Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 2776

Dash threw up again late last night. We don't know what is causing this. It seems to happen about once every two or three weeks. He almost always throws up in the middle of the night after spending a very normal day. There is usually no advance warning. He just wakes up after sleeping normally, wants to go outside and eat grass, and then throws up. Sometimes he seems a bit unsteady on his feet and we think he must be having another vestibular episode. Other times it just seems like he has an upset stomach. This has been going on for a long time and he has been examined from tip to tail. Sometimes the vets think vestibular disease nausea is causing the vomiting. Other times they think he is eating the wrong food and that we should change his diet. Dash almost always feels better after he has vomited and goes right back to sleep. By the time we are able to get him to a vet, he usually seems quite normal. It's frustrating because something is clearly wrong and nobody seems to know what it is. Last's night's episode didn't seem like vestibular disease at all, but I still couldn't come up with a better explanation.

Dash was fine today. It was almost as if last night never even happened. I know he was sick because I cleaned up the vomit. We also took him on a short walk around midnight down our very dark street in hopes that it might settle his stomach. I remember looking up at the stars as we walked down the street and feeling a bit sad that it wasn't really safe to have an interest in astronomy in some parts of this city. I never would have said this when I was younger, but when I hear sirens and helicopters late at night, I feel much more comfortable just staying indoors.

I had to renew a prescription at my primary care physician this afternoon. This was a bit awkward, because this was the doctor that fired me as his web designer last week. I talked to the practice manager for a few minutes and told him that there were no hard feelings on my part. I even told him to call me again if the younger son screwed up the website as much as the doctor's older son had a few years earlier. Yes, this was the second time this doctor has fired me to turn over the marketing to one of his children. They had to hire me back to repair the damage the first son did. If this happens again, I'm definitely going to raise my rates.

I finished watching season one of The Expanse today. I thought I might be able to watch season two on Netflix, but Google was wrong. The series wasn't available on Netflix after all. Oh, well. I guess I'll have to go back to the overpriced iTunes Store after all. No wonder Apple is so rich. They overcharge for everything. Apple's high prices have always frustrated me, but I keep coming back. I like their phones and computers better, and they always seem to have more of the shows I like on iTunes.

I hope Dash sleeps well tonight. It always worries me when something goes wrong in the middle of the night. With any luck, we'll all wake up early and take another sunrise walk. I'll drink my fruit smoothie, water the grass, and check the mail. Dash will take a long nap, but I'll still need something to do. I'll probably end up downloading season two of The Expanse even if it is too expensive.

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Day 2775

I went back to the gym today. It's amazing how quickly your body begins to deteriorate if you don't use it. With only a single month of reduced activity, my regular workout was really hard to complete. It wasn't like my leg was hurting or anything. I just didn't have the same amount of energy. When I started throwing the basketball, my shots didn't connect anymore. It was interesting. I thought I was shooting free throws exactly like I've always done, but the ball was landing just a little short. The hand eye coordination was the same, but the muscles had atrophied a bit more. It was like they were delivering 10% less power. I'm going to really have to work on regaining muscle mass. Things have been slowly going downhill for a long time. I'm going to have to start adding more protein to my diet and working out with weights. I've always liked the idea of being thin, but I can't afford to lose any more muscle. It's time for a change.

I was going to watch a few more episodes of The Expanse today and I thought I would watch them on the big TV instead of my computer. Bad idea. I quickly discovered that there's a problem with my Apple TV box. My network connection keeps dropping out even though the box is directly connected to the router with an Ethernet cable. Like many Apple problems, my sporadic connection problems were well documented by other users on Apple forums. A number of people seem to be experiencing the same type of problem I was seeing. No solution from Apple though. There seldom is these days.  I went back to watching my show on the computer.

There was a nice breeze when we took our sunrise walk with Dash this morning. unfortunately, that was the last walk Dash got today. Janet had to go to a meeting this evening and Dash wouldn't leave the house without her. He has become really attached to Janet while she has been home and follows her around all day. When she leaves the house now, he freaks out. I don't know if he is scared or lonely, or a little bit of both. It's going to be a problem when Janet goes back to work. I hope he can adjust. I know he feels more comfortable when Dot and Janet are around, but that isn't an option now. Dot is gone and Janet has a job.

Today went quickly. It's surprising how easy it is to fill a day with almost nothing. The simple act of trying to watch a movie sent me on an extended Google search where I learned some new things about modern technology. Evidently, many of the new devices you plug into your TV are able to control the TV. Your TV is also able to control these external devices. The whole idea is to let you do everything using one remote control. The problems start when two devices are trying to control each other and get confused. I think that's what happened with me today. I probably don't need a Roku stick, Chromecast, and Apple TV all hooked up to the same television. No wonder Janet prefers to watch TV using her iPad.

Jeez, it's almost August and I still don't have a plan for the summer. I've accomplished a few things, but there have been a lot of setbacks as well. There's so much to do that I hardly know where to start. Maybe a nice early walk tomorrow morning, followed by some strong coffee and a fruit smoothie will give me some ideas.

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 2774

The only thing memorable about today was the heat. I was hot when we woke up. It was even hotter when I began running my weekend errands after breakfast. It was so hot that even our sunrise walk with Dash was uncomfortable. On days like these I'm really thankful that we have a working air conditioner. I've gotten used to the heat over the years, but I still remember the day I stepped off a plane arriving in Dallas from Seattle for the first time in the mid 1970's. I was interviewing for a job that I subsequently took, but as I stood in front of the Dallas airport waiting for a taxi to take me into town, I wondered if I'd made a huge mistake.

We are totally at the mercy of the weather in the summer. Cars seem to break down more frequently in the summer. I see them on the side of the road all the time in July. I don't even care about the huge electric bills. All I want is for the air conditioner to keep running. Once, a summer thunderstorm knocked our power out for almost five days in July and it was like camping out in hell.

Luckily, everything is working like a charm this year. The car has just been serviced and seems reliable. The air conditioner has a fresh filter and can still keep things twenty degrees cooler than the outside air. The dehumidifier faithfully sucks the moisture our of the air. We are all pretty comfortable as long as we stay inside.

To stay cool, I ran my errands right after breakfast this morning and then came home and vacuumed the house. This was the first time I'd touched the vacuum cleaner since the dog bite and the house was definitely dusty. By the time I'd finished cleaning both bedrooms, the canister on the Dyson was completely full. Janet had already mopped the brick floors in the living room yesterday, so the house is probably as clean as it's going to get.

I was pleased that pushing the heavy Dyson around didn't seem to bother either my wrist or my legs. There will be some scars on my legs for a long time, but I think I'm getting back to normal. Normally, I would have mowed the grass today, but it was just too hot. Hey, the house was clean and I felt like I'd accomplished something. It was a good time to binge watch a few more episodes of The Expanse.

So, how does this show compare with Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Lexx, Dr. Who, or Firefly? Most of these shows are kind of like Westerns with space ships, but I enjoy them. Somehow, when the future arrives, I doubt that it will be like Dodge City on a different planet, but it does make a good story. I think Firefly was my favorite sci-fi series because it really was a true space Western. Star Trek never appealed to me because the writers made it a morality play. Hey, don't preach to me when I'm trying to be entertained. Just show me cowboys in space.

The neighbors brought over a gift basket this afternoon. I know they are trying to be nice, but it made me a little uncomfortable. They didn't need to do anything. I'm not mad at them and certainly don't blame them for anything. The whole thing was just an unfortunate accident. If anything, the dog bite was my fault. I should have just minded why own business and left that credit card in the alley.

Think is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 2773

Much to my surprise, I don't have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome after all. The orthopedic specialist I saw this morning told me that I wasn't having the symptoms that you would normally associate with Carpal Tunnel. He says the problems I've been having all these years are caused by arthritis. I guess it makes sense. Arthritis is common in my family. I wonder why I was so convinced that the pain and lack of mobility in my left wrist was caused by Carpal tunnel? The good news is that my sprained wrist has healed nicely. The bad news is that my arthritis will probably get worse.

I need to start doing my range of motion exercises again for both my wrist and my shoulder. The orthopedic specialist said he would be happy to recommend  a physical therapist, but that they would probably just tell me to do exactly the same things that my last physical therapist suggested. I know what to do. I just grew tired of continuing the stretching exercises after the first year.

It was so hot outside today that I didn't feel like doing much of anything. I went to the doctor and picked up something for dinner. That was about it. I've been watching Janet binge watch television shows all month and thought I'd give it a try myself. I downloaded season one of a series I meant to watch several years ago but never got around to it. I only meant to watch one episode today, but I can see now how easy it is to get sucked into watching an entire season in one sitting. Without commercials, each episode isn't really that long. TV drama episodes usually end on a cliffhanger, so you naturally want to see what happens next. When you finish one episode, it's easy to say "Well. I guess I've got time to watch one more." All the sudden it's dinner time and you've watched half a dozen shows.

Maybe I'll do something more useful and productive tomorrow. Then again, I might just finish season one of my show. In a world without deadlines, there isn't a compelling reason to overexert yourself. I kind of wish I had deadlines again. They add a certain structure to your life. At least from what I see on Facebook, most of my former co-workers seem content with traveling and spending time with grandchildren. Travel is good. Taking classes is probably good too. I just need to get over the idea that I always need to be making money. If I can find something challenging that I enjoy, it will probably turn into money anyway. That's certainly how it always worked in the past.

This is the time of year when it gets harder to illustrate the blog. The vegetation is drying up and the wildflowers are almost gone. Most of the animals are in hiding too. It's just too hot. Our walks are much shorter now, because we don't want Dash to become overheated. It upsets me when I see people jogging with their dogs in July. Dogs don't sweat and can't handle this heat as well as we can. People don't handle it all that well either. I see the EMT ambulances in the park a lot more often in July than I do in January. At any rate, I still take a new picture every day, but you might have to be content with seed pod images
 for a while.

I've stopped sleeping with my feet elevated. There's really no need anymore. Pretty soon I'm going to start going back to the gym again. Dash is eating well and seems to have fully recovered from his last vestibular episode. Janet is going back to work while she waits for the final minor surgery she needs to complete the reconstruction process. It's hot, but I think we all are going to survive the summer.

Queen is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 2772

After an early walk with Janet and Dash, I returned to the Passport Acceptance Facility this morning and renewed my passport. This time everything went perfectly. I was the first in line. I had my D-11 form already filled out in black ink. And most importantly, I had my checkbook with me. The whole process only took me about fifteen minutes. I don't know why I chose the more expensive expedited option, because I definitely have no place to go. I guess I just hate waiting on things.

I knew it would take me forever to make my morning smoothie, so I stopped and got a breakfast taco on the way home. It was still so early when I returned that I didn't know what to do with myself. If I got up this early every morning, I would have a lot more time, but I'm not sure I need more time anymore. Often, I feel like I've got too much time on my hands.

Since I had a lot of free time today, I thought I'd watch a movie on Apple TV. Much to my surprise, Apple TV didn't work. It worked fine two days ago when I was explaining what it could do to Janet. This time I got a message saying that Apple TV wasn't connected to the internet, even though I could clearly see a cat5 cable connecting the box directly the router. I tried the time honored turn everything off and back on again routine and that didn't work. I tried entering the WiFi password again and that didn't work either. Everything else on the network was working fine, so this was a weird little problem. I found an item on the menu called "troubleshooting" and clicked on that. This brought up another menu where I could enter all the network information manually. I didn't want to do that, so I found another little button that said "find network information automatically." I still don't really know what I did, but eventually Apple TV started working again. By this time I didn't even feel like watching a movie. I turned the TV off and ate a piece of cheese I found in the refrigerator.

The orthopedic specialist called to remind me of my appointment tomorrow. I'm glad he did, because I probably would have forgotten. I'm not even sure what I'm going to see the orthopedic guy for. My wrist is almost back to normal again and since I'm still not interested in surgery for my Carpal Tunnel problems, I doubt that anything can be done. Maybe I'll ask the doctor about my shoulder. My shoulder is actually in much worse shape than my wrist.

When I was working on the computer this afternoon, A message from Apple appeared on my screen, saying that a virus had been discovered that needed to be removed immediately. The message definitely looked like an official Apple communication, but Apple doesn't normally do this sort of thing. I quickly forced Safari to quit even though there was a little countdown clock saying I had two minutes before my computer destroyed itself. I opened Firefox and quickly did a Google search describing what I had just seen.

It was a scam. If I wasn't so familiar with Apple, I might have fallen for it. A few more Google searches showed me how to clear the Safari cache files and delete the cookies that were causing this alarming message to appear. It's amazing how much time you have to spend protecting yourself from scams these tays. They're everywhere.

Janet's recovery is going remarkably well and she will be returning to work soon. I've enjoyed having her home, but she loves her job and is eager to get out of the house again. I guess there are only so many Netflix movies you can watch in a single summer. Dash will be lonely for a while. He loves having everybody home and follows Janet around like a shadow during the day. It's a good thing that dogs live in the moment. They can usually adjust to changes quicker than people can.

It's going to take me a while to adjust. Without Dot to take care of or business to keep me busy, I've got to come up with a Plan B.

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 2771

Here's how to waste a day. I got up early, so I could go down to the Passport Acceptance Office and renew my passport before the lines got long. I'd already looked up what I needed to bring with me online. The website said that I could pay with a credit or debit card, but when I arrived the first thing I saw was a large sign saying that passport processing fees must be paid for with a check or money order. Did I have a check with me? Of course not. To make matters even more confusing, there was another sign that said passport photos and other fees must be paid using cash or a credit card. Why did they have to make this so complicated? For one part of the transaction, they want a check, but for another part of the same transaction they demanded cash or a credit card. I'd already downloaded a form and brought it with me, but I saw a third sign saying only the latest forms would be accepted. Did I have the latest forms? Who knows. I grabbed a couple of the official forms from a nearby table before I gave up and went home again.

These new forms seemed longer and more complicated than I'd filled out in the past. They asked for both my parents date of birth and birth city. Jeez, my parents have been dead for quite a while. I couldn't remember when or where they were born. You'd think this information would be readily available, but it wasn't. I finally found my Dad's information on a "Find a Grave" website. I thought I could find my Mom the same way, but her information wasn't listed. I finally found her birth city on my own birth certificate and located her date of birth in a story I'd written about her over twenty years ago.

I though I was home free at this point, but the next section of the form asked for similar information for any marriages or divorces. Give me a break. I was married so long ago and became divorced so quickly that I've always thought of myself as single. I've had numerous passports and I don't think they used to ask all these questions on the application form. Wouldn't they already have the information if I already have a passport? Who knows. Maybe the forms have always been exactly the same and my memory was just better the last time I filled out the application. I'll take the completed application and a check back to the Passport Acceptance Office tomorrow morning. I'd like to put all this nonsense behind me.

When Janet and I were taking Dash on a walk this morning, we saw the neighbor's dog coming out their back door. We immediately panicked and ran back to the safety of our own back yard with Dash as fast as we could. It turned out that the dog was on a leash and there was no danger, but we weren't taking any chances. I don't want to ever be bitten by this dog again and after seeing me limping around the house with swollen legs for three weeks, I don't think Janet wants to get bitten either.

Janet's new car is so pretty that it's got me wanting a new car too. I don't need a new car. I don't really need anything. It would just be nice not to need to be frugal anymore. It would be fun to buy a car on a whim. I'd need a more substantial source of income than freelance writing to do that unfortunately. I wonder if any of the major ad agencies have a division that specializes in marketing to old people. I'd be perfect for that.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 2770

I went car shopping with Janet today. For me this would have been the beginning of a three month ordeal. Janet is much more decisive and came home with a new car. I was glad she invited me along. I love looking at cars and it was actually a very enjoyable afternoon. We visited several dealerships, but the cars that caught Janet's attention were the Audi's. We spent most of the afternoon at the Audi dealership. I always thought that Janet would get another Land Rover, but prices have gone up and service isn't as good as it once was. I could see why an Audi seemed appealing. These cars were pretty cool.

The first thing I noticed was a lot has changed since either of us bought our last car. I was impressed that you can use Google Earth as your GPS display now. You can also set a destination by just speaking to the car. Somehow, the GPS knows the speed limit of every road in the country and warns you if you are speeding. I'm not sure if I like that, but it is impressive. You can change from a soft to a firm suspension with the touch of a button and there's even a built-in WiFi hub.

By the Time we got around to taking a test drive, I think Janet had already decided she wanted an Audi. The dealership was very pleasant and the salespeople weren't pushy at all. I think the car more or less sold itself. One of our friends from Dalmatian Rescue worked at the dealership, so we caught up on dog stories while the bean counters worked out the numbers on her trade in. I wouldn't have had the nerve to buy a car after a single afternoon of car shopping, but I think Janet did the right thing. The car is beautiful and Janet certainly seemed happy on the drive home.

Dash wasn't very happy when we arrived home two hours after his normal dinner time, but he forgave us as soon as we fed him. It's kind of a luxury to be able to leave the house again. When Dot was sick, we could never have left her alone for this length of time. Dash might have been a little lonely, but he was just fine. I'm sure he slept most of the afternoon anyway.

I was planning on renewing my passport today, but going car shopping was much more enjoyable. I'm not in the market for a new car yet, but it's always fun to dream. I did see a few cars this afternoon that would definitely be fun to drive. Hopefully, my car has a few good years left. Cars have gotten so expensive now that I'm not looking forward to the day when I'll need to go car shopping myself.

When I opened my e-mail this evening, I discovered that I'd lost one of my very last website accounts. The client had replaced me with one of his sons. This is actually the third time that I've been replaced by one my my client's children. I should never have picked a profession that was so popular with millennials. Janet could have a steady job for the rest of her life if she wanted because young people aren't interested in her job. I don't know why millennials want my job. It isn't nearly as glamorous as it seems.

I wonder if I could ever work in an office again? It would certainly be easier to buy a cool new car if I had a steady income. I have a wealth of unique skills and loads of experience, but I haven't had a boss for so long that some of my friends tell me that I'm unemployable. They're probably right. Nobody has told me what to do for a long, long time.

Puppies are our Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 2769

We had a terrible storm last night. The lights flickered on and off for twenty minutes and I kept hearing the thump of small branches hitting the roof. For a while I thought I smelled something burning, but I must have been imagining things. I looked everywhere and couldn't find a problem. We lost our internet connection for a while, but never did lose power. The storm was kind of a surprise after a succession of hot dry days, but at least I didn't have to worry about watering the grass today.

The overnight rain brought cooler temperatures along with it, so our morning walk with Dash was actually very pleasant. I noticed that Jimson Weed is blooming in the park again. I'm always surprised that the city doesn't destroy these beautiful plants, because they are very poisonous.

After breakfast, I wasted way too much time trying to figure out how we had become victims of a gift card fraud. I guess I'm still surprised that nobody was in any particular hurry to refund our money. It turns out that the kind of fraud we experienced is fairly common. It often originates at the facility where the cards are manufactured. An employee copies the numbers off the cards before they are packaged and shipped to a retail outlet. After an unsuspecting person purchases the card at a grocery store and has it activated, the person who copied the numbers at the manufacturing facility is able to receive a notification that the card is activated and then uses the card to make online purchases. There is an entire Consumer Reports website devoted to warning people about this scam. Scammers also sometimes steal batches of cards from a retail outlet, remove the cards from the packaging, copy all the card information, and them replace the cards in counterfeit packaging and return them to the retail outlet where they are purchased by unsuspecting customers. According to the Consumer Reports website, the only way to protect yourself from this kind of crime is to never buy a gift card at a grocery store or other retail outlet where the cards are displayed on an unsecured rack.  Live and learn. I suppose that we'll eventually get our money back, but I'll never buy a gift card again.

I wonder how long it's going to take for my legs to completely heal. I'm taking normal walks with Dash everyday now and the swelling hasn't returned. That's the good news. The bad news is that my left leg is still very sore. I still feel a hard knot in my calf that might take months to disappear. The slow progress is frustrating even though my doctor says that everything is proceeding normally. I'm ready to put this whole unfortunate episode behind me.

Maybe I'll go renew my passport tomorrow. My current passport expires next month and I've heard that the renewal process sometimes takes longer if you wait to renew until after your passport has expired. When did the cost of renewing a passport become so high? I remember paying somewhere around $25 to renew my passport. Now the cost is well over $100. Sign of the times, I guess. There is no place I particularly want to visit right now, but experience tells me that if I let my passport expire, I will need it almost immediately. I used to need a passport frequently when I worked overseas a lot, but somehow I don't expect that I'm going to get many jobs in Germany these days.

The closer we get to the solar eclipse, the more I'm reading that travelers must prepare as if they are entering a disaster zone. You are encouraged to bring your own food, arrive several days ahead of time, and make sure to bring your own toilet paper. It is anticipated that there won't be nearly enough porta-potties available to accommodate the huge influx of visitors. If huge traffic jams, no food, and and absence of toilets is what I've got to look forward to, seeing this "once in a lifetime" event is becoming less appealing every day.

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 2768

It's been three years since Dot suddenly became ill and I thought we were going to lose her. I learned a few days later that she had cancer and I'm still learning how her incredible determination to survive changed me in ways I don't fully understand. From the summer of 2014 to the summer of 2017 Dot defied the odds over and over again, forever becoming my hero in the process. I became so convinced that she could go on forever that it's still hard to believe that she's not with us today.

Caring for Dot became a way of life that made it easier for Janet and I to care for each other while we've been dealing with our own medical problems this summer. We're both getting better now and there is a little less fear of the unknown with each passing day. As long as Dash doesn't give us another scare with his ongoing vestibular disease problems, there will come a day pretty soon when I will no longer be either a patient or a nurse.

What comes next? When people tell me "you can do whatever you want," I am baffled. I'm not sure what I want. I need to focus on realistic choices, since going back in time isn't really an option. When I look backwards, I see so many fond memories. When I look forward, I only see the Zombie Apocalypse. This certainly isn't the world I envisioned when I was making big plans back in the 1970's.

I'm not going to change the world at this point, but I need to become more comfortable living in it. Like it or not, it's the only world we've got. I have a feeling that something pretty simple might do the trick for me. Maybe I should take piano lessons. Years ago I used to enjoy playing the piano, but I have forgotten everything. Maybe I should drive to Wyoming with a sleeping bag and a camera and wait for the eclipse. That's probably a little too bold, but you get the idea. I know there's a world beyond cleaning the house with a pressure washer. I just need to find it.

I went back to the store today and picked up the things I forgot yesterday. I got caught in a brief rain storm on the way home, but it was so hot outside that the rain turned to steam in a matter of minutes. By this afternoon, it was hard to imagine that it had rained at all. We've started walking Dash very early in the morning so he is able to enjoy at least one good walk before the heat becomes oppressive.  He seems to enjoy this new schedule. I'm watering the new grass religiously, but it's going to be an uphill battle to keep it looking good for the rest of the year. What can I say. It's hot. It's Texas. It's summer.

I decided to skip going to the gym today. The swelling in my leg has subsided, but it is still pretty sore. My wrist doesn't feel very strong either. I'm supposed to see the orthopedic specialist later this week. Maybe I'll just ask him when it is OK to exercise again. Until then, I'll try to amuse myself one day at a time.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Day 2767

I finally finished cleaning all four sides of the house with the pressure washer this morning. This is a somewhat futile effort, since spiders have already returned to the part of the house I cleaned first. I've finally learned to wear long pants and a hat when I do this job. It's pretty messy and the spiders aren't happy. I also learned that my wrist hasn't really healed yet. It wasn't very comfortable holding the pressure nozzle for any length of time.

In an attempt to beat the heat, we got up before sunrise to walk Dash. There was a light breeze and the temperature was only in the mid-80's, so the walk was actually enjoyable. Two hours later, it would have been an entirely different story. We got an unusual amount of rain in June. As soon as we put the new grass in, the rain stopped. I run the sprinkler for an hour or so every morning, but I still worry that the grass will dry out before it gets established.

I think we had a heat index of over 105 degrees today. When it gets this hot, it's hard to get motivated to do anything. I did go grocery shopping, but came right home afterwards because I didn't want the fresh fruit to spoil in the car. Several times today, I joined Dash on the bed for a nap. Hey, I had already battled spiders and won. I deserved a nap. Later in the day I did manage to finish one quick website update because I knew that the guy who sent me the job probably wasn't napping with his dog.

Janet and I are becoming so forgetful. We never used to forget things. When we finished our errands this afternoon, we had both forgotten essential  things that should have been on our lists. Oh, well. I guess we will have to go back to the store tomorrow. This is probably what happens when you get old. You spend your entire day trying to remember what you forgot.

We're still debating whether to take a car trip somewhere before Janet returns to work. It would be nice to get away, but the thought of being on the road in August with a dog who could have a seizure at any time in a car that could break down at any point just isn't very appealing. This is probably why we never take car trips. There was a time when we used to travel quite a bit. It was easier when the dogs were young and healthy and we didn't have to leave them in a boarding kennel. We had good friends who would look after Spot when we were away. Spot absolutely loved visiting Lynn and Bob and got along well with their dogs. That was a long time ago. Bob is dead and we haven't seen Lynn in years. I can't imagine leaving Dash. There are just too many health issues.

I was thinking about going to the gym again tomorrow, but after wrestling with the pressure washer this morning, I don't think I'm ready yet. I'd hate to screw up my wrist before it has had time to heal. I asked the doctors at the emergency room how long I needed to wear the splint on my wrist. They just said to ask the orthopedic specialist they referred me to. I don't think they realized that it would take a month to get an appointment though. I don't see any need to wear the splint now, but I probably shouldn't be lifting weights yet.

I just fell asleep at the computer while trying to think of what to write next. I assume that means it's time for bed.

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 2766

I must have been really tired this morning. When I woke up, Janet had already eaten breakfast and walked Dash. I've lost the urge to go out for breakfast on Friday mornings, so I fixed myself some pancakes and bacon instead. I really got off to a slow start today. By the time I'd cleaned up the breakfast dishes, the day was well underway.

It didn't seem like Friday at all. I had work to do and spent most of the day writing a new article. It's hard to believe that not that long ago I was writing three or four articles a day for weeks at a time. Times change. Now, it's the exception rather than the rule when I'm busy with work. I can't say I enjoyed all the deadlines, but I was certainly comfortable with them. Writing under pressure was something I'd done for most of my life. Now, as I find myself sliding toward retirement, I'm not certain what to do next.

I try to stay busy and am happy with the occasional assignments I get, but there is no clear purpose anymore. I've become adverse to risk, I don't welcome change, and nothing could convince me to sit through a status meeting. Basically, all the qualities that helped me create and sustain a successful company are gone. Some of my friends have reinvented themselves and gone on to second or third careers, but I'm uncertain what I want to do next.

Luckily, when I've got a writing assignment I don't have to worry about all that. I wrote for most of the day, took a shower, paid my July Mastercard bill, and picked up some burgers for dinner at Chili's. I was going to  use the pressure washer to clean the Eastern side of the house, but it was way too hot for that. The temperature was well over 100 degrees this afternoon.

Dash seemed back to normal today. The frightening thing about idiopathic vestibular disease is that there is no known cure. There are lots of tests you can do to rule out certain things, but if the tests are inconclusive, you just have to try to keep your dog calm when there is an incident and hope for the best. Dash's symptoms are often severe and they make us wonder whether he has some rare disease that hasn't been diagnosed yet. I'm always happy when he recovers, but I'm always worried about what might happen next.

I probably should just quit worrying. My life is still calm and serene compared to what I see on the television news. Janet, Dash and I are all getting older, but I think we are still aging with a certain amount of dignity. I'm smart and I still have a sense of curiosity. It shouldn't be that hard to turn the next twenty years into a meaningful experience. The world might not even be here in twenty years, but I'm going to remain hopeful. I just need to find a purpose.

Katie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 2765

We had to take Dash to an emergency vet last night. He had thrown up earlier in the evening and we'd hoped that giving him a Cerenia pill would settle his stomach so he could sleep. Unfortunately, things got worse. About 1 AM he woke up up drooling heavily while walking anxiously around the house. It seemed like he wanted to throw up again, but when we took him outside, he just froze in the back yard and couldn't seem to move. Something seemed very wrong. We thought he might be having another vestibular seizure, even though there were no rapid eye movements or head tilting. After about twenty minutes, he calmed down and tried to sleep on the bedroom floor. We were relieved that the episode seemed to be over, but then about an hour later it started all over again. This time the heavy drooling was even worse. We began to worry that he might have been poisoned and rushed him to the nearest emergency vet. His vital signs were good and the veterinarian who treated him said that there weren't any obvious signs of poisoning. We were at the vet for about an hour and around 4 AM, Dash began to stabilize. The vet agreed that this looked a lot like vestibular disease, but said the symptoms could also be caused by a half a dozen other things.

We took Dash home and tried to get a little sleep before Janet had to get up and go to the eye doctor. Poor Dash. We've been hoping that his vestibular seizures were over, but apparently not. There isn't a lot you can do about idiopathic vestibular disease. If you can determine the cause, you can sometimes eliminate the problem, but not always. We've already done an MRI of his brain and eliminated the possibility of a brain tumor. He doesn't seem to have an inner ear infection either. I'll have to check his thyroid levels again. Sometimes low thyroid levels can cause symptoms of vertigo and nausea very similar to vestibular disease. There really isn't a cure, so we may be dealing with these periodic episodes for the rest of his life.

Dash seemed fine today. We didn't walk him and fed him a very bland diet. So far, so good. I've started taking Niacin before bedtime again. My doctor say it helps with cholesterol problems, but the flushing it causes is uncomfortable, so I try to be asleep when all the little capillaries start to dilate. Last night when Dash woke us up, the Niacin flushing had begun and my skin was bright red. When we went to the emergency vet, I looked like I had a severe sunburn all over my body. The vet probably though I'd gotten confused and gone to the wrong hospital. I certainly looked worse than Dash.

By the time Dash's heavy drooling stopped, my skin had returned to it's normal color. The only good thing about the worrisome night was that on the way home from the vet, I got a chance to see a beautiful thin crescent moon in conjunction with Venus in the early morning sky. Today, we were all pretty tired and Dash and I spent a considerable amount of time napping.

I got a few things done today, but not much. I picked up some meds for Dash, bought a new sprinkler for the yard at Home Depot, and filled the car with gas. I received a new writing job this afternoon, so I'll probably be busy tomorrow. For some reason, I thought it was Wednesday for most of the day. Janet had to remind me to take out the trash this evening. I was going to wait until tomorrow evening. I hope that Dash sleeps well tonight. I hope we all sleep well.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 2764

I walked Dash by myself today and everything seemed fine. My wrist didn't give me any problems and the swelling on my leg didn't get any worse. My left leg still looks larger than my right leg, but the difference isn't alarming anymore. The cuts have even scabbed over enough so I can take normal showers again without bandages or bleeding worries. If I'm patient, even the ugly black and blue marks will eventually disappear. Now, I just need to make sure that I stay far, far away from the aggressive dogs in the neighborhood.

Janet got good news from her oncologist. She won't need chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The oncologist will want to monitor things for quite a while and there are some pills she'll need to take, but this was definitely the outcome everyone was hoping for. There will be one more minor surgery before the reconstruction process is complete, but everything is going according to plan. It looks like Dash and I will be alone in the house again soon. Janet is eager to go back to work.

The one thing we forgot to ask Dash's oncologist yesterday was why he still throws up occasionally for no reason at all. He has been normal for well over a month, so it just slipped our minds. Sure enough, he threw up again today, one day after his exam. He seemed fine all day, took a normal walk, ate a normal dinners, and then threw up about two hours later after taking a nap. I'm pretty sure he didn't eat bugs, or anything nasty today. He didn't seem to have an upset stomach either. It's a mystery. We gave him a Cerenia pill and hopefully he won't throw up his phenobarbital later this evening.

I told the Land Rover people that there wasn't much point in their marketing department doing elaborate service promotions if the dealership was just going to pretend they didn't exist. They still wouldn't take anything off my bill, but finally agreed to issue me a hundred dollar credit that I could use on my next repair. I felt pretty good until I looked at a pile of mail on my desk later in the day and discovered another different coupon that could have been used to reduce my bill even further. I'm going to call them back tomorrow. Land Rover repairs are too expensive to let this slide.

I lost the ability to run Unix software when I upgraded my system recently. Things were so slow today that I thought it might be a good time to reinstall the software tools I needed. Unfortunately, I needed to install everything using the command line in the Terminal window. I've forgotten just about everything I've ever learned about Unix commands, so the install process took a while. I don't know why I wasted hours doing this, because I've never used these Unix applications anyway.

Other than cleaning up dog vomit, it was a peaceful, uneventful day. Things are slowly but surely getting done. About the only major thing left on my Summer do-do list is getting my passport renewed. I think I'll wait another week to do that. Even though my leg is much better, I still don't think I'm up to standing in a long line for hours.

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day 2763

Things are looking up. Dash got a good report at his semi-annual cancer review. He is still cancer free and his doctor saw no reason to worry about his enlarged heart or vestibular disease. We learned what to look for in case his heart condition becomes worse and we pretty much already knew what to look for with his ongoing vestibular disease. For an old dog who has had many problems, Dash is looking pretty good.

The yard looks pretty good too. The landscapers arrived early this morning and spent the day removing a year's worth of dead leaves and small sticks before installing a brand St. Augustine turf. Janet and I realize by now that because of our soil and the four large trees in our back yard, that the grass won't last forever. It never does. The yard sure looks pretty now though. It should be a lot easier to keep the house clean too, since Dash won't be tracking mud inside every time there is a rainy day.

The landscapers probably think we are nuts to keep replacing our back yard every year, but there really isn't an alternative. A lot of large trees in the park don't have much grass under them either. The tree roots cover the yard like a canopy and suck up all the water. There is almost no way to provide the grass with an adequate amount of water during a hot Summer. We'll do the best we can. One thing is certain. Our water bill is going to go up next month.

I took my first walk since the dog bite this morning. My leg didn't swell appreciably afterwards and there was very little pain, so I think it will be OK to return to a more active life. The July heat will prevent me from over doing things. Early mornings are really the only time when it is cool enough outside to safely walk a dog. I'm going to continue sleeping with my feet elevated for a while. That seems to be the key to keeping my ankles from swelling.

The combination of good news at the vet and a pretty yard spurred me on to tackle some other ongoing problems. I contacted the roofers and asked them to come out again and make a few more patches. I have't received a response yet, but I seldom do. I also contacted the Land Rover dealer and asked them to apply my discount coupon to yesterday's bill. They gave me some sort of weird answer, saying that it was difficult to apply a credit to a job that was already closed. Come on guys. I'm a good customer. If you keep treating me this way, I might buy an Audi next time.

Dot was really loved within the veterinary community. When we had Dash up at the cancer center today, her medical team came out and gave Janet and I a hug, telling us what a special girl she was to them. Her oncologist said she would never forget her. This meant a lot to me, since I will never forget her either. I will remember when Dot and Dash were young and healthy as the best of times. I like having dogs around, but we're not thinking of getting a companion for Dash. He's adjusting well to being an only dog and he's getting older too. I'm a realist. Taking care of Dot was exhausting and taking care of Dash will be equally exhausting when he starts to fall apart. Dash will always get the love and care he deserves, but I don't have the energy to start over with a puppy again.

Janet has started talking about going back to work. Her recovery is really going well and if she gets a good report from her oncologist later this week, Dash and I might be on our own again sooner than we expected. It's been a really tough Summer, but I think we have weathered the storm. Although I'm a glass is half empty kind of guy, today the glass actually seemed half full.

Beemer is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Day 2762

The landscapers didn't show up today, but I did get my car back. I knew the bill was pretty high, so I was planning to use a gift card I'd gotten for my birthday to help with the payment. I couldn't remember the exact amount on the card, so I called the activation number to get a balance. They told me that the card had already been used and that there was a zero balance available. How was this even possible? The card was brand new and I hadn't even taken it out of it's sealed packaging yet. This was a whole new kind of fraud that I wasn't even aware of. The purchase that drained the card was made on my birthday when the card was in my possession. The transaction was made at a Wall-Mart Supercenter in Houston. Again, how is this even possible? The only thing that I can think of is that the cashier who activated the card when Janet purchased it knew how to use the bar code information in the packaging to redeem the card after it was activated. The Visa people said they would send us a new card, but that it would take 90 days. This has destroyed my faith in gift cards. I don't think I'll ever buy one again.

When I was leaving to pick up my car at the dealership, I saw two loose dogs running around the neighborhood in my rear view mirror. I was going to call Janet and warn her about the dogs, because I knew she'd be walking Dash soon. The light was already green where I needed to turn left though, and I didn't have time to get my phone out. As soon as I turned the corner, I saw that the two dogs had run out into a busy street and gotten run over by a car. I don't know how the dogs had gotten from a neighbors front yard to this busy street in the time it took me to drive around the block, but they did. The whole thing made me sick to my stomach. The dogs were transported to a nearby vet, but I still don't know if they survived. Please people. keep your dogs on a leash and don't let them run loose in a busy city. Things like this happen way too often in Dallas.

This was not a good day. Two dogs got run over as a result of someone's carelessness. Some scammer managed to suck all the money out of my birthday gift card before I even opened the cardboard packaging. To add insult to injury, my car repair bill was twice as much as I expected. Brembo brakes are great until it's time to get new rotors and pads. Yikes. I forgot my discount coupon too. I could have knocked 10% off my entire bill. I was so flustered about the gift card fraud that I totally forgot to bring the coupon with me.

At least my leg continues to get better. It will probably take forever for the swelling to completely go away, but I'm starting to be able to walk normally again. My wrist feels better too. I think I might start taking short walks again tomorrow. I hope Dash is cooperative, because I'm not really ready for long walks yet. This better be the last time I'm bitten by a dog for a long, long time. I've been bitten before, but this is the most painful bite I can remember.

We need to make a list of questions to take to the vet tomorrow. Dash has so many weird little quirks that it's hard to remember them all. Strange behavior has always worried me, because it is often the first sign of a larger underlying problem. We need to do a chest x-ray and make sure that the cancer hasn't returned. Since Dash has an enlarged heart, we need to determine if this is going to become a problem in the future. He's still a little wobbly from the vestibular disease, but I'm not sure if there's anything we can do about that. Dash has good doctors. We just want to give him the best chance possible to live a healthy and happy life.

The landscapers just told me that they will be here tomorrow. We'll see. I'm going to call Land Rover and see if they'll still honor their discount coupon. They should, but that doesn't mean they will. I can't bring back the two dogs that ran into the street, but I can make sure that Dash is always safely on a leash. I'll do my part to ensure it's a good day, but a little good luck wouldn't hurt either.

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day 2761

It's weird to feel bored and tired at the same time. I want to get out and do something, and yet I don't feel like doing anything at all. Resting with my feet elevated is completely mindless, but it sure beats walking around for any length of time.  My legs still hurt. The swelling in my right leg is almost gone and the swelling in my left leg continues to subside. Even though the inactivity is driving me nuts, I'd better not tempt fate at this point. Judging by the way things are progressing, I have a feeling that I'll be good to go after one more week of rest and limited activity.

The neighbors mowed my grass this morning. This was a nice gesture and I really appreciate it. I'm glad they were able to quarantine their dog at a veterinarian's office instead of being forced to take it to the city pound. Although it was painful being bitten, I'm not mad about the whole incident. It was just one of those things. If the neighbors were home at the time instead of an inexperienced house sitter, I doubt that anything would have happened. If you have a dog, you need to remember that any dog can bite, given the right circumstances. This is why I'm nervous whenever I see loose dogs in the park. You never know what might happen. Years ago, I was responsible for a foster dog who bit somebody. I had the dog well controlled on a short leash while I was talking to a friend about fifteen feet away. For some unknown reason, the dog suddenly ripped the leash out of my hand, lunged and bit my friend. It was all over in less than a second. To this day, I am super cautious around dogs. I wish everybody was.

I really hope I can get my car back tomorrow. Dash has an appointment at the cancer center on Tuesday and the dealership frowns on having dogs in their loaner cars. If I'm forced to take a dog to the vet while I've got a loaner car, it takes forever to carefully remove all the dog hairs so you can say there was never a dog inside. Dash rides better in my car anyway. Truthfully, Dash doesn't ride well in any car, but he is familiar with my car and we've learned to make things work.

With any luck, the landscapers should arrive tomorrow morning. Dash will have to stay inside, because even though I tell the landscapers a million times to keep the gates closed, they always tend to leave them open. We'll just put Dash on a leash and take him down to the park when he needs to pee. We should be able to handle this, even though we are becoming forgetful. The landscapers are very noisy and hard to ignore, and since Janet and I are both home, we can remind each other not to let Dash outside unsupervised.

I worry too much. Worrying isn't very productive, but it is hard to avoid. I don't worry about nuclear war and global warming much because I think the human race is doomed anyway. The planet will survive. We won't. On a good day I think we've got maybe 30,000 years before we become extinct. On a bad day, I think 300 years is optimistic. We have become an invasive species, just like Kudzu Vines. In just a few years, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Think about that for a minute. Unless we can all agree to quit having babies for a couple of generations, I think the planet is doomed. If I can't get you to change your mind about something so basic, I think I'll limit my worries to things much closer to home. Will Janet and Dash stay cancer free? Will I stay healthy? Did I save enough money to survive whatever lies ahead? Why knows? Life is such a mystery, but I do feel blessed to have the opportunity to think about what it all means while I'm drinking my fruit smoothie tomorrow morning.

Laura is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 2760

I continue to be amazed at the human body's ability to repair itself. Medical advances have made a huge impact on our lives, but the body is still there in the background, doing the lion's share of the work itself. Cuts heal. Bones fuse back together. White cells surround bacteria and viruses. And our liver and kidneys work tirelessly to filter out all the bad stuff we ingest. Wouldn't it be amazing if everything else worked the same way? We would have cars that repair themselves and computers that get smarter as you use them and never crash. As my own body continues to heal, I am reminded how important it is to take care of it.

I've always been reasonably healthy, but I could do a lot better. If I had eliminated sugar from my diet years ago, I would probably never have to worry about diabetes. If I hadn't been so fond of cheeseburgers and bacon, I probably wouldn't have to be taking statins to manage my cholesterol. It's not that it is terribly hard to do the right thing, it's that we receive very little encouragement for making the effort.

Hey, why have a plate of beans and rice when you can go to the Cheesecake Factory and eat enough to feed a family of four in a single sitting. I spent a lifetime in advertising encouraging people to drink Pepsi and eat cheeseburgers. It was my job to glorify all the wrong things. Now, I wonder if it is even possible to reverse all this. When you go to the supermarket, most of the things on the shelves aren't even real food. When you go to a hospital, you still see nurses and technicians standing outside smoking cigarettes. I don't even understand why substance abuse is a problem. Why would you want to punish your body like that?

When my body has finally finished repairing the dog bite damage, I need to resolve to take better care of it. Fewer prepared foods and restaurant meals would be a good place to start. Even the best restaurant chefs are in love with sugar and salt. Admittedly, salt does make food taste better, but there's got to be a better way. It wouldn't kill me to give up red meat entirely. Some of my favorite dishes don't have any meat in them at all. I think I eat a lot of meat just out of habit.

I need to be careful about falling and I should quit climbing up on the roof entirely. One fall off the roof would probably do a lot more damage than a dog bite. I shouldn't become fearful of living though. Too many people my age have become fearful of the world around them. They probably should just turn off the television.

I'm full of good intentions, but we'll see how much of this turns into reality. I still had bacon with my breakfast this morning and spent way too much time looking at Facebook. I'll start walking again as soon as I can because I love to walk. It will take a little longer to give up cheeseburgers and go to the gym three times a week.

I take my last antibiotic pill tonight. Hopefully, that will be enough to eliminate the risk of infection. The hematoma has subsided enough on my swollen leg that I can start to see veins again. I even wrote tonight's blog post without using the splint on my wrist. These are all good signs.

Lizzy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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