Saturday, March 31, 2018

Day 3019

When I went to the hardware store this morning to look for some screen wire to repair the back door, there were a whole bunch of people inside the store singing happy birthday to a chicken. This was the most interesting thing I saw today. It was a pretty uneventful day.

We must have run out of all the items we buy in bulk at the same time, because I sure had a lot of stuff to buy at Sam's Club. For once, I looked like everyone else in the store. When I got home it took forever to figure out where to store everything. We definitely have plenty of paper towels, trash bags, and bottled water now.

Dash's new Ultra-Paws boots are better than the ones I've been making myself. We tried them out this morning and not only did they stay securely on his feet, Dash seemed to walk completely normally while wearing them. I think we have a winner. We'll have to see how these new boots hold up to wear and tear. Dash can be pretty rough on his shoes.

Lately, Dash has been pretty rough on me. He gets me up every night at 3 AM to go outside and poop. Usually he gets me up at five AM again to poop a second time. I've been trying to get him to eat dry food again in hopes that he would return to his old schedule, but it's a losing battle. He doesn't like dry food anymore. It's weird that Dash is so confident that I will always be there to open the door for him. On the other hand, maybe he doesn't care. He's certainly not shy about pooping on the floor if I don't wake up in time.

Since the weather is nice, there are going to be a ton of people in the park tomorrow. This seems to be a favorite place to have Easter egg hunts. I wish kids still hunted for real eggs instead of plastic eggs filled with candy. Lots of eggs are never found. I've always had to keep a close eye on the dogs for weeks after Easter. I definitely don't want Dash eating a chocolate bunny, or any candy for that matter.  Dash isn't as quick as he used to be, but he's still pretty good at spotting a piece of stray Easter candy in the grass.

I was pleased to hear the furnace running normally when I woke up. So far, all my repairs are a success. The furnace is working, the toilet doesn't run anymore, and I haven't seen any ice build-up on the refrigerator yet. Even the fitness tracker I fixed yesterday hasn't fallen apart. There is still one huge problem. It's up above my head. The roof is something I can't fix myself. My next challenge is to get the roofers out here to make good on their promises. It won't be easy. If I can ever get the roof fixed, then I can final get around to fixing the sheetrock on the living room ceiling.

Tomorrow should be a relaxing day. The weather is nice. The gym is closed, so there's no need to exercise. With any luck, we'll be able to sleep in late. Last but not least, there will be a nice smoked ham in the oven for Easter dinner.

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

Friday, March 30, 2018

Day 3018

The house was cold this morning when I woke up. The thermostat said the heat was on, but no air was blowing through the vents. Yep. On probably the last cool day of the year, the furnace broke. I was actually surprised that we made it through the winter with no problems. I looked at the furnace and the fault alert LED was blinking seven times. Hmm. I think I've seen this before. I unplugged the furnace and laid out my tools on the kitchen counter. When I returned from breakfast, I would have one more thing to fix.

Breakfast was actually pretty decent this morning. I gambled on Eggs Benedict and for once it was prepared correctly. I was surprised at how crowded the restaurant was today. I guess a lot of people had the day off. I picked up groceries after breakfast and the store was even more crowded than the restaurant. The deli section featured braised brisket, matzo-ball soup, kugel, and other Passover favorites. I still wanted an Easter ham, but I wasn't going to get it here. There is a great little store in our neighborhood that smokes their own meat.

When I returned home I disassembled the furnace to gain access to the flame sensor. I suspected that this was the problem. I've spent a fortune on furnace repairs over the years before a friendly technician took pity on me and showed me how to clean the flame sensor myself. If the flame sensor is not very clean, it will not send the signal to turn the main burners on after the pilot light ignites. Occasionally components break or wear out, but most furnace problems have something to do with the flame sensor. Sure enough, when I cleaned the sensor with fine grit sandpaper and reassembled everything, the furnace worked perfectly. Let's hope the air conditioner works as well, because we're going to be using it very soon.

Dash's new boots arrived today. Janet and I had been looking at this well known Dalmatian on Facebook wearing these fancy Ultra-Paws boots all winter and finally decided to try a pair ourselves. The boots were a little pricy, but they do seem to work. I can get them on myself and Dash doesn't seem to mind them at all. He's been test driving them all evening.

I think I've found a new use for Shoe Goo. After Superglue failed several times, I used the Shoe Goo to repair the silicon strap on my fitness tracker. I let the repair dry for 24 hours and so far it's been holding up pretty well. Ordinarily, I would have just bought a new fitness tracker, but the Jawbone company has gone out of business. I think my choices are Shoe Goo or nothing.

Dash got me up twice last night to go outside and poop. I try my best to get Dash to do his business before we all go to bed, but Dash just thinks I'm crazy. He's just not going to go before he's ready. Things were easier when Dash ate dry food and didn't take so many pills. I'm not sure what to do at this point, but naps during the day are certainly an option. I'm definitely not very busy anymore.

The roof is drying out, but there's an ugly rust colored stain in the sheetrock. I've left several messages for the roofer, but I'm sure he's got his hands full with bigger leaks than mine. I hope I don't have to go buy more of the messy elastomer material myself, but it may come to that. I'm always fixing something.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 3017

I went to a meeting today. Jeez. It's been ages since I've been to any sort of meeting. This wasn't work related, but there were people sitting around a table discussing things. It was definitely a meeting. I don't do well in meetings anymore. I don't have the patience for them. I hope I made a contribution, but I probably didn't. I did eat a lot of pizza.

I didn't realize it was Thursday until Janet reminded me to take out the trash. I thought it was Tuesday all day yesterday. No wonder I had trouble remembering my dental appointment. I guess this is how it begins. First you forget what day it is and before long you can't even remember your own name. I'd probably remember what day it was if it mattered. It doesn't. Without deadlines to meet, all days are more or less the same.

There are only two kinds of day for Dash. There are the days when Janet goes to work and the days she stays home. I'm pretty sure he likes the weekends better. Today was a workday, so we went on our morning walk as soon as Janet left for work. He seemed fine while we were walking, but when we returned home he began acting strange. Since he wouldn't eat and seemed a little unsteady on his feet, I though he might be having a mild vestibular event. I'm glad we were home when this happened. I always worry that he'll have a vestibular event when we are in a remote part of the park.

After a long nap, Dash was fine again. He finished the breakfast he refused to touch earlier and was even eager to take an afternoon walk. We go through this routine almost every day. There is no way to predict what is going to happen next. When Dash is feeling good, he still acts like a young dog. At other times he can barely stand up. I try my best to anticipate things, but it gets confusing. I don't want Dash to overexert himself and I don't want him to become sedentary either.

It's hard to believe it's almost Easter. It seems like I just took down the Christmas tree a few days ago.  We had such a mild winter that it's easy to forget we had a Winter at all. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do for breakfast, but I am going to go out and get an Easter ham. We had a smoked ham for Christmas and it was really good. I wouldn't mind having the same holiday meal again. this weekend.

It doesn't take much to get me off schedule. A simple evening meeting and here I am watching the clock approach midnight. Al least Dash has finally gone to sleep. Hopefully, tonight's pizza won't give me heartburn. If it does, that's the way it goes. I should have had more willpower and eaten a single slice.

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Day 3016

The roof leaked last night. I was really hoping to avoid this, but it's been raining steadily for several days now. I guess my luck ran out. The leak wasn't bad, but it's one more reason to get the roofers out here as soon as possible. The leak forced me to go up on the roof and remove the standing water even though I know it is going to rain some more. I have no idea where the leak is coming from. There are four or five suspicious areas, along with others I probably haven't discovered yet. Water is relentless. Once it has breached the outer elastomer coating, it looks for weak points and eventually finds its way inside.

While I was eating breakfast this morning, I got a notice on my phone that I had a dental appointment in an hour. I'd completely forgotten. I knew the dentist would be mad if I canceled the appointment at the last minute, so I put the rest of my breakfast in the refrigerator, hopped in the car, and headed North. With normal traffic, the dentist office is about an hour away. I arrived with five minutes to spare. All I needed today were new x-rays and a cleaning. When I was younger I would have skipped minor things like this. Luckily, I finally realized that I can't ignore my teeth. I faithfully go to the dentist every six months now.

Since the rain is finally starting to subside, I was able to give Dash two walks today. I never know whether he's going to take his afternoon walk, but today he seemed eager to go. Inconsistencies in people and animals baffle me. Why would Dash refuse to walk one day and be eager to walk the next? At any rate, I was glad that Dash felt like moving today. These slow walks are probably the closest thing to physical therapy he's going to get. The underwater treadmill helped Dot quite a bit as her legs began to get weaker. I don't think we're going to be able to try this with Dash. He hates riding in the car and the trip downtown would be a nightmare.

I kept wondering why it was only Tuesday today. It feels like it should be Friday. Rainy days just seem longer. It doesn't help that I'm not getting much sleep either. Dash had to go outside twice last night. Why he can't learn to poop just before he goes to bed, I'll never know. We made it safely outside both times, so I didn't have to clean up poop in the house. I did have to clean up something though. Remember that roof leak I was telling you about.

I'll have to wash the car tomorrow. I actually did quite a bit of driving today, considering it was so wet and messy. Everything was important though. In addition to the dental appointment, I needed to make a deposit at the bank so I can pay my taxes, and as always, there were bills to take to the post office. Tomorrow, all I'll need to do is pick up something for dinner at the grocery store. The refrigerator is still nice and cold, but it's looking pretty empty.

Maybe I'll sleep better tonight. It all depends on Dash. I think I've programmed myself to wake up whenever Dash moves. He moves around a lot. Oh, well. Sleep is nice but I can live with a little less as long as I don't have to clean up poop every night.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Day 3015

All day rain. That's all you need to say about days like today. I didn't even attempt to walk Dash this morning. The rain hadn't started yet when I woke up, but as slow as Dash moves these days, I knew we would be drenched by the time we returned. It didn't take long for the storm to arrive. Dash was predictable. He needed to pee, but wouldn't even stick his head out the back door. I kept trying to tell him that this was going to go on for a long time. Unfortunately, he still thinks I can stop the rain.

It didn't take long for cabin fever to set in. Dash was restless and so was I. There's not much to do in a small house on a rainy day. Dash kept going to his food bowl and I kept turning the TV on and off again. I don't know why I kept expecting to find something interesting. There's never anything interesting on daytime TV.

I kept checking the weather radar, looking for a gap in the cloud cover, but the rain was pretty steady. Around 3 PM the rain stopped for a while and I decided to take Dash for an afternoon walk. We walked for about fifteen minutes and then the rain started again. I don't know why I thought we'd be able to make it home. Dash is really slow. We got wet, but at least there wasn't any thunder and lightning.

I dried Dash off, changed my clothes, and watched the stock market lose most of yesterday's gains. I can't recall any really bad news today. Everyone is just jittery. I should stop fretting about the market. I certainly can't change anything.

I'm surprised at the number of people who say they are going to leave Facebook. Why are these people surprised that Facebook is selling their information? Jeez. What else has Facebook got to sell?  Wait until they discover that Alexa and Siri are listening to everything they say. I doubt that many of these outraged people will actually leave Facebook. That would be like me telling someone I was going to give up ice cream or bacon. Social media is here to stay and privacy left the building a long time ago.

I wonder how long it's going to take the roofers to get to me now. Every day of rain probably delays them another three weeks. It's amazing how long this has gone on. Occasionally, I'll look at old blog posts and realize that I've been dealing with this roof problem for over five years. I've still got buckets handy, but luckily there are no active leaks at the moment. The roof is constructed in layers. I worry when the top layer breaks, but water has to penetrate three more layers before it can get inside. We've got another day of heavy rain tomorrow and then hopefully I can start to clean things up.

I'm tired of fixing things. I need to find a good book or a TV series to binge watch on Netflix. I used to be a voracious reader, but it's difficult for me to pick up a book anymore. I wonder why? Maybe I should write a book. There are several dystopian novels floating around in my head, but it just doesn't seem important to put the ideas on paper. I only think about these matters on rainy days. When the sun is shining, I just fix broken things.

According to the weather forecast, tomorrow is going to be just like today. That's a pleasant thought. If it's going to be wet, at least the stock market should have the decency to go up. I need some good news.

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

Monday, March 26, 2018

Day 3014

Near the top of my to-do list today was a trip to the store to get more dog treats for Dash. You don't ever want to run out of dog treats in this house. Since Dash is a picky eater, there is a particular brand of treats he likes. Of course you can't find this brand at the neighborhood pet store. I drive further to find things for Dash than I do for myself.

While I was out, I returned to the plumbing supply store. Surprisingly, they actually did have some of the parts I was looking for. I bought some of the easy to replace parts, but the water control assembly, which was the main thing I was trying to replace didn't look quite the same. The parts guy said to bring the old fill valve in and it would be easy to tell whether the two parts were the same. My idea was just to buy the part now in case it was unavailable in the future. I didn't actually have the nerve to try to remove the old part yet. It has frozen in place and there's a good chance I could break something trying to remove it. The guy who was helping me couldn't figure out why I wanted to buy the part if I wasn't going to use it. "If this part doesn't fit, you're going to have to buy a new toilet anyway," he told me. The guy had a point. "Just leave the part here until you really think you need it," He said. "Nobody else is going to buy this thing."

I decided to leave well enough alone. It would be nice to have all new parts, but the toilet is actually working now. There's a good chance I could break it again if I keep monkeying around. I should have thanked the parts guy. He saved me $75.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the stock market go up almost 700 points today. We're still down for the month, but they say this was the third largest gain in history. These wild market swings make me nervous. There was no fundamental reason for last weeks huge loss and no reason for today's big gain. I'm going to have to learn to live with this volatility though. I think it's here to stay. Computerized trading platforms make it possible to buy and sell huge quantities of stock in a fraction of a second. Humans like me are just along for the ride.

It was kind of hot this afternoon, so I wasn't entirely surprised that Dash refused to take his afternoon walk. I dutifully suited him up anyway, just in case. I still think that Dash needs a little more exercise, but like they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

Since we had a mild Winter, I'm already starting to see a lot of bugs. A lot of these bugs seem to find their way inside. When I'm out in the back yard it looks like an invading army is preparing to strike. There are cockroaches in the trees, ants crawling on the bricks, and crane flies hovering around the back door. The spiders haven't returned yet, but it won't be long. I hate the crane flies because every time I let Dash out, a few of them fly in the house. It's going to be an uphill battle to keep these critters outside this Summer.

I shouldn't complain about Spring, because Summer is so much worse. It was actually a beautiful day today. It's too bad that Dash thought it was too hot.

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Day 3013

There are so many products I would like to buy that simply don't exist. Why doesn't someone manufacture the dog boots I currently make by hand. I take a stretchy rubberized sock and apply tough yet flexible inner tube rubber at strategic wear spots. These boots are easy to get on Dash's feet and stand up to a lot of punishment. I've never seen anything like them. I also would like to see a bright saucer shaped LED bulb that would fit inside the living room sconce lights. I know exactly what the light bulb would look like, but nobody makes one. Trust me, I've looked. While I'm at it, why doesn't someone make an adapter that would allow you to retrofit inexpensive Home Depot toilet parts in my Porcher toilet? None of this is rocket science. Why doesn't anybody make these things?

I've always had these problems. Things I obsess about just aren't a high priority to anyone else. I can't even find a decent pair of pants anymore. About three years ago I found a brand I really like. The pants fit well, had tons of pockets, and were made of a heavy canvas like material that seemed like it would last forever. I should have bought more of these pants while they were still available. Now, this company makes everything out of much lighter synthetic fabric. They seems to love stretch fabric, which I hate. Everything is advertised as quick drying and easily packable. Apparently backpackers and rock climbers love this stuff. I guess I'm not the target audience anymore.

Dash pooped in the house again last night. I didn't even wake up this time. At some point I woke up and noticed that Dash was sleeping on the floor. This was unusual and I immediately suspected the worst. I picked up a flashlight and walked slowly and carefully toward the back door. It didn't take long to find the evidence. At least Dash tried to go outside. I felt bad that I didn't wake up, but I must have been really tired. Jeez, Dash. You bark at me for everything else. Couldn't you try barking when you need to poop? At least everything landed on the bricks. Although he almost hit the Persian rug in the living room, this was nothing compared to last night's mess. I cleaned everything up, washed my hands twice, and went back to bed.

I wonder if fitness trackers are even remotely accurate? My Apple watch never shows the same results as my Jawbone UP band. Today Janet and I both took the same morning and evening walks with Dash and we both went to the gym. Our fitness bands showed wildly different results. Could these things be delivering fake news as well? I wouldn't be surprised.

I finally got around to constructing a second pair of rubber boots for Dash. I sure wish Shoe Goo wasn't so messy. My dog boots are tough and functional, but they aren't very pretty. You'd never buy a pair if you saw these in a catalog. I wish Dash didn't need these boots, but he's dragging his rear legs even more than he used to. Dash would be a good candidate for water therapy if I could ever get him to ride in the car. Right now that isn't even an option.

The toilet and the refrigerator are still working normally. I've seen no evidence of ice build up in the refrigerator so far and I don't hear the toilet running anymore. It's too early to declare victory, but I think we're headed in the right direction.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Day 3012

I was determined to fix the toilet today. I printed out a parts list and drove to the only plumbing supply store in town that has just about everything. The store was closed. If I was thinking, I should have known the store would be closed. Just about the only people who go to this store are plumbers. Have you ever tried getting a plumber on a Saturday?

When I finished the rest of my Saturday errands, I took the flush valve apart and cleaned everything again. This time I must have done something right. When I reassembled the valve and turned the water back on, the water level in the tank was almost an inch lower and the flush valve leak had been reduced to a slow drip. I probably still need new parts, but at least I accomplished something. I'm convinced that Porcher and Citroën must have had some connection in the part. Both French companies feature very clever engineering and make products that are virtually impossible to fix. I have owned several Citroën automobiles. They are wonderful cars to drive but you never want to break down on a lonely stretch of highway. I reluctantly sold my last Citroën when the only Citroën mechanic in Texas retired.

Dash woke me up last night and went racing for the back door. I thought I got the door opened in time. I watched Dash go out in the yard and poop. What I didn't see until the next morning was that he really didn't make it to the yard after all. It was dark and I didn't notice that he'd pooped right on top of the door threshold. When I closed the door and locked up, I inadvertently squished the poop under the bottom of the door and made a huge mess. It was a very unpleasant job to clean the aluminum threshold and underside of the door. The entire door had become a poop sandwich. I thought I was going to get a break from cleaning up poop after Dot passed away, but Dash is already following in her footsteps.

Dash didn't want to take an afternoon walk today. I sure wish this dog could talk. I don't want to make him walk if he's feeling tired or uncomfortable, but it would be nice to know how he felt about things before I spent a lot of time getting him suited up in his protective gear. If he won't walk, I have to remove all the gear because he can't get up on the bed with his boots and leg brace on. We go through this ritual several times every afternoon and I never know what the outcome is going to be. Sometimes he walks and other times he doesn't.

At least the large printer is working again. I finally managed to get the thing unclogged. The printer is making nice prints, but it looks like I'm already going to have to order some more ink. I ended up using half of the expensive ink I received recently running five cleaning cycles. Why do I still have this printer? Probably for the same reason I still have several Beta-SP tape decks. It's a bitch when you've become obsolete.

The grass is already starting to grow in the front yard again. It's almost time to see whether the lawn mower battery survived the winter. I really don't like mowing the lawn, but it's probably no worse than getting the water off the roof or fixing the toilet.

Chelsey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, March 23, 2018

Day 3011

I was pleased to discover a repair manual for my French toilet that I'd never seen before. Unbeknownst to me, the float is adjustable. Rotate the float clockwise in the assembly to lower the water level in the tank. Rotate it counterclockwise to raise the water level. Cool. I followed the instructions and the styrofoam float did rotate exactly as advertised. I couldn't move it very far unfortunately, because it kept getting stuck on the side of the flush valve which had somehow frozen in place at a slight angle. In theory, lowering the float should lower the water level, but I wasn't able to lower it enough to make much of a difference. After monkeying around for an hour, I actually made the situation a little worse. No wonder plumbers don't want to touch this thing.

I couldn't decide on a restaurant this morning, so I just picked up some precooked bacon and eggs at the grocery store breakfast bar. It wasn't very good. I should have just cooked breakfast myself at home. At least I didn't have to make a separate trip to get groceries for the weekend. I think I'm just not willing to admit that I've lost my interest in food. Nothing I eat seems to taste very good anymore. I know I need to eat to stay healthy, but there are times when I wish I could exist without food.

Dash doesn't have this problem. He seems to want to eat all the time now. This is certainly better than not eating, but I wish we could strike a balance. I don't want Dash to get fat because his rear legs are so weak. If I'm not in the kitchen feeding him, Dash wants me napping with him in the bedroom. He gets irritated when I spend a lot of time at the computer and then starts knocking things over in the office. I try to give Dash the benefit of the doubt because he's got so much wrong with him, but I think our boy has become a little spoiled.

The printer ink I ordered arrived today and I've been watching it disappear as I run the cleaning cycle to clear the clogged lines. Epson is really just an ink company. They sell you complex printers at artificially low prices knowing that you'll have to buy their ridiculously expensive ink. Half the ink is wasted running these cleaning cycles. Pigment ink makes beautiful prints, but it clogs very easily. You've got to keep the printer running to keep it clean. Basically, you should never buy one of these large printers unless you plan to print something every day. If I hadn't become a slave to my machines, I would have ditched this cantankerous printer a long time ago. A big ink jet printer isn't nearly as essential as a toilet.

I finally got Dash to take an afternoon walk, but it wasn't easy. He doesn't like to walk down the alley in the afternoon. I practically had to carry him down the alley today, but once we got to the park, he was just fine. I don't understand this behavior at all. Dash probably thinks the same of me and wonders why I waste so much time trying to maintain old things that any sane person would have thrown away by now.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Day 3010

Dash was in a weird mood today. We'd only walked about half a block this morning when he froze and wouldn't go any further. Although the street was completely empty, he seemed panicked for some reason and was trying to run back to the house. We tried again a couple of hours later and Dash refused to leave the yard. Inexplicably, around 11:30 AM, he decided he was ready to walk and headed toward the park as if nothing had happened. We took a nice long walk without incident and I never could figure out why he balked at the idea earlier.

When I tried to renew Dash's Plavix prescription this morning the pharmacist told me that the prescription had expired. It took forever to get the prescription renewed. The vet would tell me that they had called the prescription in and then the pharmacy would tell me that the hadn't received anything. I kept asking the vet to try again but the prescription wasn't going through. I think everyone was getting annoyed with me, but I really needed to get the Plavix today. Eventually, the vet and the pharmacist connected and I was able to go pick up Dash's meds. I had to pick up something for myself as well. The only problem with my prescription was that it was too expensive.

I haven't used my large format printer in several months, so I was apprehensive about turning it on this morning. I didn't have anything to print today, but knew that the longer I waited, the harder it was going to be to unclog the lines. As I expected, the printer was hopelessly clogged. I used up two of the eight ink cartridges running the cleaning program and was still not able to clear the lines. Reluctantly, I called my supplier and ordered some more ink. I might as well add the printer to all the other broken stuff that needs to be fixed.

There seems to be a perfect storm of bad news that is sending the market into a tailspin. I miss the days when people bought and sold stock based on whether a company was making money or not. Now market moves are almost entirely fueled by fear and greed. Why are people so upset about Facebook? Facebook's entire business model is based on selling our information. We are the product and advertisers are the customers. It's always been that way. It's pretty easy to opt out of just about everything on Facebook too. People are just too lazy to go to their settings page. I don't understand the panic about tariffs either. There is not going to be a trade war with China. Both countries depend on trade with each other. Tariffs are silly and ineffectual, but most modern presidents have imposed them at one time or another. I don't know why rising interest rates would cause a panic either. We actually need interest rates to go up a little. The Fed has kept interest rates artificially low for way too long. Why can't people act rationally about money? I guess that's too much to expect in a world ruled by emotions.

It was a slow day so I did an extensive search of nearby breakfast restaurants. I must have looked at two dozen menus and found nothing that appealed to me. Why is this so hard? I don't think I'm that picky. I've enjoyed a perfect breakfast numerous times. It just seems difficult to find this illusive meal again.

Truthfully, everything seems somewhat illusive these days. I don't know whether it's me or the world in general, but I'm beginning to feel like a stranger in a strange land. I think it would take a time machine to return me to a place that felt familiar.

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 3009

The bomb squad was in the neighborhood last night removing a live grenade that was found in the road. Since this is Texas, it was unclear whether this was a malicious act or if someone just lost their grenade. I was surprised that the event didn't receive much coverage in the local news. I did read that a police robot moved the grenade to a nearby school playground where it was safely detonated. So that's what I heard last night. I just thought it was a car backfiring, but I heard the noise at exactly the same time that the bomb squad was removing the grenade. What a world we live in that something like this wouldn't even get much attention.

Janet had to go to work so early this morning that Dash was totally confused. He usually eats his breakfast with Janet but this morning he didn't even wake up until she was ready to leave. I didn't wake up either. I took Dash outside to pee and saw Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn stretched out in a line in the Southern sky. This was all the evidence that Dash and I needed to go back to bed. We slept for another three hours and then ate our breakfast at a normal time.

The weather was kind of chilly this morning, but it still seems like Spring. We watched the sun come up on our morning walk and I found a patch of Purple Phlox starting to bloom. The Purple Martins have returned and are engaged in a war with the local Sparrows for possession of the Martin houses in the park. I saw the Cedar Waxwings again perched in a Cedar Tree and off in the distance there were still a few White Pelicans floating serenely on the lake. I enjoy mornings like these, especially when there are no bicycles to be seen.

The refrigerator is still working like a charm. It's to early to claim victory, but I have a feeling that the recent repair just might work. The reason I'm optimistic is that the temperature is very stable now. Last week it kept fluctuating. If there is still no ice build up two weeks from now, I'll be able to cross the refrigerator off my to-do list for a while.

When I was taking some mail to the post office this afternoon, I stopped at a neighborhood Italian restaurant and picked up a calzone to take home for dinner. I haven't had a calzone in years. I don't know why I've been craving Italian food lately, but the calzone was very good. It was very inexpensive too. It's a shame that bread and pasta immediately convert to glucose in your stomach. I could live on bread if I didn't have to worry about becoming a diabetic. Oh, well. I can always eat more vegetables tomorrow.

Dash is still eating well and taking two walks a day. I hope this means that his heart condition is improving. The only way we can tell how he's doing is to use an echocardiogram to measure the size of the blood clots in his heart. We'll run another test in a month in a half, but so far Dash seems to be improving.

I hope I don't get heartburn from that delicious calzone. I could really use a good night's sleep tonight.

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 3008 - Vernal Equinox

I'm starting to get the urge to do things again. I guess this is a good sign. From time to time I still see opportunities to view NASA launches. There have been several opportunities to apply for credentials to view Space X launches in Florida. Recently, I just missed the deadline to apply to view the launch of the InSight Mars Lander at Vandenberg Air Force Base this May. It's still too complicated to leave Dash and way too expensive for me to become a space groupie, but where there's a will, there's a way. If NASA continues offering bloggers a chance to view and write about their interplanetary missions, I'd like to do this again sometime.

Some days I think I'd like to write songs again as well. My interest in recording has returned. Mostly this just consists of reading old instruction manuals and trying to figure out how to use my aging equipment. It would be a long journey to get back to where I was in the mid-1970's. Not only would I have to brush up on multi-track recording, I'd have to learn to play my keyboards and guitar again. My interest in space is genuine. My interest in music might just be a sneaky way to convince myself to buy more gear. We'll see if any of these latent desires come to fruition. Right now I'm still bogged down with toilets that run and a roof that won't drain properly.

I certainly didn't embark on any new adventures today. It was just a pleasant Tuesday. I'm starting to see wildflowers, but I can only photograph the ones along our path. Dash doesn't take detours anymore. I'm so happy if I can get hm to walk at all, that I don't try to push things. Today was a good day. Dash took a nice afternoon walk for the second day in a row. I never know if he's going to walk when I put his gear on. Some days he'll walk confidently to the back gate and other days he'll just stick his nose out the door and refuse to leave the house. Afternoon walks are much slower than morning walks. I don't understand that either. Dash doesn't seem uncomfortable or tired, but he just inches along.

My morning smoothie tasted like pudding this morning. Why? Little inconsistencies like this drive me nuts. I've been making this thing the same way for several years now, but it never tastes quite the same. I think this week's bananas are too firm, but maybe it's something else. I could try just using half a banana tomorrow, but then what would I do with the other half? Dash won't eat bananas anymore. This is probably why I need to go to Vandenberg Air Force Base again. If you spend too much time thinking about the consistency of your breakfast banana, your world has become too small.

I saw the season's first Evening Primrose this morning. I could have got a better photo is Dash would have let me climb down the small ravine where the flowers were. He was headed in the opposite direction and I though he might fall on the uneven ground anyway. Luckily, I have a telephoto lens.

The emerging wildflowers make our morning walks more fun. I've learned the names of most of these flowers by now. I can even tell you when each variety will start to bloom. Maybe we'll see something interesting tomorrow. If not, I can always check the temperature in the refrigerator and pay a few more bills.

Baxter is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 3007

We're making progress. It only took the new appliance repairman five minutes to find something that all three of the previous repairmen missed. It wasn't a bad component. It was just a loose wire. None of the previous repairmen had bothered to remove the evaporator fan. If they had taken this extra step they would have clearly seen the loose wire behind the fan housing that prevented the defrost heater from operating properly. After reconnecting the wire, today's repairmen tested all the components in the defrost circuit to make sure they worked and then told me that he suspected that none of the components I'd replaced were bad in the first place. We'll see if today's visit solves my problem. I think there's a good chance that it did.

I guess today was my lucky day. Not only did the refrigerator get repaired, Dash took an afternoon walk as well. I still have no idea why he'll refuse to leave the yard on some days and walk normally on others. I think it has something to do with smell, because Dash always smells the air intently before deciding whether to walk or not. The decision doesn't seem to have anything to do with whether he's tired or not. Sometimes he refuses to walk when he clearly has a lot of energy. I'll probably never know what goes on in Dash's mind. I was just glad that he decided to take two walks today,

I like talking with good repairmen. They seem similar to me in many ways. They all seem to enjoy the problem solving aspect of fixing things and can't stand to work in an office environment. Most of them like working on their own. The guy who came over today used to be an auto mechanic, but said he preferred repairing appliances because most garages weren't air conditioned. "It just gets too hot in the Summer," he told me. I've learned a lot by talking with repairmen. I doubt that I'd make a great repairmen myself, but I do enjoy knowing how things work.

I picked up the wrong meds for Dash again today. I've done this several times in a row this month. I really need to remember to check the pills before I leave the vets office, but my brain seems to be on autopilot. I always take the bag home and then I open it up. Old habits die hard I guess.

They say today's big market sell off was caused by Facebook. I don't know why people are so upset that Facebook is selling their secrets. I've known this for years. If I even think about buying something, there will be an ad for the same thing on my Facebook timeline within a matter of minutes. Every time you take one of those online quizzes, marketers know a little more about you. I think most people would be shocked at how much Google and Facebook already know about us. They didn't have to pry the information out of us either. We willingly just gave it away. I wouldn't be selling any Facebook stock. People aren't going to close their accounts because Facebook is selling their secrets. They're already addicted to social media.

I hope I have put my refrigerator woes behind me. I won't know for sure whether the repair was successful until the refrigerator goes through several normal defrost cycles. If the refrigerator is really fixed, I'm going to move on to the toilet. Fixing the toilet should be a piece of cake compared to this refrigerator.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 3006

I was listening to NPR as I was driving to the gym this morning. There was a program about Alzheimer's Disease and they were interviewing someone at a nursing home in Germany where they were having problems with patients becoming extremely agitated and trying to run away. They tried a lot of things without much success and then someone suggested that they build a bus stop right in front of the facility where no bus would ever come. Patients still tried to escape and almost inevitably went straight to the bus stop where they sat on the bench and waited for the bus that never came. Eventually they forgot what they were waiting for and a nurse would come and talk with them and lead them back inside. Doctors were surprised that the patients no longer seemed agitated. Instead of being restrained or locked inside the facility, they had been allowed to slowly and peacefully forget their inner voices. I don't know why this story resonated with me. It just seemed to make a lot of sense. Perhaps we all need a place to forget the things that trouble us.

Four years ago today Dash was in the middle of radiation treatments for his thyroid cancer. The treatments were arduous and we were just hoping that Dash was strong enough to complete the program. Three years ago today Dot was slowly learning to walk again after spinal surgery. Two years ago today Dot could walk pretty well, but her abdominal cancer had returned and she was taking chemo again, along with monthly ultrasound scans to measure the size of her tumors. A year later Dot was too weak to continue the chemo treatments and walking was limited to slowly going around the block. It's been a long journey. Now Dash is going to the same cancer center for monthly scans to measure the size of the blood clot in his heart. Sometimes it's hard to remember when the dogs were healthy. Actually, they were both healthy for a long, long time. I need to remember the good times. There were lots and lots of good times. I'd like to think if we remember the good times, maybe we can recreate them.

The gym was quiet today. The basketball players are gone and I have the court to myself again. Actually, just about everybody was gone this morning. I wonder why gym attendance fluctuates so much. Once I get a routine in place, I like to keep it. Apparently, other people are more spontaneous about their Sunday activities.

It rained a lot last night, but I didn't feel like going up on the roof. Now that Spring is on the way, the roof is covered in sticky yellow catkins that fall as the oak trees start to bud. These little flowers turn the standing water bright yellow and make the clean up process much more difficult. I need to clear the catkins away soon though. They form little dams that hold the water and turn the roof into a duck pond.

It's always something. I cleared a slow draining sink today. That was enough drudgery for one day. I need to make a new pair of protective boots for Dash. The pair he's been wearing has just about worn out. I'll put this on my list for next week. If the new refrigerator repairman can solve my ongoing problems tomorrow, it will be a good week no matter what else happens. I'm hoping for the best.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 3005

I certainly didn't accomplish much today. I did my grocery shopping and filled the car up with gas, but that was about it. Janet was away at a Dalmatian Rescue event today. Dash usually follows Janet around like glue on weekends, but he didn't seem to notice she was gone. I suspect he just thought it was another work day. We ate breakfast and took our morning walk just like we did yesterday and then I started my Saturday errands. When I returned Dash was asleep.

I spent a long time trying to figure out where to store a huge box of toilet paper I got at Sam's Club. Buying in bulk does save money, but it sure is difficult to store the stuff when you're living in a small house. I guess I could have done some house cleaning, but I got distracted looking for a technical service manual for my refrigerator online. There are all types of sites that will sell you duplicate service manuals, but I wanted to find a free one. I eventually found what I was looking for and started reading the diagnostic section. It's probably not helpful that I want to figure out what is wrong before the service technician arrives on Monday, but that's just the type of guy I am.

I suspect that one of the two remaining original thermistors has gone bad. Hopefully that's all it is. If the mother board I replaced a few months ago is already defective, I've got a big problem. Truthfully, I have no idea why the refrigerator isn't working. It should be working perfectly. When I read through the technical service manual, it appeared that the previous technicians had done exactly what the manual recommended.

While I was searching for the cause of my refrigerator problem, I started looking up the side effects of some some of the meds I'm taking. That was a mistake. A hypochondriac should never start reading about side effects. It's easy to imagine that you have all of them. I'm trying to decide whether a brand name drug I'm taking is worth the extra money. The brand name and the generic are similar, but for some reason the side effects are different. After comparing both, I felt like someone was telling me to pick my poison. I miss the days when I didn't even have a doctor and took no meds at all. As you might expect, those days were a long, long time ago.

We were going to go out for pizza tonight, but Janet ended up getting a free pizza at the grocery store.   We thought about going out anyway and then it started to rain. Once I started to hear thunder, I knew we were staying home. We've learned that it isn't wise to leave Dash alone in a storm. The free Tom Thumb pizza wasn't bad, but it didn't come close to the pies at our neighborhood Italian restaurant. Who knows when we'll have the urge for pizza again. Usually, both of us eat amazingly healthy meals. Sometimes you just crave pizza though.

I hope I wake up tomorrow with more motivation than I had today. I could have easily stayed in bed all day. Luckily, I don't need motivation to go to the gym. I've never been motivated to go to the gym. I just go because that's what I do on Sunday.

Allie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 3004

I met a refrigerator repairman while I was grocery shopping this morning. He was parked next to me and the message on his company truck sounded intriguing. I knocked on his window and asked him if he was familiar with my refrigerator. The guy was very knowledgable. I was actually surprised that he spent so much time talking to me in the Central Market parking lot. I asked for the guy's business card and told him I'd give him a call. When I looked up the company website when I got home, they had excellent reviews. For comparison, I looked up the repair shop I'm currently using and they had terrible reviews. I've never seen so many single stars. I wish I'd checked out the Yelp reviews before I'd scheduled three unsuccessful service visits. The new company I discovered today offers a full year warranty on parts and labor. The parts warranty actually ran out at the other place before they even fixed my problem. I knew Janet would be skeptical, but I decided to try one more time to fix my existing refrigerator.

I think there are a lot of good reasons to try to save this refrigerator. The GE model that I have has a better service history than the Maytag I'd be replacing it with. The Maytag is smaller and holds less food. It also doesn't have an ice dispenser in the door like the model I have now. I always read the testimonials and a lot of people said the Maytag model didn't keep food cold enough and that the ice maker had a tendency to leak. So here we are. I may be throwing money down a rabbit hole, but I'm going to give this new company a try. I really like the refrigerator I have now. I wish GE still made this model.

After spending so much time thinking about refrigerators this morning, I decided to go ahead and defrost the evaporator coil before the weekend. The refrigerator is still cooling fine, but I know this drill pretty well by now. I've probably got four days before performance begins to suffer. It made sense to go ahead and take care of this now. I removed the ice on the coil and put everything back together in less than an hour this time. I think the repairman I met this morning was surprised that I knew actual part numbers and was familiar with the inner workings of kitchen appliances. It's too bad I don't know a little bit more or I could fix this thing myself.

Breakfast wasn't bad this morning, but it wasn't great either. I just picked a restaurant that was on the way to the grocery store. Maybe my problem is that I'm just not as interested in food as I used to be. I eat smaller portions now and occasionally even the thought of food turns my stomach. If a great meal can't turn my day around, I wonder what can? Food used to be an easy, almost foolproof way to perk me up. It doesn't work anymore.

Luckily, food still works for Dash. His appetite has really improved. I hope this means that his heart condition is improving as well. I have a feeling that when he was refusing to eat, he was in worse shape than we or the vet thought. The only problem with Dash's new interest in food is that he wants a treat before he'll do anything. He learned too well that we really want him to eat and now he wants to eat all the time. It's hard to teach a dog to do things in moderation.

The weather is still nice. Our Oak trees are starting to bud and that means the messy catkins are starting to fall. The pollen in these tiny flowers stains the car, causes me to sneeze, and makes a huge mess on the roof. I guess even nice weather has a downside. If this weather continues, it won't be long before I'm mowing the grass again.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 3003

I wish refrigerators were as easy to repair as computers. Every time I've taken a computer in for repair, I've gotten it back the same day. So far, all the repairs have been reasonably priced and more importantly, they've been successful. Today, I took my desktop computer in to replace a faulty CD/DVD drive and less than three hours later I got a call saying that I could come pick it up. The whole experience was pretty painless.

Plumbers and HVAC repairmen can be expensive, but so far I've had good results. My beef is with appliance repairmen. Washers, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators shouldn't be so hard to fix. I've had terrible luck with appliances. If Google reviews are any indication, lots of other people have had the same experience. I don't think major appliances are made as well anymore. There are fewer brands to choose from and almost everyone sources their component parts from China. Until I started looking for refrigerators, I didn't realize that Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, and Amana are all the same thing. No wonder some of the Whirlpool and Maytag models I was considering looked identical. It's relatively easy to track down the source of a computer problem, since just about every process is logged. By comparison, refrigerator repair seems more like a black art.

When I was out running errands this afternoon, I answered a telemarketing call by mistake. I hate when that happens. I thought the number might be the computer repair shop, but it turned out to be a salesperson from Who's Who in America. Why does this company still exist? When I was a kid, some people thought it was a big deal to be included in Who's Who. Now, if you feel inclined to brag about your resume, you do it on LinkedIn. I made the mistake of buying a Who's Who book decades ago when they first included me. They've been pestering me to buy another book ever since. SiriusXM is the same way. If you ever make the mistake of turning on SiriusXM in your car, they will never forget you. I told the lady from Who's Who that I was too busy to talk even though I was just picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. I'm sure they'll call back.

Dash had a lot of energy today, so I thought he'd enjoy his afternoon walk. We got off to a good start, but after only 50 yards, his knee brace fell off. We stopped so I could reattach the brace and that gave Dash time to reconsider his decision to leave the yard. When I was ready to go again, Dash wouldn't budge. He turned around and started tugging to go home. He still had lots of energy, so when Janet came home Dash started barking and pestering her. She ended up walking him and he walked normally. Dash is a smart dog. I think he was just trying to make me look bad.

I still can't believe that United Airlines put a dog in an overhead bin and killed it. Who would even think of putting a dog in an overhead bin. Two days later the same airline sent a dog to Japan by mistake when it's real destination was Kansas City. These are the same people who dragged that old man off the plane too. I'm not the type of person who boycotts things, but I don't think I'll be flying United Airlines again. Personally, I would never take a dog on a plane. I've heard too many horror stories.

It's almost Friday again. I wonder if I'll ever find a breakfast I like? Maybe I should try a hotel. I usually like hotel food when I'm traveling.

Carmine is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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