Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 2146 - Halloween

When I was walking Dash this evening, I noticed that some of the neighbors were turning a nearby tennis court into a Halloween party. There were spooky Halloween decorations and tables had been set up with baskets filled with candy. This seemed like an odd way to trick or treat, but I guess it made sense. There aren't many children in the neighborhood and since parents only seem to take their kids to houses with other children of the same age, having a central trick or treat location probably saved these people a lot of driving across town. Dash seemed curious about what was going on, so I took him down to the tennis court to investigate. Right after we arrived, someone decided to test the sound system by playing spooky witch noises. The cackling witch scared Dash and he immediately lost interest in the party preparations and headed toward home. Poor Dash. He is scared of just about everything.

It was a dreary day, but after 24 hours of solid rain, damp and overcast was just fine. We didn't have the flooding problems that plagued Austin and Houston this week, but we certainly got a lot of rain. Basically, we received our entire Summer's quota of rain in two days. Once I determined that things were drying out, I went up on the roof and cleared away the standing water. Every time I do this I find thousands of new acorns on the roof. I sweep them over the edge and more appear the next day. This bumper crop of acorns probably means that there will literally be hundreds of little Oak seedlings sprouting in the St. Augustine grass next Spring.

The FedEx driver did make an appearance this morning to deliver my package. I was glad to have that issue resolved. I could have asked the driver why he blew me off yesterday, but what would that prove? Yesterday is in the past and I have my package now. It made more sense to just sign for the package, thank the driver for coming out on a Saturday, and move on. The package wasn't damaged either, so that was a bonus.

Tonight's episode of Dr. Who seemed more like an episode of the X-Files. The whole show seemed to be some sort of an allegory about immigration, terrorism, and other contemporary events. A lot of fans seem to think Season 9 is great. Personally, I prefer the Christopher Eccleston/Billy Piper era. I got bored with the show at some point and switched over to Saturday Night Live, watching Barack Obama introduce the opening sketch wearing a Barack Obama mask. Strange times. I couldn't decide if it was weirder to see Dr. Who making a thinly veiled statement about radicalization and terrorism, or see the President of the United States wearing a Halloween mask of himself.

Janet wanted to dress the dogs up for Halloween when we took them on their evening walk. The complex harnesses they both wear now don't lend themselves to costumes though. We found an old tutu that Dot used to wear and just put it around her head like a necklace. It's just as well. If she wore the costume properly, she would have peed on it or worse. Dot has worn many memorable costumes over the years, but she probably never liked any of them. Halloween and Daylight Saving Time don't make much sense to a dog. When the time changes tomorrow, we're going to think it's 6 AM, but Dot and Dash are going to think it's 7 AM and time for a walk. So much for sleeping in.

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 2145

Such a long day. Unrelenting rain and incontinent dogs isn't a good combination. There was no avoiding the rain this morning. We took as short a walk as we could get away with and we all got wet. Dot did her business immediately, while Dash insisted on walking through the rain to his favorite spot. Dot, of course had to follow, because she didn't want to miss out on anything. Did I mention that we all got wet.

I didn't go out for breakfast at all this morning, because the weather was terrible and both dogs are terrified of storms. There wasn't much left in the refrigerator, but since there were still a few eggs, half a bottle of milk, and a loaf of bread, I made French Toast. It was actually pretty good. It was a good thing that I had lots of work to do, because I was more or less housebound.

I was supposed to get a FedEx package today, but it never arrived. The FedEx website said the package was on the truck for delivery by the end of the day. As the end of the day approached, the status changed to "Pending" and then to "Unable to Deliver. Customer Unavailable." This last message was posted while I was eating dinner, about ten feet from the front door. The driver lied. He didn't make an attempt to deliver at all. I was here the entire time. It was raining pretty hard, he was probably behind for the day, and he just didn't want to get out of the truck. This has happened before. I wish he had just told the truth. If the message had said "Had a bad day. Screw it. I'll try to catch you tomorrow." I would have understood completely.

One of the reasons it was a long day is that Dot had another messy accident on the carpet this morning. I always place her dog bed right next to my side of the bed and then place a much larger waterproof protective tarp on the other side of the dog bed facing in the general direction of the back door. Sometimes Dot gets confused when she wakes up and heads toward the bathroom instead. There just aren't enough tarps to protect the entire house, so it is not uncommon for her to poop in odd places during the night before I can manage to wake up, get out of bed, and point her in the right direction. We're going to have to buy another bottle of Nature's Miracle enzyme cleaner this weekend. We're going through this stuff pretty quickly now.

The only upside to this dreary day was that I did manage to get a lot of work done. I added thirty new pictures to one of the websites I manage and still had time to finish two articles. I still have three additional articles that I was planning on writing next week. If this rain continues, I may end up writing them this weekend instead. Working still beats sitting around waiting for the rain to stop. There just isn't that much to do on a rainy day.

I hope FedEx delivers my package tomorrow. I'll probably have to wait till Monday though. The odds of getting a package delivered on a rainy weekend are pretty slim. I hope the dogs are content to sleep in tomorrow morning. The way the weather looks now, there aren't many reasons to go outside.

Puppies are today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 2144

When I was getting Dot suited up in her harness to go to physical therapy, Dash woke up from a nap and immediately started coughing and choking. I took him outside to see if he was trying to throw up or eat grass. He actually seemed pretty calm, but continued coughing. What was this all about? I called Dot's vet and asked if I could postpone her appointment until I figured out what was going on with Dash. I considered putting both dogs in the car and taking Dash to the vet with me, but I knew that wouldn't work. It's hard enough to transport Dot by herself. Since Dash wasn't frantic, I thought that he might have gotten some dog hair stuck in his throat while he was licking his fur. Maybe the hair was irritating him. Dalmatian hair is short and surprisingly sharp. I got a dog hair stuck in my eyelid once and it was very uncomfortable. To test my theory, I fed Dash some canned dog food in hopes that it would moisten his throat and cause him to swallow the loose hair. Gradually, the coughing subsided and I resumed getting Dot ready for her appointment.

Dot had her own little crisis in the car. I always fold down the rear seat to give Dot a nice big flat area to ride in, but instead of staying in the middle of the car like she should have, she moved directly behind the drivers seat and managed to get one of her front legs stuck in the small gap between the folded rear seat and the door. Why does this always happen when I'm on a freeway? Dot was squeeling and I was stressed. I got off the freeway as soon as I could, pulled into a nearby parking lot, and repositioned her in the center of the cargo area. Dot was fine, but she could have injured herself if she struggled too hard to free her leg. We arrived about an hour late, and I was thankful that Dot has such a nice and accommodating vet. I try my best not to be late, but sometimes events are out of my control.

On days like this, I often feel like everything is out of my control. I'm still hearing water flowing in the pipes when all the faucets are turned off, so I made an appointment to have our plumber come out and figure out what is going on. Unfortunately, he can't come until next Tuesday. There's got to be a leak somewhere, but I can't find it. I hate plumbing problems. Plumbers are quite comfortable cutting a hole in your wall to access a pipe, but they never fix the damage they've made. After the leak is fixed, you have to go out and find your own carpenter or tape and bed guy to repair the walls. Then you have to find a painter to repaint them. The whole process often takes weeks. The dogs don't like having repairmen in the house either and bark continuously while they are here. I'm not looking forward to next week at all.

The weather report says it is supposed to start raining about 5 AM tomorrow morning and continue raining for the rest of the day. I really hope this forecast is wrong, because a sustained rain almost guarantees that Dot will poop in the house. I received five new writing jobs this afternoon, so there will be plenty to do tomorrow if we're housebound. I need to wait for the FedEx guy to deliver a package too, so maybe staying at home all day isn't such a bad idea. I should have done a better job of planning ahead for days like this. There is no more fresh fruit or bananas to make my morning smoothie tomorrow. I think we're out of the cream I put in my morning coffee too. Why do I obsess about food so much? If worse comes to worse, I'll make an omelet, fry up some sausage, and then spend the rest of the day fretting about the mystery plumbing leak while I write my articles.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 2143

I went and got the blood tests that my doctor needed right after we walked the dogs this morning. They always want you to fast before these tests, so it's easier to do them first thing in the morning and eat breakfast afterwards. A lady I'd never seen before approached me with a pile of forms to sign before they drew my blood. She said she was a representative of the lab that did the testing. I read page one of the forms and they basically said that I had to pay for anything that insurance didn't cover. What was this all about? Insurance has always covered everything before. I told the woman with all the forms that it was my doctor who insisted on all these tests and it was his job to get them paid for. The whole incident was irritating. Maybe I'll eventually get a bill and maybe I won't. That's not the point. The whole process of navigating the healthcare system is kind of like being lost in a corn maze. It's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

Today was a writing day. I didn't think my writing assignments would take me as long as they did, but sometimes the muse just isn't with you. I struggled today. I often find that the "no-brainer" jobs are the hardest, because it can be very difficult to write something compelling when there is nothing to say. Really innovative products sell themselves. The rest provide job opportunities for people like me. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'll write about virtually anything if you pay me.

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my defective watch winder was being replaced for free with a brand new model. Today, I was disappointed to discover that it will cost three times as much as I originally anticipated to fix my old multi-track tape recorder. These two different approaches to a repair problem illustrate perfectly how we have become a throw away society. The watch winder was made in China and it was actually less expensive to throw the old unit away and replace it with a new one than it would have been to ship the winder back to the Chinese manufacturer. The tape recorder had to be repaired because it was no longer in production. Most of the repair cost was labor. The cost of the parts themselves was minimal. In the future I don't think anything will be repaired. It will all be replaced. It's so much easier to throw the old stuff away and let the robots build more.

While I was on the phone trying to get some medical records this afternoon, Dot had a major accident in the house. I smelled it before I saw it. It was like a poop explosion. She pooped all over the carpet in my office and then stumbled and fell in the poop. First I had to clean Dot up. Then I had to take her harness off and hose it off before I put it in the washing machine. Then I had to do my best to clean the carpet itself. It sure would have been nice if Dot had pooped on one of the dozens of small rugs we've spread around the house to help her walk. I can take the rugs to the laundromat or hose them off outside. The carpet is more of a challenge.

Tomorrow is another day. I'm hoping that Dot does well at her physical therapy session. I'm hoping that it doesn't rain. I"m hoping that the carpet still smells clean after it dries out tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 2142

When I was reading the new issue of Electronic Musician this morning I was surprised to see that there is now software that allows you to add realistic sounding vocals to songs you've written without using a real singer. The voice synthesizer software is called Cyber Diva and you just enter lyrics and a melody into digital audio workstation applications like CuBase and you've got an instant lead vocalist that sounds pretty real. I was intrigued. I'm way past the stage in life where you get together with other musicians at 2 AM to lay down a demo on a tape machine in your bedroom. Been there, done that several decades ago. Something like Cyber Diva might make it easier for me to get back into songwriting again. I used to always have other singers record my songs because I inherited my mother's terrible singing voice. Maybe synthesized vocals are the next big thing for the solo songwriter. I did a little research and discovered that this sort of thing is already popular in Japan. Not surprisingly, the software is Japanese. Most of the available voices are Japanese too. Cyber Diva is their first attempt to create an electronic voice that sings in American English.

I finally heard from the watch winder people today. Evidently my defective unit is too old to repair and not being manufactured anymore. The good news is that the company is sending me a brand new replacement three motor winder at no charge. I was pleasantly surprised. I sure wish that other companies worked this way. It would be nice to hear my service representative at the Land Rover dealer say "I'm sorry sir, we can no longer repair your car, so we're just going to give you a brand new one."

Today was another slow day. After I finished some minor website updates, I did what I often do on slow days. I washed my car. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that I'd driven through some fresh road tar. It's much easier to drive through road tar in Dallas than to get the sticky stuff off your wheels. In many ways, life is a lot like driving through road tar. You're minding your own business and all of the sudden you're in the middle of a big mess. Just like the road tar, you often don't realized how bad the mess is until long after the incident is over. At any rate, an easy task quickly turned into a difficult one. I found some solvent in the utility room and methodically cleaned the wheels. I still don't know where the tar came from. That means I could easily drive through the same patch again tomorrow.

I did manage to see the planetary trio this morning when we were walking the dogs. Mars, Venus, and Jupiter weren't as quite close together as they would have been yesterday morning, but it was still an impressive sight. When I looked up at the sky I kept wondering whether I'll be accepted to the next NASA launch. I don't think my application was as inspired as my initial application last January. I guess it all depends on who else applies.

Tomorrow should be busier. I have several new articles to write, along with the usual assortment of useless activities that constitute my day. Dot and Dash are continuing to have a good week. You can't ask for more than that.

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 2141

Dash is much better today. The swelling has gone down on his paw and he's walking more or less normally again. He remembers where the bee stung him and won't walk in that section of the park. He's a nervous dog, but he's a very smart dog who learns from his experiences. I wouldn't walk on that trail either if I'd been stung yesterday. I had been thinking about making another vet appointment because Dash had been having some digestion issues last week, but that problem seems to have resolved itself. Dash is eating normally again. He's about as normal as he's going to get.

I didn't see the cluster of three planets this morning, because the sky was very overcast. It wasn't raining though. That's always a good thing. By around 10:30 this morning the blue sky I was hoping for suddenly materialized and it was nice for the rest of the day. Since it was a typical slow Monday, I used this opportunity to clear off the roof again. You would think that I could find better things to do with my time than to spend it perpetually removing water from the roof. Maybe. I can tell you one thing. Once you've had a bad water leak with sections of wet sheet rock falling from the ceiling, you never really trust water or your roof again. I'll always be looking over my shoulder when it rains.

Although my website business has slowed down quite a bit, I still get update requests every couple of days. Most of these updates are simple and don't provide much of a challenge. Sadly, they don't provide much of an income either. I keep hoping that these maintenance clients will spread my name around and one of their friends will eventually bring me a big new project that will keep me busy for months. That probably isn't going to happen though. Everybody has a website these days, but not everybody needs one. Some of my clients look at their website like an electronic Yellow Pages ad. Others have forgotten that they even have a website until I remind them. It can be discouraging to realize that you're not exactly setting the world on fire. On the other hand, it's kind of nice to have clients who still keep using you even though they don't need you at all.

I'm getting to the age where I see far too many obituaries. I see most of these notices on Facebook, because that's where you see everything these days. I haven't subscribed to a newspaper in years. Most of my college teachers have died by now. Many of my former ad agency bosses and early mentors have passed away as well, including one more today. It's kind of sobering to realize what a limited amount of time we have on this planet. Whenever I read that a friend or co-worker has died, I renew my resolve to put my remaining years to good use. This resolve usually lasts about an hour and then I revert to my old ways.

Apple is really getting sloppy about its upgrade program. During the past two weeks I have installed three different IOS upgrades to my phone plus another two upgrades for my watch. I just installed another Apple Watch upgrade this afternoon. Each of these upgrades was designed to fix a series of flaws and omissions found in the previous upgrade. I wish they'd tested these patches before they released them. I'd rather wait a little longer than hurry to install software that is full of bugs.

There will be one more chance to see Mars, Jupiter, and Venus packed into a tight little triangle tomorrow morning. The best viewing time was today, unless you had a sky full of thick clouds like we did. Maybe we'll get lucky tomorrow. Clear skies, no dog poop in the house, and a new job in my morning e-mail: that would be my tight little triangle.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 2140

Poor Dash can't seem to catch a break. Just when his back legs were getting back to normal, he gets stung by a bee on his evening walk and now he's limping on his front leg. Actually he was doing a lot worse than just limping at one point. I was worried that he was having an adverse reaction to the sting and managed to get him to the vet five minutes before they closed for the day. Dash can't take antihistamines or Benadryl because he is still taking Phenobarbital to control his seizures. The vet removed the stinger, which I had been unable to find, and gave Dash a steroid shot to reduce the inflammation and pain. He is resting now and should feel much better in the morning.

Before all the bee sting drama, it was just a normal Sunday. For the most part, a normal Sunday involves vacuuming the house and going to the gym. There are always a lot more steps on my activity tracker on Sunday than on any other day of the week. There was a police car in the parking lot when I arrived at the gym and it was still there when I left an hour later. It made me wonder if the gym was having problems with crime in the area. Just about every other part of town is having problems, so it wouldn't be that surprising if this area had an incident as well. Whatever the cause, I was glad to see the police presence. I just wish they'd patrol the park a little more frequently.

There were quite a few people working out today and many of the machines were occupied, so I had to do my normal workout in reverse order. Surprisingly, I burned up more calories doing things backwards like this. I usually do the difficult routines first to get them out of the way. Maybe doing the most strenuous exercises toward the end of my workout when I was already tired burned up more energy. Who knows. I wasn't as good at basketball today either.

The temperature was in the low fifties for most of the day. Shouldn't the bees have moved on to someplace warmer by now? Maybe the bee that stung Dash was a straggler. I usually don't see many bees this late in the year. It would have been hard for a bee to sting me today. I wore my Winter coat for the first time this season. It seemed a little much at first, but I ended up being glad I overdressed. The air was damp and there was a brisk wind. This always makes it seem even colder than it really is.

I hope there is a break in the clouds early tomorrow morning. There is a rare conjunction of Jupiter, Venus, and Mars in the morning sky called a planetary trio that won't occur again until 2021. I've been watching these three planets move closer and closer together for the past month now. If the sky is clear, I should set up a tripod and try to get a decent picture of the event. Usually there's no time to do this sort of thing, since it takes so much time to get the dogs walked and fed before Janet leaves for work.

At this point, I don't think Dash will be going on a walk tomorrow morning, and it is questionable how far that Dot will walk without him. Dot was barking during dinner because she smelled the Beef Stroganoff that Janet had cooked for our evening meal. I told Dot that she had to be good, because she was the therapy dog today. For the first time in a long time, Dot was actually in better shape than Dash. To say we have high maintenance dogs would be an understatement.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 2139

The dogs are full of surprises. It was still raining when we woke up this morning, so I thought we were going to have a huge problem getting Dot and Dash to do their business. Our plan was to take them each out in the alley behind our house and faced with the alternative of pooping quickly or getting very wet, they would make the sensible choice. Reliable Dot had everything taken care of in a matter of minutes. When we got her dried off and ready for breakfast, it was time for me to repeat the process with Dash. Dash hates rain, so I thought he might refuse to leave the porch. Nope. He headed straight for the park. Maybe as soon as he got to his regular pooping place, he would turn around and come home. Nope again. Inexplicably, he seemed to be enjoying himself. He wanted to go on his regular long walk. By the time we eventually returned home again, we both were completely soaked. The dog who hates rain, baths, and any other form of water, looked like he had a good time.

I know that I wasn't going to mess with the roof until our current rainy spell was over, but I saw a couple of pictures on the Internet of storm damaged homes where the roof had caved in and it got me nervous. I'm not really sure how strong our roof actually is, but tons of water adding to the structural load can't be good for it. It took me about an hour to pump and sweep last night's accumulation of water away. I'm sure the water will return, since the remnants of Hurricane Patricia are headed our way. The storm is dissipating quickly and should pass south of us, but I would still anticipate a lot more rain.

I can't find peaches anymore for my morning smoothies. I guess they're out of season. It's weird that some fruit like strawberries and blueberries are generally available all year long, but peaches are still strictly seasonal. I guess I could try substituting pears or plums, but I've grown fond of the taste of peaches and bananas. I spend way too much time fretting about such things. It would be easier if I just had a glass of orange juice like the rest of the world.

A cold front must have swept through town with last night's rain. I needed to look for a warmer jacket this morning. Actually, what I needed most was a good raincoat. Of course, since I didn't anticipate being gone for an hour, I just wore a light jacket and got cold and wet. The colder weather reminded me that it's about time to get the Winter coats out of the storage warehouse. I don't have enough closet space as it is and when the heavy coats are in the house, the place seems even more crowded than usual.

I saw a small dragonfly hovering around our living room window this evening. It's was probably trying to get inside where it was warmer. I usually see these things flying around on hot August afternoons. It seemed really out of place seeing one today. I guess there's always someone who didn't get the memo.

Maybe Dash went on a walk in the rain today because he was bored. I kind of think this is why he no longer likes his regular food either. He might want a change of pace. It's a shame when even your dog thinks you lead a boring, predictable life.

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

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 2138

Today basically sucked. I woke up with a sore back because I spent a good portion of the night sleeping on the floor with Dot. There were severe thunderstorms during the night and it was the only way I could keep her calm. For some reason, the dogs like to sit in the shower during storms and I didn't want her slipping on the tile floors in the bathroom or pooping all over the house. I must have been tired, because I promptly fell asleep on the floor and has a dream that Dot and I were watching wild animals through the bedroom window. Sleeping next to her did keep Dot calm though, so I guess it was all worth it.

We found a short dry spell to walk the dogs in the morning, but basically it rained all day. I thought about staying home for breakfast, but we were out of peaches and bananas, so I drove to my breakfast restaurant in the rain. The storm knocked most of the traffic lights out, so the short trip took much longer than usual. I certainly didn't prove much by getting all the acorns off the roof yesterday. Last night's wind and rain knocked thousands more off the trees, so the mess I was trying to avoid is up there anyway. It is supposed to rain for the next five days, so I'm not even going to bother going up on the roof. It's futile to remove the water now.

Water on the roof isn't my only water problem. I keep hearing water running in the pipes even when all the faucets are turned off. There are no obvious leaks anywhere that I can find, so the only thing I can think of is that there is a small leak under the slab. If this is what's happening, it's not good news. Any kind of plumbing problem under the foundation usually ends up being a giant expensive mess. I'll check next month's water bill to see if water usage has gone up. This month's water bill was actually smaller than the previous month, so if there's a leak, it's probably a small one.

I discovered that the reason I haven't heard from the watch winder company is that the guy I shipped the defective winder to is on vacation. It would have been nice if he'd told me he was going on vacation before I sent the package. Now, my claim won't even be processed until the guy returns. Ironically, right after I hung up the phone with the watch winder people, I discovered that the motor in another watch winder had burned out. Since I bought these things all about the same time, maybe all of them are getting ready to die on me. Does it really even matter? Probably not.

Apparently the Postal Service creed doesn't mean much anymore. You know how the saying goes: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." The postman used to deliver our mail in all types of weather, but our new mail carrier is definitely a fair weather friend. I've noticed for quite a while now that whenever we have a big storm, we don't get any mail that day. I don't know if the post office sanctions this or whether our mail carrier just throws the mail in the trunk of her car and waits for a sunny day. It's not like it used to be though.

Hopefully, we're going to get a break from this rain sometime this weekend. It's going to be a long two days otherwise. I'm accustomed to the rainy season by now. So far, it appears to be right on schedule. This will be our first Fall and Winter where we're dealing with Dot's limited mobility though. It makes things a bit harder.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 2137

It's weird to see rain again. It's been dry for almost two months here in Dallas and I'd almost forgotten all the little rituals we go through whenever it rains. It's always been difficult to get the dogs to go outside and pee when it rains. Now, it's even hard to find a comfortable place for them in the house. Dot's primary dog bed has a clear view of the windows, so she can easily see any approaching storm. Since she can't hear very well anymore, I could just turn her around so she was facing a wall if it weren't for the fact that Dash is scared of storms too and likes to huddle up with Dot. I had a hard time today finding a place where both dogs felt comfortable and I still haven't been able to get Dot to go outside and poop.

One hidden benefit of Dot's new morning therapy schedule is that I was able to get her to the vet and back again before the rain even started. Dot actually did quite well in the underwater treadmill today. She was able to walk in the tank for a full seventeen minutes and even had two short intervals where we raised the treadmill speed a bit. Dot's resilience and tenacity are really pretty amazing. When we got home, it looked like the approaching storm was imminent, so I immediately went up on the roof and swept away a huge accumulation of pecan shells and acorns. The squirrels had already eaten most of the pecans, but there were an enormous amount of acorns on the roof. Now that the roof is clean, it will be a lot easier to remove the water when the rain stops. I probably did the squirrels a favor too. All the acorns are on the ground now and it will be much easier for them to dig unsightly holes in my St. Augustine grass when they bury their nuts for the Winter.

I sent in my application to NASA to attend the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch. I have no idea if or when I'll hear back from them. The last time I applied to cover a launch, I thought they had totally forgotten about me until I received a surprise e-mail out of the blue telling me that my application had been accepted. We'll see what happens this time. I hope my Klout score and blog readership numbers don't influence their decision. Both these numbers are trending down. It's kind of ironic. I think my blog posts have improved over the years, but I actually had more readers in the early days when my posts were crap. It's all being in the right place at the right time. Any way you slice it, blogs just aren't as popular as they used to be.

It's raining hard now. There's no way we're going to get the dogs outside during this downpour. If Dot poops in the house in nice weather, she's certainly not going to make the effort to go outside during a storm. Hopefully, most of these storms will pass through the area tonight and we'll be able to take our regular walk tomorrow morning. If Dot and Dash don't get their walk, tomorrow is going to be miserable.

The world continues to change around me while I stay the same. One of Dot's favorite nurses has unexpectedly moved on to a new opportunity at another hospital. We didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. I certainly can't fault young people for taking advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. I worked at 17 different ad agencies before I finally realized that the only way to avoid having problems with my boss was to be the boss. So far it has worked out pretty well. Nobody can fire me now and my little company will celebrate its 26th Anniversary at the end of the year. That should impress NASA, but it probably won't.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 2136

There's going to be another opportunity to apply for NASA press credentials to cover a resupply mission to the International Space Station in early December. I'd love to go, but predictably, I'm already making excuses. What about the dogs? Could I afford the trip? Could Janet take a couple of unscheduled vacation days to look after Dot? It's silly to fret about this, since I haven't even been accepted yet. Actually, I haven't even applied yet, but I probably will. I really enjoyed being NASA's guest at Vandenberg Air Force Base last January, so having an opportunity to do this again at Kennedy Space Center would be fantastic.

I got a call from the cancer center today telling me that it was time to schedule Dot's next ultrasound scan. It doesn't seem like it's been two months since her previous scan, but it will be soon. I made the appointment and am hoping that we'll continue to hear good news. Dot has felt so much better since we discontinued the chemotherapy treatments. I'd hate to even consider resuming them again.

I was almost certain it was going to rain when we walked the dogs this morning. The sky was heavily overcast and there was a light mist. It's even darker walking in the dark on a cloudy day. I decided that we definitely need some more streetlights in our neighborhood. As the day progressed, the chances of rain diminished and by mid-afternoon I was seeing patches of blue sky again. This would have been a good day to get all the pecan shells off the roof, but I got sidetracked by other things. If it rains tomorrow, I'm really going to wish I'd taken advantage of the opportunity to remove the messy shells while they were still dry.

I should have heard from the watch winder company about my repair by now, but I haven't. Why am I not surprised? I'm not a very high priority on anybody's list these days. Since there were no deadlines to meet today, I did some routine bookkeeping and worked out a termination agreement with the website client who wants to move on to greener, cheaper pastures. Other than walking the dogs, the only time I got out of the house was to renew a few prescriptions at the pharmacy.

I tried to get Dot's physical therapy moved back to the afternoon, but the best I could do was buy myself an extra half hour in the morning. Once again, it's amazing how time flies. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was getting the car ready to take Dot downtown for last week's appointment. I guess you know that today was the day Marty McFly and Doc traveled to in the future to repair the damage from their previous time travels. Back to the Future is all in the past now. The film accurately predicted that we would that we would be flying drones everywhere and watching large flat screen TV's, but didn't anticipate smart phones at all. I prefer the more distant futures envisioned in shows like Farscape and Lexx, but I did see all three Back to the Future movies. Wish me luck on my application to attend the Orbital ATK Cygnus launch. That's a spacey thing that's off in the future too.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 2135

I lost another website management account today. There isn't much left to lose at this point. Janet tells me that I just need to go out and get more business. I tell her that she ought to feel very lucky that she still has a skill that isn't easily replaced by a 99 cent iPhone app.

I probably could go out and build up my writing business if I wanted. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has come up with an app that will automatically write good original content for you. Website design is another kettle of fish. There are already so many sophisticated WordPress templates and pre-built solutions available for almost nothing, that very few people see any benefit to starting from scratch anymore. When I lose a website account, it is not because someone is doing better work than I am. It it almost always because someone has offered their services far cheaper than I ever could. There just aren't many economies of scale when there is only one of you. I'm learning the hard way that it's hard to compete with dirt cheap. As my once loyal client told me this morning, "Thanks for understanding. This was such a fantastic deal, I just couldn't pass it up."

The world has fundamentally changed. I miss the days when my clients started every other sentence with "I'm not very creative, but.."  Now, everyone thinks they actually are creative. Truthfully, there is probably an abundance of creativity out there, but life was better when I had a monopoly on this activity. It's no fun being the Wizard of Oz when the whole world is behind the curtain with you. People are so pleased with their Instagram filters and slow motion iPhone videos, that I don't see a huge demand for my services in the future.

Dash's vet had an emergency when we arrived for our appointment this morning. We had to wait a while in the lobby and I noticed that there were a lot of new faces at the clinic. This is another way the world has fundamentally changed. Nobody stays at a job very long anymore. Everywhere I go, there are always lots of new faces. Luckily, Dash's vet is still a familiar face. Dash has been seeing her for years. I asked about the emergency and evidently a dog had come in with symptoms of a seizure and kept falling over. After ruling out epilepsy and vestibular disorders, the vet thought the dog had ruptured a disc in it's neck. They would need to do an MRI to make sure however. If it was a ruptured disc, the dog would need surgery. The dog's owner apparently didn't want to spend the money and was thinking about putting the dog down. This happens a lot and it always makes me sad. Personally, I don't think you should even have a dog, or a kid for that matter, if you can't afford to take care of it properly. A dog is a big responsibility. So far, we've been able to provide everything that Dot and Dash need, but there could easily come a day when the piggy bank is completely empty. It happens.

It would be nice if someone called tomorrow and wanted me to do a video project that would keep me busy till Christmas. It would be nice if Dot woke up and started walking on her own again too. Some things just aren't going to happen. I wish Dot would tell me her secret. Maybe she doesn't know what lies ahead, or maybe she doesn't care. She just seems happy.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 2134

I found the stuff Janet wanted at the storage warehouse. It was a children's game we'd created a number of years ago where kids could add a spot to a large outline drawing of a Dalmatian. I can't remember what the point of this game was, but the children seemed to enjoy it. The life sized drawing of the Dalmatian with no spots had been printed on a piece of white corrugated plastic and there were black vinyl spots that could be applied to the dog. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the spots. Maybe they didn't even exist anymore. I did remember where I'd had the poster printed, so I drove over to the printer and asked them if they still had any of the peel apart black vinyl they'd given me to make the spots in the first place.

"Who is your account representative," said a girl I'd never seen before. "I don't know," I replied. "I've had quite a few over the years." She looked up my account and seemed surprised to discover dozens and dozens of job orders for various posters and signs. I used to come to this place frequently back when I had a lot of retail clients. I was probably doing posters before this girl was born. Once it was established that I was an ancient, but quite legitimate customer, the girl was very helpful and found me exactly what I needed. She gave me the tail end of a roll of black vinyl peel apart material, saying that they didn't use the stuff anymore. I bet I was the one who started using this roll, many years ago.

I took a small check to the bank and then drove over to the post office and paid some large bills. I wish I was taking large checks to the bank and paying small bills, but that not the way it works anymore. If I was following the script I was given, I would have retired gracefully to a gated community or a beautiful cabin in Taos. I've never followed the script however. It sucks to realize that you are slowly becoming irreverent, but at least I haven't had a heart attack, a nervous breakdown, or been denied coverage for an essential surgery. All these things have happened to friends of mine, so I really shouldn't complain that my business is going down the toilet. "You need to find a hobby," I hear people tell me. It's hard to explain to these people that for all these years my business actually has been my hobby. I made an entire career out of doing stuff I thought was fun.

Dot is off schedule again. She can go about six hours without pooping in the house, but if she happens to go at an odd time, it almost guarantees that there will be an accident later. Today, she didn't go on her morning walk, because we'd stayed up late the night before and she pooped in the back yard just before we all went to bed. I spent the rest of the morning waiting for the inevitable mess, and sure enough, Dot pooped in her bed about 10:30 AM. At least Dot's stools are nice and firm. If Dash ever starts this kind of behavior when he gets older it's going to be a disaster.

If I was writing this blog thirty years ago, it would be full of pretentious talk about first class airline tickets and fancy restaurants. Now I spend my time writing about dog poop. Maybe this is what Karma is all about. I was kind of an asshole in my younger years. It makes sense in an odd sort of way that the karmic debt would be paid by cleaning up dog poop. It's been a learning experience, but what I've learned has been good. I just hope I'm half as graceful about aging as Dot has been. Nobody lives in the moment better than dogs. Dot can't run and jump anymore. She can barely walk. Even with her diminished abilities, I can tell that every morning is a new day. She wakes up happy to be alive and goes about her business doing whatever she can. An old dog would be a good role model for all of us.

Diva is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 2133

I've noticed that there are several people at the gym who leisurely read the Sunday paper while while they are using the recumbent elliptical machines. Isn't this missing the whole point of going to the gym? These guys are moving so slow that the only thing that's going to get their heart rate up is reading a story in the local news section about a mugging in their neighborhood. I shouldn't be critical though. I'm missing the point all the time.

Of course, maybe I'm right and everybody else is missing the point. It gets confusing. How can you have a serious talk about climate change without acknowledging that there are already way, way too many people on the planet? We are the problem. I guess it's easier to tell people to quit using fossil fuels than to quit having sex. Everybody seems worried about shark attacks these days. Why don't they just stay out of the water? That would be too easy though. Sometimes I think we are just hardwired to miss the point. Most politicians don't have a clue about why they are actually in Washington. To tell you the truth, I don't have a clue why I started my own business. I don't even like business.

Sunday's keep getting busier. Leaves are falling from the large Oak and Elm trees now, and I have to continually keep sweeping the porch and patio to minimize tracking them all inside. The leaves that do make it inside, I vacuum up with the Dyson. I wish I could come up with an easier way to clean the house. Before I can even start vacuuming, I need to move all the dog beds, water bowls, and chairs out of the way. I'll move everything off a rug, clean it, put the stuff back, and them move on to the next rug. There are 21 rugs to clean.

I sure wish Steve Jobs were still alive. Steve would have never tolerated the sloppy way software updates are released these days. After two updates, I'm still having problems with IOS 9 on my phone. I'm not the only one either. A quick Google search confirmed that hundreds of people are having the same problems I'm dealing with. Ever since I updated my operating system, I've been noticing that WiFi hotspots I know to be working just disappear. Some apps no longer work with WiFi at all and you have to use cellular date to access the all important cloud. It's a mess. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to be surprised when they get their next wireless bill and discover that they're way over their data plan limit. Why did we even need IOS 9 anyway? I was happy with IOS 8. Hell, I was happy with IOS 5.

The dogs had a nice weekend. Dot must be feeling stronger, because she's walking more briskly now. We're walking the same distance in the morning, but we get home about five minutes earlier than we used to. Dot sets the pace, and she's decided to speed things up a bit. Dash is better too. I haven't detected any limping in three days. He's lifting his legs higher too, because I don't hear his nails dragging the pavement every time he takes a step. I'm sure the cooler weather helps. It was only 57 degrees when we left the house this morning.

We ate well this weekend, but it will be back to my morning smoothies tomorrow. Both dogs have vet appointments next week and I need to have my own blood work done as well. Janet says there is equipment that Dalmatian Rescue needs for its next off-site event in my storage warehouse. I don't remember seeing this stuff, but that doesn't mean anything. I'll go take a look.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 2132

Yay! I got a surprise check in the mail this morning from a client who is habitually late. Now I can pay my Visa bill. It's like this every month. I make just enough to get by, but there's never very much left at the end of the month. I suppose I could dip into savings when things get tight, but an odd stubborn pride compels me to leave the investment account alone unless it's absolutely necessary. The salad days are over, but I'd still like to think I can pay my bills using money I actually earn.

We'll see how long this little game lasts. It was frightening to see how quickly my parents savings became depleted when they both became sick. I'm healthy now, but I won't always be. I need to stay prepared. I don't want to become senile and fall prey to Nigerian scammers like my Dad. I don't want to be possessed by manic/depressive demons like my Mom. This makes me overly cautious.

I've grown comfortable with caution, but I think it makes others uncomfortable. People like a little spontaneity in their friends. I guess they'll have to wait. I've convinced myself that if I continue doing exactly what I'm doing, the dogs will live longer, I'll stay sane, and everything will turn out fine. I'm probably fooling myself. Every time I turn on the TV, I realize that I'm living inside a self-created quiet little bubble and the rest of the world is random and insane.

I wish I was a little more like Dr. Who. I think the show is so popular because everyone wishes they were a little more like Dr. Who. In tonight's episode, Peter Capaldi brings Maisie Williams back to life, breaking all his own rules about changing the future and fixed moments in time. I wouldn't need a super power nearly this extravagant, but it would be nice to be able to keep dogs from dying. It would be nice to be able to understand what they are thinking too, just like Dr. Who was able to understand what the babies in the Viking village were thinking by hearing them cry. I wish I knew if Dash was really feeling better. He seems better today, but what do I know. Dogs are often very good at hiding pain.

Janet likes to text a lot more than I do. When we were texting back and forth this afternoon about what to buy at the grocery store, it occurred to me that it would have been a lot easier if we were just talking on the phone. We got it sorted out though. She got the peaches. I got the pumpkin bread and blueberries. I just got another text from her saying that she'll be later than she thought coming home tonight. I probably ought to text back and confirm which bedtime meds to give Dash. I hate texting long words like phenobarbital on my phone though, so I'll just go look at the pill bottles and sort it out myself.

So far, there have been no accidents in the house today. This is a little bonus, just like getting the surprise check this morning. We've still got an hour to go before bedtime though, so anything could happen.

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Day 2131

I got a letter from a friend today that got me thinking. I complain a lot, but I really shouldn't. My friend is facing huge medical bills while I am reasonably healthy. My house is paid for, while my friend's house has been on the market for six months and isn't selling. My dogs are old and frail, but my friend's dog has heartworms. Everything in life is relative. As bad as you think things are, there is always somebody else who can make your problems seem trivial by comparison. I've always thought of myself as a survivor, but I really need to be more appreciative of the simple fact that I've made it this far. There are so many things in life that can go horribly wrong.

I'm happy to report that nothing went wrong today at all. It was a nice Fall day. We got off to an early start and I think it was a good omen that I saw all four morning planets. Mercury is growing brighter and is higher in the sky now, so I can see it without binoculars. Dash continues to improve. He seemed to enjoy his walk this morning and I didn't see him limp at all. My breakfast restaurant raised prices a bit, but the small increase didn't bother me. I'm surprised they've been able to keep their prices so low for this long.

There were no accidents in the house today. This was probably just blind luck, but I'll take whatever I can get. I got my article assignments written while the dogs were sleeping and made a small alteration on a website that I had forgotten about yesterday. By the time the dogs started barking for their dinner, I had managed to get caught up on everything.

I think it is a good sign that novels have replaced Sweetwater and B&H catalogs as my preferred bathroom reading. I really don't need any more gear if I can't even keep the stuff I've already got running properly. So far, I'm reading about a book a week. I realize that this pace isn't exactly setting the world on fire, but it's still light years ahead of where I was this time last year. My current read is Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy. I recommend it highly.

I keep promising Janet that I'm going to clean out the office, but I don't even know where to begin. It's really time to unload some of the audio gear, but I don't trust eBay anymore. There are too many scammers and disreputable buyers. I rarely wear my vintage watches these days since I've gotten hooked on the Apple Watch, but I'm still fond of all of them. My closets are full of practically new, unworn clothes, since six days out of seven I still continue to wear jeans and a black t-shirt. Basically, I stopped dressing up when I stopped going to client meetings. It's hard to turn around an ocean liner. So far, any downsizing I've done has gone largely unnoticed.

I hope today's mild weather continues through the weekend. The dogs are much happier when the temperature is in the mid-70's. I keep telling Dot that the worst is over. It ought to be smooth sailing ahead at least until the rainy season starts.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Day 2130

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, I thought I might have to take Dot to the emergency vet. Today, she was trying to top her personal best on the treadmill. Dot was strong enough today that we even did a few interval sprints. When we speed up the treadmill, she is still going very, very slow, but it's a big deal whenever we see progress. If you're curious what water therapy is like, there's a video of today's therapy session on my Facebook profile page.

The vet checked Dot's heart and abdomen and couldn't find any obvious reason for yesterday's frantic panting and grass eating incident. I got a check list of things to look for if this happens again. Dot's frantic panting is mild compared to the vestibular seizures she's had several times in the past, but it is still alarming. The vet said that if her temperature is normal, her gums are pink, and her abdomen isn't tight or painful, I ought to be OK. I still worry though, because this frantic panting was our first indication that she had abdominal cancer last year.

Work is picking up again. I completed two small website projects and got a new writing job toward the end of the day. I don't think things will ever be as busy as they were three or four years ago, but it is encouraging that people haven't completely forgotten about me. Sometimes I get asked why I don't write a novel or start some ambitions personal project. The truth is that I just don't have the energy. I still need some work coming through the door to pay bills and keep my brain from turning to jelly, but I don't want a lot of work. Caring for the dogs takes an enormous amount of time. I still think one project a day is just about right. No meetings either! Not only is there no time for meetings these days, I no longer have any inclination to go to them.

I was just getting used to Fall when Summer returned. For the past week it has been unusually hot. It's been in the high 90's almost every day this week. This is pretty warm for mid-October. Luckily, it is still pretty cool outside when we take our pre-dawn walks with the dogs. This means that we occasionally wake up with the furnace heating the house and then eat dinner with the air conditioner running. At least the rainy season hasn't started yet. Sometime around Halloween we usually start getting lots of rain.

One of my doctors told me that it is time for new blood work. Why? I'm getting tired of this continuous monitoring. There was a certain urgency when I had Hepatitis C, but now that I'm reasonably healthy again, I'm rapidly losing interest. I'll get the blood tests done next week sometime. I just don't feel like fasting tomorrow. If there were a few more health apps on my Apple Watch I might not need to go to the doctor at all. I'm just waiting for the day when someone comes out with a watch that contains a miniature blood testing module that will prick your wrist several times a day and analyze a minute amount of blood. If they designed the thing right, you probably wouldn't even feel it. Real time blood analysis, just like the real time heart rate monitors they have now would be pretty cool.

I'm ready for Friday. I've taken this week's trash out to the curb. The dogs have been fed and walked. All the accidents in the house have been cleaned up. It's time to recharge my phone, watch an episode of Perry Mason, and go to bed.

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