Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 2807

Dallas is out of gas. No, there isn't a fuel shortage. Everyone just panicked and decided to fill their tank at the same time. The gas lines were unreal today. I haven't seen anything like this since the 1970's. I still had plenty of gas in my tank, but eventually succumbed to the panic myself. I figured that if so many people were waiting in long lines for gas, they all must know something I don't. The first line I joined ran out of gas right as I approached the pump. I had waited thirty minutes for nothing. I tried one more time and this time all the station had left when I approached the pump was diesel. I gave up at this point and came home. I don't drive very much and could probably make my remaining gas last three weeks if I had to. If gas still isn't readily available in three weeks, I'll just have to assume that the zombie apocalypse has started. They say that if everyone had continued filling their tanks the way they normally do, there would have been no lines at all today. This was all just a Facebook induced panic. One of our local TV stations kind of stirred the pot last night as well.

Since it wasn't a very auspicious day to be driving around town running errands, I decided to get started on my roof repairs. I didn't get off to a good start. The can of sealer the roofers gave me was way too heavy for me to lift up on the roof. I couldn't even pull the container up with a rope. I made a big mess in the driveway transferring the sticky liquid from the five gallon drum to smaller one gallon paint cans. When I cleaned and prepared the damaged areas, I discovered that the problem was worse than I thought. Water had entered through the bad spots and seeped under the good spots. Large sections of the coating that I thought were OK, just peeled away when I pulled on it. I sealed about a 25 square foot area, but this is just the beginning. I don't think I have enough of the elastomer on hand to complete the repairs. I'm not even sure that the sealer I applied today will work. I called the roofer and asked him to come out again. I think this repair is way beyond my pay grade.

I need to take Janet to Baylor for some more tests tomorrow and was planning on running a few errands on the way home. I don't think I'll be getting in any more gas lines though. If tomorrow is anything like today, you could run out of gas just looking for gas. I'll wait until the tanker trucks return. When gas is available again I bet there won't be any lines at all. Everyone in town already has a full tank.

I dread going up on the roof tomorrow. There is so much more that needs to be done and until my first set of patches have fully dried, I won't know whether they are firmly adhered to the substrate. I've got enough of the elastomer material to make quite a few patches, but I'm afraid that this is just a temporary solution. What I really need is a new roof.

Dash has been very moody this week. He doesn't want to eat at the regular time. He turns up his nose at his regular food. Lately, he's been stealing my place on the bed at night. I wish he understood that life is so much easier when he's a good dog. The problems are minor and usually they get resolved. I'd just like a day without any problems though. That would be nice.

Domino is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Day 2806

It was a little unusual to go to the gym on Wednesday, but why not. There is nothing to differentiate weekdays from weekends anymore. I've decided that stopping or reversing the muscle atrophy I've been experiencing is as important as anything else that's on my plate. I might as well go to the gym whenever I've got some free time.

Truthfully, I could go to the gym every single day if I enjoyed it as much as some of the other people I see working out. Some of them seem to live at the gym. It doesn't matter what day I pick. They're always there. I actually did pretty well today, considering that I'd already been up on the roof. If I could bring myself to consistently exercise like this three times a week, I might actually see some results.

Preparing the roof for my repairs was actually a lot more work than my workout. I cleared away the remaining standing water today. Tomorrow I will clean the damaged surfaces and hopefully on Friday I can apply the new elastomer patches. Since there is no more rain in the forecast, there is a reasonable chance of success. It is so discouraging to go up on the roof. I think the materials that were originally used to coat the roof were defective, but the roofer won't put on a completely new roof. The whole thing is eventually going to be patched one square foot at a time.

I could spend the rest of my life repairing broken stuff around the house. I think I understand now why people sometimes just get in their cars and drive away from it all forever. There is so much that needs to be fixed now that it seems a bit overwhelming. If it was hard to find a good contractor before, it's going to be impossible now. Everybody is going to be down in Houston rebuilding the city for the next ten years.

I stopped by the REI store on the way to the gym and there was absolutely nothing that I wanted or needed. I left the store empty handed. I felt the same way the last time I visited the Apple Store. Maybe I am finally moving beyond my need to constantly accumulate stuff. It would be a good thing if this was true. Every amazing gadget turns into a pile of broken stuff after three to five years. I have enough broken stuff already. Maybe possessions are actually a liability. This would be a totally new concept for me, but it's something I see looming on the horizon.

It's time for my annual physical, but since I'm thinking of switching doctors I don't know whether to go ahead and schedule an appointment or wait until I find another doctor and start over with a clean slate. Why did my doctor have to fire me as his web designer? I was reasonably happy until this happened. Now I hate to even visit the clinic. Janet's doctors are great, but they are in a whole different league than mine. It's pretty obvious that the quality of care she gets is worth the extra money, but it's still hard to put aside money for health that could be used for a new camera. Nevertheless, I'm fairly certain I'll eventually go ahead and make the switch. The older you get, the more you realize that staying healthy is the only thing that matters.

I'm glad the rain finally stopped in Houston. Hopefully, the flood waters will start to recede soon. As hard as things are now, I think it will be even harder when the news crews disappear and people are left with the enormous task of rebuilding their lives from scratch. A tornado roared through a suburb of Dallas a few years ago and the residents are still wrangling with insurance companies and trying to rebuild their homes. We'll see what happens, but I think Texas has been changed forever.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Day 2805

What a surprise to wake up to blue skies. If the rain is over for us, maybe it will stop soon in Houston as well. It was such a nice day that it seemed like a good time to do something different. Instead of doing our normal chores, Janet and I went out to lunch together and then went to a museum.

I almost never eat lunch anymore. Three meals a day is way too much for me now. After I took Dash on his morning walk, I just had a small bowl of fruit, instead of my usual enormous breakfast. This seemed to do the trick. I was hungry at lunch. Maybe I should just eat lunch and skip both breakfast and dinner. After my meal, I felt full for the rest of the day and just had a small salad for dinner.

While we were at the museum I was interviewed by a reporter from a French newspaper. This seemed a bit odd. I can't imagine a French newspaper sending a reporter all the way to Dallas for this show. Maybe she was on her way to Houston to cover the hurricane and was just killing time in Dallas for an afternoon. Who knows. I can't say that I'm an art expert or even a Dallas expert, but I answered her questions as best I could. I thought the woman was German until she corrected me. All Europeans speaking English sound German to me.

For some reason nothing leaked when I took a shower this morning. This was a mystery to me, since it leaked a lot yesterday. Maybe this was just an omen that today was going to be a good day, but I'm still curious about what is happening under the tiles. Why would the shower leak yesterday and not today when  all the variables were exactly the same?

Janet bought some of those little solar powered garden lights for the back yard and when they arrived today, I discovered that the instructions were in Spanish. I had a little trouble putting the things together, but I must have done something right because they lit up this evening when the sun went down. The only problem with solar garden lights in our back yard is that we don't get any sun. The thick tree canopy is the main reason the grass doesn't grow well. We'll see how long the little lights continue to glow. I'm guessing that two hours from now they'll be dead.

When we went to the museum there was an app you could download to your phone that described the exhibits. There is an app for everything now. I remember when museums had little tape recorders and headphones you had to rent. None of the visitors were the least bit surprised by the app. They seemed to expect something like this and were all holding their phones up to their ears as they walked through the gallery. Maybe I should have become an app developer. Never mind. I bet the percentage of seventy year old app developers is just as low as seventy year old web designers.

When Janet is home from work, every day seems like Sunday. It's kind of disorienting. I had some website updates to make today and I thought I'd save them until Monday morning. Then I realized that it was already Tuesday. It's going to be hard to remember that tomorrow is Wednesday. Nothing happens on Wednesday anyway.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, August 28, 2017

Day 2804

Whenever there's a disaster, my first thoughts are about the animals. There's already been an amazing effort to rescue dogs, cats, and horses trapped by rising waters around Houston. Probably much more will be needed in the days ahead. Among the thousands of animals in danger today were three Dalmatians trapped in a kennel that was being flooded by water that was being released from a nearby dam. I'm not sure, but I think these dogs are safe now. I hope so. It was amazing to see the rapid efforts of many people, some of whom I know, to coordinate an immediate rescue by boat. I'm not a huge fan of social media, but this is where it shines. Not more than an hour after I began seeing stories about the dogs plight on Facebook, boats were on the way. There were probably hundreds of stories like this today, but this was the only one that involved Dalmatians. When a Dalmatian is in danger it catches my attention.

It's already been a week since Janet's reconstruction surgery. Her doctor was pleased with her progress today and even removed some of the stitches. The nurse said that we were doing a good job with the bandages. That was a relief. If all continues to go smoothly, Janet will return to work again in another week.

I wish things were going just as smoothly with Dash. He threw up again after eating a normal breakfast and having a nice walk. Like many of his previous episodes, there was no warning. He just walked calmly to the back door around 1 PM and threw up. Dash shows no signs of distress before or after these incidents. He's been fine for the rest of the day. His vet has suggested that we put him on a mild anti-nausea medication for a month and see if we notice any changes. The theory is that he might be mildly nauseous all the time as a result of his vestibular disease. I hate to add another pill to his already lengthy list of meds, but this might be worth a try. Obviously something is wrong, but it has been very hard to pin down the cause.

We had more intermittent rain from the outer bands of Harvey. It's nice that I don't have to water the lawn every day, but the rain is going to complicate the roof repairs I was planning on making this month. It's going to take an extended dry spell before I am even able to prepare the surface for the elastomer coating the roofers gave me. There's certainly not any dry weather in the immediate future. I should have checked the weather radar before I walked Dash this evening. We got caught in a sudden shower and both got soaked.

It wasn't a very productive day. I got the wet/dry vacuum out and removed another quart of water from under the shower tiles. I don't know how this water is getting in there. I've sealed all the cracks completely with silicon caulk. Things like this are why people eventually give up and remodel their bathrooms. I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to locate the source of this leak.

It doesn't matter if it is a shower stall or an iPhone case. Old things just crack and break. I tried to repair my Lunatik iPhone case for the third time this afternoon. I bought this case because it was supposed to be indestructible, but it is so old now that it is developing stress cracks. I took the case apart and applied superglue to the tiny cracks using watch repair tools. It would have been easier to just buy a new case but they don't make these things anymore.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. One way or another, I'm sure it will involve water.

Mandy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Day 2803

Everyone in Dallas knows someone in Houston. I've been mesmerized by the news coverage today. The flooding seems biblical. It just doesn't seem possible that we are talking about feet of rain instead of inches of rain. I saw a picture of the Houston airport today. It was a lake. Freeways are under so much water that even the overhear directional signs are buried. I've been to Houston many times and I can't even comprehend this scale of devastation.

Dallas is 400 miles away and even we are getting rain from this storm. The rain here is gentle and in many cases needed, but the fact that the outer bands of rain reach this far shows you just how big this weather system is. I've heard that they're opening a huge center for hurricane evacuees here in Dallas tomorrow. Similar centers will probably be opening all over the state. The problem is that I don't think many people can evacuate yet. The roads in and out of the area are flooded.

I didn't do much today. Dash got his walks in between rain showers. It was so messy outside that I didn't feel like going to the gym. When I took a shower this morning, I noticed a small leak. I still haven't been able to completely seal the shower floor. I used to be much better at this sort of thing. I'm losing my touch.

Today would have been a good day to take a camera down to the shoreline and photograph water birds, but I'd let my camera batteries run down and by the time I got them charged again the light was fading. It's probably just as well that I stayed inside. If I took my camera down to the lake, I almost certainly would have gotten caught in one of today's many intermittent rain showers.

It would have been Dot's birthday today. We don't know if she was actually born on this day, since she was a rescue, but we adopted her on September 27, 2004. I remember the day she came home with us well, but it seems like such a long time ago now. We have had many dogs and some of the memories are starting to muddle together in my head. Dot's memories haven't faded yet. I still can't believe she's not here with me. I wonder if that amazing dog ever knew how important she was in my life.

It's probably going to be a while before I can use the can of elastomer coating material the roofers left on my porch. It looks like we'll be getting intermittent rain every day until Harvey completely dissipates. It's hard to believe that they're forecasting even more rain for the Houston area. How much more rain can that city take?

Janet has decided that she feels well enough to start driving again. She ran a short errand as a test this afternoon and will drive herself to the doctor tomorrow. I'm glad her recovery seems to be going so smoothly. I hope the surgeon approves of the way we've been changing bandages. I have a feeling that we're using twice as much gauze and tape as a proper nurse would, but we're doing the best we can. It hasn't been a great summer. I think 'doing the best we can" might sum things up for quite a few people this year.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Day 2802

Every year around this time we go see the Rich-Tones at the Eisemann Center. One of Janet's friends is in the group and she hasn't missed one of these annual shows in years. She certainly wasn't going to let a little surgery keep her from tonight's concert. If you don't know who the Rich-Tones are, imagine Pentatonix with 100 people in the group instead of five. I wasn't that familiar with a cappella singing when we started going to these things many years ago, but I've grown to appreciate the genre. Tonight's show was very enjoyable. There was lots of new material and for once we didn't have to worry about leaving a sick dog. I checked on Dash once during intermission and he was sleeping peacefully on the bed. He was still sleeping when we got home.

A few of Harvey's outer rain bands arrived in Dallas today. There was no wind or danger. All we got was a gentle rain. We may get more rain later in the week as the hurricane continues to move inland, but we are too far away to worry about severe weather. The storm will either dissipate or move back to sea long before it would arrive in Dallas. It's an entirely different story in Houston. The city is already starting to flood.

Janet can't drive yet, but she's feeling well enough that she wanted to get out of the house for a while. I took her grocery shopping and basically just pushed the cart around while she got a new supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since we've virtually stopped buying canned and frozen items, it seems like we're going to the grocery store a lot more frequently these days. It's probably worth the effort. We're both eating healthier now.

Dash's blood test results came back from the lab today. His Phenobarbital levels are still in the normal range, but just barely. I have a feeling that the vet is going to want to increase his dose because she feels that there might not be enough Phenobarbital in his bloodstream to protect him from seizures anymore. I'm sure we'll get this all worked out, but I'd really hate to see him taking any additional meds. I think he takes too many already.

Today's mail was full of flyers for Labor Day sales. Isn't Labor Day when Summer is unofficially over? This has certainly been an eventful Summer, but I don't think either of us would want to repeat it. Here's hoping that Dash stays healthy and that there are no new medical emergencies for the rest of the year. We may get more rain tomorrow. I guess it doesn't matter, since I don't feel like going anywhere anyway. If it's a rainy day, I just may join Dash for a good long nap.

Cammy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Day 2801

I wasn't expecting things to go so smoothly today. We didn't get any rain, so I was able to walk Dash before we went to the vet. The walk made a difference. Dash wasn't as wild in the car, and more importantly there was no poop to clean up. The car still smells clean. I think the Phenobarbital level test was done correctly too, so we probably won't have to do this again.

After I brought Dash home, I went out for breakfast and ran a few errands. I had Lox and a bagel, which always reminds me of traveling. Maybe when life returns to normal, I'll do some traveling. NASA still offers writers like me opportunities to view launches from time to time. It would be fun to apply for press credentials again. We'll se how the rest of the year goes. Right now there are bills to pay and Janet needs to get healthy again.

The roofers delivered a big can of the special elastomer coating for the roof. I would have preferred that they applied the coating themselves, but this is a reasonable compromise. The problem now is that the five gallon can of elastomer is way too heavy for me to move to the roof.  One of my errands today was to find smaller cans that I could transfer the product to and them hoist them up to the roof with a rope. I'm not sure how the roofers got the large cans up on the roof, but I certainly can't move this thing by myself. I've got plenty of time to come up with a plan. It looks like it is going to rain all weekend.

We're getting better at changing bandages. Luckily, Janet goes back to the doctor on Monday so somebody who knows what they're doing can review our work. I'd hate to think that we were doing something wrong day after day. You'd think that after complicated surgery, doctors wouldn't want to leave anything to chance. Changing dressings yourself seems fairly universal though. Unless you go home in a cast, you'll eventually have to change a bandage or two.

Hurricane Harvey looks pretty bad. I'm watching the Weather Channel now and wondering why whenever there's a hurricane, reporters like to stand out in the rain and get blown around by gusts of wind. It seems like a broadcast tradition. I'm always amazed that people like to live in low costal areas. Hurricanes are nothing new. They occur over and over again. Towns get flooded and they just rebuild in the same place and start over. Hopefully, everyone will stay safe, but I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to have some serious flood damage tonight. Here I am worrying about a few inches of water on my roof and there are thousands of people dealing with a nine foot storm surge.

When Janet is home I forget what day it is. They all seem the same. Today seemed a lot like Saturday. You can't tell what day it is by the traffic anymore. There is horrible traffic everyday. I actually did think it was Saturday for a while when I was grocery shopping this afternoon. Maybe I'll think it's Sunday tomorrow.

Pinky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Day 2800

I wish weather forecasts were more accurate. Earlier in the week, I made an appointment to take Dash back to the vet for another fasting blood test on Friday because it looked like it was going to be the only sunny day this week. My plan was to walk Dash very early to make sure that he would poop before he got in the car. I definitely don't want a repeat of Tuesday's disastrous trip to the vet. Now that Friday is approaching, it looks like it is going to rain early tomorrow morning. That might spoil my plans for a walk. Jeez. It was dry as a bone on Wednesday and Thursday when it was supposed to rain. The little weather app on my phone is never right. I don't know why I even look at it. Hopefully, this new forecast is wrong too.

It turned out that it was more difficult that we anticipated to change Janet's bandages. We didn't have all the supplies we needed, so I had to make a trip to the specialty pharmacy before we even started. You'd think that nothing could be easier than changing a bandage, but these have several layers and each layer must be applied exactly right. You don't want to do anything that would disturb the delicate sutures and you definitely don't want to do anything that might cause an infection. I think we did a good job, but it is nerve wracking. I think we would both rather just drive to the doctor's office every day and have them do it. That wasn't an option unfortunately.

I think I discovered how water is getting under the shower tiles, but I'm not sure how to fix the problem. I taped the area where the shower door frame attaches to the tile floor with painters tape so water couldn't seep into a small space that was designed to let water dripping down the glass doors drain back into the shower. There is no way to access this drainage cavity because it is covered by the door frame itself. I think some of the tiles have cracked under this frame due to foundation settling and that's how water is getting between the tiles and the shower pan. None of this is fix it yourself stuff. The only way to see if I'm right would be to remove the entire shower door assembly from the wall and look underneath. Since you can't unscrew the frame from the wall, or remove the heavy glass doors, I think this is beyond my pay grade. I guess I could just leave the blue painter's tape where it is. It is ugly and is probably not meant to be where I placed it, but it has dramatically diminished the leak.

Dash was a very finicky eater this morning. He wouldn't eat his regular food and wasn't interested in Dot's either. The only other food we had on hand was a holistic blend that we discontinued about six months ago because it made his poop soft. Wouldn't you know. Dash loved this brand of kibble today. This doesn't bode well for tomorrow morning. I really don't want him to poop in my car again.

I'm glad I don't live in Houston. It looks like a hurricane is headed their way this weekend. We have the occasional tornado here in Dallas, but the chances of actually getting hit by a funnel cloud are very low. Hurricanes are much harder to avoid. Here's hoping that the hurricane changes course. Let's also hope that Dash has an uneventful trip to the vet tomorrow morning, and that Janet and I will soon become pros at changing bandages.

Hero is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Day 2799

I took Janet to see her surgeon today. This was her first post reconstruction visit and I think it was mostly so they could teach her how to change her bandages. The building was very impressive. While I was waiting in the lobby, I looked up her surgeon on Google. Wow. She has one of the best rated plastic surgeons in the entire country. I really need to start going to her doctors. They are in a whole different league than mine. Her primary care physician did an amazing job of making sure she had the best specialists possible for her cancer treatment. I have always been a little skeptical of concierge medicine, but the results seem to speak for themselves. I think you do get better care.

I don't even bother to check my e-mail for work assignments anymore. Work is so slow that I need to find other ways to occupy my time. When my chauffeur and nurse duties were finished, I resumed my efforts to fix the leaking shower. I cleaned out the drain and looked for places where the pipes might have separated. I found one area that might be succeptable to leaks, but I couldn't figure out how to seal it. I need to find some kind of putty that can be applied in permanently wet areas. The corners of the shower seemed nice and dry so I applied a new coat of the silicon caulk. Who knows if any of this will work. I'll have to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing.

Now that I've cleaned all traces of dog poop out of my car, I thought it would be good time to remove the dog hair as well. I got out the vacuum and sucked up an enormous amount of dog hair that has found it's way under the seats. I wish I'd paid more attention to all the dog slobber on the back of the front seats. I tried to clean it off today, but it think it has permanently stained the leather. All things considered, the car does look much better now. I was going to wash the outside as well, but I ran out of energy. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. I'll certainly have the time. It doesn't look like there's going to be any writing deadlines for the rest of the month.

I watched a documentary about the Voyager spacecraft this evening on PBS. It's hard to believe it's been forty years since Voyager 1 and 2 were launched. Pretty soon it will be fifty years since we landed on the moon. Where did the time go? I wonder if we will ever be this bold again. So many people alive today don't remember these events. They weren't even born yet. I remember when Sputnik 1 was launched in 1957. I was nine years old and was already reading Robert Heinlein novels. I don't think my interest in space has ever wavered.

My interest in everything else has certainly wavered. The future doesn't look nearly as interesting as the past. I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow. I'm almost scared to take a shower. Will it leak again? I don't want to see all my handiwork go down the drain. A lot of things are going down the drain. I got a notice from Apple today saying that the new High Sierra operating system will no longer support the legacy versions of Logic and Final Cut Pro. I've used both of these applications for years. Time marches on I guess, but it will be sad to see two of the cornerstones of my business cast aside like yesterday's news. Everything I know and love is becoming obsolete. I saw a show on TV last week about the Citro├źn SM. This used to be my everyday drive-to-work car when I lived in Seattle. Now it has become an impossible to find relic. My mid-century modern house is becoming a crumbling antique. The JPL project managers they interviewed on that Voyager documentary tonight all seemed so old. Jeez, these guys are just a few years older than I am and the producers of the show seemed amazed that they were still alive. Hey, we're still here. We may be a little perplexed, but we're still here.

Mickey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day 2798

Today was a disaster. I took Dash to the vet right after I got up so he could be tested to make sure he was still getting the right amount of Phenobarbital to control his seizures. This is a fasting blood test, so I couldn't feed him his breakfast before we left. The test didn't take long, but Dash was irritated and began barking incessantly on the way home. All the frantic barking made him poop in the car. This wasn't an ordinary mess. It was a poop explosion. It took the rest of the day to get the car clean and I'm still not sure I've found all the poop.

To make matters worse, the vet called while I was cleaning the car and told me that Dash's blood sample hadn't been been prepared properly so they couldn't send it to the lab for analysis. I'm going to have to fast Dash again for 12 hours and take him back to the vet for another blood test.

I thought I'd clean the hopelessly soiled cargo mat in the back of the car with the pressure washer. After about three seconds, the pressure washer broke. This thing is almost brand new, so it had to be defective. We couldn't find the receipt, but I took it back to the hardware store anyway and tried to exchange it. Eventually, they gave me a new model, which will probably break in two months, just like the first one.

I had a lot of errands to run today and every time I got in the car I smelled poop. When Dash gets agitated he starts twirling around. He was a poop cannon today, spraying poop in places I didn't even think were accessible. I think I finally got the car sanitized, but it was a lot of work. I'm pretty sure Dash significantly lowered the resale value on my car.

I figured the day couldn't get much worse, so I resumed my efforts to remove the water from under the shower stall. I removed another two quarts using a special attachment on the wet dry vacuum. This doesn't prove much though, unless I can find out where the water is coming from. Now I'm thinking that it may be the drain that is leaking. I remember when plumbers replaced the shower drain many years ago, they used PVC pipe instead of the original cast iron pipe. I'm always suspicious of plumbing that has glue joints. I could be wrong, but I bet that the glue has deteriorated and water is leaking around the pipe joints.

I've been impressed with all the spectacular eclipse pictures I've been seeing on Facebook today. Several of my friends took amazing pictures. I'm also surprised last how easily people are fooled by Photoshop. I saw several spectacular eclipse pictures that supposedly were taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. These was all Photoshop fakes. The space station didn't pass through the moon's umbra at all during the August 21 eclipse. I haven't seen any actual astronaut photos yet, but the best they could see from space was a partial eclipse.

I hope tomorrow goes a bit smoother. Today was a mess. I haven't even taken the replacement pressure washer out of the box. It might stay in the box for quite a while. I'm not very fond of pressure washers at the moment. I'm not fond of anything that gets wet. Water is not my friend unless it is helping me clean up poop.

Lance is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Day 2797

It was an eventful day. We got up at 4:30 this morning to go to the hospital. Janet's surgery wasn't scheduled until 7:30, but there's always a lot of paperwork when you check in. I'm always amazed at how empty the roads are at this time of day. If only it were this way all the time. I stayed until the anesthesiologist came and took Janet to the OR and then I went home and fed Dash his breakfast and took him on a walk.

By the time I finished my own breakfast and did the dishes I got a call saying that Janet was in recovery. She didn't have to stay in the hospital overnight this time, so I drove back down to the hospital to take her home. By the time I arrived, the eclipse had already started. As I entered the building, I passed a doctor looking at the eclipse through a sheet of x-ray film. Some nearby nurses asked him if the x-ray film was safe. "I don't know," said the doctor. The nurses took turns looking through the film anyway, probably thinking that if this makeshift filter was good enough for a doctor, it was good enough for them. Since these people didn't appear to go blind, I asked if I could take a look too. I'll have to say that x-ray film makes a darn good solar filter.

By the time that Janet and I arrived back home again, the eclipse was near it's maximum. The sky was noticeably darker and the light filtering through the trees in front of our house made lots of little crescent shaped images on the sidewalk. Janet wanted to go to sleep, so as soon as she was settled in, I went down the street to watch the remainder of the eclipse through a neighbor's telescope. You could see sunspots through the telescope and by using them as a reference point, it was easy to see how fast the moon was crossing in front of the sun. The edge of the moon wasn't completely round either. You could clearly see the outline of mountains and valleys silhouetted against the sun. The guy with the telescope had a good supply of eclipse glasses, so everybody got a good view. It seemed like half the neighborhood showed up for this impromptu event. I hadn't seen some of these people for quite a while and some of them didn't even know that Dot had passed away. It was nice to see a group of people where everyone was happy and nobody was protesting anything.

I think Janet's surgery went really well. She will be home for two weeks, but that is much better than the six weeks it took to recover after the first surgery. This time there are no tubes that need to be drained every four hours. There are still bandages that need to be changed and procedures that need to be followed to avoid infections, but everyone is anticipating that her recovery will go smoothly.

I need to take Dash to the vet early tomorrow morning for his Phenobarbital level test. I was going to do this on Wednesday, but there are thunderstorms in the forecast. I think it will be easier tomorrow. I need to take Janet back to see her surgeon on Wednesday as well. If the weather is bad, we'll just take Dash with us. I hate to leave Dash alone during a storm. I've learned from experience that he can get into some serious trouble if he panics.

It would have been nice to see the sun's corona today, but I definitely did get to experience the eclipse. I'm glad that Janet's long and difficult journey is coming to a close. Hopefully, in a month or two this summer of surgery will just be a memory.

Cookie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Day 2796

Janet goes back for more surgery tomorrow, so today was another huge cleaning day. I'm not sure whether the kind of cleaning we do disinfects the house at all, but it does make Janet feel better. This surgery is supposed to be the final step in the reconstruction process. Recovery is supposed to be faster this time, but Janet will still have to take another leave of absence from work. I'm sure she hopes this is the last surgery she'll ever have to have.

I was going to go to the gym today, but while I was running a few errands on the way, I couldn't remember whether I'd turned the dryer off before I left the house. I skipped the gym and drove back home to check. Actually, the dryer was off, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Janet and I both worry about dryer fires, so the dryer is never on when we leave the house. I don't leave the washer running either, because once it overflowed into the utility room and made a huge mess. I don't know why I feel safe leaving the dehumidifier running constantly. There's probably something that could go wrong with that thing too.

When I returned home, I realized that I had so many things to do that I never should have planned on going to the gym in the first place. I vacuumed the house, washed the sheets and made the bed, and mowed the grass in the front and the back. I'm not sure how much longer I can continue mowing the grass myself. Every time I take the mower out it seems a little harder to push it up our sloping front yard. I was very tired today. When you get older it's really hard to tell whether you've got some strange disease that is sapping all your energy, or if you're actually doing quite well and just getting older. There's no real benchmark for this sort of thing. Some of my aging friends still run marathons. Others have trouble getting off the couch.

One of our neighbors is having an eclipse watching party in their front yard tomorrow. I'm not sure how long I'll need to be at the hospital in the morning, but if I have time I'll go take a look at the sun through the neighbor's telescope around noon. This guy is a real astronomy buff and has all the right solar filters. We'll only see about 75% totality here in Dallas, but the view still ought to be interesting.  I'm a little envious of all the people I know who are actually making the trip to the totality zone. There have been quite a few status updates on Facebook from people leaving for their eclipse destinations over the weekend. A lot of them ought to get a good view. The weather actually seems to be improving across much of the country.

We're going to have to get up really early tomorrow morning. Janet needs to be admitted to the hospital at 5:30 AM. I'll come home to feed and walk Dash and then wait for the call that everything went OK. I don't know how you can be casual about surgery. Even minor surgery seems drastic to me. The dogs have had every type of surgery imaginable and my sister had to endure an eight hour spinal fusion surgery. I've been pretty lucky. I had knee surgery back in college and then went almost forty years before I needed a lithotripsy procedure a few years ago to remove some bladder stones. Janet has a great team of doctors, but they don't make surgery any less frightening. I hope this is the last surgery she's going to need for a long, long time. I also hope she's not going to be driving me to the hospital any time soon.

Blackjack is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Day 2795

With each passing year, birthday celebrations become a little more subdued. Janet and I both accept the fact that we are aging, but I can't say that we welcome it. Birthdays just remind us how old we actually are. That being said, it was a nice day. We slept in late, ate a rare breakfast together and walked Dash before it became too hot. Basically, it was just a regular Saturday, full of errands and chores.

I was glad that Janet liked the gifts I got her. You  can tell the difference between when someone really likes something and when they are just being polite. I looked for things that she would like and use, but would never buy for herself. The Dyson Hair Dryer was a hit. Everybody thinks this thing is ridiculously overpriced until they actually use it. It's just as revolutionary as the Dyson vacuum cleaners. Janet is far too practical to buy something like this, but she knew all about it as was happy to receive it. I think the only thing Janet uses more than a hair dryer is her phone.

I was looking for something very different today. I though I'd buy some welding glasses to view the eclipse on Monday. It turns out that very few welding supply stores are open on Saturday. I also discovered that very few welders actually use the shade 14 glasses that are considered safe for viewing the sun. The typical welding glasses you'd find at a Home Depot or Lowes are usually only shade 5, which won't protect you from anything. Oh, well. I gave it a try. I guess I'm back to making a pin hole projector out of a cereal box.

A website I built several years ago vanished when the web server crashed last week and took all the files with it. Luckily, I still had all the original files on a backup drive, so it didn't take long to rebuild the site on a new server. Time and time again, I'm reminded that electronic records aren't very permanent at all. Hard drives crash. Files get corrupted. Software becomes obsolete. I have paper records that go back to when I was in college. My electronic files aren't nearly as robust. Even though I back stuff up regularly and save almost everything, I've lost a surprising amount of information over the years. I began using computers in the early 1980's, but very little survives from that era. I wonder how long my digital photography will last. Probably not nearly as long as some of my old film negatives.

I don't know what I'm going to do about the shower. I took a good look at my handiwork today and I can't see where the water is getting in. The joints and cracks I sealed look good. Obviously, water is still seeping through small cracks in the tiles somewhere, but I can't find the crack. It's looking more and more like the only solution is to have a good tile guy come over and re-do everything.

I started hearing the low battery beep on the smoke alarm this afternoon. I went to replace the battery, but was surprised to discover that none of the replacement batteries worked. This didn't make sense. The batteries were brand new. In fact, I had just opened a fresh box. Eventually, I noticed a message on the box that said, "Use before 2014." I must have actually bought the box of batteries a few years before that. Everything in the house is like this: unused, yet so old that it has become obsolete. The challenge for Janet and I moving forward is to avoid becoming like that box of batteries.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 2794

There are three restaurants in the neighborhood that I go to a lot. One is a favorite of millennials. The next seems to be favored by middle-age teachers and health care workers. The third is a time machine inhabited by really old people who still prefer reading the morning paper to looking at their phone. Each of these groups is so completely different than the next that they might as well be living on different planets. Maybe the world was always this way, but I don't think so. We have really become a tribal society. Does everyone hang out with their own tribe because it has become too difficult to communicate with the other tribes? I don't know. I ate with the millennial tribe this morning. They seemed happier than the other tribes in the neighborhood, but maybe younger people are always a bit more optimistic. I had no idea what they were talking about, but the food was good.

Janet's birthday is tomorrow. Since I have renounced gift cards after receiving a fraudulent gift card for my own birthday, I needed to go shopping for real birthday presents. Shopping for people our age isn't always easy. For the most part, you've already got everything you need. I wanted to get Janet something she would really like, but since she is actively downsizing, I didn't want to add even more to the clutter. Hopefully, I did well today. I can see why gift cards are so popular. Gift cards are easy.

Maybe I shouldn't have bragged about Dash's health yesterday. Right after I finished writing my blog post, Dash threw up again. He seemed fine all day. He ate well, took normal walks, and didn't seem to be in any kind of discomfort or distress. Just like when he has vomited previously, he went to sleep around 10:30 PM, woke up about two hours later, and seemed very restless and agitated. Immediately after he threw up in the yard, he went back to sleep and was calm for the rest of the night. This seems to happen about once a week now. It is really odd behavior. The symptoms don't seem to be consistent with vestibular disease and if he were really sick, you'd think there would be other signs of discomfort. I'll talk to the vet again when he goes in for a Phenobarbital level check next week, but I don't expect any easy answers. These periodic and seemingly random vomiting episodes have been a problem for a long time now.

I never did buy any eclipse glasses while they were still available, so I guess I'll need to make one of those pinhole projectors out of an old cereal box. I remember doing this once when I was a kid. The last partial eclipse I saw was right around sunset, so it was possible to safely look at the sun through some thick haze on the horizon. If you are a regular reader, you might remember the picture I took. Monday's eclipse will be right around midday in Dallas. You don't ever want to be looking at the sun when it's high in the sky.

I never really made plans to see this eclipse. In my heart I was hoping that Dot would make it to her next birthday and I knew she needed me. She almost made it, since her birthday would have been on the 27th of this month. I never expected that Janet would be diagnosed with cancer either. She has always been much healthier than me. Life is full of surprises and you've got to stay flexible. You've got to stay hopeful too. There will be another chance to see a total eclipse in 2027. I won't even have to leave town, since Dallas is in the path of totality. Hopefully, we'll both still be around by then.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 2793

It's unusual to have this much rain in August. Usually it is bone dry. The good news is that our yard still looks nice and green. The bad news is that I'm starting to worry about the roof leaking again and Dash is spending way too much time hiding under my desk. Dash slept through the overnight storms, but he definitely didn't like the thunder and lightning that greeted us around sunrise. I had to delay feeding him breakfast, because I was afraid that he might throw up if he ate when he was agitated.

Eventually the rain stopped and she took our morning walk. When I finished my morning smoothie, I got a surprising amount done for such a wet, gray day. I went to the bank, got my new vehicle registration sticker, and went searching for a silicon case for Janet's new iPad. Apple discontinued these cases, so they are in very short supply. I don't know why they quit making them, because they are a perfect match for the new keyboard cover. The Apple Store and all the phone stores have stopped selling these cases, but I found what I was looking for at a Target Superstore. It makes sense. People go to Target to save money. They don't go there to buy overpriced Apple products. There is usually a good supply of Apple stuff at Target because the Apple section of the store gets ignored.

The price of Texas registration stickers keeps going up, while the quality of the stickers themselves keeps going down. It looks like they just print these things out on demand using an ink jet printer now. I always have trouble getting these stickers positioned properly on my windshield. I like them very low, so they won't block my view, but I also like them straight, so they are parallel to the ground.  It's a good thing I have nothing better to do. It took me forever to attach my 2018 sticker to the windshield this afternoon.

It's so disappointing that my shower repairs didn't work. I did a good job of sealing the corners where the shower walls meet the floor. Water is still finding it's way under the tiles unfortunately and now it's harder for this water to get out. I think I've actually made the situation worse. I think my only alternative now is to rip out all the silicon caulk and use traditional tile grout instead. The problem with this is that we'll have to take a bath in the other bathroom for at least a week while the grout dries. I hate washing my hair in a bathtub. The shower is much better.

Dash has seemed pretty healthy this week. His appetite is good and he hasn't thrown up at all. We're not doing anything different, but are making an effort to keep him calm. I think sometimes he gets himself so worked up that he gives himself an upset stomach. The key to keeping Dash calm is just doing whatever he wants. I"m really just a dog butler these days. Actually, I've always kind of been a dog butler.

I hope I don't have as much trouble publishing today's blog entry as I did yesterday. Feedburner wasn't working and I had a lot of problems getting the feed to syndicate to Facebook and Twitter.  We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure I'll be going out to breakfast tomorrow morning. If the rain continues, I"ll just stay home and do my best to keep Dash calm.

Toby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 2792

When I was doing some yard work this morning, I noticed a huge army of sweet ants crawling from a crack in the patio and making their way up the side of the house to the roof. No wonder I've been seeing ants in the bathroom. I found some ant and roach spray in the kitchen and killed the ants that were visible, but I'm sure there are thousands more wherever these came from. While I was trying to eliminate the ants, I also saw several wasp nests. The wasps were rebuilding in exactly the same places where I had removed their nests a few months ago. I've been doing this year after year for as long as I can remember. Keeping the insects and critters out of the house is next to impossible. It's hard enough just to keep Dash from eating the June Bugs.

It doesn't look like my repairs to the shower stall were successful. After I took a shower this morning, I noticed a small stream of water flowing from one of the corners I had just sealed with the silicon caulk. The problem is that there is a small area under the glass shower door frame that is inaccessible. I think some of the tiles have cracked under the door and are letting water seep in. The leak isn't bad, but if there is any leak at all, it will only get worse.

I spend way too much time in this house. It's disheartening to see everything slowly disintegrate around me. Thirty years ago the doors and windows opened and closed a lot more smoothly. The brick floors were completely free from cracks. And the wool carpets looked wonderful. I could never afford to restore the place to its original condition, but it sure would be nice. I have fantasies about those guys from the This Old House show on PBS coming over and fixing up the place. Real contractors aren't like This Old House though. They want to do the work as quickly as possible using substandard materials they picked up at a nearby Home Depot. Sadly, the house will probably just continue to deteriorate.

For years, Dash used to be eager to take an evening walk right after he'd finished his dinner. Now that Janet has been home for most of the summer, Dash refuses too walk without her. It makes things awkward on days like today when Janet had a company dinner. Dash wouldn't walk at all. I tried three times and he refused to leave the yard. It was almost dark when Janet returned, but Dash decided he needed a walk after all. We all walked to the end of the street and back, but he could have had a much longer walk if he'd just gone a few hours earlier.

Janet's been having trouble finding an iPad, so I told her that I'd go locate one for her. After doing a little looking around, I found exactly the model she wanted at a local AT&T phone store. The Apple Store in the mall said there would be a three or four week wait before they had this model back in stock. This doesn't make any sense. You'd think that the Apple Store would always keep a good supply of their own products on hand. It's getting harder and harder to be an Apple fanboy. I think that Apple has become too rich and powerful for its own good. They don't even try to keep customers happy anymore.

I don't know what it will take to keep me happy. I still miss Dot a lot. It would be nice to have a steady income, but I don't really want a job. I wake up each day with a small list of things to do and I usually do all of them. There is no grand plan anymore.  I'm just going from one day to the next.

Pogo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 2791

I got my car safety inspected today. I called to see if I needed an appointment and my service guy said to come on up because they weren't very busy. I shouldn't have believed him. Instead of taking a few minutes as promised, the inspection kept me at the dealership for over two hours. I used to enjoy wasting time at the dealership. I would look at all the new cars and try to imagine what I'd be driving next. Now, looking at cars is depressing. The ones I like are all ridiculously expensive.

The dealership always asks me if I'd like them to wash my car while it's there. I usually tell them to go ahead because it's free and it saves me the trouble. Typically, the maintenance on my car takes so long that I get impatient and ask them to cancel the car wash so I can get back home a little sooner. That's what happened today. I knew that Dash was waiting for his dinner, but it's a shame I didn't have more time. The car was pretty dirty.

I got a reply from the roofer today. He told me that he didn't have time to send a crew to patch the defective spots this time, but that he would drop off a can of the elastomer coating and I could make the repairs myself. This seemed kind of rude, but I wasn't completely surprised. The roofer has made many trips to my house already. I think he's probably trying to cut his losses. It's too bad that so few flat roofs come with the kind of warranty you typically get with a shingle roof. I'm kind of at the roofer's mercy.

After my recent dog bite, I have become very nervous about walking Dash. The park is so popular now that people come from all parts of town to walk their dogs. There is almost always somebody who wants to walk their dog without a leash. Some of these dogs are well behaved, but many aren't. I try my best to avoid loose dogs at all costs, but it's getting harder and harder. I don't even trust dog parks anymore. We saw another loose dog today. Luckily, Dash and I made it home in one piece.

I was balancing my checkbook this afternoon and I couldn't figure out why there was a $300 difference between me and the bank. I'm usually pretty accurate with bookkeeping. I finally figured out that my supplemental medical insurance had gone up in cost earlier in the year and nobody had bothered to tell me. I have health insurance payments directly debited from my account because I don't want to lose coverage just because I forgot to pay a bill. You've got to keep looking at your bank statements though. It's surprising how often rates go up.

I guess I could go get my new vehicle registration sticker tomorrow. I still can't remember how the new rules work, but I think you just need to wait 24 hours for the safety inspection information to be recorded in the state's database. I was thinking that Texas eliminated the safety inspection requirement earlier this year, but apparently not. The bill was passed by the Texas Senate but rejected by the House. I think the legislature is still trying to eliminate safety inspections. It seems like it would be better to keep the safety inspections, but eliminate the registration sticker.

It looks like there might be quite a few clouds across the United States next Monday. I guess it doesn't matter to me since I won't be traveling to view the eclipse anyway. It would be a shame if the weather won't cooperate. So far it looks like Idaho has the best chance of clear skies. I hope you have clear skies wherever you plan on viewing the eclipse. These things don't happen all that often.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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