Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 2390

If I told you that there was a blog that only talked about eating breakfast, dog poop, and the hidden dangers of globalism, would you read it? I didn't think so. Sometimes I feel like apologizing about the monotonous state of my life. I could make this narrative a lot more interesting if I just started making things up. Alternately, I could just post something whenever I had a fascinating insight. Life isn't always full of fascinating insights though. I guess that was my point when I started this. I wanted to show what life was like on a day-to-day basis when you didn't edit out the uneventful and insignificant days. Like it or not, there are a lot of days just like today.

I managed to get Dot outside this morning before she peed on the floor, but my luck ended there. She came back inside and proceeded to poop while she was eating her breakfast. This happens so frequently that the area around her food bowl is well protected. I took the waterproof mat under her bowl outside, hosed it down, threw it in the washing machine, and replaced it with a fresh clean mat. If she could have only waited five more minutes, we would have been on our way, taking our morning walk.

When I ate my own breakfast after we returned, I noticed that the bananas were getting mushy and there were were a few bad spots in the strawberries. The fruit still tasted fine, but it had seen better days. Thursday is the end of the road for my morning smoothies. Tomorrow, I go out for breakfast, and this weekend I start all over again with the freshest looking fruit I can find. This routine is kind of monotonous, but it is also delicious. I wouldn't change a thing.

Work consisted of a series of conversations where my client would tell me that their website wasn't working and after running some tests, I would tell them that everything was fine and that the website worked perfectly. We went back and forth like this for hours and I'm still not sure what their problem was. There was nothing wrong with the code on the site, but there could have been all sorts of other problems. Maybe something was wrong with their network. Maybe they were looking at the site using an out-of-date browser. Maybe they just didn't understand what I was telling them.

I went up on the roof this afternoon to remove the standing water that had accumulated after our recent thunderstorms. It's been so hot that a lot of the water had already evaporated. The water that remained had started to turn green. This meant that little things were growing in it. One day, I'm going to find tadpoles swimming around in this water. Nature is a beautiful thing, but I'd just as soon not have so much nature up on my roof.

While I was walking Dash this evening, I watched a squirrel carry a large horse apple that must have weighed more than he did up a tree and then proceeded to eat the entire thing. I guess humans aren't the only greedy animals.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 2389

Do you feel like you are inundated with an onslaught of spam and phishing scams? I do. Everyday my inbox is filled with e-mail spam and bogus offers. My land line is worthless. Nobody calls the land line anymore except for telemarketers and scammers. Today I received a voicemail that implied that I was in big trouble and needed to return the call immediately to avoid being called before a grand jury. This seemed highly unlikely, so I entered the phone number in the Bad Numbers website and sure enough it was a scam. Hundreds of other people had received exactly the same message today. The older I get, the more I find myself a target of these scams. Scammers target older people because they are more vulnerable. I don't understand the mentality of a scammer. Some scams are very elaborate and require a lot of thought. Wouldn't it be easier to just get a real job and work for a living?

I could tell that Dot was tired today at our physical therapy session. Part of the problem was that she was stressed from riding in the car. When Dot is stressed, she always poops in the car, which makes me stressed as well. It also didn't help that the water in the treadmill tank was too warm. Dot likes the water cold, although most of the other dogs apparently like it warm. At any rate, she didn't bring her A Game to therapy today. When she got home, she pooped in her bed and made another big mess. She's fine now, but it's been a long day for both of us.

I wonder if the new fiber optic lines in the neighborhood are working? I haven't seen the AT&T installation crews for weeks and everything looks finished, but my Internet speed hasn't improved a bit. If anything, it has gotten slower. I'm not even sure who to ask about this. It's not surprising that the AT&T technical support people in India or Indonesia don't know anything about the fiber optic line. Why would they? I thought the folks at the AT&T store a few miles down the road could give me some answers, but they didn't know anything about the new lines either. If I hadn't seen the men laying the cable with my own eyes, there would be no reason to believe that anything had happened at all.

It's amazing how polarized our society has become. I'm a channel flipper and I compulsively use the remote to switch back and forth between channels while I eat breakfast. Sometimes I'll see exactly the same news story explained in three completely different ways. If you only listen to one account, you'd probably believe what you were hearing was true. When you hear competing views presented in real time as fact, it can get confusing. I think we've gotten truth and belief all mixed up. The Internet is even worse. People go to elaborate lengths to make up false stories and present them as true. I'm not talking about obvious satire or websites like The Onion. There are some serious efforts to deceive out there. Why? I'm a simple person and I'd like to know what's really going on without having to check all the time. What if what I'm reading on Snopes isn't even true? That would be really disorienting.

I've got a day of rest tomorrow and then on Friday, I've got to load Dot in the car again and take her to another vet appointment. She's due for her monthly re-check at the cancer center. This time we'll be doing a chest x-ray in addition to the usual Ultrasound scan and blood work. Sometimes I wonder if this extensive monitoring is even necessary, and then I remember how some of our first dogs died suddenly and painfully when nobody realized that they had cancer. It's always good to know what's going on. There will always be a lot that I don't know, but I do make an effort.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Day 2388

They say if you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait five minutes. I can see where that saying came from today. We got an early start on our morning walk and it was really quite pleasant outside. There was a cool breeze and the ground was covered with dew. It was definitely worth the effort to get up early. Dot had more energy and so did I. The sun peeked over the horizon just as we arrived home and almost immediately, the humidity started to rise. By the time I finished breakfast, it was hot and muggy. I was listening to the Cicadas and getting ready to water the grass when I heard thunder off in the distance. Within an hour, the sky darkened and the wind started to rise. The sudden thunderstorm caused some wind damage a few miles away and left a lot of water on the ground. Then it was hot and sunny again. The abrupt changes kept the day interesting, because there certainly wasn't much else going on.

On days like this I tend to get lost in the Internet. One idle search leads to another and all the sudden I'm reading a strange forum where people are talking about the accuracy of home A1C meters. I guess it makes sense that I would be thinking about blood sugar levels and diabetes. I'm not a diabetic, but have been in a high risk group for many years. I like the idea of monitoring my own glucose and A1C levels, but hate the idea of continually pricking my finger to draw blood. Maybe I'll wait a while to start testing myself. The consensus on the forum I was reading was that that home A1C meters were notoriously inaccurate. They say that you can significantly improve your chances of avoiding diabetes with a low carb diet that emphasizes fresh vegetables and eliminates bread and wheat products. I tried this once and it works, but there was only one problem. I love bread.

I also watched some videos of today's final qualification test of the new Space Launch System booster in Promontory, Utah. NASA invited some people to view this test and I probably could have gone myself if I had the time and money. I've quit applying for NASA press credentials for the time being. Dot is too fragile to leave for any extended period of time and it's quite expensive to get to remote places like Promontory, Utah anyway. At some point in the future, I would like to return to being a NASA groupie. There are actually quite a few opportunities for people who are active on social media to observe and write about NASA's many space related activities. I still get e-mails about opportunities to cover upcoming launches and tests, but now is not the time. I only mention this for folks who worry that I'm becoming a house bound hermit. It's not true. When the time is right, I could easily see myself going to four or five of these events a year.

It was sad to hear about the attack at the Istanbul airport today. This seemed so similar to the attack in the Brussels airport earlier in the year. I'm glad I had an opportunity to visit Europe in more peaceful times. I've been to Turkey before, but I doubt that I'll ever find myself there again. The world has become far too volatile. I remember my travels in Greece and Turkey well. I never dreamed back then that it would come to this.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Day 2387

When I picked up my tape recorder at the repair shop, it occurred to me that I hadn't picked the best time to restore and refurbish my old studio. This was an ambitious project and I should have waited until all the unexpected expenses and emergencies subsided. Of course, when are unexpected things ever going to quit happening. If I waited until life was calm again, I'd be waiting forever. At any rate, there are still many things to fix, but I now have two functioning old school multi-track tape recorders again.

As most of you know, I'm fascinated with gadgets. Ever since we began having power outages in our neighborhood, I've been looking for the perfect emergency power source. Backup batteries don't last long enough to be really useful. Gasoline generators get the job done, but they are noisy, heavy, and you've got to keep them outside because of the exhaust. Lately, I've discovered solar powered generators. Even the largest of these devices won't power your entire house, but they seem perfect if you just need some LED lights, a laptop, a few cell phones, and a small portable refrigerator to keep you going. The only drawback I can see is that they are ridiculously expensive. Oh, and you need a lot of sunlight too. I was looking at the Goal Zero generators today. Very cool. All I need are a couple of these, an Airstream trailer, a satellite phone, and some acreage up in the mountains and I'm all set. Hey, there's nothing wrong with dreaming is there. My fantasy has always been complete self sufficiency. When I hear someone say "It takes a village," or "We've all got to work together as a team," it just makes me want to vomit.

The weather was weird today. When we woke up, the air was still and the humidity was oppressive. This was not the best environment for Dot. She got tired on her morning walk and we had to walk even slower than usual to make it back home again. I was a little worried about her at first, but she's back to normal now after a nice long nap. As the day progressed, it got darker and darker and by mid-afternoon we were in the path of a raging thunderstorm. Not surprisingly, the dogs got frightened by the thunder and lightning and I had to spend the rest of the afternoon calming them down. The only good thing about all this was that the temperature dropped twenty degrees. I won't have to water the grass tomorrow either.

I need to think of some better passive income ideas. With interest rates near zero, the stock market has been a big disappointment. The stock photography market has been an even bigger disappointment. I'm a good photographer, but you literally have to have thousands and thousands of images in circulation to make any significant income. Ditto for running ads on my websites. All these things showed promise and were even occasionally lucrative for me twenty years ago. I blame it all on globalization. When you are competing with billions of people instead of a few thousand, prices come down dramatically. Some bloggers started writing books when blogging fell out of favor. I don't think my life is weird enough to use it as the basis for a novel. I'm certainly not going to write a motivational or self help book. I've got nothing in the motivational department. Don't expect me to lift you up. If you're enjoying this, you're probably happy already.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 2386

I got an REI gift card for my birthday, so I stopped by the store on my way to the gym today and got a jacket. Did I need a jacket in June? Not really, but I will when things get cold again. It makes sense to me to buy clothing out of season. You get some great bargains, and when the need does arise, I'm way ahead of the game. In a way, I do everything in life this way. I try not to be out on the roads until everyone else is at work. I go to restaurants that aren't particularly popular. I rarely read books while they are on the best seller list. The more out of sync I am with the rest of the world, the more peaceful my own world becomes.

This desire to find the alternate realities that are hidden in plain sight is probably why I picked a gym that nobody goes to. It always amazes me that a gym this nice and well equipped is so empty. If my gym were an LA Fitness franchise, it would have gone out of business long ago. The gym is owned by a major hospital though, and can probably operate at a loss forever. Today, there were only four other people working out with me. I quietly went through my routines like I always do. The first ten minutes I feel like quitting and going home. Then my body loosens up and I get a second wind. By the time I eventually finish, I feel pretty good.

Working out at a gym is certainly more enjoyable than vacuuming. The Dyson Animal may be a marvel of engineering, but it is murder on your hands if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. My wrists aren't very flexible anymore and I struggle sometimes to turn the unwieldy machine and maneuver it in tight spaces. Although the Dyson does an admirable job of picking up dirt and dog hair, it is not very easy to clean. I have to take the canister outside after I'm done and clean it using a leaf blower. That's something you never see in those slick looking Dyson commercials. It just doesn't seem right that you would have to clean a vacuum using a leaf blower. Vacuum bags were so much easier.

It's getting too hot to walk the dogs. The days are so long in June that it's hard to get up early enough to beat the heat. We were a little late today and it was already pretty warm. At least there was a little breeze. The instant the sun is above the horizon the temperature seems to jump ten degrees. These Summer days are hard on Dot, so we need to make an effort to get up earlier. Tomorrow will be better. Janet always gets up very early to get ready for work and we are usually on our way well before sunrise. By the time it is cold enough to wear my new jacket, we will be walking under starlight.

I guess I'll go pick up my tape recorder at the audio repair shop tomorrow. Maybe it will inspire me to put the studio back together again. Truthfully, about the only thing these old analog machines are good for is transferring my old songs to Pro Tools. I started to do this once and after some critical listening, quickly realized that most of the old songs weren't that good and that the arduous process wasn't worth the effort.

This is the challenge these days. What exactly is worth the effort?  I think that keeping Dot as healthy and happy as I can is a worthy cause, but I don't have much to prove in the advertising world anymore. So much of what used to seem so important to me just seems silly now.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Day 2385

Janet asked me whether I'd ever heard of GoPro cameras the other day and of course I answered "Oh sure, I've had one for years." When I said this, I realized that I hadn't actually used the camera in years either. Today, I found the thing gathering dust in a drawer and fired it up to see if it still worked. Since I tend to be an early adopter, this was one of the first GoPro's ever made. There was no WiFi, it had a cryptic menu, and I'd lost the software for it a long time ago. Getting this ancient thing going again was a natural weekend project.

You may wonder why I bought the GoPro in the first place, since I don't snowboard, water ski, or ride bicycles down mountains. I think my original intent was to mount the camera on one of the dogs and film them while they were running around at the dog park. The dog camera never happened. There were a few ugly dog fights at the park we usually went to and we quit taking our dogs to public dog parks. Then both dogs got cancer and our lives changed dramatically. GoPro cameras are still a cool concept though. If they had been invented thirty years ago, I would have used them a lot.

Do you ever think about all the repetitive things you do everyday? Every time I brush my teeth, make the bed, clean out the lint trap in the dryer, tie my shoes, check to make sure I have my keys before I leave the house, and turn off the computer each night, some kind of muscle memory kicks in and I realize that I have done these things exactly the same way thousands and thousands of times. Weekend chores are repetitive by nature and I sometimes think that I go through entire days repeating actions I have done for so long that I don't even think about them. I don't decide to brush my teeth or make the bed each day. It just happens.

Cleaning up Dot's poop is rapidly becoming one more of those automatic muscle memory things I do everyday without even thinking. I've gotten so much better at dealing with the mess since her incontinence started. Now, there are poop bags, enzyme cleaners, and disposable pads pre-positoned everywhere. I've learned to recognized the breathing changes and telltale motion in her tail that indicates an accident is about to happen. I don't have to do nearly as much laundry as I did in the beginning, because I've learned what to expect. It's kind of amazing how adaptable people can be when it is necessary. This is why I continue to faithfully do the shoulder strengthening exercises my physical therapist recommended several years ago. I understand how easy it would be to get lazy and just adapt to using one arm instead.

I don't want to get lazy. That's why I'm going to the gym tomorrow, even though I'd probably rather just read a book. I don't want to get sick either. I saw something on TV today that said the third leading case of death in the United States is medical mistakes. I'm sure this is true. Questionable medical procedures killed my Mom. I had a close call myself when I was given two medications that should have never been taken together. How was I to know. You trust that your doctor knows what they are prescribing. We live in a world where we don't trust our politicians, have lost faith in our drinking water, and worry that our doctor is going to replace the wrong knee. I'm not sure there is a solution for this, but it does explain why some people smoke a lot of weed.

Shiner is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Day 2384

I was surprisingly upbeat today. While the pundits on the morning TV shows were talking doom and gloom as a result of yesterday's Brexit vote, I just felt like a little sanity had returned to the world. Dot seemed to agree. For the first time in weeks, she slept through the night and pooped outside in the morning like a normal dog. It was a nice Summer day with a light breeze and we all had a nice morning walk.

After Janet went to work, I returned to the slightly upscale restaurant that I'd initially made fun of. Maybe this place is my new favorite now. It's clean and quiet and there's a lot of variety on the menu. After only three visits, the guy that serves me already remembers my name and preferences. I think my guilt about abandoning my original favorite restaurant is starting to fade.

I kept thinking that the panic in the financial markets might be a buying opportunity, so I called my broker to see if he agreed. Instead of shorting stocks, which seemed too risky for me, I sold some Put Options on positions I was thinking about buying anyway. If prices rise, I keep the option fee and no harm is done. If prices fall to the strike price, I own the stock at a discount. Maybe this strategy is still a little risky if Armageddon is looming on the horizon, but I don't think the world is going to end because Britain left the European Union. I may be wrong, but today's panic just seemed like a buying opportunity.

Work is still slow, so I washed the car and mowed the grass in the back yard. I contacted the roofer to see if he'd forgotten me and he said that he'd be over to patch my roof soon. It's about time. The audio repair shop called and said that the second tape deck I'd taken in for repairs was ready. That repair has been taking a long time too. I forgot to call the shop back, but I didn't really feel like picking up the unwieldy machine today anyway. I'll deal with that on Monday.

This month has flown by. It's going to be July before you know it. Living with a sick dog has changed things so much that I've almost forgotten what I used to do in the Summer. I wonder how I used to get everything done when my company was still active and busy. Now, taking care of Dot eats up so much time that when I add one or two minor tasks, the day is gone. I still feel as busy as I ever was. It's just a very different kind of busy.

I'm looking forward to a calm and uneventful weekend. The uneventful part won't be much of a problem. The calm part will probably depend on the dogs.

Rio is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Day 2383

I wrote a letter to my Luddite sister today. There's something oddly satisfying about writing a letter on paper, putting a stamp on the envelope, and taking it to the post office. I used to regularly correspond with dozens of people by mail, but this recalcitrant sister is the only one left. I miss the days when writing a good letter was still a skill that mattered. There is something tactile about putting a message on paper that just isn't there with e-mail. Sometimes I wrote letters in longhand and other times I used my faithful IBM Selectric typewriter. The fact that you often waited weeks for a reply added to the allure. The immediacy of e-mail, digital photography, and Google searches leaves me cold. I put more thought into things when I edited audio tape with a razor blade, developed film in a darkroom, and wrote letters without the help of spellcheck. Sadly, those days are gone forever.

I really think that the slower pace of an analog world was better for everyone. Now, we measure progress by how big and fast we can make something. The inevitable result of this type of thinking is globalization. In a global economy, successful companies get bigger and bigger, gobbling up all their smaller competitors. A few people become enormously rich, and very gradually there are fewer and fewer choices for the rest of us. Instead of hundreds of small airlines and auto manufacturers, there are just a handful of giant global companies, pumping out standardized products and services for the entire world. I would love to see a reversal of this trend. Even though the odds are against it, I would like to see the UK leave the European Union. I would like to see the Euro disappear and see the return of the Deutsche Mark and the French Franc. I wouldn't even mind seeing the United States split into several smaller countries. Small is good. Small problems are self limiting and can't spread to consume the entire world. The world was more interesting when small self-sufficient countries developed their own unique style and culture. Sure there were still lots of wars and conflicts when city states like Venice and Florence flourished at the end of the Middle Ages, but these states were too small to do much permanent damage to the earth. The whole idea of the Internet is based on the idea of thousands of independent nodes that make it impossible to take down the entire system. We like the redundancy that the Internet provides, but can't seem to grasp that the rest of the world should operate the same way. Globalization and instant gratification have made it too easy to destroy everything. I think these things whenever I write a letter. I might have similar thoughts if I were driving around in a Packard or a Studebaker, but I can't do that anymore.

I had my reasons to be disdainful of e-mail today. One of my clients kept saying that they never received anything from me even after I sent them what they requested three different times. The message wasn't even that important, but it ended up wasting a huge amount of time. I was pretty sure that the problem was on their end, but I ended up having to extensively test my own e-mail account just to make sure that I wasn't the source of the problem. Electronic problems are tricky this way. I should have just sent them a letter, but I know they never would have had the patience to wait for it. Patience has become just as much of a lost art as writing letters.

I've been watching the Brexit referendum returns on TV as I write this and it looks like I may get my wish. It's still too early to call, but there are a lot more votes to leave the EU than most people anticipated. The downside to all this is that my stocks will probably take a big tumble tomorrow morning. Oh, well. If it wasn't this, it would probably be something else. If the trend continues, people who shorted stocks will make money, but like me, most traders will wake up very surprised. I still think dissolving the EU and a return to sovereignty is a good thing in the long run, but I never would have predicted that it could actually happen.

Boo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day 2382

It doesn't really take that much to turn a bad day into a good day. Basically, I was faced with the same old grind, but Dot had more energy today and I was able to solve a perplexing website problem for one of my clients. I was really pleased with how well Dot did during her water therapy session. We were able to increase the speed a bit and she didn't stumble at all. The vet paid extra attention to her shoulders during her acupuncture therapy and tried to relieve some of the stress that was causing her muscles to cramp. Her rear legs are so weak now that she basically shifts most of her weight to her front two legs which causes a lot of stress. The combination of water therapy and acupuncture seemed to work, and Dot felt better for the rest of the day.

Much of my website work is so mechanical now that I often feel like a code monkey. Occasionally though, I have to really think things through and today was one of those days. I've never really liked interactive forms, especially when they don't work. I had to do a lot of troubleshooting today to figure out why something that should be working actually wasn't. It would have been easy to blame the hosting company or gremlins for the problem, but I was determined to find the answer myself. After a couple of hours of experimentation, I figured out what was going on and explained everything to the client. I think they understood, but there's always a chance that they weren't listening.

I've got to find something better to watch on TV while I eat breakfast. I used to watch Dr. Who re-runs on the BBC channel but they quit running them. Now there's nothing but endless political and financial news, which are both equally depressing. I'm totally tired of the non-stop political news. Do we really have to listen to this for six more months? I wish that Bernie and Trump would have a secret meeting and both agree to run as independents. Bernie could call Trump a narcissistic fascist and Trump could call Bernie an dangerous socialist and almost instantly the traditional political establishment would be irrelevant. In a four person race, either Bernie or Trump would win. Hillary and whatever tired old retread that the Republicans trotted out wouldn't have a chance. All this would be fine by me. I think just about anyone would be better than more of the same. It's time to re-shuffle the deck and start over. Of course there's always a chance that I'm just another nihilistic anarchist. I'm really hoping that the UK leaves the European Union tomorrow too.

It's amazing how quickly the soil dries out after a few days of Texas heat. Our yard was a mud pit just a few weeks ago and now it is almost bone dry. I'm going to have to start watering again or everything will die. Our water bill triples during the Summer months. I hate to think how much people with really big yards and fancy sprinkler systems pay for water each month. We have a very small yard and our water bill goes through the roof in July and August.

There was only a small Internet outage today and I didn't even bother to call technical support. Sometimes calling AT&T actually makes things worse. That's the way modern life is today. You have to decide whether random sporadic problems are worse than the problems you go out and create for yourself.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day 2381

I knew it wouldn't last. My Internet service has become erratic again. It was so nice to have a reliable, fast network for about a month, but now things are just as bad as they ever were. Speed will slow to a crawl. The WiFi will go out entirely for no apparent reason. I'll call technical support and after I've waited on hold for ten minutes, everything mysteriously returns to normal as soon as I start speaking to a service representative. It's frustrating.

Flaky WiFi service wasn't the only frustrating thing today. One of my client's employees has decided she wants to design websites and asked me for the access codes to the sites I manage for her boss. This means one of two things. Either the client is going to take their website management in-house, or I'm going to be asked to re-create everything from scratch in a few months after the new designer has managed to screw the website up. There's a third possibility too. They might actually ask me to help them take their business away from me. This has actually happened before. Rudeness apparently knows no boundaries where third party contractors are concerned.

I paid the rest of the June bills today. There's still some money left, but I had to move some funds from the production account to the operating account to avoid becoming overdrawn. It's kind of sobering to realize that there just isn't a lot left over at the end of the month anymore. What do you do when everybody and their uncle thinks they're a photographer, filmmaker, or web designer? It's almost impossible to take a bad picture with today's automated digital cameras and apparently drag and drop website creation is the new hot thing with all my clients. I need to learn something really hard that nobody else wants to do. Right now it seems like everybody with a smart phone and a few graphics apps thinks they can do my job.

I walk so much that my latest pair of hiking boots is already starting to show some wear. I like these shoes, so I took them to a shoe repair shop in the neighborhood and had shoe taps put on the heals. I used to do this years ago when I wore cowboy boots a lot, but it never occurred to me to put heel taps on a Vibram sole work boot. These things will probably fall off in a week, or scratch up the floors in our house, but it's worth a try. Something about the way I walk just destroys the heels of my shoes. Maybe this will help.

I'm going to have to get Dot ready for her physical therapy appointment a little earlier tomorrow. The vet had to bump us into an earlier slot because of a conflict. Hopefully, this new schedule won't throw a wrench in the works. I'm beginning to wonder how long it is wise to continue the water therapy. Dot doesn't have as much energy now and the trip downtown takes a toll on her. I wish I could ask her what she wanted to do.

Barley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Day 2380 - Summer Solstice

It certainly seemed like the longest day of the year. Time usually passes quickly when there is lots to do. It drags on forever on days like this. Today was a typical Monday on steroids. It seemed like all I did today was clean up after the dogs. Today started and ended with the smell of poop. It was so hot that it was difficult to get Dot to go outside. Dash, on the other hand, went outside a lot. He ate something bad yesterday and had diarrhea. Between the two dogs it seemed like I spent the entire day on cleanup duty.

Technically, today is the first day of Summer. I guess our rainy season is over. It was oppressively hot and the air was filled with the constant drone of cicadas mixed with the sound of lawn mowers and leaf blowers. It felt muggy, even thought the sky was clear. I'm not really surprised that Dot made no effort to go outside. I didn't feel like going outside either. It's kind of discouraging that it's going to be this way until late October.

Cleaning up dog poop isn't very stimulating, so in an effort to alleviate my boredom I drove over to a client's office to answer a question that could have easily have been answered in e-mail. Sending an e-mail doesn't do much good if nobody reads it, so I've discovered that it's much easier to visit certain clients in person. It only took a few minutes to get the problem resolved. It would have taken me a lot longer to type up my answer and hit send.

The wildflower season is slowly drawing to a close. The early Spring flowers are already looking dry and withered and I'm seeing fewer and fewer new ones each week. There are still a few surprises though. I couldn't identify the odd little purple bloom I saw today. It kind of looks like Bee Balm, but it is much too small and there was only the single blossom, buried under blades of grass. I'll eventually figure out what this small oddity is. It gives me something to do on days like this.

I'm beginning to wonder if my activity tracker just randomly makes up sleep data. There is no discernible pattern to my sleep. Some days there is no deep sleep at all. Other days there is no REM or dream sleep. It's a mystery. You'd think that I'd get the most deep sleep when I was really tired, but this is not the case. Every night is different, even though I almost always go to bed at exactly the same time. I definitely don't have insomnia. Although Dot wakes me up during the night, I seem to go back to sleep almost instantly. I don't know where I'm going to get the extra two hours of sleep I need though. If you go to bed at midnight and get up at six, there is no way you are going to get eight hours of sleep.

Tomorrow is Tuesday. Tonight I keep hearing the lyrics to Once in a Lifetime playing endless in my head. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was...

Alamo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day 2379 - My Birthday

Every once in a while, my birthday coincides with Father's Day. I remember my Mom used to tell my Dad that I was his Father's Day present. I'm convinced that sometimes he would have preferred a new fishing rod or even a case of beer to a somewhat rebellious son who never listened to his old man. Hey, what can I say. We don't always get to choose. I eventuality became a responsible and quasi-respectable adult, but I still think Dad would have preferred someone who wanted to follow in his footsteps.

I'm 68 this year. There are days when I feel 86. One reason that I'm often tired is that I haven't slowed down all that much. I haven't retired and still try my best to please the few clients I have left. My body has seen better days, but I still walk three to five miles a day. Today should have been a day of rest, but instead I found myself up on the roof clearing away standing water, working out at the gym, and vacuuming the house with the Dyson. It might have been my birthday, but it was also Sunday. This is just what I do on a Sunday.

The gym was virtually empty today. I guess the other members were doing Father's Day things. Janet asked if I wanted to go out for dinner, but I really didn't. We stayed home and she fixed a delicious meal. We had pork chops, corn on the cob, new potatoes, and of course a birthday cupcake for dessert. I vaguely remember more elaborate parties, but I don't miss them. Today was exactly as it should be.

I'm not always a fan of Facebook, but I do like their birthday reminder thing. It's nice to hear from people in my past who I thought had forgotten about me. I don't get out much anymore, but the birthday greetings create an illusion that I'm still connected to a much wider world. Most of my Facebook friends are former co-workers, people who own Dalmatians, watch collectors, and fellow bloggers. Thanks to all of you who took the time to say hello today.

Dot perked up a bit when she discovered that she and Dash were going to get some birthday celebration treats, but for the most part she seemed unusually tired today. She was slow and stumbled a bit on her morning walk, so we curtailed the evening walk entirely and let her rest. I really hate to see her decline. I can tell that she still has the desire to do things, but her body often lets her down. Maybe after some extra rest today, she'll be able to enjoy her walk tomorrow.

Tomorrow we start another year. I hope Dot makes it to my next birthday. I'd like to see my business pick up a bit, but I'm not going to spend much time marketing myself. I'm thinking about becoming a vegetarian, but I doubt that I have the will power. I just like bacon too much. There will be some exciting days and a lot of boredom. Whatever happens, I hope you guys will join me for the journey.

Inky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 2378

According to the news, we're having a heat wave. It kind of seems like a normal June to me, but I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty darn hot. I mowed the grass early this morning in attempt to avoid the worst of the heat, but I wasn't very successful. If I was looking for comfortable temperatures, I would have had to mow in the middle of the night. I don't know how long I can continue to mow my own grass. Pushing the lawnmower gets more exhausting with each passing year. Most of my neighbors have a yard service by now, but I stubbornly continue to do things the old fashioned way. When the temperatures start to approach 100 degrees, I begin to question my own sanity.

The dogs don't like the Summer heat any more than I do. Sometimes there's a breeze on our early morning walk. Today the air was still and it made the heat seem even more oppressive. We should have gotten an earlier start this morning, but it was Saturday and everyone was sleeping peacefully. I hated to wake Janet and the dogs up. There was telltale evidence that Dot had pooped during the night when I woke up this morning, but I don't remember getting up during the night. It turned out that Janet woke up and cleaned things up. Sometimes I wake up and sometimes she does. All this proves I guess is that we both sleep erratically.

Mowing the grass wore me out, so I wisely decided to curtail any further yard work. Since it was nice and cool inside, I thought I'd finish a few writing assignments. I completed a press release that had an impending deadline and sent it off to the client. I tried to get some clarification on a website issue I'm working on and eventually remembered that the client wasn't in the office on Saturday. Hopefully, I'll be able to remember my question until Monday.

When I went to the store, I was disappointed to see that they no longer carried the hot and spicy Cheetos I like. This is probably for the best, since there were so many artificial ingredients in the things that they were sure to give me cancer. I struck out buying healthier items too. The peaches were soft and looked like they'd go bad in a day or two. I didn't buy them. It floors me that stores continue to sell bad produce, but maybe everyone isn't as picky as me. I saw other people buying the peaches. Strawberries are the worst. They must train the produce guys to hide bad strawberries inside the clear plastic containers. The strawberries always look great on the top and bottom of the packaging, but there are always some bad ones hidden away in the middle where you can't see them. I can't really blame the stores for doing things this way. If they sold strawberries loose, customers would rummage around and pick only the very best ones, leaving all the rest behind.

I think the mosquito treatment is working. I still got bitten when I was cleaning my boots on the porch after our morning walk but the bites were definitely less frequent. The next test will be to see whether the treatment still works after I resume watering the grass. I'm surprised that the city hasn't started spraying yet. Usually they are spraying for mosquitoes at night by now. Maybe people are protesting the spraying program again. The city can't win on issues like this. Whatever they do, somebody is going to complain.

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone. There won't be any big celebrations tomorrow, but I'm glad the journey has lasted as long as it has. With luck, there will be many more birthdays to celebrate, but I'm beginning to wonder whether my goal of posting for 5000 consecutive days was a bit too ambitious. I'm not even halfway there yet.

Rugby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 2377

I treated the yard for mosquitoes today. It's too early to tell whether the spray treatment works, but the entire yard now smells like a giant Citronella Candle. I tried to pick a time to spray the yard when I knew the dogs would be asleep, but as soon as I finished, they both woke up and needed to go out and pee. The bottle says this stuff is completely safe around pets, but it would have been nice if they'd given the yard a chance to dry before we tested that theory. I wiped their paws off with a rag and they both went back inside and resumed their nap .

Breakfast was enjoyable this morning. I'm trying new things, and so far the experiment seems to be going well. It may not seem earth shattering to try something different for breakfast, but for me it is. For over three years I went to the same place and ordered the same thing every Friday morning. Those days appear to be over now, whether I like it or not. I didn't really ask for this variety, but maybe it's for the best. At any rate, my Eggs Benedict were quite tasty this morning.

I'm still wondering whether I'm going to run out of money this month. I paid the Visa bill and my annual homeowners insurance today, but the Mastercard bill with the humongous car repair charge hasn't arrived yet. It's going to be a close call. I guess I don't really need to pay my credit card bills in full every month, but partial payments seem like a slippery slope. I've always paid my bills on time. If something ever happened where I couldn't, I think it would be a very ominous sign.

I seem to get most of my work assignments on Fridays now. I'm not complaining, but it would be nice if I were able to spread the work out during the week. As it stands, I often end up working weekends even though the office is dead quiet during the rest of the week. I have a couple of new assignments this weekend. Some of the assignments could probably wait until Monday, but I have a feeling that I'll be working this weekend anyway. My compulsion to turn work assignments around as soon as I receive them is almost as strong as my compulsion to pay bills on time.

I've got a birthday coming up this weekend. I've always been a typical Gemini with a need to have two of everything. Lately, the things that come in pairs seem to be bad knees and sore elbows. It's a bitch celebrating a body that is falling apart. Hey, I'm still here though. Every time I look at Dot, I realize it's all about attitude. If she can keep hanging in there, so can I.

Bali is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 2376

Maybe I've set the bar too low, but I felt like I accomplished something today. There a new battery in an old iPhone that had just been sitting in a junk drawer for several years. The Interstate Battery technician reminded me that there was no SIM card in the phone, but I told him that I didn't care. I'm just going to use the phone as a WiFi pet cam. It was strangely satisfying that I revived this old phone for less than half of what it would have cost if I took it to those guys at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store. Jeez, it's just a battery. It never should have cost $75 in the first place.

I also have an extended warranty on my main production camera that will probably outlast me. I got the warranty certificate this morning and now I just need to figure out where to put it, so I won't have to spend three days looking for it when the camera eventually breaks. I don't know why I need a paper certificate anyway. Panasonic should already have all my information in a database somewhere.

The only other thing on the agenda was getting a haircut. When my eyebrows start to look like Andy Rooney, I know it's time for a haircut. I wasn't rushed today, so I stopped by the Apple Store on the way to my appointment and took a look at the new larger iPad Pro. I may get one of these things, since it is much lighter and more convenient than my current laptop. With the handy keyboard case attached, this clever tablet could easily replace my laptop. Now, all I need is a month without excessive bills, so I can pay for it.

While I was walking back to the parking garage after my haircut, I stopped in the Tesla Store to take a look at the new Model X. I'd never seen one of these things before and it was pretty impressive. With its gull wing doors, space age electronics, and oversize wheels, the Model X seemed like something the Jetsons would drive. I doubt that I'll be driving one anytime soon. I might be able to afford an iPad Pro, but I'll never be able to afford a Tesla Model X.

When I was walking Dash this afternoon, I noticed quite a few Scissor-Tail Swallows flying around. These birds are kind of amazing and can seemingly hover like a helicopter. I wanted to get a picture of one of them in flight, but Dash was getting hot and was in a hurry to get home. I managed to get one shot of a Swallow resting on a nearby branch, but that was about it. It's an uphill battle to do nature photography when you're walking a Dalmatian.

The trash has already been taken out to the curb. Today's wash is in the dryer, and I'm trying to decide what to have for breakfast tomorrow. Eggs Benedict sounds good.

Hershey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 2375

Another long day. Since Dot's vet has gotten busier, it often takes me over three hours to take her back and forth to her therapy session. Waiting isn't always bad though. It gives Dot a chance to calm down and relax before she starts exercising in the underwater treadmill. I wasn't expecting much today since it was so hot outside, but Dot did surprisingly well. Her condition seems to have stabilized. She isn't getting any stronger, but she isn't getting any weaker either. She did very well during her water therapy sessions today, and as an added bonus, she didn't poop in the car.

I think I was able to resolve the problems I was having with extending my camera warranty. For once, customer support was actually courteous and helpful. Thanks Panasonic. Since I didn't have the documentation they were requesting, they allowed me to photograph the serial numbers on the camera and use that instead. I wasn't expecting this to end well, but it appears that it actually did.

I discovered today that the Interstate Battery store near me will replace my iPhone battery for less than half the price that the Apple Store currently charges. You don't have to make a complicated online appointment with somebody at the Genius Bar either. You just walk in with your phone, and they'll change your battery on the spot. Supposedly, the whole process only takes fifteen minutes. I'll try taking a phone up to the store tomorrow and see if this is as good as it seems.

I finally saw someone that looked like a supervisor talking with the crew laying fiber optic cable in the neighborhood and asked him what is going on. Evidently, the long awaited 'fiber to the home' is finally becoming a reality. It appears that sometime this Summer our Internet service and U-verse TV are going to be getting a lot faster. I wonder if they are going to charge extra for this? AT&T never seems to give anything away for free.

It didn't rain today, so maybe by tomorrow it will finally be dry enough for me to apply the mosquito retardant in the backyard. I hope so. I've got so many mosquito bites that I'm itching constantly now. I'm not even sure that this spray-on treatment will work, but it worked last year, so it's worth a try. The mosquitoes have even gotten into the house. There's one buzzing around the office right now. I keep fantacising about a place with no insects, no snakes, and of course, no alligators. Does such a place even exits?

I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow. I don't anticipate being busy, so I made an appointment to get a haircut. This probably means that one of my clients will surprise me with a rush deadline. Whatever happens, I'm sure the day will start with a banana and strawberry smoothie and end with a pile of dog poop to clean up.

Shadow is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Day 2374

Is it even possible to find a simple answer to a simple question anymore? I wanted to find out whether a nearby Apple Store could put a new battery in an iPhone while I waited. I found the number of the retail store, hoping to avoid Apple's automated phone system. It didn't work. After a brief message thanking me for calling the store, I was right back in the automated system. I hate these systems. Press 1 if you want to do this. Press 2 if you want to do that. You can spend hours navigating these systems and wind up no closer to the answer of your question than when you started. I eventually ended up talking to a real person in California who had no idea whether the local store could put in a battery for me. There is a whole generation of people who have never experienced the simplicity of asking a question and getting a quick answer. They don't even know what they're missing.

I got a letter from Panasonic the other day saying that they'd extend the warranty on one of my cameras for free if I'd fill out a bunch of forms, send them a purchase receipt, and cut the UPC code off the box the camera came in and send that as well. It sounded complicated, but what the hell. Like I said, I'm not very busy. They were quite explicit that if I didn't sent the box label from the product carton, which they said included the UPC code, model number and serial number, my warranty would not be extended. There was only one problem. The box the camera came in didn't have a label like this. I looked and looked, but it wasn't there. Of course there was no way to contact these people by phone either. That would be too easy.

I'm starting to dread days when nothing happens. The monotony starts to wear you down after a while. When the dogs are finished eating and taking their walks, they sleep so soundly that I occasionally wonder if they're still alive. I don't watch TV during the day anymore, because it is so universally terrible. The only phone calls are from telemarketers and the only thing I get in the mail are bills. The isolation is like a thick blanket and the silence can be deafening. There are occasional moments of panic where I worry that something might be wrong with Dot. There are occasional deadlines where I've got to concentrate on work for a few hours. Mostly there is just nothing though. I don't feel like engaging with anyone and I don't feel like starting any ambitious projects. I think the jury is still out on whether I will become an expert on doing nothing or whether it will drive me crazy.

Dot pooped in the house so much today that I'm dreading taking her in the car to physical therapy tomorrow. I don't think she even realizes what she's doing anymore. This afternoon she woke up from a nap and came out to the kitchen to say hello, leaving a long trail of poop all the way down the hallway. I can't be upset with her though. Actually, I was pleased that she managed to stand up and start walking on her own.

I looked at the blog stats the other day and wasn't really surprised to see that there aren't as many readers anymore. Maybe people are getting tired of hearing about dog poop. Sorry. That's life. It's just what's happening right now. Cleaning up after Dot means that my loyal friend of so many years is still with me. I'd much rather have the mess than the empty void she'd leave behind.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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