Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day 2605

We ran a bunch of tests on Dash this morning and didn't find out anything definitive. I'll have to take Dash back to the vet tomorrow morning after a 12 hour fast to repeat one of the tests because he had too many fat cells in his blood today to check his phenobarbital levels. This has happened before. I don't know why Dash has fat cells in his blood but it happens a lot. I did learn some things to look for. If Dash has involuntary eye movement when he is staring straight ahead, this is very often a telling sign of vestibular disease. We are supposed to grab our phones and make a video if we see this. Shaking his head back and forth like we witnessed could happen with either an epileptic or vestibular seizure. Dizziness could happen in both cases as well. It doesn't look like this is going to be an easy diagnosis.

Dash hates to miss a meal, so I'll have to get him out of the house tomorrow morning before Janet feeds Dot. Luckily, the early morning blood test won't take very long so he'll get his breakfast as soon as we get home. Hopefully, we can prevent future seizures by making small changes in the medication Dash is currently taking. You always hope that intermittent problems will just go away on their own. It's good not to ignore these things though. The sooner you identify a serious disease, the more resources you have to cure it.

I got someone to come over today to give me an estimate on trimming my trees. I've used this guy for years and he's honest and fair, as well as being quite a character. While I was greeting him in the driveway this morning, he asked me to look at something in the back of his truck. "What do you think that is," he asked me. The large clear Plexiglas container looked like a fish tank to me.  "No, it's a fuel cell," the guy told me. "I make hydrogen out of water and then mix it in with my gas to reduce emissions." Personally, I don't think I'd want something that made hydrogen sitting in the back of my car, but hey, that's just me. This guy was real excited about his home brew fuel cell and told me that he was working on a way to improve the design so he could run his truck entirely on water. I just hope he doesn't blow himself up before he trims my trees.

Dot wouldn't eat the rice cake I give the dogs for lunch today. This was alarming, because she has always loved rice cakes. I started feeding the dogs rice cakes at lunch because they want to eat constantly and this was a way to give them the sensation of having a meal between breakfast and dinner without making them fat or adding many calories to their diet. I'd hate to see Dot lose her appetite, since eating has always been one of her favorite activities. I see new signs that Dot is slowing down almost every day and it makes me sad. I wish we could still go for water therapy, but transporting her in the car is just too difficult at this point. All I can really do at this point is try to make the remaining time she has with us as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Work is still slow, so I wrote a letter to my Luddite sister this afternoon. I usually like the somewhat archaic ritual of writing letters the old fashioned way, but there are times when I wish my sister would get an e-mail account. e-mail is definitely faster. When I took the letter to the post office, I stopped by the neighborhood Pei Wei to get something for dinner. I'm so predictable that the guy at the counter already knew what I was going to order.

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Day 2604

Dash had another seizure last night. This episode was much milder than the one he experienced on Sunday, but clearly something is wrong. This looks more like vestibular disease than a typical epileptic seizure. Instead of falling to the ground and having convulsions, Dash appeared dizzy and unsteady on his feet, moving his head from side to side during the episode. Dot had very similar symptoms when she was diagnosed with vestibular seizures four or five years ago. We ran a bunch of expensive tests and took her to a neurologist, but we never did determine the cause. After three seizures, she quit having them and was completely normal until she developed cancer a few years later. I made an appointment to take Dash to the vet tomorrow, but I'm not terribly optimistic about finding a solution to this problem. Neurological problems can be hard to diagnose and even harder to cure. If Dash does have geriatric vestibular syndrome, there isn't a cure anyway.

Now, I'm wondering if Dash's odd behavior on his afternoon walks might be connected to these recent seizures. Sometimes Dash will just stop for no apparent reason and look confused. Often, he'll appear nervous or refuse to move forward and then we'll have to re-trace our steps to return home. Other times he is even reluctant to leave the yard. If Dash has been experiencing vertigo or dizziness, which is common during vestibular events, this would explain a lot. We'll have to be real careful about the diagnosis, since Dash already has a history of epilepsy. You don't treat epilepsy and vestibular disease the same way. If it turns out that Dash is having vestibular seizures, we definitely don't want to increase the amount of phenobarbital he is taking. 

I miss the days when both dogs were healthy. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but really it's just been about three years. I often forget that dogs age much quicker than we do. Measured in human years, Dot would be well over 100 now. Dash is younger, but he would still be over 70. No wonder they are falling apart. Dog years are a bitch. I really wish that our pets lived as long as we do. Janet and I have had quite a few dogs, and sometimes it feels like I've spent the better part of my life dealing with dying animals.

It definitely felt like a Monday. Things got off to a slow start and remained slow for the rest of the day. Luckily Dot didn't have any major problems today. We took the dogs on a shorter walk this morning. Janet was already late for work when we got started and we were both worried about Dash. A seizure at home is bad enough. A seizure out in the park would be even worse. I'm caught up on work, so I spent the day doing some much needed bookkeeping and marking a few things off my to-do list. I even called a tree service to come out and give me an estimate for trimming the trees in the back yard. I skipped pruning last year and there are a few dead branches on the big oak trees that need attention. I have a healthy respect for falling tree limbs. Once, a large limb fell next to me and I quickly realized that if I had been standing fifteen feet to my left, I would have been dead.

I hope we can discover what's going on with Dash tomorrow. Seizures can be frightening and I want him to be able to lead a normal life. I want us all to be able to lead a normal life. It's just getting a little harder.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 2603

Dash had a seizure last night. This was very alarming, since he hasn't had a seizure in well over four years. We just did a check of his phenobarbital levels last month and everything was normal. Janet and I were convinced that we had his epilepsy under control and seldom worried about it anymore. Luckily, we still remembered what to do when a seizure occurs. Dash was very frightened during the episode, but we kept him calm and 45 minutes later he was acting like nothing had happened.

Hopefully, this is an isolated incident. If the seizures continue, we'll have to adjust his phenobarbital levels. I hate to give him more phenobarbital than he's already getting. It's a pretty powerdul drug. I wish I could train Dash to sleep on the floor with Dot. He likes to sleep on the edge of the bed, and could easily fall off the bed and hurt himself during a seizure. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. The air was very dry and both dogs kept waking up with a dry mouth. Instead of going to their water bowls and drinking some water, they kept swallowing loudly, which made me think they were having trouble breathing. Dot pooped in her bed at some point during the night as well.

Janet cooked a special Superbowl dinner tonight. I was really looking forward to this meal when I was at the gym this afternoon. Unfortunately, neither of us realized until late in the day that the Superbowl is actually next Sunday. When Janet told me that the game was today, I had no reason not to believe her. I don't really keep up with these things. I guess if we'd thought about it, we would have realized that the game has been in early February for a long time. Oh, well. Dinner was delicious. Maybe we'll have the same thing again next week. I still think that if the NFL hadn't made that bad call during the Packers game and mistakenly penalized Dallas fifteen yards for having too many men in the huddle, the Cowboys would be playing in this year's Superbowl.

Despite starting the day with a medical emergency, it was actually a good day. The weather was crisp and cool like Dot loves. She had several good walks today and seemed to enjoy herself. Dash seems to have fully recovered from his unexpected seizure and acted completely normally today. I had a good workout and was surprisingly accurate shooting free throws on the basketball court. By the end of the day, I kind of forgot that I woke up dog tired.

My iPhone became a brick today. The screen was dark. It wouldn't respond when I plugged it into a charger. None of the buttons seemed to work. I thought I was screwed until I remembered that you can find the answer to anything on Google. Within thirty seconds I learned that by pressing the home and power buttons simultaneously for thirty seconds, you can almost always revive a dead phone. I tried the trick and it worked. I still don't know what was wrong, because this has never happened before. I did upgrade my system yesterday. Maybe that was the problem.

I hope that the weather stays nice and the dogs stay healthy next week. The stress is getting to me. I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night thinking that Dot might be dead. I don't know if it's even possible to get a good night's sleep anymore. The slightest noise wakes me up. Now, I'm going to be wondering if Dash is going to have another seizure too. I need to remember to take things one day at a time and not to get ahead of myself. Today was good. There's a good chance that tomorrow will be good as well.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 2602

I only go to the mall when I need a haircut. I'm always amazed at how many weird specialty stores there are and wonder how many of them manage to stay in business. Some stores only sell soap. Others just sell shaving supplies. I've never seen any customers in Versace or Valentino, yet these high end retailers remain at the mall year after year. Every expensive Swiss watch brand seems to have its own store. I guess people don't go to jewelry stores anymore. I've never understood the appeal of Nespresso or Peloton either. There are so many very expensive things that the kids who hang out at the mall couldn't even begin to afford. The Tesla store doesn't even sell anything; you can just look. All of this out of reach extravagance must mean something, but I can't put my finger on it. I must be out of sync with the rest of the world, because every time I go to this very popular place, I can't wait to get back in my car and go home again.

I make the trip every month or two because I always get a great haircut. I've been going to the same stylist for over ten years. She cuts Janet's hair too and we all share a love of animals. Today we talked about how we both love bacon, but feel guilty every time we see a cute picture of a pig on Facebook. The struggle is real if you've been eating meat all your life. I'll ask how her cats are doing and she'll ask about Dot and Dash. I could probably just go to a regular barber in the neighborhood and nobody would know the difference, but I like this little ritual.

Dot woke up while I was cleaning up her poop last night, so I decided to take her outside to pee. Maybe I should always do this on weekends, because when we got back inside and went to sleep again, there were no leaks in the bed the next morning. We all slept soundly until well after sunrise. Believe me, in our house this is a real luxury. Dot just can't make it all the way through the night anymore without leaking or peeing in her sleep. I still hate to wake her when she's sleeping soundly though.

I went up on the roof for the first time in over a month this afternoon. There was very little standing water, since it's been relatively dry lately, but there were a ton of leaves. I swept all the leaves over the edge of the roof, where they joined an even larger pile of leaves on the ground. I used to rake leaves every weekend in the Winter, but it is kind of pointless when you live next to a huge park full of trees. The landscaping guys come once a year now in the Spring and haul all the leaves away. With all the leave removed from the roof, I was pleased to see that all the patches the roofers had applied last Fall were holding up pretty well. I have enough to worry about, so it's nice that the roof isn't as much of a priority now.

I guess I'll go to the gym tomorrow. This is another little ritual I've grown to like. You'd think I'd be lusting after one of those expensive Peloton stationary bicycles I saw at the mall so I could exercise at home with the dogs. Exercise machines at home don't appeal to me at all. Go figure. An anti-social person who likes going to the gym. Maybe I just like to shoot the basketball.

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

Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 2601

I was seated near a couple of writers at breakfast this morning. It appeared that these guys had agents and publishers and had written several books each. They weren't happy though. As I ate, I listened to them loudly complain about how they were being ignored by their publishers, weren't receiving their royalties, and were being plagiarized by their peers. I felt like asking them why they didn't just go into advertising if they felt so miserable about their profession. I kept my mouth shut though, because I knew this idea would have been met with disdain. You could tell these guys both thought they were "real" writers. I guess everyone who has a way with words thinks about writing a novel, but I have few regrets about choosing to write jingles for commercials when I was the age of the two complainers sitting next to me. Writing advertising has actually been fun. Writing a novel that nobody wanted to publish probably wouldn't have been fun at all.

Dot has started peeing in her sleep again. We lowered her Incurin dose last week like we were told to do, but apparently only the highest dose has any effect on her. This isn't good. I'm going to call Dot's vet and see what she thinks, but I can't imagine keeping her on the initial loading dose forever would be a good idea. It's sad to watch Dot deteriorate. It was sad to watch my Mom and Dad deteriorate too. Aging is relentless and more than a bit cruel. I'm amazed that Dot still seems happy, but it sure would be nice if her body would cooperate a little more.

I had to re-do parts of the website I updated yesterday because I didn't do a good enough job proofreading. It's weird. These days I have all the time in the world to do a job properly and I still make mistakes. I often don't see my own mistakes until somebody else points them out to me, and then they're embarrassingly obvious. I'd like to think I'm still as sharp as I was in my 30's, but the truth is that I'm operating with a few less brain cells. Familiar problems are still easy to deal with, but don't ask me to solve a calculus problem or learn a new language. Those days are over.

I made an appointment to get a haircut tomorrow. Probably nobody would care if I just let it grow, but long, wispy white hair doesn't look good on anyone. I tried to make the appointment during a time when Dot is usually asleep, but it would be just like her to surprise me. Oh, well. I won't be gone that long. The need to get back home in a hurry will keep me from visiting the Apple store and spending money on something I don't need. The Apple store is near where I get my hair cut and it is always tempting.

I'm already starting to get mail with "important tax information" stamped on the envelope. It's hard to believe that tax season is just around the corner. I save all these letters in a big manila envelope but I seldom read them. Taxes have become so complicated that I don't even attempt to understand them anymore. I just hand the envelope to my accountant in early April and hope for the best.

It's time to buy more puppy training pads for Dot. I buy these things by the case at Sam's Club now. Five years ago I never would have dreamed that there would come a time when my life would be centered around pee and poop, but life is full of surprises. I think we've all seen that lately.
Sophie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day 2600

I like round numbers like 2600. These even numbered days seem like mile markers that delineate a very long road. I'd like to think that sometime in the distant future, this odd journal might prove valuable to someone. It probably won't, but you never know. There couldn't be that many people doing this sort of thing. Maybe we'll learn what happens to hopes and dreams as we age. Maybe we'll just see what happens as my mind slowly turns to mush. I wish I could offer some special insight every hundred days, but this is just another day. In truth, it is a very uneventful day.

The pre-dawn sky was crystal clear this morning when I took Dot outside to pee, so as soon as I got her ready for breakfast and her morning meds, I grabbed my binoculars and went out in the front yard to look for the illusive Mercury again. I was surprised at how bright the planet was without the usual haze along the horizon. It was equally surprising how far the moon moves in a single day. Today, the thin waning crescent was barely viable well to the east of Mercury, just above the horizon. I wish I lived in a place that had clear skies like this all the time. It would probably be more fun to build a little observatory in the back yard than spend my evenings endlessly writing this blog.

I had another website to update today. This one had needed three different versions of each image, so pictures would load quickly on any type of device. Sometimes I wish I'd never learned about mobile websites. Making something mobile aware or mobile ready can definitely slow down what would otherwise be a very simple process. I guess I should have been glad for the complicated update, since I didn't have much else to do this morning. If I was smart, I would have postponed the update and gotten a haircut instead. I used to always get haircuts in the afternoon, but Dot is making afternoons away from home much more difficult.

When Dot wakes up from her long morning nap, she is very restless. This is definitely a new development and I don't know what it means. She wants to stay up for the rest of the day, but tires easily and gets very frustrated. If I leave her alone for any length of time, she often struggles to get up and then gets her nearly useless rear legs twisted in an awkward position. This often causes her to panic if I'm not nearby to help her up. If Dot struggles too much, she inevitably pees or poops on herself. It's a mess. I spend my afternoons holding her up by her harness as we slowly walk around the house or the back yard. All this aimless activity often makes Dash think it's dinner time and he starts barking in the kitchen which doesn't help matters a bit. To ease the boredom and frustration, I've split their dinner into several smaller portions, spread out over a three hour period. It's hard to decide which dog to walk first when the long dinner ritual is finally finished. If I guess wrong, I will be greeted with a pile of poop on the floor when I return with Dash.

I guess I'll try to make an appointment to get my hair cut on Saturday. I don't like going to the mall on weekends, but it's just not going to work being away that long tomorrow afternoon. I have trouble even going to the post office now. At least the dogs still sleep normally in the mornings. I'd hate to have to give up my Friday morning breakfast. On a week like this, I really look forward to going out to eat on Friday morning.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 2599

I was pleased to see the Dow close above 20,000 for the first time ever. I still believe in the market. I've had a few very bad years, but I'm doing better than when the Dow closed above 10,000 for the first time in March of 1999. You have to be patient. If I'm still alive when the Dow hits 30,000, as it inevitably will, there should be even more cause for celebration. I have friends who totally distrust the stock market, but I still think it's the only game in town for the long haul. When I started investing many, many years ago, the Dow was at 850. There is a lot of room to make mistakes when you go from 850 to 20,000. That being said, I hope that there's never another year like 2008. I'm still trying to recover from that disaster.

Real estate seems to be the investment vehicle of choice in Dallas. When you go to a restaurant, inevitably all the people at the other tables are talking about real estate. They are buying homes, selling homes, remodeling homes, and dreaming about making big profits from homes. Sometimes I think I'm the only person in town who isn't interested in real estate. There was a time when I owned rental property. Forget that. I can't think of anything worse than being a landlord. Renters are nothing but trouble. I've had renters who repainted the living room with bright orange enamel, burned holes in the bedroom carpet with cigarettes, invited friends to live with them without telling me, and stole the refrigerator when they moved out. You couldn't pay me to be a landlord again. I wouldn't want to be a renter again either. Renters have their own set of problems.

If you think your own home is an investment, think again. The value of real estate goes up and down just like the stock market. If you have to sell your home at a bad time, where are you going to live? With all its faults, I still prefer the stock market. At least when the market has a bad year, I still have a place to live.

Much to my surprise, I spotted Mercury this morning. I got up a little late and Janet was telling me to hurry up and get dressed so we could walk the dogs. I noticed that it was still dark, so the first thing I did was run outside with my binoculars. The sky was partly cloudy, but there was a clear patch near the eastern horizon that allowed me to see Mercury directly below a very thin crescent moon. I also spotted Saturn and Jupiter. For a person like me, it wasn't a bad way to start the day.

The dogs were a handful today. Dash was in a weird mood and refused to take a walk in the afternoon. I tried walking him before Dot, and then again after Dot, but he refused to leave the back yard. Occasionally he's like this for no apparent reason. Tomorrow, he'll probably want to walk three miles. Dot surprised me by pooping in the house when I wasn't ready for her, so I had a big mess to clean up. Later in the day, she was very restless and kept wanting me to take her outside, only to immediately want to come back in again. We went back and forth like this for most of the afternoon. I really need to learn how to calm my mind, or the dogs will eventually drive me crazy.

I can't believe it's almost February. It seems like New Year's Eve was only a few days ago. Time goes by so quickly now that I need to make the most of the time I have left. I'm not a spontaneous person, so living in the moment is a foreign concept to me. It seems like a worthy goal though. I should savor the time I still have with Dot. I should try to maximize the time I remain healthy. It's probably a good idea to rediscover what fun is. I think I've forgotten.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Day 2598

For several months there has been a small message at the bottom of my Google+ profile asking me if I'd like to try the "new" Google+, along with a slightly ominous warning that the original Google+ was going away soon. As is usually the case, I didn't bother to try the new version because I liked what I had just fine. Today, Google made good on their promise. The old familiar layout was gone. Facebook does this sort of thing too and I've never understood why. I'm never happy when a restaurant changes their menu, or an auto manufacturer changes the design of a car I like. Just when I get familiar with something, somebody else decides to yank it away. Apple is the worst about yanking things away that I've grown to like. Every time I look at a new computer it seems to have less than the previous model. First, the take away the DVD burner, then the SD card slot disappears, along with USB ports and a lot of other stuff I use on a daily basis. I'm just waiting for them to take away the keyboard. So, do I like the new Google layout I've been forced to use? Of course not.

I got up early this morning to look for Mercury in the pre-dawn sky.  I could see the moon shining through some thin clouds and I could barely make out Saturn nearby, but the sky wasn't clear enough to find Mercury. I may have missed my opportunity to view this illusive planet for a while. I think there will be clouds tomorrow morning as well.

I felt like going back to bed after I came back inside and put my binoculars away, but it was already time to get Dot up. It's getting harder and harder to get Dot up in the morning. She used to be eager to start her day as soon as she heard Dash and Janet in the kitchen, but now she sleeps through all this. Depending on when we go to bed at night, there is a small window of time where I can safely get Dot outside to pee. If I wait too long, she will pee all over herself in her sleep. This morning, I put a tasty dog treat under her nose and when she started to yawn and wake up I gently lifted her up by the handle on her harness and off we went toward the back door. I have to make sure that the door is open first, because there isn't time to fumble with the door handle. Oddly, once she pees, she seems wide awake and ready for her breakfast. I wish I was wide awake in the mornings. I think I dislike getting up early even more than Dot.

I had another website to update this morning, but the day was basically pretty slow. I've learned to make the most of the three hours of peace and quiet I normally have after breakfast. Both dogs take a long nap after their morning walk, but getting them to leave me alone in the afternoon is almost impossible. I need to get a haircut, but I'm wondering when I'll find the time. Jobs with deadlines always take precedence over shopping and haircuts. Even though my workload has slowed down considerably, there is usually still enough to fill my morning. I've become very reluctant to leave Dot in the afternoon. If she struggles to get up while I'm gone, she can become very stressed and might even injure herself. Dot doesn't need this, but the consequences of being her guardian are making my world smaller and smaller.

It was so warm today that I decided to wash the car. I'm sure this means that it will rain tomorrow, but the car does look nice for now. Washing the car doesn't really count as being away, since I'm so close to the house that I can easily hear when Dot gets restless. I used my time wisely today. I finished my website project, made a quick trip to the vet to pick up more Allopurinol for Dash, and got something for dinner on the way home at the neighborhood vegan take out place. It wasn't an exciting day by normal standards, but my standards aren't normal anymore. Dot pooped outside today and I only did one load of laundry. I'd call that a win.

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

Day 2597

It feels strange now to have a busy work day. A client called while I was having breakfast this morning and wanted some help getting things working properly on his new web server. I listened to what he needed and told him it was a piece of cake to take care of his requests. Of course when I turned my computer on a little while later, I quickly discovered that making the changes wasn't a piece of cake after all. It never is. I called technical support, sat on hold for a long time, and asked why my quick fix wasn't working. The tech support guy was very patient and answered all my questions. Of course, I didn't ask all the right questions, so I had to call him back again about an hour later. Everything is fixed now. At least I think it is. If I ever need to make these type of changes again, I'll be able to say "it's a piece of cake" honestly.

The weather was beautiful today. For the first time in ages the sky was completely clear for most of the day. I should have gotten up early and looked for Mercury on the Eastern horizon before sunrise, but I was too tired. I'm staying up later now, mostly so I can get Dot to pee outside one last time before going to bed. We can usually make it through the night this way, but it necessitates a long week of going to bed late and getting up early. If it's still clear out when I go to bed tonight, I'll make more of an effort to look for Mercury tomorrow morning. There should be a thin sliver of a waning crescent moon to help guide me to the right spot.

I've been seeing a lot of kestrels lately on our morning walks. It used to be rare to spot one of these small falcons, but they're everywhere now. These birds are lazy hunters and often perch at the top of trees, looking for mice and insects in the fields below. I have a strange relationship with birds. I enjoy watching them while I walk the dogs, but I hate them when they poop on my car. Birds of prey like the kestrel have little interest in hanging around my yard and making a nuisance of themselves. It's the bluejays and the mockingbirds that are the problem.

I've been experimenting with my new WiFi scale and have discovered that your weight and body composition change throughout the day. It's surprising how much a normal meal weighs. I guess you should always weigh yourself before you eat a big meal. I also lose about a pound after I go to the gym. Does sweat actually weigh that much, or do the calories you burn directly translate into weight loss? Hey, I'm a curious person and I have to amuse myself somehow. Somebody needs to invent a scale that automatically deducts the weight of the clothes you are wearing to give you a true weight. For a scale that can measure bone mass and pulse wave velocity, it would seem like this would be a piece of cake. All you'd have to do is weight yourself with clothes and then again without and have the scale store the difference in memory. Nobody makes a scale like this that I know of. When I go to the doctor, I'm always about ten pounds heavier because I'm wearing boots and my pockets are full of cell phones and keys. It always irritates me when the doctor says I've gained weight and I'm just wearing heavier clothes than I was on my last visit.

I've got more website updates to make tomorrow. I think I prefer writing jobs, but beggars can't be choosers. It this point, I'll take any work I can get. Truthfully, I won't take any work I can get. I guess this is just a convenient way of saying that I'm still interested in keeping my business alive. I really couldn't do a whole lot of work anyway. Dot has become such a high maintenance girl that I only have about three uninterrupted hours each day. I'm really glad the dogs were healthy when my business was booming. There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to work eighteen hours a day.

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 2596

I was working out today and was surprised to notice that I had a three inch gash on my right leg. Where did that come from? You'd think I'd notice a cut like that, but I have no idea where it came from. I didn't even notice until I was doing some cardio work that got my heart rate up. With my blood pumping faster the cut stung a little, but it wasn't bleeding anymore. I don't remember dropping anything on my leg or bumping into anything sharp. The cut just seemed to appear out of nowhere. I mentioned this to Janet when I got home and she said it happens to her all the time. I guess the older you get, the more you bump into things. Dot still has a mysterious cut on her leg too. Dot falls so much that she needs a coat made out of bubble wrap. I'm going to start falling too if I don't get to the gym more often. I'm not a person who makes goals, but I really need to figure out how to go to the gym at least three times a week.

On my way home today, I stopped at an Office Depot store to get a monthly accordion folder for my 2017 receipts. I do this every year, even though my accountant told me that he never actually looks at the receipts when I bring him the folder at tax time. I don't go to office supply stores very often and I was surprised at how empty the place was. Half the store was bare with nothing in it at all. The same thing seems to be happening when I go to the local Fry's Electronics store. I think retail is dead. It's just so easy to order anything you need online. I think in five or ten years most of the traditional big box stores will be gone. It's a shame that this transformation has been so complete. I used to like shopping. Small independent camera stores were great places to talk shop and learn things from the shopkeeper and other photographers. There were lots of weird little stores that couldn't even exist today. Two of my favorite stores when I first moved to Dallas sold nothing but electric trains.

I actually threw some things away today. This is almost unheard of for me. When I moved the garment rack to my office yesterday, there were a few things that wouldn't fit after I reconfigured the room. A cheap Ikea shelf that I'd been meaning to toss for years had to go, along with a bunch of old magazines, catalogs, and books. Admittedly, you could hardly call this downsizing, but at least it's a start. I need to do this again sometime. When I look around the office, I hardly see anything I actually use anymore. Most of the stuff is here just for the nostalgia value.

We've reached the point where we need to start decreasing Dot's Incurin dose. Starting today, she only gets half as much as she's been getting for the past two weeks. It makes me a little nervous that her incontinence hasn't been completely cured. There's been a definite improvement, but it wasn't like the first time we tried this treatment two years ago. I'm going to have to talk with Dot's vet, but I have a feeling that she's going to end up being on a much higher maintenance dose than she was before.

Is the political infighting and acrimony ever going to end? I'm getting sick of it. It's almost like we're engaged in a lazy man's civil war. In this new age civil war, we don't battle over territory. We just say nasty things about each other on Facebook and then go home to a nice dinner and a movie on Netflix. I don't think anything will get fixed this way, but what do I know. I'm just a guy who would like to take a time machine back to 1955.

Raider is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day 2595

I found my missing fitness tracker today. This thing disappeared almost two months ago, so I'd totally given up hope of ever seeing it again. It was always a mystery where the tracker was, since just before the battery died, I noticed that it was still paired with my phone. Logically, the wristband had to be nearby, but I never could find it.

Today, I was cleaning the car after getting the interior dirty bringing stuff back from the storage warehouse and while I was brushing a crevice under the rear seat, I dislodged the illusive bracelet and swept it, along with a lot of dirt, to the driveway. Weird. The car was the first place I looked, but it never occurred to me to look under this seat. The tracker must have fallen off my wrist while I was loading photo equipment and found its way under the seat while I was driving. I'm glad the mystery is finally solved. Now, I can finally quit wondering whether one of the dogs ate it, or if I inadvertently vacuumed it up while cleaning rugs.

I never would have found the fitness tracker if I hadn't decided to bring home the garment rack from the storage warehouse and bring some order to my growing collection of coats. Don't ask me how the garment rack got muddy. I don't recall that it had ever been outside. At any rate, I disassembled the thing at the warehouse so it would fit in the car, and then cleaned and reassembled it when I got home. I had to take a bookshelf apart too, so the bulky rack would fit where I needed it to go. I always forget how heavy books are until I need to move them. These books and magazines hadn't been moved in decades. There were old Communication Arts magazines from the 1970's. There were German language textbooks from the 1990's when I was doing a lot of work in Germany. I threw away about thirty pounds of old B&H catalogs from the days before the Internet when they used to mail out massive two inch thick books every six months or so. If I had more time, this cleanup job might have been a little nostalgic, but I was trying to get everything finished while the dogs were still sleeping.

Eventually, I rearranged all the books and gathered up the loose coats around the house so I could place them neatly on the garment rack. The job was a success, but it took longer than I'd thought. By the time I fed the dogs their dinner and got them ready for their evening walks, it was starting to look like rain. Dot's walk went fine, but when it was Dash's turn, the sky was pretty dark. When we were about a mile away from the house, I started to see lightning. I urged Dash to hurry up and amazingly, he listened. We arrived home again two minutes before a real downpour started. I guess today was a lucky day. We didn't get struck by lightning and I found a fitness tracker that I never thought I'd see again. The office is still a mess, but the coats look much better on the garment rack.

I'm pleased that the new wonder scale tells me I'm in pretty good shape. My body mass index, bone mass, body fat percentage, standing heart rate, and pulse wave velocity are all excellent for someone my age. I'd never even heard of pulse wave velocity before. You take the time it takes for blood to travel from your heart to the blood vessels in your feet and then compare this value with your height to determine your pulse wave velocity. Lower numbers are good because they indicate that your veins and arteries are elastic. Higher numbers indicate hardening of the arteries which could put you at risk of a heart attack. I guess I already knew that my arteries were somewhat elastic, but I didn't know what it all meant. Cool machines that actually teach you something are the best. I like my scale.

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Day 2594

I had a major website revision to complete today, but I kept the television on for most of the day to watch the inauguration. Kudos to anyone with the stamina to endure a day like this. Trump, Pence, and their entire entourage were up at dawn, standing for most of the day, and apparently still going strong, because I hear coverage of the presidential balls on the bedroom TV as I write this. A two hour meeting can wear me out. This is one of many reasons I could never be a politician.

I have been opposed to globalization long before Donald Trump arrived on the scene, so I found his inaugural message of a return to nationalism strangely comforting. I've always thought that we as a country should mind our own business and let other countries mind theirs. The Vietnam War was a mistake. Both Gulf Wars were a huge mistake. Virtually every attempt at nation building we've embarked on as a country has been a mistake. Maybe now, we will finally learn to get our priorities straight.

Income inequality is a direct result of globalism. It may be efficient to have the entire world eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and drinking a latte from Starbucks, but this kind of efficiency puts more and more wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Globalism turns every conflict into a potential world war. It really doesn't have to be this way. I like the Internet model better. Instead of a single giant server, the Internet consists of tens of thousands of independent nodes. It is virtually indestructible, because if one server goes down, the information is just rerouted and the net continues to function normally. The animal kingdom is the same way. There is a reason why there aren't elephants or penguins on every continent. With the notable exception of humans, each species on this planet is very localized and thrives where it is best adapted to the existing conditions. Nature has been trying to teach us that small and independent is better for centuries. Why do we still insist on a homogenized world where we all think alike? Maybe it's just because giant international companies want to sell everybody the same thing.

Just a few observations about the inauguration. Burning cars is not going to win people over to your cause. Hey, it's OK if you think Donald Trump is a sign of the apocalypse, but if you really want to marginalize your efforts and become the next Green Party, just keep doing what you're doing. Oh, and all you fashionistas; Melania looked fabulous. I don't think we need to worry about politically correct designers deserting her. Ralph Lauren did a spectacular job of evoking the ghost of Jacqueline Kennedy.

I ordered the wrong thing for breakfast this morning. It happens sometimes. I often don't know what I'm hungry for until I actually start eating. If I wasn't so tired, I could create some sort of metaphor that linked breakfast choices to desire and expectations. It probably isn't that complicated though. I just shouldn't have ordered pancakes today.

If the weather continues to be nice this weekend, I'm going to wash the car and remove all the remaining leaves from the roof. The evil bird that shits on my car has been busy this week. It's time to show that bird who's boss.

April is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day 2593

My new scale that measures everything arrived today. I'm always intrigued by the latest technology; especially stuff I've never heard of before. This WiFi scale not only tracks your weight, it also analyzes your body composition, measures your body mass index, determines your resting heart rate and pulse wave velocity; plus it gives you a daily weather report. At first I couldn't figure out how this little flat box could calculate your bone and muscle mass, the percentage of water in your body, and half a dozen other things just by standing on it for a few seconds. I did a little research and discovered bioelectrical impedance technology. Basically, sensors in the scale measure the electrical impedance, or opposition to the flow of an electric current passing through through body tissues in your feet. The results are used to provide an estimate of body composition. Is impedance analysis accurate? Who knows. It sure is cool though. I bet my doctor will hate it when I start showing him results on my phone that contradict all his fancy machines. I'm convinced that this is the future of medicine. It's already getting harder to see a doctor in some parts of the country. As medical costs continue to spiral out of control and options for care diminish, a lot of people will just start doing the simple things themselves. I can easily imagine a future where my phone will give me a warning if my vital signs get out of whack and then make me an appointment to see a robot doctor.

It took me longer than I thought to pair the scale with my WiFi network. It always takes me a long time to configure network devices. WiFi gizmos that only include a superficial two page "quick start" manual are the worst. There's always something weird that prevents stuff from playing nice with my router. I eventually got everything working properly and was amazed to see that all my vital signs were automatically imported into the Apple Health app on my phone. The cloud knows everything apparently. I'm not sure that I want Amazon Alexa listening to all my conversations, but it's actually quite convenient that Facebook knows everybody's birthday. I guess it's OK that my new scale knows my body composition. I don't use Siri much on my phone, but that's just because I don't talk very much. If I did have one of those Amazon Alexa personal assistants, all it would hear is me swearing occasionally when I accidentally stepped in dog poop.

The weather was really nice today. I wonder how long this will last? Every Winter, people in Texas go around telling each other how weird the weather is, but the truth is that rapid changes have always been normal. What would really be weird is if it remained cold all winter like it does up North. Today was perfect for walking dogs. I didn't need a heavy coat, but it was still cool enough so that Dot didn't get overheated.

I had to pick up some more phenobarbital for Dash this afternoon, as well as order more printer ink. It seems like I refilled both these things only a few weeks ago. It's too bad I can't pick up printer ink at the pharmacy. My prescriptions and my printer ink seem to run out at about the same time.

I'm glad it's Friday tomorrow. I can't decide whether I want an egg sandwich or pancakes for breakfast. I should probably weigh myself before I leave the house though. I always eat a big breakfast. If it stays clear this weekend, I'm going to look for Mercury again. It should be easy to find in the pre-dawn sky for the next several weeks. I'm not really worried about the inauguration. I've got astronomy, a plethora of personal tracking devices, and a tasty breakfast to amuse me.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day 2592

I have lost the ability to be spontaneous. If I deviate from my routine even slightly, everything falls apart. I almost didn't get my blog posted by midnight last night just because I left the house for a few hours. When I tried to make up the time I'd spent attending last night's meeting, I didn't watch Dot closely enough and she ended up pooping in her bed with her harness still on. This always makes things messier. Even worse, I was so tired that I fell asleep at the computer for a while and didn't notice that Dot had pooped on herself until after midnight when I was getting ready for bed. I had to wake her up and take her outside in the rain where I could clean her off and fit her in a fresh harness. Since I disrupted Dot's sleep to clean her up, she became stressed and peed in her bed later in the evening, which we discovered the next morning. I kept thinking that none of this would have happened if I'd done everything on schedule.

I'm really getting tired of all the rain we've been getting lately. My shoes get muddy every time I take Dot out in the back yard to pee and often I don't have time to take them off again while I am guiding her back through the house to her bed. The rugs are a mess. If I see a brown clump on a rug, the only way I can tell whether it is mud or poop is to kneel down and smell it. Dot has trouble getting traction on the slick, wet ground, so I have to be extra careful that she doesn't stumble and fall. I'm able to prevent a lot of the falls, but I can't catch them all. I felt bad today when she stumbled in the hallway while I was doing dishes and ended up cutting her foot.

Since I'm caught up on work again, I thought I'd get caught up on the bills that are stacking up on my desk. I paid all the December bills today and took them to the post office. I'm glad December only comes once a year. Every time I pay a stack of bills, I'm dismayed by the thought that I'll be doing this on a fixed income in just a few years. When I was younger I always thought the solution to money problems was to just make more money. It seemed to work pretty well when I was in demand, but I'm afraid that train has already left the station. I don't even want to think about what life will be like twenty years from now. Given my family history, I might not even be around by then, but if I am I'll probably be broke.

I need to catch up on sleep tonight. I didn't get to bed until 1 AM and then had to get up again at 6 AM. That's not enough sleep. I wish I could write my blog entries faster. I remain committed to my goal of writing for 5000 consecutive days, but it's getting harder. Eventful days are actually much easier to describe than days when nothing happens. Sometimes I'll stare at the screen for thirty minutes before I can even write the first sentence. This would be so much easier if I were still attending space launches, traveling around the world to create ad campaigns, and getting included in cookbooks.

I certainly won't be doing any of that tomorrow. There are two bananas left and a pint of strawberries, so I'll be having my regular fruit smoothie for breakfast. I don't know what I'll have for dinner though. The refrigerator is looking pretty empty. There's my goal for tomorrow: to find something for dinner.

Dovey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day 2591

Today was much busier than usual. I had articles to write, errands to run, and a rare meeting to attend. I think I've forgotten how to go to meetings. I've never understood why meetings take so long. I'll always walk in, confidently thinking I'll be done in 45 minutes, and two hours later I'm still sitting at the table, fidgeting in my chair. Tonight's meeting was fairly important. I tried to make a contribution every now and then, but mostly I was just wondering if Dot was pooping in her bed while I was gone.

Everything took longer today because it rained most of the day. Every time I took Dot out in the back yard to pee, I either got wet or my shoes got muddy. Sometimes I got wet and muddy. Dot seems oblivious to the rain. She takes just as long to smell things when its wet as she does when it's dry. I'll spend ten minutes walking her around in the rain and then she'll still wait until she's back inside again to poop.

It turned out that the article I thought I'd already written in 2013, had some new information after all. I updated the article and did my best to make everything seem fresh and new again. I'm sure everything will be fine. Nobody remembers what I wrote in 2013 anyway. The dogs were kind enough to take a long nap after breakfast, giving me enough time to complete the article and send it to the client before they started demanding my attention again.

I have a nice rolling garment rack in my storage warehouse that I was planning to bring home and hang winter coats on. I was going to put the garment rack in a little alcove in my office where the synthesizers and keyboards used to reside before I decommissioned them all. Luckily, I decided to measure the rack while I was at the warehouse today. It was one inch too tall and wouldn't fit. This is what happens to most of my plans. Everything seems perfect in my mind's eye, but when I start to measure, the plan falls apart. Probably a better plan would be to take all the coats I don't wear to the storage warehouse and hang them on the rack there. I wonder where the garmet rack came from in the first place. I don't even remember.

I was a little dismayed to see that Dot had leaked in her bed again while she was sleeping this morning. I was beginning to think that the stronger dose of Incurin she's on now had cured her urinary incontinence problem. Maybe I just let her sleep too long. She can only hold her bladder about three hours these days. I can't do much better than that myself, so I need to be more methodical about getting her outside on a regular basis. It's hard for me to wake Dot up while she's sleeping though. She looks so peaceful and the house is peaceful as well. The only time I get things done anymore is when the dogs are sleeping.

The rain is supposed to continue tomorrow. It's not what I would have wanted, but I don't have much control over the weather. The best I can hope for is that I'll be a little more organized than I was today. Basically, today was a wet mess.

Chief is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Day 2590

I've grown to hate vacuuming. There are fifteen rugs that continually get sucked into the vacuum cleaner brush. There are foam pads covered with blankets for Dot to rest in almost every room. There is an X Pen in the dining room, so Dot can be part of the family while we are eating without falling over every ten seconds. All these things need to be moved whenever I clean. It used to be so easy to clean the house before the brick floors were covered with rugs and dog blankets. All it took was a few minutes with a wet mop and the place was spotless. If you wanted the floors to look really nice, a coat of wax would have them shining for six months.

Unfortunately, bricks are about the worst thing imaginable for a dog that has trouble standing. Dot couldn't walk around the house at all without the rugs that give her a little traction. The rugs help give Dot some mobility and I appreciate how they have improved her quality of life. They sure are ugly though. All this clutter is almost impossible to clean. Dirt gets under the rugs. They seem to attract leaves and debris like a magnet. Dot has trouble chewing now and bits of food fall out of her mouth long after she has finished eating. Frequently, a rug will get peed on, and occasionally pooped on as well. We picked sizes that will fit in the washing machine when necessary, but it is still difficult to keep the place from looking like a barn.

I did my best to clean the house today. The dogs followed me around and got in the way. They both used to be scared of the vacuum cleaner, but now they are strangely attracted to it. Since this is the season where the dogs track leaves into the house from the back yard, I pulled the covers off the air conditioner vents and cleaned all the leaves and dog hair out of the vent registers. What should have been a fifteen minute job took well over two hours. The sad thing was that I didn't have anything better to do anyway. There is still a writing assignment that I haven't finished yet, but I can do that tomorrow.

I kept thinking it was Sunday. I guess if I spend the day doing Sunday chores, it's going to seem like Sunday. I knew that I had some prescription to pick up at the pharmacy on Monday, but of course I'll be picking them up tomorrow, when I will resume my weekday writing assignment as well. I'll probably be confused about what day it is for the rest of the week.

At this time of year it's hard to find something interesting to photograph every day. The trees are bare. Most of the small animals we encounter on our walks are in hiding. There won't be any wildflowers until April. Even sunsets are hard to capture because Dash doesn't like to walk by the shoreline anymore. I think I've photographed every square inch of the park by now, but occasionally there are still surprises. I haven't photographed a coyote yet, even though I have seen them from time to time. When I'm with the dogs, flowers and sunsets are much easier to deal with.

Tomorrow, it's back to work. There are articles to write and a meeting I need to attend. Meetings, especially long ones, are especially difficult for me now, but I think Janet will be able to come home from work early. I continue to take things one day at a time. I just don't know what day it is.

Shelby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Day 2589

I love fog. We've had foggy mornings for the past several days and I like the way it allows me to look at the ordinary things I see every day from a completely different perspective. Fog has a way of separating the foreground from the background, forcing you to look at one thing at a time. The effect is very similar to the out of focus bokeh you get when when you take a photograph with a very shallow depth of field. Almost everything looks prettier when it is the only object in sharp focus. I try to look at life this way, always concentrating on one thing at a time. One a clear day, my eye is always multitasking, trying to interpret too many things at once. A foggy day seems much more natural to me.

On my way to the gym this afternoon, I stopped at the REI store and got a cool winter coat with a Christmas gift card that Janet had given me. I've certainly changed the way I dress over the past five years. There was a time when I had a menswear client and chose to get paid in clothes. I dressed fabulously for a while, but it was all kind of pointless. Who was I trying to impress anyway?  Nobody needs big dry cleaning bills and I prefer clothes that look good covered with dog hair anyway. I just wonder why it took me so long to discover camping clothes.

I'm beginning to realize that I don't get any more sleep on weekends. Sure, we get up later on weekends, but we tend to go to bed later too. The net result is about the same. Maybe I'm destined to get 5 to 6 hours sleep, no matter what happens. One thing I've learned by wearing a fitness tracker is that I go to sleep very quickly. Apparent insomnia is not a problem with me. Even when I wake up several times a night to take care of Dot, I'm back asleep again five minutes later. When I eventually got up for breakfast this morning, I'd almost forgotten that I'd already taken Dot outside to pee at 4:30 AM and then re-made her bed for her before we both went back to sleep.

It's raining cats and dogs right now. I took Dash outside to pee right after dinner and he was just getting ready to go when a giant thunderclap scared him and he went racing for the back door. He must not have had to go very bad, because he's sleeping under my desk right now. I'm glad we don't live in Fort Worth, because they're under a tornado watch right now. I think we're in the clear though. The storm is headed in a northerly direction. If it were headed east, I'd be under the desk with Dash.

I've often wondered why I'm not building any muscle mass as the gym. Now I know the answer. I read an article recently that said almost everybody will eventually lose up to 30% of their muscle fiber as they age. The muscle atrophy begins when you reach 50 and becomes much more dramatic when you reach 60. This muscle tissue won't come back, no matter what you do, so if you want to remain strong you have to work extra hard to build up the muscle fiber you still have left. Normal cardio exercises like cycling or walking on a treadmill won't build muscle mass at all. You need to start lifting free weights and push yourself to your limits. This explains why I'm not making much progress. It's too bad that I hate lifting weights. Oh well, at least my heart is in pretty good shape.

Tomorrow is a holiday. I'm sure this makes a difference to Janet and everyone else to goes off to work every morning. It's going to just seem like a Monday to me though.

Betty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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