Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 2328

There was an educational event in the park today to build awareness about the remaining segments of the Blackland Prairie in the area. Only about 1% of the original prairie still exists, but a lot of the remaining grassland is right in our neighborhood and the dogs and I walk through it every day. I was tempted to go to the event and see if I could learn the names of some of the over 190 species of plants that grow in the prairie. A lot of the plants are familiar to me, but there are still a lot that aren't. I notice something new almost every week and am always curious to know what it is. In the back of my mind, I knew I would end up skipping this event, because that's just what I do. There just doesn't seem to be enough time any more. By the time I finish running errands, caring for the dogs, and doing regular weekend chores, the day is gone. I have my priorities too. I would much rather relax and enjoy a leisurely meal, than grab a bite at at a fast food restaurant just so I could drive across town to see something.

I really didn't have much of an excuse for missing the talk about the Blackland Prairie. The event was free and it was only a five minute walk from my house. What did I do instead? I took a nap. I felt quite justified in taking a nap because I don't sleep well these days and my regular routine is tiring. I'll probably miss an upcoming home tour that I used to go to every year for exactly the same reasons. I forget sometimes that I used to enjoy gallery hopping and going out to movies. I don't anymore. I watch movies on a large flat screen in the bedroom and satisfy my curiosity for everything else by looking it up on Google.

Janet is at a Dalmatian Rescue event this evening. She says it would drive her crazy to live like I do. It's a good thing that the reclusive life doesn't bother me, because I'm convinced that Dot depends on having me nearby. Since she stumbles and falls so easily, you can't let her wander around the house unsupervised. She will inevitably fall somewhere and hurt herself. You can't crate her anymore either. Since she is incontinent, she becomes frantic if she poops in her cage and can't get away from the mess. Writing the blog while the dogs sleep actually works out pretty well. I can always see Dot from where I work. If she starts to struggle or need assistance, I'm right there.

I was going to watch the White House Correspondents Dinner on TV tonight, but I discovered that like most events, the dinner was preceded by a pre-game show and a long red carpet segment where reporters gushed about what celebrities were wearing to the event. I got bored and turned the TV off long before the actual jokes even started. It is mush easier to watch events like this on the Internet. I found a live feed from the Washington Post that excerpted the funniest jokes and printed them out in real time. I was able to scan the whole thing in less time than it took to write this paragraph.

I might not know the names of all 190 plants in the park, but I did recognize a patch of Oenothera Speciosa while I was walking Dash this evening. Let's just call the plant a Pink Primrose. It's been a quiet, uneventful day and I'm grateful for that. As soon as I give the dogs their evening pills and take them out to pee, I'm going to bed.

Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 2327

I enjoyed breakfast this morning. I returned to the hipster cafe and for a moment it felt like I was back in Seattle. It was a dark rainy morning and the place was filled with young people in plaid shirts sitting silently nursing their coffee while some slide guitar blues played on the sound system. Forty years ago I used to eat breakfast in the original Starbucks at First and Pike before I went to work at a downtown ad agency and the ambience felt the same. Everything old is new again I guess.

Occasionally, I really miss Seattle.  This is where I made the transition from architecture to advertising. Young architects don't make much money and when I realized I could double my salary almost overnight by becoming an advertising copywriter, I never looked back. It was surprisingly easy to get a job. Nobody majored in advertising in college back then. I once had an art director partner who used to be a Navy fighter pilot. One of my supervisors used to be a wrestling coach. Everyone was an extremely good bullshitter. I didn't have much of a portfolio at the beginning. I just told them I was an architect and I was in. Good times. It was just like that Mad Men show on TV.

Seattle was where I discovered music. I started writing jingle lyrics at the ad agency and decided I wanted to become a songwriter. I met a lot of musicians and had a great time, but never became the next Bernie Taupin. I did gradually start acquiring gear like I saw at the studios where we recorded the jingles however. Some of the gear, like the vintage multi-track recorder that just came back from the repair shop, still exists. I spent quite a bit of time on Google this morning searching for a PDF copy of the instruction manual for this recorder. When it returned from the shop, I realized that I no longer remembered how to use the machine. I've been using Pro Tools for so long now that using an actual analog tape recorder seems a bit like alien technology. After quite a bit of searching, I found a copy of the manual and downloaded it. Wow. This was a complicated machine. I must have been a lot smarter in my twenties and thirties.

Since it seemed a bit ambitious to re-learn audio engineering before lunch, I moved on to something much simpler. I installed the new cartridges in the big production printer and began the cleaning routine to unclog the lines. The printer works again. The tape recorder works again. I'm not sure that I'm running on all cylinders though. I find it harder and harder to begin anything that is remotely arduous or ambitious. I hope I don't become like my Dad. He was an excellent wood carver and continued to buy carving tools almost until the day he died. Somewhere along the line he got Parkinson's Disease and could no longer use the tools. They just sat there and accumulated dust in their original boxes. I don't want my gear to wind up that way. It needs to be used.

There were more tornado warnings today, but the really bad weather stayed to the West of us as it traveled rapidly to the Northeast. We got enough rain to scare Dash, but not enough to wake up Dot. Since she is almost deaf now, she slept peacefully through the storm. I'm glad I figured out my air conditioning problem yesterday, because it would have been hard to get a technician to come to the houes today. I canceled the emergency service call and rescheduled a regular Spring system checkup for early next month.

It's hard to believe that April is almost over. Summer will be here before you know it. I need to learn to appreciate the rain because it isn't going to last. In just a few months from now, I'll be begging for rain.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day 2326

You'd be proud of me. Instead of wasting time on Facebook and wondering why nobody was reading the blog anymore, I decide to be productive. I cleared all the water off the roof, along with a huge messy pile of wet catkins that was trapping the water and creating duck ponds that would never evaporate. After the roof was dry and clean, I called the roofer and got him to agree to come out and patch the areas where the elastomer coating was peeling away again. I'll probably have to wait until the rainy season is over before the roofers actually get here, but at least I got the process started.

Since I was semi-successful with the roofer, I  called my watchmaker and asked if the watches he was repairing for me would ever be finished. I hate to bother the guy, since I know he's busy, but he's had three watches of mine for over two years now. He told me that the watches would be repaired by Summer and I reminded him in a friendly way that he told me the same thing last Summer. This watchmaker is very good and I'm in no hurry, but I still think two years is long enough.

The watchmaker isn't the only one who's slow. I took a tape deck in for repairs last November and just got a call yesterday saying that it had finally been fixed. To be fair, these guys did have to custom make a rubber pinch wheel that no longer existed anymore. When I went to pick up the multi-track deck, I dropped off a mastering deck that had the same problems with disintegrating transport belts. Rubber doesn't last forever. The rubber hoses in your car's engine eventually become brittle and crack. The protective foam in camera cases eventually turns into an awful goo. I'm discovering now that the rubber transport belts in tape recorders don't last that long either. I'm sure my Beta SP video recorders are going to suffer the same fate soon. The only difference is that they'll be even more expensive to fix than the audio recorders. Why do I punish myself this way? All this stuff is obsolete.

I was feeling pretty good about getting things accomplished when I returned from running errands this afternoon, but the feeling was short lived. The house felt warm and Dot was panting. It didn't take me long to figure out that the air conditioner had broken. I immediately called my HVAC guy, but they had already closed for the day. I methodically tried to revive the air conditioner by throwing breaker switches, rebooting the fancy WiFi thermostat, and disconnecting the entire system for a while. Nothing worked. I finally decided to try a new air filter, just in case the new thermostat software had some sort of sensor that would shut down the system if the filter got too dirty. The filter actually seemed reasonably clean, but I didn't have much to lose. Surprisingly, replacing the filter worked and the air conditioner roared back to life. This was a disaster averted, since Dot can't handle the heat anymore. I was worried about her. Hopefully the compressor will keep running through the night, but I probably should have the HVAC guys come out anyway. Better safe than sorry.

I had some website updates to finish today and did a good job of biting my tongue when the client suggested a number of things that I thought were silly. I don't fight these things anymore. If you want something that looks a bit clunky or might confuse your customers, it's your call. At this stage of my career it just amuses me that everyone thinks they're a creative genius. Ten years ago silly suggestions would have driven me crazy.

I hope I get to go to breakfast tomorrow. The next wave of severe weather is supposed to arrive around midnight tonight. Maybe the storm will be out of the area by morning. It's hard to tell. The weather forecasts haven't been very accurate lately. Accurate or not, I should have looked at the forecast before I went up on the roof this morning. If it rains, that was a wasted effort.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 2325

Things seemed kind of chaotic when I took Dot to her therapy session today. It turned out that there was a termite infestation in the building and termites were falling out of the ceiling. I kept looking overhead, hoping that none would fall on me. Dot must have sensed that something was wrong because she pooped in the lobby as soon as we arrived. Actually, this was a good thing. If she'd gone any sooner, it would have been in my car. If she had waited, she would have gone in the underwater treadmill, which would have been a real mess. Dot's vet often tells me how much trouble it is to clean the large water tank after a dog has pooped in the water. I keep thinking it's just a matter of time before Dot gets on the shit list. Putting an incontinent dog in water is just asking for trouble.

I never get much done on physical therapy days. It takes me longer and longer to do the most basic things. We get up early and walk the dogs. I fix my breakfast after Janet has gone to work. I check my e-mail, take a shower, and clean up poop in the yard so I won't step in it when I take Dot outside after dark. Sometimes I water the grass or do a load of laundry before it's time to feed the dogs their lunch. Then I fill the back of the car with waterproof protective pads and get Dot ready to go for therapy. By the time we return, there's usually just enough time to do some simple website updates, feed the dogs their dinner, and take Dash on his evening walk. If Janet gets home early, we walk Dot and Dash around the block. Dot won't walk without Dash anymore, so it takes two of us. One of us walks ahead with Dash, so Dot has something to follow and the other holds up Dot's rear legs as we slowly make our way around the block. It's not very exciting, but that's it. There just isn't time for anything else.

Web design keeps changing. I have a growing list of things I need to learn to refine my skills creating responsive, mobile-ready websites. I wish I could get more excited about doing this. I often find myself thinking "what's the point." There might be some incentive if I were getting lots of new design assignments. I'm not. I've actually done a pretty good job of staying current and relevant, but it doesn't seem to matter. I've still got a little curiosity, even if it doesn't generate much money anymore. Maybe I'll read some of the tutorials I've been accumulating tomorrow. It looks like it's going to be a slow day.

Yesterday's severe weather wasn't as bad as everyone was predicting. There were no tornadoes and the hail was only pea sized. Everything blew through overnight and it was mostly clear today. It was so clear this evening that I was temped to go down to the park after sunset with my binoculars and look for Mercury again. Actually, I think the moment has passed. Mercury doesn't stay above the horizon for very long and it is already setting again. I didn't have time anyway. If I were looking for Mercury, I wouldn't be writing tonight's entry.

I wonder if I'll eventually wind up being one of those people who goes to Luby's every evening for the early bird special? I'm completely losing interest in cooking. It would be tempting to go out for breakfast tomorrow morning, even though it isn't Friday. I'm resisting this temptation for the moment because if I ate out all the time, meals would become much more expensive and I'd definitely gain weight. Friday's are fine. It's important to have a little discipline in your life, even if nobody else is watching.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 2324

The severe storms that everybody's been talking about are supposed to arrive between now and midnight. On the news they say there's a strong possibility of tornadoes, 80 MPH straight line winds, and baseball size hail. I hope none of this is true, but in Texas it's better to be safe than sorry. We've had some terrible tornadoes in the area during the past several years and you never know where one is going to strike next. I worry most about falling tree limbs, broken glass, and power outages. I don't know what the dogs worry about, but a bad storm must be the equivalent of the end of the world to them. They both totally freak out when we have severe weather.

I went through a big stack of mail I've been avoiding and sorted it into categories this afternoon. Most of the mail was either medical records, bank statements, or stock transactions. Whenever I read a bank statement, there would always be something on the bottom of the page in very tiny print telling me that the bank had changed its policy on something. Interest rates have declined. Service fees have gone up. It's always something. No wonder I hate to read this stuff.

I was going to sort through a big pile of socks and throw away the ones with a hole in the toe, but sorting through the mail took too long and I'll have to postpone this task for another day, or more realistically, another year. I could spend the rest of my life clearing out the clutter in the office. Stuff piles up and I just don't care anymore. I always used to wonder how my parents house became so cluttered as they grew older. Now I know. The truth is that it takes a lot more effort to maintain a zen-like minimal lifestyle that it does to just let stuff pile up.

Against my better judgement, I ordered some more ink for the big production printer. I really should throw this thing away, but like the video tape machines, mixing boards, and synthesizers that are gathering dust, it is a link to a very productive past that I find difficult to abandon. My Dad was kind of like this. After he retired, the University let him keep his lab for a few years and he went there every day and just puttered around. Absolutely nothing was accomplished, but these familiar surroundings kept him from having to acknowledge that a chunk of his life was over. I feel like I am the guardian of this old gear that served me well for so many years. It's totally obsolete now, but I can't part with it.

Dot had a good day. She slept all night and didn't poop in the house at all today. After dinner this evening, I took her out in the yard and she did her business just like a normal dog. When something good happens, Janet and I like to think it is because we discontinued the chemotherapy. When something bad happens, we don't know what to think. We are doing everything we can to ensure a good outcome for Dot. We aren't really in control of everything though. Often bad things happen despite out best efforts.

I'm certainly not in control of the weather. The storm has gotten much closer as I've been writing. There is no escaping this thing. It is a solid wall of wind and water extending from the Oklahoma border down past Waco. The laptops and phones have been charged. There are fresh batteries in the emergency lights. The dogs have been outside to pee. All we can do is wait.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 2323

I think we ought to just eliminate Monday from the calendar. I almost never accomplish anything of any consequence on Monday. It would be fine by me if we just went straight to Tuesday. Certainly not much happened today. I felt some momentary elation when a long overdue check arrived in the morning mail. Unfortunately the feeling was quickly replaced by itchy, watering eyes and the smell of poop. Dot set some kind of record for pooping in the house today. Six times is a lot. I was worried about her yesterday because she didn't poop at all. Today she made up for lost time and kept the washing machine running continuously. If there is a hell, it probably isn't fire and brimstone. It's probably just picking up dog poop for all of eternity.

The camera I'd been hoping to get is no longer on sale. Snooze, you lose, I guess. I didn't actually expect the camera to stay on sale forever, but it would have been nice if they could have given me a few months to pull some funds together. It's just as well. I didn't really need another camera anyway. I vented my frustration by going back to the sporting goods store and buying another ridiculously cheap winter jacket. If we ever have a cold winter, I'm good.

Every Spring I'm convinced that my allergies have never been worse. Maybe they actually are worse this year, but I suspect that I just forget all the sneezing and watery eyes as soon as the allergy season is over. It's a shame that seasonal allergies are worst when the weather is the nicest. By the time the pollen is gone, we will be in the middle of a Summer heat wave and I won't want to go outside anyway. For now, I just need to make sure I always have plenty of Kleenex in my pocket. I don't take antihistamines because they make me feel worse than the allergies, but there's got to be something to keep my nose from running all day. I'm tired of this.

They are predicting severe weather with the possibility of tornadoes tomorrow.  It looks like the storms will be strongest in Oklahoma and Kansas, but we're still in the zone. Hopefully, the worst of the weather will pass North of us. I absolutely hate hearing those tornado warning sirens and realizing that we have no safe place to go.

My Facebook feed is filled with tales of parents who are taking their kids to visit various colleges. I guess this is the time of year when you decide where you want to go to college. Have I really become so old that even my very youngest friends have kids in college?  I guess so. Kids in college is a good thing though. Many of my older friends are already dead.

The ducks are nesting in the park again. In a month or two there will be lots of little ducklings. I don't think ducks are very smart. They search forever for the perfect nesting spot and then pick somewhere where the ducklings are sure to be eaten by coyotes, if the park department lawn mowers don't run over them first. When I see where these ducks nest, I keep wanting to tell them that it would be wise to move.

Maybe Dot will make it through the night without any accidents. She pooped so much today, that there couldn't be much more left in her. Here's hoping for the best. I might not need a new camera, but I do need a good night's sleep.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 2322

Dot's injuries have caused me to worry more. There is absolutely no reason to worry any more than I usually do, but I still wake up every morning expecting something terrible to happen. Today, when I was at the gym, I checked on the dogs with the baby monitor and got a weird error message. I get error messages with this camera all the time, but I'd never seen this one before. It seemed to indicate that the camera had been physically moved. The only thing that I could think of was that Dash had another epileptic seizure and knocked the camera off the low table where it was sitting. This was an irrational fear since Dash hasn't had a seizure in years, but I cut my workout short and went home to check on things anyway. Everything was fine. When I re-booted the WiFi network, the camera worked perfectly.

My seasonal allergies are worse than ever this year. My eyes were itching when I woke up and I spent the rest of the day sneezing, blowing my nose, and squirting Visine in my eye. It probably didn't help matters that I mowed the grass this morning, but it had to be done. I wish I had a self-propelled mower, but I'm tired of trying to start gas powered mowers. I like my simple electric lawn mower, but it's getting harder and harder to push it up the hills. Elon Musk needs to design a decent electric lawn mower. Most of them are pretty crude and basic.

My new activity monitor send me a message saying that based on a twelve day analysis, my resting heart rate is considered normal for a person who eats well and is physically fit. That was kind. If the message was honest, it would say that the heart rate is normal for a crazy old man who still mows his own grass and vacuums up dog hair obsessively with the most powerful Dyson available. I do stay active, even though taking naps is one of my favorite activities.

On my way to the gym this afternoon, I stopped by the sporting goods store that is going out of business again. They keep lowering prices further every week and I'm drawn to a bargain like a moth to a flame. I walked away with a big plush dog blanket for Dash. The last thing we need are more dog blankets, but this looked pretty and was marked down from $70 to $14. I couldn't resist. Dash liked the blanket, but he always likes new things.

Dot hasn't pooped all day. Ordinarily, you'd think this was a good thing, but it's making me nervous. She should have done her business after lunch, during her evening walk, or at least after dinner. She just wasn't in the mood. Now, I'm sure she's going to explode when I'm not looking and make a big mess all over the house. There's nothing you can do. Incontinence and old age are just a fact of life.

The Foxglove and Milkweed plants are starting to flower behind our house. Wildflowers always bloom in a distinct sequence. I see pink and yellow Primrose flowers first. Then there are a lots of Horse Nettle, Grape Hyacinth, and Crows Poison blooms. The Firewheel and Mexican Hat flowers always seems to arrive last. The meadows and native prairie around our house look so lush now that it's hard to believe that everything will be brown and dry by early July.

The refrigerator is stocked with strawberries and blueberries and there's a big bowl of fresh bananas on the kitchen counter. I'm ready for another week to begin.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Day 2321

I thought Dot would get stronger when we discontinued her chemotherapy, but she appears to be getting weaker. Maybe she just had a bad day. Sometimes if her bad leg gets in the wrong position while she's asleep, she has trouble getting it moving again the next day. Maybe the weather is bothering her. It certainly is bothering me. The humidity is bouncing up and down like a boomerang with all the Spring storms moving in and out of the area. Allergies are terrible this Spring too. My eyes are watering constantly and I'm sneezing most of the day. Hopefully, Dot will feel better tomorrow. We've still got a few more days of nice weather before the next wave of thunderstorms is due.

I was surprised to get a text message from an old friend of mine who I hadn't heard from in years. I think the last time we talked, texting hadn't even been invented yet. I still don't understand the fascination with texting. Everybody I know seems to love texting. I still prefer to use the telephone. Of course, I don't answer the phone much anymore. Maybe that's why people text me. The way we communicate has gotten so complicated. I have a sister who refuses to use the Internet, so I write her old fashioned letters in longhand. Some friends only communicate using that message thing on Facebook. Others prefer e-mail. Janet is the only person I text regularly and usually it's just about whether to pick up strawberries at the store. Life was much simpler when we all talked to each other on the phone. That was the only option we had. Increasingly, I don't think a wealth of options makes life better. It's just makes life confusing.

I didn't accomplish much today, but somehow the day went quickly anyway. I need to change the alarm setting on my activity tracker because I'm always up well before the alarm goes off each morning. What was I thinking when I thought I needed an alarm at 7 AM? I'm lucky if I sleep until 5 AM anymore. Dot was restless this morning and got us all up early. When she appears restless, we try to get her outside as soon as possible, so she won't poop in the house. We were successful this morning, but of course she pooped in the house later in the day anyway. Several walks for Dot and Dash, a few loads of laundry, breakfast, dinner, and a trip to the grocery store seemed to consume the entire day. I did complete one small website update, but it was so minor that I almost forgot about it.

My Facebook feed is still inundated with tributes to Prince.  I always liked his music, but never realized what a big deal he was to a generation slightly younger than me. Prince had a huge influence on this generation, just like The Beatles, The Stones, and Pink Floyd had on me. Ever since I was a sophomore in high school, I've been able to measure time by which Rolling Stones song was popular at the time. Truthfully, Prince was a better musician than any of my rock heroes, but he wasn't around when I became fascinated with music. I was preoccupied trying to learn Jimi Hendrix songs.

It looks like it's time to mow the grass again. I never notice until the neighbors mow theirs, and then almost instantly my yard looks like shit. Hopefully, after I mow the grass I'll still have energy to go to the gym. Shooting baskets in a climate controlled gym seems far more appealing than working outside where the air is filled with ragweed and pollen.

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 2320

When I went to breakfast this morning, I was disappointed to see that business still hasn't improved for the once thriving restaurant that initially captured my attention several years ago. The place was almost empty. It didn't make sense. These guys deserve better. The food was still good. The staff was extra friendly. They were really trying. It was weird to think that a little competition across the street had virtually destroyed this place. I guess everyone has their thirty minutes of fame. Maybe the restaurant will recover and maybe it won't. They certainly did nothing wrong. As I've discovered myself, success can be very fickle.

One of the tumors in Dot's liver is growing again. The oncologist said that since one mass was stable and the other appeared to be changing, it was hard to tell if the Palladia treatments were working. We decided to discontinue chemotherapy treatments for a month and then do another Ultrasound scan. We'll be able to see if Dot's energy level and mobility improves without the drug in her system and whether the tumor starts to grow even faster. Then we'll have to make a decision about whether to resume chemotherapy, even though it has failed to completely stop the growth of the cancer. If Dot is walking better after a month, I would be inclined to discontinue the Palladia indefinitely. If she is still just as weak without the pills and the cancer has started growing faster, I would be inclined to resume the chemotherapy. Either way, it will be a tough decision.

Both Dot's nurse and the oncologist told me that Dot was a bit "feisty" today during her exam. This was just a nice way of telling me that Dot didn't behave very well. I asked whether they could tell if Dot was comfortable or just being grumpy and the oncologist said it could be a little bit of both. It was clear that she didn't want to go to the doctor today. I can't say that I blame her. The Ultrasound scan isn't painful, but she does have to be upside down on her back for a while. I think she's had enough.

I finally got up on the roof and cleared the water away. What a mess. Katkins falling from the Oak and Pecan trees had turned the water a dark coffee brown color and made the entire roof slippery. I slipped several times, aggravating my already aching joints. My elbows and knees were sore and my dislocated shoulder made one arm nearly worthless. The way I was feeling today, I wouldn't have wanted an ultrasound scan either. I need to ask my doctor whether I should continue taking glucosamine chondroitin pills. They don't appear to be working. I found several more areas that need to be patched on the roof. As soon as it gets dry, I need to get the roofers over again. I'm not sure how to patch myself up.

Since it was a nice, clear day, I took my binoculars and went down to the park after sunset to look for Mercury on the horizon. I think I found the illusive planet, but it was hard to tell, since there were few reference points in that part of the sky tonight. It's always easier to find Mercury if the moon or another planet is nearby.

I wish that Dot had gotten a clean bill of health today, but it could have been a lot worse. We'll continue taking things one day at a time. Dot is resting comfortably now and I hope to join her soon. A good night's sleep would be very nice.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Day 2319

When I looked at Facebook this morning my feed was completely filled with tributes to Prince. This has definitely not been a good year for rock icons. When a musician dies, it seems to trigger far more shared memories and tributes than a comparable politician, actor, or athlete. There is something universal about music. We all know where we were when a certain song became stuck in our head. I'll never forget Prince playing Purple Rain during a driving rainstorm at the Superbowl. There was something almost magical about how the whole thing came together. There was also his amazing guitar solo during his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 while playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps with Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, and George Harrison's son Dhani. If you've seen the video, the look on Dhani Harrison's face while Prince played says is all. So many music greats are dying this year that it's kind of alarming. It is really the end of an era.

Dot was weak again today and had trouble standing. I need to make some sort of a chart and track her energy levels. I keep thinking that the Palladia pills are causing the weakness, but since her chemotherapy schedule is so complicated, it is hard for me to determine if the drugs are to blame. All I know is that she has good days and bad days that loosely correspond to when I give her the pills. There are so many other things that could be contributing to her gradually deteriorating condition that the chemotherapy might not be the culprit at all. We are scheduled to have our monthly Ultrasound scan at the cancer center tomorrow and hopefully Dot's oncologist will be able to shed some light on this mystery.

It rained again last night, but during the day the skies cleared and we ended up having a warm and somewhat windy Spring afternoon. I was hoping that Dash would take advantage of the nice weather and take a long walk, but something spooked him in the park and he wanted to come home almost immediately. Dot's illness seems to have changed Dash as well. He is not as confident anymore. Dot was always the Alpha dog and Dash seems a bit lost right now. I think they are both frustrated that they can't take long, brisk walks together like they used to. I'd like to go back to the old days too, but that isn't possible. We're just trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I paid the last of the April bills and took them to the post office. There's still a little money left in the bank, but there will be another big bill from the cancer center tomorrow and we'll start the never ending cycle all over again. I hate budgeting and curtailing indulgences. I guess I should be happy that I can still pay the bills as an aging writer and web designer, but I can see the writing on the wall. One of these days the only money coming in will be a social security check. I hope to avoid that day as long as possible.

Maybe I'll go back to my original breakfast restaurant tomorrow. Having all these new choices has disoriented me. It's sad that something as simple as breakfast can make me nostalgic about the old days. Everywhere I look, I keep wanting to turn back time. If this gets worse, I'll just go back to fixing myself French Toast with the leftover bread in the refrigerator. That's what I used to do on Friday.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Day 2318

We had another eventful night filled with thunder, lightning, and restless, frightened dogs. Dot slept through the first part of the storm, but eventually a loud thunderclap woke everybody up. I didn't get much sleep at all. I need to figure out how to turn off the messages that my new fitness tracker keeps sending me. I keep getting these friendly suggestions to go to bed earlier or do yoga before I retire for the night. The messages are irritating because the little tracker doesn't know me at all. I'm actually doing pretty well, considering all I have to do each day. During the worst of the storm, I had to sleep on the floor with Dot to keep her calm. I was almost certain she was going to poop on me during the night, but when Janet got us all up for breakfast a few hours later, all was fine. I actually slept just about as well on the floor as on the bed. Either way, I usually wake up with a sore back.

I think I'm going to abandon my plan to move Dot's physical therapy appointment back to a morning slot. It is just too hard to get her ready in the morning. We'll just continue our current plan of making the journey downtown right after lunch. Eating energizes Dot and she is much easier to get in the car after a meal. Pooping in the car is still a risk, but I'll just have to take my chances. Dot did pretty well in the underwater treadmill. We met a new technician who was running the tank today. We have gone through at least four different technicians since we began water therapy. I guess running the treadmill is not a career path job. On the other hand, maybe young people just job hop a lot. I certainly did at that age.

Janet told me that one of her co-workers had to move out of his apartment temporarily because of a terrible smell in the building. When the building management was called to investigate the smell, they discovered that someone had hung themselves from a ceiling fan and committed suicide. Nobody discovered the body for over three days and they had to bring a Hazmat crew out to clean up the mess. You never hear about these things on the news, but I suspect they happen more often than we'd like to think. I've never understood suicide. Even when things are bleak, I always think that tomorrow might be better. This was a really cool building too. A couple of my friends live in this building and I've always been a little envious. It's hard to imagine anyone being unhappy living in a building like this.

The tailor did a good job repairing my old leather jacket. It always gives me a certain amount of pleasure to extend the useful life of old things. I have newer coats, but this old jacket has a lot of memories. I think it's definitely good for a few more years. On the way home from the tailor shop, I stopped by Dash's vet to pick up his new city tags. I've already started getting notices that his registration was about to expire and I would be subject to a potential code violation if I didn't renew it immediately. It has always seemed ironic to me that the little city department that supervises pet registrations is so ruthlessly efficient. If I'm even five days late, I get a notice. The city seems to always know when your pet registration has expired, but they have no idea where the potholes are in our roads.

I've had enough of this rain. This year's rainy season is turning out to be just as bad as last years. At least I don't live in Houston. Those poor people have had major flooding for two years in a row. I still don't understand why we have to get all our rain for the year at one time. When I lived in Seattle, we'd get a little bit of rain almost every day. Here we get a deluge once or twice a year. Hey, it's good for the new grass and the roof still isn't leaking. I really shouldn't complain, but I hope that tonight's rain won't be accompanied by thunder and lightning. I need a good night's sleep.

Wilson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day 2317

There was a pile of mail on our doorstep early this morning. It obviously didn't come from the post office, so I will have to assume that it was another batch of misdirected mail that our mail carrier left at a neighbor's house instead. This has happened before. Luckily, our neighbors are usually more reliable about returning the mail than the post office is in delivering it. We used to have a fabulous mail carrier, but things have gone downhill in recent years. I suspect that the post office has become mired in bureaucracy, just like the veterans administration and other government agencies. It's hard to fire bad mail carriers too. They probably have a job for life.

It was difficult to focus on anything today. I had some websites to update, but there wasn't enough work to keep me occupied for long. I kind of drifted aimlessly through the day. I paid some bills, took a small check to the bank, picked up a prescription, and bought a big bag of Cheetos. I really try to eat healthy, but I've become addicted to Flaming Hot Crunchy Cheetos. I hope the red dye in these things doesn't give you cancer, because it sure stains your hands when you eat them. I don't know what happened to the guy who studiously avoided wheat products and dined on Kale and Quinoa for over two years. I hate to admit it, but I've become a culinary backslider, trading fish and fresh veggies for bacon cheeseburgers whenever I can.

My big production printer is out of ink again. Do I buy eight more expensive cartridges, or do I just give up on the thing? The printer is a relic from another era. I used to make beautiful very large Giclée prints. I sold the prints and had several gallery shows. After a while I lost interest. Now, I just make a small test print every evening to keep the printer from clogging. I've run through two complete sets of ink cartridges making the same test print over and over again. The printer is ready if I need it, but I doubt that I will ever need it again. I haven't made a large exhibition quality print in three years.

I don't take as many photos as I used to either, although I keep checking the B&H website every few days to see if the camera I want is still on sale. The camera has been discounted quite a bit, so I suspect that it is being discontinued. That doesn't matter to me. Practically everything I own has been discontinued. Truthfully, I don't need a new camera any more than I need a huge commercial ink jet printer. It's frustrating. I'm just as addicted to gear as I am to Flaming Hot Crunchy Cheetos, but the cameras and computers are much more expensive. There was a time when these things were just normal business expenses, but that ship has sailed. I'm going to have to come up with a less expensive way to spend my remaining years.

I've got lots to remember tomorrow. It's time for Dot to take her next batch of Palladia pills. Our physical therapy session is also tomorrow, even though I still keep thinking it's on Thursday. My leather jacket is ready to pick up at the tailor shop. I'm sure there are other things as well. I'll try not to take the trash out a day early like I did last week. It's hard to remember what day it is when you keep track by how many bananas are left in the kitchen. If it's four bananas, it must be Wednesday.

Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Day 2316

Today wasn't as bad as I expected. It rained from time to time, but mostly it was just overcast. The absence of thunder and lightning made life much easier. The dogs got their normal walks. The power stayed on. And I didn't have to worry about Dot when I had to leave the house for a photo assignment. I'm sure there's water on the roof, but I didn't bother to remove it. With several more days of inclement weather in the forecast, it would be pointless to clean things up now.

It took longer to drive to the client's offices than it took to take today's photos. Some companies make a big deal out of employee pictures. I've spent all day doing these things before. This place just wanted me to be as quick as possible.  I can be pretty fast if that's what you want. I was finished in less than fifteen minutes. When I returned home, the dogs were ready for lunch and then I had the rest of the day to add the new pictures to the website.

My new activity tracker can measure REM sleep, along with light and deep sleep. I think REM sleep is where you do most of your dreaming. Some days I have lots of REM sleep and other days I have none at all. I had always though I had dreams every night, but maybe not. I evidently didn't do any dreaming last night. You couldn't prove it by me, since I never remember my dreams anyway. So far, I see no discernible patterns to my sleep. The only thing that's clear is that I don't get nearly enough of it. I go to bed too late. Janet gets up too early. And the slightest noise during the night wakes me up. No wonder I'm always tired.

I forgot to put all the ingredients in my morning smoothie and it actually tasted better. Apparently, less is more. This surprising turn of events got me wondering where I got the original recipe from. Did I invent this concoction, or did I get the recipe out of a book? I really don't remember. I ought to experiment more. There are probably other happy accidents out there just waiting to be discovered.

Now that Dot's vet has agree to switch her therapy appointment back to the morning, I'm wondering if this was such a good idea. I tried to get her up this morning at about the time we would have to leave for a morning appointment and she wouldn't budge. It looks like in the morning I'll get a sleepy, grumpy dog and in the afternoon I'll get a dog that poops in the car. I'm beginning to think that the appointment time makes no difference at all. Dot is a high maintenance dog and there's always going to be some sort of a problem.

I've got some websites to update tomorrow morning, but it looks like it's going to be a slow day. I hate that I'm going to have to wait until 2017 for the next new Dr. Who episode. I've seen the old episodes too many times to enjoy seeing them again on a slow, rainy day, but a new episode now and then would have been nice.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Day 2315

What a wet day. It started raining last night while we were asleep and it hasn't stopped yet. I'm sure the plants enjoy days like this, but they don't do much for me. Wet weather and restless dogs are a recipe for cabin fever. I should have gone to the gym, but my aversion to driving in the rain prevailed and I stayed home. There were occasional power spikes and brief outages, but nothing serious. It was a good thing we had power, because I spent the day vacuuming and cleaning the house. The dogs still wanted their walks, so I kept looking at the weather radar until I found a dry interval between downpours to take them out and pee. My timing was pretty good, but we were slow returning home on our morning walk and got wet. If we were just two minutes faster, everyone would have stayed dry.  I did a little better walking Dash in the evening. We were able to walk about twenty minutes between storm cells.

Dyson has won all sorts of design awards for their vacuum cleaners, but I bet they will never win an award for easy maintenance. The thing is impossible to clean. It takes almost as long to clean the vacuum cleaner as it does to clean the house. Couldn't James Dyson have just used bags to hold the dust like a normal person would. My old Hoover was easy to clean. You just put in a new bag when it got full of dust and you were good to go. You have to literally take Dyson's clear plastic contraption apart to clean out the residual dust. The machine was unusually dirty today, because I haven't vacuumed the house in two weeks. I shouldn't complain. It's not like I had anything better to do. Little rugs went in the washing machine. Big rugs got vacuumed. Floors got scrubbed. For a brief moment in time, the house was clean.

Since it was raining anyway, I tried to figure out why the weather app on my phone only works when WiFi is turned off. Logically the radar images should update faster when I'm using WiFi, but the opposite seems to be the case. The app works fine using 4G cellular data, but is impossibly slow using WiFi. Other apps seem normal using WiFi. I've called technical support and they say nothing is wrong.  Janet's phone picks up the radar better and mine too. It's all very complicated. This wouldn't be a big deal if I wasn't hooked on weather radar. Most people look at their Facebook feed. I look at weather radar.

I almost forgot Dot's Palladia pills today. It's really hard to remember to give these things every three days, since the days never repeat. Every Wednesday would have been so much easier. The only way I remember at all is to write the dates down on every calendar I own and hope that I remember to look at a calendar from time to time. Don't worry. Dot got her pills. Just a few hours late.

There is thunder and lightning outside and the dogs seem to have noticed. Dot is barking and Dash is hiding under my desk. They say we're not going to see the sun again until next Friday. I'll probably be stark raving mad by then.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Day 2314

We went to a concert tonight. One of Janet's friends is a singer in the group and we go and see them perform from time to time. This evening's event was a fundraiser and there was a barbecue dinner, a silent auction, and casino night gambling. Janet was probably hoping that I wouldn't look at the baby monitor on my phone, but I couldn't help myself. I worry about Dot. The first time I looked, she was sleeping. The second time I looked, she was barking and appeared to be struggling to get up. I could hear Dash barking too in the background. We left the event early and came home.

I was almost certain that there was either a thunderstorm in the area or that Dot had pooped in her bed, but everything was calm when we returned.  I have no idea what got the dogs so upset. It's probably just as well that we came home a little early. It takes me longer to write the blog that it used to. If we stayed for the gambling, I would never have gotten tonight's entry completed before midnight.

The weather forecast looks ominous. There is supposed to be wind, rain, and severe thunderstorms for the next ten days. This is one reason I was worried about the dogs this evening. Dot and Dash are both very storm phobic and tend to panic when there is thunder and lightning in the vicinity. The rain is supposed to start later tonight, so I thought it might have arrived a little early. Probably it is me who has the real storm phobia in the family. Bad storms freak me out. Trees have fallen on our roof twice since we bought the house, and if a tornado ever blew through, we are sitting ducks. There is so much glass in the house that there are no safe rooms anywhere. Even the interior walls are pretty close to floor-to-ceiling glass windows. With a flat roof and no basement, this house wasn't designed to weather much of anything.

For the past few weeks I've been noticing that the price of gas is going up again. Why? When I filled the car up today it seemed that prices had risen even further. The price of oil has been basically falling for the past two years. It seems like the price of gas should stay low for a long time. I've gotten used to seeing prices gradually go down. It will be a low blow to watch them go up again. I guess it doesn't really matter. I don't drive much anyway.

The new grass in the back yard is starting to grow. This is always a good sign. Every year when we refurbish the yard I think that this might finally be the year that the grass takes root and thrives. It never seems to happen though. Grubs eat the roots below the ground and squirrels eat the grass above the ground. In the Summer there is always a thick canopy of Oak leaves overhead that blocks most of the direct sunlight. The grass always has an uphill battle, but I keep thinking that one of these years it might make it.

I'm not sure whether I'll be going to the gym tomorrow or sitting at home watching an approaching storm on the weather radar and hoping the power doesn't go out. You never know about Texas weather. I hope the rain doesn't start until after we've walked the dogs in the morning. Life is much more peaceful once we've gotten the morning walk out of the way.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, April 15, 2016

Day 2313

Nothing went as planned today. I tried something new for breakfast and I didn't like it. This is why doing new things is problematic for me. When I go to a new restaurant, I'll methodically try everything on the menu to find my favorite items. After that, I'll order the same thing over and over again forever. The process can take months. Why did my old restaurant have to change? I got this time consuming process out of the way years ago, and now I have to start over again.

After breakfast, I stopped by the cancer center to pick up Dot's missing pills. I tried to convince them that I had already paid for the pills, but their record keeping was better than mine and they showed me that the reason I ran out early was that I had rescheduled Dot's Ultrasound exam for a week later than originally planned. I tend to forget how expensive the Palladia pills are until I buy just a few at a time. The unit cost is unreal. Every time Dot takes her chemotherapy pills, it costs $50.  She has a treatment every three days. It's hard for me to have any sympathy for pharmaceutical companies. They tend to charge by how life threatening the disease is. When I was taking Sovaldi while I was being treated for Hepatitis C, the cost was an astounding $1000 a pill. The difference was that I had health insurance and Dot doesn't. Dogs basically pay retail for their meds. Is any of this fair? Of course not. Very few things are fair anymore. This is why voters are so mad this year.

Since the cancer center is near the sporting goods store that is going out of business, I stopped on the way home to look for more bargains. I came home with a nice pair of waterproof boots for walking the dogs and light fleece jacket to wear around the house when Janet keeps the house too cold in the summer. I probably didn't need either of these things, but it seemed to balance thing out to pay too little for something after I had just paid too much for something else.

I got started on my big website overhaul this afternoon. Many of the changes the client requested didn't make a lot of sense, but this is what I do. If I only took jobs that made sense, I would make no money at all. Since the annual subscription for the design tool I used to create this site will run out while I am working on this project, I will need to renew for another year. The cost of the subscription is more than what I will make on the job. Oh, well. It's just the cost of doing business. When I started designing websites, I didn't need a lot of help. I could write simple HTML using a word processor.  Things are different now and today's new responsive websites have become quite complicated. I need all the help I can get.

I didn't have much luck with Dot today. I tried my best to get her to poop in the yard while I was home, but she always decided to go while I was away. The latest accident occurred while I was giving Dash his evening walk. I kind of knew it was going to happen, but I couldn't get Dash to turn around and come home in time. It was a nice day and he wanted a long walk. Long walks are fine, but Dash didn't have to clean up the poop when we got home. I'm still doing laundry. I'm hoping for a calm, uneventful weekend, but the weather report says to expect thunderstorms. We'll see. At least the garbage truck picked up my trash this morning.

Krissy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Day 2312

When I was working on a website update this morning, I noticed that one of the design tools I use to create mobile friendly sites was about to expire. The software you need these days is increasingly available only on a subscription basis. I guess I'll need to renew my expensive subscription for another year, even though I don't make that much money designing websites anymore. It's frustrating. I still need my cameras, editing equipment, and sophisticated software, even though my workload has decreased precipitously. It won't be long before it costs me more to maintain my business than I actually make from the business.

Today was a chemotherapy day for Dot. When I was giving her the Palladia pills, I noticed that there weren't enough left to make it until her next exam date. I have a feeling that the cancer center miscounted the pills last month and gave me too few. Of course, they didn't actually give me the pills. I think they cost about $20 each. The question now is did I already pay for the missing pills or not? I called the oncologist and asked what to do next. It looks like I'll have to go to the cancer center and pick up the missing pills tomorrow. I bet I'll have to pay for them too.

I moved my trash can to a different position on the street this week in hopes that the trash crew will notice it tomorrrow morning. My theory is that the truck was turning the corner when they skipped my trash last week. Maybe they didn't see it. It's possible. Of course, maybe they know that I have OCD and just ignored my can to drive me crazy. Hopefully, I'll have better luck this week.

I was going to go back to the sporting goods store that is going out of business to see if I could find some more bargains, but work got in the way. Today's website update was kind of complicated and took a lot of time. This job requires new photography too, so I'll have to schedule a time to go take pictures of new employees next week. Most of my clients have abandoned their employee pages, but a few still seem to like to show the world how quickly their staff turns over. I never recommend employee pages anymore. It looks embarrassing when people keep changing every few weeks.

I think I'll go back to the hipster restaurant tomorrow. The place isn't as fancy as the restaurant I tried last Friday. The silverware is non-existent and there are only three tables, but the food is fabulous. The first time I ate here, I thought all the customers seemed a bit odd. Now, I realize that's why I like the place. I fit in.

When I was paying bills this afternoon, I realized that I simply have to get some more business. The money I used to spend buying cameras and microphones is now used to pay vet bills. I hate feeling broke. In theory, it shouldn't be that hard to get new business. The website I was working on this morning was quite complicated and I knew exactly what to do. There ought to be plenty of other people who could use these skills. I'm sure these people still exist, but I'm not going to meet them in my current reclusive state of mind. I tend to avoid people at all costs. Hmm. I think I've answered my own question. It's a no brainer. If you avoid talking to people and never answer your phone, you're not going to grow your business.

Flash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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