Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 2298

Maybe I ought to complain more often. After mentioning the dearth of writing assignments yesterday, I opened my mail this morning and discovered that I have four new articles to write. I wrote one of the articles today and will save the other three for later. I need to figure out how to get more writing clients, because it's the perfect activity while taking care of sick dogs. I've had difficulty going to meetings and have avoided taking jobs that involve travel since Dot has gotten sick, but writing doesn't disrupt anything. I just sit at the computer with the dogs at my side and if they need anything, I'm right here. I'm glad there is still something I can do that doesn't involve meetings and supervision. When I started my company, I was more of a traditional ad agency. I did pretty well for quite a few years, but eventually burn out set in. Now, I prefer solitude. I look for clients who appreciate what I do, but basically leave me alone. They're out there, but they're definitely getting harder to find.

Dot is becoming more dependent as she grows weaker. She barks when she wants me to help her up and whines when she's not getting enough attention. This isn't a good thing. I'd like her to feel independent as long as she can. I can't ignore her though. She has difficulty walking without assistance now. Her rear legs often get stuck in an awkward position while she's sleeping, and when she's restless, it's often a sign that she needs to pee or poop. I've made the transition to full time dog butler so smoothly that Dot still leads a happy, relatively normal life. I can't say the same for myself. I'm not sure I even know what normal is anymore.

It looks like it's going to be a good year for wildflowers. I see new blooms every day and pretty soon the meadows and open fields in the park are going to be an explosion of color. Since the same flowers appear year after year, I've gradually learned their names. Learning about your surroundings can make almost anything interesting. I can identify at least a dozen species of birds by their song and can name the constellations in the pre-dawn sky on our morning walks. My powers of observations are still very selective, unfortunately. After all these years, I still don't know the names of most of my neighbors.

I didn't mow the grass today, but I did charge up the heavy 24 volt lawn mower battery. After charging the thing for about eight hours, a green light came on and the battery appears to be OK. Tomorrow, I'll install it in the lawn mower again and see if I have the energy to mow the front yard. When I moved to the neighborhood, everybody mowed their own yard. Now, I'm the last one left. Everyone else has a lawn crew that comes once a week during the Summer. I used to think this was a big waste of money, but every time I push the mower up a hill, having someone else take care of the lawn starts to make a lot of sense.

I have no idea what I'm going to do for breakfast tomorrow. I feel like I don't have a home anymore. My favorite restaurant has changed and I need something new. Maybe I'll just drive around aimlessly until I see something that looks appealing. There are lots of restaurants in the vicinity. I just haven't been to most of them for quite a while.

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 2297

I'm beginning to wish that I could move Dot's physical therapy appointment back to Thursday. Traffic is worse on Wednesday. The vet clinic seems busier too. As a result, Dot and I spend at least an hour and a half longer away from home. It's not like I have that much to do anyway, but I never realized that switching our appointment would make such a difference. I'll have to admit that there are some benefits to the new schedule. I don't have to struggle to get Dot ready anymore. We leave right after I feed the dogs their lunch now, and it's always easy to get Dot up when there is a meal involved.

Dot seemed stronger than she did last week. She did really well in the underwater treadmill today. I'm convinced there is a reason for everything, but I can never figure out why Dot has good days and bad days. She has had some very good days after resuming her chemotherapy, which is somewhat counter-intuitive. She has also had bad days when she is relaxed and well-rested. The only thing for certain is that every day is a new day. I never really know what to expect.

The rain returned today. There were severe thunderstorms and even tornado warnings in the area, but luckily all we saw in our own neighborhood was a gentle, steady rain. Today's storms didn't last all day, so the dogs still got their normal walks. I'm sure there is water on the roof though. I'll deal with the standing water and a very dirty car when the skies clear again.

I think my transition to the new web server is just about complete. I've finished troubleshooting the online forms and all the e-mail accounts are working now. The only difference I've noticed in performance so far is that the new server occasionally gets overwhelmed by heavy traffic. It's just like U-verse in a lot of ways. The site will go down for a few minutes, but by the time I get through to customer service, everything is running fine again. Maybe big hosting companies are like the airlines and try to keep things as close to capacity as they can. At any rate, it's going to take a while to get used to this, since my old server hardly ever went down at all.

Tech support people are probably going to hate me as I grow older. I can already see that I'm turning into one of those irritating people who continually call with some esoteric, weird problem just to have someone to talk to. During my transition to the new web server, I've already called tech support half a dozen times. I'm a curious person and generally just wanted to know why things were configured a certain way. I used to have lots of geeky friends to ponder these issues with, but now tech support will have to do. Maybe somebody knows why the favicon has disappeared from this blog. The little icon is loaded on the server and the code I added in the blog header is correct, but the favicon doesn't show up anymore. One more of life's little mysteries.

A bigger mystery is where all the writing jobs have gone. Last year at this time, I was swamped with writing assignments. This year my work load has slowed to a trickle. I write about watches and the oil and gas industry a lot. Both of these industries have suffered setbacks in recent years. Hopefully, when the dust settles, the writing assignments will return. Life is easier when there's always something to do. It's also nice to have extra money at the end of the month.

I have no idea what I'll be doing tomorrow. I'm pretty well caught up on almost everything.
Sparky is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 2296

The landscapers came out today. They think it's funny that I have to replace the grass every year. I think I'm their only customer where they have to do something like this. The turf is always installed properly and I water and feed it properly. The problem is that the roots from the large Oak trees in the back yard suck up all the water and the canopy of leaves blocks out direct sunlight. The yard just doesn't get enough sunlight for St. Augustine grass to thrive. Bermuda Grass needs even more sunlight and won't grow at all. I've planted most of the yard with ground cover that does well in shady areas, but the dogs like to sit out in the grass during the Summer, so we put in a small patch of grass every Spring for them. The yard looks great until August and then it gradually starts to die out. It's not an ideal solution, but it's better than nothing.

I added an SSL Certificate to my website this afternoon. The certificate is probably overkill, since I'm not selling anything on the site and have little need for security. Modern browsers increasingly expect a secure site though, so I guess it was worth the effort. The whole process was a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be. I had to add some code so that people who had already bookmarked the http: version of the site wouldn't get an error message and would go to the new https: version instead. The web hosting folks said that the SSL Certificate would improve my search rankings. I kind of doubt this is true, but we'll see what happens.

It was time to get more Allopurinol and Levothyroxine for Dash today. It seems like I'm always picking up pills for somebody. Dot takes meds to control her blood pressure and chemotherapy drugs to control her cancer. Dash takes Phenobarbital to control seizures, along with his daily thyroid and blood pressure meds. My own prescriptions are mostly to control high blood pressure and cholesterol, although there are a few for other things as well. I can't even remember why I'm taking some of them. There's a whole little area in the kitchen now just for pills. Dot takes her chemotherapy medication every third day, so we never end up taking the pills on the same day. I have to use a calendar to keep track of all this. It gets complicated.

It's ironic that I used to have to use a calendar to keep track of work deadlines. Now, I just use the calendar to keep track of prescriptions. Work is pretty easy to manage these days. When a job comes in, I usually just do it right away because I'm so bored. I haven't had a backlog of work in quite a while.

I finally got the forms working again on the new web server. This was a questionable use of my time, because nobody uses the forms anymore. Typically, they get filled out by spam-bots that randomly type gibberish in each of the form fields. I probably should have eliminated the forms instead of fixing them. They were fantastic in 1995. Now, they're just a nuisance.

Spring is when the Purple Martins return. Unfortunately, it's also when the cockroaches return as well. While I was writing this, I looked down and saw a huge roach sitting on my foot. This startled me and I flinched, flipping the bug up in the air. Lord knows where it landed, because I can't find the disgusting thing now. My office is so full of clutter that the bug could stay hidden for another month. Such is life in the South.

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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 2295

I took my tax information over to the accountant this morning. I used to bring a heavy pile of three-ring binders, file folders, and envelopes full of receipts. Now, I basically just bring a single CD with my Quickbooks Pro files. You'd think this would make it easier for the accountant and he'd give me a discount, but he actually charges me more. Times have changed. Oh, well. I've become very fatalistic about taxes. I just pay what I'm told to pay and try not to think about it.

On the way home I stopped at the REI store and got a pair of hiking pants for walking the dogs. It's only a matter of time before I have an entire wardrobe full of REI clothes. They aren't particularly stylish, but they seem extremely durable and well made. The pants I bought today reminded me of my old Defender 90. I don't know why I like indestructible things so much. Maybe it's because I feel we are living in an increasingly apocalyptic world.

With my taxes out of the way, I thought I'd catch up on a few other things as well. I called an audio repair shop to ask about a tape recorder I'd left with them ages ago. They said they were still waiting on a part that was on back order. Jeez, are they getting this part from Pluto? I brought the recorder in for service last October. I'm a very patient person, but this is getting ridiculous.

I had better luck when I called the landscapers. They said they'd be out to take a look at the yard tomorrow. These guys are good, but they always want to charge me too much. I have to explain that I'm not asking them to do nearly as much as they did three years ago. They seem to like the price they got three years ago. Eventually, we come to a mutual agreement, but it shouldn't have to be this hard. I also called the roofer, but he didn't even return my call. That's pretty typical for a roofer. I'll probably have to bug this guy for a month to get him to come over and patch the current crop of bare spots.

I was so efficient about taking care of unfinished business today that I don't what I'm going to do tomorrow. If the weather stays nice, maybe I'll mow the grass. The first step is to see if the big 24 volt battery will hold a charge. The second step is to take the battery to be re-celled when it dies unexpectedly after five minutes of use. The third step it to actually mow the grass and then complain about how the weeds have taken over again. That ought to take most of the day.

Hopefully, I'll get a good night's sleep tonight. That's a lot more important than what I'm going to do tomorrow. I take a a short nap before I start writing the blog in the evenings now. I know I'm going to be up several times during the night with Dot. Naps are good and interrupted sleep is a lot better than no sleep at all.

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

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 2294 - Easter

I think I've finally got all my tax information in order. I keep postponing this task longer and longer because it's so discouraging. This is the one time during the year when it becomes abundantly clear that I'm not making much money anymore. What's even worse it that I know that my accountant will charge me more than he did last year to tell me that I made less than I made last year. I certainly don't begrudge my accountant for raising his rates every year. My dentist and my plumber do the same thing. Just about everybody raises their rates except for web designers, who are expected to work for much less than they did ten years ago.

We're still supposed to get some severe weather later in the week, but today was perfect. The dogs loved the crisp, clear Spring day and we were able to take two nice walks. We certainly weren't the only ones in the park today. The place was full of family Easter celebrations. Every open field was filled with children looking for Easter eggs. I wish people still hid real eggs. Hard boiled eggs would be fine, because if the children didn't find them, animals would eat them or they would just rot and disappear. Plastic eggs filled with candy and trinkets tend to stay around forever. From now through May, I'll have to be on the lookout for candy on the ground, because Dash will smell the stuff and try to eat it. Chocolate is really bad for dogs and a lot of these plastic eggs are filled with chocolate. Nobody seems to care about littering anymore. Public parks just seem to be a designated place where families can litter with impunity.

In addition to working on my taxes today, I was also able to catch up on a few things around the house. I went up on the roof and cleared away the standing water from last week's rain. It was nice to see that some of the water had already evaporated. The warmer it gets, the faster the water evaporates. When I was working, I noticed several new worn places that will need to be patched. Patching the roof after the Spring rains has become an annual ritual. I need to call the roofer, as well as the landscapers and a tree trimmer this week. It's that time of year. Hopefully, I won't need to buy a new lawn mower. I seem to need a new mower every four or five years. I'll see if I can get the current mower started tomorrow. If I wait much longer, the front yard is going to be full of weeds.'

I tried to superglue some broken stuff back together this afternoon. I think I was successful with the Nike running shoes, but the watch band was a dismal failure. I need to remember that superglue and duct tape are not the answer to every problem. As careful as I try to be, I always manage to get some superglue on my fingers. It's almost impossible to get this stuff off. I usually try acetone or Janet's nail polish remover, but if I wait too long, even that won't work.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing this week. Work has often been slow at the first of the year, but it's not the first of the year anymore. This slow period has lasted a lot longer than I anticipated. It's beginning to look like this might be permanent. I wish I knew how to get clients who would pay me what I made in 1995. I wish I knew how to get clients period. My business grew through referrals from existing clients and everyone is retiring now. It's the end of an era.

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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 2293

In theory, today would have been a good day to sleep in. Unfortunately, lazy mornings are only a theoretical concept at our house. Dash ensured that we got up early as we always do. I thought he needed to go outside, but the little shit just wanted his breakfast. I know Dot would have been happy to sleep a bit longer, since she and I had already been up twice during the night cleaning up another mess in her bed. Basically, it was just a regular Saturday morning.

I'm making progress getting everything to work on the new server. It really doesn't matter whether my website works perfectly or not, but I still find a small amount of pleasure in learning how things work. The new server is different than the old server and I'm slowly learning why. It's unlikely that you'd know the difference if I corrected all the small errors I'm finding or not, but I'm correcting them anyway, mostly because I can.

I decided to go to the gym today because it is going to be closed for Easter Sunday. I also had some errands to run that I was planning to take care of on the way home. Trying to cram all these activities into a single afternoon was a mistake, because I ended up leaving Dot alone too long. When I returned, I discovered that she'd pooped in the small protected area where I'd left her. She must have slipped in the poop because her leg was dirty, along with three small rugs and all her blankets. I think she ate the poop too. I hate when this happens. If I was there, I could have helped her. She hates to make a mess in her pen and I could tell she had struggled to get away from it. It's hard to live your life where you can never leave the house though. I try to make sure everything goes smoothly, but sometimes it doesn't.

I still haven't gotten around to preparing my tax materials for the accountant, but at least I've cleared the deck so I can concentrate on that tomorrow. There are so many things I need to do that it feels a bit overwhelming. The grass is getting long in the front yard and I still haven't checked to see if the mower works. I know there's water on the roof, but it seems like a huge waste of time to remove it, since it's going to rain again in a few days anyway. I did put clean sheets on the bed and did several loads of laundry. It's important to make an effort.

Tomorrow, the park will be littered with colored eggs and candy. The place is a popular spot for family egg hunts and the children never come close to finding everything their parents have hidden. Dot and Dash find all this stuff the next day and I have to be careful that they don't eat the candy and other trash left behind by the Easter crowds. If anyone has their egg hunt early tomorrow morning thay are sure to see real Easter Bunnies. This seems to be a good year for rabbits. We see dozens every morning on our walks. Maybe the coyotes have moved on the greener pastures. In prior years coyotes have eaten a lot of the bunnies, but this year they appear to be thriving.

It's already time for bed again. The kitchen selves are stocked with food. Dot's blankets and the hallway rugs have been cleaned. I learned a few things about writing Perl scripts. I even had a pretty good workout at the gym. Although I did quite a bit today, I feel like I've accomplished nothing.

Bubba is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 2292

My accountant told me that he needs to receive all my tax preparation materials by Monday and I haven't even started yet. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend? I don't think I've ever been this disorganized before. I'm behind on literally everything. It's hard to even prioritize at this point. Dot needs lots of attention. The website updates I do for clients take a lot of time even though they don't bring in a lot of money. For the past several days the process of migrating my website empire to a new server has been consuming me. It's hard to remember why I did something in 1995. A lot of old code on the site doesn't work on the new server and it's a very tedious process to de-bug everything.

The main problem is that I'm just not getting enough sleep.  Last night I woke up at 2 AM when Dot pooped in her bed. I woke up again at 4 AM for no reason at all. And then we all had to get up at 6 AM so the dogs could take their morning walk before Janet went to work. All this would have been fine if I hadn't stayed up until 1 AM the night before. Late to bed and early to rise is not a good combination.

I went to the new restaurant this morning. My breakfast was excellent, but why do they have to serve everything in cardboard take-out boxes? The place doesn't use plates at all. The lack of proper dishes probably makes kitchen cleanup a lot easier, but would it kill them to serve my breakfast on a plate?  This is the trouble with hipster ambience. They like this sort of thing. My old restaurant occasionally irritated me with plastic forks, but at least they had real plates. Truthfully, breakfast would be a lot more enjoyable if there were white table cloths, nice china, and friendly, knowledgeable waiters who refilled your coffee cup every five minutes. I can't complain about the food though. The food is fabulous.

I got the watch back today that I took in for servicing a few weeks ago. One down; two hundred and fifty to go. I'll never get all these watches running again. I wonder if I should even bother. Friends tell me that I should sell some of the unwanted watches, but I hate dealing with eBay. I used to buy and sell frequently on eBay, but the place is full of scammers now. It's just too much trouble to deal with them. Craigslist is even worse. I wouldn't even consider selling anything on Craigslist.

I spent an enormous amount of time today trying to figure out why none of the scripts in my cgi-bin work anymore. Everything worked fine on the old server, but now the scripts are useless. I'm sure that only a few lines of code need to be changed, but which lines? I called tech support at the new hosting company several times but never connected with anyone who knew how to write Perl scripts. I know how my mind works. I'll figure this out eventually and get everything working again, but the effort will be a complete waste of time, since I don't even need the scripts anymore. I'm just curious why something that works on one server won't work on all servers. I should spend my rather limited energy doing something useful, but I probably never will. That's not how I roll.

I wonder if the gym is open on Easter Sunday. I bet not. Ironically, I drove right by the gym this afternoon. I should have just stopped and asked.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 2291

I basically spent the entire day setting up new e-mail accounts and migrating websites from one server to another. The good news is that about 80% of what I moved still works perfectly. The bad news is that the remaining 20% doesn't. I hope I never have to change web hosting companies again. My website is like a house that has been remodeled too many times. When I was troubleshooting this morning, I discovered code that hadn't been updated since the mid 1990's. A lot of clever things I did back then are completely obsolete and aren't even supported anymore. Instead of redesigning the site, I simply abandoned pages when they quit working and moved on. There are tons of orphaned pages on this site that I should have never moved to the new server, but since I couldn't remember why there were there in the first place, it was easier to move everything. I'll sort it all out later.

I got a call from a woman this morning who was interested in having me build a website for her business. She had started a gluten free baking company and wanted to sell her bread online. Unfortunately, she had no bread for me. The was the third referral I've received this year from someone who basically wanted a website for nothing. It's discouraging. I explained that there were a lot of drag and drop templates available that would let her inexpensively build her own website, but that it took a long time to design a good custom site and I was doing this for a living. Maybe she doesn't even need a website. I've seen people who've done pretty well using nothing but a free Facebook business page.

The Internet has changed so much that I'm wondering why I'm even bothering moving everything to a new server. One of the sites I moved today was for a greeting card company I started many years ago. The cards were beautiful, but the company never went anywhere. I initially thought that the greeting cards could be used to raise money for Dalmatian Rescue, but the company didn't even generate enough revenue to pay for the cards I had printed. There may still be a box of greeting cards hidden away in the storage warehouse somewhere, but the website is about all that remains of the company. The last inquiry I received about greeting cards was five years ago.

It rained a lot last night, but luckily the worst of the storm passed North of us. I saw on the news this morning that there was lots of hail and wind damage in some of the nearby suburbs. I always worry about hail storms at this time of year. They can pop up out of nowhere and do a lot of damage. Janet's car was practically destroyed during a sudden hailstorm a few years ago. Even without the hail, the weather has been weird this week. In theory it is Spring now, but I'm still wearing my winter coat on our morning walks. It's way too cold for March, but at least it isn't raining every day like it was last year.

I still can't decide where to have breakfast tomorrow. Having too many choices confuses me. When I first started eating out on Friday mornings, I'd try a different restaurant each week. This wasn't really satisfying, since some of the restaurants were terrible. It may be time to try this again though. I realized last week that I don't have a favorite anymore.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 2290

I lost my web hosting and e-mail today. Damn. I knew this was going to happen but I didn't think I would have to deal with moving everything so soon. I've been with the same hosting company since the dawn of the Internet, so migrating all my websites and e-mail accounts is not a trivial matter. Even though I spent most of the day in tech support hell, I'm still not done. Every time you move a large website, a lot of things don't work anymore. It's going to take weeks before everything is back to normal again.

It would have been tempting to just abandon my personal websites, but there were some animal rescue websites on the server that people still depend on, so I decided to move everything. My company website has become a relic. I haven't kept up with the times. The sites I design for clients are much nicer than my own these days. My site has become an anachronism. Lets face it, I just don't care about the Internet as much as I did ten years ago.

I do care about Dot, so I broke away from configuring the new mail server to take her to her physical therapy appointment. When I returned, I had to start all over again, because my session timed out and nothing got saved. Dot actually did better than I did today.  She had a good morning walk and kept up a brisk pace on the treadmill during her therapy session. Dot didn't poop in the car this week either. In sharp contrast, my own day was a mess. I still haven't gotten my new e-mail account working properly and there are big chunks of my company website that don't work at all. Hey, it's a start. I'll have everything up and running by this weekend.

Trying to find a new online home consumed most of my day, so I made no progress on preparing my taxes whatsoever and didn't get around to calling the landscaping guys or the roofers either. At least Dash was more or less back to normal today. These dogs are wearing me out. I'm going to try to finish migrating my websites to the new server tomorrow. I've got a little time before they pull the plug on my old server, but at the glacial slow pace I move these days, there isn't much time to waste. Dot's vet was telling me about the difficulties of running her business while moving to a new home today. This reminded me that Janet and I have one more move left if we are ever going to leave Dallas. I'm not looking forward to moving. I'm not looking foreword to growing old in a big city either, so I guess I've got no choice. I have a feeling that moving to a whole new city is going to be a lot more trouble than moving my website.

There's still plenty of time to think about moving. The big move may never even happen, since Janet is in no hurry to retire. In the mean time, I've got poop to clean up, bacon filled breakfasts to fantasize about, and a yard full of grass to mow. I wonder why I selected the fancy unlimited package on the new web server? I can add as many websites, domains, and e-mail accounts as I want. This would have been really useful ten years ago when my business was thriving. Now, most of this capacity will go unused. It will be a miracle if I can manage to add five rather simple websites to the server. So far, I'm having a lot of trouble configuring the first one.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 2289

Dash survived his dental exam. You'd think having your dog's teeth cleaned would be easy, but nothing is easy with Dash. He has a history of waking up hard after anesthesia, so the vet has a special way to sedate him so he won't be frantic when he wakes up. She was really pleased at how calm Dash was today. When I drove him home I was thinking that we'd dodged a bullet this time, but less than an hour later he was racing around the house in a panic and drooling profusely. I had to put him on a leash when I took him outside so he wouldn't eat grass and leaves. I occasionally get nauseous when I am recovering from anesthesia, so this must have been what Dash was feeling. Things are better now, but it was a three ring circus for a while.

At one point, both dogs wanted to go outside at the same time and I just couldn't manage it.  If I was holding up Dot's rear legs, I couldn't keep Dash from eating leaves. If I was attending to Dash, Dot couldn't even get up. It was a mess. Eventually, Dash calmed down and Dot pooped, but there were some very unhappy dogs for a while. I just couldn't explain to them that I had to deal with them one at a time.

It's sad to see Europe descending into chaos. I used to spend a lot of time in Europe, but I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable there now. I'm glad I saw Greece before it went bankrupt. I'm glad I visited Turkey while it was still a secular country. I'm especially glad I got to spend time in Paris before you had to be careful which arrondissement you were traveling in. Most of my travels took place before the European Union even existed. I bet some of my European friends wish they could go back to those days. Open borders seems to have created more problems than they solved.

I hope Dot's vet can explain why she became lame earlier this week. The leg was completely limp and useless and yet she recovered the next day. Maybe the Palladia pills are making her stumble and fall, but I suspect that another disc in her spine has become compromised. Dot has so many neurological issues that I forget she has cancer sometimes. Hopefully we'll find some answers at our physical therapy session tomorrow. It's hard to accept that nothing can be done at this point, but maybe that is the answer.

Today was tiring. I'm hoping that tomorrow will be uneventful and calm. It would be nice if Dot does well in the underwater treadmill. It would be nice if I can eat my breakfast without both dogs barking at me. We'll see what happens. If tomorrow is tiring too, I'll just take a nice nap.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 2288

Last night just before we went to bed, Dot's left rear leg became completely lame. She wouldn't put any weight on the leg at all and had a lot of difficulty standing even while I was supporting her using the Help 'Em Up Harness. It was almost impossible to tell whether the injury was a temporary numbness, a torn ligament, or another ruptured disc in her spine. I did my best to make her comfortable, putting her to bed on her side, with the bad leg on top in a relaxed position. We all went to sleep and when we woke up the next morning, the leg was fine.

This is how fragile Dot is these days. There is no margin for error. If she sleeps on her weak leg wrong, she is unable to walk when she wakes up. If she stumbles while we are walking in the park, it might take her two days to recover. The Palladia pills make her weak about 48 hours after she takes them. Just barking at Dash is enough to make her poop in the house. Right now, she is the definition of a high maintenance dog.

The dogs should have been happy today, since the weather has turned brisk and cold again. They weren't content with the weather though and pestered me all day. Dot would bark at me to help her up and take her outside. As soon as we were out the back door, she wanted to come in again. We did this over and over again. When Dot would settle down and go to sleep, Dash would start barking and get her riled up again. She pooped in her bed twice. She has one dog blanket I must have washed five hundred times. The thing is indestructible.

I balanced my checkbook today and made sure that I have enough money to finish the month. I wrote some large checks to pay credit card bills and deposited some small checks in the bank. I picked up prescriptions for myself and Dash and tried to make sure that I didn't get them mixed up. I definitely don't need to be taking phenobarbital. Dash needs the stuff to control seizures, but the last thing I need are downers.  Everyday life is enough of a downer as it is.

Just when I was finally warming up to the idea of getting a larger iPhone, Apple comes out with a new smaller model that is exactly the same size as my current iPhone 5. Maybe I'll get one of these new SE models. It's about time for me to upgrade and one of the reasons I've waited so long is that I really like a smaller phone. The larger 6 models just didn't fit in my pocket that well. Maybe these new phones will even fit in my existing case. I think I like my case better than the phone anyway.

Dash goes to the vet to have his teeth cleaned tomorrow morning. I'll need to take him in really early because he has to fast. Getting either of the dogs to do anything without breakfast is always a challenge. I'm glad we only have to do this once a year.

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 2287 - Vernal Equinox

It was nice that the first day of Spring turned out to be a Spring day. Since this is Texas, we could just as easily have had snow. It was a little cold in the morning, but by mid-afternoon there was definitely a hint of Spring in the air. I used the pleasant weather to catch up on yard work. I pruned some backyard bushes and hauled an abandoned agility course we used when the dogs were younger out to the curb for this week's big trash pickup. I thought about mowing the grass, but I forgot to charge the mower battery, so that will have to wait until another day.

On the way to the gym this afternoon, I stopped at the REI store to look for some flip flops. I like to wear socks around the house and when the dogs need to go outside in a hurry, it's always hard to put on my shoes quickly enough. I've had to go outside barefoot occasionally when Dot couldn't wait. At any rate I was looking for some slip on sandals without the band between the big toe and the other toes that you typically find on flip flops. I finally found a pair that I liked, but they were $130. WTF? How did flip flops get so expensive? There were nice hiking boots in the store for the same price as these flip flops. I left without buying anything, because the price seemed ridiculous. I'll probably come back later though, because the shoes were exactly what I was looking for. Why do I always have to like the expensive things?

While I was at the gym this afternoon, I got to thinking about the yard work I'd done this morning.  Yard work is strenuous. When I did more around the house, I had no need to go to the gym. I used to mow the grass with a push mower. I hauled in tons of round river stones in the back of the Defender to make decorative areas in the shady spots where grass wouldn't grow. I used to put in the St. Augustine turf myself instead of hiring landscapers. I did lots of things that kept me fit and made me tired. I quit using the push mower first. It was simply too exhausting. Gradually other things fell by the wayside as bones got brittle and joints got sore. Today, when I was pruning the Photinia bushes I couldn't even reach a lot of the branches because of my dislocated shoulder. Age has definitely taken its toll. As I finished my twenty minutes on the treadmill, I concluded that going to the gym was for people who work in offices. If you do any type of manual labor, you don't need to go to the gym.

Dash gets his teeth cleaned this week. I always worry about dental exams because a long time ago a friend of mine had a dog who died during a routine dental exam. Dash is what they call a "hard wake up" dog as well. He freaks out sometimes as he is coming out of anesthesia. Dash has a great vet and I know everything will be OK, but I still worry. I don't like going to the dentist myself, but it's something you can't ignore. Gum disease can be very serious in an older dog.

I actually got a good night's sleep last night. My activity tracker said that I reached 90% of my recommended sleep goal. That's as close as I've ever come. Usually I get about 40% of my sleep goal. I don't expect to sleep nearly as long tonight. It's a work day tomorrow and we all get up early.

Baxter is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day 2286

I'm a light sleeper. When I wake up, I try to remain as quiet as I can. If I remain still, I know I can usually stay in bed an extra thirty minutes to an hour. I've learned that as soon as Dash senses activity in the house, he will get up and start barking for his breakfast. The barking wakes Dot up and she gets excited, which often causes her to poop in her bed. After that happens, sleeping in is a lost cause.

I woke up tired this morning and remained tired for most of the day. I'm not sure how to get the sleep I need. It's taking me longer and longer to write the blog in the evening, so I get to bed late. Janet gets up very early on weekdays. That means we all get up early so the dogs can have their walk before she goes to work. On days like today, where we actually can sleep in, Dash usually has other ideas. I'm sure that mothers with young children face very similar problems. They're younger than me though. Grumpy old men need their sleep.

We've started having frozen toaster waffles on Saturdays because they're so easy to fix. On weekdays I have my thirty second banana and strawberry smoothie and often pick up Chinese take-out for dinner. There's a trend here that I don't really like. Simplification of meals usually comes to an inevitable conclusion when you're drinking Ensure everyday and have one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up" moments. That's what happened to my Dad. I need to avoid oversimplification. Complexity keeps your mind and body going. I probably should start making fancy omelets for breakfast like I used to.

Today was beautiful. The sky was clear and the humidity was low. There was a chill in the air when we walked the dogs this morning, but that was good because Dot does much better in cold weather. Everything in the yard is starting to grow again, which means that I really need to get the landscapers out next week to give me a bid on repairing the lawn and ground cover. I am reminded of this because Facebook has started posting those "memory" pages on my wall every morning. This morning I saw a blog post from two years ago that clearly indicated that I'm behind this year. I should already have the St. Augustine turf installed by now.

There was so much I needed to do today and so little desire to do any of it. I could have gotten started on my taxes. I could have pruned the Photinia Bushes in the back yard. I could have washed the car or vacuumed the house. All I did was change the sheets on the bed, wash Dot's dog blankets, and go to the grocery store. Maybe I took a nap too. If I was smart, I'd be asleep right now. That's still at least an hour away though. I've got to reconfigure Dot's bed so she's next to me. I've got to run a test print in the large Epson printer. I've got to clean my teeth with a variety of sonic toothbrushes and empty the dehumidifier. Then I turn the lights out and hope that everybody stays asleep for the rest of the night.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, March 18, 2016

Day 2285

The Palladia appears to be working. When Dot had her Ultrasound scan this afternoon, there was no evidence that her cancer was continuing to grow. Everything appears to be stable. This was good news, although it does mean that she will need to continue her chemotherapy. We'll take things one month at a time, scanning her abdomen every thirty days to evaluate the status of the mass in her liver. Dot's oncologist seemed encouraged by today's results and told me that often the tumor starts to shrink after about three months of treatment. If Dot's mobility doesn't continue to deteriorate, I think we're OK. We can always discontinue the Palladia if it is making it harder for her to walk.

I went back to my original breakfast restaurant this morning. It was disappointing to see how much the new restaurant across the street has hurt their business. This morning, there were a lot of empty tables and it looked like they had to lay off some kitchen staff.  The food was still excellent, but you could see a look of resignation of everybody's faces. Things have changed.

It looked like the construction crews, cyclists, and moms who didn't have time to fix breakfast for their kids were still regular customers, but that the hipsters had all abandoned the place en masse. This confirmed something that I have long thought about hipsters. They are conformists at heart. If one hipster does something, they all have to do it.  Maybe this explains the proliferation of man buns, messenger bags, and Amish style beards. At any rate, the local hipster community has decided that the restaurant across the street is the place to be.

I got a call from the guy who has been hosting all my websites since the mid 1990's. He wanted to give me a heads up that he was planning on selling his business soon so he and his wife could travel more. The guy is 72 and I've been amazed that he's run a successful web hosting company for as long as he has. It's not an easy business. Almost every day someone is trying to hack into your servers and cause as much chaos as they can. I wished my friend well, but I was sad to hear the news of his retirement. It was the end of an era. I will probably have to move my websites somewhere else. There are plenty of places to choose from, but I really enjoyed having a friend I could talk to personally when things went haywire, instead of calling a tech support number and talking to somebody in India.

The decline of my favorite restaurant and the upcoming demise of my hosting company seem like different aspects of an ongoing trend. The march of time is gradually making my world irrelevant. Stores I have done business with for decades disappear overnight. Software I depend on is no longer supported. Clients retire or in some cases even die. I am forced to change or adapt just to survive. I don't like this. The world seemed as it should be from the day I graduated from college until the mid 1990's. Those were good times. Now, I can barely recognize where I am.

I'm always nervous that Google will abruptly decide to abandon Blogger someday. That would be just my luck. I'd wake up ready to continue my journey to Day 5000 and discover that my blog and all the other Blogger blogs had simply disappeared. It could happen. So much has changed already that further changes like this seem almost inevitable.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 2284

I woke to the sound of distant thunder. With rain on the horizon, we quickly got the dogs ready, so they could take their morning walk before we all got wet. It wasn't a long walk, but everybody did their business and we got back home again without being struck by lightening. The rain didn't last long, but it will probably be back tomorrow. This is just normal Spring weather in Texas.

After breakfast, I took care of a few new website requests and confirmed Dot's appointment tomorrow at the cancer center. I was glad I made plans to get a haircut today, because there wasn't much else to do. I often do a little shopping at Northpark when I get my hair cut, but I had no desire this afternoon. I drove straight to the salon and was back home again an hour later.

While I was in the chair, I overheard a young millennial talk to his stylist about trying to decide whether to take a vacation or stay in town to study for a test. Nearby an older women was talking to her stylist about selling a large house to live permanently in a motorhome with her husband. Occasionally, I have things to say myself, but today I just listened. I didn't even stop at the Apple Store on the way home. Jeez, I usually love the Apple Store. I hope this isn't a sign that I'm becoming more reclusive. I'm reclusive enough already.

The refrigerator was pretty empty and I thought about picking up some Thai food for dinner. Then I remembered I'd have to go out in rush hour traffic to pick up the to-go order and decided to make a sandwich with the few remaining leftovers instead. It wasn't a great dinner, but it seemed appropriate, since it wasn't a great day either.

Dot was surprisingly strong today. Several times she got up from her bed by herself and surprised me by wandering into the office or the kitchen to see what I was doing. I was impressed that I didn't have to support her rear legs while she was eating dinner this evening. She wobbled a little, but managed to stay on all fours as she slowly and methodically ate her meal. She even pooped outside after dinner. Even though this was a good day for Dot, it's going to be hard to decide whether to continue her chemotherapy when I meet with the oncologist tomorrow.

It's also going to be hard to decide whether to return to my regular breakfast restaurant or try something else on the menu at the new place across the street. The new menu looks tempting, but I'd hate to see the old place go out of business because I was a fickle and unloyal customer. Most of the places I like tend to go out of business anyway, so I like to do what I can to support them.

The trash has been taken out to the curb. The dogs are ready for bed. I'm caught up on work for the week and a have a fresh new haircut. As long as it doesn't rain tomorrow, I'm good to go.

Allie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 2283

It took forever to get home from Dot's therapy session today. There was an accident on the freeway that shut down all four Northbound lanes. I knew something was wrong when I got on the access road and a couple walking on the sidewalk kept passing me every time a stopped at a traffic light. The traffic was so backed up on the access road that pedestrians were going faster than I was. The access road was still better than the freeway though. At least we were moving. The freeway was completely gridlocked. Every time I get stuck in traffic like this, I wish I lived in a small rural town with a population of 300. Of course this little town would have to have high speed internet, dependable FedEx delivery, and a very good vet, so it only exists in my imagination.

Dot did very well on the treadmill today, considering the uncertain way we started the day. I woke up early this morning to the distinctive sound of a dog trying to throw up. I quickly got Dot in her harness and we took her outside. Once outside, she seemed to calm down. She didn't throw up at all and pooped and peed instead. After that, we all went back to bed. For the rest of the day she seemed completely normal. Odd little episodes like this are one reason I get very little sleep these days. There's always something unexpected going on.

Even work is full of unexpected surprises. A client wanted me to remove a page from his website because he said it contained a virus. The page was just a simple HTML document and nothing was wrong with it. I didn't argue though. It was much easier to remove the page than to explain why it couldn't possibly contain a virus. Was the website infected a virus? Nope. Did the client have a virus on his own computer? Probably.

I picked up Dash's blood pressure medication today. I was initially confused, because I could have sworn that I'd just picked up blood pressure meds two days ago. Janet reminded me that I'd picked up Dot's prescription and that the two pills were completely different. I still don't know why Dot and Dash are taking two different pills for exactly the same condition. The fact that I take a third medication to control my own high blood pressure makes things even more confusing. There are literally dozens of medications that have been approved to treat hypertension. Each doctor or vet has their favorites and nobody seems to agree on anything. I hope the dogs pills have fewer side effects than my own. I will say that all three pills work. Dot, Dash and I all have normal blood pressure now.

After several years of taking Dot to physical therapy on Thursday, I keep thinking that tomorrow is Friday. Nope. Eventually I'll get used to our schedule change. Sooner or later I'll get used to Daylight Savings Time too. I wish I could get used to rain. It's supposed to rain again tomorrow.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 2282

There are so many things piling up on my to-do list. They will all get done, but it will take a while. It's time to reinstall the battery in the lawn mower and see if it still works. I store the 24 volt battery in the house during the Winter to make sure it won't freeze, but that doesn't guarantee that it will still hold a charge the next Spring. If the battery doesn't work, I will need to get it re-celled again. I've done this twice already, but it's still a lot cheaper than buying a new lawn mower. I need to get the tree trimmer to remove a few dead limbs from the backyard Oak trees. I've been waiting until Spring, so I could make sure which limbs were really dead. Now, it's pretty obvious. It's time to plant new St. Augustine grass in the backyard. The grass never seems to last more than a single season. It's long past time to start working on my taxes. I also need to get the roofers to patch a few worn spots in the elastomer roof coating. This has to be done every year as well. I can't get excited about any of these things, but they all need my attention. While I'm at it, I might as well call the plumber. The washers have worn out in several faucets, making them almost impossible to turn off completely. One of the toilets runs as well. I used to do these type of repairs myself, but I've lost all desire to be a handyman.

Dot seemed very shaky today. She was slow on her morning walk and had more difficulty than usual standing without assistance. When she's wearing her harness, I can tell if she is supporting her own weight or not. She can usually support her own weight fairly well if she is on flat ground and moving forward. Today, she stumbled a lot and I had to keep her from falling. I'll be glad when we have our consultation with the oncologist on Friday. I'd like to know whether it is the cancer causing the weakness, the Palladia pills, or something else.

I like the warmer weather, but I'm not wild about all the bugs that announce the arrival of Spring. I've started seeing ants around the house again and the crane flies are everywhere. Crane flies look like giant mosquitoes except that they don't bite and they fly very slow. You can catch them with your hands, but you just give up after a while because there are so many. Every time I open the back door at night to let the dogs out, ten of these irritating bugs manage to get inside. They are everywhere this year.

When I wasn't chasing bugs, I was repeating everything I did yesterday. I paid a few more bills and stopped at the pharmacy on the way home from the post office to pick up a prescription that was on back order yesterday. I even had the same thing for dinner as I had yesterday, since we still have a lot of leftovers from the weekend. We did avoid walking in the dark this morning, since we made a point of starting twenty minutes later.

I have some major website repairs to make tomorrow. The client wants to remove a page that has always been an integral part of the main navigation menu. I hate when that happens. To remove this one page, I have to end up changing all the other pages. Oh, well. The client is always right. I certainly have time to do this cosmetic surgery tomorrow. The only other thing on the schedule is Dot's physical therapy session.

I hope Dot feels better in the morning. Sometimes it helps when she gets a good night's sleep. I hope I get some sleep tonight as well. Four to five hours a night just isn't enough.

Carmine is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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