she stood around aimlessly for about five minutes and did nothing. She didn't even pee. When I finally got her in the car, we were already late. Traffic appears to be worse on Wednesdays too. I'm, glad we'll go back to Thursday sessions next week.

For the second week in a row, Dot seemed tired. We slowed the treadmill to one mile an hour and her walk was steady, but she used to be able to do much better. The treadmill speed goes all the way up to five miles an hour. That's pretty fast even for a regular human treadmill. I asked what the faster speeds were for and apparently dogs who compete in agility events use the treadmill's faster speeds for conditioning and endurance training. I imagine that there is a lot of water splashing around at five miles an hour. Dot enjoys the acupuncture portion of her therapy more than the treadmill. I think it relaxes her. Even though Dot is slowing down, we're still hanging in there. The therapy and the morning walks really do help.

I upgraded my Apple Watch to the new 2.0 operating system today. The upgrade took forever. Since you can't really plug the watch into anything, software upgrades have to be done using the Bluetooth connection to your phone. I guess the software download goes from the Apple server to your phone, and then from your phone to the watch. I initially got a bunch of error messages saying that I didn't have enough storage space available for the download. I abandoned the download, took Dot to the vet, and when I got home again thought I'd try downloading the software again. Apparently, it never stopped downloading the first time I tried, because the progress bar said that there were only 48 minutes left before the download was complete. That was a lot better than the eleven hours to completion message I got before taking Dot to physical therapy. The error messages were all gone too. Apparently the computers knew what they were doing, even if I didn't. I ate dinner, walked Dash, and when I got back, the new 2.0 operating system had been installed. The whole procedure seemed to take about six hours.

A former client called me this evening and asked if I could help him edit his Dad's first novel. This really wasn't my area of expertise, but I enjoyed catching up on things. When we used to work together, we both had a Dalmatian. I asked him if he still had Dalmatians and we spent the next twenty minutes talking about a succession of great dogs who lived long and happy lives, only to die of cancer at the end. Between the two of us, we had shared our lives with over a dozen Dalmatians.

I'm not Catholic or even very religious, but I've got to admit that I like Pope Francis. If only our own politicians could be this humble and direct. When politicians call themselves "public servants," it's a joke. The pope really does appear to be a public servant. He doesn't rely on opinion polls or focus groups, he just asks himself, "what would Jesus have done." I'm not sure that this philosophy would work for politicians though. It probably doesn't make the Vatican very happy either. If the president kept asking "What would George Washington have done" before making a decision, a lot of outcomes would be very different. I don't agree with everything the Pope says, but you could learn a lot from his simplicity and directness.

I'll need to remember not to go to physical therapy again tomorrow. We did that today. I'm so set in my routines that I could easily imagine putting Dot in the car and repeating things tomorrow. That's why I need the Apple Watch. I can't remember anything.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day 2107

I wonder who reads this? According to Google, I have between 200 and 400 visitors every day. I can only account for about 17 of these people however. Actually, 17 readers is pretty generous. Maybe there are only 5. Back when blogging was new and somewhat popular, I though I might become an online Dave Barry, regaling readers with the humorous absurdities of everyday life. It is now pretty obvious that I am writing for myself. I write for the same reasons that a fitness advocate becomes compelled to do 50 push-ups on waking, or ride twenty miles on a bicycle before breakfast. It's an obsession.

I've convinced myself that writing is a more effective way to postpone dementia than solving Sudoku puzzles. It certainly helps take my mind off a perpetual cycle of cleaning up dog poop and fixing broken things around the house. That being said, it will probably take more than a blog post to compensate for today. Dot had three separate accidents in the house today. As soon as I got one set of soiled rugs and blankets cleaned, it was time to throw a new set in the washer. Sometimes I can predict when Dot needs to go outside. Other times I am completely surprised. Today was a bad day, but tomorrow might be completely normal. The incontinence certainly isn't Dot's fault. As much as I hate cleaning up dog poop, I've just got to learn to go with the flow. This is all part of the aging process and the same thing might happen to me someday.

I watched the Pope arrive in Washington DC this afternoon and was amused to see him drive off in a tiny little Fiat 500 after greeting the president and dignitaries. It looked like a clown car. Everything has become a symbol in today's world. I'm sure the small, humble car wasn't an accident. Democrats see the Pope as their friend because he cares about the plight of immigrants and worries about global warming. Republicans see the pope as their friend because he is does not support abortion or gay marriage. Everyone seems to forget that the Pope is not a politician at all. He's a religious leader. If the Pope agrees with you it is only because the Catholic Church agrees with you.

Dot's vet is changing her schedule around and we will no longer be able to have our physical therapy sessions on Thursday afternoons. This week, our physical therapy session will be tomorrow. We've never gone on Wednesday before, so hopefully it's not a bad traffic day. After a transition period, we will start doing our therapy sessions in the morning. I'm not sure I like this, but like I said earlier, you have to learn to go with the flow.

Sometimes things turn up in my photographs that I'm not even aware of when I take the picture. Tonight's picture of the setting sun revealed a jet contrail that was tangent to the base of the sun. If you click on the picture and enlarge it, you can clearly see the jet and its exhaust plume. It kind of looks like a thread of fire being pulled out of the sun.

I wish we didn't have to wait until November for Daylight Saving Time to end. The days are getting shorter and it is really dark when we start our morning walk. I can still see the constellation Orion in the morning sky, along with the planets Venus and Jupiter. I'm always amazed at how quickly the sky brightens at sunrise. The stars are out when we start our walk and the sun is up before we finish. It's really a beautiful time of day. Dot pooped so much today that maybe there's nothing left. Let's hope so. I'd like a good night's sleep.

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 2106

How many electricians does it take to change a light bulb? In my case, it takes three. There is a boss electrician to tell the other two what to do. There is the guy who climbs up the ladder and actually does the work. And there is the guy who walks back and forth to the truck to bring tools to the guy on the ladder. This is one of the reasons why electricians are so expensive. Plumbers are kind of the same way. Every time I call a plumber to do something simple like clean out a drain, they send out two plumbers.

Does it really require three electricians to change a security light? I doubt it. I'll still uses these guys again though. I like to support small, local businesses. There aren't enough of them left. If more people followed this inefficient, old school business model, there would still be plenty of jobs for everyone. Ruthless efficiency is what has killed the job market. I used to have assistants for what I do as well. Did I really need an assistant? Of course not, but this was how people learned their trade.

Maybe the security light was too expensive, but it's bright and works great. Now I won't have to worry about stepping in poop when I take the dogs out at night. The irritating flickering is gone too. The head electrician told me that the only thing wrong with my old light is that the ballast was bad. I suspected as much. Nevertheless, it was less expensive to replace the entire light than it would have been to take the old one apart and repair it. That's what we've come to. Almost everything is disposable.

My car isn't disposable, so I'll have to take it in for service to get rid of the irritating suspension squeak I've been hearing lately. Land Rover has become so computerized that they are almost the exact opposite of my old fashioned electrician. It's hard to actually talk to a real person anymore. Although it's much easier to make a service reservation online, I still prefer talking to the service representative myself. I finally managed to get someone on the phone this afternoon and made a service appointment. "When my car goes over a bump," I told the service guy, "I hear a high pitched noise that sounds exactly like a dog's squeaky toy." "I've heard that noise," the service guy said. "Bring the car in." If experience is any guide, this will turn out to be a very expensive squeak, but at least the car is still under warranty.

I woke up this morning to discover that Dot had pooped in the hallway. I must have been tired last night, because I didn't hear a thing. Luckily, I'm getting better at anticipating these things. She pooped on a strategically placed rubberized mat that is very easy to clean. Even though she had already done her business, Dot still enjoyed her morning walk. We are all learning to take these accidents in stride. I do worry that the washing machine is going to break again. It's been getting a lot of use lately.

It's been a fairly productive Monday. The light in the back yard is fixed. I've picked up Dash's prescriptions at the vet. The squeak in my car will soon be gone. I've updated two of my client's websites and finally paid the last of my September bills without becoming overdrawn. In my book, that's pretty good for a Monday.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 2105

The Emmy Awards are on tonight and I don't know hardly any of the nominees. I've never even heard of Andy Samberg, the host of this year's show. Unless someone like Billy Crystal, Neil Patrick Harris, or Ellen DeGeneres hosts these type of things, I'm lost. Janet likes a few current shows like Modern Family, but other than Dr. Who and Sherlock on BBC, I rarely watch anything that isn't at least thirty years old. Most of the shows I like would never get on the air in today's politically correct world. Great shows like Seinfeld and All in the Family made fun of everybody. Southpark still tries to spread the insults around equally, but I've never been a fan. I'll never really understand why shows like The Big Bang Theory are popular and nobody is making shows like Fawlty Towers anymore. I date myself. John Cleese. Pink Floyd. Hunter S. Thompson. Now, that's entertainment.

I never really planned to establish a Sunday routine, but it appears there is one. For over a month I've been getting up early so we can walk Dot before she poops in the house. We feed the dogs and eat breakfast when we get home. After several cups of coffee, I check my e-mail and head to the gym. Going to the gym in the morning is definitely an improvement. My workout lasts about an hour and then I come home and vacuum the house. There are always a few other chores as well. Sometimes I'll mow the grass. Other times I'll wash the car. There are rare occasions when I need to finish a job on Sunday to meet a deadline, but this doesn't happen very often. Janet likes to cook on weekends, so we usually eat our biggest meal of the week on Sunday evening. I eat the leftovers for the rest of the week. The dogs always get an evening walk before I start writing the blog. This routine rarely varies.

Dot had a lot of energy today. She got out of bed and walked to the kitchen without any assistance this morning. She was relaxed on her walk, stopping to sniff the same things that interested Dash along the way. Later in the day, when I let Dash out in the back yard to pee. I was startled to see Dot right beside me. Where did she come from? I'd left the back door open and Dot had managed to negotiate the small step that led to the porch all by herself without falling. I was amazed, because she still stumbles a lot if I'm not holding the rear part of her harness.

I wish I could tell you that something really exciting was going to happen this week, but I suspect that I'll have to be satisfied with the small things. Small things are OK. Today I was happy that I sunk five "nothing but net" baskets in a row while I was shooting free throws at the gym. Maybe I'll add some cinnamon or a different type of berry to my morning smoothie next week. I might get a check from a client in the mail. Maybe the odd noise my car is making is covered by warranty. We'll see what happens. As long as Dot and Dash stay healthy and I don't have to go to any meetings, I'm fine.

Rosie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 2104

Mercifully, the dogs let us sleep in a bit longer this morning. The sun was almost up by the time we left the house. Dot was relaxed and didn't even poop until we were halfway down the street. No accidents to clean up today. Janet and I were even able to enjoy our breakfast without a lot of loud barking. For the first time in a long time it seemed like an absolutely normal day. I needed a normal day. Caring for a sick dog does give you a real sense of purpose, but it is very tiring. I seem to be assimilating each new level of perpetual tiredness, but sometimes I wonder how much energy I have left.

I am definitely not alone. Coping appears to be the new normal. The older I get, the more my Facebook feed has become a litany of woes. It makes me sad to even look at Facebook these days. Almost every day someone's dog has died. Friends are coping with everything from a parent with Alzheimer's to a child with autism. People lose their jobs and discover that their own illnesses aren't covered by insurance. Sure, there are happy pictures of people holding their grandchildren, but it is hard for me to relate to these. All I notice are all the dogs that have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. I also notice friendships that have been torn apart by political squabbling. Maybe we share far too much these days. It should be comforting to know that I'm actually coping reasonably well in the grand scheme of things. Facebook still makes me sad though. It just shows me a world that is broken.

Maybe that's why I like Dr. Who so much. It's not the real world at all. It's just a far fetched fantasy that makes just as much sense as watching the evening news. I've been waiting for the new Season 9 opener all week. The Magician's Apprentice was actually just part one of one of a two part show that I will have to watch again next week to figure out what is going on. The Doctor is summoned by Davros who I'm almost certain was killed by Rose in The Parting of the Ways episode quite a few years ago. No wait, that's all wrong. It was Donna Noble who killed Davros in the Journey's End episode. The Daleks and their creator Davros keep reappearing, no matter how many times they are destroyed. Clara was exterminated by a Dalek in tonight's episode, but she actually was a Dalek when her character was initially introduced. It's confusing. I'm sure she'll be back next week.

Janet is at a meeting tonight and the dogs are restless. They don't like surprises. If their regular routine is interrupted for any reason, they both freak out. I finally got them all in the same room with me so I could watch Dr. Who, but now they are watching the front door and barking at any odd noise. It's going to be a while guys. Maybe if I feed them their evening rice cake a little early they will calm down.

I actually enjoyed going to the gym last Sunday. I'm not so sure I'll feel the same way tomorrow. I've been tired all week. The way today's been going, I have a feeling that I'll feel tired tomorrow as well. I can't let that stop me though. If I only did things when I felt great, I'd probably do nothing at all.

Rhett is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Day 2103

Sometimes when I take Dash to the vet, I think I should be taking him to a psychiatrist instead. He used to ride nicely in the car, but now he barks and whines and generally is a nuisance until we arrive at our destination. Dash acted this way when we first adopted him and it took a long time to convince him that car rides were the gateway to dog parks and other fun activities where he got to play with other dogs. Eventually he grew to like the car. Now, after all his cancer treatments, he has reverted to his original fear of traveling in cars. It's too bad he doesn't know or understand the full story. The place he was whining about visiting today saved his life.

Dash sailed through his six month recheck with flying colors. There was no evidence that the cancer has returned and his oncologist said he looked like a healthy and happy dog. We don't have to go back for another re-check until February of next year.

I need to see how much time I've got left on my car's warranty. For over two years the car has performed flawlessly. No problems at all. Now, I'm beginning to hear squeaks and rattles that I've never heard before. This is usually not a good sign. On any other car I've ever owned, the squeaks and rattles were never a problem until the day after the warranty ran out. Then they miraculously turned into a major repair almost overnight. What makes these squeaks and rattles even worse is that they are sporadic. Sporadic problems never show their ugly face at the dealership. You describe the problem in detail and then when the mechanic takes the car for a test drive, nothing appears to be wrong. The mechanic thinks you're nuts. Then on the way home, the problem reoccurs. This happens so consistently that it drives me nuts.

The car isn't the only thing that is showing it's age. We've got a sodium vapor security light in the back yard that flickers on and off all night. Whenever the air conditioner compressor cuts in, the lamp cuts out. The flickering light wakes me up at night occasionally and when it randomly goes on and off while the dogs are outside, they think it is lightning and it scares them. I finally broke down and called our electrician today. I always hate to call the electrician to fix something this simple because electricians are notoriously expensive. Unfortunately, the pole the lamp is attached to is located right next to where the power lines comes into the house from the street. I'm always afraid that if I attempt to replace the lamp myself, I will slip and touch the power lines and electrocute myself. I guess it's worth paying the electrician.

There a brand new Dr. Who episode tomorrow evening. Last year I waited and waited for the new series to begin and was almost immediately disappointed. Hopefully Season nine will be better. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are both back for another year. A lot of people seem to think that Peter Capald is edgy and great, but I still like Matt Smith better. In my humble opinion Vincent and the Doctor was the best episode ever. There wasn't a single episode in season eight that even came close. I'll still watch the show tomorrow though. What better have I got to do?

I hope the dogs let us sleep in tomorrow morning. After a week of getting up in the middle of the night to clean up poop, I need a break. According to my fitness band, I'm hardly getting any sleep at all.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Day 2102

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to stay connected. 95% of all the phone calls I receive are telemarketers. Nomorobo takes care of a lot of the nuisance calls, but I continue to be amazed at how persistent some people are. Some telemarketers still continue to call several times a day. Do these people really think I'm an idiot? My e-mail is just as bad. There are industrial strength spam filters on both the server and my local e-mail client and still a lot of the spam manages to get through. I never even open these messages, but some of the headers are so preposterous that it makes you wonder what the spammers were thinking. Are there really that many people out there who are dumb as rocks and would fall for these schemes? Maybe there are. I don't think these guys would be so persistent if people weren't falling onto their traps.

I've noticed that the daily bombardment of e-mail spam and telemarketing messages has steadily increased as I grow older. I'm sure they're thinking that if they keep trying, eventually I'll become senile and pick up the phone. It happened to my Dad. He was a brilliant scientist, but when senility began to cloud his brain, he fell for one of those Nigerian scams where someone will tell you that they won the Canadian lottery, but can't claim the prize because they can't afford to pay the tax. They offer to share the lottery winnings with their unsuspecting victim, if he or she will help them pay the tax. I don't know how my Dad fell for such a preposterous scheme, but he was living alone and couldn't resist picking up the phone. He lost everything he made selling his house a few years earlier. If the FBI hadn't stepped in and warned his bank to block large withdrawals, he would have lost even more.

It's sad that the world has come to this. Instead of being open and inclusive, you are forced to put up barriers. I find it hard to trust anyone in today's world. When I'm driving I feel like everyone else on the road is driving without a license or insurance. In Dallas I have good reason to feel this way. I wasn't happy when the Ebola outbreak hit our city a few years ago, because it seemed like someone let down their guard. When I watch the current European refugee crisis on TV, I am convinced that there are ISIS members cleverly mixed in with the hordes of people who are just trying to escape some very horrible conditions. Sometimes I'm envious of friends who go out to Burning Man for a week and manage to convince themselves that the world is full of rainbows and unicorns. I'm pretty observant and I just don't see much to be encouraged about.

Dot certainly didn't provide a lot of encouragement today. She seemed tired. We had to slow down the treadmill a bit during her physical therapy session because she just didn't have the energy. She was only able to go fifteen minutes this week. It's hard to keep the balance of exercise and rest just right. Maybe it was just the weather. It was warmer today and Dot had gotten used to the cooler weather we were having earlier in the week. We'll rest tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll rest tonight as well.

We'll see how tomorrow goes. Dash has a cancer re-check in the morning and I'm not anticipating any problems. He certainly seems healthy now. I've already taken this week's trash out to the curb and am hoping that the truck empties my entire can this time. Friday's are usually good. No matter what happens, I know I can depend on a good breakfast.
Princess is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 2101

Nobody won tonight's debate. Everyone on stage made a few good points and everyone seemed equally frustrated by the way questions were asked. Just like the first debate, the moderators tried everything they could to provoke a fight between the candidates on stage. The whole format was wrong. If a candidate mentioned another person's name, that person automatically got time to respond even if the moderator's question was dumb in the first place. The moderators really wanted tonight's event to be about personalities and conflict. I don't know why I bothered watching. That being said, Carly Fiorina did a great job within the strictures of the ridiculous format. Maybe she did run Hewlett-Packard into the ground, but the woman is smart and very quick on her feet. I'll give her the win, although I did get bored with the whole thing and quit watching long before it was over.

I made my bi-monthly trip to the mall this afternoon to get a haircut. Every time I go to Northpark, I feel like I'm in Las Vegas. The temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. Each store has it's own scent pumped through the ventilation system. The merchandise is beautifully displayed. People in Dallas even seem to dress nicer when they go to the mall. The whole thing is completely artificial, but that's OK. I spend a lot of my time tramping through nature with the dogs. I get bit by fire ants. I need to keep an eye out for snakes. It's always too hot or too cold. There's a lot to be said for artificial. The mall is pleasant as long as I can find a parking place. I always like to visit the Apple Store and the Tesla Store when I'm at Northpark. I'll probably never be able to afford a Tesla, but it's fun to dream.

I know I spend way too much for a haircut, but in the grand scheme of things it's a small indulgence. I don't drink anymore. I rarely go out to dinner. I can't even remember the last time I took a vacation that wasn't work related in some way. Hey, I think I can afford a nice haircut. My stylist likes to talk about animals and travel. I do pretty well holding up my end of the conversation when the subject is dogs and cats. I'm coming up short on travel stories though. I just don't go anywhere anymore.

Most of my travel stories these days involve going to the vet. Today I picked up some more Allopurinol at the vet for Dash. Tomorrow I go to a different vet for Dot's physical therapy. On Friday, I take Dash to a third vet for his six month cancer re-check. There always seems to be a trip to the vet on the calendar. I'm not complaining. Taking a dog to the vet is definitely preferable to client meetings and other forms of torture. The only time I don't like going to the vet is when Dot or Dash is sick. Then I worry.

Tomorrow is Dot's day, but I'm still going to try to get some work done. I just don't know what I'm going to be working on yet. There were a few website revisions to make today, but I'm basically up to speed on everything again. Hopefully, I'll find a few new assignments when I open my e-mail tomorrow morning. Until then, I just hope that Dot sleeps all the way through the night.

Phantom is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day 2100

Every time I have to deal with clients, I dream about passive income. Passive income is the Holy Grail. Wouldn't it be nice if a combination of stocks and bonds, Google display ads, stock photography, and other assets I had lying around could provide me with a stable, comfortable income with no work at all? I haven't come up with the magic formula yet, but I still think about it from time to time.

In theory, I should be able to make a nice income from stock photography. Other people do this. I've made $50 from Shutterstock, but I've only bothered to submit fifteen photos. I realize that the photographers who succeed selling stock images upload thousands of images to their online collections. I certainly have thousands of images. Maybe if I stepped up my game and submitted fifteen hundred images to Shutterstock instead of my paltry fifteen, I might start making some decent money. So, why not? I uploaded some more images today. After five submissions, I remembered why I hate doing this so much. Before you can submit an image for approval, you have to add categories, keywords, and other meta tag information to each photo. If your photo is of a sunset, you can't just say "sunset." You need a minimum of seven keywords before you can click the submit button. Some of these keywords won't be acceptable, so you have to scratch your head and think of others. Then, typically about a week later you get a letter saying your photo was rejected because there was too much grain or the focus wasn't sharp enough. After a while, this tedious submission process hardly seems worth the trouble.

Stocks aren't a good passive investment either. You have to be actively engaged and keep track of them, or you can lose your money in a heartbeat. A single downgrade or bad quarter can throw a wrench in your plans, no matter how good the company is fundamentally. The people I know who do really well with their investments seem to enjoy the challenge of a turbulent market. It's a game to them. I'd rather just pick a good company and forget about it. The people who do well selling stock photography have a completely different personality. They methodically catalog everything they do and upload hundreds of images each month. I can't even imagine doing this. I stay busy writing and taking photos, but I'm not very methodical and the money I make is almost accidental. I hate the whole process of turning imagination into money.

I'm glad people thought I was really clever when I was young, because without the momentum my advertising career gave me, Lord knows what I would be doing today. I certainly wouldn't have had the luxury of doing exactly what I wanted later in life. I actually enjoy sitting alone in a small room with two dogs under my desk. A little passive income would make things nicer though. Sending out invoices is almost as tedious as tagging and categorizing photographs.

Dot had a good day today. I hope the weather stays cool, because it certainly helps. It's amazing how much more energetic the dogs are when the temperature is 65 degrees instead of 105 degrees. Dot did have one accident in the house today, but she happened to be standing on a protective mat at the time so cleaning things up was a piece of cake. Just as I predicted, today was just like yesterday. A couple loads of laundry, a tasty Vitamix breakfast, a trip to the pharmacy, several dog walks, and another day was over. Tomorrow I get a haircut. Wow. A haircut. I'm sure it will be a walk on the wild side.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 2099

I listened to the local news coverage of the big Dallas Donald Trump rally while I was eating dinner this evening. I love a circus and would have enjoyed sitting in the crowd when I was younger. History, however strange, is always interesting. I used to make a point of visiting Dealey Plaza on November 22 just to hear all the conspiracy theories. Crowds never used to bother me. It didn't matter if it was a Fourth of July fireworks show or a Rolling Stones concert, I was there. Something has certainly changed. I'm a virtual hermit now. If I have a choice between seeing an event on TV or watching it in person, I'll almost always opt for the stay-at-home alternative. I've been to a lot of Rolling Stones concerts but when the Stones came to AT&T Stadium this Summer, I had no interest whatsoever in getting tickets. All I could think about was how bad the parking would be and what a pain it would be to drive all the way to Arlington in heavy traffic. I imagine that traffic is pretty bad at American Airlines Center this evening.

I was paying bills this afternoon and I couldn't figure out why my Quickbooks records looked so different from my bank statement. I had quite a bit less than I though I did. It finally occurred to me that I hadn't been recording a growing number of automatic recurring payments in my Quickbooks software. Everyone seems to want you to pay your bills electronically these days. I can see why companies like this. They get their money a lot faster when they directly debit your account. It's convenient too. Unfortunately, when you forget to record these automatic payments, things get confusing. Imagine how disappointed I was to discover I had forgotten about three months worth of automatic deductions from my checking account. I'm feeling poor now.

The weather continues to be delightful. This morning when we walked the dogs it was chilly enough that I needed a light jacket. It's hard to believe that jacket weather is here already. Of course, by mid-afternoon it was 90 degrees again, but for a few hours this morning, the weather was perfect. We'll have a few more hot days, but I bet it won't be long before I'll be wondering if the furnace is going to work this Winter.

I'm still reading the memoir written by the ad guy I used to work with in Seattle. Unlike The Martian, this is a very long book and will never be made into a major motion picture. I read a couple of chapters every day and maybe I'll be finished by Thanksgiving. What makes this book interesting is that I remember a lot of the people who are in it. The advertising world really was like Mad Men in those days. I had forgotten how much alcohol and general rudeness was involved. As far as work goes, I think I prefer the way things are now.

Life is peaceful these days. The only stress is worrying about Dot's health. I wrote an article this morning and sent it of to my client. I updated a few websites, and answered some correspondence. That was about it. Tomorrow should be very similar. I'll start with a cup of coffee and my trademark peach and banana smoothie. I'll end with an episode of Perry Mason. If I'm lucky, I won't have to clean up poop in the middle of the night.

Nicholas is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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