Friday, March 31, 2017

Day 2654

I miss having a favorite restaurant. The days of having exactly the same thing every Friday morning for almost three years in a row are gone. I drift from place to place now, trying something different every time. Occasionally, I think I've found a new home, but I've had trouble staying loyal for more than a month at a time. Nobody seems to make things the way I like any more. The eggs are either too runny or too hard. The pancakes are too thick. And the bacon is too flat and crispy. I'm not trying to expand my horizons or be adventurous. All I want is a place where I can enjoy eating the same thing over and over again. Maybe this is impossible now. I've noticed that there is a lot of turnover in the restaurant business. Every time someone gets a new chef, the recipes change a bit.

Absolute consistency is my holy grail. When I walk Dash in the morning, I find it strangely comforting to see certain cars in the neighborhood leave for work at exactly the same time every morning. When we pass the tennis court on our walk, there is very often a brown pickup truck that turns a corner and passes us. On Friday morning, the garbage truck typically arrives exactly when I leave the park and head down my street toward home. Often people I don't know wave as I pass by. We've been repeating these patterns for a long, long time. The clockwork precision of repeating events makes me feel oddly connected. I'm sure a lot of random stuff happens as I walk by, but I only notice the consistencies.

I got the telephoto lens I've had my eye on for the past month or so. This is a great lens, but it kind of bothers me that many modern lenses no longer have an aperture ring on the barrel of the lens. A lot of them don't have a focus or depth of field scale either. You can still change the f-stop within the camera, but I'd still like to be able to use a lens completely manually. I guess I've got to keep up with the times. I'll have to admit that these new lenses are much better optically than the ones I used to use with my old Nikon F. Who knows. Maybe you'll see some better bird pictures in the days ahead.

I wrote another letter to my sister today. I'm definitely not keeping up with the times with her. I wish more people would revert to quaint old fashioned things like hand written letters. I guess I'd like it if doctors still made house calls and kids still liked electric trains too, but hand written letters are a start.

I tried to catch up on odds and ends this afternoon. I called the roofer again and made an appointment for the landscaper to come out and take a look at our back yard. Dot did pretty well today, although it was to hot to walk her during the day. The days are getting longer, so we can wait until after dinner now. All in all, it was a good day.

The skies are clear, but I'm too tired to go out and look at the stars. There's supposed to be a comet that will be visible through binoculars in the pre-dawn sky this weekend, but I bet I'll be preoccupied trying to keep Dot from peeing on the floor. We'll see.

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day 2653

I cleaned the roof this morning. There was still a lot of standing water from yesterday's storm. Even with the help of a sump pump, it almost always takes me at least an hour to remove all the water. While I'm pushing the water off the edge of the roof with a big push broom, I fantasize about living on the eighteenth floor of a luxurious high rise condo. It would be nice not to have to worry about water on the roof, trees falling in the back yard, cracks in the Sheetrock, or ants crawling into the bathroom.

Of course this will never happen. I lived in a condo once when I was younger and when I finally sold the place, I swore I would never live in a place with a condo board or neighborhood association again. People should never live this close together. All I remember from those years were the continual fights between neighbors. It wouldn't be practical to have large dogs in a high rise either. Dash is scared of elevators and panics when he has to ride in one. Dot would get us kicked out of the building. An incontinent dog that can't walk and poops and pees all over the place would make high rise living very difficult.

When I was sitting in the park with Dot this afternoon, a guy on a bicycle stopped and asked if I was John Sealander. I didn't recognize the guy, but it turned out he was a co-worker from a long, long time ago. I asked him if he was retired and he said he was still doing a little consulting. When old men tell you that they are doing a little consulting it usually means they are doing nothing at all. I remembered that this guy started his own agency once. I think he even hired me a couple of times when my own company was getting started. He's probably in the same boat that I am now. At any rate, he couldn't be that busy or he wouldn't be riding his bicycle around the lake in the middle of the afternoon. We had a nice conversation and didn't mention advertising at all.

When I called in the power outage a few days ago I noticed that the automated system recognized my cell phone number and associated it with my street address. This is new. I used to have to call in outage reports from a land line. This worked great in the old days because analog phones were powered by the phone line. You could still use your phone when the power was out. Since most land line phones are voice over IP now, your phone goes out when the power goes down. I still like the old system better when you could talk to a real person who could tell you when the repair crews would be in your neighborhood. I'll have to admit that the automated system works pretty well though. The power company even sent me a text when my power was restored. I probably don't even need the land line anymore. The only people who use it are scammers and telemarketers. I routinely block these people, so I'm actually paying for a service I don't want people to use.

I'm going to have heartburn tonight. I didn't even feel like looking in the refrigerator, so I stopped at a taco place next to the post office after I paid some bills this afternoon. Yesterday's Buddha Bowl was much, much healthier, but the greasy taco was pretty good. I can see a day when I'll never use our oven at all. It's just so much easier to pick up a take out meal than it is too cook.

I certainly won't be cooking anything tomorrow morning. I've been looking forward to my Friday breakfast outing all week.

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day 2652

We got lucky. There was a horrendous storm last night with 70 mile per hour straight line winds. Our power was out for about five hours, but the electricity was restored around breakfast time so we hardly even noticed the outage. At some point during the storm I heard the heavy thump of a tree limb hitting the roof, but when I looked this morning there was no damage. The limb was small enough that I was able to remove it without much difficulty. For the most part, Dot and Dash slept through the storm, so we didn't have the usual thunder and lightning issues.

I didn't really realize how bad the storm was until we took our morning walk. There were dozens of large trees that had been blown over in the park. Some looked like a giant had pulled them out of the ground by their roots.  There were sticks and twigs everywhere. Some of the tree limbs were in fields where there were no trees, so the wind must have blown them there. Even the birdhouses for the Purple Martins had been blown over.

When I turned on the television I saw that entire houses had been demolished in some parts of town. Thousands of people were without power this morning. Often our electricity is the last to be restored after a major power outage, but this time it looked like they got to us first. As I said, we got lucky last night.

I really need to remember to always keep all my devices charged. My first thought when the power went out was that I hadn't charged my phone or laptop. When the company was busy and I had lots of deadlines, having a working computer available at all times was a top priority. Now the computers aren't as much of an issue. What I worry about these days is losing the washing machine. A day without a washing machine with Dot peeing all over the place would be a disaster.

The refrigerator was looking kind of empty, so I went back to Central Market and got another one of those bowls for dinner. These tasty one-dish meals are great. It would be difficult to make something like this myself. The shredded beef was braised in soy sauce. The kale and mushrooms were roasted and had kind of a smoky flavor. The carrots and cucumbers appeared to be marinated. Even the barley that everything was piled on top of was delicious. I'm not even going to pretend to cook things anymore. It's so much easier and fun to buy something like this.

Dot had a good day, but Dash was moody again. The first two times I tried to walk him this afternoon, he wouldn't leave the back yard. I gave up and walked Dot instead. After dinner this evening, Dash decided that he wanted to walk after all and we had a nice sunset stroll. I have no idea what goes through this dog's mind. Why would he refuse to walk at 4 PM, but be eager to walk at sunset? I have to stay flexible because Dot is not very predictable either. Some days she wants to walk first. Other days she is tired and doesn't want to walk at all.

I hope the nasty weather is over for a while. I know we'll have more storms, because Spring is all about stormy weather here in Texas. I'm glad I had the trees trimmed a few weeks ago, because I'm sure that some of the limbs they trimmed would have fallen last night. Actually, I need to get the tree guy to come back. I saw several more dead limbs when I was up on the roof this morning.

I need to get the water off the roof tomorrow. The car is dirty and the grass needs to be mowed as well. I guess it all depends on how well I sleep tonight.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 2651

I found a website update request from four days ago that I hadn't gotten around to yet. I was surprised that I'd forgotten about this because I'm usually very prompt. When I took another look at the e-mail, I saw the fatal words "there's no rush on this" and immediately knew what happened. I have to approach every job as a rush job or I'll just forget about it. I made the changes the client requested and apologized for the delay. Don't ever tell me to take my time. You may not hear from me for a year.

Dot threw up again this morning. She's been throwing up more frequently now and that's never a good sign. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think she's drinking too much water. When she gets restless, Dot goes back and forth between her bed and her water bowl. She doesn't seem to know what to do, so she does this over and over again. I'm right there with her, holding up her rear legs, but I hate to take her away from the water. She takes such tiny sips now that maybe she's not actually drinking too much. I'd hate for her to get dehydrated.

I guess I've got one more question to ask the oncologist. Does the vomiting have something to do with her cancer? Is she just drinking too much water? Or is this something else entirely? It only seems to happen about once a week, but when she was healthy she would only throw up about once a year.

I'm not doing so well myself. When I woke up this morning my neck hurt and I could barely move my right arm. I did my stretching exercises and things got a bit better, but I'm thinking that I need to go back for another round of physical therapy. My physical therapist would probably be horrified at the way I'm using my arm these days. Holding up Dot's rear legs tends to pull straight down on my shoulder joint, which is weak already. I hope I don't have a rotator cuff injury. It's all speculative at this point, because I don't really have time to go in for physical therapy anyway.

It's getting harder and harder to get anything done during the day. Dot is increasingly restless and I need to spend more time attending to her. When Dot is moving around, there is more chance of a mess, so I'm doing more laundry and cleanup as well. It's all very tiring. I've started taking short naps when Dot is asleep. Sometimes it's the only rest I get.

I forgot what day it was again. For most of the day I thought it was Wednesday. I guess it doesn't really matter. All these days seem the same. I still haven't watched The Expanse. I haven't downloaded Arrival or Passengers either. Maybe I'll skip Passengers, since it got terrible reviews. Maybe I'll skip all these movies. Dot doesn't stay asleep long enough to watch a movie anyway.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day 2650

There were tons of blueberries at the store today. I need to train myself to do grocery shopping on weekday mornings. The stores are empty and the shelves are well stocked. This is exactly opposite of the way it is on weekends. Since I had such good luck with the blueberries, I stopped by the REI store on the way home. The thing I wanted was out of stock, so I left without buying anything at all. By the time I got home, I'd completely forgotten why I needed anything at REI in the first place. The excursion wasn't a total loss though. I'll have fresh blueberries in my smoothie tomorrow morning.

Dash has been licking his butt again, so I made an appointment to go to the vet and get his anal glands expressed. Dot can go years without anal gland problems, but Dash seems to need his expressed every two weeks. I should learn to do this myself, but I'm tired of doing disgusting things. It's easy and convenient to just go to the vet. Dot is almost impossible to transport now and Dash is getting more difficult as well. He can no longer hop up in the car like he used to, but doesn't want me to lift him either. I got tired of having him try to squirm out of my arms, or hit the back bumper when he couldn't jump high enough to reach the open tailgate. Now, I let him get a running start and then grab the handle on the back of his Ruffwear Web Master Harness as he starts to become airborne and give him a boost. This probably wasn't what this durable search and rescue dog harness was designed for, but it works great. Dash thinks he's jumping, but I'm really just tossing him in the car like a sack of potatoes.

I wish I'd get an interesting project to work on so I'd lose the desire to go buy a bunch of stuff I don't need. Whenever nothing is happening at work, I tend to read catalogs obsessively and daydream about new gear that I think I need. I've convinced myself that I need a new telephoto lens, even though I have several long lenses already. I'm sure I'd use the lens and equally sure that I don't really need it. It's too bad that I don't enjoy going to a movie or reading books like a normal person. Life would be a lot less expensive if I just fought boredom with a good book. There is something strangely satisfying about gear though. I love to accumulate gear.

I've decided that Dot is like a 90 year old who still wants to get that hip replacement so they can start training for a marathon. She is so weak, but she just doesn't want to give up. I've never seen a dog with so much determination. I don't think Dash and I have Dot's inner resolve. Dash is moody and I have a tendency to be lazy. We both could learn a lot from Dot.

I guess I show a certain amount of determination by continuing to write this blog day after day, but I could do so much more. I've noticed that people's priorities change as they age. Some people, like my Mom, find a calling late in life. Other people, like my Dad, seem to flounder. I wonder where I'll wind up. I've remained curious, but I've also turned inward. This is probably a good combination for a philosopher. Not so good for an ad man. Maybe my life in advertising has reached its logical conclusion.

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day 2649

It's that time of year. There are tornado warnings in the area and the weather radar shows a storm is headed our way. I think the really bad weather will pass to the north of us, but you never know here in Texas. One way or another, we're due for thunderstorms this evening and that's never good with two storm phobic dogs.

I was actually surprised to hear all the storm warnings on the evening news because, for the most part, it was a nice Spring day. The park was full of people today, including several weird ones. While I was walking Dash this morning we encountered a couple walking their miniature donkeys. They had the donkeys on leashes, just like dogs. Later in the day when I was returning from the gym, I noticed a group of men in another section of the park dressed in suits of armor, apparently reenacting medieval battles. At least there were no loose dogs today, although I was followed by a drone for a while.

The people in my gym keep getting older and older. I'm beginning to feel out of place. When I was on the treadmill this afternoon there was a group of old men next to me complaining about their doctors. One of them didn't want to have a biopsy done and thought he could resolve his problems through the power of prayer. Good grief. Just get the biopsy done. I didn't join the conversation though. It was none of my business. I wish a few younger people would join this gym, although I do tend to have the basketball court to myself.

Dot woke up in the middle of the night and I decided to take her outside. It was a good move, because she went right back to sleep after she peed and I was able to sleep in until almost 8:30 this morning. I wouldn't mind taking Dot outside every night, but it doesn't work very well unless she wakes up on her own. If she's sleeping, you want to let her sleep.

I forgot to go to the grocery store and look for blueberries this morning. I also forgot to go to REI on the way to the gym and use a coupon I got in the mail. Basically all I did today was take a nap and go to the gym. I did do the laundry, but when I washed the sheets, the bottom fitted sheet tore in the washer. Damn. I love bamboo sheets, but I wish they weren't so expensive. Bamboo sheets are more comfortable than cotton, but they don't last any longer. I guess it's time to look for some more.

It's hard to believe it's almost April. Pretty soon I'm going to to have to renew my driver's license and my passport. I hope I can just mail in my driver's license renewal. Spending time at the DMV is even worse than jury duty. I think when they take my passport picture this time, I'll finally look exactly like my Dad. I sure wish I still looked like I did in my first passport picture. Time definitely isn't kind.

I guess I'll have to make my morning smoothie with blackberries this week. Oh, well. Blackberries are pretty tasty too.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day 2648

Janet went downtown to the auto show today to look at new cars. It seemed like a smart idea to me. It would take forever to go from dealership to dealership, especially if you had to listen to a sales pitch from each one. I asked her if she'd found a favorite when she returned and she told me that most of the cars in her price range just looked the same. I'd have to agree. Most cars look like they were designed by a focus group these days. I remember when cars had a distinct personality. It was easy to identify each brand from a great distance. One of my favorite games on childhood car trips was to identify as many different cars as I could. It was easy to tell the difference between a Plymouth and a Chevy. They don't even make a Plymouth anymore and I couldn't even begin to tell you what a modern Chevy looks like. Sure, cars can drive themselves these days, but I still don't think they are fun anymore.

Dot had diarrhea last night. Lord knows why. She wasn't sick and nothing has changed in her diet. At any rate, it was a mess. Diarrhea makes normal incontinence seem like child's play. We cleaned everything up and hoped that this was just an isolated event. So far, so good. We made it through the day without further incident. I even managed to get my Saturday errands done without a mess to clean up when I returned.

Last week I made a mental note to start doing my grocery shopping on Sunday because the produce looked so much better. Of course, mental notes are worthless with me. I completely forgot about the nicer looking fresh fruit and went shopping on Saturday just like I have for years. As soon as I arrived at the store, I realized my mistake. There were no blueberries again.

Janet brought home one of those one-bowl meals I was telling you about yesterday. I still think these things are a bit overpriced, but they are actually delicious. The version we tried today was called Soy braised beef with Kale. There were also lots of mushrooms, barley, cucumbers and other unidentified stuff. Nice presentation too. I'll have to try some of the other varieties when I run out of food during the week. An interesting meal is usually the high point of my day.

Somebody is spreading nails on certain streets in our neighborhood. These don't seems to be nails that fell off a roofer's truck. They seem to be placed on purpose to puncture tires. WTF? Who would do something like this. Now, in addition to coyotes, loose dogs, and snakes, I've got to worry about nails in the street.

I was daydreaming about Questar telescopes today. Several times in my life I almost bought one of these things. I did a Google search and discovered that a fifty year old Questar costs more today on eBay than a brand new model did when I was in college. Of course, I could say the same thing for a vintage Ferrari or a 1963 Stratocaster. Even if I had the money, I'm not sure that I'd buy a vintage Questar. My experience with vintage watches is that old stuff is nothing but trouble.

The only old stuff I'll be worrying about tomorrow is me. I'll eat a healthy breakfast and go to the gym. The grass looks like it's time to mow again, but I think I'll wait until next week. Enough is enough. Maybe I'll just be lazy. I heard about a new Sci-Fi show called The Expanse that I might like. Maybe it's streaming on Netflix or Hulu. The show is already in Season 2, so I wonder why I only heard about it today?

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day 2647

The rain didn't begin when it was supposed to, but it was still a cold, rainy day. I stayed home and made French Toast this morning instead of going out to eat. I make French Toast better than most restaurants, but that still doesn't make me a good cook. The dogs seemed glad that I changed my plans, although I probably could have left the house anyway. This was a fairly quiet rain without the lightning and thunder that typically upsets Dot and Dash.

Rain wasn't the only thing that slowed me down this morning. We tried a new plan to get Dot out of the house without peeing on the rugs and it didn't work very well. We removed all the rugs before waking Dot up, but as it turned out, cleaning pee off the bricks was just as much trouble as washing the rugs. Actually, some of the rugs got wet anyway when we mopped the floor. I think the only solution is to get a sleeping bag and sleep next to Dot near the back door. Even that might not work, since Dot likes to sleep with the entire family nearby. You might think the obvious solution would be to waterproof her bed well and just let her pee before we even attempt to move her. I've tried that and it doesn't work. Apparently it is motion that causes Dot to start peeing. If I just stand her up in her bed, she doesn't do anything.

Dot and I both ran out of pills today. I had a prescription for me to pick up in one part of town and a prescription for Dot in another. Dot's pills were cheaper than mine. Dogs and people share a lot of the same medications, but when they are prescribed by a human doctor they are almost always more expensive. This just shows how horribly broken our health care system is. I'm convinced that my dogs get better care than I do. Veterinary care is reasonably priced and the veterinarians are highly trained. The specialty vets Dot and Dash see at the cancer center are as good as any human doctor I've ever seen. Nobody expects veterinary care to be free and yet people still take good care of their dogs and cats. I've never really understood why human medicine couldn't be the same.

On my way home from running errands I stopped at Central Market to pick up something for dinner. I was intrigued by a new section of the store that encouraged customers to "build your own bowl." These bowls seemed to be a cross between the trendy Buddah Bowls favored by vegans and hipsters and the meaty Mongolian fare found at Genghis Grill. How did these bowls get to be so popular? Basically, both the meat and meat-free varieties are just a bunch of food served in a bowl. I didn't build a bowl today, but I'll probably try this later. One dish meals have always appealed to me.

I don't know why I'm worried about the coyotes. It's the loose dogs in the neighborhood that are really the problem. A loose dog came after Dot this afternoon while we walking down the street. Luckily, the dog was well behaved, because when I called for the owner and yelled at the dog to stay, it actually did stop and went into a sit/stay. I don't understand people. The owners of this dog have a nice big fenced back yard, but they let their dog out front where there is a busy street and no fence at all. Even if there weren't injured dogs walking nearby, the dog could have easily been run over by a car.

It's been a long week. I'd like to do something besides wash rugs and clean up dog poop this weekend, but that will depend on Dot. She's been keeping me pretty busy.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 2656

I need to come up with a new plan for getting Dot outside when she wakes up in the morning. She just can't make it to the back door anymore. For the past three days I've had to wash a bunch of rugs that she peed on while making her exit. It's a mess. If I take up the rugs, the floor is too slippery and Dot will fall. She's too heavy to carry. And it's impracticable to have her sleep in the living room. Incontinence is a bitch. I've placed Dot's bed so I can see it while I'm working. I've learned that if she lifts her head and looks at me, she needs to pee. I stop what I'm doing and take her outside immediately. This usually works during the day. Nights are a problem though because she sleeps much longer than the two hours she can reliably hold her bladder. I really don't know if there's a solution to this, but it's wearing me out.

My project for the day was cleaning a bathroom faucet that seemed to have mold inside it. You'd think running water would keep the faucet clean, but apparently not. I needed to clean this thing because it was a bit disconcerting to turn on the faucet to brush my teeth and see little black flecks come out. At any rate, I took the faucet apart and soaked the parts in bleach. The faucet and the water coming out of it seem clean now, but I'm sure this is just a temporary fix. Everything I do these days is a temporary solution.

Since I was successful at cleaning the faucet, I decided to watch a YouTube video and learn how to replace the hard drive on my desktop computer. This used to be super easy on the old tower Macintosh computers, but things have changed. Even the screws that hold things together on my 27" iMac are different. To exchange the hard drive on my current computer, I'd first need to buy a set of special Torx screwdrivers and a big suction cup to get the glass off the front. Once the the components were exposed, I would risk ruining the fragile LED screen if I accidentally touched it. To make matters worse, there was a special heat sensor that only came with Apple OEM drives, so replacing the drive with a high capacity third party drive wasn't going to be easy. I learned that somebody made a replacement for the Apple heat sensor, but it was uncertain if this part was even available anymore. Basically, it took me longer to watch the video than it used to take me to replace all the drives in my old silver door Mac.

It is fundamentally discouraging to realize that I can no longer fix most of the things I use every day. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. For most of my adult life I have modified and upgraded all manner of things on my own. Modern manufacturing techniques make it virtually impossible to change components or make simple repairs. We live in a disposable society now. If something breaks, you're not supposed to fix it. You're supposed to have insurance, or Applecare in my case, and use your policy to exchange your damaged gizmo for a new model.

The adjustments we've made to Dot's pain medications have made her more alert and active, but they haven't made her any stronger. This means that I'm spending even more of my time moving Dot around when she gets restless. Dot is heavy. After a day of holding up her rear legs, my shoulder is begging for mercy. Caring for an injured dog with carpal tunnel in your wrists and a dislocated shoulder is not something I'd recommend.

We're supposed to have severe weather tomorrow morning. I brought all the rugs that were drying outdoors back inside and took the trash out to the curb. Luckily, the rugs appear to be dry. I guess I'm prepared for the rain, but I'll miss going out to breakfast tomorrow. I'm all out of bananas and fresh fruit, so hopefully there are still some toaster waffles in the freezer.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 2655

I thought my plan to go to the dentist early in the morning was pretty clever, but I forgot one important thing. The drive was right in the middle of morning rush hour. Ouch. As much as I complain about cleaning up dog poop, it's still not as bad as driving in rush hour traffic. All it takes is one small fender bender wreck to back traffic up for miles. I think I'd go insane if I had to do this every morning. Luckily, I have other things to drive me insane.

Every time I go to the dentist, there is a new dental hygienist.  Sign of the times I guess. The first dentist I went to had the same dental hygienist until he retired. Now there's a new hygienist every six months. The woman who cleaned my teeth today was pleasant enough, but she talked the entire time. It's very difficult to carry on a conversation while there are dental instruments inside your mouth.

I got new x-rays today and the dentist said my teeth are in good shape. No cavities. I'm not surprised. I use a Waterpik Flosser every day and brush with one of those Sonicare electric toothbrushes. I thought I was ahead of the curve, but apparently not. They now make WiFi toothbrushes that connect with your phone. This seemed a little over the top to me, but the hygienist said that the high tech brush provides feedback to let you know if you are cleaning your teeth properly and reminds you if you forget to brush. The robots are coming. I'm sure there will be a plate soon that reminds you to eat all your vegetables.

I knew I should have taken Dot outside to pee last night before I went to bed. She was sleeping peacefully though and I hated to wake her. Big mistake. When I woke her up this morning, she peed all over the place. Three rugs got soaked before I was able to get her outside. The house would be much easier to clean if we didn't have the rugs, but they are essential to keep Dot from falling. I tried to air dry the rugs in the back yard today after I washed them. They are making a mess in the dryer because little bits of the rubber backing flake off and clog the lint trap. There is no good solution though. By the time the rugs are dry, there will be spiders building webs in them.

I went to the vegan store this afternoon to pick up something for dinner. I always look at the website first to make sure they have something I like. Typically, when I get to the store, there is a completely different selection of meals. It doesn't seem to bother these people that the website and the store are perpetually out of sync. It's frustrating to me because I'm picky about my vegetables. I like chickpeas, brown rice, lentils, and any type of bean. I don't like sweet potatoes though. I'm not wild about tofu either. I ended up getting something I didn't really like, thinking that I really should have gone up the street and ordered a bowl of Pho from the neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant.

I need to call the roofer again. They still haven't come out and patched my roof. I need to call the landscaper too, even though it will be a waste of money. I wonder if there are any bedding plants that can tolerate being stepped on again and again? Years ago, Janet and I thought about putting artificial turf in the back yard. It probably would have been a good idea.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 2654

The bugs are going to be terrible this Summer. I've already been bitten by mosquitoes and chiggers and its only March. I'm a magnet for bug bites while guiding Dot slowly through the back yard while waiting for her to pee. Long pants and socks provide more protection, but it sure gets hot in the Summer. So far, I've found fire ants in the front yard, little sweet ants in the bathrooms, crane flies lining up to get in the back door when I leave it open for Dot, and lots of mosquitoes every time it rains. I haven't seen any cockroaches yet, but they can't be far behind. Dot and Dash are both on a flea and tick preventative, but I found a tick on Dash's face just yesterday. The battle against bugs is relentless in Texas.

The back door is really going to be a problem this Summer. I have to open the door ahead of time before I attempt to take Dot out to pee. If I can't keep her moving swiftly from her bed to the door, she pees immediately. This morning, I stopped just for a second to open the door and she peed all over a large rug next to the door. Jeez, I just washed this rug yesterday. It's a mess. I kept a fly swatter nearby while I was eating breakfast this morning to kill the crane flies that had wandered inside while I had Dot out in the back yard.

Today was surprisingly busy. I had several websites to update, including one that required me to brush up on some tricky code designed to automatically resize the site for mobile devices. It's a shame that I learned to create mobile-ready websites just as my business was starting to wind down. Mobile sites are complex and I don't do enough of them to keep my skills in tip top shape. Every time I get a request to modify a mobile site, I inevitably have to relearn something.

I have no idea what made Dot throw up yesterday. She seemed fine today. Surprisingly, she seemed to have more energy as well, even though the weather was still quite warm. We only walk Dot at sunrise and sunset now. It seems to help. This new schedule has messed up my own eating habits though. I now have to eat my dinner very early.

My accountant wants me to pay online now. I called and asked if I could just write him a check like I have for the past twenty five years and he told me that their office was trying to go paperless. Jeez, could it really be that hard to take a check to the bank? I'm having the same problem with everybody. When AT&T lost my check recently, they tried to get me to switch to online payments too. I get a notice in all my utility bills urging me to go paperless. Paper checks are apparently a thing of the past.

I was an innovator and somewhat of a trend setter for most of my career. Now, I've become a Luddite. I can't stop change from happening, but I sure can complain about it. I liked cars a lot better before they became computers on wheels. I liked it when software was packaged in fancy boxes with detailed printed manuals. I liked shoes better when you could take them to a shoe repairman and have them resoled forever. I liked electronics with soldered components instead of integrated circuits. Everything is ruthlessly efficient and disposable now. It's hard to fix anything. Paper checks may mean nothing to you, but they represent a better world to me.

I have to go to the dentist tomorrow. I decided to go early in the morning, in hopes that Dot would stay asleep while I was gone. It's hard to predict what Dot is going to do though and the dentist doesn't make house calls. Hopefully, I won't have any cavities and Dot won't make a huge mess while I'm gone.

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 2653 - Vernal Equinox

Dot threw up today right after the took her afternoon pain medication. Dogs throw up for hundreds of different reasons, but it always makes me uneasy when a dog with cancer starts vomiting. Sometimes Dot throws up simply because she drinks too much water. I didn't want to accidentally overdose her, so I didn't give her any additional Gabapentin. I watched her for the rest of the afternoon and by dinnertime she seemed back to normal. When Dot threw up on her bed, I'd just finished washing all the rugs she peed on this morning. The washing machine got a lot of use today.

I'm such a creature of habit. Even though I've almost convinced myself that it would be smart to start using electronic payments, I took another batch of bills to the post office this afternoon, just like I always do. Old habits die hard. I guess I just like going to the post office. On the way home I stopped by the vet and picked up some more phenobarbital for Dash. The dogs take so many meds now that it's going to take a spreadsheet to keep track of them soon.

I'm trying to spend a little time every clear night looking at the stars. It's a bit of an uphill battle. I found a little meadow in the park with a clear view of the sky. It's near the house and there aren't a lot of streetlamps or car headlights to spoil the view. The only problem is that all the neighborhood dogs sense me standing in the meadow and start barking at me. When one dog starts barking, pretty soon they all start barking. I looked for the Andromeda Galaxy tonight. I should have started looking last winter when it was higher in the sky. This thing is big enough and bright enough that it should have been easy to see with binoculars. I couldn't find it though. Like many other things, it was lost in the haze and glow of city lights that obscures everything near the horizon.

It actually did seem like the first day of Spring today. The weather was beautiful. I waited until sunset to walk Dot and she seemed to enjoy herself, even though she had thrown up earlier in the day. I wish Dot wasn't so frail, but we do the best we can. Even though Dot's appetite is still good, she is having trouble chewing certain things. She won't eat rice cakes anymore, even though she used to love them. Slices of banana sometimes fall out of her mouth. I don't know why she has trouble chewing a banana. Luckily, she's still fine with the Hills ID that has become her regular diet. Slowly all her favorite things are becoming more difficult. The dog that used to run like the wind now moves at a snail's pace. She's becoming finicky about what she eats and can no longer control her bladder. The scary thing is this is my future too. It's hell growing old.

I still haven't called the landscaper. I'm not even sure it's worth replacing all the Asian Jasmin and Liriope I've trampled taking Dot out to pee. As long as I'm walking behind Dot, holding up her rear legs, I'm going to continue to trample the ground cover. The yard looks terrible though. I need to do something.

I thought today was going to be uneventful. I guess it was. Dot gave me a little scare, but she's fine now. I cleaned four large rugs today, although it was far from a record. I think I've cleaned seven in one day once. The house shoes I use to take Dot outside tore apart at the seams, so I glued them back together to avoid the hassle of looking for another pair at a shoe store. Tomorrow I'll get up early and try to get Dot outside before she pees all over the place. I'll make my morning smoothie and put it in the freezer for a while so it's nice and cold. Eventually, I'll open my e-mail and hope to find an exciting new project to work on. There won't be any work, but there will be lots of spam. If I'm lucky, Dot won't throw up.

Baxter is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day 2652

Maybe I should start shopping on Sunday. There were no blueberries yesterday, so I went back to look for some this morning. The entire produce section had been restocked and everything looked much fresher. I got the blueberries I wanted and kind of wished that I'd waited until today to get the strawberries too.

I mowed the lawn for the first time in 2017. Like it or not, Summer is on its way. Every time I get the lawn mower out for a new season of cutting the grass, it seems heavier and more cumbersome than the year before. I wonder how many more years I can continue doing this. Eventually, I'll probably have to start using a lawn service like everyone else in the neighborhood. If the yard was flat it wouldn't be a bit deal. The hills are starting to be a problem. I've grown to hate pushing the mower up the hill in the front yard.

When I walked Dash this morning I saw the coyote again. I was surprised that the coyote was out in the open so late in the day. We got a late start this morning and I didn't walk Dash until after 9 AM. Several neighbors say they've seen two coyotes together. This probably means there is a den and cubs nearby. I probably should worry more about snakes than the coyotes. It is getting warm enough that the snakes are starting to emerge as well. I've learned to avoid the areas where snakes are abundant, but the coyote seems to like the same part of the park that Dash does. We see it frequently now.

This was another day when I was already tired before I even made it to the gym. I went anyway though. If I only went to the gym when I was feeling fresh and energetic, I'd probably never go at all. Since it was a nice Spring day, the gym was virtually empty. I like it this way, because there is seldom anyone using the basketball court. Midway through my workout it occurred to me that I might have left a gate open when I took the lawn mower back to the greenhouse. I always worry about the accidental open gate, because it wouldn't take Dash long to discover it. I called Janet and I guess I secured the gate after all. My memory is really getting bad.

We decided to walk Dot at sunset today, so she wouldn't get so hot. This worked out well. She actually seemed to have more energy than I thought she would. I guess sunset walks are going to be our new routine as the weather continues to grow warmer. This isn't the most convenient time of day for me, but it's easy enough to rearrange my schedule. I wonder why I even bother with a schedule anymore. It's become pretty clear that it doesn't really matter when I do things, or even if I do things.

I had to get up early this morning to take Dot out to pee. The sky was still dark, so after I took Dot back to her bed, I went outside again and looked at the stars. I enjoy stargazing, although it sure would be nice if the sky over our yard wasn't a solid canopy of trees. Despite the partially obscured view, I spotted Saturn to the left of the moon and Jupiter low on the western horizon. I could easily see four of Jupiter's moons through the binoculars, but I had trouble seeing Saturn's rings. Maybe sometime soon I'll have the time and energy to get the telescope out. I could easily see Saturn's rings through the telescope.

The only thing on my plate next week is a trip to the dentist. I'm not looking forward to that.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 2651

It's hard to believe that it's still snowing in some parts of the country. The temperatures reached the high 80's here in Dallas. Unfortunately, this is already too warm for Dot. I'm dreading this Summer. Dot never liked hot weather even when she was young and healthy. Now, high temperatures are punishing. Even though there was a nice breeze, Dot had trouble on her afternoon walk. She seemed exhausted. We had to stop and rest several times, even though all we did was walk to the end of the block and back. We probably should have just stayed home, or waited until dusk when the temperature started to drop.

It looks like working on weekends is going to be a regular occurrence. I don't really mind. It just seems odd. Years ago when I was busy all the time, I never worked on weekends. Now, when virtually nothing happens at all, weekend gigs are common. It's not so much that my clients have changed. The entire workplace has changed.

The park was full today since the weather was so nice. There were hammocks everywhere. I still don't understand the popularity of hammocks. To me, enjoying the outdoors means taking a hike or paddling a kayak. Apparently, an entire generation thinks that enjoying the outdoors means lying in a hammock while looking at Snapchat on your phone. Older people still hike and bike, but the young ones are all lying in hammocks.

I'm surprised at how predictable Texas wildflowers are. Often if I look at a previous years blog post, I'll find a picture of exactly the same flowers I'm seeing now. Today, the Blue-eyed Grass emerged. The little blue flowers were everywhere. I don't know who named these things. They aren't in the grass family at all and the eye in the center is yellow instead of blue. Next week there will be a whole new batch of wildflowers to photograph. Things are starting to get colorful.

It was overcast this morning, but the sky cleared completely by sunset. This was a pretty good evening to look at the stars. Tonight there was a conjunction of Mercury and Venus that was visible right after sunset. After dinner, I took my binoculars to a nearby hill to look for the planets. I found them both, although if I'd waited another ten minutes they would have been lost in the haze near the horizon. Venus was a thin crescent and Mercury just looked like a bright star. I need to start looking for Saturn now.

It just occurred to me that I hadn't seen any White Pelicans this Winter. These large migratory birds are a common site at the lake and usually arrive in late Fall. I didn't see any this year. It's probably too late for them now. They usually continue their migration and move somewhere else in late Spring. I wonder where they went? I haven't seen the green Monk Parakeets this year either. It's probably a sign of the apocalypse.

It's time to go to the gym again. I should be developing some serious upper body strength, since I'm having to support more of Dot's weight as her legs become weaker. I used to just guide and steady her as she walked. Now, I need to lift the rear part of the harness a bit to keep her rear legs from crumbling under her. I need to take weight off her legs while still letting her feet touch the ground to provide tactile support and encourage her to move her legs. It takes a while to learn to do this so she can still walk naturally, but we're getting there. We'll do a lot better tomorrow if we get some sleep tonight.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 2650

The restaurant I visited this morning was really old school. People were reading newspapers instead of looking at their phones. I didn't see a single phone in use in the entire restaurant. It was odd to see so many newspapers. I must admit that I haven't read the paper myself for several years. The food was good at this old fashioned place, but the portions were huge. I felt vaguely guilty that I couldn't finish my meal. I grew up with a mother who made me eat everything on my plate and I've religiously cleaned my plate ever since.

I actually struck up a conversation will a fellow diner, which was probably rarer than seeing a newspaper. The guy was wearing a t-shirt that said "the Falcon has landed" with a picture of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket. I was enough of a space nerd to realize that this was a play on words, referring to Neil Armstrong's famous phrase "the Eagle has landed" when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. I asked the guy if he worked at Space X and he said "I wish." We talked for a while about NASA, the moon, Elon Musk, and our fascination with space flight. The guy asked me whether I collected space memorabilia.  I told him no, but that I did stay up late last night to watch the Space X Echostar launch.

Dot had her monthly cancer recheck this afternoon. She rides so much better in the car now that Janet has started going with us to the exams. Janet sits in the back of the car with Dot and is able to calm her when she gets frantic and has a panic attack. Dot was actually calm enough when we arrived at the cancer center today that the nurse was able to get a decent blood pressure reading for a change.

The good news is that the growth of the tumors in Dot's liver has slowed. Each mass only grew about one millimeter this time. She still has four tumors, but no new ones have appeared. The oncologist seemed pleased that Dot was responding well to the pain medication and said her condition was more or less stable. She still wants us to come back every month for an ultrasound scan though. One of the tumors is large enough that it could become a problem at any time. Greta, one of our earlier Dalmatians, also had liver cancer. I wish we had handled Greta's illness the same way we are doing now with Dot. Greta was old as well when we discovered her cancer and wasn't able to survive the surgery. She died at the hospital. It would have been better to just keep her comfortable at home during whatever remaining time she had.

I got a notice from AT&T today saying that my wireless bill was overdue. Jeez, I sent the guys a check over two weeks ago. AT&T gave me an extension until next Wednesday to see if the check shows up. Maybe it will and maybe it won't. How could it take two weeks to get a letter to Atlanta?  I have a feeling that it's finally time to give up on the US mail. The post office has lost things of mine before and I'm sure they will again. Janet pays all her bills online and has urged me to do the same many times. At least when you pay online, you know instantly if your payment went through. Unfortunately, I'm just about as old school as the restaurant I visited this morning. I like traditions like going to the post office and the bank. There is something nice about these traditions, just like writing letters on paper to my sister.

I hope Dot sleeps well tonight. We kind of had a rough night yesterday and neither of us got very much sleep. I remember cleaning up poop and throwing rugs in the washing machine at 3 AM. Hopefully tonight will be calmer. We could all use the rest.

Alison is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 2649

My taxes are done. Well, they aren't really done, but they aren't my responsibility anymore. When I dropped the files off at the accountant's office, I made sure that they could open the CD with my Quickbook records before I left. I use such an old version of Quickbooks Pro that I'm always afraid that my accountant won't be able to import the files into their system. I hate to switch accounting programs. I was probably the last person in the world who still used MacMoney. When I finally switched to Quickbooks, I never bothered to upgrade. The first version was fine.

It was kind of chilly this morning. When I put on my favorite winter coat to walk the dogs, the zipper broke. The last time the zipper broke on this coat, I asked the tailor to replace it with a heavy duty indestructible zipper. Apparently indestructible zippers last two years. I took the coat back to a different tailor and asked them to put in a third zipper. I'm so tired of fixing things that are poorly made. Nothing lasts very long anymore. I still have a parka that my Dad wore when we lived in Alaska. The coat is over fifty years old and looks like it will last another fifty years. I doubt that I'd ever have to replace the zipper in this sturdy coat. So, why don't I just wear my Dad's coat and forget about all the shoddy imitations I've bought over the years? It's a nice coat, but something designed for Alaskan winters is a little warm for Texas.

I actually went to an animal rescue group meeting tonight. It's rare that I'm able to attend these meetings anymore, but Janet came home early, so I felt safe leaving Dot for a while. I didn't contribute very much to tonight's meeting, but at least I stayed the entire time. Several people had to leave early this evening, so the meeting was shorter than usual. It still seemed long to me though. I've spent the better part of my life sitting in long meetings, but I think my meeting days are over. I just don't have the patience for them anymore.

We saw another coyote on our walk this morning. Somehow the subject of coyotes came up at our meeting tonight and almost everyone had seen one recently. One guy even said that they were coming into his yard. I guess urban coyotes are a thing now. I sure wish that Dash was a little more wary of the critters. He is sometimes terrified of other dogs, but he seems oblivious to coyotes. He was literally walking right toward one this morning. I would think that he could have smelled the coyote, but Dash didn't seem to care. I didn't want to take chances, so we changed directions and took the long way home.

I almost forgot to take out the trash tonight. Somehow going to the meeting after dinner made me forget it was Thursday. When I finally hauled the trash can out to the curb, someone else had already taken my favorite spot. I'm superstitious about the trash truck missing my can, so I reluctantly placed the can somewhere else and hoped for the best. I don't know why I worry about stuff like this, but it's probably not going to change. Lost mail, broken zippers, and forgotten trash cans are all pretty normal these days.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Day 2648

I finally started working on my taxes today. You'd think that Quickbooks would make this process super easy, especially since I've got all my expenses categorized already. Nope. I quickly learned that if you want to save time, you have to put things in the right categories in the first place. I hate all those Quickbooks drop down menus. I frequently click on the wrong thing. When I couldn't find something today, it was almost always because I'd inadvertently clicked on the wrong menu item. I found car insurance payments filed under utility bills. I found office supplies filed under lawn care. All the information was there, but some of it was definitely misplaced. I think I fixed most of the errors, but it would have been a lot better if I never made them in the first place. My accountant thinks I've defined way too many categories in my Quickbooks files. I think the categories are fine. I just need to pay more attention when I'm doing my bookkeeping.

I didn't get a lot accomplished today. I paid a few bills and went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, but I've still got more work to do on my tax files before I can drop them off at the accountant. The most discouraging thing about doing my taxes is realizing that each year I'm making a little less that I did the previous year. If your lifetime earnings are like a Bell Curve, I'm definitely on the downhill slope. They say your expenses go down and you can live on less as you grow older. I haven't seen that yet.

I'm starting to wonder why all the calls on my caller ID say "unknown caller." Isn't the whole point of having caller ID to identify who is calling you? Telemarketers must be able to hide their identity by paying a special fee. Just about all the calls I get on my land line these days just say "Unknown" or "Unknown Caller." I'm sure AT&T doesn't care. They probably love telemarketers because they make a lot of calls. The post office is the same way. I remember telling my mail carrier that he could just throw away the junk mail if he wanted. I certainly didn't want it. "I can't do that," he told me, "because somebody has already paid for me to deliver it to you."

Dot was panting a lot early this evening. Janet thought she was in pain. I thought she needed to poop. About five minutes later, Dot did poop and the panting stopped. Was I right? I have no idea. She's not pooping quite as often now, so maybe this is becoming difficult for her. I guess the point is that it is often difficult to tell if a dog is in pain. Dogs hide their discomfort well and they don't talk. I try my best to keep Dot comfortable, but I'm not sure if I'm succeeding. I'm still convinced that Dot likes her walks, but she walks so slowly now that maybe the walks are painful. Often Dot is frustrated by her lack of mobility, but frustration and pain are two different things. The problem is that it's hard to tell the difference. The oncologist will give us another evaluation this Friday. I'm not even sure if these monthly cancer rechecks mean much at this point.

The sky is clear tonight and I'm thinking of going out stargazing. Too bad there is so much light pollution. You can't see anything but the brightest stars from our backyard. There are places in the park where the sky is darker, but I'm not so sure about hiking through the park after dark. The coyotes are out. The Bobcats are out. The drug dealers are out. There are lots of places to trip in the dark and sprain my ankle. Maybe I'll just go out in the back yard.

Carmine is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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