Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day 2238

My fitness tracker has decided that I'm sleep deprived and has started sending me all sorts of friendly tips on how to get more sleep. Leave me alone fitness band. You should be happy that I'm still getting in a lot of steps. I don't need to know when to eat my dinner or how to relax. I'd sleep like a baby if I didn't have to clean up dog poop in the middle of the night. I've gotten so good at predicting when Dot is going to have an accident that last night I got up to check on her and was pleased to see that it was just a false alarm. I went to the bathroom, and on my way back to bed, I smelled a familiar smell. Yep. She pooped while I was in the bathroom. Dot was still asleep in exactly the same position as she was thirty seconds earlier, but there was a little dark pile about six inches away from her on the rug. How did she even do this. I cleaned up the mess and went back to bed.

My favorite machines were broken when I went to the gym today. I substituted twenty minutes on the rowing machine for the hand bicycle and discovered further evidence that my shoulder injury is getting worse. I used to be able to stay on the rowing machine forever without much discomfort. Not anymore. Ouch! I did another obligatory twenty minutes on the treadmill with the elevation set as high as I could. That was it. My heart wasn't really in it today. I didn't use any of the other machines at all and spent the rest of my time shooting baskets. I always wonder about consistency when I'm shooting free throws. My hands and body know what to do by now, but still it's is very hard to get more than five baskets in a row. Hey, even NBA players miss a free throw now and then. It would seem like it wouldn't be that hard to lift your arms and constantly push a ball the thirteen feet it needs to travel to reach the eighteen inch hole above the basket. Apparently, getting hand-eye coordination and muscle memory all working together is much harder than it seems. I am getting better though. Consistency is a worthy goal.

I didn't even bother to vacuum the house when I got home from the gym. The dogs were sleeping peacefully and Janet was already cooking dinner. Vacuuming would have disrupted things. I have the entire upcoming week to vacuum the house. I'm sure I'll be able to find a time when the noise won't bother anybody.

When I checked on my missing package on the FedEx website, I noticed that the delivery date had changed from yesterday to "pending." There wasn't a delivery date listed at all. I guess this either means that the package is lost or that the Fedex employees have lost interest in continually scanning the bar codes of everything they touch. It must get old to have millions of things to deliver and all the recipients want to know exactly where these package is at any given moment in time. Maybe it was better in the old days when the postman just left packages randomly next to your front door whether you were expecting them or not. I need to find a twelve step program for people who track things too much. I track everything from the positions of the planets in the sky to the number of calories I burn each day. I know it doesn't matter, but I'm curious about these things.

I'm not very curious about politics. I'll be very glad when the Iowa Caucuses are over tomorrow night. I can't even turn on the TV anymore without hearing endless commentary and speculation about the Iowa Caucuses. Do these things even matter? I don't think the Iowa Caucuses have actually predicted a winner for a long, long time. Maybe all the candidates from both parties should just put their name in a hat and let a blindfolded Kim Kardashian pick the winner. I guess the real question is in a field that includes an avowed socialist, a guy who is best know for telling people "you're fired," two Cubans, a heart surgeon with no political experience, and a woman who could be indited at any minute for playing fast and loose with national secrets, what the word winning really means. If any of these folks win, we all lose.

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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 2237

A year ago at this time I was a guest of NASA at Vandenberg Air Force Base. I had been invited to witness the launch of the SMAP satellite and still remember the experience fondly. I haven't been anywhere since. Shortly after I returned, Dot injured her spine and life changed radically. I had an opportunity to go to Kennedy Space Center and view another launch later in the year, but it wasn't very practical. Taking care of Dot requires all hands on deck. Now, I have an opportunity to take a much shorter trip to Houston to get a progress report on the Orion program and a tour of mission control. I think I could make the trip in a single day, but it's hard to decide whether this NASA event is feasible either. Even if Janet came home for lunch that day to check on the dogs, they would still be alone for a long time. Dot can get in trouble so easily now that I hesitate to leave her at all. I need to think about this. I can't stay home forever, but I can't leave Dot and feel comfortable either.

We slept in too long this morning. Dot is used to our weekday schedule where everybody is up at the crack of dawn. I think she tried her best not to make a mess, but we weren't there when she needed us. I heard her wake up around six AM, but before I could grab her harness and get her suited up, she had already headed toward the back door, leaving a trail of poop along the way. Ironically, I couldn't sleep well last night, and had gotten up briefly around 4:30 AM to go outside and look at the stars. Everyone was sleeping so peacefully that I was very quiet and did my best not to disturb Janet and the sleeping dogs. I should have taken Dot outside then. Luckily, the two soiled rugs were small enough to stuff in the washing machine and clean.

It's weird how bothered I get when a UPS or FedEx shipment is late. I was supposed to get a piece of camera equipment I ordered this morning, but found out later in the day that the shipment had been delayed. It won't arrive until sometime next week. This was just a small little adapter. Not a big deal at all. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to see whether this gizmo was going to solve my connection problem as I anticipated. I'm not very flexible anymore. I don't like surprises and expect everything to stay on schedule. Of course this never happens, so I am always frustrated.

I renewed my computer's anti-virus software today. I don't even know if this application actually works, but it's kind of like car insurance. You'd hate to be without it if you actually needed it. Increasingly, you don't buy software anymore. You just subscribe to it for a year at a time. I don't like software subscriptions any more than I like late FedEx shipments, but what can you do? Uber cabs, Air B&B, and software subscriptions are the future, whether I like it or not.

I should have gotten a head start on my weekend chores today, but it was hard to stay focused. I dawdled over breakfast, spend too long just staring aimlessly at things in the grocery store, and took a nap with the dogs instead of vacuuming the house. Luckily, there's always tomorrow for that sort of thing.

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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Day 2236

When I was having breakfast this morning, I noticed at least five different men having breakfast with their kids. This got me thinking that I almost always see more men having breakfast with their kids than women having breakfast with their kids at this restaurant. I don't think social roles have changed that much. It's more likely that the men are just unemployed. The women tend to come in earlier. They are dressed nicer, often in a hurry, and typically just order coffee and a muffin to go. The men linger. I could be wrong. Maybe these men aren't unemployed. They could all just be web designers like me.

It appears that something has changed on my auto insurance policy and that I'm not covered anymore when I drive someone else's car. When I called my agent to find out what is going on, he said not to worry, explaining that just the language in the policy had changed. When I read him the paragraph in question, he paused for a minute and told me that maybe I didn't have coverage after all. He said he'd research the situation and get back to me. This is the modern world. Nobody has a clue what is going on. Someone makes a decision somewhere, but by the time it filters down to the people who are supposed to implement it on a local level, it gets lost in translation. Corporate bureaucracies. Government bureaucracies. They are all the same. Confusing car insurance policies are just the tip of the iceberg. Health care is where it really starts to get messy.

Everyone, including me, is perplexed by the road repairs currently going on in the neighborhood. The old road was full of potholes and needed to be replaced, but instead of just putting in a new road, the construction crews are cutting out damaged sections of the old road with jackhammers and concrete saws and pouring small little sections of concrete all over the place. The road looks like a patchwork quilt. This must be the preferred method of road repair these days because I've seen this technique used all over the city. It is very labor intensive, disrupts traffic for weeks at a time, and looks like shit when the work is finally finished. I keep thinking that it would be easier, and perhaps even less expensive, to start over and just put in an entirely new road.

The road repairs didn't deter the garbage truck this morning and my trash got picked up again. This was great, but it makes the odd Wednesday trash pickup even more of a mystery. I didn't actually see a garbage truck on Wednesday. Maybe someone just stole my trash. Nah. That would be too weird. If somebody actually did steal Wednesday's trash, all they got was a bunch of dog poop.

The very last Land Rover Defender rolled off the assembly line in Solihull, England today. After 67 years, there will be no more. In an unrelated note, Paul Kantner, one of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane died today, continuing the demise of rock icons that defined my youth. We are approaching the end of an era. Most of the original Mercury and Apollo astronauts have already died. All my college professors have died. It's frightening now many rock legends have died this month alone. I find it interesting that the first Land Rover Defender was assembled at the Solihull factory in 1948, the same year I was born. Nothing lasts forever I guess. I'm going to look on the bright side though. As long as Keith Richards is still around, I think I'm fine. When the Stones go, I'm going to start to worry.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Day 2235

It's taking longer and longer to get Dot ready for physical therapy. You can't rush an old dog. She likes to sleep in the morning, so it's hard to get her out of bed and put her harness on in the first place. When I take her out to pee before we get in the car, she wanders around forever, smelling everything in the yard before she finally does her business. At this point we're already five minutes late. I try my best to get her positioned comfortably, but inevitably she tries to creep towards the side window and ends up getting one of her front paws stuck in the little space between the edge of the seat and the door. When she does this I have to stop the car and re-position her before she panics and starts to struggle. At this point we're usually ten minutes late. Sometimes we avoid construction zones and traffic jams. Sometimes we don't. I wish Dot's vet made house calls. She suggested giving Dot a low dose of Xanax to reduce Dot's anxiety before we get in the car, but that would make me more anxious. I have an irrational fear of drugs like Xanax and Prozac. When I was asking the vet what Xanax does and how it would make Dot feel, the vet gave me a puzzled look and said "You've never taken a Xanax, have you?" Nope. I wish I could ask Dot what she thought about the whole thing.

Personally, I don't think drugs are a good solution for anything. Maybe this is hypocritical, since I do take meds to control blood pressure and cholesterol. These seem different than antidepressants, sedatives, and anxiety medications though. I've noticed that sedatives sometime have the opposite effect on Dash. They make him hyper and anxious. My Mom experienced terrible side effects from the antidepressants she took. I'd rather just learn to become comfortable with being depressed. Who knows. Maybe Dot does need a Xanax, but there's got to be a better way to keep her calm in the car.

The weather was nice again, but the day didn't leave much of an impression on me. I must have done something other than take Dot back and forth to the vet and clean up poop, but I be hard pressed to describe it now. Walk, eat, clean up poop, repeat. That was about it. It's anybody's guess whether trash will be picked up tomorrow after the mystery trash pickup on Wednesday. I took my can out to the street anyway, just in case. The neighbors seemed as confused as I am. There were other cans on the street, but only about half as many as usual. Probably my can will end up being run over and squashed by a piece of road paving equipment.

I didn't bother watching the presidential debate tonight. Been there, done that. Why do we need so many of these debates? Jeez, if you don't know what these guys think by now, you probably never will.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Day 2234

Yay. I finally managed to see all five visible planets this morning. I got up early and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. When I went outside, there was Mercury, right below and slightly to the left of Venus. Saturn, Mars and Jupiter were also easy to see, along with a waning gibbous moon. I continue to be surprised at how quickly sunrise occurs. When I first get up on a clear day, the sky is dark and there are lots of stars. By the time we walk the dogs, the sky has acquired a deep blue-black color with an orange glow along the Eastern horizon. As we walk, you can see the sky grow brighter and the remaining stars grow dimmer minute-by-minute. About halfway through the walk, only the planets remain. Mercury disappears first, then Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. Often Venus remains in the sky almost until sunrise.

Today was just as slow as yesterday, but I was in a much better mood, probably since it was clear and sunny outside. After breakfast, I decided to take a camera and retrace my steps in the park without the dogs. It was amazing how many more animals I saw without Dot and Dash barking and scaring them away. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk, several woodpeckers, lots of ducks, and a Great Egret. It was enjoyable to wander around and look for things to photograph. I need to do this more often.

I was having difficulty installing the latest system on my iPhone and then I read that one of the bugs that this new system was supposed to fix was a difficulty in installing upgrades. Hmm. What do you do when the old system doesn't want to let you install the new one. I kept getting error messages over and over again until I tried to do things the old fashioned way by plugging the phone into my computer and making the upgrade using iTunes. How quickly we forget. I used to always add new apps and make system upgrades while connected to iTunes. Somewhere along the line, the phone started upgrading itself and I forgot about iTunes. It's good to know it's still there when you need it.

Dot was restless today. I took her outside for short periods of time over and over again, but mostly she just wandered around aimlessly. After having at least half a dozen opportunities to do her business outside, she still decided to poop in her bed while I was out photographing birds. When I returned , she was standing in her pen, looking at her soiled bed like some other dog had made the mess. I guess Dot's accidents can't be helped. She doesn't want to have accidents, but with all the neurological problems she's having, she just doesn't have that much control. I never get mad at her for making a mess. The same thing is probably going to happen to me someday.

I was surprised to see that my trash can had been emptied this afternoon. Not only was it the wrong day for trash pickup, the trucks never come down the alley anymore. Maybe this has something to do with the road construction that's underway on our street. I wish the sanitation folks had told me they were coming. I would have taken the rest of the trash outside to the can. Maybe this was it for the week. The road crews are getting closer and closer. I have a feeling that the street might be blocked on Friday morning.

This week has gone surprisingly fast, considering how uneventful it has been. Maybe I'm getting better at amusing myself.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Day 2233

It's a good thing I had my movie today. Absolutely nothing happened. It was cold and grey outside. The phone didn't ring. There were no deadlines to meet. It was a perfect day to watch The Martian. It was a long movie so I waited until the dogs took their even longer morning nap after breakfast. Coincidentally, this is also when I tend to get the most work done. Almost like clockwork, both dogs sleep soundly from about 9 AM until 1 PM, when they wake up again for lunch.

I'd already read Andy Wier's book, so I was wondering how a story with very little dialog would work as a film. Drew Goddard leaves out quite a bit in the screenplay, but still managed to transform one of the best books I've read in a long time into a nail biting and compelling script. I'm old enough to remember when Ridley Scott and his brother Tony directed television commercials at RSA. If you were in advertising during the late 1970's and early 1980's, Ridley Scott Associates was the gold standard for commercial production companies. Before he went on to direct groundbreaking movies like Alien and Blade Runner, he created the famous 1984 commercial which ran once during the Super Bowl and launched the Apple Macintosh computer. I loved that commercial. With all this in mind, I was expecting a lot from this movie and I wasn't disappointed. I really should have seen it in a theater, but for me a large, high resolution monitor in a dark room was almost the same thing.

I hope The Martian does something to rekindle interest in space. I remember clearly the excitement that the race to land a man on the moon generated. It was one of the few things in my lifetime that genuinely seemed to unite people around the world. A few years after Apollo 11 landed in the Sea of Tranquility, the real life drama of the the failed Apollo 13 mission seemed to capture the world's attention in much the same manner as Mark Watney did when the world learned he was stranded on Mars. We are explorers. I think we need to direct our energies outward again. We're spent far too many years looking inward.

The only thing I explored today was how to use my old Olympus camera lenses on a new Panasonic camera. Manufacturers have virtually stopped making digital cameras with optical viewfinders. Everyone is migrating to the new smaller mirrorless cameras. Since I like the Panasonic GH4, I've been trying to salvage some of my favorite older lenses and use them with this micro 4/3 format. With the right adapter, you can use just about any lens manually, but I wanted to keep using the auto-focus and image stabilization features of newer lenses. I tested an adapter today that was supposed to let me do this, but I was disappointed. The auto focus of my favorite Olympus lens still worked, but it was so slow. I think it's back to square one with this idea. It's too bad that expensive technology becomes obsolete so quickly. Back in the film era, my Nikon cameras and lenses served me for decades. It doesn't work that way anymore.

Dot seemed kind of shaky today. I always worry a lot when she's having a bad day. There's no way to stop this slow, degenerative process she's going through, but I sure wish there was a way to slow it down a bit more. Dot seems to react to sunlight and warmth the same way I do. I'm hoping that when the weather improves, she'll get her mojo back.

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 2232

Where did today go? I stayed busy all day, but really accomplished almost nothing. It was still dark when we walked the dogs because Janet had to leave for work early. I saw four of the five visible planets, but the illusive Mercury was still hidden by low clouds on the Eastern horizon. I watched the Impossible Planet episode of Dr. Who on the BBC channel during breakfast, which made breakfast take even longer than it usually does. I always liked this episode. When I took the dogs out to pee again before I fired up the computer and started working, I noticed another dead bird in the yard. This explained what the dogs were so interested in last night. The feral cats in the neighborhood do help control the rats, but I hate all the dead things they drag in the yard.

The first thing I discovered when I turned on the computer was that the backup batteries had gone bad in my Uninterruptible Power Supply. Since I wasn't that busy anyway, I took the power supply down to the battery store and had them rebuild the batteries. I think this is the third time I've had to replace the batteries in this particular UPS, but it was still cheaper than buying a brand new Uninterruptible Power Supply.

Dash was low on Phenobarbital, so I stopped by the vet to get a new supply and then returned to the battery store to pick up my refurbished UPS. When I finally did get to work, there wasn't much to do. There are still a couple of unfinished website projects, but no impending deadlines at all. I used my free time to write a letter to the watch winder people expressing my displeasure at their refusal to repair or replace my two broken winders. I don't expect much of a response, but at least I got that off my chest.

I discovered that I could buy The Martian on iTunes for half of what it would have cost to purchase a physical DVD in a store. No wonder stores don't carry many DVD titles anymore. I downloaded the movie and may never buy a DVD again. Why bother. I watch DVD's on my computer anyway and a downloaded file plays more reliably anyway. Half price seals the deal. No wonder Apple isn't making computers with DVD drives anymore. They really want to convince people to buy everything on iTunes. Now, all I have to do it get the little Apple TV box and I can watch my downloaded files on the big TV in the bedroom. Not that it matters, but I did remember to order ink for the large format printer.

The weather has got me confused. I bundled up like I did yesterday, but the minute I stepped out the door I realized was overdressed. As soon as the sun came up, it quickly got even warmer. By the time I was running errands this afternoon, I didn't even need a jacket. I think by the end of the week, temperatures are supposed to be in the mid-seventies. It's strange weather for this time of year, but I'll take it. It certainly beats cleaning up after the East Coast's giant snowstorm.

Unless somebody's website crashes unexpectedly, tomorrow will probably end up being a carbon copy of today. That's OK with me. I've got fresh bag of Fritos and a new movie to watch.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Day 2231

If you happen to follow my Instagram account, you've probably noticed that certain images appear again and again. On Sundays, there is often a picture of a basketball. On Thursdays, you frequently see Dot exercising in the underwater treadmill. On Fridays its almost always a picture of my breakfast. Although these pictures are similar, they are not the same. Each one records a specific event that will never happen again. To me, repetitious pictures like this are an affirmation. They are a way of saying that I'm still here. Life itself is fairly repetitious. The sun comes up every morning and sets every night. We brush our teeth, we shower, we fix our meals, over and over and over again. Some try to escape this monotony with wild adventures. I celebrate the tiny little nuances that make even the most repetitious event unique.

Today was like most Sundays. We slept in a little later and waited until after sunrise to walk the dogs. I can eat a bigger breakfast on weekends because I know I'm probably going to work it off. According to my fitness band, Sunday is the most active day of my week. Today when I vacuumed the house, I not only cleaned the rugs and carpets, I got down on my knees and cleaned baseboards, under tables, and even under the bed. I'll have to admit that Janet shamed my into this additional cleaning, but the house does look pretty nice now.

On my way to the gym this afternoon I stopped by the REI store again. I'm kind of fascinated by the stuff inside this store. I got a pair of mountaineering pants. I'll never go near a mountain with these clever pants, but they seemed perfect for walking dogs. The knees in my regular jeans wear out way too fast because I'm always kneeling down to get Dot's harness on and off or clean Dash's paws. Maybe these heavy duty, reinforced pants will last longer. Shoes wear out pretty fast too with two walks a day over rough terrain. I finally retired my old dog walking boots and started wearing a new pair this morning. The odd thing was that I'd had these new boots for over a year. A receipt in the box said I bought them on January 12, 2015. This is typical of me. I tend to wear old clothes as long as I possibly can, because they become more comfortable with age, but I always have a replacement waiting in reserve.

I wonder if I'm going to be able to see Mercury during the short window of opportunity I have between now and early February? I went outside around 6 AM this morning with a pair of binoculars when I knew the planet would be above the horizon, but once again it was obscured by clouds. For the past several days skies will be crystal clear around midnight, then around dawn clouds will roll in. Later in the day the clouds will burn off and it will become clear again. I'll try again tomorrow.

I need to remember to order printer ink tomorrow. The longer I wait, the harder it will be to unclog the printer. I'm not sure how busy I'll be tomorrow. If there aren't many websites to update, I might see if The Martian is available on Hulu. I currently watch old TV shows on Hulu, but haven't used it yet for pay per view movies. I've noticed that falling leaves are starting to accumulate on the front and back porch. It might be time to use the blower again. Janet couldn't find rubber snakes this weekend either, so she got a rubber lizard to protect her car. We'll see how that goes. The pooping birds are definitely still around. They made a mess of the lawn furniture yesterday. All this may sound insignificant and somewhat boring to you, but it's really not. I'm already looking forward to my banana and strawberry smoothie in the morning.

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Day 2230

I feel silly complaining about the weather on a day where the entire East Coast is experiencing one of the worst blizzards in history. Texas has its problems, but we seldom get three inches of snow an hour. Jeez, a grand total of three inches of snow period is enough to shut the entire city of Dallas down. At an rate, if you're reading this in the middle of a snowstorm, please stay safe. I can't think of any good reasons to be out on the roads tonight.

Compared to what I was watching on TV this evening, our own weather seemed almost benign. It was cold, but nothing out of the ordinary for January. It even warmed up enough later in the day for me to go up on the roof and clear the water away. There wasn't as much water as I expected, so a lot of it must have blown off the roof during an unusually windy day we had earlier in the week.

Dot had another accident during the night, but I've become so efficient at cleaning things up that I didn't even wake Janet and Dash up while I was getting Dot fresh blankets and loading the washing machine. When I took the bagged up poop out to a special can by the back fence we're reserved for Dot's accidents, I noticed that the sky had turned cloudy. I'll have to wait until things clear off again to look for Mercury in the morning sky. If there's a clear morning tomorrow, I shouldn't have a problem finding the illusive planet. I discovered recently that there is an app on my iPad that uses GPS and a sophisticated star map to mimic the night sky. You just take your iPad outside with you and point it in the general direction of what you are looking at. All the stars and planets in front of you are correctly identified based on the local time and your location. I've tried using this a few times and it's really pretty cool.

What isn't cool is my Jawbone UP band. Another one bit the dust today, so I went to the website where you describe the symptoms you're having and hope the manufacturer will send you a replacement. I love these little fitness and activity trackers, but they aren't very reliable. The bright yellow UP 24 that broke today is the fourth one I've had so far. They all work perfectly until the day they don't. Sometimes they last a year. Sometimes they last 45 days. Occasionally, a reset procedure will bring the band back to life, but typically when the two small status lights quit working, your band is toast.

I looked in two different stores, but couldn't find a DVD copy of The Martian. The movie was released on DVD several weeks ago, so it should have been on the shelves. Actually, there were very few recent movies on the shelves at all. It was almost as if stores weren't even bothering to stock many titles anymore. I think this just illustrates how fundamentally Netflix has changed the landscape. People don't buy DVD's anymore, they just watch them on Netflix, Hulu, or Google Play. Maybe I should just rent The Martian on Netflix like everybody else does. It would certainly be less expensive. My bookshelves are littered with DVD's I've only watched once. The whole concept of owning something is becoming an anachronism and I'm one of the dinosaurs keeping it alive.

My pants are telling me that it's time to go to the gym again. The problem with Winter is that if you wear compression pants under your jeans and sweaters under your outer coat, everything feels too tight. I get cold easily and I even feel too bundled up inside the house. Going to the gym won't fix all this, but I always need a reason to go to the gym. Tight pants seems to be as good a reason as any.

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Day 2229

If you're old enough, you probably remember car trips where your parents told you to count the cows you saw out the window. This used to keep me occupied for hours. Attention spans are shorter now, so I imagine a new kind of game is needed. Maybe you could have the kids count the number of times the people at the next table in a restaurant use the word "like" in a conversation. You know what I'm talking about. When I was having breakfast this morning, two girls at the next table must have used the word 100 times within five minutes. "I was like you've got to be kidding, and then she was like no way, and then like you wouldn't believe what happened next..." This went on and on and on. Every single sentence used the word "like" on one way or another. When did this start? I even hear people talking this way on TV now. We don't read. We can't write. We've forgotten how to speak coherently. I don't hold out a lot of hope for the future.

I did like my breakfast in the old fashioned sense of the word. It was delicious. On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up the ingredients to make burgers for dinner. I thought I'd try some heirloom tomatoes, since I've always wondered what they tasted like. I thought they'd be better than ordinary hothouse tomatoes, since they're more expensive. Nope. They weren't very tasty at all.  I'm still wondering what's so special about heirloom tomatoes.

Today was mostly spent wrapping up a bunch of loose ends, so I wouldn't have anything hanging over my head this weekend. I finished my remaining website projects, wrote a letter to my sister, paid a few bills, picked up another prescription at the pharmacy, and went to the Dollar Store to look for rubber snakes. It was a fairly productive day. The dogs got walked. I'm caught up on work. Dot pooped outside. And I finally received a reply from the watch winder company. I still haven't found the rubber snakes though.

I was disappointed to hear that the watch winder company won't repair the two defective units I inquired about. They said they are too old to fix and that parts are no longer available. This may be true, but I was still hoping that they would replace the winders like they did with the first one I sent them. I guess one replacement watch winder is all you get. It's hard for me to get very upset about this however, because I'm not all that interested in watches anymore. Like most things in my life, it appears like collecting watches was just a phase I went through.

It's supposed to be clear tomorrow, so maybe I'll get up early and look for Mercury in the Eastern sky. I don't know why it's a big deal for me to see Mercury because it's just a faint little speck of light.  I like following the planets though. If I didn't live in a city and the skies were darker, I'd probably be out with a telescope looking for Uranus and Neptune.

I forgot to order printer ink today, so the large printer is sure to be clogged on Monday. I'm sure there's still water on the roof as well. If it warms up this weekend, I'll take care of that. I need to think of something fun to do as well. I think The Martian is out on DVD now. Maybe I'll go look for a copy when I'm running errands tomorrow.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Day 2228

I just solved a problem that has had me stumped for the past three hours. It feels good. I inherited a Wordpress site from another developer who used a lot of strange and unfamiliar widgets to create much of the site's functionality. When I opened the dashboard this afternoon to make a few changes, I discovered that the latest version of WordPress no longer supports the third party widgets. The site was broken. I was totally screwed, because the functions the obsolete widgets added were not included with the theme the original developer used. This is one reason I hate WordPress. The themes only seem easy because they hide all the code away. They can be really hard to fix when something breaks. I needed to figure out an alternate way to duplicate the functions without starting over from scratch. After hours of research on Google and WordPress forums and quite a few unsuccessful experiments, I finally came up with something that worked without destroying the original theme. I still hate WordPress though. I need to convince this client to start over and do a proper responsive website.

The website debacle was just one facet of a rather nasty day. The weather was horrible. It started out cold and damp and kept getting colder throughout the day. It started raining hard just before I had to leave the house for Dot's physical therapy appointment. I was a bit apprehensive, since Dash is just as scared of storms as Dot. He usually sleeps on the bed when I'm gone, but I left the door open to my office because he often hides under my desk when it storms. That's where I found him when I returned. I felt bad, but it's pretty essential that Dot's gets her acupuncture and water therapy.

Dot actually did pretty well today, considering how damp and cold it was. Her vet spent some extra time working on her shoulder muscles during her acupuncture session in an attempt to relieve some of the tension. I think it worked, because Dot was very relaxed on the way home. I wasn't very relaxed because the rain was getting worse and the roads were a mess. I had to drive through a construction zone and the car ended up getting muddier than I've seen it in months. At least the rain washed off the bird poop. The evil bird has started pooping on the right hand side of the car where it is unprotected by rubber snakes. I guess I'll have to go to the Dollar Store and buy some more snakes.

I'm glad that this week is about over. I've had enough of disastrous stock market losses, cold weather, difficult assignments, and lack of sleep. There's water on the roof again, but it's too cold to deal with it yet. The shower drain is backing up and the refrigerator is just about empty. It's almost time to start thinking about doing my taxes again too. Hey, the skies are supposed to clear off tomorrow. Maybe a good breakfast, some strong coffee, and a little sunshine are all I need to jump start my mood and get my Mojo working again.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Day 2227

I must have worked harder at the gym on Monday than I thought, because I woke up feeling sore this morning. I think this is the way you're supposed to feel after a good workout, but I'm not fond of the sensation. Both of my arms ache. Maybe the reason I'm not adding any muscle is that my workouts aren't strenuous enough. It was purely accidentally that I had a tough workout on Monday. The place was crowded and the equipment I usually use was busy, so I tried some other machines. As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed that my favorite machines were available again, so I did those routines too. I didn't really think about it, but I probably added about thirty minutes to the workout. Maybe this is what I should have been doing all along.

I took Dash to the vet today for some routine lab work. I'm glad that Dash doesn't need to go to the vet very often, because he's terrible in the car. I don't know whether he's excited or scared, but he sits directly behind me and barks the entire way. If I had to transport him everyday, I'd probably be deaf by now. When I got Dash back home again, I got back in the car and went to the pharmacy to get the prescription I should have picked up yesterday. I could have accomplished this in a single trip, but I think it's wrong to leave a dog in the car, even for a short time. The dogs travel to the dog park and the vet with me, but we don't run errands together.

I had a complex website revision to do today. The job would have been easy in the old days, but using Dreamweaver is just a distant memory now. These new responsive websites are much more difficult. If you see a website that looks nice on your phone, there was probably someone like me who spent hours making sure that the layout resized automatically and looked good on any type of device. Life was so much easier when everyone had a simple Motorola flip phone and a 17" CRT on their desktop.

Life was also easier when I didn't spend half the day dealing with dog poop. I knew that Dash must have done his business in the yard this morning, because he didn't poop on our walk. Usually, when we take the dogs outside to pee when we get up, I keep an eye on what Dash is doing. It's always easier to clean up the poop right away, rather than find it on the bottom of your shoe later. I must not have noticed what he was doing this morning. After breakfast I went looking for the illusive poop, because I hate stepping in it later while I'm following Dot around holding up her rear legs. I'll never figure out why it is so hard to find dog poop in the yard and so easy to accidentally step in it. Eventually, I found what I was looking for, but I could think of better things to do.

I wonder how much further the stock market is going to fall. We've wiped out all of 2015's gains already and it's just January. I'm not very optimistic about the future. Sure, the market will go back up again, but unless you are very disciplined or very lucky, you will never be in the right place at the right time.  I think my parents felt much more secure in their retirement with a nice defined pension plan that they could depend on. Now, everybody's got a 401K that goes up and down with the market. The market is not rational either. It is increasingly driven by current events, and we are all lousy at predicting the future. How do you insulate yourself from this madness? I wish I knew the answer.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day 2226

I've been thinking about mortality lately. Within weeks of each other, Natalie Cole, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey have all died. Each was about my own age. Add Alan Rickman, and Motörhead frontman Lemmy and it hasn't been a good month for folks in their late sixties. Two neighbors I've known for years are probably going to wind up in an assisted living facility after a bad fall. My own sister, who is only slightly younger than me, is recovering from serious spinal surgery. When I look around, it is fairly obvious that the adventurous folks I know have sold their motorcycles and given up rock climbing. It's pretty sobering. I'm probably living more on the edge than I realize by still climbing up on my roof to remove the standing water.

It was hard to tell whether today was slow, or it was just me who was slow. I got a fair amount done, but it seemed like I was moving in slow motion all day. I picked up some meds for the dogs at the vet, but forgot to pick up my own at the pharmacy. I had to go back to the grocery store, because I ran out of a key ingredient I use in my morning smoothies. Heaven forbid that I do something logical and just eat something else for breakfast. Dot pooped in the house twice. It was probably the 3 AM accident that got my day started on the wrong foot. I don't even bother to track my sleep any more with the activity tracker. What's the point? I don't need technology to tell me that I'm not getting enough sleep. I can feel it.

I did manage to finish another article and ship it off to the client. Although my work has slowed down considerably, it is still essential. Writing is comforting and familiar. Just sitting at the computer a couple of hours each day, opening up Microsoft Word, and punching the keys for a while, keeps me from falling down the rabbit hole. I think I understand why Janet went back to work. Retirement sucks. If work is part of your identity, you need to keep working.

I keep wondering when the days are going to get longer. The shortest day of the year was back in December, but it's still dark every morning when we take the dogs on their morning walk. The ironic thing is that when the days actually do start getting longer in mid-March, we switch to Daylight Saving Time again and are plunged back into darkness for at least another month. I prefer sunlight, but at least the pre-dawn skies are interesting. If we have a clear day toward the end of the month, all five visible planets will be arranged in a straight line across the morning sky. This is the first time in eleven years that Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible simultaneously, so I hope that the skies are clear around February 5.

Dot continues to have good days and bad days. The stock market has become a roller coaster. The daily weather alternates between freezing cold and unseasonably warm. The political landscape is equally chaotic. It would sure be nice to have a little stability.

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day 2225

I frequently forget what day it is. It seemed a lot like Sunday to me. Since Janet had the day off, we got up late again and didn't finish breakfast until almost lunch time. We walked the dogs a little later this morning on the theory that if the sun was a little higher in the sky, it would be warmer outside. It never did get very warm, but at least it was clear and there was no wind.

Since I didn't go to the gym yesterday, I decided to go today. I'm always surprised at how crowded the place is on Monday, but maybe it was because today was a holiday. I stopped at a new REI store I always pass on my way to the gym. I hadn't been inside a REI store since I used to live in Seattle, but was delighted with what I saw. I love this kind of stuff. There were tons of warm coats and lots of sturdy pants with pockets everywhere. There were boots that looked like they would last forever, although I could probably wear them out in a year. I like to dress like the apocalypse is just around the corner, so this store was right up my alley. Oddly, they were having a Winter clearance sale during one of the coldest days of the year. I found a nice goose down jacket on sale and bought it. When I was at the register the clerk asked me if I was an REI member. I didn't think so, but the guy insisted on looking up my name. "Sure, you're a member," he said. "Did you ever live in Rogers, Arkansas?" "That's my Dad," I told him. "Well, would you like to use his membership for this purchase," he said. It didn't seem right. My Dad has been dead for over a decade.

Since the gym was kind of crowded today, I had to use some different equipment than I normally use. One of the machines required me to move my wrist a lot. Ouch! I hadn't used this particular machine in over a year and it was obvious that during that time my carpel tunnel had gotten worse. I'm not sure what to do about this wrist. I do my stretching exercises, but my range of motion continues to gradually get worse. I definitely don't want surgery. I know several people who have had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and their condition didn't improve at all. I've learned from the dogs that surgery should only be an option when you have run out of other options. Dot and Dash wouldn't be here today without the help of some very talented surgeons, but their cancer surgeries weren't without consequences. It takes a long time to recover from major surgery and the older you are, the more difficult the rehabilitation becomes.

Dot's front leg continues to improve. I think we got lucky, because it appears that all she did was strain a muscle or ligament. We're still taking it easy on our walks though. We walk slow and watch carefully for any sign of weakness. It's always a balancing act with Dot. It is essential to keep her moving to keep her condition from rapidly deteriorating, but she is very fragile, so you've got to be careful not to let her overexert herself. At least for today, I think everything is in balance. Dot had a good day.

Tomorrow should be busy. Janet returns to work and so do I. I have new writing assignments to complete and another website to update. There is a fresh supply of strawberries and bananas for my morning smoothies and a new winter coat if it is really cold in the morning. I measure my days now by my ability to get Dot outside before she poops. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day 2224

Dot is feeling much better today. I think the she pulled or strained a muscle in her shoulder trying to get up, because lots of rest yesterday and a massage appears to have done her some good. Keeping the front legs strong when the rear legs start to go out in an older dog is always a problem. Dogs try to compensate for the weak legs by shifting weight to the front. Since they can't push themselves up from a sitting position using their rear legs, they try to pull themselves forward and up using their front legs. This puts a lot of strain on the shoulder muscles. Sometimes Dot's determination to move around on her own gets the better of her. She's not completely back to normal yet, but a day of rest really helped.

I installed the digital TV antenna I got the other day. It works, but it definitely wasn't what I expected. I thought the antenna would pull in ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and a few Spanish language stations. Nope. It received twenty-three of the weirdest stations I'd ever seen. None of these stations were on cable at all. How did these stations come to exist and who was watching them? There were three Vietnamese channels,  including one that seemed to originate from a nail salon. There was a station that played nothing but old episodes of Hill Street Blues. The over-the-air NBC affiliate was something called NBC Kids and played nothing but Saturday morning cartoons. QVC has a channel. There was a Catholic Spanish language televangelist and several channels that appeared to be nothing but ads. I was baffled. I guess this might be marginally useful when the cable was out, but not really. Another problem was that you had to set up your TV to receive either the antenna or cable. You couldn't watch both at the same time. Each time you switched back and forth, you had to run the set-up program to find available channels, which can often take up to fifteen minutes. I doubt that I'll return the antenna, but I doubt if I'll use it either.

I didn't make it to the gym today, but I did stay busy. I vacuumed all the dog rugs and carpets, which takes forever since it involves moving furniture, food bowls, dog beds, and the new dehumidifier. I guess I need to vacuum every week.  Two weeks was almost too much for the Dyson. The canister was packed with dirt and dog hair. I'll give the Dyson high marks for cleaning floors, but it's not very easy to clean when you're done. Old fashioned vacuum cleaner bags were so much easier than dealing with this weird transparent canister.

After I cleaned the house, I sawed up the big tree limb that fell earlier in the week into manageable sections and took the pieces out to the curb for big trash pickup. Tree limbs are quite heavy. If a loose limb were to ever fall on me or the dogs, we would be toast. When I look up, everything seems fine, but I still ought to get the tree trimmers to come out and remove anything that might be problematic.

With the tree and the rugs taken care of, I had a choice of a shower or a trip to the gym. I chose the shower. I can go to the gym later. I'd definitely had enough physical activity for one day. While I was waiting for Janet to come home so we could take the dogs on a short evening walk, I watched the Jason 3 launch on NASA TV.  This was another Space X launch were they were going to try to soft land the booster on a barge in the ocean. Once again, the barge landing failed. I initially wondered why they didn't just land the booster on dry land, since this worked so well the last time they tried. It turned out that they weren't able to get the complicated California environmental impact statement paperwork completed before the launch, so they used the barge again instead. Why would you even need an environmental impact statement to land a rocket back at Vandenberg Air Force Base? The whole base is full of old rockets and launch pads.

I'm really glad that Dot is feeling better. I know she's fragile and do my best to protect her from harm, but there is so much that is out of our control. All we can really do is give her the best care possible and continue to take things one day at a time.

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

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Day 2223

Dot had a bit of a setback today. She was perfectly normal on her morning walk, but later in the day we noticed that something was wrong with her left front leg. She was having a lot of trouble standing and walking. Keep in mind that her left rear leg is already very weak. Having both left legs lame made it very difficult for her to keep her balance. I figured out a way to rig her harness so I could support her both in the front and in the back, but I still don't know what is wrong. It could be anything. Her neurological problems could be spreading. She could have injured the front leg somehow. It's even possible that she was having a mild vestibular stroke. What I'm hoping is that she just slept on the leg wrong and it felt numb when she woke up. This happens to me occasionally. If you fall asleep on top of your arm, it often feels numb or prickly for a while when you first wake up. Dot is resting now. Hopefully her condition improves after she's had some rest.

It was a cold, grey day. It still might snow this evening, but I kind of doubt it. I think the worst of the weather is North of us. French Toast and sausages always seems like a good idea on a nasty day, but our delicious breakfast did little to improve the weather. I updated a website while waiting for the weather to improve a bit, but eventually I gave up and went grocery shopping in the rain. While I was out today I picked up one of those digital TV antennas that let you watch over the air broadcast stations without a cable subscription. I haven't installed the antenna yet, but it would be weird if it worked. When I was growing up, we had a TV antenna that let us watch a total of thirteen channels. That's exactly what the digital antenna promises. It's kind of a back to the future kind of thing. If the antenna works, I'd be real temped to drop the U-Verse TV. It's expensive and goes out all the time. Local over the air stations and Netflix is probably all you need anyway.

I was going to cut the tree limb that fell yesterday into manageable pieces that I could take to the curb for big trash day, but it was too cold. I'll take care of this task on a warmer day. I had my hands full taking care of Dot anyway. Why do bad things with the dogs always happen on weekends and holidays? I'm not sure a vet could tell me all that much anyway. This kind of lameness has happened before. It just seems to take longer to recover each time it happens.

I was thinking of going to bed early tonight, but it's already late. Hopefully, we'll all sleep soundly tonight. I need some catch-up sleep. I need a lot of things. I need to go to the gym tomorrow. I need to clean the house too. It's been two weeks since I vacuumed all Dot's rugs and they're getting filthy. At least it's a three day weekend. At my current speed it will probably take two days to get my Sunday chores done. What happens tomorrow will depend largely on how Dot feels in the morning. I hope she's walking again.

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

Friday, January 15, 2016

Day 2222

I don't believe in numerology, but I'd like to think that days like 2222 have some sort of special significance. I guess all days are special in one way or another. The last time we had a day like this was way back toward the end of 2012. On Day 1111, Dot and Dash were still healthy enough to run and play at the dog park. It was a cold, clear Winter day much like today. I took some stuff to the storage warehouse that day and went looking for a new floor lamp at Home Depot. Nothing has changed and everything has changed. I wonder what Day 3333 will be like?

It would be funny if I was still going to my favorite breakfast restaurant on Day 3333. I'm bound to get tired of this place eventually. For now, it's still a delicious change of pace and a nice way to end the week. I actually got to the restaurant a little later this morning because there were no accidents during the night and both dogs slept well. When the dogs sleep, Janet and I get to sleep a little longer too.

There was no real reason to get started early today anyway. There wasn't that much to do. Since I'm more or less caught up on work again, I spent the day doing little things around the house. I finally discovered why the sliding glass door is sticking. It's not a broken roller as I initially thought. On closer examination, I noticed that the entire wall has shifted a bit and the ceiling and floor aren't quite parallel anymore. This wouldn't be a problem if I didn't have a floor to ceiling sliding glass door. Now, when I open the door it is traveling very slightly downhill. After about two feet, the bottom of the aluminum door touches the metal track that keeps it in place and friction brings the heavy door to a stop. I'm not sure what to do about this. I suspect it would be a lot easier to replace a roller in the door than to re-position the entire wall.

I took a small check to the bank today and paid most of the Christmas credit card bills. If there aren't any unexpected vet bills or household emergencies next month, I might actually have a little money left over. I don't know why I even try to keep things in balance anymore though. The stock market had an absolutely horrible day. So far, this might be the worst January for the market on record. Very few people have escaped this market downturn because just about everything has gone down significantly. Could I have invested more wisely? I doubt it. A lot of things are just out of our control these days. I mean, who would have thought that the price of oil would come down to twenty dollars a barrel again? Wasn't it over a hundred dollars a barrel just a short while ago?

A large limb from one of the Oak Trees fell in the yard this morning. Luckily, the limb didn't hit the house, the dogs, or myself. These trees are getting old and falling limbs are becoming a common occurrence. It's probably time to get the trees trimmed again. I used to have a tree trimmer come out every year, but I've let things slide a bit. Tree trimming, like everything else, has gotten expensive. Hey, if I don't look up, I don't notice how bad things have become. I need to put taking care of the trees on my to-do list. One more big ice storm and I'm sure some other limbs are going to fall. I don't want one of them falling on my head.

Our crazy weather continues.  It warmed up and was quite nice today, but I hear there is a possibility of snow tomorrow.

Betty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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