Sunday, July 31, 2016

Day 2421

Sunday is the one day of the week where I feel like I'm making an honest effort to stay healthy and fit. In the Winter I feel winded, but on a hot Summer day like today, I feel exhausted. I get up early and take Dot out to pee while everyone else is still asleep. As soon as she lifts her head and starts looking around, I know it's time. If we're lucky, she'll go back to bed and I can sleep for another 45 minutes or so. When Dash wakes up, we all get up for good because he immediately goes out to his bowl in the kitchen and starts barking. As soon as the dogs have been fed, we take Dot on a walk around the block. She follows Dash, so we walk slowly with Dash in the lead. This short walk is enough for Dot, but Dash needs more. I make the bed when we get home and then take Dash out again on a much longer walk. It's weird how quickly the temperature rises at this time of the morning. Often it is ten degrees warmer by the time we return.

I've started going to the gym right after Janet and I finish our breakfast. If I wait until the afternoon, I start thinking of excuses not to go. I wonder if I have any endorphins in my body at all. Exercising certainly doesn't seem to release them. My heart rate goes up. I sweat. My muscles get sore. I never get an "exercise high" though. It just seems like a lot of hard work. Today, in addition to my regular routine, I used the heavy bag for a while. Jeez, my shoulder has gotten much worse. I could hardly punch with my right hand at all. It's probably time to go to physical therapy again, but I don't know when I would find the time.

There may not be any euphoria in exercise, but it's certainly better than vacuuming. Vacuuming drives me crazy, mostly because the thin, rubber backed rugs we use to keep Dot from slipping in the house are continually getting sucked into the vacuum, causing me to have to turn the thing off and clear the jam. It takes forever to clean the house this way. I can't ignore the rugs, because they're the main reason the house is always so dirty. I wish I could just throw the rugs in the washing machine, but many of them are too big. Even the small ones are problematic, because the rubber backing comes off in the dryer, causing a huge mess.

Some days I mow the grass as well, but not today. I was too tired. At this time of year, it's hard to find things to photograph. The animals in the park seem to have gone into hiding and most of the wildflowers are gone. I took a picture of my boxing gloves at the gym, but then I realized that I'd already used this image several times before. I've photographed Bindweed flowers before as well, but not these particular blooms. Is it important to have a new image every day? I'm sure that few people care, but looking for this image does give my day a certain structure. Today, two Bindweed flowers will have to do.

It's hard to believe that it's August already. Where has this year gone? The dogs get their monthly heartworm pill tomorrow. Janet and Dot both have birthdays in August. It's time to get my car safety inspected again. With any luck the roof will get fixed in August as well. I wonder whether the roofers will show up next week as they promised?.

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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Day 2420

I've seen the future. When I was at the grocery store today, I noticed that they were promoting a new app that allows you to scan, purchase, and pay for items using your phone. You purchase as you shop and bypass the checkout line entirely. As soon as you scan the last item on your list, you are done. This is what I've been waiting for. I downloaded the app immediately. I used to like the automated checkout aisles, but now that people have overcome their fear of them, they are just as bad as the regular aisles.

I'm always standing in line behind some idiot who keeps inserting expired credit cards into the machine, hoping that one of them will work. This new app will allow me to bypass all these delays. If one store is doing this, pretty soon all stores will have apps that let you scan and go. Restaurants won't be far behind. You'll just sit down at a table, order from your phone, and the food will appear at your table.This is what I don't understand about politicians who promise to bring back jobs. The jobs aren't coming back ever. If there's a robot available that can take the place of an employee, the robot wins.

I got the roof prepared for the roofers today. It's dry now and as clean as I can get it. The standing water was so hot that I was surprised that it hadn't boiled away yet. If someone would invent a way to turn standing water into energy, I'd have free power for life. This roof is such a nuisance. I wonder if Janet and I will ever live in a house with a normal roof again? There was a time when I thought we would have moved to some idyllic location in the mountains by now, but life got in the way. The older we get, the more daunting another move seems. I may be stuck with this stupid roof forever.

Dot had a good day. Some days she seems lucid and other days she seems totally out of it. Today she seemed happy and had enough energy to get up by herself a few times. Aging is definitely not a linear process. It meanders around, trying to catch you by surprise. I saw this with my Dad as well. One day he'd be making plans for the future, and the next day he'd just be staring off into space. I hope I never succumb to dementia. They say a network of friends is vital to older people. I'm not looking good in that department. On the other hand they say that writing keeps the mind agile. I write constantly. Maybe it's a wash.

I accidentally erased my backup drive today. This is why I have two backup drives. I thought I could just reformat the drive and back everything up again. For some reason, the information wouldn't fit. WTF? Everything fit on the drive yesterday. Why won't it fit today? I'm sure there's a logical explanation for this, but I can't figure it out. Maybe dementia is already devouring my brain. I'm trying to convince myself that one backup drive is plenty.

I actually got a decent amount of sleep last night. That was a surprise. Would it be too much to ask for a few extra hours tonight as well?  I guess it's all up to Dot.

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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 2419

I find going over lab results with my doctor a bit frustrating. Today, my A1c levels had improved, but my Creatine and Bun levels had gotten worse. When I asked the doctor why, he told me that the Metformin I have been taking to control blood sugar and A1c levels tended to be hard on the kidneys, which often elevates Creatine and Bun levels. This is what happens with just about every prescription medicine you take. The body is complex and everything is interrelated. When you make something better, you often make something else worse. This didn't really seem to bother the doctor, who seemed to think that preventing diabetes was more important than perfectly functioning kidneys. "Your kidneys are still working pretty well," he said.

Apparently, my big problem is stress. My Cortisol levels have been increasing for several years and are now pretty high. I think the doctor was expecting me to tell him that there had been a death in the family or a divorce to cause this much stress. Instead, he got a convoluted tale of sleep loss and dog poop. The doctor and his nurse both gave me an odd look when I described my daily life, but they had no suggestions. They like dogs too. I'm doing the right thing with Dot. I probably just don't have the right kind of personality to deal with her continuing deterioration in a calm, relaxed way. Actually, the conversation with the doctor was causing me stress, because it was taking too long. I knew that if I didn't get back home in time, there would be more poop to clean up. Sure enough, I was right. Not only did Dot poop in her bed while I was at the doctor, she ate the poop as well.

I'm always surprised when I have lab work done just how advanced medicine has become. It is amazing how much a simple blood test can reveal. Today, I was introduced to something new. They took a DNA sample and said they would be able to use it to predict my susceptibility to certain diseases and even if the medications I was taking were interfering with each other. I asked if this test would tell me who my ancestors were and the nurse said they didn't do genealogy. Too bad. Every time I see one of those 23 and Me commercials on TV, I'm curious if I'm actually as Norwegian as I think I am.

I didn't tell the doctor that I'd had pancakes topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar for breakfast. What the hell. I felt like pancakes this morning. After three years of eating nothing but steel cut oats, I've decided that breakfast needs to be a little more enjoyable. I think my morning smoothie is generally pretty healthy, but I need a break occasionally. At least once a month, I pig out on pancakes or waffles.

I'll need to clean the roof off this weekend, in preparation for the roofers promised return on Monday. They probably won't show up, but at least I'll have done my part. I'm glad that July is almost over. It's been a long, very hot month. If we can make it to Winter again, life with Dot might be a little easier.

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Day 2418

I finished my writing assignment and got a thumbs up from the client shortly after I submitted it. By the time I get paid a few months from now, I'm sure that I'll have completely forgotten about this project. Such is the nature of my work. I've written a staggering amount of words over the years, and very few of them are of any consequence. I keep hoping that this blog has meaning, but maybe it is just like all the forgettable ads. They say that writing keeps the mind agile, but it certainly doesn't do much for my long term memory. Occasionally, I'll pull out an old portfolio from the 1970's and it will seem like the ads were written by someone else. Did I really do these things? Old award show books have my name on them, so I guess I did.

I'm sure I'll read something one of these days where researchers prove that a lack of sleep causes memory loss. I'm still not doing very well in the sleep department. It takes longer to write the blog than it used to, so I rarely get to bed before midnight. Dot wakes me up at 3 AM almost every night when she poops. And Janet gets us all up very early, so we can walk and feed the dogs before she leaves for work at 7 AM. I guess I could go back to sleep after I eat my breakfast, but I'm wide awake by then.

Dot has added a new wrinkle to our daily routine. Se has decided that she doesn't like me putting the disposable pad under her butt while she is resting in her bed. When I try to position the pad, it makes her mad and she gets up and wanders around aimlessly for a while. I have to follow her around while she does this, because she can't walk ten feet without my assistance. After we have repeated this process three or four times, she finally settles down and goes to sleep. I try my best to accommodate Dot's moods, because stress is not good for her. Actually, most of the time she is very relaxed. It is me who is under a lot of stress.

I had trouble picking up Dash's phenobarbital today. There was a new pharmacist and apparently his records were out of date. I'm glad we got everything straightened out, because Dash was completely out of pills and it's not a good idea to skip medications that are designed to control seizures. I have these type of problems with my own prescriptions as well. I have a few medications that I know I'll need to take for the rest of my life. Why do I constantly have to renew these things or get a new prescription from my doctor every six months? It would be so much easier if they'd just give me a giant bottle of pills that would last the rest of my life.

Maybe I'll ask for a giant bottle of pills when I go to review my blood test results tomorrow. I hope that none of my test results have deteriorated because I'm in no mood to change my diet and lifestyle again. I'll be really mad if my doctor asks me to give up sugar to prevent diabetes. I went without sugar for over two years and it wasn't very fun. There are days when you really need a bowl of ice cream. I think today was one of those days.

Queenie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 2417

It's hard to differentiate between one day and another. For several hours today, I was convinced that it was Tuesday. Nope. We did that yesterday. I should have known the difference immediately. Yesterday, I went to the post office and today I didn't.

I spent most of my time today writing. I made good progress on my new writing project and might have even finished it if the rain hadn't interrupted things. Any major rainstorm throws the dogs into panic mode. I have to stop what I'm doing and calm them down. This usually involves placing them in a room where they can't see the lightning and sitting with them until the thunder subsides. I'm usually so tired that I welcome these opportunities to take a short nap. We huddle together until the thunder subsides and then I take them outside so they can smell the air and make sure the coast is clear. I'm convinced that Dot and Dash just think I'm another dog and they want to make sure that the pack stays together whenever there is danger. It's a good thing that the roofers didn't make their repairs yesterday because their work would have been ruined. We got a lot of rain.

I wonder if other people are as burned out on politics as I am. You can't turn on the TV without being inundated with political punditry. Sometimes I think that the media has created much of today's unrest by continually stirring the pot whenever they find a story. Between friends fighting on Facebook and dueling cable news channels, I've had about as much as I can take. I'm going to vote, but unlike some of my friends, I don't think my vote is going to save the world or end the world. Sadly, we have been a divided country throughout much of our history. There is no reason to believe that we won't remain a divided country. Our finest hour was during World War II when the entire country came together to destroy a common enemy. During peaceful times, this unity dissolves and we just end up fighting with each other. Humans are an angry species. Truthfully, I think the only thing that would bring us all together on a global basis would be if a fleet of alien spaceships appeared overhead and threatened to destroy the earth. Now, that would bring us together. I don't think peace and prosperity ever will.

Stormy weather seems to accentuate Dot's incontinence problems. This afternoon, I just got finished cleaning up Dot's mess when she pooped all over again. When I'm able to quickly pull a rug out of the way, so she poops on the bricks, or manage to have a disposable pad strategically placed under her when she has an accident in her sleep, I felt like a baseball player who has made a diving catch and prevented a runner from scoring. You have to be alert with an incontinent dog. There is always an accident just waiting to happen.

With any luck, I'll be able to finish my writing assignment tomorrow. I wish I was doing the design work on this project as well. Website designers are usually better paid than the content providers. I can't complain though. Neither of us is getting rich. Those days are gone. When I finish my writing, I'll go up on the roof again and clear away the standing water. The next time I see the roofers, I want that roof to be dry.

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 2416

There was a knock at the door while I was eating breakfast and after I got the dogs calmed down, I greeted a supervisor from the roofing company. We went up on the roof together and looked at the damage. He agreed that the roof definitely shouldn't look like this. It was product failure, he said. Finally. Of course, the roof couldn't be repaired today, because it rained last night and the roof was still wet. At least we're making progress. I told him I didn't want to wait another three months and he said the repairs would be made next week as long as it was dry.

I actually had a telephone conversation with a client today. This just doesn't happen anymore. I get my marching orders almost exclusively through e-mail these days. I wish more people would use the phone. It's so much easier when you can ask questions without having to type. After a ten minute conversation, I knew exactly what I needed to do. It probably would have taken days to arrive at the same conclusion using a chain of e-mail messages.

I talked to Dot's vet on the phone today as well. I described her symptoms and she said we might be dealing with canine dementia, along with Dot's many other problems. She wants me to bring Dot in next week so she can evaluate her again. She also wanted me to consider giving Dot a low dose of Trazodone before transporting her in the car. This drug is commonly used in dogs to reduce anxiety and is generally well tolerated. It is also used as a human antidepressant and I have an almost irrational fear of all antidepressants. I said I'd do a little research and think about it. Whenever I research drugs, it usually makes me fear them even more, so I end up just asking Janet what she'd do.

I have a new writing project that should keep me busy through the end of the week. Busy is good. The days don't seem nearly as long when I'm working. I used to have an endless stream of projects and was booked months in advance. Not anymore. These days, I hope I just have enough work coming in to pay the monthly bills. July is taken care of now, but just like June, there isn't a lot left over. I anticipated some of the changes that take place as you grow older, but I didn't really anticipate missing work. I thought I'd love having nothing to do, but that's not the way it turned out.

I'm probably a terrible voter. As soon as the Democratic Convention appeared to settle down and function normally again, I quit watching. I did the same thing with the Republican Convention. Apparently, it takes a circus to get me engaged. I don't like either one of these candidates, but I don't think the world is going to end when one of them gets elected. We are still going to be a divided nation and we are still going to keep kicking the can down the road.

The dogs have added a new twist to my already busy day. Now, when it is time for them to go to bed at night, one of them will get restless and start barking as soon as the other one is settled down. This gets them both active again and I'll have to take them outside to make sure they don't need to pee. I've done this three times already. Dot still doesn't look very tired. Of course, she's been sleeping all day.

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 2415

What happens to all the information I provide for my doctors? It seems like every time I have a doctor's appointment, I have to fill out pages and pages of personal information that I have already given them during an earlier visit. I've gotten so used to this that I always bring a pair of reading glasses and a pre-printed list of the meds I take to my appointment. They always try to cram way too much information on a single page, so you have to write really small. I can never fit the lengthy and often bizarre names of the pills I take into the small boxes provided. Almost every other industry has moved on to electronic records, but doctors seem to still like to put everything on paper. I don't get it. Today, I spent more time filling out the forms than I did talking with the doctor.

Today's visit was with a urologist. I'm old enough that I need to have a prostate exam at least once a year. The doctors at this clinic always seem to have a sad look on their face. I can see it in their eyes. You can tell that they wish they had become cardiologists instead. I guess I'd feel the same was if I spent my entire day giving prostate exams. I'd seen today's doctor before, but this was my first visit to his new clinic. Doctors seem to move around a lot. I didn't like this new clinic very much because they seemed to rush patients through in a hurry, and they wouldn't validate my parking. Would you choose a doctor based on free parking? It seems as good a reason as any.

I should have seen this coming. The roofers promised to fix my roof tomorrow, so of course it started to rain this afternoon. Storms are forecast for tomorrow as well. Now, I'll have to reschedule everything after the roof is dry again. It doesn't seem fair. I've been waiting for months to get this roof patched and it's been hot and dry for a long time. Now, when it's finally my turn for the repair crew, it has to rain. This will eventually get done, but it is testing my patience.

The rain made the dogs restless today. When Dot gets upset, she poops even more than usual, so I had quite a mess to clean up today. When I turned on the TV, it appeared that the Democrats has quite a mess to clean up as well. Wasn't it just last week that they were calling the Republican Convention a disorganized mess? I guess this is Karma in action. What goes around comes around. This was definitely a self-inflicted wound. The Democrats deserve the hot mess they created. It's still hard to believe that they so blatantly tried to rig an election.

I canceled Dot's physical therapy appointment again. I"m going to try to talk with Dot's vet tomorrow and see if there is any basis to continue. I think the therapy helps, but Dot seems happier without it. Janet keeps trying to tell me that I can't keep her alive forever and I should just let her rest for the remaining time she has with us. I hate to give up, but maybe she's right.

Puppies are today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Day 2414

Sometimes I think I'm mildly autistic. I fixate on minuscule details that others don't even think about. When I shoot baskets at the gym, there are eight basketballs to choose from. Only one of them is properly inflated. It bewilders me that after three years, nobody has bothered to pump up the other seven basketballs. The one good ball looks scuffed and worn, because I'm probably not the only one who has noticed that the other balls are worthless. Why has nobody fixed this?

When I'm using the treadmill I don't try to achieve a targeted heart-rate. I don't necessarily try to walk a certain distance either. I just try to create a perfect triangle on the LED display by increasing the inclination and speed every time the blinking light moves to a new row. I don't even know what this means, but the display looks very pretty by the time I'm finished.

I don't really have a horse in the race, but I find myself being drawn to the ongoing political debate like a mosquito to a bug light. Maybe I'm just watching the conventions because I like a circus. So far, I haven't been disappointed. Ted Cruz gives a lengthy speech were he fails to endorse the nominee and is booed off the stage. Melania decides she likes some of Michelle's words better than her own and the resulting plagiarism controversy just causes everyone to comment on how beautiful she is and compare her to Jackie Kennedy. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is forced to resign in disgrace after leaked e-mails reveal that Bernie was right all along. The system was rigged. Instead of apologizing immediately for trying to use the fact that Bernie is a Jew to undermine his support in the South, party leaders immediately try to blame the Russians for the leaked e-mails, claiming that Putin is trying to get Trump elected. You really can't make this stuff up. Then, Obama's own brother joins the fray, saying that he is going to vote for Trump because he's mad that Obama killed his friend Muammar Gaddafi. And of course you can't forget that Nordstrom sold out of the dress Ivanka was wearing in just a matter of hours when the Instagram girls all decided they had to have it. In a country where people obsess over the Kardashians and Kanye West and can't even name all fifty states, I guess this is all pretty normal.

I am cursed to have an almost equal number of friends on both sides of the political fence. All of these people are freaking out about the Supreme Court. I find this troubling. I'm convinced that politicians and their followers are obsessed with the Supreme Court because they basically don't trust the voters. If you can pack the Supreme Court with people who agree with you, you don't have to worry about the fickle voters anymore. I really think that all these politicians should pay a lot more attention to voters. They should learn from history. There are consequences when you go around saying "Let them eat cake."

I've got a doctor's appointment tomorrow. It is one of those routine annual exams where they make you wait in the lobby for an hour and spend five minutes with you when you finally get in to see them. I'm not going to the doctor as much as I used to. Maybe I'm actually healthier, or maybe I've just grown tired of doctors. It's hard to tell. Dash got a bath today, but I didn't bother vacuuming. At least something is a little cleaner.

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day 2413

When Dash and I were out on our walk this morning, we passed a message written in chalk on the sidewalk. It got me wondering what hope actually meant to me. I hope that Dot will be with us for another year. I hope that Janet stays healthy and happy. I hope I won't run out of money before I die. My hopes are pretty basic and almost exclusively centered around the small world I live in. I never hope for world peace or a winning lottery ticket. That's rainbows and unicorns stuff. I'm a realist. If you've ever been a part of a dysfunctional family, or a member of a homeowner's association you understand how difficult it is to get along on even the most basic level. Neighbors become mired in petty arguments about barking dogs and trees on the property line. 50% of all marriages end in divorce. If our cities and states and individual countries are so divided, how can we ever expect the entire world to come together. It has never happened in human history.

My sister is a historian and one of the smartest people I know. I remember her telling me once that one of the most productive periods in history was when the great Italian city states flourished in Europe. These small city states were extremely competitive and were constantly at war with each other. Since the city states were so small, they couldn't do much damage on a global scale. The competition between the states was good. It created great wealth and played a major role in the Renaissance. Art, science, and philosophy all flourished during this period of time. It was only when countries got larger and decided to expand their influence by conquering other countries that the world started to get screwed up. The rise of the British Empire probably caused a lot of the problems we see today.

Humans are not a friendly species. Great White Sharks and Cobras are puppy dogs compared to us. This is why I've never been a fan of globalization. To survive, we need small redundant systems, so that if one element of society fails, it doesn't take down everyone else with them. The Internet is a redundant system. If a server goes down, information will bypass the trouble and find another route to its destination. There is no master hub that controls the entire Internet. Politicians don't seem to understand the beauty of this model though. They keep trying to make things bigger. The United Nations, The European Union, NATO, and it appears even The United States of America, all appear to be completely unable to bring people together on any lasting basis. I have very little hope that we are ever going to get it right.

None of this really bothers me though, since I seldom venture more than five miles from my house. My philosophy has always been "I'll leave you alone if you leave me alone." As long as the Zombie Apocalypse doesn't begin until five years after I'm dead, I'm fine.

I got an early start on my chores today because it was so hot outside. When I was using the automated checkout aisle at the grocery store, I couldn't get the bar code reader to work. It would beep when I pointed it at items in my cart, but nothing would show up on the register. This must be a common problem, because it didn't take long before an employee noticed me trying to read the UPC code on my strawberries over and over again and came over and rebooted the machine. Turn it off and then turn it on again seems to be the universal solution for everything these days. It's really too bad we can't just reboot the entire world.

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Day 2412

Another day, another terrorist attack. Throughout the afternoon I kept hearing conflicting reports on social media. One would say the shooter was a neo-nazi who shouted that he hated foreigners. Another would say that he was an Islamic radical who shouted Allāhu Akbar. Clearly one of these reports was a fabrication. Maybe neither of them was true. News is an uncharted wilderness these days. It's all spin. Whenever almost anything happens, someone will quickly try to twist the narrative to suit their needs. Objectivity increasingly seems like a quaint, outdated concept that few people have any use for. Most people, including myself, have no idea what the truth is and just pick the narrative that fits their preconceived notions.

When I flipped back and forth between Fox and MSNBC last night I could have sworn that I was watching two different conventions. One network thought that the event had channeled the inner pulse of middle class America while the other dismissed the whole thing as an unmitigated disaster. I used to think I could discover the truth by listening to both sides of the story, but I'm not so sure anymore. Spinning a story has become an art form and it's almost impossible to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Where is Walter Cronkite when you need him?

Today was slow but it started out nicely. I had Eggs Benedict at my new favorite restaurant and then returned home to finish my remaining website updates. The roofers didn't show up, but at least I got an explanation. It was apparently too hot for the roofers to work. If that's the case, I'm probably not going to get my roof fixed until September.

My pet cam has quit working again. It's so irritating that AT&T keeps tweaking its firewall settings and the apps on my phone keep automatically updating themselves overnight while I sleep. I'll get everything set just the way I want it and then a new version of an app will come out that upsets the apple cart. I have lots of old applications on my office computer for a reason. The apps are stable, don't crash, and do exactly what they are supposed to do. It's hard to keep out outdated apps on your phone, because they update themselves automatically. By the time I get the pet cam working, there will be a brand new version of the app that sets me back to square one again. I often feel like Sisyphus, continually pushing the same rock up the hill over and over again.

I felt like having Pizza tonight, so I went and ordered a nice looking large pie at one of our favorite Italian restaurants. When did ordering pizza become expensive? When I was in college, pizza was one of the cheapest things you could have for dinner. Now, I can order Chinese, Cheeseburgers, or a wide variety of other take-out meals for much less. Pizza still costs less than good barbecue though. We save barbecue for special occasions.

Once again, I screwed up and took my evening meds in the morning. There's a reason they tell you to take Niacin at night. The flushing sensation it can cause can be severe and make you feel like you are burning up. The sensation seldom lasts more than an hour, but it does make me check my meds a little more carefully the next day.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do this weekend.  Anything that involves sleep sounds good to me.

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Day 2411

Live streaming has revolutionized the way I watch television. I rarely watch the TV in the kitchen or the bedroom anymore. And I rarely watch the same things I used to. Now, whenever a space geek friend gives me a heads up about an upcoming launch, I watch it live on my computer. I'm somewhat of a news junky, so I'll often keep a window open in the right side of my screen, just in case something interesting happens. I usually keep the sound muted, because I can't multi-task. Every once in a while I'll turn the sound up for a few minutes and then get back to work.

I'm not really a political person, but I do find political conventions interesting. One of the first things that caught my eye this week was G.E. Smith. I've watched this guy play guitar for decades in the David Letterman Band. When did he start a house band for the Republican Party? Maybe they decided to have their own house band because they grew tired of musicians saying that they weren't authorized to use their music. I find this amusing. Don't these musicians understand how their own music licensing agreements work. If you want to play Queen's music for example, you don't need to ask Queen personally. Anyone, including both political parties, can secure the necessary rights through one of the three major performing rights organizations. If you run a concert venue, a restaurant, a bar, or an ad agency you can pay a flat fee to these to a licensing agency like BMI which allows you to play any music you want. Queen’s "We Are the Champions" is part of the BMI catalog. A performer doesn't have the option of restricting their music to certain radio stations or political parties. That's just how it works. Back in my agency days I've licensed well known songs for ridiculous advertising campaigns. The musicians might have been embarrassed, but I guarantee that they kept the money.

So did anything catch my eye this evening. Well, Peter Thiel certainly did. Peter is right up there with Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Tim Cook. I wonder what my Silicon Valley friends think about that endorsement. The sound is muted now on my computer, but I wouldn't be surprised if something catches my attention later.

I picked up a prescription today, but that was the only time I left the house. I spent the rest of the day wondering when Dot was going to poop. She has an uncanny ability to have her accidents when I'm in the shower or on the phone. The bed where she sleeps most of the day is in plain sight when I'm working at the computer, but she still manages to surprise me.

This week has gone quickly. I haven't heard anything from the roofers yet, so I have my doubts that they'll show up tomorrow as promised. Dot has done well this week. Her legs are still weak, but she isn't limping now. If she continues to improve, we might go back to physical therapy next Wednesday. The trash has been taken out to the curb and it's almost time for bed. I'm looking forward to having a delicious breakfast tomorrow morning. Eggs Benedict sounds good.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 2410

Go outside and take a look at the moon. 47 years ago today Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the lunar surface with less than a minutes worth of fuel left. They navigated their way from the earth to the moon using a computer that was less powerful than the one you currently have in your phone. More than half a billion people watched live as Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” For one short moment in time, the world was united and the world was proud.

I was one of those proud people.  I was still in architecture school and had my entire life ahead of me. I never would have dreamed that almost half a century later we would leave the moon behind and never return. What happened? I think we were at our best when we were explorers and adventurers. We are at our worst right now. Nothing unites us the way Apollo 11 did. No politician is bold enough to commit the nation to accomplish the impossible in less than ten years. John Kennedy was my favorite president. Sadly, I don't think his own party would elect him today. He wasn't politically correct. He was an unabashed nationalist. I think John Kennedy would be appalled that we never returned to the moon.

The dogs got a little excitement today. The electric company arrived at the house around mid-afternoon and informed me that my electric meter had gone bad. I asked the guy at the front door how they knew the meter had gone bad and they told me that the meter sent them a fault warning. There aren't any meter readers anymore. The meter sits quietly behind my house, electronically informing the power company whenever I turn on the television, or cool down the house. The meter knows too much, so I hope nobody ever gets elected who decides I'm an energy waster and rations my power. It's already happening with water. I thanked the electric company guy for installing the new meter and apologized for the barking dogs. Somehow I think that this new meter isn't going to lower my electric bill at all.

I had some website updates to complete today, but I have a feeling that the slowdown in my business is permanent. As I watch Dot's slow decline, I am simultaneously witnessing my own decline. I hope I'm not witnessing the decline of my country as well. All I know is that July 20, 1969 was a much better time than July 20, 2016. I know you can't turn back time, but maybe you can change direction.

I canceled Dot's physical therapy session again today. We did increase the length of her walk a little though. So far, she's doing well. This is the kind of progress I understand. Tomorrow, we'll repeat the process and start all over again. In 1969 I was convinced that we'd have colonies on Mars by now. What I didn't know is that 47 years later, my life would be focused around Dalmatians and that the moon would just be a soft light shining through my window.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 2409

As a writer, I find all the talk about Melania's speech interesting. I don't doubt that there was plagiarism involved. Plagiarism is endemic is today's society. If you're a musician, you might call your plagiarism sampling, or perhaps a remix. If you're an artist, you might say you're paying homage to someone. Like it or not, there is very little original thought in this world.

I've been accused of plagiarism myself. Ironically, I wasn't plagiarizing others, I was plagiarizing myself. If you're an advertising writer, you write the same shit over and over again for different people. How many ways can you tell someone that a bank offers friendly service or a hamburger is juicy? Sometimes I like the way I've described something and I'll use it again. I'm not even aware of doing this, but apparently clients aren't very happy if you use the same words more than once. "Oh, jeez, I'm sorry," I'll say and quickly substitute some other adjectives that say exactly the same thing. I guess I'm not surprised that several people might say that if you work hard you can achieve anything you want in exactly the same way. How else would you express this thought? That being said, someone should have run the speech through one of those plagiarism checker websites that teachers routinely use with students papers. As a lazy person myself, I can tell you that there is no real excuse for being lazy. There's no excuse for trying to destroy someone for a few lines of identical text either.

I don't think I was lazy today, but I certainly didn't accomplish anything significant. I did get out of the house at least. I  found a $20 REI coupon in my wallet, so I went to the store and bought another pair of cargo shorts with huge pockets that could hold my cameras when I walked the dogs. T-shirts and cargo shorts has become my new Summer uniform. I'll probably continue wearing a longer version of these things next Winter. Lots of pockets are great.

Dot is still pretty weak, so I canceled her therapy appointment for the second week in a row. We're still just going around the block in the morning. It's not very far, but it seems to be the right balance between getting no exercise at all and becoming exhausted. I wish I knew what I know now when my first Dalmatian was getting old. It takes a long time to learn what dogs are trying to tell you. I think I'm getting pretty good at interpreting Dot's moods and desires, but I've still got a lot to learn. I hope she manages to teach me the wisdom of dogs before Dash gets old. Dash is going to be hard to handle.

I spent quite a while trying to remove some sticky road tar from my car this afternoon. Tar is much more difficult to deal with than dog poop. I don't think I need to worry about anyone plagiarizing me. I've pretty much cornered the market on writing about dog poop. Why would anyone else even want to copy this.

Jade is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 2408

I've been walking more lately. We get up early and take Dot on a walk around the block. Leading Dot on this short, slow journey isn't enough for Dash, so after we return, we feed both dogs their breakfast and then I take Dash on a second much longer walk. We call this our boy's walk. By the time I return from my walk with Dash, Janet has already left for work and Dot is sleeping in her bed.

This is how I start my day. It may not be all that exciting, but it has it's moments. I'm encouraged to see that Dot isn't wobbling as much on our short walks. Maybe, when the weather gets cooler and Dot gets stronger, we can do something a little more ambitious. Until then, I'll continue to daydream as I walk Dash, occasionally noting a strange new bird or a pretty flower. I'll dawdle over my own breakfast when we return, feeding Dot and Dash slices of banana as I drink my morning smoothy. There's no reason to hurry. Life has slowed down for me as well.

I made sure the roof was clear of water this morning because the roofers promised me that they'd come out later this week and patch the bad spots. Will they actually show up? Who knows. They've been making promises for a long time now. Eventually, everything will get fixed. Dealing with roofers teaches you patience. So does dealing with old dogs. I think that I've got a lot of patience, but probably not enough. It's probably only a matter of time before I start saying "get off my lawn" to neighbors.

I watched bits and pieces of the Republican Convention today. What else was there to do? I don't know about you, but I thought Melania was fabulous. She was calm, poised, and reminded me of Jackie Kennedy. The guy who followed her on stage reminded me more of Dr. Strangelove, but I guess everybody can't be a supermodel. Like the Oscars and the Grammys, political conventions are way too long. By the end of the evening, most of the older folks in the audience were falling asleep.

I'm probably putting you to sleep myself, because as you can tell, not a lot happened today. Dealing with what comes after a life of work and meetings is still a mystery to me. Taking care of Dot is tough at times, but it has provided me with a purpose. Tomorrow, I'll keep working on keeping her legs moving, clean up her poop, and probably watch more political speeches while she's asleep. I think they ought to hold both political conventions at the same time so you could just channel surf back and forth between them. As patient as I am, I think watching eight solid days of this stuff would drive anybody crazy.

Beemer is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Day 2407

The most interesting thing I read on the Internet today was something called The Neurotic Eater's Grocery List. I urge you to read it. The provocative little article confirmed something that I have thought for a long time. Practically everything we put in our mouth these days is bad for us. I haven't eaten Tilapia since I learned how the fish are farmed, but apparently Tilapia are actually safer than many other fish. I'm increasingly wary of shrimp. We have become accustomed to eating oranges and strawberries all year long, even though we know that these are seasonal crops. Most of our food is imported now and we don't generally know where it came from or how many pesticides it contains. Humans are so ravenously hungry that we are literally depleting the ocean of fish. We convert prairies into farmland. We suck vast amounts of water out of the ground to irrigate these farms. We use pesticides to increase crop yields. We cut down forests for firewood. This is simply not sustainable. Even the most ardent environmentalists seem reluctant to deal with the real problem. There are simply too many people on this planet.

I have read that some leading scientists think that humans will be extinct in 30,000 years. They are probably right. We are the one species on the planet at the very top of the food chain. Every other animal has to worry about someone else eating them for dinner. This food chain kept everything in balance for millions of years until we came along and claimed everything for ourselves. Without any natural predictors except for other humans, we multiplied too fast, became too greedy, thought too highly of ourselves, and now look where we are. Everything from social unrest to global warming can be traced straight back to too many people trying to share a finite number of resources.

I hate to be gloomy, but I don't see anyone trying to get a grip on the situation. The world is spiraling out of control and the only solution seems to involve searching for Pokémon or looking at cute cat pictures. Whenever there is a police shooting or a terrorist attack, there is a moment of silence and some heartfelt prayers. Nothing changes though. Why is it so easy to say there are too many guns and so hard to say there are too many people?  Why do people who are convinced that every dog or cat on the planet should be spayed or neutered still think it is OK to have ten kids? I just don't get it.

Although the world is certifiably insane, it still has it's pleasures. I enjoyed my walk with Dash this morning. It amused me to see pumpkins growing in the park. I've seen watermelons growing in the park too. The flowers on pumpkin vines are actually quite beautiful. I'll have to watch this patch and see if any pumpkins start growing. I doubt that these are native pumpkins and watermelons I'm seeing. The watermelons are the result of someone's picnic long ago and the pumpkins are the result of my neighbors throwing their rotting pumpkins into the weeds after Halloween to feed the squirrels and rabbits.

I went to the gym and vacuumed the house after I returned, but you knew that already. Dot is still doing well. We walked her around the block again this morning and she didn't stumble at all. As long as I kept the television turned off and refrained from reading my Facebook friends political opinions, this was actually a pretty nice weekend.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Day 2406

This morning, we took Dot all the way around the block again. She did well. This short journey is still only a small fraction of our normal walk, but we're trying not to overdo things. Dot has an amazing ability to bounce back, but she doesn't know her own limits. The goal is to gradually build up her strength and prevent muscle atrophy while avoiding any further injuries. It's a balancing act.

I mowed the grass this morning to avoid having the worst looking house on the block. I think I should get extra points for doing the chore myself. A few folks up the street push their own mowers, but just about everyone else uses a landscaping service. Mowing isn't fun, but it is good exercise. My activity tracker says I burn more calories mowing than I do at the gym.

When I put the mower away, I noticed that the portable generator was covered with dust and spiderwebs. I bought the thing a couple of years ago and we haven't had a major power outage since. If this unused generator has brought me luck, then it was a good purchase. Since I hadn't started the thing in over six months, I drug the heavy machine out in the back yard and fired it up. I'd test it more often if it had an electric starter. The generator starts with a manual pull cord and I have a bad shoulder, so that's why it gathers dust. With a little effort, I got it running for a few minutes and then put it away. We'll probably see each other again in another six months.

Dealing with the generator made me realize how many other things there were that I hadn't looked at in a long time. I recharged batteries in a two-track field recorder that hasn't seen use since I used to shoot videos at major trade shows and then moved on to my back up still cameras. If I kept all the gadgets in my office charged and ready to go, it would be a full time job.

I need to decide whether to take Dot back to therapy next week. She's been doing surprisingly well for the past two weeks without it. I think walking in the underwater treadmill helps her, but she's become so difficult to transport that frequently the long ride in the car cancels out any benefits she might receive from therapy. Also I wonder if there might be a placebo effect to taking her to the vet every week. I know that I feel better when I have a chance to talk with someone knowledgeable about Dot's condition, but maybe the whole experience helps me more than it helps Dot. This would all be a lot easier if Dot could talk. I'll have to think about this. Dot is doing pretty well without the therapy though.

I'll probably go to the gym tomorrow. Like Dot's therapy, I wonder if going to the gym once a week does any good at all. Logic tells me than I probably need to work out a lot more often. Maybe there's a placebo effect going on here as well. If I think I'm doing some good, maybe my body actually believes me. It's complicated. I do know that water therapy once a week and a good workout once a week is all I have time for. I guess I can live with that.

Laura is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 2405

Things didn't go exactly as planned today. My blood test took forever. The clinic wanted me to fill out new paperwork. Why? "I've been coming to see you guys for over fifteen years," I said. "And nothing has changed. "Oh, we're just updating our records," a nurse told me. I guess she didn't understand. As I said, nothing has changed.

I asked the guy drawing my blood what my blood type was. I've had hundreds of blood tests, and I still don't know what my blood type is.  "Oh, we don't normally do this test," he told me, "because insurance won't pay for it." You've got to be kidding me. I find it hard to believe that insurance will routinely pay for dozens of weird esoteric tests that might not have any real value, but they won't even tell you what your blood type is.

The weather looked fine when I arrived at the clinic early this morning. By the time I left, there were dark, ominous looking storm clouds to the North of me. I checked the weather radar on my phone and they were definitely headed my way. Since my storm phobic dogs were home alone, I decided not to go out for breakfast this morning and headed straight home. Five minutes after I pulled into the driveway, the wind picked up and a major downpour started. It's been a long time since we've had this much rain in July.

The refrigerator is always pretty empty at the end of the week, but I did manage to find a package of toaster waffles in the freezer. I would have preferred Eggs Benedict, but frozen waffles will have to do this week. Breakfast wasn't all that great, but the dogs were glad to have me around. Dot and Dash both stayed calm and by noon the unexpected rain was over.

It's seems like there's a new catastrophe every day. Today there was a military coup in Turkey. This is so confusing. The Turkish army wants to preserve the country's secular heritage, destroy ISIS, and restore democracy, which is something you'd think we'd approve of. The current elected president is well on his way to becoming a dictator and is doing his best to turn Turkey into an Islamic state. So, who does our president support? Well it isn't the army. It wouldn't be the first time we picked the wrong side. It's almost impossible to tell who the good guys are in the Middle East anyway. Maybe there aren't any good guys.

I'm starting to see Jimson Weed flowers in the park. This plant always makes me nervous because it is so toxic. All parts of the plant are highly poisonous and you definitely don't want your dogs to be eating them. People have died from mistakenly using Jimson Weed leaves to brew tea, or from eating the roots. It's odd that the flowers are so pretty. Nature can be deadly, but I'm still more worried about people.

Lots of poop to clean up today. I guess with everything I've been seeing on TV lately, this is a very minor problem.

Lizzy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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