Sunday, December 31, 2017

Day 2929

The last day of the year turned out to be the coldest day of the year. I almost felt like going to the storage warehouse and retrieving the old parka my Dad used while doing research in Alaska. The coat is over sixty years old, but it still beats anything made today. Maybe some other time. For now it was easier to dress in layers like I always do on cold days. Dash needed his winter coat this morning and we had a lot of difficulty figuring out how to add it to all the other gear he needs to wear these days. The last time it got this cold, Dash was younger and didn't need the special harness and knee brace. We didn't see many other people walking this morning. We are persistent though. It's hard to shut us down.

After breakfast I returned to the grocery store to get coffee and blueberries. How could I have forgotten these essentials? I was glad I didn't have many errands to run, because the fine mist was instantly freezing to my windshield. In northern parts of Dallas people had to deal with sleet and icy bridges, but all we got was a fine mist. That was enough for me. I returned home before the roads got worse and spent the rest of the day watching television and doing laundry.

While I was doing chores I accidentally started watching a show called Our Zoo on PBS. It was quite good, but I didn't realize until later that it was a true story. PBS was having some sort of a New Year's Eve marathon and I ended up watching the entire series minus the first two episodes which must have aired before I turned on the television. It was strangely reassuring that I actually enjoyed this show about George Mottershead and his family's difficulties in starting their own zoo in 1930's England. I was beginning to think I'd gone off the deep end and could only watch science fiction.

My gym is raising it's prices at the first of the year. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but this is disappointing. Everyone is always raising prices. When I got coffee this morning I noticed that the price had gone up as well. I guess I could go to a different gym, but I like my gym. That's what people count on. They want you to get hooked on their product and then they'll gradually keep raising the price until you're ready to explode. There must be a limit to this kind of extortion, but I don't know where it is. Nobody even blinked when Apple started charging $1000 for a phone.

Luckily, some things are still affordable. Janet and I had a big pot of chili for dinner and it was the perfect meal for a cold winter's day. I could tell that Dash wanted a bowl too, but it was much too spicy for a dog. There is a bottle of champagne cooling in the refrigerator, but it remains to be seen whether Janet and I will still be awake at midnight.

Lord knows what's in store for us next year, but I'm going to remain optimistic for the moment. Dash has a million things wrong with him, but on a day-to-day basis he is doing pretty well. I feel better about my own health since I switched doctors. Janet has the best news. She appears to be cancer free. I hope the stock market continues to stay strong. Like most small business owners, I don't have a pension or a 401K. I'm going to need all the market stability I can get in the years ahead. I'm sure that 2018 will be full of surprises. I'll continue dealing with the future one day at a time. This is Day 2929.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Day 2928

This is the time of year when TV stations create short retrospective tributes featuring famous people that have died during the past twelve months. Jeez, these aren't old people anymore. They're my age. Quite a few are even younger than me. How did this happen? I've seen these memorial segments for most of my life and with the exception of musicians who always seem to die young, I always remember these people as being my parent's age. Growing old kind of creeps up on you. One day you're young, and in the blink of an eye you're older than the actors they're showing on the year end memorial clips. I wish everybody were remembered like actors and musicians. My parents deserve to be remembered. So do all my neighbors who have passed away since I moved here. I wonder if I'll be remembered? Probably not. Nobody remembers anything very long these days.

I got a thank you letter from my sister today. She's old school and still sends hand written thank you notes. I probably shouldn't have gotten her a cookbook for Christmas since her chemo treatments give her nausea and she has little interest in eating. It's hard to break with tradition though. I've always given her cooking related things because she's loved cooking for most of her life. Maybe it was an optimistic gift. I can't really imagine her not cooking anymore.

I can't imagine Dash not walking anymore either. He still seems to enjoy his walks, but he's so slow now. The arctic cold front that has gripped most of the nation is headed our way and it kept getting colder by the hour. I was freezing on our afternoon walk, but Dash seemed fine. He actually took a longer walk than he normally does, pausing to sniff every bush along the way. I dressed warmly, but apparently not warmly enough. By the time we returned home I felt like I'd spent the afternoon in a deep freeze. I think I've lived in Texas too long. I don't know how northerners survive these temperatures.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is New Year's Eve. It just seems like yesterday when we were partying like it was 1999 and wondering if the Y2K bug was going to wipe out the world's computers.   Janet and I haven't gone out on New Year's Eve since I played in a band many years ago. Until recently, we always cracked open a bottle of champagne and toasted the New Year. These days we rarely even stay up until midnight. If I'm up at midnight tomorrow night, I'm probably just taking Dash outside to pee.

The Cerenia pills have stopped Dash from vomiting. They are not meant to be a long term solution, so we only give them to him for four days at a time. Some vets say it is OK for dogs to take Cerenia indefinitely, but I'd rather play it safe. Usually after a four day course of the anti-nausea pills, Dash won't throw up again for at least a month. He certainly seemed normal today and had a lot more energy on his walk than I did.

Janet's friends brought back the dog crate they borrowed this afternoon, so I returned it to the storage warehouse. This large crate used to always be in the back of my Defender. It won't fit in my current car though, so I fold it flat and keep it in storage. It didn't seem so heavy when I used to transport rescue dogs. Now, everything seems heavy.

I hope you guys have a Happy New Year. Almost everybody hopes that 2018 will be better than 2017. Maybe it will be.

Penny is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, December 29, 2017

Day 2927

What a weird day. Dash seemed normal when I woke up this morning. Janet and I got him ready for his walk like we always do before she leaves for work. Almost as soon as she was out of the driveway, Dash seemed to freeze in place in the living room. At first I just thought he was being stubborn, but it soon became apparent that he was having a vestibular incident. I carefully took his leg brace and harness off and got a blanket so he could lie down. It took a while before he could relax, but as soon as he did, he quickly went to sleep. I kept an eye on him while I was fixing my breakfast. His breathing was steady and the drooling had stopped. This was a good sign.

About two hours later he woke up and headed for the back door. He was ready for a walk. I thought we'd take a short walk, but Dash wanted to keep going. We ended up taking the longest walk of the year. I couldn't figure out why Dash was so eager to take a long walk after having a vestibular seizure,  but there are a lot of things I can't figure out with Dash. We stopped from time to time so I could check and see if everything was normal. It sure seemed to be. We were both tired when we returned to the house. Dash went to sleep again and I went to work.

I continued watching Dash for a while until I was confident he was back to normal and then I ran a few errands. I picked up some more Cerenia pills for him at the vet and picked up some pants that were ready for me at the tailor. The tailor was busy making alterations on a sweater a guy got for Christmas that apparently was too big. He wanted the tailor to make it smaller so the person who gave it to him wouldn't get insulted that he wasn't wearing it. Why didn't the guy just go to a store and exchange the sweater for a smaller size? Wouldn't that have been easier? The tailor kept trying to explain to the guy that since the sweater was knitted, it would be much harder to alter than a fabric garment. The weird thing was that the sweater looked just fine. As I left the store I told the guy that he might consider just wearing the sweater the way it was. Who am I to say though. I was just picking up a ratty old pair of jeans that I'd had the tailor sew knee patches on.

My Media Composer subscription runs out today, so against my better judgement I renewed it for another year.  I do this every year even though I rarely edit video anymore. Now I have current versions of both Pro Tools and Media Composer. I'm ready for that illusive job that will probably never come my way. Realistically, I should have invested a little money into a refresher course. I'm not sure I even remember how to use this software anymore.

New Year's Day is supposed to be one of the coldest New Years on record. This makes me nervous. I hate holidays where essential services are closed. What if the furnace goes out on New Year's Day? What if Dash gets sick? Our dogs have become ill on major holidays before and it has always been a nightmare. I have gotten so used to a 24/7 world where everything is always instantly available that the thought of going without an HVAC repairman, a plumber, or a vet for a few days is troubling.

I hope that the house stays warm and Dash stays healthy over the holidays. After that, I'll worry about 2018. I never make New Year's resolutions but this might be a good year to start. There are certainly some things that could use improvement.

Petey & Greta are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Day 2926

Dash threw up again today. Just like yesterday there were no warning signs. He slept well. His appetite was good this morning. We had a nice walk and then Dash went to sleep, just like he always does. When he woke up around midday he was hungry. I fed him a light lunch and about five minutes later he began drooling heavily. I knew what was coming. After a few frantic minutes, he threw up everything he'd eaten for lunch and then some. These episodes are always the same. Once he empties his stomach, he settles down quickly. I made him a bed in the hallway with some soft blankets and within five minutes he was asleep again.

Since this has happened two days in a row, we'll give him the Cerenia again. Usually these anti-nausea pills seem to stop the vomiting episodes for a while, but maybe they would have stopped anyway. I don't know what triggers the nausea and I don't know why it stops. We have a major re-check scheduled at the cancer center next week, so I'll ask all my questions again. I don't really expect a definitive answer though. Vestibular disease still seems to be the most plausible diagnosis. If something else is causing all Dash's problems, it's going to be a lot harder to find.

Since the weather is still cold and dreary, I thought I'd watch the movie I downloaded yesterday. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that it is no longer possible to watch a movie in its entirety without disruption. I had to pause the film five times to deal with minor dog emergencies. When Dash is acting weird, I always take him seriously these days. Most of the time he just wants attention or needs to go outside and pee. You never know though. Every day is a potential trip to the emergency room.

Even with multiple interruptions, Bladerunner 2049 was an impressive movie. I guess the reason it wasn't a box office hit was that it is very long and a bit slow. It is definitely a cinematographers movie. Roger Deakins made this dystopian, crumbling world look absolutely beautiful. It's been a while since I've seen the the first Bladerunner, but this sequel did seem to show a lot of respect for the original. If I can find a day when I won't be interrupted, I think I'd enjoy seeing both films again.

While Dash was sleeping this morning, I went out and bought another pair of rubber, wet weather boots. The tire patches I've used to extend the life of the boots I'm using to walk Dash now aren't going to last forever. Maybe it's just the Gemini in me. I always like to have a spare ready to go for everything I use regularly.

I think I'll just stay home and fix French Toast tomorrow. It's been so cold this week that after I finish taking Dash on his morning walk, I don't feel like doing anything else. There is little point to going out to eat if I'm not enjoying the food anyway. Maybe something will rekindle my interest in these Friday morning breakfast excursions, but for now I think my own cooking is better.

The trash has been taken out to the curb. Dash has had his evening meds, including an extra Cerania pill. The only thing left is to watch an old Perry Mason re-run and go to sleep. I know that as soon as I get comfortable and drift off to sleep, Dash will wake up and want to go outside again. That's just how we roll these days.

Dot & Petey are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Day 2925

Not a great day. I had a feeling that Dash was getting sick again when I had to take him outside repeatedly last night. He was a little shaky this morning, but he ate his breakfast and took a morning walk. Around midmorning he began drooling excessively and proceeded to throw up all over the living room floor. I'd like to think Dash just had a few too many Christmas treats, but this sure looks like another vestibular disease episode. We still don't know how to prevent these episodes or predict when they will happen next. The only good thing is that Dash always seems to recover. Dash seemed very tired after he threw up so I got some blankets and made a safe space in the hallway for him to sleep. It's much easier to throw a blanket in the washing machine than it is to clean vomit off the bed.

After a few hours, Dash was back to normal again. Hopefully, he took his morning meds early enough so that they were in his system before he vomited. I wish Dash didn't have these periodic episodes of vertigo and nausea, but I'm afraid they will become the new normal for the rest of his life.

We saw a coyote on our morning walk. Another couple walking their dog warned us about it and sure enough, the coyote appeared ahead of us on the path a few minutes later. It is not uncommon to see coyotes on very cold mornings. Although this one was very close, it didn't appear to be interested in us. I also saw what appeared to be a stray dog down by the lake, but it was much further away than the coyote. I worry about dogs out in the cold like this. It was below freezing when we woke up this morning and the forecast says it will remain cold for the rest of the week.

It was so cold today that I ordered another pair of down booties online. I've been wearing these things to bed lately and they do a great job of keeping your feet warm. The down booties I have now are so old that the feathers are starting to fall out. I figured it was time for a new pair. All the winter coats in my closet were purchased on very cold days. I think the only things on my mind in the winter are eating and staying warm.

I know there is water on the roof, but I'm resisting the urge to remove it. I've learned over the years that the elastomer coating gets very brittle in cold weather and several times I've managed to tear it while sweeping the water away with a push broom. I'm going to need to have faith that the coating will keep the water out as intended and just wait until the weather gets warmer. This is Texas, so I'm sure there will be a warm day within the next several weeks. For now, I'm not even going to look at the roof. I'm sure I'd be alarmed at how much water is actually up there.

I hope Dash is feeling better tomorrow. I had some errands I needed to run today, but didn't feel comfortable leaving the house while Dash was having a vestibular episode. The cold days give me cabin fever, so maybe I'll get out tomorrow. If the weather is bad, I'll watch Bladerunner 2049. I finally downloaded the film today, but didn't watch it. I thought the movie would be more enjoyable if I wasn't distracted by dog vomit.

Taylor is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Day 2924

I kept thinking that it was exceptionally cold today until I turned on the television and realized that Dallas was actually one of the warmer places in the country. When I looked at all the snow that got dumped on Erie, Pennsylvania, this morning's cold drizzle didn't seem so bad. Dash got both his walks today, but it took us a while to warm up afterwards.

I think I'll spend the rest of the winter worrying about the furnace. I hate it when the furnace goes out. This usually happens at least once a winter and it always comes as a complete surprise. The problems vary. Sometimes a component needs to be replaced, but often the furnace is just dirty. I've learned to fix a few things myself, although I prefer to call the HVAC repairmen. I still have a healthy respect for anything hooked up to the gas line.

So far, so good this winter. The car seems reliable. My winter coats are keeping me warm. Dash has gotten used to wearing his protective boots. All is good. Lets just hope the furnace continues to keep the house nice and warm. The dehumidifier has made a big difference. Our windows used to be dripping with condensation at this time of year. Now the only signs of moisture in the house are in the shower.

I found it hard to get back to work today. I tried to do some website updates, but I kept finding myself looking at warm clothing on outdoor equipment websites instead. It didn't help matters that I got a letter from one of my last writing clients saying that he was leaving his job in marketing and starting a new career in accounting instead. I'll miss the guy since we've been working together for many years, but you've got to do what you've got to do. I always understand when someone quits their job. Hey, I'm the guy who's worked at seventeen different ad agencies.

I wish I could control the way the preview picture looked when the blog appears on Facebook or Google+. I like this picture of a Comorant on a rainy day, but I'm almost certain that the head of the bird will be cropped off on the Facebook preview. Why can't they just use the full frame image for the preview photo? Actually, a few years ago the thumbnail images weren't cropped, but then the algorithm got changed. Jeez, a square image looks good. Why do you guys have to force it to become a rectangular image? These are the trivial things I fret about on cold, wet days.

I need to decide whether to renew my Avid Media Composer subscription. I keep getting messages saying that the subscription is about to run out. I did end up renewing Pro Tools, but Media Composer is much more expensive. Do I really need this? Truthfully, I probably don't even remember how to use the software anymore. I keep installing the latest version, but it's been quite a few years since I've used Media Composer to edit projects for a client. For some reason it's proving very hard to walk away from all this.

I certainly won't be using Media Composer tomorrow. If it's as cold as it was today, I won't be doing much of anything. As long as it isn't raining, Dash will get his morning walk. It's good exercise for both of us. I wish I had Dash's ability to sleep for eighteen hours a day. That would make the day go faster. Hey, I have good dreams. I think my dreams are more interesting than watching television.

Dash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, December 25, 2017

Day 2923 - Christmas

I enjoy looking at my Facebook page on Christmas morning. It's a nice change of pace from the evening news to see so many people from all walks of life enjoying themselves and having fun. Since most of my Facebook friends appear to be Dalmatians, I might have a somewhat distorted view of what Christmas is all about. It seems to be a day to wear ridiculous costumes, eat lots of treats, and curl up under warm blankets. This is as it should be. Northern Dalmatians appear to love the snow, but I have had few chances to verify this myself. It was certainly cold this morning, but there was no white Christmas.

Dash seemed to know it was a holiday. He let us sleep in this morning, which is a rarity in our house. We bundled up in warm coats and took a Christmas morning walk before breakfast. It was beautiful outside and we virtually had the park to ourselves because it was so cold. We used to put Christmas bows and colorful scarves on the dogs for their Christmas walk, but that seemed a little much today. Dash has to wear so much protective gear now that he probably couldn't move if we asked him to wear anything else.

We didn't end up going to a Christmas movie after all. The film Janet wanted to see wasn't playing anywhere locally and nothing else seemed appealing. Dash had a weird shivering episode around mid-morning too, so it didn't seem right to leave him for any length of time. These shivering spasms are new. He's not cold when they happen and the shaking lasts a few minutes and then he's back to normal. One more question to ask the vets when he goes back for his next echocardiogram and exam in early January.

Janet started fixing Christmas dinner when I took Dash on his afternoon walk. By the time we returned, the house smelled great. I like a traditional holiday feast. We had smoked ham, candied yams, roasted brussels sprouts, Italian sausage dressing, and a pumpkin pie for dessert. Dash got his own special Christmas dinner from Devon's Doggie Delights. It was a quiet low key day which was exactly what everybody needed. I need to remember to go back to the little smokehouse I discovered. Our Christmas ham was amazing.

Time moves so quickly now. This has been an eventful year, filled with challenges and sadness. So much has happened and yet last Christmas just seems like yesterday. There is no time to waste anymore. Janet and I have already outlived some very good friends. It makes you realize that any day you are still healthy enough to wake up and take a walk through the woods with your dog is a good day.

Tomorrow Janet returns to work and I return to my morning smoothie and a day filled with fixing broken things around the house. I still haven't found a solution to my next website challenge, but I will. I may have slowed down, but you can't count me out yet.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Day 2922

When I went to the gym this morning, it was closed. Weird. I can remember going to the gym on Christmas Eve before. I guess I should have checked to see if there were holiday hours this year. Since this was the only thing I had planned today, I came home and wondered what to do next.

I decided to take a camera and photograph wildlife in the park. I hadn't done that in a long time. The weather was cold and windy, but the light was perfect so I decided to go anyway. Typically, I would see a lot of small animals on a day like this, but all I saw were birds. I think things have changed since the coyotes returned. The rabbits are probably wary now. We frequently see carcasses on our morning walks. Dash is a little too interested in these dead rabbits, but they make me feel sad. The bunnies don't really have a chance against the coyotes.

One thing you notice about wild animals is that they're always eating. Looking for food appears to be a full time job. This was certainly true today. The ducks, the cormorants, the pelicans, and even the little sandpipers were all looking for their next meal.

I used to take longer walks in search of a good photograph, but it was very cold, the camera was heavy, and my foot hurt. I'm getting old. Today's excursion definitely burned just as many calories as I normally expend at the gym and the pictures I came home with were more interesting than the basketballs I photograph at the gym. I should do this more often.

The house smelled good this afternoon. Janet was baking a pie to have with our Christmas dinner tomorrow. When the baking was finished, we gave Dash an afternoon walk. All in all, it was a very quiet day. We used to wrap packages at local bookstores on Christmas Eve, but I don't think Dalmatian Rescue does these type of fundraisers anymore. Once or twice, I remember being caught in nasty snow or ice storms coming home from these Christmas Eve events. Luckily, we don't seem to have this type of weather anymore. The world does seem to be getting warmer. Just not today.

It's a pretty safe bet that the gym will be closed tomorrow too. I'm not sure what we'll do on Christmas Day since we can't spent the entire day eating. Sometimes Janet likes to go to a movie on Christmas. She's mentioned wanting to see Murder on the Orient Express. A lot depends on how Dash is doing tomorrow. A movie seems more interesting than the Dr. Who Christmas Special. Who would have thought that I'd totally lose interest in Dr. Who. Things change I guess.

Whatever we end up doing, I hope that each of you has a very Merry Christmas.

Dash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Day 2921

I went to a local smokehouse and got a smoked ham for our Christmas dinner. I'm quite fond of smoked and cured meats. It's a shame they are so bad for you. They say smoked meats can cause cancer. Unfortunately, just about everything in our modern world can cause cancer. Rather than trying to eliminate all these tasty things from my diet, I've decided that it's OK to enjoy them in moderation.

I have ambiguous feelings about meat these days. I still enjoy a good steak, but I feel guilty about my eating habits whenever I see those cute pictures of pet piglets on my Facebook page. Why does bacon have to taste so good? I've tried to become a vegetarian several times, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like vegetables. My favorite meatless dishes are Indian curries that so spicy you can't really tell what you're eating.

I do think the way pigs and chickens are treated on factory farms is terrible. You have to be honest about where your food is coming from. I know that's it probably just a token gesture to eat grass fed, pasture raised, hormone free meat, but that's where I am right now. There was a flyer in the smokehouse about how well their locally sourced, pasture raised pork is treated. Nevertheless, I'm still eating one of the smartest animals on the planet.

Dogs don't have to deal with all this moral uncertainty. They are natural carnivores who would never turn down an invitation to enjoy a juicy piece of meat. Dash's appetite has definitely improved after we decreased his intake of dry kibble and increased the amount of venison and chicken he gets. Animals are more honest about what they eat than we are. Carnivores eat other animals. Herbivores eat plants and in turn are eaten by the carnivores. This elaborate and seemingly cruel food chain helped keep the planet in balance for millions of years until humans started monkeying around with things. Vegans don't occur in nature. Humans invented the concept when some of us didn't like the fact that we are natural omnivores. I know processed foods are bad for you. I know that 70% of the food on my plate should be plant based. Hey, if I want to get my protein from meat though, that's OK. Food choices should be based on biology, not ideology.

I didn't really do much today, but as you can see, even a quick trip to the smokehouse can provide me with plenty to write about. Dash threw up this afternoon, but I don't think it had anything to do with his vestibular disease. We tried to brush his teeth today and he threw up right afterwards. I think he hated the taste of the toothpaste. It's getting harder and harder to keep his teeth clean now that he is no longer a good candidate for anesthesia.

I went to pick up some meds for Dash at the vet this afternoon and confused the pharmacist by giving him the wrong name for the pills I was picking up. Jeez, I need to stop asking for enalapril when I'm really trying to get amlodapine. Dash takes so many meds that it's easy to get confused. It's easy enough to get confused with my own meds. What did we do before there was a pill for everything?

I can't decide whether to go to the gym tomorrow. It's Christmas Eve, but it's also Sunday. For a creature of habit like me, it's a tough choice.

Ziggy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, December 22, 2017

Day 2920

I spent the day trying to stay warm. Last night's forecast was right. It did end up raining for most of the day. It was a cold rain too. The temperature was in the high 30's, but the wind chill made it feel below freezing. I stayed home and fixed pancakes and sausages this morning. I kept hearing rolling thunder off in the distance. Thunder often triggers Dash's panic attacks and it was pointless to leave the house for a breakfast that I probably wouldn't like anyway. Actually my pancakes were quite good. I should stay home on Friday mornings more often.

Around noon it looked like there was going to be a break in the rain, so I took Dash for a walk. For a dogs that is terrified of rain, he certainly doesn't seem to mind walking in wet grass. We should have had plenty of time before the next storm cell arrived, but Dash was even slower than usual. He wasn't having trouble walking. He just likes to smell things. We ran out of time on the last half mile of our walk and got soaked. I kept telling Dash to hurry up, but he seems to have no idea that rain is approaching until he actually gets wet.

It was bad enough getting caught in the rain once, but the same thing happened again on our evening walk. This time I was almost certain that the rain was over, but another rain cell popped up out of nowhere as we were approaching the house and we got soaked again. Note to self: a down jacket is great in cold weather. Not so good in wet weather.

After I dried Dash off a second time and changed my clothes again, I didn't feel like leaving the house anymore. I needed to go to the grocery store, but luckily Janet said she'd pick something up for dinner on her way home from work. I don't feel like I accomplished much today. Even with weather radar on my phone, I managed to get caught in the rain twice.

Janet and I decided not to exchange gifts this Christmas. There is nothing we need and it seems silly to keep getting things that don't end up being used. Our house is way too full of clutter as it is. We'll get something fun for Dash. He loves food gifts. We probably should have done this a long time ago. Adults can spend a lot of money but it's almost impossible to recreate the sensation of being a kid at Christmas. Christmas is for kids and dogs. I guess it's not surprising that my favorite Christmas memories are childhood memories. I know Christmas is an important religious holiday, but I haven't been inside a church since my Dad's funeral. To me, it mostly seems like a time when people are slightly nicer to each other.

I'm having problems with my new website project. It's not the layout that has me stumped. I can think of plenty of cool designs. I just can't think of a solution that would genuinely improve my client's business. Unless you're in the business of selling things online, a website isn't really a game changer. Sure, you've got to have one, but it will never matter as much as what your customers say to their friends about you. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. I'm going to give this a lot of thought. My client certainly deserves a website that makes a difference. If I had the answer, I'd probably build one for myself too.

I can't wait until it gets warmer again. I know people who love snow and bundling up in sweaters. I'm not one of them

Two sisters are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Day 2919 - Winter Solstice

It didn't seem like the shortest day of the year. It didn't seem like the first day of Winter either, since the temperature was over 70 degrees. Truthfully, it didn't even seem like Thursday. Instead of the sunset walks we used to take at this time of year, we take mid-afternoon walks now. I split Dash's dinner into two parts these days, since I've discovered that he's more likely to eat all his food that way. We walk between the 3 PM early dinner and the 4:30 PM late dinner. I eat much earlier now as well. By the time the sun sets at 5:30 PM, our day is already finished. I kind of miss the old sunset walks, but it is much easier to just let Dash do what he wants. With this new early-bird schedule, there are no worries about chance encounters with a pack of coyotes either.

Today was uneventful. I didn't bother to go up on the roof because it is supposed to rain all day tomorrow. I did buy a pair of pants though. Every Christmas I get a gift card from a local menswear store that says if I spend at least $100 they will take $50 off the price. This always seems like a bargain and I inevitably go buy something whether I need it or not. I didn't need another pair of pants. I didn't need shirts, socks, or shoes either. This just shows that I am as susceptible to marketing as the next guy. I bought an overpriced pair of pants I don't even need because I was convinced I was getting it for half price. I'm sure the store still made a decent profit on the transaction.

The neighbors who own the dog that bit me are doing some remodeling on their house. I watch the workmen come and go with trepidation, since they inevitably leave gates open and I worry that the dog will escape. I hate having to worry about aggressive or loose dogs. The neighborhood is full of them. There are two German Shepherds who haven't realized yet that they could easily jump over their low fence. There is a dog who was sweet as a puppy, but has become increasingly territorial as he's grown older. This wouldn't be a problem if the dog's owner didn't leave him out in their unfenced front yard in the mornings without a leash. There is one street that is so full of barking, nervous dogs that I won't even go down it anymore.

I wonder if the city realized what it was getting into when all these ride sharing bicycles arrived. There are literally hundreds of abandoned Limebikes in the park now. I think I counted almost thirty on our walk today. Downtown there are areas where sidewalks are completely blocked by these rental bicycles. I guess the concept is popular because I see people riding these bicycles all the time. I just don't understand why they are abandoned in such strange places. If you leave your Limebike under a tree in the park, where do you go from there? I don't like bicycles in general, but the Limebikes are the worst. This is just a new type of littering.

The forecast doesn't look good, but I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow. If it's a rainy day, Dash won't get a morning walk and I probably won't be able to go out for breakfast. I"m already trying to decide whether to fix pancakes, make an omelette, or have a bowl of oatmeal and fruit. I'm becoming more and more like Dash. All I really think about is food.

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Day 2918

There always seems to be more bills to pay in December. Instead of spending my time with Dreamweaver and Photoshop today, I found myself staring at Quickbooks. It looks like I survived another year, but I still hate paying all these bills. Since I was thinking about financial matters anyway, I began wondering whether this new tax bill was going to be good or bad for me. Depending on who you're listening to, this bill is either the best thing since sliced bread or one of the seven signs of the apocalypse. There is no middle ground here. In our polarized society, you either love something like this. or you hate it. Actually understanding the bill doesn't even seem to matter.

At first I thought the bill was going to be terrible for companies like mine because I heard that a lot of common Schedule C deductions were going away. Then I heard that small businesses could take advantage of new pass through provisions that would tax business profits at a much lower rate. That would be good. Who knows. It's all speculation at this point. I won't really have a clear idea of how this affects my own business until I start doing my 2018 taxes in the Spring of 2019. I'll be over 70 then and probably won't even have any clients, so I doubt that it matters much.

I finally got some feedback on the website project I finished a few weeks ago. The client likes it. That's a relief. Without this project hanging over my head, it will be a lot easier to throw myself into my new website project. I'd like to do something bold and original, but I think the client would be better served by just picking a readily available website template tailored to their specific industry. There are very sophisticated templates available now that cater to the needs of just about every type of industry. You don't need me anymore. Jeez, what am I doing? It's become way too easy to talk myself out of work.

The weather was much better today. It was foggy this morning, but there was no rain. Foggy days are great for photography, but I really didn't have the time. I had bills to pay, prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy for Dash and myself, and a dog crate to find in the storage warehouse. Janet had loaned the crate to a friend of hers and they wanted it today. Since the large collapsible metal crate got relegated to the storage warehouse after Petey died many years ago, it was buried under tons of other stuff by now. I did manage to find the crate, but it would have been easier to buy Janet's friend a new one.

I took a raggedy pair of jeans to the tailor this afternoon to get some sturdy knee pads sewn on. These pants are so worn that I should have thrown them away a long time ago, but they are still my favorites for walking the dogs. When the pants are repaired, they will be a perfect match for the old rubber boots that I've repaired using shoe goo and tire patches. Never say die. Years ago, I had a client who was one of the best menswear retailers in the country. He would be embarrassed to see me now. I have gone from sartorial splendor to a haphazard hobo look. Ugly but serviceable. That's me these days.

I don't have any plans yet, but I'm sure tomorrow will be just as exciting as today. I really need to find a good book to read.

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Day 2917

What a dismal day. It started raining last night and it still hasn't stopped. Since today's rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning, Dash immediately went into panic mode. Whenever he hears thunder, he looks for a place to hide. Sometimes he tries to hide under a table. Other times he tries to crawl into a closet. Since Dash's legs are weak and he falls easily, I have to block all the potentially hazardous places. Our dogs have always seemed to think that Janet and I cause the rain and get mad when we don't make it stop. Dash is reluctant to go pee in the rain. He'll go to the back door over and over again, but won't go outside until he can't hold it any longer. I lost count of how many times I opened the back door today.

I had errands to run, but I postponed them until tomorrow. I didn't want Dash to freak out and hurt himself while I was gone. Even if Dash loved the dismal weather, I doubt if I would have left the house. I'll do just about anything to avoid driving in heavy rain. I kept checking the weather radar, hoping for the rain to stop, but it never did.

Actually there was a short break in the rain around 4 PM this afternoon and I thought I could take Dash for a walk. I forgot how slow Dash has become though, and the rain started again before we were able to make it home. We got soaked. Getting wet irritated me but it didn't seem to bother Dash. Since there was no thunder to frighten him, he just kept poking along, smelling every bush he passed. Oh, well. Dash needed a bath anyway. When we got home, I dried Dash off with a bath towel, threw his harness and my clothes in the dryer and cranked up the heat. Pretty soon we were both warm and dry.

I think we got over three inches of rain today. When we were walking this afternoon, I noticed that the lake was very high. Many low areas were flooded and several piers and boat docks were under water. I wasn't really aware how common wet weather was in December until Facebook started putting all these "memories" on my timeline. When I re-read these old blog posts, it seems like I was always complaining about rain in December.

I halfheartedly tried to find something to watch on Netflix this afternoon, but I couldn't find anything interesting. I read an article about new trends in website design and realized that that wasn't very interesting either. Ultimately, I dealt with my cabin fever the same was Dash does. I took a nap.

My mind wanders on days like these. I've started wondering why there is this huge panic about net neutrality. People talk about net neutrality like it's been around forever, but these rules have only been in place for two years. I've been on the Internet since the early 1990's and during most of that time there were no net neutrality rules. I can't recall that any big changes occurred two years ago. If anything, I probably had more choices back in the Internet dark ages than I do now. What has changed it is that people have become addicted to their life online. If you scare them by saying it might go away, they panic. To me, this panic is just as irrational as Dash's fear of thunder. Sure prices will go up. Prices always go up. My auto insurance, my storage warehouse rent, and my cable bill are all more expensive than they used to be. That's life. I have a feeling that five years from now, the Internet will still be here. It will be faster than ever and there will be a lot more choices than there are now. Just don't expect it to be free. Things you've become addicted to are never free.

I hope it dries out tomorrow. You guys may worry about net neutrality and tax cuts. I just worry about roof leaks and storm phobic dogs.

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

Day 2916

Today was kind of dull compared with the drama of yesterday's power outage. Minor disasters always get my adrenaline pumping. That being said, I'm glad the power has returned. It was another damp, grey day, but at least the lights were on and the furnace was working. My tolerance for cold weather seems to decrease with each passing year. I remember much colder Winters when I first moved to Dallas, but I complain a lot more now. It would be fine with me if I never see snow again.

I tried to get started on my new website project today. I looked at sites the client liked. I looked at their existing site. The longer I looked, the more I began to realize that there was nothing wrong with the existing site. Hmm. This might be a problem. It's hard to fix something that isn't broken.

I got another e-mail from Avid saying that my Pro Tools subscription was about to expire. I renewed the subscription again even though I can't remember using Pro Tools at all last year. It's really hard to turn loose of things that used to be the foundation of my business. Realistically, I may never use Pro Tools again because nobody hires me to write jingles or produce commercial music anymore. Oh, well. I'm ready if the need arises. I feel the same way about my large production printer. I keep buying ink for the monster, even though it is much more cost effective to get large posters printed online. Keeping these memories alive is getting expensive.

A friend in the neighborhood told me that he and his wife still remembered a Christmas card I'd sent them years ago. It had to be many years ago, because I haven't mailed out cards for over ten years. Times have certainly changed. Janet still gets a few cards from friends and relatives, but I just get those cards that your dentist and insurance agent send out. When we got our first Dalmatian, I used to make photo cards featuring Spot. Everybody liked Spot. Over the years the mailing list got smaller and eventually disappeared. Christmas is pretty low-key these days. We'll get Dash some fancy dog treats and have a nice Christmas dinner. Then I'll put the tree away until next year.

I hope it warms up soon. During cold spells, I feel like hibernating until Spring like a bear. I used to want to move to Wyoming, but I'm convinced that I could never handle the Winters. I went to high school in Alaska, so I'm familiar with cold weather. I just don't like it anymore. I always use to wonder why so many old people moved to Florida when they retired. Now I know.

I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow. I'll probably stare at the computer for a while, hoping to come up with an idea for my new website project. The weather app on my phone says it's going to rain. That's not welcome news. I'm not going to even bother to go up on the roof again until the sun comes out. I may be stupid, but I'm not that stupid.

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

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