Sunday, December 17, 2017

Day 2915

Our power is out. I'm better prepared than I used to be, but power outages are always a hassle. It doesn't help that it's cold outside today. I can already feel the temperature dropping in the house. We're got lights this time. During our last power outage I discovered that the LED light panels I use for video production will run for a long time on Anton Bauer batteries. They're really bright too. I've got backup power for the laptop and phones, along with an alternate source of WiFi. If they restore the power tonight, everything is fine. We've had power outages last as long as four days though, so we're not out of the woods yet.

The main problem I've had so far is that I forgot my Google password and couldn't access my Blogger dashboard from the laptop. I didn't want to reset the password because then I would have to use the e-mail on the laptop to confirm the new password and thousands of messages stored on the server would come flooding into my mailbox as soon as I opened it. Luckily, I have a pretty hefty backup battery, so I fired up the big desktop computer for a while, just so I could retrieve my Google password. I probably expended twenty minutes of battery life by doing this, but now I'm online.

Before the power went out it was a fairly normal day. We walked Dash, ate breakfast, and did our Sunday chores. I had plenty of time to go to the gym and wonder about the meaning of life while I exercised. Whenever I go to the gym I become very aware of how repetitive everyday life is. It always takes me 62 minutes to complete my workout. If I took me 66 minutes, I would think something was wrong. Much of my day is this way. I brush my teeth the same way every evening. I go to bed at the same time. The same ingredients go into my smoothie every morning. Everything is as familiar as the steady pace I maintain on the treadmill while I'm at the gym.

Dash is the wild card. Something is always changing with Dash and this is probably why I worry so much. Does it mean anything if his poop gets soft or his appetite changes? Dash has so many things wrong with him that I'm sure that everything I observe means something. You'd have to be a highly trained vet to intrepret these subtle clues though. Most of the time I'm just guessing. Today Dash seemed fine. He ate all his breakfast. He had lots of energy on his walks. Actually, Dash is pretty consistent. There are just occasional moments of raw panic when something goes wrong.

I don't know why I thought we were through with power outages. Tonight was a reminder that just because things are going smoothly doesn't mean that problems won't return. Problems always return. When I got a new roof I thought I'd never have roof problems again. That honeymoon didn't last long. The sad fact is that sometime when I least expect it, the car won't start. Someday another water pipe will break. Someday, I'll be rushing Dash to the emergency room again. That's just the way life is.

I took some satisfaction in how well prepared I was tonight. We weren't sitting in the dark. The oven didn't work, but we had plenty of vegetables and Janet fixed a delicious salad for dinner. My backup power sources worked perfectly. After dinner, Janet watched Netflix movies while I wrote tonight's blog entry. If it wasn't for the fact that the entire neighborhood was completely dark, it was just a normal Sunday evening.

Hopefully, our power will be restored soon. I've got plenty of sweaters, but I do like a warm house. I wonder if I could make my smoothie using the backup batteries. Maybe not. That Vitamix is one powerful blender.

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Day 2914

The weather turned nasty today. As the day progressed, it continued to get colder and around mid-afternoon it started to rain. Since it rarely snows in Dallas, this is how I remember Winter. There is something about a cold winter rain that is particularly miserable. It's hard to warm up on days like this. Since Janet doesn't like me to crank up the heat, I'm walking around the house wearing a wool skullcap and duck down camping booties. I need to find the little ceramic heater I keep under my desk in the winter. The little electric heater works like gangbusters but I've become reluctant to use it as I grow older. I'm much more forgetful now and I'd hate to start a house fire by forgetting to unplug the thing when I go to bed at night. Dash is also a problem. He likes to sleep under my desk during the day and I don't want him to inadvertently burn himself. For the moment, the wool hat is doing a fine job of keeping me warm.

What's the one thing you should never do on a rainy day? Maybe you should avoid washing the car. Well, that's exactly what I did this morning. In my defense, it wasn't raining earlier in the day, but I kind of knew the rain was coming. What can I say. I like a clean car. I'm definitely less likely to go anywhere tomorrow. The car will probably just sit under the carport until everything is dry again.

We had a nice walk this morning, but Dash and I got caught in the rain on our afternoon walk. We should have made it home before the rain began, but I keep forgetting how slow Dash has become. Dash used to speed up when it started to rain. Now, he just keeps poking along, smelling every wet bush along the way. Rain must intensify smells, because Dash spends a lot more time smelling things on rainy days. When we got home, I dried Dash off and threw our wet gear in the dryer. I still haven't warmed up yet.

One of the many things I dislike about winter is that it's much harder to find the dog poop in the yard. The poop blends in with all the leaves on the ground and just disappears. When Dash goes out at night, I have to mark the spot with a colorful piece of plastic. Otherwise, I'll never be able to find it in the morning. There's always one surefire way to find poop in the yard. Just wander around the yard for a few minutes and it will inevitably wind up on your shoes. Yes, I got dog poop on my shoes today. It kind of fit the mood of the day.

I used to watch movies on cold winter days, but the only thing I'm even vaguely interested in seeing is Bladerunner 2049 and it won't be available for streaming until sometime next year. Remember how excited I used to be about Dr. Who? I'm not even interested anymore. I didn't watch the last season at all and I doubt that I'll watch the new season either. I don't know if the show has changed or I have changed, but the writing seems terrible now. The show doesn't seem whimsical or inspired. It just seems stupid. Of course, the shows I do watch seem stupid too, but I just use them to go to sleep. Nothing puts me to sleep quicker than an old episode of Perry Mason or The Twilight Zone that I've seen ten times already.

If the weather clears up, I'll go to the gym tomorrow. If the weather gets worse, I'll take a nap with Dash. Sounds like a plan to me.

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day 2913 - Blogiversary

I have no idea why I sat down on this day in 2009 and started a blog. On my very first post, I promised to write something new everyday for at least six months. That initial six months came and went and I just kept on writing. I can't imagine stopping now. So far, I haven't missed a single day. Blogging for 3000 consecutive days now seems within reach and if I'm lucky enough to live that long, I still hope that I'll have something to say on Day 5000. It's been a long journey. Priorities have changed. Aches and pains have increased. Several beloved dogs have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. There are fewer observations about work and more ruminations about social security. I'm growing older, but unfortunately I don't feel any wiser. We all learn from our experiences, but few of us learn enough.

Dot and Dash were young and healthy when I started writing. Now only Dash remains and he is quickly becoming old and frail. Surprisingly, my own health is actually better. I had Hepatitis C when I started blogging and now I don't. Sovaldi wasn't even invented yet in 2009, so occasionally waiting for a cure is the right thing to do. I no longer travel to Europe to work on ad campaigns for international corporations. Truthfully, I no longer work on much of anything. Blogging isn't popular anymore, but that doesn't seem to matter. I'm sure I'll keep on writing even if nobody is reading.

Today was a typical Friday. I took Dash for a walk after Janet left for work and had to change course on the way home after another encounter with a loose dog. Why are there so many loose dogs now? This dog might have been friendly but I wasn't going to take any chances. I've been bitten too many times. So has Dash. I still go out for breakfast on Friday mornings, but I've never found a replacement for the now defunct restaurant that got me started on this ritual. My appetite isn't what it used to be. The first few bites this morning were delicious, but I couldn't finish my meal. I need to find a place that will let me order from the children's menu.

The small compact camera I always carry while walking the dogs broke today. This was frustrating because there are no camera repair stores in Dallas anymore and I knew that sending the camera back to the manufacturer for repair would cost more than buying a new camera. I had nothing to lose, so I tried to fix the camera myself. I carefully disassembled as much as I could and looked inside with a watchmakers loupe. I saw a tiny sliver of plastic that seemed to be blocking an electrical connection. Using the smallest pair of watch repair tweezers I could find, I carefully removed the plastic and put the camera back together again. Amazingly, it works.

Dash is still doing well. He has more energy now and has even started getting me up in the morning like he used to. I don't think we'll ever be able to get him to eat dry food again, but that's OK. We've found a way to keep him eating and that's all that counts. He hasn't thrown up recently and there seems to be fewer vestibular incidents. Let's hope this trend continues.

I haven't been to the gym recently, but maybe I'll find time this weekend. This time of year is always pretty hectic.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Day 2912

I'm done with the roof for a while. I applied the last of the elastomer coating this morning. I've applied twelve gallons of the stuff so far. I'm guessing that it would take about thirty gallons to cover the entire roof. I've sure I'll end up buying more of the stuff at some point, but now isn't the time. You're not supposed to apply the coating in cold weather and the stuff is very expensive. Whatever I've done so far is going to have to survive until Spring.

If I knew what I know now, I would never have selected this type of roof. It was designed for commercial and warehouse buildings. Old houses in an area filled with large trees are much different. My house has settled over the years and the roof is no longer completely level. Whenever it rains, the low spots fill with standing water. In the Fall, Oak leaves from the backyard trees fall into this water and stain it a dark brown. I'm convinced that the tannin in the leaves causes some sort of chemical reaction that causes the elastomer material to break down and eventually disintegrate. There was a reason that the house originally had a tar and gravel roof. The old tar and gravel performed much better than the new high tech roof solutions people recommend now. Unfortunately, very few people know how to do a tar and gravel roof anymore. They might not even be allowed these days. The tar might be a fire or environmental hazard and the gravel that covers the tar and provides extra insulation adds a lot of extra weight to the top of the house. Tar and gravel roofs, like asbestos, have fallen out of favor.

Although I managed to patch a few more marginal areas on the roof without ruining my clothes, that was about all I accomplished today. I did a little research on my next website project, but I'm not ready to commit to a design. This new project makes me nervous because I think the client is expecting too much. Websites can make it easier for customers to find you or learn about your products, but they can never fix a flawed business plan.

Dash has had several good days in a row. This often lulls me into thinking that he's cured. I know that the vertigo and nausea associated with vestibular disease will return at some point, but for the moment everything is normal again. Dash has a good appetite and isn't as picky about his food. He seems to enjoy taking walks again. This is all good. I have no idea what is happening with the blood clots inside his heart, but at least he's breathing normally at night again. I'm sure that the partial tear in his cruciate hasn't completely healed, but the knee brace seems to help. There are so many things to worry about with Dash that it's no surprise that one of my favorite things is to just take a nap with him and forget about all the medical issues for a while.

I did see some meteors last night. I didn't have the patience to sit out in the cold for long enough to see many, but the meteors I did observe were quite bright. They were also quite fast. If I blinked, I might have missed them. They always say to observe meteor showers you should find a place where the sky is very dark and there are no street lights or passing cars. Then you should let your eyes adjust to the darkness for twenty or thirty minutes before you begin observing. Like that's ever going to happen. If I sat out in the park for thirty minutes at night, I'd probably be eaten by coyotes. I usually run out in the back yard for five minutes and if I don't see anything, I give up.

I've take the trash out to the curb and give Dash his evening pills. Usually Janet gives Dash his meds, but she's at an office Christmas party tonight. My little office doesn't have parties, but I did have an extra cookie for dessert tonight.

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Day 2911

I spend way too much time dealing with some minuscule website problems just to avoid going up on the roof. The weather was perfect. I just didn't feel like dealing with the messy elastomer today. I'll probably regret this later because we don't get that many really warm days in December. Maybe I'll deal with the roof tomorrow, or maybe I'll just decide that it's already good enough to survive the winter.

Dash had a great day. His appetite was good. He was eager to go on a walk. And there were no signs of vertigo or dizziness. You never know from day to day how he's going to feel, but I'm always happy when he has a good day. The only problem we encountered today was another loose dog we saw on our walk. Dash usually notices these dogs before I do and we change our route to avoid them. It's a shame that so many people refuse to keep their dog on a leash. You can't even talk to most of them. They're convinced that they are doing the right thing.

I can't decide whether to go out and look for meteors tonight. This is supposed to be the best night for viewing the annual Geminid Meteor Shower. If I lived in a place with dark skies, the Geminids would probably be spectacular this year. I live in Dallas though and the light pollution in town is terrible. I've only seen one or two meteors the entire time I've lived here. You never know though. Maybe I'll see something when I take Dash out to pee just before we all go to bed.

Today was so uneventful that I looked forward to taking the water bill to the post office. I could pay almost all my bills online, but I still like going to the post office. I haven't even started shopping yet, but there was already a long line of people waiting to mail their Christmas packages. I dropped my envelope in a mail slot and left. I may enjoy mindless trips to the bank and post office, but I hate standing in lines.

I couldn't find anyone to talk about my newly completed website project, so I just went ahead and launched it. I've done this before and it usually takes clients at least a week to even notice that something has changed. Sadly, websites aren't a big deal anymore. They're kind of like Yellow Pages ads used to be. Eventually I'll get some feedback on the site. Hopefully, everyone will like it. It's always nice when people appreciate something you've spent weeks putting together. So, what happens if people hate the new site? Who knows. I guess I could always put the old site back up.

I tried to think what to get people for Christmas this year and I'm coming up with nothing. My mind's a blank. It's too bad that I have no faith in gift cards anymore. Gift cards used to be such an easy solution but I don't think I'll ever buy one again after we got scammed last summer. I asked Janet what she wanted for Christmas and she said she'd like me to clean out my office. That's about like asking me to grow wings and fly.

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day 2910

I think I'm finished with my website project. I haven't shown it to anyone yet, so maybe being finished is just wishful thinking. Let's just say it looks nice, it works, and if the universe was fair, I'd definitely be finished. I have mixed feelings about work these days. I enjoy what I do and still like to stay busy, but I'm so close to retirement that it's getting harder to stay engaged. Does this stuff even matter anymore? I'm not sure.

Dash had me worried today. He was fine until right after lunch and then he abruptly became disoriented and started drooling. For a while I thought he was going to throw up, but he didn't. This was definitely a vestibular event, but it wasn't a severe one. I convinced Dash to take a nap with me and pretty soon he went to sleep. When he woke up a few hours later, he was fine. I wish I knew what triggered these vestibular events. He can go for several months without having any problems at all and then there will be periods where he gets disoriented almost every day. Luckily, his recent episodes don't seem to last more than an hour or two.

I was reluctant to leave Dash today, but there were prescription that needed to be filled. I picked up my own meds first and then went to the vet to get pills for Dash. I'm always worried that Dash is going to throw up right after I give him his pills. Timing is everything now. We've learned that he's more likely to throw up at night, so we've started give him his evening meds earlier. In the morning, we observe him for a while before feeding him anything to make sure he is stable. It's all a bit complicated, but Janet and I are getting better at anticipating when the next vestibular event will occur.

It's still too cold to go back up on the roof, but I managed to get quite a bit done today anyway. Breakfast was a failure again. My morning smoothie still has a weird, thick jello-like consistency. Is this week's fruit not juicy enough? Are the bananas too hard? Have the programmed settings on the Vitamix quit working? I can't figure this out at all. Maybe I'll just fix myself an omelet tomorrow.

Does anybody really know what a bitcoin is? The insane increase in value of these things recently has got me wondering. Is it a scam, or is it the future of money and banking? I still can't understand what a blockchain is and why it is so important. They say it takes a tremendous amount of computing power to make a bitcoin transaction. The whole process apparently uses up so much energy that bitcoin is supposed to be bad for the environment. If this is true, why are people in California fascinated by these things? Are bitcoins even real? Nothing tangible even exists. My own investments seem boring by comparison, but I don't think I'm ready to buy a bitcoin. I'm still getting used to Paypal.

I'll probably start on my next website project tomorrow. I don't have the job yet, but I'll have to put together a proposal. It would be tempting to utilize some of the things I've learned on my current website project before I forget them again. Then there's Christmas.  I haven't even started Christmas shopping. It's hard to shop for people my age and older. We don't really need anything.

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Day 2909

I'm always puzzled when consistency produces inconsistent results. This morning I made my morning smoothie the same way I always do. I dumped the same ingredients into the same Vitamix and turned it on for the same length of time. This time instead of something that resembled a milkshake, I got something that resembled Jello. How did this happen? I debated whether to dump the stuff into a bowl and eat it with a spoon, but decided to just add some more water and run the mixer again. It was a small thing, but I wondered about it all morning.

I wish everything was consistent. There is nothing consistent about taking care of Dash. Every day is full of surprises. It's quite a challenge to get him to eat regular meals. Ever since his last bad vestibular seizure, he's been a very picky eater. We have to keep at least five brands of dog food in the house, because you never know what he'll eat on any given day. He'll eagerly eat something for several days, and then all the sudden, he won't touch the stuff. We've learned to give him a little bite of something before we fill his bowl, because you never know. I think he still has a very healthy diet, but it gets confusing. Today he loved his breakfast, but wouldn't eat the same thing for dinner. If he refuses something, we'll set it aside and see if he'll eat it later. Our refrigerator is full of food waiting for just the right moment.

I got a letter from the government today saying that there will be a cost of living adjustment to my social security payment next year. This was the first increase we've gotten in several years. I was all excited until I read the fine print and discovered that I'll be getting $25 more every month. $25? You're kidding me. I'm sure that will take care of inflation. It still kind of bugs me when I hear politicians call social security an entitlement. Like most people my age, I've paid into social security for my entire working life. It will still be quite a few years before I've taken out more than I put in. Unless I beat the family longevity average, I may never take out more than I put in. It's a shame. If we'd been given the opportunity to take that money that was deducted from our paychecks every month and invest it ourselves, most of us would have done a lot better.

I need to get serious about eliminating sugar from my diet again. I did really well for almost three years, but gradually my sweet tooth has been creeping back. Wheat and grains are almost as bad as sugar because they are converted to glucose so easily by your body. My problem is that I love bread, pasta, pancakes, and almost anything made from grain. I've explored Ketogenic and Paleo diets but they seem way too extreme for me. They are also a lot of trouble. There should be more healthy eating restaurants where you can explore delicious, sugar free low carb meals without a lot of trouble. Maybe these places already exist, but I just don't notice them because I'm too distracted by pancake houses and barbecue joints.

I took a ridiculously small check to the bank today and send out my December invoices so I'll get some more ridiculously small checks next month. I'm glad I had some good years, because this is no way to run a business. I don't know how young people in my line of work survive these days. Everybody thinks they're a photographer or filmmaker and a host of things that used to be lucrative for creative people like me are now expected to be free. If I had a kid I'd tell them to learn how to repair robots. That's where we're headed.

A loose dog in the neighborhood chased Dash and I last week. The owner came running after the dog and nobody was hurt, but now Dash won't walk down that street anymore. Sad. Little by little, our world keeps contracting.

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day 2908

The Christmas tree is up. It's a small tree and all the ornaments are Dalmatians. Periodically new ornaments are added and occasionally ornaments are removed. Most of the Dalmatians with angel wings are now sitting on top of the little urns on the coffee table that contain the ashes of Spot, Petey, Greta, Mindy, and Dot. We don't put presents under the tree anymore. Once the dogs realized that many of them contained treats for them, they wouldn't leave the packages alone.

Before I could deal with the Christmas tree, I had to remove all the equipment from yesterday's photo shoot. I put away the things that had a place in the office and took the rest of the stuff to the storage warehouse. Every time I visit my storage space, I  realize that the day is coming when I'll have to come to terms with all this clutter. The warehouse has become a black hole that sucks up everything I can't figure out what to do with. There are a few treasures here and there, but most of the stuff is old equipment that isn't useful anymore, but will never be collectible either. It will take an enormous amount of energy to clean this place up and I'm not sure I'm up to the task.

With all the Santa Paws gear out of the way and the Christmas tree in place, I realized that the house was very dirty. I spent the rest of the day vacuuming, changing sheets, and cleaning dog blankets. Dash's protective boots were starting to look threadbare, so I repaired them too. The house doesn't really look much better, but at least I tried.

When we took Dash on his morning walk, there were lots of people preparing for the BMW Dallas Marathon. This used to be called the White Rock Marathon, but I guess everything has a corporate sponsor now. I'm not a runner, but this was definitely a beautiful day for a race. It is almost a tradition to have terrible weather for this marathon. Our house is fairly close to the course and we've watched runners compete in pouring rain many times.

When I returned to the park for Dash's afternoon walk, the same crews that were setting up things things this morning were tearing everything down again. By tomorrow morning, all the signage, rest stations, and temporary parking will be gone. I like the park best when nothing is happening and all I hear are ducks quacking. Our walks are really the only time when Winter weather is welcome. Our dogs have always liked cooler weather and I like the fact that the bicycles virtually disappear. On nice days there are bicycles everywhere and I have to be careful that we don't get run over. On chilly days, Dash and I have the park to ourselves.

Dash didn't have a Cerenia pill yesterday and he still seemed completely normal today. This is good news. I'm sure that Dash will have a vestibular episode again, but maybe he can catch a break and enjoy a few months as a normal dog. This disease never really goes away, but the symptoms can subside for months at a time. Dash is lucky that he still seems to be able to recover from these periodic episodes. Some dogs don't.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. There are lots of things around the house that still need attention and I'm not finished with my website project either. There are fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and bananas for my morning smoothie, so I guess we'll start there.

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Day 2907

Another year of Santa Paws has come and gone. Today was a big success and I'm pretty sure that we photographed even more dogs than we did last week. We had a several very large dogs today, one cat, a very well behaved baby, and a chinchilla. I don't think I've ever seen a chinchilla before. They have large ears and look like someone tried to breed a rabbit with a rat.

We photographed quite a few Dalmatians today. Dalmatians are very photogenic, but they have lots of energy. Every year I always have at least one photo of a Dalmatian flying through the air trying to escape from Santa's arms. A nervous Husky was the only dog who peed on the backdrop this year and nobody knocked anything over. I operate the strobes on low power now and move the lights in a little closer to get the same exposure. By babying the equipment this way, maybe I can squeeze one more year out of it.

I was pleased at how well things went this year. We've been doing these Christmas pet pictures for almost a decade now and there are few disaster anymore. We've definitely learned how to photograph dogs. I'm not as nimble as I used to be but I feel foolish even mentioning my somewhat minor aches and pains. Our leader had knee replacement surgery last week and it didn't seem to slow her down a bit. Every year I wonder how much longer we can continue doing this. Judging by how well things went today, I think we'll be back next year.

I feel bad about leaving Dash at home so long when we do these photo shoots, but there is no other alternative. Janet and I are both needed at these events and Dash hates riding in the car. He seemed fine at home today. There were no vestibular events and every time we checked him on the baby monitor, he was just sleeping on the bed. It was a very long day, but Dash still got a walk just before sunset. It was amazing he got a walk at all today. Janet left for home earlier than I did, but we both got caught in a horrible traffic jam on the freeway. There was an accident and it took over an hour to inch our way past the wreck.

The photo equipment is still piled up in the hallway, but I'm going to get organized tomorrow and take it all back to the storage warehouse. I don't do many photo shoots anymore and there's a good chance that this stuff won't be needed again until next year. As soon as I get all the clutter cleared away, it will be time to put up the Christmas tree.

I doubt if I'll make it to the gym this week. I might not even make it to the grocery store. There's so much to do that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe Dash will let us sleep in tomorrow morning. That would be nice. I think I'll sleep well tonight. I'm very tired.

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

Day 2906

It was so cold this morning that we decided Dash needed a sweater in addition to all the regular gear he wears on walks. I'm surprised he could move after we got him all bundled up. The sweater went on first. Then the Ruffwear harness was placed on top of the sweater. The knee brace attached to the harness and then came the socks. Finally, the rubber boots were placed over the socks and Dash was ready to go. We had to adjust several straps so all this would fit properly, but Dash took it all in stride.  He doesn't resist wearing this gear at all. I think he realizes that he is more sure footed now and that he can walk with more confidence. I hope he appreciated the sweater too, because it was only 28 degrees this morning.

I didn't go out for breakfast this morning because I had a meeting scheduled. I was a little worried about leaving Dash, but he slept well last night and had a lot of energy this morning. There were no visible signs that he was still having problems with his vestibular disease, so I decided it was OK to go.

It was kind of weird to have a business meeting again. I used to do this almost every single day and now it's all becoming a distant memory. The project sounded interesting and I hope I get the job. There is a website involved, but it's really more of a rebranding project. After a while my brain kicked into gear and I started spitting out ideas. It was almost like old times again. The meeting lasted a lot longer than I though it would, but when I got home Dash was fine. He woke up when I opened the front door, but it was obvious that he'd spent most of the morning sleeping on the bed. It didn't take him long to let me know he was ready for lunch. I'm really glad he's finally getting back to normal.

I was hoping to finish my website project today but that didn't happen. My morning meeting threw me off schedule for the rest of the day. By the time I fed Dash, took our regular afternoon walk, and did a few errands around the house, the day was over. I was feeling good that it was Friday and the long week was almost over and then I remembered that we've got another Santa Paws photo shoot tomorrow.

Most of the equipment is already packed and ready to go. All I had to do today was recharge the camera batteries. I'm glad that we didn't get snow like the Southern half of the state. I've got a long drive in the morning and it's going to be a lot easier on dry roads. I'll need to remember to dress warmly. Santa always gets hot inside his heavy red suit, so that means I'm almost always cold. I'm used to cold though. Both Janet and Dash like a cold house. I'm just the opposite. I'm wearing a jacket now and wishing there was a furnace vent under my desk.

The doctor I saw earlier this week called with my test results. Everything is fine. I've had some major health problems over the years, but most of them have been resolved. I wish I could say the same for Dash. He has a fabulous team of doctors and we do everything we can, but our little guy has never really been healthy. We think he probably came from a puppy mill, but like any rescue dog, we'll never know his early history. Dash might not have been dealt a good hand at birth, but we're doing our best to make sure he stays in the game. He's happy and comfortable now. We've all just got to keep taking things one day at a time.

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Day 2905

It's supposed to freeze tonight. This isn't supposed to happen in Dallas, but here we are again. The Farmer's Almanac predicts a cold, snowy winter this year. I hope they aren't right. Cold weather is infrequent, so I'm usually not well prepared. I remembered to take the battery out of the electric lawn mower and bring it inside. One year I forgot and the battery was destroyed. I remembered to set the faucet on drip in the greenhouse for the same reason. One year I forgot and the pipes broke.

I really didn't want to go up on the roof today because it was so cold. I remembered what can happen when ice builds up on the roof though, and reluctantly cleared away all the standing water. It was a miserable job, but the good news is that the patches I've made recently appear to be solid. I wish I'd used up all the elastomer material now. The small amount that is still in the container probably won't be usable after a freeze. There used to be potted plants I would bring inside for the winter, but they are all dead now. I guess I'm as ready for cold weather as I'll ever be. I just hope that we don't have a power outage this winter. Some of my worst memories are of sitting inside a freezing house for four days, waiting for the power to be restored after an ice storm.

Dash woke us up last night to go outside, but luckily he wasn't sick. He just needed to poop. Even though he slept well, he still seemed a bit shaky this morning. He took a shorter walk than normal and didn't eat all his breakfast. Often it takes quite a while to fully recover from a vestibular event. When Dash is agitated of frightened, he doesn't like to be alone. I usually curl up with him on the bed until he relaxes and goes to sleep. Then I sneak off to the office and try to get some work done before he wakes up again.

I did some more work on my website project today. I suppose it's time to show something to the client, but I know as soon as I take that step, the fun is over. No matter how beautiful or functional I think things are, clients always want to change something. I didn't spend a huge amount of time selecting images for this project because I know that they are probably just placeholders. Pictures are so easy to change that they are never sacred. The best thing about this project is that the client wants to manage things themselves. When I hand over the keys, I'm probably done.

I finished all the left overs yesterday, so I made some pasta with whatever I could find in the refrigerator. I'm always surprised how tasty my desperation dinners are. Whole wheat noodles, Italian sausage, carrots, cucumbers, and tamarind sauce actually go together quite well. I'm too lazy to be much of a cook, but when I make an effort, the results are usually delicious.

I've got a rare client meeting tomorrow morning. I wish Dash had fully recovered by now, but as of this evening he seems a lot better. We'll see how he is in the morning. If he's shaky, I can always cancel the meeting. There just aren't any projects that matter that much anymore. Dash comes first. I hope Dash is feeling good tomorrow. It would be nice to make a little extra money.

Humphrey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day 2904

I can't resist taking a picture of Dash next to a fire truck. I have no idea who was being carried out on a stretcher, but it happens a lot in our neighborhood. We're all getting older.

We had our own medical emergency last night. Dash experienced a severe vestibular event and we were up half the night with him. In the past we have taken him to the emergency room when he has one of these episodes, but there is little if anything the vets can do. Now that we recognize the symptoms, we just try to keep him calm and ride it out. The vestibular episodes almost always start the same way. Dash will wake up during the night after sleeping calmly. Usually we will immediately notice that he is drooling. Since drooling is sometimes a precursor to throwing up, I'll take him outside. If he doesn't throw up and seems disoriented and unsteady on his feet, it is often the start of a vestibular seizure. Dash drooled a river last night and was very agitated for about an hour. When he started to calm down, we got him to lay down on a rug in the living room and I curled up next to him. I could tell his breathing was becoming more regular and in about fifteen minutes he fell asleep. I stayed with him until the drooling completely stopped and he seemed normal again. Then I eventually went back to bed. Later that night, Dash woke up and came back to bed with us. He was fine. I was tired the next morning though. I didn't get much sleep.

Vestibular disease is scary, because there is so little you can do. We keep a supply of anti-nausea pills on hand in case he shows signs of vertigo, but the pills don't take effect immediately. The main benefit of the Cerenia pills is if the vestibular events last for several days. The last time we experienced an event this bad was during the summer. Today Dash was completely normal. He ate well and took both of his regular walks. The vestibular disease never really goes away, but episodes like Dash experienced last night are infrequent. We've got enough to worry about with his heart problems. I hope he doesn't have another seizure for many months.

The weather was chilly again today, but there was no rain. I didn't go anywhere because I wasn't completely sure if Dash was back to normal yet. I'd hate for him to have a seizure when I wasn't there. There was plenty to do around the house. I returned to work on my website project and made a lot of progress. I think last night really tired Dash out because he slept a lot today. I always let sleeping dogs lie. It's the only way I get anything done. The website is looking pretty good now. I'm just about ready to turn it over to the client.

I had to renew a domain today and had a real problem turning off the auto-renew feature on my account dashboard. I hate auto-renew because very often I don't want to renew something again. At any rate, when I renewed the domain, my credit card information got captured by the website and all of the sudden I was a perpetual customer again. Damn. It took sitting on hold with tech support for almost an hour before I was able to talk with someone and get the problem resolved. A word of warning. If you sign up for Sirius XM radio, don't ever check the box that lets them auto-renew your subscription. They make it so difficult to leave that you're practically a customer for life.

I'm hoping I can finish the website tomorrow. I'm also hoping that Dash is back to normal. Sometimes the vertigo can last for several days. We gave him another Cerenia pill to help him sleep calmly tonight. I won't need a pill to get to sleep. I'm so tired that I'm falling asleep right now.

Emma is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Day 2903

If I made a chart that showed my productivity on the x-axis and the outside temperature on the y-axis, you could clearly see that the colder it gets, the less I accomplish. It was so cold today that I spent most of my time wondering if I should wear a warmer sweater. My office is on the opposite side of the house from the utility room, so the warm air from the furnace has already cooled down quite a bit by the time it makes its way through the the vent system. If I turn the furnace up enough to warm this room, the rest of the house is impossibly hot. Janet and Dash like the house cooler anyway, so I'm basically screwed.

The only good thing about the colder weather is that Dash enjoys his walks more in the Winter. Even though he was sick yesterday, he was eager to walk today. I have plenty of warm coats, so chilly walks are never a problem. I hate to sit at the computer wearing a down jacket and a wool hat though, so I'm always adding and subtracting sweaters. I never seem to be happy with the weather. It's always too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or too dry.

It was certainly too cold to go up on the roof today. It rained a lot last night, but the standing water will have to sit there for a while. It's hard enough working on the roof when it's warm. When it's cold, it seem downright dangerous. I hope I did a good job with the repairs I've been making for the past several weeks. This is the reason I continue to patch the roof.  The elastomer coating just needs to stay waterproof until the next warm, dry day.

It's easy for me to forget what day it is. I kept thinking it was Monday today. Probably just having a slightly different schedule yesterday was enough to throw me off. At any rate, I spent much of the day doing typical Monday errands. I went to the bank, paid some bills, and picked up some more Cerenia pills for Dash at the vet. It was a slow day, so I also wrote a letter to my sister.

I needed to order some more checks while I was at the bank and the lady I talked to tried to convince me to stop using paper checks. "We've got better ways to pay now," she told me. "Better for you," I kept thinking. What's wrong with paper? Everyone keeps trying to get me to go paperless. When the bank officer was telling me that using your phone to pay was more secure, I just rolled my eyes. Jeez. Virtually all security breeches are electronic in nature. Those Equifax hackers certainly didn't steal a huge pile of paper.

Dash seems fine today. Maybe it was the anti-nausea pills, or maybe his vestibular disease symptoms are over for a while. This is a frustrating disease because the symptoms come and go without warning. We're never really sure what makes him sick and what causes him to get better. I think the anti-nausea pills help, but since he can't keep taking them forever, we kind of just guess at when he really needs them.

It's supposed to be even colder tomorrow, so it may be time to find the little ceramic heater I keep under my desk in the Winter. In many ways it would be a lot easier to just use a laptop at the kitchen table in the Winter, but whenever I'm in the kitchen, Dash thinks it's time to eat. I could never get any work done in the kitchen. I actually hope that Dash is barking in the kitchen tomorrow. When he's acting this way, it usually means he's feeling pretty good.

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, December 4, 2017

Day 2902

Dash threw up again today. This has to have something to do with his vestibular disease. Otherwise the symptoms just don't make sense. Everything will be fine and then all of the sudden he will appear very distressed and throw up everything he has eaten recently. Lately, this seems to happen about one a month. This morning Dash ate his normal breakfast, took a nice walk and then retired to the bedroom to take a nap. This is what he does every day. When he woke up from his nap, he went straight to the back door and scratched to get out. After eating some grass, he came back inside, took another short nap, and then puked all over the carpet. While I was cleaning up the first mess, he puked again in the living room. After that, he was fine for the rest of the day.

I was getting ready to go to the doctor when Dash got sick, so I got out some soft blankets and confined him in the hallway while I was gone. It was hard enough cleaning vomit off the carpet the first time. I definitely didn't want to do this again today. This seemed to be a fairly major episode, so I also gave him a Cerenia pill. When I returned from my doctor's appointment, Dash was sleeping calmly on his blanket and everything seemed fine again. I wish someone could tell me exactly what is going on, but we may never find the answer. I'm pretty sure that this is not another hidden cancer, because we have had him scanned from nose to tail. There are no suspicious growths or tumors anywhere. The vertigo that accompanies a vestibular event can definitely cause a dog to vomit. There's a good chance that this is what is happening. Since there is no real cure for vestibular disease, Dash's doctor says to expect periodic vestibular seizures for the rest of his life.

When I switched primary care physicians, I decided to switch the specialists I see as well, so everyone would be affiliated with the same hospital. Today I had an initial visit with my new urologist. This guy was so much better than the doctor I was seeing previously that it made me wonder why I stayed loyal to my old doctors for so long. All doctors aren't the same and the differences between a good doctor and a bad doctor are enormous. So far, I think my decision to upgrade the quality of my medical care has been a wise one. I just should have done this sooner.

Janet and I went to a Christmas party at the presidential library this evening. As usual, I didn't know anybody at the event, but the food was excellent. I even had a glass of wine. Janet volunteers as a docent at the library one day a week, so that's how we wind up on the guest list. I was a little worried about leaving Dash at home, but he was perfectly fine when we returned. With any luck, we'll have at least a month before we'll have to deal with the vestibular disease again. Even though each episode can be scary, the symptoms don't seem to last very long. I just hope he never has another serious incident while I'm gone.

It never did rain today. I wonder where the weather app on my phone gets its information? It never seems to be right. I'm glad we had another dry day. The repairs I made to the roof yesterday will have another day to cure properly. I'll be so glad when I finally get these roof repairs finished. I'll be even happier to see Dash get better. He had a rough day today.

Camp is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Day 2901

Dash apparently didn't get the memo about sleeping in this morning. He woke me up every hour on the hour last night to go outside. I thought that he was sick and had a bad case of diarrhea, but when I went out to clean up his poop in the morning, everything was normal. What had caused this strange change in behavior? It had to be being left alone for most of the day. He still got two walks in the park and all his regular meals yesterday, but they weren't at the regular times he was expecting. Maybe this was enough to throw him completely off schedule. I'd hate to think that I have to do everything at precisely the same time every day just to get a good night's sleep, but maybe it's come to this. The older Dash gets, the less he likes surprises and change. I think I understand how he feels. I don't deal with surprises and change very well either. Not to worry. We'll be back to our regular routine tomorrow morning. It's boring, but it's reassuring to both of us.

Since I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, I kind of stumbled through the day. I didn't feel like cooking, so I ate a leftover breakfast burrito from yesterday's photo shoot. They were pretty good. I asked Janet where these things came from and she said McDonalds. What? I was eating food from McDonalds and liking it. Who would have thought. I can't recall ever being inside a McDonalds. Like Walmart, this is a place I studiously avoid. Maybe I've been wrong all along. Will I be eating Big Macs and McRib Sandwiches a month from now? Who  knows?

We somehow ran out of all the things we buy in bulk at the same time, so the car was pretty full when I returned from the grocery store. The only problem with buying things like paper towels and toilet paper at Costco or Sam's Club is where do you put the stuff when you get home? It took me forever to find a place to store the huge box of toilet paper I got today. I don't think we need to worry about running out for a while.

I've been watching the weather forecast and it looked like today might be my last opportunity to work on the roof before it rains again. I didn't attempt anything major because it might rain as early as tomorrow morning. So far, my patches are looking pretty good. There were a few Oak leaves embedded in the coating I applied yesterday, but I don't think they'll hurt anything. At this time of year, falling leaves are inevitable. We've got two mature Red Oak trees, an Elm tree, and two Live Oaks in out backyard. Most of the leaves from these trees winds up on the roof every Fall. It looks like I'm going to have to buy some more coating material again. I've got less than one gallon left. I've applied ten gallons of the stuff already and there are still large expanses that I haven't even touched. At $40 a gallon, I'd hate to even think how much it would cost to re-coat the entire roof.

I've got a doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon and Janet and I are going to a Christmas party in the evening. This leaves just enough time to walk Dash and drink my morning smoothie. Luckily, I'm actually ahead of schedule on my website project. I'd like to think I'm done, but you're never really done on these type of things. I'm going to try to get a good night's sleep tonight, but that all depends on Dash. When I took him out to pee a little while ago, I took a look at tonight's super moon. I guess it did look a little bit bigger, but I definitely wouldn't call it super. Anything within 10% of its normal size all looks the same to me.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Day 2900

One down, one to go. Today's photo shoot went well. The dogs were friendly. The owners were happy. And all the equipment worked. It's always a good day when nobody pees on the backdrop and Santa doesn't get bit. I can't even remember how many years we've been doing this, but some people keep coming back year after year. I've watched their dogs grow from puppies to senior citizens. We didn't have any exotic animals today, but we did photograph one cat. In recent years, people have started bringing their children to these events for Christmas pictures. Everyone says we are so much easier to deal with than the Santa at the mall. Some children were chatty and gave Santa a long list of what they wanted for Christmas. Others seemed terrified. I'm no psychologist, but the kids with dogs in their family seemed the most relaxed. Having a dog makes everything better.

I had the usual aches and pains from kneeling most of the day, but actually this year seemed easier than last year. Maybe I've reached some sort of a plateau where my body has stopped falling apart for a while. At least I didn't slow the others down today. We were booked solid for the entire day and it was important to keep things moving along. Thankfully, our host built a pause in today's schedule to give our team time to eat lunch. Sometimes this doesn't happen and it can make for a very long day.

I may have gotten a new web design job as a result of today's event. At least I've got a meeting scheduled next week to talk about things. Lately, I'm a little apprehensive about taking on new work. I definitely still need the money, but I'm growing tired of the deadlines and responsibility. I think this means that I'm finally coming to grips with retirement. The day is coming when I will just say "no thank you" to new assignments. I'm not there yet, but I am becoming more gracious about letting someone else get a new account. It's too bad the the stable world of my parents is gone forever. When my Dad retired, he was able to depend on a nice pension for the rest of his life. Defined pension plans have gone the way of the dinosaurs. All we've got now is a stock market that could crash at any moment.

Janet was able to leave the photo shoot a little early, so Dash still got his evening walk. It was pretty late when I got home, but I still went up on the roof anyway and patched the hole I made yesterday before it got dark. The weather forecast is changing and the last thing I wanted was for the roof to get wet before I finished what I started. My patch looks good, so I think I'm going to be OK. Once the roofers discover that I've started buying my own elastomer material, they'll probably never come back. I don't know what else to do though. I really need to get this done.

Tomorrow is going to seem like Saturday. Janet and I still have our weekend errands and grocery shopping to do. I probably won't make it to the gym, but that's OK. I had my workout today. There's probably no point in taking the photo equipment back to the storage warehouse. We've got another Santa Paws event next Saturday.

I'm hoping to sleep in late tomorrow morning. Dash may have other ideas though. It's always easier to do what Dash wants. Maybe this is why our photo shoots go so well. Santa and I have learned to do what the dogs want.

Greta is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, December 1, 2017

Day 2899

I need to stop going out for breakfast on Friday. I'm just not hungry anymore. I'll order something I usually like and then find myself unable to finish it. Dash seems to be having the same problem. He only ate half his breakfast this morning. Both of us are strongly motivated by food, so I don't know what's going on. For the past several months I've been going to a different restaurant every Friday in hopes that something would click. By the time my order arrives, I'm usually wishing I'd just stayed in bed. Maybe that's the answer. Perhaps Dash and I should just sleep in on Friday.

I tested the cameras and the wireless flash triggers this morning and everything works. Actually, I think the only thing that doesn't work is me. I try to remind myself that we only have two events this year. This should be a piece of cake. We used to do many more events during the holidays but we're all getting older. Two is plenty. Janet thinks I'm not friendly enough during these events, but I'll try to keep it together tomorrow. Nobody likes a grumpy photographer or a grumpy Santa.

I finally made it up on the roof today and patched a few more questionable areas. I also found another area where water had gotten under the elastomer, so I peeled the coating off so the damp section could dry. I was planning to re-coat this section tomorrow, but completely forgot that I'll be downtown taking pet pictures. My memory is shot. How could I immediately forget the photo shoot when I'd just spent the previous two hours checking my cameras and lights?  I think everything will be fine. There is no rain in the forecast. I guess I'll just look on the bright side. If I let the damp area dry for two days instead of one, my patch should last longer.

When I was walking Dash this afternoon, one of our neighbors told me that she's seen three adult coyotes walking down her street yesterday evening. Someone else told me recently that they'd seem a half eaten rabbit two weeks ago. I hate to see the coyotes moving back into the park. They were a real problem four or five years ago. I think they disappeared after they ate everything in the area. Now they're back. I wouldn't want to be a bunny this Winter.

I've got to get up early tomorrow if I want to walk Dash, eat breakfast, and take a shower before driving downtown for the photo shoot. I'd go to bed early tonight, but I missed that chance several hours ago. It seems impossible to get eight hours of sleep anymore. At least I'm getting six these days. When Dot was sick, I was barely getting four. Hey, a good night's sleep can work wonders. I'm going to bed as soon as I post this. I know I'm grumpy, but I'm looking forward to seeing a bunch of great people I haven't seen since last year. We're a good team. I still think we do the best Santa pictures in town.

Jada is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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