Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 2360

It's been raining almost every day for several weeks now. At least we aren't getting flooded like our neighbors in South Texas, but enough is enough. It's too bad we can't share some of this rain with California, because they need it more than we do. At least I won't have to worry about the new grass in the back yard dying for a while. The yard is soaked. Needless to say, the roof is covered with standing water as well, but I'm not going up there for a while. It's too slippery.

Being stuck in the house with two storm phobic dogs on a rainy day is not my idea of fun. I have to keep an eye on Dash because he's always trying to crawl into a closet or under the sink to escape. I try to put a blanket under my desk, because he seems to think that's a safe place too. The only problem with having Dash under my desk on a stormy day is that he farts when he gets nervous. Actually both dogs do this. Today was pretty stinky.

At least I had plenty to do today while I was housebound. After a lengthy breakfast which was mostly spent calming the dogs down after each loud thunderclap, I spent the rest of the morning completing yesterday's writing assignment. I got everything finished slightly ahead of schedule and sent it off to my client. Now, I've got to find something else to do. It's hard to believe that I used to do two or three of these assignments every day. Things have really slowed down a bit. Paying bills is a bit more problematic without a steady stream of writing and website assignments. I'm still making ends meet, but there's not much left over anymore. I brood about these things more on a rainy day. I guess that's what rainy days are for.

There's still a leak under the sink. I don't know what to do. The plumber has been out twice and I've checked for leaks countless times. I can run the water in the basin for several minutes and I won't see any drips or obvious leaks. Eventually there is always a small puddle under the sink though. Where is this water coming from? I hesitate to call the plumber again. If you call a plumber too many times for the same problem, things can actually get worse.

It never did quit raining this afternoon, so we had to take the dogs on a walk in the rain after Janet got home from work. Why Dot and Dash haven't learned to quickly poop in the yard on rainy days will forever remain a mystery. Luckily, we only had to walk a block or so for them to do their business, but that was enough to get everybody wet. It took longer to get the dogs dry again than it took to walk them in the first place. That's just everyday life in our house though. This is a common occurrence.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. The dogs and I meet the dog walker for the first time in the morning and then in the afternoon, Dot resumes her physical therapy. I hope everything goes well. Dot always barks at strangers, but maybe this will help her poop. She'll need to get used to this new routine if she still wants to walk. I think Dash will be fine. He gets along with everybody. I'm not sure what to expect when we return to physical therapy. Dot is definitely weaker than she was three weeks ago, but I think the underwater treadmill exercise is still important. We'll see how the day goes. Hopefully, the rain will stop soon.

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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 2359 - Memorial Day

Memorial Day makes me think of my parents. They both served in the Navy during World War II. Neither of them was career military, but their service mattered to them in a way I never fully understood. Tom Brokaw was right when he described people like my Mom and Dad as the Greatest Generation. They had a determination and sense of purpose that has not been seen since. When I reached the age where men serve in the military, I had very ambiguous feelings about Vietnam. I've had ambiguous feelings about war ever since. People like my parents didn't feel this ambiguity. They knew with absolute certainty that the Germans and the Japanese must be defeated and that's what they did. The world is different now, but it isn't necessarily better. We've lost that sense of purpose that made my parents generation so unique. On days like today, I remember how special they were and wonder if we will ever see anything like them again.

It was a beautiful day today, but it didn't really seem like a holiday. Janet went in to work after we gave the dogs their morning walk and I ended up spending most of the day working on a new writing assignment. I could have waited, but the client said this was a time sensitive job and I still like to be responsive. The park was full of picnickers this afternoon, but I had no desire to join them outside. Sitting in an air conditioned house and writing seemed to make a lot more sense that working in the yard and getting bit by hundreds of mosquitoes.

May is gone. Only one more day left. I'm a Gemini with a birthday in June, but I'm not really looking forward to it. Birthdays just remind me how old I am. I wish time would slow down a bit. I still feel like I've got places to go and things to do, but I could easily spend the rest of my time doing laundry if I'm not careful. Maybe tomorrow I'll be filled with a sense of purpose. I could use a sense of purpose. It wouldn't have to be the same sense of purpose my parents had, but anything would be beneficial at this point. I need to aim for something more realistic than making Dot young again but more ambitious than cleaning the car.

We're going to try to resume Dot's water therapy this week. That's a little ambitious, but not too much. Dot has been getting stronger and we've got to try sometime. We'll also be meeting with the dog walker who is going to be helping with Dot while Janet is on vacation. I could use a vacation too, but now is not the time. Until that time comes, I'll amuse myself with discovering more efficient ways to clean up dog poop and experimenting with different ingredients in my morning smoothie. I've got fresh peaches this week.

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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 2358

Some days you shouldn't get out of bed. Today was one small blunder after another. I decided to wash a bunch of small rugs that are hard to vacuum and the rubber backing came off in the dryer, leaving the rugs and the dryer in much worse shape than when I started. I eventually got the dryer cleaned up, but in the process ended up spilling a bottle of liquid Tide in the utility room. Laundry detergent is much harder to clean up than little bits of burned rubber in the dryer drum. As soon as I managed to get all the rugs clean and back on the floor, Dot pooped on one of them and it had to go back in the washer all over again. It was that kind of a day.

I never did make it to the gym because I couldn't seems to get finished with my list of chores. The chores weren't hard. I just didn't have my wits about me today. It didn't help matters that the dogs were both restless. Every time I'd get started cleaning something, one of them would want to go outside. I took Dot out half a dozen times and she just stood around for a minute or two and wanted to come in again. This is actually fairly normal behavior for dogs, but when you have to act as their rear legs, it can take a lot of time. Maybe they were edgy because of the weather. The weather certainly was strange today.

The sky was clear and blue when I took Dash on his afternoon walk. It was perfect holiday weather and the park was filled with families having picnics. Not more than five minutes after we returned home, I heard a giant thunderclap and it started pouring rain. Where did this rain come from? I didn't even notice any dark clouds on our walk. I bet there were quite a few picnics ruined this afternoon.

The internet is still working fine, which is amazing since I did nothing to fix the problems I've been having. Everything started working the minute the UPS man delivered the replacement router that AT&T sent me. I think I'm going to pay the penalty and keep the new router as a good luck charm. I'm convinced that as soon as I return the equipment to AT&T, my problems will resume and I'll have to ask tech support to send the router back. It's much easier just to keep it. For the time being, the lucky router will just sit in its box as a spare. I'm sure it will eventually be put into service. Nothing stays working that long in our house.

Tomorrow is a holiday, but we had out holiday meal today. Janet cooked a pork shoulder roast in the slow cooker and it was delicious. Now, that I think about it, this is what probably made the dogs restless and active today. When there's meat cooking in the crock pot, the dogs can smell it all day long. Now that dinner is finished, the house is quiet and peaceful again. Dot and Dash are both sleeping and I'm looking forward to calling it a day myself.

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

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Day 2357

I'm convinced that calling tech support is a modern form of torture. I called AT&T today to ask then how to return the new router they sent me. I don't think I need it now, because everything has been working great for the past three days. "You can't send the new router back because we have already reconfigured your account to use it," the tech guy said. "When did you do this," I asked? "About three days ago," said the technician. "I think you solved my problem, I said. "I don't need the new router." "But aren't you already using it," the guy said. "No, I haven't even taken it out of the box yet," I replied. There was a moment of silence. The technician seemed confused and said he needed to run some tests. I knew what was going on. When they had reconfigured my service, they had inadvertently cleared my routing path, which is all I wanted them to do in the first place.

The tech guy still seemed confused that the old router was still running fine with the new settings that were designed for the replacement equipment. "I want you to reboot the router and I'll see if it still shows up in my system with the same serial number." What? Why would I want to do that? I would have thought that the serial number was permanently linked to the equipment. "Oh, no," said the technician, "we can change that." "But if the serial number changes, nothing on my network will recognize it anymore and I'll have to reconnect everything," I said. "There's a 50/50 chance of that," said the technician. Then he added, "You'll have to reboot the router sooner or later anyway, so why not just do it now." I hate these guys.

The conversation continued for quite a while and it was eventually determined that I could keep the old router if I wanted, since it was still working for some unexplained reason. I could also keep the new router as a spare, if I paid AT&T a $150 penalty fee. I think they should have been paying me $150 since I had to spend my entire morning dealing with this ridiculous problem.

I think I've found a dog walker to help with Dot while Janet is away on vacation. This is a relief, since I had no idea how I was going to get Dot out of the house. Walking Dot is a team effort now. She will only walk if she is following Dash, but one person can't walk Dot and Dash together anymore, since he wants to walk so much faster than she does. Typically, I walk Dash, stopping every twenty or thirty feet so Dot can catch up. Janet follows behind with Dot, holding up her rear legs with the Help 'Em Up Harness. It's a slow process, but it works. The walks are an essential part of Dot's therapy. Without them, she would probably be bedridden by now.

It didn't rain today, even though the humidity hovered near 100%. There was a mist in the air when we walked the dogs before breakfast, but by afternoon the mist had turned to steam. It's still incredibly muggy. I've emptied the bucket in the dehumidifier two times already today. Dot can't handle the heat anymore, so we have to cut her walks even shorter on hot, humid days like today. I'm not looking forward to dealing with this situation in July. It may have seemed hot today, but this was nothing. Texas Summers can be brutal.

I'm not sure if I accomplished anything today or not. The Internet is up and running, but I'm not sure why. The refrigerator and pantry are full again, but the house is still dirty and there is lots of water on the roof. I'm glad I found somebody to help with Dot next month. Maybe everything will be OK.

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Day 2356

It was raining so hard this morning that I quickly abandoned my plans to go out for breakfast. It just wasn't worth it. The dogs are always restless when it rains and even more restless when they can't go on their morning walk. They will stand at the back door and just look at you like they expect you to stop the rain. It took about five tries before Dash would venture outside and pee. Dot ended up pooping inside the house while I was fixing my breakfast. Once I got the mess cleaned up, breakfast really wasn't bad.

I made some delicious French Toast with a leftover loaf of bread I found in the refrigerator and cooked a few fresh sausage patties to go along with it. Add some dark roast coffee and real maple syrup and this meal easily held its own with any of my recent restaurant outings. Since there were no bananas today, the dogs even let me eat in relative peace. They go nuts when there's a banana around.

I talked with Dot's oncologist after breakfast and rescheduled her appointment for next week. There actually was an ultrasound technician available today, but not the one the oncologist wanted. There is a specific technician that the oncologist wanted to use who is familiar with Dot's case. Evidently Dot's tumors are located in an area that is difficult to scan and the technician who was sick today was the only one who knows exactly where to look. I was happy to reschedule, because transporting Dot in the car on a wet stormy day is even more difficult than on a normal day.

I got an e-mail from AT&T this morning warning me that there would be a non-returned equipment charge if I didn't hurry up and install the new router they sent me and return the old one to them. Jeez. It's only been one day since the UPS guy delivered the package. Truthfully, I'm reluctant to install the new router, since everything has been working perfectly since the package arrived. This is the first time in a month that I've had no problems and so far I've made no changes at all. I still think the tech support guys fixed something after my irate calls and just didn't tell me. I'd like to just put the new router in the storage warehouse and keep it in case I need it in the future, but apparently AT&T frowns on this. If everything is still working properly in the morning, I think I'm going to call and ask if I can return the package they sent unopened. I'm very superstitious about setting up and configuring a completely new home and office network at this point. Maybe I should just leave things alone.

The city didn't pick up my garbage again. My can was the only one on the entire street this morning that wasn't emptied. This has happened too many times. I don't think the garbage men are purposely trying to harass me, but something is definitely wrong. I'm starting to think that the lid on my can doesn't open properly when the automated truck picks it up. Things worked much better when real people emptied the cans. The robot automated truck picks up the cans, but I don't think it can sense if it has actually emptied them.

I think I've finally found someone to help me walk Dot while Janet is on vacation next month. It's been a lot harder to find a reputable dog walker to come over every morning than I thought it would be, but things are looking up. The dog walker is going to come over and meet Dot next week and I think we'll be able to work something out. I've been walking Dot and Dash for over a decade and never dreamed that a simple walk would become so difficult. It's important to keep Dot moving though, so I'll do what I've got to do.

We've got a three day weekend ahead. We've also got lots more rain ahead as well. It remains to be seen whether we'll have a relaxing holiday.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 2355

Sometimes on a completely normal day I'll suddenly find myself feeling incredibly sad. I don't know why, but I suspect this is because a number of important things in my life are reaching their logical conclusion at the same time. Even on the best of days, I have to acknowledge that Dot is on a glide path, headed directly towards the Rainbow Bridge. It's amazing that she's made it this far. When I watch video tributes to dogs who have left this world, they make me cry. When I watch Dot take painfully slow steps from the bedroom to the kitchen, I remember days when she and Dash could run like the wind. I wish I could turn back time.

As Dot begins the final chapters of her journey, so does my business. It's hard to believe that twenty five years ago I started a company that would soon be making national Pepsi commercials and providing me with opportunities to work around the world. Like Dot's incredible life, I'm amazed that we've managed to make it this far. If only the clock turned a bit slower. When I pull my aching bones out of bed in the morning and survey my crumbling kingdom, it seems like everything happened way too fast.

There was a life before loving Dalmatians and running a small business, but I barely remember it. Did I really play bass in a rock band? Did I used to stay out late and laugh uproariously with friends? Was I really an architect? It all seems like dream memories now. Why did I ever move to Dallas? It's a mystery. All I know is that life is a jumble of memories and after a while you can't even put them in the proper order.

After a while I'll never remember that the plumber came today. He was very nice and tightened all the fittings to eliminate a leak that was so small that I probably should have just ignored it. I was hoping that Dot would ignore the plumber, but the part of her brain that guards the house is still working and she barked the entire time he was here. The plumber was gone in fifteen minutes, but Dot continued to pant and act agitated for the next two hours. She is so weak and tired now that it takes her a while to bounce back from anything.

Eventually Dot fell asleep and started breathing normally again. I started up the computer was was amazed to see that everything worked normally today. The UPS man delivered the new router sometime this afternoon, but I'm reluctant to install it. I think I'll just leave it in the box until things start acting up again. It crossed my mind that since tech support calls are usually monitored, maybe the supervisor of the idiot I talked to yesterday listened to my irate call and actually made the minor configuration changes I was requesting. If things aren't working tomorrow morning, I'll chalk today's smooth sailing up to pure coincidence.

Dot has her monthly recheck at the cancer center tomorrow, but since both ultrasound technicians are out sick, I wonder if there is any point in going. Dot won't mind if I have to reschedule, but I'd like to know what's going on. I worry too much already and knowing exactly why Dot has been so tired this week might help me keep things in perspective.

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 2354

I wish Steve Jobs were still alive. I never used to have problems with operating system updates, but lately the new Apple OS and IOS updates are so buggy that they seem like Beta versions. I'm almost scared to update my phone anymore, because each new IOS update seems worse than the previous one. The combination of buggy system software, spotty U-verse service, and a brand new hosting company has created a perfect storm of bad news. Just about every morning when I boot up my computer, I'm greeted with a new problem. Was my phone causing the problem? Does the WiFi router need to be re-booted again? Have I configured my webserver wrong? It's hard to even know where to begin.

I was in tech support hell for hours this morning, trying to track down why my e-mail wasn't working and I couldn't even access my own website. I finally ended up talking to a very knowledgeable IP guy who told me to call my ISP and tell them to check the routing path and clear it if necessary. This sounded easy enough, so I called AT&T and made the request. "This is beyond the scope of my capabilities," said a voice that sounded like he was talking to me from Pakistan. "I can give you the number of our paid subscription support if you'd like." "You mean that after all I pay you guys every month for U-verse service, you want to charge me extra to unscramble my flaky internet connection?" "I'm sorry," said the hard to understand voice from Pakistan. "Would you like me to send you a brand new router at no charge?" This was crazy. "You mean you guys would rather send me a new router than reset my connection." I said. I hate dealing with tech support. I've still got the problem I started out with this morning. There a new router on it's way to me that I probably won't be able to install correctly. To add to my problems, I can't decide whether to upgrade my phone to IOS 9.3.2 because I read an article that said it could turn your phone into a brick.

Since it didn't appear that my connection problems were going to be resolved quickly, I went to the battery store and special ordered a new battery for my little WiFi hotspot. T-Mobile said these batteries weren't made anymore and tried to see me a new hotspot. They were just being lazy.  I knew this battery was available somewhere because I've been replacing weird batteries for years. The new battery will arrive next Wednesday. The little WiFi hotspot is slow, but it is very reliable. Without it, I would have missed quite a few blog posts over the years.

The weather has been horrible this week. It's so humid and muggy outside that it feels like you could cut the air with a knife. My dehumidifier is working overtime to keep the air comfortable inside. Dot doesn't like the heat and humidity. I've been having a hard time getting her outside anyway now that she's become weaker, and hot, humid weather just adds to the problem. She did poop outside today, which was a small blessing. I just got lucky. When I had her outside after lunch, a big truck drove down the alley behind our house and got her so excited that she immediately started to poop. I wish I could schedule someone to drive down the alley every time I had Dot outside.

The plumber is coming back tomorrow to fix the leaking sink. This should only take a few minutes since the problem is just a compression fitting that wasn't tightened enough. The plumber better not try to charge me for this additional service call. He should have checked his work the first time he was here. After unnecessary car repair charges and a ridiculous attempt to charge me for resetting my router this morning, I'm not in the mood for unwarranted extra charges.

Maybe tomorrow will go smoothly. I'm not counting on a trouble free day, but it would be nice.

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 2353

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news," Janet told me this morning, "but the sink is still leaking." I looked under the sink, and sure enough, she was right. The leak was small, but it shouldn't have been there at all. When two plumbers spend the entire day at your house, you'd think they'd check for leaks before they leave. I'm beginning to think it is totally impossible to get something done right the first time. I called the plumbing company and made another appointment. I tried to get some type of assurance that there would be no charge for this visit, since it was the brand new hardware the plumbers had installed just a few day ago that was leaking. "We can't promise anything," the dispatcher told me.

My service guy at the Land Rover dealership called this afternoon to tell me my car was ready. He seemed pleased that he and the service manager had been able to shave almost $800 off my bill. I thanked him for looking out for me and then asked what I still had to pay. "Oh, you'll only owe $2,100 now," he said. Jeez, give me a break. This car is still under warranty. I hate to think what's going to happen when the warranty runs out.

I'm still having problems with my Internet connection, so I called AT&T tech support again. I talked to somebody who was quite knowledgeable the other day, but I wasn't so lucky this time. Why do these big companies have to outsource their tech support to countries where English is a second language. I couldn't understand this guy at all. The conversation became so frustrating that I told the guy that I'd just call back and try again later with a different agent. He persisted in asking me a bunch of questions that had nothing to do with my problem, so eventually I just hung up on him. Two minutes later, the guy calls me back and continued to read from his script. I couldn't believe it. I had to hang up on the guy twice.

I canceled Dot's physical therapy appointment because I didn't think I was going to have a car tomorrow. Now that I have the car back, I debated whether to try to reschedule the appointment. I decide to leave things alone, because Dot has to go back to the cancer center for another ultrasound scan on Friday anyway. One car trip this week is probably enough. Dot seems to be enjoying her lighter schedule, but I don't want her to get any weaker than she already is. We'll go back to therapy next week and have her vet reevaluate her to see if she's still strong enough to continue the water therapy at all.

It wouldn't be a normal day if I didn't have battery problems. Since I've been having issues with my U-verse service, I've been using my little T-Mobile WiFi hotspot a lot. Last week the battery died and I have to use the unit plugged into an AC outlet. The hotspot is only about four years old, but the battery has already become almost impossible to find. I finally located a supplier who said they could special order me a replacement cell. I felt good that something had finally gone right today, but even this small success shouldn't have been so difficult.

Work has become so slow that I'm beginning to wonder whether my clients are reading the blog and have collectively decided that they want a happier person to work on their accounts. Truthfully, I'm too tired to care. All I want right now is a good night's sleep and a poop free day tomorrow. I'll probably get neither.

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 2352

There have been better days. The suspension problems on my car that I was almost certain would be a warranty repair are not a covered item. "I'm not believing this," I said. "You fixed the suspension problems on the right hand side of the car under warranty a few months ago, and now you not going to fix the left hand side when it's exactly the same problem?" "We only replaced the air bladder last time," my service guy said.  "Now, we've got to replace the air bladder and the strut." "So," I said. "The strut is a regular maintenance item like wiper blades and brake pads," the service guy said. "It's not covered." "You're telling me that a $1,200 part that is an integral part of the car is just a disposable item," I said incredulously. To make matters worse, the strut is only available as a kit with the accompanying air bladder, which I had gotten free last time. Apparently, you can get an air bladder without a strut, but you cannot get a strut without an air bladder. "Well, if this repair is going to be this expensive, don't do the regular maintenance check. I'll save that until next time," I said. "Oh, we did the maintenance check first," the service guy told me. "It's already done." Oh, did I mention that my homeowners insurance is due in a few weeks as well. June hasn't even arrived yet and I'm already broke for the month.

To add to my financial woes, my financial adviser called today in response to the letter I'd sent him last week. I think he is genuinely trying to resolve our problems, but we just aren't on the same page. When I told him that I would have been better off if I'd just put my money in a boring index fund and forgotten about it, he reminded me that it was me who wanted to buy individual stocks to try to get a better yield. There have been so many bad decisions over the years. Some of the decisions are mine. Some of them are the brokers. All I wanted to do was get back to even after the huge market meltdown in 2008. I've been trying to claw my way back at a time when the market has been more volatile than at any point in recent memory. I have friends who gave up on stocks after the crash of 2008 and put their money into gold, only to watch gold prices tumble. I know other people who put their faith in real estate, only to discover that real estate wasn't a sure thing either. We live in a world where there are no sure things anymore and I only think it's going to get worse.

Dot had quite a few accidents today. Most were easy to clean up, but the incontinence is really getting me down. There is no cause and effect anymore between when I take Dot outside and when she actually poops. Her digestive system still works as it should, but she has little control over it anymore. It doesn't matter where she is. When something reaches the end of the line, out it comes.

I'm still having Internet connection problems. I never would have dreamed that I would look back at my old slow Mac tower, my friend's simple web server, and a single DSL line as the best of times. Things were so reliable in the beginning. I could often go a year without any problems at all.  Now it seems like I re-boot the U-verse router and call tech support at Bluehost almost every day. Nothing is reliable these days and it's wearing me out.

Maybe things will be better tomorrow. Somehow, I doubt it. The rain is supposed to continue through the end of the week. I'm not sure when my car will be ready now. I'm not sure whether to resume Dot's physical therapy either. One day she seems better and then the next day she's weak and tired again. We'll stick to the simple things tomorrow. If I can manage to get out of bed in the morning, we'll take it from there.

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 2351

If you ever want to take the pulse of today's millennials, just go to an REI sale. I stopped by the store's self named "biggest sale of the year" on my way to the gym this afternoon and was greeted by the biggest collection of 20 to 30 somethings I'd ever seen. They were all stuffing their Honda CRV's and Subaru Foresters full of bargain tents, hammocks, bicycles, yoga mats, and Fitbit trackers. All I wanted was a pair of shorts, but there was no express lane. It took me forever to check out.

When I arrived at the gym a few miles down the road, the contrast couldn't have been more striking. There were no hordes of young people at all.  All I saw were a half dozen balding old men who had traded their Subaru Foresters for a Porsche Panamera decades ago. Maybe this explains why there are so few young people at my gym. From the looks of things at the REI store, all the millennials are doing something outside.

I got an e-mail today saying that my recent transaction with Network Solutions had failed to go through. What transaction? I haven't purchased anything from Network Solutions in years. I did some checking and discovered they has reset the preferences on my profile so that all the domains I had registered with them would auto-renew by default. I know for a fact that I had set all these domains to not auto renew because I wasn't interested in keeping some of them anymore. How could they just reset the preference file to auto-renew everything without even asking me? Luckily, the credit card I had listed with them had expired quite a while ago, so the sale didn't go through. I think I'm going to move the domain registration somewhere else. I don't appreciate sneaky tricks like this.

I had big plans to catch up on household chores I've been avoiding, but the small things at the top of my list took so long that I never got around to the larger things near the bottom. I did manage to get a few things accomplished. I cleaned some boots that had gotten muddy a few days ago. I lubricated a sticking sliding glass door and got it so it would open again. I swept leaves off the front porch, and of course I cleaned up Dot's latest accidents. I know there's lots of water on the roof, but the new forecast says it is supposed to rain every day next week. It's not worth the trouble to mess with the roof until things dry out a bit.

I'm worried about Dot. She's sleeping longer. She doesn't have as much energy as she did a few months ago. And her incontinence is getting worse. I still can't decide whether to resume her physical therapy sessions this coming Wednesday. The decision may end up being made for me. My car is still in the shop and the loaner car I'm driving is too small for me to transport Dot comfortably. Dot is due for another exam at the cancer center later in the week. Maybe we'll be able to find out what's going on while we are there. I hope the tumor in her liver isn't growing larger. If the cancer is progressing rapidly, there isn't much we can do.

There is a big bowl of fresh peaches and bananas for my morning smoothies. I've washed and dried all the dog blankets. I'm temporarily caught up on all my website revisions. I guess I'm ready to start another week.

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

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 2350

The mosquitoes are terrible this year. I must have been bitten a dozen times while we were walking the dogs this morning. Mosquitoes always seems to carry something nasty. Last Summer everyone was worried about West Nile Virus. This year it's the Zika Virus. Of course, the dogs always have to worry about getting heartworms from a mosquito bite. That's why Dot and Dash continue to take a heartworm pill at the first of every month. I wish there was a place where mosquitoes weren't a problem, but I don't think this place exists. Even when I was growing up in Alaska, there was a terrible mosquito problem in the Summer. I don't know how you get rid of the insects without harsh chemicals. We've tried UV bug zapper lights that didn't work very well. One year we had a weird contraption in the back yard that generated a cloud of carbon dioxide gas that was supposed to cause the mosquitoes to move elsewhere. It didn't work at all. There is an organic spray that isn't toxic to the dogs that you can apply with a garden hose. We tried this last year and it worked well until the first big rain washed it all away. I'm not sure what remedy I'm going to try this year, but I'm sure I'll try something. I'm tired of getting bitten by the little beasts.

Today seemed more like a work day than a Saturday. I spent the morning completing a major website update involving adding 73 new pictures with captions. I probably could have waited until Monday to finish this update, but I knew that I'd enjoy Sunday a lot more without a deadline hanging over my head. It took a while to make all the changes, but the job is done. Now I can spend the rest of my weekend vacuuming, cleaning up dog poop, and other fun things.

Butter was on my grocery list today. I always get butter at Sam's Club because you save a lot of money buying in bulk. Unfortunately, I should have looked at the packaging a little more carefully before I made today's purchase. Instead of regular sticks of butter, I had gotten huge logs of butter that must have been meant for restaurants. Jeez, how was I to know. The packaging looked almost identical. I had to drive all the way back to the store and exchange the restaurant sized logs of butter for some regular sized sticks.

It took forever to balance my checkbook this afternoon. I used to do this routinely, but now I despise the task and only bother to straighten things out every two or three months. Inevitably, I discover that I've entered something erroneously in Quickbooks that causes a mysterious discrepancy, For a writer, I'm atrociously bad at typing. It typically takes me longer to proofread my articles than it does to write them. Finding math errors I've made takes even longer. If I had more money in the bank, I wouldn't even bother to balance my checkbook at all. Tracking down missing pennies is a waste of time.

I think I could write a book on the nuances of cleaning up dog poop. As Dot's incontinence has gotten worse, my cleanup technique has gotten better. Things that are hard to clean like carpets must always be protected. There are lots of small rugs now that can be thrown in the washing machine after being hosed off outdoors. There are lots of comfy acrylic dogs blankets that can be washed over and over again. Under the blankets are rubberized pads, in case she pees as well. When Dot goes to sleep, I lift up her butt a bit and slide a disposable puppy training pad underneath. If I'm lucky, I can slide the soiled pad out, roll it up and throw it away, without even waking her up when she poops in her sleep. I buy these disposable pads in 100 count boxes now. That's what life has become.

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

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 2349

Sometimes I hate the Internet. For several days I've been having trouble connecting to some of my clients websites. My Internet Service Provider says the problem is being caused by the hosting company and the hosting company says the problem is being caused by my ISP. Neither side will admit that they are the reason I can't connect to at least a dozen websites, including my own. I suspect that my ISP is blocking several servers, but they won't admit blocking anyone, despite the fact that it appears to be common knowledge on Google.

I get tired of messing with the problem and switch to my alternate Internet Service Provider. Now, all the missing websites reappear, but within minutes I get an e-mail saying that an unauthorized person is trying to access my Google account. I change my password twice, but can't seem to shake the mystery person trying to login from Denver. I start to think I've got a virus and run all kinds of searches for Malware on my computer. I turn up an odd invisible cache file in my Firefox browser and delete it. The problem seems to go away and then I am mysteriously able to reconnect to everything using my primary ISP. I finally track down the IP address of the unauthorized computer in Denver and begin to suspect that it is my own account. Now, I'm really confused. It appears that AT&T blocks my web server occasionally and T-Mobile connects me to the Internet in Denver instead of Dallas for some unexplained reason. I'll never remember my new passwords. My best guess now is that I wasted hours and hours trying to track down an intruder who was actually me.

I'm starting to get some of my most complicated website update assignments on Friday afternoon. It's been this way for the past month or two. This means that I have to work during the weekends, even though I often have nothing to do during the week. I got started on one of these updates this afternoon, but didn't even come close to getting it finished. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow. Hey, the client is always right, but it sure would have been nice if I could have done these updates last Tuesday.

I went back to the hipster restaurant this morning. I'm really just floundering around now. My well oiled Friday breakfast ritual appears to have crashed and burned. I have lots of place to eat, but I no longer have a special place that knows me so well that they start cooking my meal the moment I walk in the door. That's what I liked best before everything changed. I could just walk in, sit at my favorite table and didn't even have to talk. The staff just knew what I wanted.

My car was supposed to be ready this afternoon, but the dealership called and told me that it wouldn't be ready until sometime next week. I shouldn't have been surprised, since delays like this used to be commonplace. I had one speedy repair a few months ago and thought that everything had changed. Silly me. Nothing really changes. My broker wants to talk. I suspect this means that he didn't like the letter I sent. I'm kind of dreading this talk because I know he'll still try to convince me that the stocks he likes are a good investment. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't. I'm just getting sick of the stock market in general.

I can't really tell if Dot is getting stronger or not.  She appears to have more energy now, but we're only walking her half as much as we were a few weeks ago. Change can be deceiving if it happens slowly enough. Do I set the bar lower with Dot, or do I gradually try to increase her activity again? Do I change brokers or try harder to understand his strategy? Did I get hacked today, or am I just brain dead? Sometimes it's hard to know these things.

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 2348

You can never ignore Murphy's Law when you hire a plumber. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Somehow plumbing problems always end up being more difficult than they first appear. I was well prepared today. I had all the parts necessary to rebuild the leaking bathroom faucets. The only original part I had planned to reuse was a brass valve under the sink that the plumbing supply guys said was indestructible. Unfortunately, the sixty year old parts were so corroded that they were frozen solid and virtually impossible to remove from the porcelain body of the sink. While trying to remove the old faucets, the plumber broke the indestructible valve under the sink and we had to start over from the beginning. I took all the parts I bought yesterday back to the plumbing supply store and purchased a brand new faucet set that I hoped would fix.

I thought everything would be a piece of cake at this point, but the old brass water spout in the center of the sink was even more frozen and corroded than the faucets. I cut my hand trying to help the plumber remove the spout. The plumber, who was underneath the sink, cut his hand even worse. He also ended up having a small porcelain chip fall in his eye. We ended up having to saw the heavy brass spout off using a special metal saw. The important thing at this point was to not break the porcelain, because the plumber said the old basin would be impossible to replace. Eventually, the plumber realized that the sink had the upper hand and called a second plumber to come help him.  The two plumbers spent the rest of the day wrestling with the sink and eventually prevailed. I now have a very nice, and quite expensive, working sink.

Not surprisingly, Dot didn't like all this activity and ended up pooping fives time in the house. Trust me on this. Cleaning up after in incontinent dog is much more difficult when there is no running water in the house. We had to shut off the water to the entire house for most of the day, because the old sink had no shut off valves. By the end of the day I had a huge pile of smelly dog blankets and rugs sitting out in a pile on the back porch, waiting for the water to return so I could hose them off before throwing them in the washing machine.

This was a very expensive day. Before meeting the plumber, I dropped my car off at the Land Rover dealer for a required major service. There is a suspension problem that should be covered under the car's warranty, but the service maintenance is always on my dime. I love my car, except for those days when I have to pay for a major repair. The plumbing and car repair bills were enough for one day, but when I got home the was a call from the guy at the audio repair shop with an estimate of what it would cost to rebuild the second old tape recorder I'd taken to them. Yep. This recorder is going to cost just as much as the one I took in last month. All in all, not a good day. I really need to find a well paying job again. Maybe I should become a plumber.

Oh, did I mention that it rained today too and that the Internet has been down for most of the day. I had thought about putting the dogs beds out on the porch while the plumbers were working, but they are both scared of thunder and wanted nothing to do with going outside. All is well that ends well I guess. I now have a sink that will outlast me and hopefully nothing else in the house will break for a few months. Dot has finally calmed down and is resting peacefully. All I need to do now is figure out a way to upload this post without a working WiFi connection.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 2347

It has been unseasonably cold this month. When I wake up on a damp, grey day like today, it's easy to imagine that I'm still living in Seattle. I'm not a fan of dreary, wet weather, but the cool mornings have definitely been beneficial for Dot. It's easier to take our limited walks in the morning when we don't have to worry about the heat. Dot seems to be getting back to normal, but each new normal plateau is a little slower and more debilitating than the one before. Maybe next week we'll try water therapy again. It would be easy to just give up at this point, but I think we've got to try.

I rescheduled the plumber to come out and fix the leaking faucets and made a mental note to take my car in for service tomorrow morning. Oddly, on this day last year I was also planning to take my car in for service in the morning and thinking that Dot was getting back to normal even though she was already in decline. I need to be careful about reading old blog posts. It can be unsettling to realize how completely monotonous and repetitious my life has become.

Since it was a slow day and I wasn't in a very good mood, I wrote a long letter to my financial adviser detailing why I was so unhappy with my portfolio's performance. It was pointless to write this letter, since my broker is who he is and isn't going to change just because I don't agree with his investment strategy. A normal person would just quietly find a new broker, but I'm not a normal person. I'm a writer. In almost every aspect of my life, I feel compelled to have the last word.

Dot was always an independent dog, but she is becoming increasingly needy. At certain times during the day she will whine or bark if I don't come and sit next to her until she goes to sleep. I guess this is inevitable. The dogs have always depended on us for food and shelter, but now Dot depends on Janet and I for everything. She can't even get up or walk without our help. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible when assisting her. I remember during my Dad's final days, the thing he hated losing the most was his independence. I'm probably not the world's best caregiver, but I think that everybody should be able to keep their dignity as they age. Some day I'm going to be in the same situation as Dot. It can 't be easy when you are pooping all over yourself and can't even get out of bed in the morning.

I'm starting to see fresh peaches in the stores again. This is always a good sign. When I first started making smoothies for breakfast, peaches were my favorite ingredient. I've been having smoothies for breakfast for over a year now and it's important to have a little variety without deviating too much from the basic concept. When I started writing the blog, I was making elaborate and very creative omelettes each morning. Then, when I was being treated for Hepatitis C, I switched to hot oatmeal for a year or so. After I was cured, I went back to bacon and eggs for a while and then realized I had grown tired of cooking. I started eating granola with fresh fruit, but never really liked to idea of cold cereal for breakfast. The smoothies started shortly after we got the Vitamix machine. Fruit smoothies with a real breakfast on Friday has worked for quite a while now.

I'm seeing so many bunnies in the park this Spring. The coyotes in the neighborhood must have moved on, because I've never seen this many rabbits before. Like the peaches I'm starting to see, this is another good sign. I'd much rather have bunnies for neighbors than coyotes.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 2346

I'm convinced that waiting for service technicians must be one of the circles of hell in Dante's Inferno. No matter when you schedule things, the repair people are never on time, and when they do finally arrive, the part you need the most isn't ever on the truck. I thought today's plumbing repair was going to be a simple job, but I should have known better. When the plumber finally arrived, he took a quick look at the leaking faucets and told me that simply replacing the washers wasn't going to work. The fixtures had corroded so badly that he recommended replacing the entire assembly. I thought the plumber would go and pick up the parts himself, but he suggested that it would be better if I do it. "I'll probably pick up something you hate," said the plumber, "and even if I do find the right parts, I'll have to mark them up 40%. OK. You convinced me. I drove down to the plumbing supply store and looked at the faucets he recommended. I didn't like either of them. I took one of the handles from the old faucets with me and the owner of the store recognized it and said he had all the parts to completely rebuild my current faucet. This seemed like a better solution to me, since the newer faucets didn't look like they would fit anyway. I bought $90 worth of faucet parts and returned home to reschedule another appointment with the plumber. The dispatcher told me that someone could come out again toward the end of the day, which sounded much better than waiting until Friday. I waited and waited, but the plumber never showed up.

When you are waiting for a repair person, you can't run to the bank, or walk the dogs, or even take a shower, because that's always when the repair guys will arrive. If you cancel everything and wait patiently, they will never show up. If you figure that they're going to be late anyway and decide to run a quick errand, they'll be in your driveway in ten minutes. At any rate I have all the parts now.  The next step is to get another plumber to come out and tell me that I bought the wrong parts.We'll have to go through all the barking again too. The first thing that Dot did when she saw the plumber this morning was poop all over the place.

The sink will eventually get fixed, but I'm betting that something else will go wrong before the job is finished. At least I had something to do while I waited today. Since I wasn't able to leave the house for a large part of the day, I was able to complete one of my increasingly rare writing assignments. Hopefully, I'll have another assignment when the plumber returns. It will help to pay the plumbing bill.

The weather forecast has been wrong almost every day this week. It was supposed to rain today, but the weather was actually pretty nice.  Dot did well on her short walk this morning. I think a week of reduced activity is helping her.  I could use a week of reduced activity myself. I'm perpetually tired these days. Maybe tomorrow will be my day of rest. There certainly isn't much else on the schedule at this point.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 2345

I find dealing with money very frustrating these days. People want to pay me less than they did ten or fifteen years ago, while the cost of everything I use in my daily life is going through the roof. Everything is topsy turvy. Interest rates are near all time lows, but the the purchase price of a home has gone through the roof. Interest rates were over 14% when I bought my first home, but it wasn't a problem because the homes themselves were quite affordable. Cars were a bargain. I remember when you could buy a new Porsche 911 for under $8000 and a cool looking Jaguar E-Type was even less. The stock market was kind to me when the Dow was under 8,000. Not anymore. This is why I hate meeting with my financial adviser. I don't want to listen to complicated schemes to tame today's increasingly volatile market. All I want to do is go back to the early 1970's when I was a young copywriter making a paltry salary but still seemed to have more left over at the end of the month than I do today.

I didn't feel very comfortable taking any of my broker's suggestions this afternoon. I have a gut feeling that things are going to get a lot worse no matter who wins the election. We are in uncharted territory. People are voting for Hillary because they hate Trump and voting for Trump because they hate Hillary. Nobody actually likes either candidate. I think the political system has failed us if the best we can come up with for presidential candidates are two of the most disliked people in history. Can't we do  better than this? Maybe not. We complain that all the jobs have disappeared, but we still want cheap stuff made in China. People in Dallas complain about illegal immigration but still want to keep their gardeners and yard guys. You can't have it both ways. I didn't have an iPhone in the 1970's, but I had a Walkman and everything was fine. Maybe you like the way things are today, but I'd prefer to go back to the days when you could buy a new Porsche for $8000 and the most expensive house in town was less than $50,000.  I'm sure my attitude is infuriating to stockbrokers and financial advisers who are trying to get me excited about today's latest rabbet hole to jump down. I'm sorry guys. Today's investment opportunities suck.

I broke down and called a plumber today. The leak under the bathroom sink has gotten worse and I'm not ready to remodel the entire bathroom just to fix it. I'm prepared to hear that the fixtures in the sink are too old and that it's a waste of money to repair them, but what are my alternatives? Modern faucets won't fit in the old sink and a new sink won't fit in the old bathroom. The plumbers will complain, but I'm confident that they will be able to fix the leak. That's what plumbers do, isn't it?

I think I'm going to skip Dot's physical therapy for an additional week. She seems to be enjoying her lighter schedule and is slowly regaining some strength. Maybe we were just pushing her too hard. She's probably not walking enough right now, but the goal will be to slowly get her back to where she was before. I wish the underwater treadmill wasn't so far away. The water therapy is good for her, but a long ride in the car isn't. I have a feeling that transporting her to and from the vet canceled out some of the benefits of the therapy. We'll be back though. Dot's not a quitter and neither am I.

Dash and I walked past a big patch of wild ornamental onions today. I don't think these are the type of onions you eat, but the bees seem to like them. Some people call these flowers Allium. Others call them chives. I've been walking past this patch of wild onions for many years and watching them bloom every May. I wish the stock market were this reliable.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day 2344

I was listening to the TED Radio Hour on the way to the gym this afternoon and the topic was Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs. The theory is that there is a hierarchy of human needs and that the most basic needs must be satisfied before you can move up the pyramid to the next level. I forget who was talking on the TED stage, but he caught my attention when he said that the foundation of all human needs was a need for sleep, illustrating his premise with all sorts of bad things that happen to people who don't get enough sleep. Next up the list was a basic need for safety and security. When these needs were satisfied, the next level included a need to belong and share a sense of community. This was as far as I got before I arrived at the gym, but the talk was a little unsettling. If the foundation of a satisfied life was getting enough sleep, feeling secure, and having a sense of belonging to something larger than myself, I was screwed. I never get enough sleep, so maybe the illusive self-actualization at the top of the pyramid isn't in the cards for me.

I don't know if there is a hierarchy of dog needs, but Dot and Dash must be doing pretty well. Both of them get an enormous amount of sleep and must feel pretty secure since we take care of all their needs. Maybe this is why Dot still seems happy despite her many disabilities. On any given day, the dogs do seem happier than I am. They also seem to have a unique ability to live in the moment. I don't think that living in the moment was listed on Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. but it does seem pretty important.

We are nearing the peak of the wildflower season now. Almost every day when I take Dash on his longer "boy's walk," I see something new. Today I noticed that the Purple Leatherflowers have returned. This is a type of Clematis that looks like a small purple bell. I've always enjoyed seeing these flowers, but they don't last very long. It's too bad that Dot can't take these longer walks anymore. They are almost always the best part of my day.

Going to the gym will never be the best part of my day, but the experience is strangely satisfying for a guy that hates to exercise. When I'm on the treadmill, I gradually increase the angle of the machine, so that the end of my one mile walk, there is a neat little ascending ramp graphic displayed in LED lights on the treadmill's dashboard. I always turn the crank on the hand bicycle forward for one minute and then backwards for one minute until I've finished a mile on this machine too. It usually takes exactly twenty minutes. I try to shoot five baskets in a row from the free throw line on the basketball court. I've almost never done this, but sometimes I get pretty close. I never shoot until I hear a dull thud from dribbling the ball on a small dead spot on the floor. This invisible spot marks the perfect distance for me. All the machines have similar rituals. You get the idea. I like repetition and am a bit superstitious.

I did no vacuuming or yard work today. There's plenty of time for that during the week now. I did make some small website updates and added a third camera to the list that can now be controlled by a tablet or smart phone. There's actually a reason for adding WiFi capability to these cameras. At some point, I want to place a camera on a tripod in a corner of the yard near the bird bath were small animals congregate, so I can take pictures of them without scaring them away.

I have a meeting with my financial adviser tomorrow. I'm going to try to listen with an open mind, but I'm not a happy camper. Even in today's volatile and unpredictable market, I should be doing a lot better.

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