Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 2898

This was a good day to test a solar panel I'd purchased earlier this year. It was bright and sunny, so maybe this thing would generate a little electricity. Do I need a solar panel? Of course not. I"m fascinated by survival gear though, so the solar cell fits right in with the various small generators, camping lights, freeze dried food, and hand cranked radios that have caught my attention in the past. The solar panel didn't really generate much electricity. It would probably be great for camping if I liked to camp. I prefer nice, dog friendly luxury hotels, but I do like to be ready for the zombie apocalypse. Maybe I'm just a prepper at heart. After I determined that the solar panel worked, I put it away again. There were more important things to do, like walk the dog and eat breakfast.

I guess I'm done with my website project for a while. After doing some more work this morning, I've now got a working site that the client could go live with if they want. It took me two days to master the Wordpress template. Most of the things that puzzled me in the beginning were just because I couldn't find the right menu. This really makes me wonder about those people who call themselves "professional" Wordpress developers. What do they really do? I still find it hard to believe that my elegant custom sites are being replaced by these templates. Oh, well. It's a little late to complain now. The world has changed. It makes sense that templates would be popular in a world where customers expect things to be easy and free,

Today would have been a good day to work on the roof, but I'm finding it difficult to do more than one thing a day. I wasted a lot of time fiddling around with the solar panel this morning and then I wasted even more time looking for the hidden code that displayed the name of the template company in the footer of every website page I've been building. I didn't want that name there and was very pleased when I managed to find the Wordpress code that generated the company's name automatically on every new page. I deleted the code without destroying anything else. Don't mess with me Wordpress.

The Dow closed over 24,000 today. That's the good news. The bad news is that if the tax bill that precipitated today market rally passes, small companies like mine are going to be in a world of hurt. I've heard that most of the Schedule C deductions freelancers take are going away. I don't know if my business would have survived if I hadn't been able to deduct for having an office in my home and a host of other commonplace deductions. I'm glad I'm nearing retirement. It's a different world out there now. I'm not sure I'd do nearly as well starting today as I did twenty years ago. Hell, even ten years ago things were a lot easier.

I can't figure out why Dash is reluctant to take an afternoon walk again. This has happened before and it just doesn't make sense. Dash is usually eager to take his morning walk, but lately he'll stand at the back door for a long time sniffing the air in the afternoon and then turn around and go back inside. He isn't tired and appears to have plenty of energy. There is just something about the afternoon air that bothers him. If I can manage to get him to the park, he's fine. It's just those first 50 yards that are difficult.

Tomorrow I need to pack up all my equipment for Saturday's photo shoot. I think everything works. If I don't drop something and break it, I'll probably be fine. Every year I think this is the last year I'm going to be doing these Christmas pictures. Then another year goes by and I'm doing them again. I'm still a good photographer, but I'm older and crankier. If I want to do this again next year, I'm going to have to start going to the gym more often.

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Day 2897

I haven't tested the cameras yet, but at least the strobe lights and power packs work. Janet and I picked out a backdrop too. One way or another, I'll be ready for this weekend's photo shoot. When we were looking at backdrops this evening it became obvious that my wrist is in worse shape than it was last year. I had difficulty folding the bulky muslin cloth. Every time I managed to fold the heavy 10' by 20' sheet into a square, it was too big to fit in its carrying sack. Eventually I folded each backdrop tightly enough to fit, but my wrists weren't happy. Testing the lights was much easier. I plugged  each lamp into the power pack one at a time and hit the test button. If the strobe fired, it was good.

I was glad to work on the website today, because there was no physical labor involved. I'm not finished yet, but things are looking good. I'm sure the client will want to change some of the photos, but the structure is in place. The Wordpress template is no longer a mystery. Basically, you can change anything you want on the dashboard if you are willing to wade through layer after layer of ambiguous menus. I still don't like Wordpress though. To make the design process easier, these templates severely restrict your options.

I got an e-mail from my new doctor today reminding me to complete the registration process for their patient portal. A lot of doctors use these type of websites now so patients can see their medical records online. For the most part I find these patient portals irritating because each doctor or hospital has their own and there is no way to consolidate your information. This patient portal was different though. Most of these websites allow you to view information provided by your doctor. This one let me send information to the doctor. I could link the bluetooth medical devices I have at home and the information is automatically sent to the doctor. This is the future. Right now I can send weight, pulse rate, blood pressure, pulse wave velocity and body mass information directly to the doctor. There are already inexpensive wireless devices for do-it-yourself electrocardiograms and blood sugar measurements if I feel the need for more information. What's next? Someday, people will probably have inexpensive MRI machines build into their beds that send the doctor a scan while you sleep.  For the most part, I'm all for this intrusive technology. The sooner the doctor knows that something is wrong, the sooner I can take corrective action.

Dash didn't want to walk today. Actually, we did take our two walks, but it was not on my schedule. When it was convenient for me to take a walk, Dash refused to budge. When I had other things to do, Dash would suddenly decide he was ready. This stubborn behavior wouldn't be a big deal if Dash didn't have to wear his protective gear. It's frustrating to put on his socks, shoes, and knee brace and then have to take them off again a few minutes later because Dash won't go outside. Eventually everything gets done but it makes for a very long day.

I was going to pick up some Thai food for dinner, but I ran out of time and ate a very old slice of ham and a few beans instead. That's all I could find in the refrigerator. I did pick up Dash's phenobarbital though. I don't have time for everything, but I do have my priorities straight. If I want to eat dinner tomorrow, I'll definitely need to do some grocery shopping. I've got a lot more work to do on the website tomorrow, but there's always time for food. I think Dash would agree.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Day 2896

I made a lot of progress on my website project today. It was a nice day and I know I should have worked on the roof, but this was more of a challenge. I wasn't going to let a silly template defeat me. After spending the morning dealing with all the things that baffled me yesterday, I feel confident that I can finish this thing. All I've got to do now is add the rest of the pages. With any luck I should be done by the end of the week.  It's a shame that all I'm doing is replicating a perfectly good site that I build two years ago. The objective is to create something that anybody can update. I even offered to continue updating the old site myself, but people don't want a website manager anymore. Godaddy Website Builder, Wordpress, and a host of other drag and drop website tools have made people like me obsolete. I'm sure there are other sites I'll be asked to convert, but I can see the writing on the wall. My coding days are over.

I'm impressed that my new doctor called me this afternoon to go over the results of my Calcium Score Screening. He reassured me that things weren't as bad as they looked. "These scores are frequently over 2000 for someone your age," he said. "You're less than 250."  I was hoping for a score of 0, but apparently that is very rare. My old doctor never called me on the phone with test results in the twenty years I was his patient. I always had to make an appointment and go to his office for a visit. To be fair, I eventually did get the test results and was able to ask questions, but only after spending forever sitting in a crowded waiting room full of sick people. Things are much more efficient and accessible now. I may change my mind later, but so far concierge medicine definitely seems to be worth the money.

I'm glad I have plenty of time. Dash is so slow now that I would never have time to walk him if my business was still busy. He still likes to walk and seems to move freely wearing the knee brace, but he just inches along. He'll walk ten feet and then stop to smell something or pee. Then we'll walk another ten feet and he'll stop to smell something else. For a while I was worried that he might be having trouble moving, but that doesn't seems to be the case. He just isn't in a hurry anymore. Actually this is a good thing. The specialist who treats him at the cancer center said that long, slow walks were good for him. We're definitely taking long, slow walks.

I spent so much time working on the website today that I didn't get around to all the other things on my list. How did I used to be able to get so much done?  Either I'm really slowing down, or life has become more difficult. Fixing breakfast and taking care of Dash seems to eat up half the day. If I can accomplish one other thing with the time I've got left, I'm lucky. I did balance my checkbook today, but that was only because I didn't want to go up on the roof or unpack all my photo gear to test the strobe lights. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow?

A friend's dog died today. It's so sad that our pets don't live longer. They become such an important part of our lives and then they're gone. I always see Gracie when we take Santa Paws photos. I was hoping that I'd see her again this year. Rest in peace sweet dog. I hope you say hello to Dot at the Rainbow Bridge.

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Day 2895

I should have quit while I was ahead. I finished my writing assignment this morning and delivered it to the client. So far so good. Next, I started to work on my website assignment. This was supposed to be easy, but I couldn't get the Wordpress template to do what I wanted. I floundered around for hours experimenting and reading tutorials on the theme the client selected. So far, I still haven't found what I need.

Templates drive me nuts. They work pretty well if you don't try to change the default settings. Once you start creating your own settings, you've gone down a rabbit hole. If I was creating this site using HTML and Javascript, I'd be done by now. I'm pretty confident I'll master this eventually. "It's just a template," I keep telling myself. Hey, I went down so many blind alleys today that tomorrow should be easy. I've already eliminated a ton of things that don't work.

I didn't even attempt to work on the roof today. Messy manual labor and messy website development don't mix very well. I was hoping I'd get the website finished today so I could concentrate on the roof tomorrow. That's not going to happen. I guess the weather will determine what I do next. I don't have a firm deadline on the website, but I know I'd got to get the roof finished before it rains.

I also know I've only got a few days to test my lights and cameras for the upcoming Santa Paws photo shoot this weekend. Everything should work, but will it? I haven't used most of this stuff since last years holiday pet photos. I've got an extra Norman power pack, and extra strobe, and an extra camera body in case something breaks. This still leaves a fairly small margin of error. If one light burns out I'm fine. If two lights burn out, I'm screwed. My equipment has worked perfectly for decades, but eventually my luck will run out. Nothing lasts forever.

I wish I didn't worry so much. Every time Dash jumps on the bed, I worry that he's going to tear his ACL. Every time I go in the utility room, I worry that the water heater is going to develop a leak and flood the house. I worry that my car is going to break down every time I leave the house and I worry that we'll be attacked by an aggressive dog every time Dash and I go on a walk. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about Kim Jong-un or rising sea levels. Some things are out of my control. It's the little things right here at home that bother me most.

Maybe tomorrow will go smoothly. If I take care of the easy things first, I should be fine. I need to balance my checkbook. It's time to order more printer ink. I need to re-glue one of Dash's protective boots. I'll do the laundry. When I take care of those things, I'll think about battling Wordpress again.

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Day 2894

I had big plans for today. Unfortunately I didn't have the energy to complete them. I did make it to the gym. I also mowed the grass for what I hope is the last time this year. When I climbed up on the roof to survey what I did yesterday, I could tell the sun was already too low in the sky to attempt anything new. Since my repairs always take much longer than I anticipate, I just removed my tools from the roof and called it a day.

Dash seems to know that it is a holiday weekend. I didn't even attempt to walk him by myself today since I knew he would prefer to wait until Janet could come along too. It all worked out and we were able to find time for two very pleasant walks. With a trip to the gym, lawnmower duties, and walks through the park with Dash, my fitness tracker recorded an impressive number of steps today.

I hope this weather continues. It was warm enough that I didn't have to wear a jacket and cool enough that I didn't have to worry about Dash becoming overheated. Fall is my favorite time of year here in Dallas. It's too bad this season only lasts two weeks. When I looked at the weather forecast, it said to expect sunny days and low humidity for the rest of the week. Maybe this will give me enough time to get the roof ready for the rainy season. Truthfully, I'm not even sure when the rainy season is anymore. It's usually really wet around Halloween, but that didn't happen this year.

There was somebody else using the hand bicycle when I arrived at the gym today, so I had to do my workout in a different order. I can't imagine this would bother anyone but me. I am such a creature of habit that I tend to follow the same routines for years at a time. Oddly, I burned more calories today by using the treadmill first. I wonder why? It has occurred to me that my exercise routine might not be doing any good. I basically just stay in the gym for an hour and get really tired. I'm trying to rebuild muscle mass, but I may need to be doing something completely different to accomplish this. I am the poster boy for men who never read directions. I'm sure a personal trainer or even taking a few classes could point me in the right direction, but that would be a commitment. It's easier to just keep blundering along blindly. It's also nice to have the option of not going to the gym at all.

It was nice having a four day weekend. I feel like I'm semi-retired anyway, but when Janet is home we sleep in later and everything is more relaxed. Instead of an alarm clock in the morning, Dash gets us up when he feels like eating breakfast. Since Dash is a lazy dog who likes to sleep, this usually works out pretty well. Tomorrow we return to our work schedule. I get up earlier and fix my breakfast after Janet has gone to work. There's a writing assignment to get started on and some website work as well. It should be a busy day. Hopefully, Dash will notice all these subtle changes and realize that our holiday is over.

Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Day 2893

When I was younger I thought I would never live in a cluttered house filled with decades of forgotten and unnecessary things. That was something my parents did. How times have changed. Now, our house suspiciously resembles every older person's home I can remember. There is too much furniture. There are too many things hanging on the walls. And the closets are filled with too many failed attempts to declutter.

Tonight, Janet wanted to make holiday dog biscuits, but we couldn't find the bone shaped cookie cutters. We wouldn't have thrown these things away because we've used them too many times. Where were they though? We couldn't find them in the kitchen. They weren't in the utility room. I even got a step ladder and looked in the ceiling level cabinets above the clothes closets. These hard to reach cabinets have become a temporary purgatory for things we no longer need, but can't bring ourselves to throw away. It would have been far easier to go to a store and buy new cookie cutters, but that would be admitting that you've totally lost control of your house. I was unable to find the cookie cutters, but eventually Janet found three of them at the bottom of a drawer filled with cloth dinner napkins we never use.

After finishing the grocery shopping, I went up on the roof and was pleased to see that everything was dry. It looked like this would be a good day to continue my repairs. I hauled a bucket of the silicon elastomer up on the roof with a rope and immediately spilled some of the messy stuff on my shoe. I've learned to wear worn out clothes that I can dispose of if necessary, but I still try my best to get the coating material on the roof instead of spilling the stuff on me. It was nice that it was warm today, but it would have been even nicer if it weren't so windy. Applying a glue like substance with a paint roller on a windy day is just asking for trouble. I used about two gallons of the elastomer this afternoon and repaired a lot of bad spots. I also ruined a pair of pants and had to clean my hands with nail polish remover when I was done. I really wonder if I am ever going to finish this job.

Dash refused to walk again this afternoon. I don't know what motivates this dog. All week long he has been eager to take a walk around 3 PM. We followed the exact same routine as we do on weekdays, but was just wasn't interested. It is so difficult to get all his protective gear on that I thought I'd leave him suited up in case he got interested in walking later. This was a mistake. The knee brace is good for walks, but hampers his movement around the house. Instead of being sensible and taking a nap on a rug, Dash immediately tried to hop on the bed and fell over. I took everything off and made sure he was OK and then just gave up for the day. Dash didn't get an afternoon walk.

I saw lots of Christmas trees strapped to car roofs when I was out today. It still seems early to me, but I guess I'll need to start thinking about putting ours up soon. So much can change in a year. Last Christmas Dot was still with us, Janet hadn't been diagnosed with cancer yet, and I could still pretend I had a viable business. Somehow we survived. As the year draws to a close, there is a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be apprehensive about as well. This year has been a roller coaster. I'm hoping that next Christmas I can look back at a fairly uneventful year.

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Day 2892

On television, Black Friday looked like a madhouse, but from my vantage point it just seemed like another normal day. Janet and I went out for breakfast this morning and there wasn't even much traffic on the road. I don't know what made us think we even needed breakfast. We were still full from yesterday. We should have just ordered one item and split it. Neither of us could finish our meal and ended up taking the rest home for tomorrow.

On the way home, Janet wanted to stop at Old Navy and get a coat she'd seen on sale. No mob of Black Friday shoppers here. Everything is already so cheap at Old Navy that I wondered why they even bother with giant sales. The clothes aren't made in China here. The labels come from places like Haiti, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Who would have thought you'd have to go to stores like Bloomingdales or Nordstrom to find clothes from China? Made in China is reserved for upscale retail now. So where do you go to find clothes that are actually made in the United States? You'd probably need a time machine.

I think a lot of people must have gone out of town for Thanksgiving. The roads weren't really crowded. The park was virtually empty yesterday and wasn't very crowded today either. That's fine by me. Any day that I can walk Dash without worries about being attacked by a loose dog is a good day. I am going to have to worry about coyotes this winter. When we were walking Dash this afternoon, a firetruck went by and the siren caused our local pack of coyote pups to all begin howling at once. From the sound of things, this is a large litter. I haven't seen these coyotes yet, but it's pretty easy to tell where they live. We had a bad problem with coyotes several years ago until they ate all the small animals and moved on. I have a feeling that it is going to be a bad year for bunnies this Winter.

I took advantage of the warmer weather today to continue my work on the roof. This is one of the more discouraging projects I've undertaken yet. There was a small tear in an area I had patched last month and when I began peeling away the damaged elastomer coating, I discovered that water had seeped under a much wider area than it looked like on the surface. The roof really needs to be fixed in July when it is hot and dry. Unfortunately, it always becomes damaged during the Fall and Winter months when the weather is cold and damp. I didn't re-coat anything today. All I managed to do was remove about a square yard of elastomer in hopes that the asphalt underneath will completely dry out before it rains again.

Dash must have known it was a holiday today. He didn't want me to walk him alone like I normally do on Friday and insisted that Janet and I both go with him. This wasn't a problem in the morning, but he could have made life easier if he'd taken his normal walk this afternoon. By the time Janet returned from running errands, it was almost dark. It's hard to explain these things to a stubborn dog though. Dash knew that Janet hadn't gone to work because she wasn't wearing work clothes when she left the house.

It seemed like Saturday today, so it will probably seem like Sunday tomorrow. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow, but I won't be able to ignore everything. I got a new writing assignment today. There is a big website project to work on. And sometime very soon I am going to have to test all my ancient equipment prior to next week's first Santa Paws photo shoot. I sure hope everything works. One of these years it won't.

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Day 2891 - Thanksgiving

I feel like I've spent the entire day eating. Thanksgiving is the one time of year that Janet and I throw caution to the winds and fill our plates with way more than we need. We quit cooking at home years ago and prefer to go to a nice restaurant instead. For many years our favorite place was the revolving restaurant on the top of Reunion Tower. It was relaxing and the slowly rotating restaurant gave us an opportunity to see what had changed in Dallas during the previous year. Eventually the place got sold and became part of Wolfgang Puck's restaurant empire. Puck had no interest in continuing the lavish Thanksgiving brunch we had come to enjoy. We floundered around for several years and eventually found the Melrose Hotel. So far, so good. The waiters never rush you. The food is interesting and always includes several things you would never expect to eat at Thanksgiving. The salads are amazing. If they kept these salads on the menu during the rest of the year, we would go back more often.

We used to go up to the Dalmatian Rescue kennel after our dinner and give each of the rescue dogs a boiled chicken breast as a Thanksgiving treat. I forget why we quit doing this. Maybe one of our own dogs got sick, or we no longer had the time after the rescue dogs were relocated to a different kennel in Lewisville. It was a nice tradition for a while though. Now we just make sure that Dash has had a nice day.

I was so full when we returned home that I felt like calling it a day at 4 PM and going to bed. Dash has other ideas though. He wanted his own dinner and a long walk. A long, slow walk after Thanksgiving dinner is another tradition we have kept as long as we've had dogs. It was certainly a beautiful day for a walk. The sky was clear and the air was crisp and cool. The walk felt good. I was still full when we returned, but I no longer felt sluggish and catatonic.

We watched the Cowboys game for a little while, but the Cowboys really suck this year. There have been some memorable Thanksgiving day games, but this wasn't one of them. I still remember a game where it snowed in Dallas on Thanksgiving. It seems to snow less and less with each passing year. I don't think we got any snow last year. I can't say that I miss the snow, but it is strange how dramatically the weather has changed in just a few decades. Climate change? Probably. When we had our first Dalmatian, there was a year when our lake completely froze over. It hasn't happened since.

When I took Dash out to pee late last night, I saw Orion rising in the eastern sky. It's nice to see the Winter constellations return. There is so much light pollution in Dallas that's it's hard to see the stars in the Summer. The Winter stars are much brighter and bring back childhood memories. I was going to be an astronomer until I realized that there was a lot of math involved in this profession. I still like looking at the stars though. Maybe someday I'll live in a place where it is dark enough to see the Milky Way again.

It's been a lazy but pleasantly fuzzy day. I drank Mimosas. I consumed more calories than I normally do in a week. I didn't even attempt to do anything useful. Next week I'll start thinking about getting healthy again. Tomorrow, I'll probably just wish I hadn't eaten so much today.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Day 2890

Ignorance is bliss, I guess. When I went in for my Calcium Score Screening today, I was expecting a good report. I've worried about my liver for years, but never about my heart. Why should I worry? I'm active. I'm not fat. I try to avoid salt and sugar and eat a healthy diet. Not good enough apparently. My Agatston Score indicates that I already have some atherosclerosis.

When I was younger and underwent any sort of diagnostic testing, the technicians usually gave me a high five. "You're looking good," they'd say. Now when I ask whether the results are good or bad, the response is more like "Considering your age, you're probably OK." It's probably all downhill from here.

I'm not exactly in the danger zone yet, but I imagine that my doctor will want to make some changes. I hope he doesn't want me to take stronger statins. I already don't like statins. I don't like niacin either.  I know dark green leafy vegetables are good, but I'm not wild about eating more broccoli. Maybe there are other ways of getting extra vitamin K in my diet. Truthfully, I never even considered that calcium could be bad for you. I've been taking calcium pills for years to increase bone density. Maybe this isn't such a good idea.

Getting old sucks. My Dad was unstoppable until he turned 70 and then he started going downhill so rapidly it was scary. I don't know why I've always thought I was immune from the same sort of decline. I need to learn from my Dad's mistakes. He never really ate all that well. As a result he had several heart attacks and a quadruple bypass. It's a shame that staying healthy involves giving up so many enjoyable things. I gave up alcohol when I had Hepatitis-C and never started drinking again after I was cured. I've made a real effort to reduce salt and sugar in my diet. I rarely eat bread or pasta anymore and only have bacon as a weekend treat now. What's next? If calcium is a problem, I imagine dairy products are next. I love cheese and sweeten my coffee with whipped cream.  I'd hate to give those up.

It's kind of sad that I got this bad news the day before Thanksgiving. I'm still going to pig out tomorrow, but I'll be even more aware that a huge plate piled with prime rib and mashed potatoes followed by a giant slice of pecan pie topped with whipped cream has to be the exception rather than the rule. Hell, I might even have a glass of wine tomorrow. If you can't loosen your belt and enjoy yourself once a year, what is the point of it all?

It's strange that I've heard absolutely nothing about John Kennedy today. Usually, the Kennedy assassination is the lead on the local news every November 22. I've even made the annual visit to Dealey Plaza myself in prior years. I don't think anyone cares anymore. There are so many other juicy conspiracy theories these days than the debate about whether there was a second gunman on the Grassy Knoll seems insignificant. Memories fade, I guess. I was a freshman in high school when Kennedy was killed. A lot of you weren't even born yet.

I had to pick up some more Plavix for Dash today. There a good chance he'll have to keep taking the blood thinner forever. Increasingly, Dash and I seem to share a lot of the same ailments. We both have heart problems, bad knees, and a grumpy disposition. We'll continue walking and taking naps together and hope for the best.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Day 2889

I went to the store where my online order was supposed to arrive and wasn't all that surprised to discover that it didn't come on today's truck either. The person who was helping me said, "We do happen to have one of these in stock." What? Why was I buying online if what I wanted was already in the store? I bought the item they had in the store and told the clerk to return the online purchase if and when it ever arrived. The clerk was surprisingly friendly about this weird transaction and said it happens all the time. "I'm sorry to cause all this trouble," I said. "I looked last week and you didn't have this on the shelves, so I ordered online." "It was probably here," she said. "We don't keep everything on the shelves."

I'm glad I went to the website meeting today. Somehow, I had a completely different idea in my head of what I was supposed to do. If I had started to build the site yesterday, I would have had to throw everything away and start over. I have a much better idea of what everyone wants now. It looks like this will be a work in progress for quite a while, but that's OK. I needed something to keep me busy anyway.

The imaging lab called today to remind me to not drink any coffee before I go in for my Calcium Score Screening tomorrow. The test is to measure plaque build up in the arteries. I wonder how caffeine would affect the results? I'll need to leave a note on the kitchen table tonight. I'm such a creature of habit that I could easily drink my first cup of coffee automatically before it even registers that this is something I'm not supposed to do. I think I would have preferred if they told me not to eat. I really need my coffee in the morning.

I wish I'd been able to finish my work on the roof while the temperature was in the 80's. It's been cold and damp all week and I have a feeling that things are only going to get worse. Fall is going to turn to Winter soon. I may have already missed my best opportunity to get this done. I guess there is no rush to use the remaining coating, but I do worry about that little note I saw on the label that says the product should be used within 72 hours after opening the container.

It's hard to remember when I could walk and feed Dash without a lot of elaborate preparation. We have our new routine now, but it sure is complicated. All his gear needs to go on in exactly the right order, or it won't fit properly. The Rough Wear Web Master harness needs to go on first, because the knee brace attaches to the harness. The rubber boots always have to go on last because you can't fit the knee brace if the boots are already on. I have to remember the socks too. The socks go under the boots to keep the rubber from rubbing his paws and creating raw spots. I'm getting faster at all this, but it takes a while.

Feeding is equally complicated. Dash will only eat the Castor and Pollux stew in the morning. He seems to like the Whole Chicken Thigh recipe the best. At lunch he will eat 1/2 cup of dry food if it is mixed with a crumbled up rice cake. If the rice cake isn't there, he won't touch the dry food. At dinner, we feed him Hills ID wet food. He likes his dinner split in two parts with a walk in between. It took a lot of trial and error to come up with this complicated formula, but it works. He's getting good nutrition now and maintaining his weight. I guess this is as normal as it's going to get.

I'm a little nervous about doing the CAT scan tomorrow. The last time I had a scan they made me put both arms behind my head before they slid me into the tube. It was uncomfortable then and probably impossible now. My shoulder has gotten worse and my right arm just isn't that flexible anymore. There is no way I can stretch my arms out behind my head these days. Should be interesting.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Day 2888

I got another jury summons today. When I tried to postpone the summons again, I was informed that I'd used up all my postponements and would have to serve. I've noticed that every time I postponed the summons I would receive a lower juror number the next time. Unless I get kicked out during the Voir Dire Process, I'm almost certain to sit on a jury. Oh, well. This is probably the last time I'll ever get called. As soon as I turn seventy, I'm going to request a permanent exemption.

The whole judicial system seems weird to me. If you've ever been questioned during Voir Dire, it quickly becomes obvious that the lawyers from both sides are trying their best to pack the jury with people who are sympathetic to their case. Jury selection seems to be a lot more about winning than about fairness. Even if you're selected to sit on a jury, there's a good chance that the lawyers will reach a plea deal before you ever enter the courtroom. Judges love plea deals because it saves them a lot of time.

I've heard that in China they are already experimenting with robot judges. People tend to like the robots because they seem to be more lenient than human judges. If robot judges work, maybe we ought to try robot juries too. When I'm out and about and take a good look at who my peers actually are, I think I'd trust a robot more.

My new doctor want me to go in for a Calcium Score Screening to check for plaque in my arteries. Even though this test is very effective, it is seldom covered by insurance. As a result, numerous services have sprung up that offer low cost CAT scans. My scan will cost $79. Sounds fair to me. You just pay cash and the test isn't billed to your insurance plan at all. $79 is a small fraction of what imaging labs usually charge for a CAT scan or MRI. When I've had scans before, my insurance was billed between $500 and $4000 dollars. This is why health care is so expensive. It's not the doctors or the government that makes health care expensive. It's the insurance companies. A lot of times I wish health care was more like taking care of your dog. You pay cash for everything at the vet, but prices are much more reasonable. Dot and Dash have both gone through some very complex surgeries. The surgeons were excellent and the facilities were as up-to-date as anything you'd find in a human hospital. The only difference was the price. The prices for veterinary medicine are fair because the customer actually pays the bill. When insurance companies get involved, prices go through the roof.

My package is still lost. It was supposed to arrive today, but of course it didn't. This might be the last time I order online and and select the option to pick up my order at the store. When you order this way, the store doesn't need to provide tracking. Your order just gets put on the truck with all the other inventory being shipped to the store. There doesn't seem to be any particular hurry. I'm sure I'll get my order eventually, but nobody seems to know when. It's just "in the system" somewhere.

I have my first meeting on the new website project tomorrow. I'll try to keep an open mind. I did a little research on the Wordpress template I'm supposed to use and discovered that it's basically just like every other Wordpress template. I still don't understand why people like Wordpress. It's not rocket science, so I guess I can live with the situation. Anyone who can hand code a site can definitely fill in the blanks on a Wordpress template.

I talked to people today and made decisions. I think I prefer the days when nothing happens.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Day 2887

I'm afraid I'm going to have to retrieve Dot's rugs from the storage room soon. Dash is starting to slip and slide on the bricks. If he would slow down and start acting like the mature dog he is, I'm sure he could navigate the bricks for another couple of years. That's not Dash though. He still likes to counter surf. He'll still race to the kitchen when he hears food being prepared. Since he already has a partially torn cruciate ligament, I'm afraid he's going to ruin his knee joint every time he slips. I've thought about just leaving his rubber boots on all the time, but there's a downside to that as well. I just wish Dash would realize he's getting older and start taking care of himself a little better.

I'm trying to take care of myself better. That's why I switched doctors and continue going to the gym every Sunday. It's no fun growing old, but what are the alternatives? While I was driving to the gym today I listened to a TED talk about recent advances in gene editing. Precise gene editing could bring back the Wooly Mammoth from extinction, eliminate mosquitos in malaria prone areas, and allow parent to choose the hair color, intelligence, and resistance to disease of their babies. What could possibly go wrong? This all sounds like science fiction, but apparently scientists around the world are already using something called CRISPR-Cas9 technology to modify plants and animals at the DNA level. There's a lot of debate about the ethics of messing around with human DNA, but I'm sure there was debate about the ethics of atom bombs before we exploded the first one too. Humans tend to use the things they invent. We just can't resist.

Maybe in the future, people like me won't have to worry about diabetes and arthritic joints. We'll use gene editing to create a race of disease free, almost super human people. Of course, there's an even greater chance that we'll inadvertently create thousands of 100 foot long fire breathing dragons who will eat us while we sleep.

I had a good workout today, but that apparently wasn't enough. Against my better judgement, I actually moved the furniture while I vacuumed this afternoon. I don't do this very often because it is too depressing. It's unbelievable how much dust can accumulate under a chair that hasn't been moved for a year. We also took the heavy comforter off the bed and took it to a laundromat for cleaning. If you let your dog sleep on the bed with you, you quickly realize that white isn't the best color for a bed spread. I liked out old brown comforter better. It might not have been the prettiest thing in the world, but it hid all the damage the dogs caused admirably.

I didn't do my homework on Wordpress this weekend. Oh, well. There's still time. It's hard to get excited about Wordpress. I guess it's convenient if you like to work in teams, but it doesn't do much for me. I can think of so many more elegant ways to design a website. When you're used to sitting down and writing your own code, it just seems cumbersome to use someone else's template.

I see my neighbors beginning to pile up bags of leaves, old kitchen chairs, and discarded children's toys on the curb. This much mean it's time for bulky trash pickup again. I'll need to look tomorrow and see if there's anything I need to throw away. I'm supposed to receive a package next week. I think the package is lost since no tracking number was provided by the shipper. The shipper says everything is fine. We'll see who's right by the end of the week. We're going out to eat for Thanksgiving again this year. This should be a relaxing occasion, so I'm going to try my best not to worry about Dash. There's no need to worry. He's just going to be sleeping on the bed like he always does in the afternoon. I wish I wasn't always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Day 2886

It was so windy today that I kept expecting one of our trees to topple over. It has happened before. I see old growth trees fall in the park all the time, but luckily nothing happened to ours today. The wind did signal a change in the weather. A cold front moved through town this afternoon and it's currently about twenty degrees colder than it was this morning. Dash seems to like this chilly weather. I can't say that I agree.

The only thing I accomplished today was to catch the cockroach that eluded me yesterday. This time I had my flyswatter ready. The bug didn't have a chance. I hate to think how many of these things might be lurking around the house. There are certainly plenty of places for them to hide in the office. The office was full even before I brought all the paraphernalia home from the storage warehouse for Santa Paws pictures. Now, it's a total mess.

Dash seemed to want a walk around 3 PM this afternoon, but when I looked outside I noticed a mobile grooming truck parked in our neighbor's driveway. We would have to walk right by this truck to get to the park. It would be just my luck that the groomers would open the door just as Dash and I were walking by and out would come the dog who bit me. I wasn't going to risk it. I'm still very apprehensive about that dog.

I waited about an hour until the truck drove away and then we took our walk. We encountered another loose neighborhood dog along the way, but luckily this one was friendly. These people let their dog out in the front yard without a leash all the time. Over and over again, it races out in the street to greet me and Dash. One of these days it is going to get run over. I really don't understand how people can pay so little attention to their dog's safety. Is it that hard to keep your dog on a leash? The streets are busy. There are coyotes in the area. There are snakes. There are just too many unpredictable things that could happen.

I tried to sweep the leaves off the front porch today. It was impossible. Prevailing winds tend to blow leaves onto the porch where they pile up against the front door. When you open the door on a windy day, the leaves blow inside. This is one of many things that make me wish I lived in Arizona with a big cactus and a swimming pool in the yard. At any rate, I swept the leaves away three times today and the wind blew them back again every time. It's futile to battle against nature. Nature always wins.

I wonder how Black Friday got to be such a big deal. We are being inundated with Black Friday flyers in the mail and Black Friday e-mail messages. I don't think I've ever bought anything on Black Friday. I guess it's a good deal if you want to stand in line for a cheap big screen TV, but how many televisions do you need? I think everybody already has a big screen TV by now. I guess I'm not the target market. I'm so out of the loop that I thought Black Friday was yesterday.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, November 17, 2017

Day 2885

I went to the storage warehouse and got some of the gear we'll need for the Santa Paws photo shoots. We've accumulated a lot of Christmas themed muslin backdrops over the years. Probably the best way to select a backdrop at this point is to smell them all and pick the one that doesn't smell of dog pee. The equipment is getting so old that I need a backup for everything. I take extra power packs for the strobes, extra camera bodies, and lots of extra camera batteries. What I really need is an extra me.

I wanted to walk Dash early this morning so I could go out for breakfast at a reasonable hour, but it wasn't meant to be. We all got up late and even though Dash was eager to walk, we didn't return home until almost 10 AM. I went out for breakfast anyway, although I should have just had an early lunch. I think I'm losing my touch at picking new restaurants. For the second week in a row I had a meal that was way too heavy on a plate that was way too large. Maybe I should just start ordering from the children's menu. Something has changed. I'm just not as hungry as I used to be.

As I suspected, I'm going to have to learn how to use a new Wordpress theme before I can start my latest website project. I don't even try to argue against Wordpress anymore. Everyone but me seems to love it. The Divi theme the client has selected is supposed to be powerful, versatile, and easy to use. Piffle. I still like HTML better. At any rate, my assignment over the weekend is to learn to be a Divi expert as quickly as possible.

Dash is acting weird again today. He'll go outside and then just stand frozen in place like he's lost or confused. He's done this before and I think it must have something to do with his vestibular disease. If you give him time, he usually returns to normal in an hour or two. Our morning walk was pretty normal, but our afternoon walk took forever because Dash would stop about every twenty feet and just stand there looking confused. It usually works best if I am patient and let him set his own pace. We eventually made it back home and now he's back to normal again. Go figure. I worry about this behavior but there is not much I can do at this point. The vets don't have an answer. The vestibular disease might be giving him a sensation of vertigo from time to time. Maybe his eyesight is going bad and he has trouble seeing in some situations. The truth is that Dash is just getting old. It's probably just a matter of time before I start standing around looking confused too.

The weather forecast convinced me that it was going to rain this week. Now the week is over and the rain never appeared. I could have finished my repairs on the roof if I just ignored the weather forecast. That's always risky though. When I ignore the forecast, it always rains.

I just saw a cockroach walking across the office floor. I went to get a fly swatter so I could kill it, and by the time I got back, the bug was gone. I'm sure it's still around here somewhere. We don't have a big problems with bugs anymore since we've gotten the humidity in the house under control. I still see them occasionally though. I hate these bugs, but I've resigned myself to the fact that if you live down South, you're never completely free of them. They're everywhere outside. It's inevitable that some will get inside.

I have no plans for the weekend at all. This usually means I'll end up cleaning on Saturday and going to the gym on Sunday.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Day 2884

Today's echocardiogram revealed that the blood clots in Dash's heart had not gotten any smaller, but they had become denser. "Is this good or bad," I asked the doctor. He thought it was good news because a dense clot is less likely to break apart and travel to the brain or lungs. I'm disappointed that the clots have not become smaller after two months of taking Plavix, but I'm happy that Dash appears to be doing fine. Whatever caused him to quit eating and become fearful of taking a walk appears to be gone.

The doctor told us that he was getting over a bad cold and that his voice was raspy because he had strep throat. This alarmed me a bit because I have a terrible phobia of being around sick people. I'm convinced that the only way to become sick is to be around someone else who is sick. Most normal people don't have this attitude. Teachers, doctors, and nurses are around sick people so much that they take it all in stride. I spend so much time alone that a sick person in the room seems almost like seeing a snake or spider in the room. It makes me nervous. That being said, I'm glad the doctor came in today. He's a great vet who has really helped us navigate the complexities of cancer and other emergencies with Dot and Dash.

Breakfast turned out to be lunch today. Janet and I took Dash on a walk as soon as we got back from the cancer center and by the time we returned and I started making my morning smoothie, it was already past noon. Even though it was very late, I didn't even consider eating anything else. I'm convinced that Dash is stubborn about many things because he's learned this inflexible approach to life from me.

I got asked to be part of a big website rebranding project today. I've worked with these people before and I was delighted that they still wanted me on their team. On the other hand, I've worked with these people before and know how difficult their projects become. That's the trouble with sliding toward retirement. I used to look at hard jobs as a challenge. Now, I look at them with a sense of horror. I can do this though. I've done it before. This time it just might take me a little longer.

I feel the same way about the Santa Paws pictures I take every year for the Dalmatian Rescue group Janet and I volunteer with. I'm happy that everyone still seems to like these pictures, but every year it seems a little harder to shoot them. My equipment is old and so am I. At the end of the day, I'm exhausted. Luckily, we have a much lighter schedule than we used to in the old days. This year we only have two locations in early December. This is a lot easier than when there were six.

Even though taking Dash to the vet was the only thing that happened today, the day went quickly. This week's trash has been taken out to the curb, the laundry has been done, and I'm ready to search for a new restaurant tomorrow morning.

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day 2883

From the looks of our mailbox, you'd think that Dash was the only one who lives here. This dog gets more mail than I do. In addition to notices and reminders from various vets, Dash receives a steady supply of homemade dog treats. Dash's "Thanksgiving Dinner" came in the mail today. I'll have to admit that it did look pretty good.

Janet finds these things on Facebook. I'm amazed at the number of people who have created a viable business making products specifically for Dalmatians. There's a guy who make dog coats specifically for Dalmatians. He started his business by showing pictures of his coats on Facebook Dalmatian groups and now he gets orders from all around the world. Now, there's a woman who makes dog treats targeted to Dalmatians. She posts a picture of her Dalmatian wearing a chef's outfit every time he is "baking" and the orders pile in. I applaud these strange and wonderful little businesses. They are so specific that you'd think they couldn't possibly work, and yet they do. Maybe Janet could make dog cookies the next time she decides to retire. Her cookies were amazing, but she only made them once a year for the dogs of friends and neighbors. I still remember delivering them around Christmas time while I was walking Spot. This seems like thirty years ago, because it probably was.

Dash seems so much better than he did two months ago. I don't know if his health has really improved, but he definitely seems happier. I think he decided that if he was on the verge of death, he was going to start living life his way. He didn't want to walk when it was convenient for me. He wanted to walk when he felt like it. He was tired of eating kibble and convinced us that he really needed cans of super premium Castor and Pollux stews. I don't know why he feels like interrupting my breakfast with a long walk, but it really doesn't hurt anything. I've adapted to this new routine fairly easily. I can see why he got tired of eating kibble. I don't think I would enjoy living on healthy crackers.

I hope some of the changes we've made are actually doing some good. Dash is definitely spoiled now, but he doesn't seem as anxious now and his stress levels are much lower. He even stands still and lets me put on his rubber boots before we walk now. I think he's finally learned that it feels better to walk while wearing these protective shoes. Almost every day, people stop us on our walks to ask about the boots and knee brace. I've told the story so many times that the manufacturer should give me a discount.

The heavily modified boots are clever and comfortable. I could probably sell these on Facebook if I could ever figure out how to manufacture them myself. Manufacturing almost anything is much more complicated than it seems. The big problem with dog boots is that they have to fit exactly to be effective. Every dog's paws are different. They have to be soft and easy to put on, while remaining tough enough to stand up to sidewalks and asphalt roads. My design is improving each time a make a modification, but I don't think this will ever be a commercial product. I've spent way too much time on these things.

We have an early appointment at the cancer center tomorrow for another echocardiogram. We'll probably do these monthly tests indefinitely. I keep hoping that one of these days we'll see that the blood clots in Dash's heart are getting smaller.

Honey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day 2882

I was locked out of a shopping website this morning because I had too many unsuccessful login attempts. I was confused. I was pretty sure that I remembered my password. I kept entering it again and again to no avail. Eventually, I called customer service and explained my problem. "Did you really mean to append your e-mail address with .con," the representative asked me. Oops. I'd made a typo when I filled out my application. I meant to say .com of course. This is what happens when you get old. Ten seconds of sloppy typing equates to forty-five minutes on the phone with customer service. Now I know why I haven't been receiving an avalanche of spammy e-mails from these folks. They've been sending everything to my .con address.

It took me much longer than expected to write my article today. For starters, I forgot about the assignment and began gluing rubber patches on another pair of Dash's protective boots. I used to be able to finish these assignments in a couple of hours, but this one took most of the afternoon. One problem now is that I have to spend more time proofreading. My Bluetooth keyboard is getting old and occasionally skips letters unless I remember to press the keys very firmly. I've got to figure out how to turn adaptive spelling off too. The computer is always trying to turn the words I intended into something else. Sometimes I have to read a piece three times to catch these mistakes. It's insidious. I never realized how spoiled I was during my early ad agency years. I would just hand a draft to a copy secretary and they would clean everything up for me. How times have changed.

A really large hawk swooped down and landed in the back yard this afternoon. I was outside at the time and the bird startled me. There are lots of raptors in the area, but this was the first time I've seen one in the yard. I wish I'd had my camera handy. The hawk only stayed a few seconds and then it flew away. I'm usually not quick enough to capture these chance wildlife encounters. The only thing I can reliably photograph are squirrels. Our trees are like high rise condominiums for squirrels. They're everywhere.

I called my new doctor about a mistake I saw on the prescriptions they'd renewed for me. A nurse told me that there was a glitch in their practice management software and that the pharmacist would just ignore the mistake when he refilled the prescription. This never would have happened with my old doctor. He still scrawled his prescriptions on a small pad of paper with the indecipherable handwriting that doctor's are famous for. I guess hand written prescriptions are a thing of the past too. My new ones came straight out of the computer. Even the doctor's signature was digitized.

The battery on my Apple Watch is starting to go bad. I'm not surprised. This is a Series 1 watch and Apple is already up to Series 3. Things last just long enough until a newer version becomes available. The problem is I don't want a new watch, I just want a new battery. Some things are easy to repair, but an Apple Watch isn't one of them. I looked up a repair guide on the IFIXIT site and I can assure you that I'll never attempt to change the battery myself. The procedure is very complex and seems certain to fail if you are even slightly clumsy. Maybe I'll just power the watch down and turn it on again. This seems to be the universal repair procedure for all electronic devices.

I wish there wasn't still rain in the forecast. I'm not busy this week and this would have been a good time to finish repairing the roof.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day