Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 3049

I went down to the bank today to see why they were deducting $30 a month from each of my accounts. Did I need to keep a larger balance? Was I making too many transactions? Nope. None of the above. Apparently, my plan was obsolete and I never responded to their offer to upgrade me to one of their modern, but decidedly inferior plans. The new fee was just punishment for trying to keep my old plan.

When I asked why I wasn't warned about this change, the bank told me that they'd sent me a letter last Fall. "Did this letter happen to come in an envelope that looks just like all the other junk mail you send me," I asked? "Probably," said the banker. Hmm. I probably shredded the letter without even reading it. At any rate, I was forced to sign up for one of their new plans. It's more or less the same as my old plan except that my account doesn't earn interest anymore and there are no paper statements. I'm sure the paper statements on my old accounts were what was really bugging the bank. Everyone hates paper. There's a note in almost every bill I pay these days begging me to go paperless.

The banker urged me to try online banking. "You'll like it," she said. I didn't want to seem like a grumpy old man, so I didn't try to explain why I'm turning into a Luddite and am growing increasingly suspicious of the online world. There's something reassuring about keeping all your information in ring binders, but I think that ship has sailed.

I received a short letter from my sister today that confirmed some of my suspicions. Her cancer is not responding well to treatment and she's become too tired to write. Cancer is such a cruel disease. The treatments we have today are still pretty crude. I think in the future we'll look at radiation and chemo the same way we now look at Medieval doctors applying leeches. Gene replacement therapy shows a lot of promise, but we're not there yet. I hope the researchers keep making progress. Current cancer therapy is basically just trying to poison you without actually killing you.

Dash and Janet are both cancer free. They are the lucky ones. Spot and Greta both died of cancer.  Dot's abdominal cancer reappeared in her liver toward the very end of her life. My Dad had prostate cancer, but that was the least of his problems. He also had Parkinson's Disease. I'm trying to exercise, watch my weight, and maintain a healthy diet, but you never know what is in the cards. Growing old is not pretty.

Dash had a good day. I think the Movoflex is helping him. The changes are subtle, but he does seem to be walking better and has more energy since he started taking the supplement. Dash's appetite was great today. I think he ate more than I did.

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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Day 3048

It was a nice, uneventful day. Everyone got enough sleep. Dash seemed in good spirits. And the weather was wonderful. I had no plans for the day and was determined to keep things that way. I went to the gym right after walking Dash and eating breakfast. It was the path of least resistance. You don't have to think at the gym. You just follow routines.

There were plenty of things that needed to be done around the house when I returned, but I watched another episode of The Expanse instead. Now I'm all caught up on Season 3 and will have to start watching the show on Wednesday evenings. I can see the appeal of binge watching on Netflix now. A lot of current season shows are available for streaming on the SyFi Channel, but all the commercials are there. To avoid the commercials, you have to wait until you can find what you're looking for on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or iTunes. It's probably worth the wait.

I probably should have a little more respect for commercials. They did provide me with a pretty good income for decades. In retrospect, I wish I'd worked for Space X. Going to Mars seems like a worthy goal. Getting someone to eat a taco, not so much.

The world of The Expanse is pretty bleak. Apparently, 200 years from now we are still involved in continual wars and are on the verge of annihilating ourselves as a species. Personally, I don't think humanity will have spread across the solar system in 200 years. It's been almost 50 years since we went to the moon and we haven't been able to get back there yet. Maybe I'm wrong. Medicine and technology are advancing faster than I ever imagined. I could never have predicted that I'd be walking around with a little phone in my pocket that was so powerful it has basically replaced my camera, my computer, the weatherman on TV, my rolodex, and most of my friends.

It's kind of irritating that I'm having problems with acid reflux again. I thought I'd put this all behind me. After taking Pantoprazole for ten years, my doctor convinced me to stop and I was actually doing very well without the proton pump inhibitor for at least three years. I'm almost certain the problem is just a lack of discipline on my part. When I was being treated for Hepatitis C, I completely changed my diet. For the first time ever, I was really eating healthy meals. It made a difference. After I was cured, I gradually began backsliding. I still don't drink and try to eat healthy meals, but I am eating red meat and pasta again. I've resumed eating bread and occasionally enjoy a pizza. Sadly, I can't handle Italian food anymore. Even a cheeseburger is risky these days. A mostly vegetarian diet completely eliminated the acid reflux, but it was so boring. There's always a price to pay for pleasure.

It's hard to believe that it's almost May. It's been such a chilly Spring that the furnace is still coming on at night. I should enjoy these cool mornings, because they won't be around much longer. The temperature will be over 100 soon and I'll be turning 70. I'm not looking forward to either event, although my advanced age will get me out of jury duty.

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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Day 3047

I got a message from a bank manager today telling me that my bank had been charging me unnecessary fees for the past several months. Great. I was supposed to call them to see about getting the fees removed. Of course, when I did call, the bank was closed. I wonder how much they've been charging me? This is one more example of everything being way more complicated than it needs to be. If the fees are unnecessary, why do I even need to call? The bank should have just removed the fees as soon as they discovered the mistake. I think this happened once before. I've been a customer for so long that my type of account doesn't exist anymore. They just grandfathered me in so I could keep the terms I started out with. My old AT&T account has been grandfathered as well. I'll call the bank on Monday, but I probably don't even want to know what my account has been replaced with.

Today was filled with the usual Saturday errands, but there was one pleasant surprise. I discovered that my favorite show, The Expanse, is back on the air again. I missed the premier of Season 3 earlier this month, but I did find where I could stream the first three episodes on the new season online. Oddly, even though this is my favorite show, I couldn't remember what had happened in Season 2. I had to watch the last episode of Season 2 again, so I would know what was going on when I started watching the new shows. I eventually got around to watching the first episode of Season 3 and it was full of ads, just like live TV. I guess I need to see if I can buy these new shows on iTunes. I hate being interrupted by ads.

We planted some wildflower seeds that we were given to us when Dot passed away and the squirrels keep digging them up. I keep moving the flowerpots around, but the yard squirrels apparently love fresh dirt. We really hoped that these memorial flowers would grow, but it's going to be an uphill battle. The flowers need a lot of sunlight which isn't very abundant in our tree covered yard. To make matters worse, the squirrels are convinced that there are acorns buried in the flower pots. I wonder if we're ever going to see these wildflowers.

It's too early to tell whether the Movoflex is helping Dash, but he did seem to have a lot of energy this morning. He slept all night too. It's such a pleasant surprise not to have to get up in the middle of the night. I'm not looking forward to Summer. As the day warmed up, Dash slowed down. He can't take the heat anymore. We took a short afternoon walk, but he was panting before we got home. I really don't want to push the old guy too hard. We might be limited to one sunrise walk a day pretty soon. I'm glad Dash still likes the early morning walks. It's the only exercise he gets.

It looks like it's time to mow the grass again The car looks pretty dirty too. I have a feeling that I'm going to be busy tomorrow. Of course, instead of doing chores, I could always just watch another episode of The Expanse. It's nice to have a choice.

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

Day 3046

My friend from Kentucky will be arriving in town fairly soon, so it's time to start sorting through my collection of model trains. Not many people collect trains anymore, but this guy knows them all. I spent some time at the storage warehouse today, trying to decide which models will sell. I can't even remember how long it took me to accumulate this stuff. I guess at some point I thought that I would live in a giant loft someday with plenty of room to build a huge working layout. There was going to be another huge area set aside as a music room with a drum kit and guitar amplifiers already in place so I could play or write whenever the urge hit me. What was I thinking? Any rational person could have told me that this was never going to happen unless I won the lottery. I've never let reason get in the way, so here I am sitting in a storage warehouse, looking at a dusty pile of stuff I've never even used.

I'm not the only guy who does this. I've known plenty of guys over the years who have become obsessed with collecting vintage guitars, guns, old cars, microphones, mechanical watches, and even farm tractors. Guys are attracted to stuff the same way that a moth is attracted to a flame. A few collections are valuable, but most aren't. Collections aren't about money. They are about always needing just one more example of whatever you've got already. No matter how many guitars or model trains you have, the one you're really looking for is still out there taunting you.

The joy of collecting has finally turned into a burden for me. It's time to start lightening the load. If I can find a new home for the trains, maybe I can start thinking about the books, vinyl records, porcelain Dalmatians, old watches, analog mixing boards, and other oddities that are gathering dust.

On my way to the storage warehouse, I took some pants to the tailor to get hemmed. The tailor is a pleasant older Chinese woman who can fix anything. I've taken a ton of clothes to her over the years that I probably should have thrown away. I guess I probably collect clothes too. I wish there were more little shops like the tailor shop. There used to be a guy who fixed all my cameras. There was a guy who fixed sewing machines. Someone else fixed typewriters. There was even someone who specialized in repairing strobe lights for photo studios. That's all he did and he was very busy. Most of these specialized repair shops are gone. It's even getting harder to find a decent shoe repair shop these days. Sadly, we live in a disposable society.

I had Eggs Benedict for breakfast this morning. I wasn't hungry for eggs last night, but this morning I was. The restaurant was crowded and noisy, but the food was good. You don't hear conversations in a crowded restaurant. You just hear words. The experience feels like one of those word clouds you see on people's blogs. The words I heard a lot today were leadership potential, grandparents, stress, contractor, doctor, boss, and unfair. I didn't add to the conversations. I never do.

We got a new supplement called Movoflex for Dash today. Our vet recommended it and it is supposed to help him with mobility and joint pain. Movoflex appears to be an alternative to glucosamine and chondroitin which never really worked for Dash, but anything is worth a try.

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Day 3045

Dealing with customer service is becoming increasingly difficult. It is a challenge to bypass the automated response systems and the offshore help desks to reach a knowledgable person who can actually help you. If you persist, occasionally you succeed. I was determined to get the illusive Fedex Ground package delivered today. The first person I talked to was out of the country. I asked this person to transfer me to someone who could actually make something happen and ended up talking to someone in Pennsylvania. This person transferred me to a supervisor in Texas and after about 45 minutes I finally ended up talking to the manager of the local shipping terminal about ten miles from my house.

When I finally reached someone locally who had the ability to call the delivery driver on his cell phone, I was able to provide detailed directions to my house and the package eventually got delivered. It shouldn't be this hard to get a company who's entire business is dedicated to delivering packages to actually deliver something. While I was going through customer service hell, I learned something I didn't really want to hear. Fedex Ground doesn't use their own uniformed drivers anymore. They farm out their deliveries to independent contractors. The whole setup sounded a lot like Uber for packages. Jeez. No wonder service has deteriorated. Why are so many companies determined to cut costs to the bone, no matter what happens to quality or service? The local terminal manager I talked with admitted that this new system didn't always work very well, but that there was nothing she could do about it. Corporate had decided that subcontracting their business to a third party was more profitable.

When I got one problem solved, I discovered that I had another. Several days ago, I bought a replacement for my broken activity tracker from a third-part reseller. Unfortunately, when I opened the box and plugged the thing into a charger, it wouldn't hold a charge. The battery was completely dead. In retrospect this makes sense. Jawbone has been on the verge of bankruptcy for several years now. They stopped manufacturing fitness trackers in 2016 and any remaining products have been sitting on the shelves for a long, long time. A quick Google search revealed that I had bought a brick. It was impossible to fix or replace the dead battery and equally impossible to get a replacement from a company that doesn't exist anymore. I'm going to try to return this piece of junk to the reseller, but I doubt that the want to see it again. No wonder I got such a good price. They've probably got a boatload of these things with completely dead batteries.

There was a bit of good news today. Dash slept peacefully last night and didn't have any coughing or breathing problems. I heard from Dash's doctor at the cancer center and he said that as long as the condition doesn't get worse, we don't need to do anything immediately. He wants to make sure that Dash is completely free of blood clots before we attempt to deal with the enlarged heart. I wonder if Dash knows how fragile he is? Despite his many problems, he still seems like a happy camper.

I saw a hawk catch and eat a mouse today. The mouse didn't have a chance. A little further down the road I noticed that the Purple Martins have driven the Sparrows out of the Martin Houses in the park. It was an ongoing battle for a while, but apparently the Purple Martins won. The animal world can be ruthless, but our own world is far worse. Two police officers were shot yesterday at a Home Depot where I frequently shop. They didn't have any more of a chance than that mouse.

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Day 3044

The roofers came over today. They didn't do anything of course. It had rained overnight and the roof was covered with water. Nevertheless, I was happy to see the guys. I went up on the roof with them and showed them were the damage was. They promised to come back and fix things as soon as we get some warm, dry weather. Lord know how long it will take to get warm, dry weather, but I am determined to get this roof fixed.

There's a new wrinkle in Dash's continuing health saga. He's started coughing in his sleep at night. At first I thought he might have kennel cough, but that is unlikely. Dash is seldom around other dogs and he doesn't cough at all during the day. Coughing during sleep is a known complication associated with an enlarged heart. We've known for a while that Dash does have an enlarged heart, so maybe this is the problem. There is also a slim possibility that Dash's thyroid cancer has returned and spread to his lungs. I called the cancer center and had a nice conversation with Dash's nurse. The doctor won't be in until tomorrow morning, but the nurse thought that Dash's enlarged heart was the problem too. It's unclear what the doctor will want to do at this point, but I hope Dash doesn't have to take more meds. He's taking way too much medication already.

We're waiting for a package. For the past four days the Fedex Ground has said that there was an attempt to deliver but nobody was home. Wrong! We've been home every single time. The guy never even came to the door. This has happened before with Fedex Ground. UPS, Amazon Prime, and the Post Office have no problem finding our house, but the Fedex Ground drivers don't even try. I don't know how we are going to get this package. I looked up the facility on Google and there was a seemingly endless list of one star reviews. It was clear that we weren't the only people having this problem. Fedex Express is still pretty good, but Fedex Ground is worthless. I don't know how they stay in business.

I didn't even try to walk Dash this afternoon. The weather was cold and nasty and I don't think Dash was in the mood anyway. He's seemed a bit lethargic all day. I really hope he isn't having problems with his heart again. When we got the news that his blood clot had apparently dissolved, I was elated. I thought we could finally scratch one of Dash's many problems off the list. Unfortunately, it looks like this isn't over yet. I'm not sure when we can schedule a new exam, but hopefully Dash's doctor will have a solution to the coughing problem.

I've discovered that practicing the piano is a great way to kill time. I've been working my way through some of the online lessons I've downloaded and am pleasantly surprised with the progress I'm making. It probably helps that I used to be able to play the piano, but it's been a long, long time. Interactive online lessons are pretty cool. So far, it seems like a great way to learn to read sheet music. It's probably easier than learning German too. That was the last thing I tried to learn online.

I hope the weather improves tomorrow. It seems way too late in the year to have the furnace running.

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Day 3043

Today was a bit discouraging. The stock market plummeted again. Why are people getting upset about rising interest rates? I've been wanting interest rates to go up for a long time. When interest rates are high, you can earn a decent rate of return on very safe investments and don't have to worry about insane fluctuations in the market. Back in the day, high interest rates were always my friend.

Flat roofs have never been my friend. This is the second home I've owned with a flat roof, and it's driving me crazy. I went up on the roof today to sweep away leaves and discovered standing water instead. When I cleared away the water, I discovered four more tears in the elastomer coating. Two of these tears were in areas I had fixed last Summer. I really need a brand new roof. The current roof never performed as promised and it's been hell trying to get the roofer to fix the problem. The special coating that seals everything was supposed to last for a minimum of ten years. We're not even close.

I couldn't figure out why my laptop was so slow after I upgraded the system to Sierra. Today I read that whenever you update an Apple operating system, performance become very sluggish until the Spotlight app has finished indexing the entire hard drive. This process can take hours. I wish Apple told you these things. I left the laptop running all day and sure enough by the end of the day it was running much faster. I never even use the Spotlight app. I certainly had no idea it could cause so much trouble.

I spoke too soon about my fitness band repair. It's already starting to fall apart again. I got out a loupe and looked closely at the repair and it looks like I didn't clean the surface well enough. I needed to remove all traces of my previous attempts to glue the band together before applying the Sil-Poxy adhesive. It looks like there was still a little bit of Shoe-Goo on the band. It's fun to fix things when the repairs work. Failures just become irritating after a while.

Dash wouldn't take an afternoon walk today. Even Janet couldn't convince him to walk when she got home from work. This was frustrating too, because I enjoy walking. I finally decided to just take an evening walk by myself. I don't know why Dash doesn't like walking in the afternoon anymore. It's getting harder and harder to get him out the door. I don't think he was tired today because he spent most of the afternoon napping. Maybe we're down to one walk a day now.

I read an article today that said retirement can be especially difficult for people who are used to being valued for their ideas. According to the article, when you become older and are no longer part of the work force, nobody really cares what you think. You're just another geezer collecting social security. Although I didn't agree with everything, a lot of the article rang true. The transition from being a problem solver to being irrelevant can be a tough one. I think the people who just want to travel and play golf have an easier time of things.

Jeez. I wish I hadn't spent so much time on the roof today. I just learned that it is supposed to rain tomorrow. So it goes.

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

Monday, April 23, 2018

Day 3042

The appliance repairman said that there was nothing wrong with the stove. He agreed that the stainless steel countertop got pretty darn hot when the burners were on high for a while, but could find nothing wrong with the wiring. He suggested that we stop boiling large pots of water on the stovetop, but I don't think Janet is going to like this idea. Sadly, the stove repair was a failure, but I was able to get the washing machine fixed.

All front loader washing machines have a thick rubber gasket that seals the door when you are doing a load of wash. Unfortunately this gasket retains water after you've finished doing a load and since it never gets dry, eventually the rubber starts to mold. Almost all front loader washing machines do this, which is why they are not as popular anymore. A YouTube video showed me how I could replace this gasket myself, but I'm glad I didn't try. The repairman had to to use a special tool to unlock the clamp that held the gasket in place. The YouTube video never mentioned this tool. He also had to remove a large and very heavy concrete counterweight that keeps the metal drum in balance while it is rotating. You basically had to take the machine apart to remove the thick rubber sleeve. I guess the effort was worth it though. I now have a brand new door gasket that probably won't begin to mold for another three years.

Dash slept through the entire two hours the repairman was here. Actually, he continued sleeping for an additional hour after the guy left. Dot would have spent the entire time barking. I don't know if Dash is really tired or he just doesn't care. Either way, repairmen just don't seem to bother him.

I was surprised to get a call about a very old invoice that I'd almost given up on. Apparently, the bookkeeper quit and nobody was aware of the invoice. The owner's wife was doing the books now and asked if I took credit cards. None of this sounded normal, but at least this February invoice might finally get paid. I wonder if I'll ever get any more work from this company? They used to keep me pretty busy, but these days they seem in worse shape than I am.

I got a post card from my sister thanking me for a voicemail message I'd left on her birthday. She never returned the call, but the cryptic message on the postcard was reassuring. I'm not terribly close with family, but when someone has cancer you start to worry if they disappear for a while. I guess we can go back to sending letters back and forth every few months.

I wore the silicon fitness tracker band I repaired today and it didn't immediately fall apart. In my book, that's a success. So far, there's no skin irritation either. I'm already looking for more broken silicon stuff to repair. I'm sure the Jawbone tracker will break again eventually. It might break tomorrow. For now, I am satisfied that both the tracker and the front loader washing machine will live to see another day.

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Day 3041

There weren't many people at the gym today. I don't talk to people at the gym, but there are many familiar faces. Apparently, I'm not the only one who has a routine they repeat over and over again. I notice when people disappear. When a younger person leaves the gym I tend to think they've gone on to bigger and better things. Maybe they got married or got a new job. When an older person leaves the gym, I wonder if they died. There was an old man who used to workout next to me. He always wore a t-shirt that said "I wish I were 80 again." When he quit coming, I didn't even have to ask. I knew he had passed away.

Life is fleeting. Almost everybody who lived on our street when we first moved here is gone now. Janet and I are the old folks in the neighborhood now. Most of the dogs I feature as my "Dalmatian of the Day" have passed away. The pictures remind me that dogs don't live nearly long enough. Sadly, I've gotten to know many of these dogs a lot better than the people who pass through my life. I don't keep up with people very well. I have a feeling I may regret this someday.

I doubt that I'll become more gregarious in my remaining years, but I certainly hope that I put the next ten years to better use than I did with the last ten years. Whenever someone who has led a rich and full life like Barbara Bush passes away, I wonder what I've done with my own life. I've had some amazing experiences, but it certainly hasn't been a purpose driven life. I'd tend to call it an accidental life.

There's nothing wrong with an accidental life. Sometimes it's better not to have a plan. I never planned to live in Dallas or have a career in advertising, but here I am. It didn't turn out so bad. I'm certainly glad that my life intersected with dogs at some point. Dogs have been a blessing.

Taking Dash on long walks every morning has made me more aware of the world around me. I know that names of native plants and animals now. I'm more aware of the weather and I'm probably in better shape than I would have been otherwise. I hate seeing Dash slow down on these walks because it reminds me that life is fleeting.

My Luddite sister has quit writing. I wonder what that means? Dash quits eating occasionally. I wonder what that means? There was a segment on Sixty Minutes tonight about Alzheimer's that was somewhat frightening. I had an uncle with Alzheimer's. My Mom used to think that my Dad had Alzheimer's, but he was really just turning off his hearing aid. He remembered; he just quit listening. Memories, even accidental memories, are important. That's why I keep writing. Each day leaves a new memory that gradually forms a trail of breadcrumbs for me to find later.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Day 3040

I enjoy visiting the rescue Dalmatians. I often wonder how these wonderful dogs wind up stray, in animal shelters, or being surrendered by their owners. They all deserve better. The great thing about rescue organizations is that dogs like these get a second chance. For many, many years the dogs that Janet and I share our lives with have come from the Dalmatian Rescue group that we both volunteer with. This group has found good homes for hundreds of dogs like the ones we visited today. When they become part of the rescue program, the dogs are often scared, abused, and in poor health. It is our job to make sure that when they find their forever home, they are all healthy, happy, and well adjusted pets. I don't spend as much time with rescue as I used to, but I still think it is one of the most important things you can do. Even if you are not fond of people, you can still make a dog's life better.

It was a good day to visit the kennel. The weather was dismal today, so most weekend chores were out of the question. We did manage to give Dash his morning walk before the rain started, but after that it was better to stay inside. I guess this is normal Spring weather, but it sure seems wet to me. The trouble with Texas is that as soon as the rainy season is over, it's going to be hot and dry for the rest of the year.

Dash didn't seem to mind that we were gone today, but he was really interested in smelling our clothes when we returned. I wish he would get his eating habits sorted out. I had to open three different cans of food before I found something that he would eat for dinner. I wish I knew if he always felt symptoms from his vestibular disease. I'd hate to think that eating has become unpleasant, because every Dalmatian I've even known lives to eat. This was certainly true of the dogs we visited today. It would have much more difficult to photograph them if we didn't arrive with a pocket full of dog treats.

I think the silicon wrist band I repaired the other day has fully cured, but I still haven't had the nerve to wear it. Maybe tomorrow. It certainly didn't take much glue to fix things. If this stuff works, I have enough glue on hand to repair silicon watch bands for the rest of my life.

Janet made spagetti for dinner tonight. I love Italian food, even though it almost always gives me heartburn. I wonder how Italians deal with this? Tomato sauce is a well known trigger for acid reflux. If you have problems with acid reflux, the first thing your doctor will tell you is to avoid acidic foods. It's a shame that pizza and pasta are often at the top of the list. I could live on this stuff.

The best time to view the Leonid Meteor Shower is tonight. That's not going to happen. It's still raining. Dash didn't even get an afternoon walk today. I hope the weather clears up tomorrow. I need to go to the gym and it's time to start doing some serious yard work.

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Day 3039

I'm happy to report that there are still a few good people in the world. When Janet and I were walking Dash this evening we saw an injured dog in the park. Several other people noticed the dog as well and we all tried to convince it to come to us without scaring it away. The dog was very young and needed medical attention. He appeared to be very friendly with the dogs we all were walking, but was frightened of humans. It looked like he had been dumped in the park. He was very hard to catch, so I went back home to get a slip leash and some dog treats. It took some patience, but eventually the dog started to trust us and one of the women was able to put a lead around his neck. She was going to take the dog to her vet for treatment and see if they would help her get it into a good adoption program. I have no idea who the folks we met this afternoon were, but they were all good people. The injured pup won't be eaten by coyotes tonight and hopefully his next family will appreciate him much more than the people who dumped him.

Before all this dramatic activity, it was just a normal Friday. I had a nice breakfast, picked up some groceries for the weekend, and made an appointment for the appliance repairman to come out again. It's not the refrigerator this time. The refrigerator is fine, but there's a problem with the stove. Whenever we turn on a burner, the stainless steel counter top gets really hot. I think you could fry an egg on the countertop. This definitely isn't normal. I asked for the same repairman who fixed our refrigerator, and the dispatcher laughed. "He's our MacGyver ," she told me.

I'm reasonably good at fixing things, but I'm definitely no MacGyver. I was pretty much of a klutz today when I tried to repair the silicon fitness tracker band. I was super careful with the Sil-Poxy adhesive, since the warnings on the label seemed ominous. Despite my best intentions, I still managed to get some of the evil stuff on my hands. I know I should have worn gloves, but I'm even more clumsy with gloves on. Also this stuff fuses rubber together, so I thought if I spilled the stuff on the gloves, I might have trouble getting them off again. At any rate, the repaired band is curing now and my hand seems OK. We'll see whether the fitness tracker still works in the morning.

With or without a fitness tracker, it's pretty easy to tell that I'm not getting enough sleep. Dash got me up in the middle of the night again. I don't even need a watch to know what time it is. If Jupiter is in the sky, it is still pretty early. If Saturn and Mars are in the sky, it is near morning. It's been very clear outside for the past several nights, but I can't linger and look at the sky. If I don't get back to the bedroom quickly, Dash will steal my place on the bed.

There are a lot of new Dalmatians in the rescue program, so I may go up to the boarding kennel with Janet this weekend so I can take pictures of them. I'm not as good about keeping the website current as I used to be, but then I'm not as good about anything as I used to be. As always, I'm hoping for an uneventful weekend. I still haven't heard anything from the roofers. It looks like I might have to repair the leak myself.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Day 3038

The tree trimmer came over today to give me an estimate. The dead limb I was worried about hangs directly over the house and it seems like it would be difficult to gently lower it down with a rope. No problem, the guy told me. I'll take his word for it. This is something I would never attempt by myself. I need to schedule this work before the roofers come over, but that shouldn't be a problem. I'll be lucky if I can get the roofers over here by June.

I was reading the instructions for the special glue I bought to repair my fitness band and I noticed something in the fine print that said "Do not let this product come in contact with skin." WTF? How can I repair a wrist band if the repair can't come in contact with my skin? I need to contact the manufacturer about this. Silicon is used in all sorts of medical products. Silicon masks are also common in film and the theater. Why would anyone make a repair product that couldn't be used in these situations? Maybe the glue just can't come near skin until it has fully cured. I'll be real disappointed if I can't use this glue. Basically, if I can't glue the fitness tracker back together, it goes in the trash.

Dash seems to be slowly inching back to a more regular schedule. He got me up at midnight and again just before sunrise. While this may seem inconvenient, it is much better than getting up at 3 AM. I was hoping that Dash would sleep through the night like he did yesterday, but no such luck. At least he is eating normally again.

It was a nice day to be outside, so I tried to repair some of the roof panels on the greenhouse. It's been really windy this Spring and these panels keep coming loose. I definitely should have worn a long sleeve shirt. The translucent panels are made of fiberglass and my arms were itching for the rest of the day. Fiberglass is terrible stuff. It looks solid but there are always sharp little fibers that come off when you touch it. It's ironic that I was worried about the silicon glue today when I really should have been worried about the fiberglass.

I'm dreading going over to the storage warehouse and taking an inventory of my collection before my friend from Kentucky arrives in town to pick it up. This is going to take a long time and I'm sure I'll have misgivings about liquidating a bunch of stuff it took me so many years to accumulate. If I could go back in time, the first thing I'd do is tell my younger self not to bother with collecting things. The older you get, the less collections matter. In the long run, it is a lot better to have the cash than a bunch of dusty stuff in a storage warehouse.

This week has gone quickly. It is already time to take the trash to the curb again. On Thursday evenings I often read Yelp reviews about restaurants I'm thinking about visiting the next morning. Usually I just end up confused. There will almost always be great reviews right next to terrible reviews. It must be hard to run a restaurant. It's probably just about impossible to please everybody.

Marley is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Day 3037

I'm losing track of the days again. The main thing that make one day different from the next is how Dash is acting. He is totally unpredictable. Last night he slept all night, although I woke up several times in anticipation of his usual need to go outside. He seemed disoriented when he woke up this morning, but returned to normal after about thirty minutes. He seemed in good spirits on our morning walk and then slept most of the day after we returned. When it was time for dinner, he turned his nose up at everything. I couldn't tell if he was feeling nauseous or just being stubborn. I tried all his favorites and he wouldn't eat anything. I left some food in his bowl and went about my business.  About an hour later I noticed that he'd changed his mind and decided the food was OK after all. He wouldn't take an afternoon walk with me, but when Janet came home from work he decided that walking was OK again. I wonder what causes these mood swings? Dogs are supposed to be predictable.

I'm having trouble getting people to return my calls. I'm ready to clean up the back yard and get new St. Augustine grass put in, but the landscaper hasn't called me back. I haven't heard from the roofer either. He sent me an e-mail about a month ago saying he'd take care of things, but that was the last I've heard from him. I did finally get a call from the tree guy, but he just told me that he was in the middle of something and to call him again tomorrow. Eventually, I'll get all these things taken care of,  but nobody seems very excited about my little projects.

I was slightly excited when I the UPS guy delivered the special silicon glue I ordered. I had to order two tubes of this exotic adhesive to meet the company's minimum order requirements and shipping cost $10. I could have found a replacement UP3 fitness band for about the same price. I wonder why I'm so obsessed with fixing things? Oddly, I'm really curious to see whether this glue works.

We encountered a bunch of Great Egrets along the shoreline this morning. I wanted to get closer so I could take a good picture, but Dash wasn't interested. Dash is not interested in birds at all. I always carry a small pocket camera with a 30x zoom but the pictures often leave a lot to be desired. I never take a good camera while I'm walking Dash. Dash is a great companion, but he's a terrible photo assistant. It's easier to just concentrate on walking.

I watched another Space X launch on my computer this afternoon. These guys are really getting good at this stuff. Today's payload was a telescope that will look for planets orbiting other nearby stars. I wonder whether humans will eventually reach the stars or just become extinct after we ruin our own planet. It's a toss up.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Day 3036

Dash surprised everybody today. He was well behaved at the vet. He didn't act up or bark in the car. He let the nurse take his blood pressure. He didn't squirm or try to escape when the vet gave him the rabies shot. Maybe Dash has turned over a new leaf. This was the first time he's been a good dog at the vet in many months. We'll have to go back for a Leptospirosis shot in May, but hopefully vet appointment won't be as frequent now that the blood clot worries have subsided a bit.

Dash was eager to take a walk when we returned from our vet appointment, so breakfast was very late this morning. At least Dash took a nice walk. He's pretty reliable in the morning, but I still have trouble getting him to leave the house in the afternoon. Nothing is predictable with Dash anymore. I was totally surprised at how good he was at the vet today. I never know what he's going to eat at any given time, and I can never predict when he's in the mood for an afternoon walk. They say dogs like a predictable routine. Not Dash. He likes to mix things up.

It's weird that only two days after that Sixty Minutes report about how terrible Allegiant Airlines is that an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight and killed a passenger. Southwest has a good safety record, so I guess you never know when your number is up. I'm certainly going to be reluctant to sit in a window seat again. I'm certain that the poor woman who almost got sucked out of the plane never expected that a routine flight to Dallas would be her last.

I hate stories like this because I have enough fears and phobias already. I definitely don't need to add fear of flying to the list. I rarely stay out late at night anymore. I find driving in heavy traffic stressful. When I go to a restaurant I wonder if I'm going to get food poisoning. I'm always looking for snakes when I walk Dash. Nothing seems safe anymore. This isn't a great way to live, but I don't think I'm being paranoid. Just turn on the evening news tonight and you'll probably agree with me about the state of the world.

I almost called my accountant today to remind him to file my taxes. Luckily, I realized how ridiculous this would sound and didn't make the call. I think I actually did do this a few years ago and the accountant just laughed at me. Jeez. I've got to learn to trust people. At least a little.

I wonder if Barbara Bush will be the last person in the political arena to be loved and respected by everybody. I'm hearing praise and tributes from both sides of the political fence tonight. It's probably the end of an era.

The national news wasn't good today, but it wasn't a bad day for a recluse like me. I was pleased that the stock market went up again and even more pleased that Dash was a good boy at the vet.

Bella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Day 3035

It's amazing how long it takes to do nothing. Maybe I accomplished something today, but it would be hard to prove. I found a place that sells the weird silicon glue I've been looking for in a smaller more affordable size. I was just about ready to order the glue online when I discovered that the seller wanted to charge $18 to ship the small 1/2 ounce tube. Jeez. The glue itself only costs $11. This seemed ridiculous, especially since you could easily put the small tube of glue in a bubble pack envelope and mail it with two first class stamps. I canceled the order and did some more looking until I eventually found a place in town that stocked the glue. Do I want to drive 20 miles on a busy freeway to pick this stuff up, or pay way too much for shipping? It's a tough choice.

I heard on TV that the supreme court is hearing a case tomorrow that could end up forcing online retailers to charge sales tax. That would really suck. I have purchased computers, cameras, and electronic equipment online for years specifically to avoid paying sales tax. Sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, cigarette taxes, and much, much more never seem to be enough. The government always wants more. We'll see what happens, but I'm going to be real disappointed if I have to pay sales tax when I order something from Sweetwater or B&H Camera.

I made an appointment to take Dash tomorrow morning for his rabies booster. He's so old now that I don't think he needs the shot, but it's the law. At least the city doesn't require the vaccine every year like they used to. You only need a booster shot once every three years now and many vets think that the vaccine is actually effective for up to seven years. Dash has had a bad reaction to some immunizations in the past, so I never look forward to these shots as he becomes old and frail. I wish these decisions could just be between the vet and the pet's owner. Why does the government need to get involved?

Our neighbors are having to replace their sewer line. What a mess. Since our houses are about the same age, I've started to wonder about the condition of our own sewer line. We've already had problems with our water lines, so it's something to think about. When our house was built in the mid-1950's, they used copper pipes inside the house and heavy cast iron pipes outside. These pipes were pretty durable, but everything rusts or corrodes eventually. I wonder how the PVC pipes they use today will look fifty years from now? The plastic pipes will probably be fine, but I can't imagine that the purple glue they use to join these pipes together will last that long.

I have only a single outstanding invoice now. When even the slow and delinquent payers are current on all their accounts, do I even have a business left? Probably not. I'm a pretty good dog nurse, but I'm really going to have to find something to do with myself when the business officially dies.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Day 3034

I looked up at the sky when I took Dash out to pee last night and I couldn't find Jupiter. How could a planet disappear? I guess I'd forgotten how long it's been cloudy when I take Dash out in the middle of the night. Saturn, Mars and Jupiter were no longer in their familiar positions. It seemed like yesterday when the three planets were neatly arranged in a straight line stretched across the Eastern sky. Of course it seems like Christmas was yesterday too. The older you get, the faster time flies.

It's just about impossible to get Dash to do his business at a reasonable hour. I take him out several times every night now. Dash ought to be glad that I'm a light sleeper. He seems supremely confident that I will always be there to open the door for him. Strangely, I don't really feel sleep deprived like I did when Dot was sick. I take naps now. Dash's behavior is not going to change. He's certainly not losing much sleep since he spends most of the day snoozing. I figure if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em. I'm going to sleep during the day too.

I tried to find the special adhesive that can glue silicon to silicon, but nobody carries it. I struck out trying to find a replacement band for Janet's Fitbit too. I'm beginning to think that it isn't even worth the trouble to shop at retail stores anymore. Both of these hard to find items are readily available on Amazon. All I have to do is click on the "add to cart" button" and they'll be here next week.

There seems to be fewer and fewer people at the gym each time I go. Maybe this is seasonal, or maybe there's a better gym out there. I hope enough people keep attending this gym to keep it open. I'd hate to see the place close. I've grown fond of the place and it would be difficult for me to go anywhere else. If I had to go to a trendy gym full of young people, I'd probably stop going entirely.

We ordered Dash some indoor boots that he can wear around the house. He's really starting to slip on the bricks now. Hopefully, the lightweight rubberized boots will provide the traction he needs. I'd hate to bring all those ugly rugs  home from the storage warehouse again. The three rugs we've strategically placed in the kitchen to help him eat are bad enough. I suspect that it's only a matter of time before the rest of the rugs return as well.

I've started watching a show called Detectorists on BBC. The show is supposed to be a comedy, but it is bleak and a bit melancholy. Maybe that's why I like it. The main characters have dead end jobs, or no jobs at all, and spend their time searching the English countryside for hidden gold with metal detectors. They find nothing but old buttons and pull tabs from beer cans, but never seem to give up. The awkwardness and futility of these characters seems so real that each episode becomes a sad metaphor for life in general. I think there still another season of this show that I haven't seen yet. Maybe I've finally got something to watch on Netflix.

Can you believe it's the middle of April already?  Maybe by the end of the month Winter will be over.

Krissy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Day 3033

I took Dash outside several times last night and each time it was ten degrees cooler than the time before. The temperature was in the seventies when we went to bed and in the forties the next morning. I don't think Winter is ready to relinquish it's grip on us. I'm glad I haven't put away my Winter clothes yet. I still wear them several times a week. It felt like we experienced all four seasons today. The clear skies looked like Summer. The cold temperatures felt like Winter. The blooming flowers reminded me that it was actually Spring. And the blustery wind felt like Fall. It isn't usually this cold in mid-April, but then there is nothing "usual" about Texas weather at any time of the year.

Janet went to pick up a dog for Dalmatian Rescue this morning, but we got Dash to take his regular morning walk by pretending that she was just going to work again. On weekends Dash typically insists that we all walk together. I wanted to stay home with Dash because he was so shaky yesterday. He was still very wobbly when I took him out to pee during the night, but he began to improve as the day progressed. By the end of the day he was walking normally again. This kind of confirmed my suspicion that the gabapentin was causing his problems. It's a shame that there are so few pain pills without serious side effects. Cortisone and other steroids can weaken your immune system. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl can damage the liver and kidneys. Gabapentin tends to cause sedation and weakness. Tramadol and other opioids have their own serious problems. There is not really a good solution. You use these drugs when the pain becomes worse than the side effects.

I got tired of looking at the rust colored stain in the living room ceiling, so I got out a ladder and cleaned the area with a bleach soaked rag. The sheet rock is still damaged, but it looks much better now. I was pleased to discover that the sheet rock felt pretty dry. This means that the leak we experienced recently wasn't very bad. After the cosmetic improvements I made to the living room, I decided to tackle the bathroom. Mildew is a continual problem in the shower. I took the handles off the faucets and scrubbed them inside and out. Then I did the same thing to the shower nozzle. I'm not sure if the shower nozzle works better after I took it apart and cleaned it, but it certainly looks better.

I couldn't figure out why I've been unable to repair the silicon band on my fitness tracker. I finally did some research today and discovered that it is almost impossible to glue two pieces of silicon together. The stuff just doesn't stick to anything. I learned that there is a special industrial adhesive specifically designed to attach silicon to silicon, but it costs $30 for a small 3 oz. tube. Jeez. I could just buy a new fitness band for about the same price. I still like these UP3 bands, despite their many problems. The company is bankrupt but you can still find the trackers at companies that specialize in selling discontinued merchandise. I should buy a few spares before they're all gone.

I listened to another piano lesson on my computer this afternoon and realized that my fingers are going to be a problem. I have trouble playing the guitar for any length of time because of the arthritis in my hands. I thought that the piano wouldn't be a problem, but I'm having trouble with the correct fingering on chords. My fingers just don't move the way they used to. The pain isn't bad, but it's a nuisance. Maybe this is why Dash and I do so well on our long, slow walks. We're both falling apart at just about the same rate. I don't know how Janet puts up with us. We're both grumpy old men.

Flash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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