Monday, December 31, 2018

Day 3294

Another year bites the dust. I guess it was fitting that the year ended in such a typical fashion. It rained all night. Dash pooped in the bed. And the roof started leaking again. As usual, I noticed the leak when I stepped in a puddle of water while I was taking Dash outside to pee in the middle of the night. I had a towel in my hand to dry Dash off with, but ended up using it to mop up the water on the floor. After strategically placing buckets under the leaks and cleaning Dash so he wouldn't get mud on the bed, I went back to sleep.

This morning I was puzzled that no water was being pumped from the roof. I went up to investigate and discovered that the pump had tipped over during the night. No wonder there was over three inches of standing water directly over the leak. I spent two hours removing all the water from the roof, but the effort was probably all for nothing. There is snow in the forecast for Wednesday.

I took a small check from one of my few remaining clients to the bank and got a bunch of buckets at the Dollar Store on the way home. You can't have too many buckets when your roof is leaking. I never go to the Dollar Store, but Janet said that if I'd quit being such an elitist, I could get the buckets for only a dollar. She was right. I would have paid five dollars for a similar bucket at Home Depot.

Not much has changed this year. Last New Year's Eve Dash was already wearing his knee brace and was having major problems with vestibular disease. The elastomer coating on the roof was falling apart and my accountant was telling me it was time to shut down the business. I was starting to think about selling things, but hadn't actually started yet.

One year later, Dash has exceeded all his doctor's expectations. He poops all over the place, but his heart is actually stronger than it was last year. He still has vestibular disease, but the seizures seems to have subsided. Considering that he can barely stand up at times, the little guy is proving to be remarkably resilient.

The house hasn't been resilient at all. I guess this is to be expected since it was built in 1955. I'm going to need a new roof, new toilets and tile in the bathrooms, new sheetrock on the ceiling, fresh paint, and a new sliding glass door in the atrium. It's too bad that my services are no longer in demand because this is going to be expensive. I hate to spend a lot of money on this house, since it will probably be torn down if we ever move. On the other hand, I hate living like this. I've almost forgotten what living in a trouble free house is like.

I think we'll make it to midnight this year. We've been staying up later lately because Dash usually pees around midnight. It's easier to go to bed after this happens. There's some champagne cooling in the refrigerator. We'll lift a glass to the new year and hope that it is better than 2018.

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

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Day 3293

Dash kept kicking me last night and waking me up. He must have been dreaming. Occasionally, he woke me up in the middle of my own dreams and I started remembering snippets of other dreams. There were so many. It kind of startled me that my brain had stored away all my dreams. Are dream memories just like any other memory? If so, I probably have more memories of things that never happened than of things that actually occurred.

I am often lost in my dreams. I'll spend forever looking for my room in a huge hotel. Sometimes I'm looking for my car in a large parking garage. There are several memories where I go from deck to deck on a huge ship looking for a friend. I always wake up before I find what I'm looking for.

I've occupied more dream houses than real ones. I know every inch of these imaginary homes. Some are quite simple and contain only one room. Others are incredibly elaborate. Most of these dreams are pleasant. I am getting ready for bed or trying to find a toothbrush. Just ordinary domestic stuff. There are several dreams where I'm trying to stop a roof leak though. Once, the roof actually collapsed.

There are many journey dreams where I am traveling through a large city or along a long road. Sometimes the city has tall buildings like New York or Chicago. Other times there are lots of casinos, like Las Vegas. There is one city that is located by the ocean and I'm always trying to locate a path to the beach. Sometimes I'm changing trains or busses. I'll often look for a specific number on a bus, but I never know where I'm going.

Some dreams are so detailed that I used to spend years wondering whether they were real. In one, I used to spend Summers with an older couple at the end of a long dirt road. I went back to this place for several Summers and would help with the gardening. Did this couple befriend me or employ me? I used to write the couple letters in my dreams buy I can't remember what they said. My dreams really got confusing when they involved showing my portfolio to potential employers. Did some of this actually happen? The flying dreams couldn't have been real, but what about the dreams where I was setting up equipment with my band?

I wonder why all these dream memories came flooding back last night. It was an ordinary night where I kept waking up and checking to see if Dash had pooped on the bed yet. Dash actually slept well last night and didn't need to go outside until it was almost morning. I can't say the same for myself.

It was really cold today and there is rain in the forecast again. This is disappointing, but what can you do? It's Winter. At least it wasn't raining when I went to the gym. I need to remember to strategically position a few buckets on the floor before I go to bed tonight. If it rains hard enough, the roof leak is sure to return.

Although my dreams are weird, they share one thing in common with everyday life. There never seems to be any resolution. During the day, I'm dealing with endless water problems and during the night I'm endlessly looking for something I never seem to find.

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

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Day 3292

I spend my Winters wishing it was Summer and my Summers wishing it was Winter. I was definitely wishing for warmer weather today. Everything takes longer when it's cold. I'm slow anyway, but dressing in layers on a cold day takes me forever. Making the bed takes longer when it is piled with blankets. You've got to let the car warm up before you leave the driveway. You can't even depend on the weather forecast. Yesterday I was looking at a week of clear skies. Now the forecast says it is going to rain tomorrow.

I had lots of errands to run today. There were prescription to pick up and groceries to buy. The car needed gas. I had to retrieve a few things from the storage warehouse. I needed strawberries for my smoothies, clorox wipes to help clean up dog poop, halogen bulbs for the sconce lamps in the living room, and salicylic acid for my oily skin. Each of these things came from a different store. No wonder so many people shop on Amazon.

I can't seem to catch up on sleep anymore. When I returned from my errands, all I wanted to do was sleep. Since Dash spends most of his day sleeping anyway, it's always easy to take a nap with him. If I lie down on the bed, he'll be curled up next to me within a matter of minutes. I just need to stay alert until he navigates the dog step at the foot of the bed. Occasionally, he falls and I have to catch him.

I used to start projects on weekends, but not anymore. I just take care of the bare necessities now. Instead of making Giclée prints for gallery shows, I unclog drains. You really can't ignore a clogged drain for very long. I thought I still had some 'instant plumber' stuff that uses compressed gas to clear gunk out of pipes in seconds, but I guess I'd left the can standing in the utility room too long. All the gas had escaped. I had to clear the drain the old fashioned way using a plunger. What a mess. You'd think by now that someone would have invented a coating that prevents gunk from accumulating on the inside of pipes, but apparently not. I have to clear slow drains much more often than I'd like.

I repaired another pair of Dash's Ultra Paws boots and did a few loads of wash. I was going to watch some of the afternoon cooking shows on PBS, but I fell asleep instead. Dash did get two walks today. He was slow and stumbled a lot, but he definitely enjoyed himself. His sense of smell is one thing that hasn't deteriorated. Dash wants to smell everything these days. I'm glad he still has something to look forward to.

I ought to look forward to going to the gym tomorrow, but the weekly workout is just one in a long list of weekend chores. I'm lazy at heart and fit out of necessity. I may be 70 but there are still drains to clean, standing water on the roof, and poop on the floor. I need to keep moving.

Petey & Greta are today's Dalmatian's of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, December 28, 2018

Day 3291

Today started oddly. As I was getting ready to go to breakfast, I noticed that the garbage truck was parked right next to my can on the street. The driver appeared to be texting someone or maybe he was having an Egg McMuffin for breakfast. When he finished he drove away, completely forgetting to pick up my trash. Damn. I was the only can of the street he skipped. I quickly ran out to the street and pushed my can to an adjacent street to catch the truck on it's return through the neighborhood. I'm glad my hastily improvised plan worked because I have no place to store two week's worth of trash.

A little later at the hotel restaurant I noticed that a well dressed older man sitting next to me was eating a meal that definitely wasn't on the menu. I was intrigued, because this guy's breakfast looked really good. I asked my server if I could order something off the menu too. She gave me an odd look and just said no. How did the old guy get to order whatever he wanted when I couldn't? I'll probably never know because I didn't want to make a scene. The old gentleman was very polite and clearly was accustomed to privilege. This odd little incident made me realize that I'd love to live in a world where I could walk into a restaurant and ask the chef to whip up whatever I wanted. "Menu? We don't need no stinkin' menus," I'd say.

I've totally lost track of what day it is. Probably everybody else has too. The time between Christmas and New Year's is an amorphous mess. I only remembered it was Friday because of chasing the garbage truck this morning and I only remembered to take the trash out last night after Janet reminded me. Basically every day kind of feels like Saturday.

Cleaning up poop doesn't help me remember what day it is because it happens all the time. It's almost easier that Dash poops in his sleep now because I can place a puppy training pad under him. The poop has been landing on the pad pretty consistently now. When I change the pad and put a fresh one under his butt, he often wakes up and decides he needs to pee. I'm still getting up in the middle of the night but the whole process seems more organized.

I got a lot of things done today, but none of them were important. I repaired several of Dash's boots with Shoe Goo. I calibrated and unclogged the large printer. I updated software on my laptop and recharged a bunch of batteries. By the time I was finished it was time for dinner. Janet is always dusting things around the house and told me that refusing to dust is a sign that you've given up. That hurt. I never dust. I actually think dust protects things from scratches.

As a sign that I never give up, I thought I'd go to the gym tomorrow. Hey, in my own dusty way, I'm determined. This plan lasted about thirty seconds because I eventually remembered that tomorrow isn't Sunday. Everything needs to happen on the correct day whether I can remember it or not.

Dot & Petey are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Day 3290

The repairs failed. The roof is leaking again. I heard the familiar sound of water dripping on the brick floors around 3 AM this morning. While I was getting a bucket positioned under the leak, Dash woke up and proceeded to poop on the floor. By the time I finished cleaning everything up, it was hardly worth going back to bed.

This was all very very disappointing to say the least. The rain was pretty intense last night, but I genuinely expected the roofers patches to work. Everything looked pretty good before the rain started. To make matters worse, the pumps I'd placed on the roof weren't very effective either. I'd hoped that the two pumps would significantly reduce the volume of water on the roof during a storm, but they quickly became clogged with leaves and debris from the trees and the flow of water through the hose gradually slowed to a trickle. At least the rain is gone for now. The weather was clear and cold when we woke up this morning. Dash got a nice walk, although he stumbled a lot. He's stumbling more now and it worries me. After breakfast I went up on the roof and began sweeping the standing water away. I've been up on the roof way too often lately and every bone in my body aches. I'm used to the pain in my shoulders and wrists, but today it felt like I'd developed tennis elbow as well. I'm way too old for this.

The leak stopped within an hour after I removed all the standing water. I still don't know how it is getting inside. I called the roofers and they said they'd be back next week. This is getting very irritating. I'm genuinely tired of fixing things. Unfortunately, with an old house you are always fixing things.

At least I was able to talk with a technician who said he can fix my chair. Unfortunately, he isn't available until the week of January 7. I guess the trash can I've been placing under the chair to keep the back upright will work until then.

Clearing the roof was tiring and I didn't feel like doing anything else today. Some things couldn't be avoided unfortunately. It was time to vacuum water from under the shower stall with the wet/dry vac and there was a big pile of laundry to do. Eventually I decided that enough was enough and I took a long nap with Dash.

The market is still insanely volatile. Within an hour or two this afternoon there was an eight hundred point swing. The Dow went from being down 600 points to closing up over 200 points. Just like yesterday, there was no real news. I guess volatility is just a sign of the times.

Maybe tomorrow will be uneventful. I think I'll go back to the hotel for breakfast. That will be nice and calm, even if the market isn't.

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Day 3289

The rain is here. It's been pouring for hours now. There is thunder and lightning. The phones are beeping with flood alerts. Dash is scared and confused. He can't crawl under desks and tables anymore and I think he feels vulnerable. I feel a bit vulnerable as well, because I don't know if the roof is going to start leaking again.

I've done all I can. Before the rain started I went up and walked the roof to makes sure all the rips and tears in the elastomer material had been sealed. The new silicon patches have had time to fully cure and they look pretty good. I've got both pumps running now. So far, so good. We'll see if the roof can weather the storm.

At least Dash got one walk today. He certainly didn't get an evening walk. I knew the rain was coming, so I tried to get all my errands finished before the storm arrived. I paid my property tax today, so there are no more bills for 2018. I contacted the manufacturer of my Aeron chair and found out that there are two authorized Herman Miller repair centers in the Dallas area. Both were closed today, but it looks like I'll be able to get the chair repaired whether it is under warranty or not.

I have no idea why the stock market went up 1000 points today. Of course I have no idea why it went down 600 points yesterday either. They say this extreme volatility is caused by algorithmic trading. These automated, computerized high frequency trades make up almost 70% of the overall trading volume these days. This is what happens when we let artificial intelligence take over our lives. It's only going to get worse. AI is here to stay. I hate to think what is going to happen when our highways are filled with driverless cars. There are unintended consequences to everything.

I wish I could go back to 1955. Cars were cool then. Most machines could be fixed by someone of average intelligence. A 30 point move in the Dow was considered a huge day on Wall Street. We certainly weren't backward in the 50's. We already had atomic energy and Wernher von Braun was planning to take us to the moon. The pace was slower though and that was a good thing. I think we've gotten ahead of ourselves by allowing technology to advance faster than we have.

Since I can't turn back time, I live in a crumbling mid-century modern house plagued by roof leaks. I guess I've benefited from modern advancements, but sometimes I wonder. My blog is really no different than the hand written diaries I used to keep long before the Internet was invented. I could actually type much better using a manual typewriter when I didn't depend on spell-check and had to start over whenever I made a mistake. I suspect that my life with dogs would be exactly the same no matter what era I was living in.

They say the skies will be clear tomorrow. I'll be a happy camper if the house is still dry. Dash is almost certain to poop in the bed tonight because he won't go outside in the rain. We'll see what happens. Hey, I made it through 2018. I'm not going to let a little poop and water bother me.

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Day 3288 - Christmas

Christmas is a mishmash of fading memories. I vaguely remember going to Christmas Eve services with my parents. I was raised a Lutheran, but haven't been inside a church in years. At one point I was Joseph in the annual church production of the nativity story. That was embarrassing. When I was nine or ten, I remember getting a red rocket for Christmas that was powered by a mixture of baking soda and water. I would shoot the thing off on a vacant football practice field used by the Arkansas Razorbacks and it would travel hundreds of feet in the air before a little parachute brought it back to earth. I'm surprised that I remember all this, because many later celebrations have vanished from my memory.

I wonder if I celebrated Christmas at all when I lived in Seattle. I lived there six of seven years and don't remember a single Christmas. I must have done something although I'm pretty sure I never put up a tree. We visited Janet's relatives in Pennsylvania for a while. I remember a lot of snow. Christmas didn't seem like I was a kid again until we got a dog.

All dogs seem to love Christmas. Ours have always loved to unwrap squeaky toys and treats under the tree. They always seem to know which presents are for them. For many years we used to go to the kennel and walk the rescue Dalmatians at Christmas. Before their Christmas walk we would feed each dog a large boiled chicken breast. They loved their Christmas meal. Those memories are among the most vivid that remain.

Christmas is much quieter now. Dash is old and sleeps most of the time. He still enjoys a tasty treat though and he definitely got his share today. Our treat was a delicious Christmas dinner. The smoked ham was great. So were the candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cherry pie.

It never rained today but there is still rain in the forecast. I'm hoping we can postpone the rain a little longer. The longer the silicon coating on the roof has to dry, the more likely it is to work. I bleached the stained ceilings today, so I will have an easier time seeing if the leak is starting to return. Let's hope the roofers did as good a job as the appliance repairman did. The dryer works like a charm now.

I found a few YouTube videos about repairing Aeron chairs this afternoon. The procedure seemed straightforward, so I thought I'd give it a try. Not so fast. I never got past step one. I was supposed to remove four large screws attaching the chair's seat to the frame so I could reach the mechanism under the seat that controlled the chair's height and tilt. The screws were so tight that I couldn't get them to budge. I also found out that the Herman Miller warranty still exists, but that it is only good for a maximum of twelve years. I've had this chair a lot longer than twelve years. It was one of the first things I bought when I started the company.

There's a lot of leftover ham in the refrigerator. That's fine with me. I love ham and cheese sandwiches. I guess this means that Christmas is over for another year. It's going to seem weird without all those Lifetime Christmas Movies on the TV. It was a quiet and enjoyable day. As an added bonus, I just discovered that if I put the office trash can under my chair, I can keep the back from tilting back. Hey, there's always a solution if you look hard enough.

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

Monday, December 24, 2018

Day 3287

Since there is still rain in the forecast for Christmas, I thought I'd get the roof as ready as I could. I went to the hardware store and got a new hose for the pump to replace the current hose that had developed a kink. I thought the container the roofers left on the porch was some silicon material I could use to make emergency repairs. Unfortunately, it was just an empty container that they didn't bother to throw away. I thought there might be just enough elastomer material in the bottom of the bucket to fill the one remaining hole the roofers forgot. Jeez. I shouldn't be allowed near this stuff. I always make a mess. Even though I was very careful, I got some of the sticky silicon on my hands. I managed to fill the hole, but then later in the day I accidentally stepped in the still wet patch while I was changing the hose on the sump pump. I ruined a pair of cheap shoes and messed up my patch. Fortunately, there was just enough elastomer material left in the bucket to repair the hole again. I don't think I accomplished much, but at least I made an effort.

Dash had me worried today. For a while we wasn't putting weight on one of his rear legs. Did he tear an ACL? Has the neurological damage in his legs gotten worse? It was hard to tell. We got a treat he likes to see if he would follow us to get it. When we was distracted by the treat, he started walking normally again. We shortened his walk this evening and watched carefully to see if started limping. Dash did fine. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether we're pushing Dash too hard, or whether the exercise he's getting is beneficial. His condition is definitely getting worse, but he's going down hill slowly. We were dealing with a lot of the same problems last Christmas.

Last Christmas Dash was already having trembling spasms where he would start shivering violently for about ten minutes. The odd shivering spasms continue, but they haven't gotten much worse. His legs have gotten weaker, but he still does pretty well when he's moving forward. Dash has no reverse gear anymore. When he tries to back up, he falls over. The only thing that has dramatically changed during the past year is the incontinence. Dash is pooping all over the place these days. It's not all bad news though. We think the blood clot in his heart has actually gotten smaller or might have even disappeared this year. We have one more echocardiogram planned for January, just to make sure.

One benefit of my broken desk chair is that I have to sit up straight now. I have a tendency to lean back and slouch as I type, which is probably what broke the Aeron chair's tensioning spring in the first place. This new state of affairs may be great for my posture, but I'm definitely going to have to get this chair fixed. I'm a sloucher and my favorite chair just isn't comfortable anymore.

My financial condition doesn't feel very comfortable either. The stock market took another tumble today. It was a pretty dramatic sell off, considering that the market wasn't even open all day. I hope this downturn isn't as bad as 2007, but it's hard to tell at this point. There's certainly a lot of uncertainty in the world. I hope sanity returns in 2019, but I have my doubts. I spend so much time worrying about Dash and the roof that I might not even notice the apocalypse anyway.

Rain or shine, we're looking forward to a pleasant Christmas. Presents aren't a big deal anymore, but I'm still hoping that the roofers left me a gift. A roof that doesn't leak when it rains would be great. A dog that didn't poop in the bed on Christmas morning would be pretty nice too.

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

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Day 3286

There were only two people at the gym when I arrived this morning. This is a huge facility with a basketball court, a running track, and an Olympic sized swimming pool, so it's always weird to see the place so empty. Maybe everybody had Christmas plans. My own plans seldom change, so I hope this gym is still around five years from now. The giant hospital chain that owns the place could easily decide that it wasn't worth keeping the lights on for two people.

The weather was clear and cold today. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. There wasn't even much dew on the ground when we walked Dash this morning, so I felt like the the silicon coating on the roof might actually have a chance to dry properly. After breakfast, I went up and took a look and was mildly disappointed that falling leaves had become stuck in the elastomer as it was drying. The crew also missed a spot, but it wasn't in a critical location. Hopefully, we'll be ready for the next band of thunderstorms that are headed our way.

A spring broke in my Aeron Chair today and the back no longer stays upright. Damn. When I bought this chair many years ago, they were guaranteed for life. I've had the chair repaired twice by Herman Miller, but the last time was well over ten years ago. Even back then, the lifetime guarantee was becoming the stuff of myth. It was kind of like the legendary JC Penny battery. A few people knew of the guarantee, but nobody had actually seen a chair that qualified. I think my serial number is low enough, but I lost my purchase receipt long ago since I bought the chair right after it was introduced in the early 1990's. I wonder if it is even worth the effort to try and get another free repair?

Dash's poop stayed on the puppy training pads last night, but then later in the day he pooped on the carpet in my office. I don't know why it never even occurred to me that the danger of an accident was just as real during the day. I guess I'm going to need to place a puppy pad under him at all times now. When he wakes up from a nap, it seems to take a lot more effort for him to get up. Sometimes this extra effort causes him to poop. There are different techniques to cleaning the bricks, the carpet, and the bedding. I'm becoming an expert at all three.

I listened to a show about big data on the way to the way to the gym where a researcher had compared the results of large scale surveys with Google searches during the same period of time. His conclusion was that everyone lies when taking a survey because we lie all the time. Even though the surveys were anonymous, people want others to think well of them. We tend to say we voted even when we didn't and tend to say we care even when we don't. Conversely, there is no incentive to lie when you are looking for something on Google. If you lie, you won't find what you were looking for. So, I guess Google knows what we are really thinking, but the politicians don't. Sounds about right to me.

I felt like taking a nap when I came home from the gym, but I vacuumed the house instead. Hey, I put a few more steps on the Fitbit that way. Sundays are often 20,000 step days. I wonder if staying active just to get a higher Fitbit number is a subtle form of lying? Who am I kidding? Everybody knows I prefer napping to vacuuming.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Day 3285

I found myself driving all over town today in search of a Christmas ham. When I went to my favorite smokehouse, the guy behind the counter gave me this look that clearly said "Dude, you should have ordered your ham three weeks ago." They told me they wouldn't have any more smoked hams available until after Christmas. I didn't want a grocery store ham and there weren't many places nearby that smoked their own meat. I finally went to a good barbecue restaurant and convinced them to sell me some smoked ham by the pound. They only wanted to sell me a whole ham, but it was huge and I knew it would take Janet and I a month to eat it. "I only need three pounds," I said. "Your customers will order the rest of this ham before you close today anyway." The restaurant was crowded with hungry people and the manager agreed. I got my ham.

I also got the roof fixed today. At least I hope I got the leak fixed. One of the guys on the crew showed me a place where it was pretty obvious that water was getting in. They made their repairs and drove away. We'll see what happens when the rain returns. I'm cautiously optimistic at this point. The weather will still be good tomorrow and the elastomer coating should have a full 48 hours to cure before the rainy weather returns.

I think I'm on good terms with the roofer again. He agreed that even under the best of conditions today's repairs were probably only temporary. Its' going to take some serious work to make this type of membrane roof completely reliable. Silicon definitely preforms well under standing water. That's good. Unfortunately silicon doesn't really stick to anything. That's why the material is often used to make molds to manufacture other products. If I've got a roof that won't stick to the rest of the house, I've got a big problem. It's probably time to forget about high-tech solutions and go back to a conventional roof.

Dash missed the puppy training pad last night, so I was back to going outside in the middle of the night, cleaning his blanket with a garden hose and then throwing it in the washing machine on the high temperature disinfect cycle. Dash moves around too much at night. It's almost impossible to keep these absorbent puppy training pads under his butt. I'm not giving up though. I went to the storage warehouse after breakfast and brought back a large carton of the pads that we used to use for Dot.

Dash got an early Christmas present today. Another box of Devon's Doggie Delights arrived in the mail. It always amazes me when someone manages to build a successful business just by selling to Facebook friends, but the lady who owns this company appears to have done it. Half the people we know with Dalmatians order from her regularly. Devon, not surprisingly is the owner's Dalmatian. Dash absolutely loves these treats. We always know when it's time to order more.

I wish Dash knew when it was time to pee and poop. I think that's too much to ask at this point unfortunately. A good day for Dash is when he is able to get up on his own and walk around for a while without falling over. I guess that's a good day for anyone who's growing older. If I don't fall over tomorrow, I'm going back to the gym. I definitely need some exercise before we eat our Christmas ham.

Two sisters are today's Dalmatians of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, December 21, 2018

Day 3284 - Winter Solstice

Now we're talking. For the first time in over a week, I felt like I was actually making progress. The dryer is fixed. I'm glad I didn't try to do the job myself. I would have ordered the wrong parts and I don't think I would have had the strength to remove the dryer drum. I wish everyone who came to the house was as good as the appliance repairmen. So far, he's fixed the refrigerator, the washing machine, and now the dryer. The only thing left is the dishwasher.

The guy who's going to give me a bid on replacing the roof came over to measure things and take a look at the situation this morning. He seemed knowledgable and thought he could put a pitch on the roof without destroying the appearance of the house. We'll see how the bid comes in. I have a feeling that adding a pitch to the oddly shaped roof will be quite expensive. I'm thinking about a metal roof too. If the current leak can be successfully repaired, I may be able to postpone replacing the roof for a while. I have my doubts though. Nothing has worked so far.

The crew that is repairing the leak got approval from their boss to complete the work today and they will be coming back tomorrow morning. I hope they are successful, because there are thunderstorms in the forecast for Christmas Day. I don't think anyone expects these repairs to be permanent, but if they work, they will give me time to develop an effective plan to re-roof the house later in the Spring.

For the first time ever, Dash pooped on a puppy training pad last night. He not only hit the target one, he did the same thing again on a fresh pad three hours later. I don't know whether this was a random accident or a training breakthrough, but it sure made me happy. Clean up was so much easier this morning. I've still got an entire case of puppy training pads in the storage warehouse that Dot never used. I'll go get them tomorrow and hope for the best. If we could get Dash used to using these things, life would be a lot easier.

It didn't seem like the first day of Winter today. We've already had some very cold weather, but today was rather nice. It was warm enough that we tried to give Dash a bath outside this afternoon. He didn't like the idea, but he certainly needed a cleanup. After your dog has sat in poop a few times, it takes a real effort to totally eliminate the smell. I think we succeeded. We've got a clean dog, a dryer that doesn't squeal anymore, and a promise to fix the roof leak tomorrow.

I wonder how much further the stock market is going to drop? This sell off has become a little alarming. I depend on my investments for a retirement income and I don't really think I have time to recover from another big crash like we had in 2007. Markets can go down very quickly, but usually they take a long time to recover. I hope we're near a market bottom, because I've still got to fix a lot of things around the house and the money's got to come from somewhere.

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

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Day 3283

I was optimistic when I got up this morning. The sky was clear. The temperature was warm. It seemed like a good day to fix the roof. Unfortunately, the roof had other ideas. It still wasn't dry. I tried to clear away the remaining water before the roofers arrived but I wasn't successful. When the roofing crew joined me on the roof, they agreed that the coating couldn't be applied until the roof was completely dry. I wonder when that's going to happen? Probably next Spring.

While we were up on the roof, we located a few more areas where water had gotten under the supposedly impenetrable silicon coating. Since the repair job seems to be growing by the day, the crew did what any workers would do. They called their boss. Hopefully someone with the authority to approve more extensive repairs will come out tomorrow. I kept reminding the guys that there are thunderstorms in the forecast for next week. I'd like to think my roof is a high priority for these guys, but I doubt it. There's always someone else with an even bigger problem.

Oddly, the other roofers I contacted to give me a bid for completely replacing the roof haven't showed up either. I have a feeling that all roofers are the same. They are completely dependent on the weather and most of them have more jobs than they can handle.

Although the weather was nice, it sure was windy. For the most part I like the wind because it blows the leaves off the roof. Today's wind was a bit excessive though. It blew some of the roof off the greenhouse. The greenhouse needs repairs even more than the house, but it is a relatively low priority.  Neither Janet or I have a green thumb. We quit trying to grow plants in the greenhouse years ago. Now it is mostly just a big shed to store broken lawnmowers and tillers.

Dash has stopped waking up when it is time for him to poop at night. As recently as two months ago, he would wake me up around 4:30 AM and we would both race to the back door. Now, he just poops in his sleep. It's almost become a nightly occurrence. If I wake up to go to the bathroom, I always check to see if there is a pile of poop near his tail. Usually there is. I've developed a technique for picking the stuff up without waking Dash or making a mess on his blanket. When I'm successful, I can just go back to bed and postpone changing the soiled blanket until morning. If Dash has strayed off his blanket during the night, all bets are off though. Occasionally I'm faced with a huge mess.

Tomorrow I get the dryer fixed. The appliance repairman is much more reliable than the roofers, so I think there is a good chance of success. I've already called in part numbers, so hopefully the parts we need will already be on the truck. It will be a relief not to hear the irritating high pitched squealing noise anymore, especially since I'm doing laundry every single day. Dash has turned our home into a laundromat.

The only bad thing about getting the dryer fixed tomorrow is that I won't be able to go out for breakfast. We're completely out of fresh fruit, but pancakes sound good. I'll make pancakes and sausages. On that optimistic note, I'm going to take the trash out to the curb and call it a day.

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Day 3282

I had a feeling that things weren't going to go well today when we walked Dash in a heavy fog this morning. The fog was so thick that my jacket quickly became damp. If the roads, the fields, and even my own clothing were wet, I was sure that the roof was wet too. I kept hoping that the roofers had a plan to deal with this situation. As it turned out, their plan was just not to show up. Late in the day I got a message saying that they'd try again tomorrow and hoped that the weather would cooperate. It's always easier when roof problems develop in the Summer. It gets so hot that moisture evaporates quickly. On cold, damp days like this, I think the roof might stay wet until Spring.

Getting the leak fixed before the next big rain is going to be a cliff hanger. I hope that we succeed, because there's going to be a huge mess in the house if we don't. There's not much I can do at this point. I don't even know where the leak is coming from. I'm not sure the roofers do either. I'm not looking for miracles. A temporary fix that will keep the house dry until I can deal with getting a new roof installed later in the Spring would be fine.

I'm trying to get organized. I got all my prescriptions renewed for another year at the pharmacy and then contacted my favorite appliance repairman to get the dryer fixed. A Facebook friend suggested that I could fix the dryer myself, but the utility room is very cramped and I've got bad knees. I'd rather have a younger person do the heavy lifting. I'm not even sure how we shoehorned the washer and dryer inside this small room. It seems impossible now. At any rate, if I can get the leaks in the ceiling and the awful screeching sound in the dryer to stop, that's enough for this year. There's plenty of time in 2019 to deal with some of the other problems.

We forgot to put the rubber sheet and special dog blankets on the bed last night before we went to bed. Getting Dash up again so we could start over was not an easy task. Luckily I found a new use for the sausage balls Janet made as Christmas treats. You can get a dog to do almost anything with a few sausage balls. It was a good thing that we went to the extra trouble to remake the bed. Dash pooped and peed in the bed last night. He doesn't pee a lot, but a little squirts out when he tries to get up. It's only going to get worse. So far, Dash shows no interest in sleeping on the floor. We're going to be dealing with this for a long time.

The stock market tanked again today and by the end of the day, all gains for 2018 had been erased. This sucks. A well respected analyst on one of the business channels this morning said that the market has become a casino. He's right. There is no rational reason for these wild swings we've been seeing lately. Jeez. Everybody knew the Fed was going to raise interest rates today. Why was it such a surprise? How can you plan for the future in a world like this? Truthfully, I don't think anyone has the answer.

I just learned that there is a 50% chance of rain tonight. Give me a break. There's probably a 90% chance that Dash will poop in the bed. That's life these days. I've got the buckets and the washing machine ready.

Ranger is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Day 3281

I had a brief moment of panic this morning when I looked at the weather forecast and saw that there was a chance of rain tomorrow. Where were the roofers? They were supposed to return on Monday. I sent out e-mail and text messages explaining my worries about an exposed roof surviving the next rain, but by noon the weather forecast had changed anyway. Now, I just think it's supposed to be windy tomorrow. Texas weather is totally unpredictable. As of this evening, I think that the guys are supposed to finish the repairs tomorrow, but I'll believe it when I see it.

I'm skeptical that these repairs will succeed for very long, but as least they should give me time to get bids for replacing the roof. I'm afraid that 2019 will be the year of fixing the house. It's impossible to avoid my crumbling infrastructure much longer. I'll have to prioritize the repairs to be able to afford everything. I guess the big question is which problem is the most irritating. Right now the dryer is pretty high on the list. I'm drying a load of wash right now and the rotating drum is making an awful squealing noise again. The cracked shower tiles in the bathroom are a big problem, but regular use of the wet/dry vacuum seems to be keeping the problem from becoming serious. The sliding glass door to the atrium needs to be fixed, but we never use the atrium anyway. At the moment, the solution for the damaged sheetrock in the ceiling is just not to look up. All of this will get taken care of eventually, but none of it seems as important as an incontinent dog with a bad heart and failing rear legs.

Dash got me up at 4:30 AM to pee, but I couldn't convince him to poop while I had him outside. I knew what was going to happen, but what are you going to do? Dash went back to bed as I expected, fell into a deep sleep, and pooped in the bed an hour later. The bed is well protected now, so cleanup has become easier. You just have to make sure that Dash doesn't wake up or move before you can remove the poop. I used to hate our washing machine, but it has been doing yeoman's duty lately. The machine is actually more reliable than I've been giving it credit for.

I watched the latest episode of the National Geographic Channel's Mars series while I was waiting for a reply from the roofers. At first I was unable to view the episode and got a message saying that my cable provider only offered limited access to this channel. That sucks. I deleted all the cookies on my computer, the message went away, and I has access to the latest episode again. It seems bizarre to me that so many large websites depend on the use of cookies. Why would anybody want thousands of tracking cookies on their computer? I usually delete mine at the end of every day. Every time I do this I get "unusual activity" messages from Facebook and Google. They must think I buy a new computer every week. If you haven't deleted your cookies, do it now. Delete your browser history too. Everything still works, but nobody is tracking you for a while.

I hope I see the roofers tomorrow. Even if the repairs aren't permanent, it will be one less thing to worry about. I've got a few more bills to pay, but I'm almost caught up for the year. I don't think there are any more surprises. I'm not even going to look at my brokerage account until the market climbs back above 25,000. Hey, why make myself miserable. The big thing on my to-do list right now is finding a nice smoked ham for Christmas.

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

Day 3280

Janet and I both wonder how we used to accomplish so much when we were younger. It seems to take so long to do even simple things now. It's a good thing I don't have a full schedule these days. By the time I make the bed, clean up dog poop, get Dash dressed for his morning walk, and fix my breakfast, I'm ready to call it a day.

It's dark when I wake up, but by the time I finish making the bed, it is already time to get Dash ready for his walk. I guess I could just leave the rubber sheet and protective pads on the bed, but I carefully fold all the nighttime bedding and put it away so the bedroom looks nice for a few hours. Protecting Dash's feet for his walks is a complicated ritual. First we put on a par of fitted bandages that are secured with velcro. Over the bandages goes a cotton sock and on top of all this go the Ultra-Paws boots. Dash has four pairs of these boots now because I need to keep reinforcing the toe with Shoe Goo to cover worn spots caused when Dash drags his feet. It takes the Shoe Goo 48 hours to fully cure, so I rotate the boots to make sure there is always a good pair available. In addition to his special footwear, Dash also wears a brace for a partial ACL tear in his right knee along with his Ruffwear harness that I can use to keep him from slipping and falling. Needless to say, I can get dressed much quicker than Dash can.

It was cold and overcast on our walk this morning, but there was no sign of rain. Knock on wood. I'm going to be nervous about the roof until the roofers com back to finish their repairs. In fairness, the damaged areas probably need to dry another day before they can be successfully patched, but I still wish I'd seen the crew working today.

I didn't accomplish a lot today. I never do. I picked up a Plavix prescription for Dash at the pharmacy and paid a bunch of December bills. I still need to pay my 2018 property taxes, but I've got until the end of the year to write that check. I always pay my bills on time, but I find it irritating living on a fixed income. Especially when the stock market is tanking. Hey, welcome to retirement. When I was working I always felt like I controlled my own destiny. Now I feel like the world is always throwing me a curve.

The house smells good tonight. Janet is doing Christmas cooking this evening. Most of the goodies will be given away as gifts, but maybe there will be some leftovers for me. I'm sure that Dash is thinking the same thing. I especially like the sausage balls. We should have these around all year. Of course, if we had Christmas food around all year, I'd be twenty pounds heavier.

I hope I see the roofers tomorrow. Sadly, even if they are successful in patching the leak, it is only a temporary solution. The high-tech silicon membrane just wasn't a good solution for this house. My new year's resolution is to start over and put on a new roof. I'd rather have a new car, but it's much more important to have a dry house.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Day 3279

I don't actually know anybody at the gym. There are a lot of familiar faces though. I see the same people almost every week. They are persistent. I am too. It's easy to imagine that the people I see at the gym try a little harder than everybody else. Some are young, many are old, but they all seem to have one thing in common: they don't give up. I've always admired persistence, so maybe I'm just imagining things. I don't think so though. Nobody is forcing these Sunday warriors to go to the gym. Maybe, like me, they all realize that you've just got to keep moving.

I can't even remember who let Dash outside last night. I woke up several times, but I don't recall Dash going to the back door. Janet doesn't remember getting up either. If nobody let Dash outside, why was there a trail of poop on the back porch? Maybe the poop was from yesterday, but I doubt it. I probably did get up. After you become significantly sleep deprived, everything just blurs together. Whatever happened last night, Dash didn't poop in the bed. That's probably all that matters.

Since my Avid subscriptions are about to expire, I decided that I'd better upgrade everything to the current version while I still had the chance. Upgrading Avid products is always time consuming and it  made me realize that I hadn't used Pro Tools or Media Composer at all this year. I went through the same upgrade exercise last December when I was faced with the same decision. Jeez. How long do you need the latest business software when you don't even have a business? This should be an easy decision, but it isn't.

What happened to yesterday's clear blue skies? It was cloudy and much colder today. Now, I'm worried that it will rain again before the roofers return again to complete their repairs. There is still no rain in the forecast, but I quit believing weather forecasts a long time ago. Texas weather is just too unpredictable. I definitely missed the Geminid Meteor Shower again this year. It's been cloudy for several years on the day the meteors arrive. It was also cloudy on the day the Neptune was so close to Mars that I may have been able to spot the distant planet for the first time. Oh, well. We've had a lot of nasty weather this December. Let's just hope it stays dry until the repair crew finishes their work on the roof. I'm sick of water dripping from the ceiling.

I repaired more of Dash's Ultra-Paws protective boots this afternoon. I can't decide whether Dash is dragging his rear legs more than he used to or if Ultra-Paws has started selling a lower quality boot. Maybe they switched to a different Chinese manufacturer. Last year Dash could wear these boots for several months before they began to show significant wear. Now, I see wear after a single use. I'm definitely using a lot of Shoe Goo these days. I wish it weren't so difficult to keep Dash moving but I'm glad that he still enjoys his daily walks. Dash would fit right in at my gym. He's pretty persistent too.

I've got a big stack of bills to pay tomorrow. December always seems like the most expensive month.  There are a lot of things that seem to come due at the end of the year. If I start fixing the house, there will be even more bills. Where is the Santa Claus Rally this year? So far, the market hasn't been very encouraging. We're looking forward to a nice Christmas, but I don't expect to find a new roof, reliable major appliances, and market stability under the tree. Even Santa has his limits.

Hannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Day 3278 - Blogiversary

It's hard to believe that I've been doing this for ten years. That's an entire decade without missing a single day. I always thought that if I just kept writing, it would eventually start to mean something. I'm not sure if this nightly journal means anything at all, but I see no reason to quit writing. For better or worse, blogging has become like breathing.

A lot has changed in ten years. When I started writing, I didn't give a lot of thought to what would eventually replace the world of work. I didn't have time to think about retirement because I was very busy. I think about this now, but still don't know what replaces work. Retirement seems awkward and strange. I never thought that I'd live in a country as polarized and divided as we've become. This seems strange as well. I'd prefer that we could all get along with each other. I never thought that having access to good doctors might keep Janet and I from moving. I never thought that my house might start falling apart before I did. Houses are supposed to be permanent.

Ten years later I'm starting to realize that nothing is permanent. I've outlived many of the friends I went to college with. Spot is gone. Petey and Greta are gone. Even Dot is gone. I'm glad that Janet and Dash seem indestructible. We all need something in our lives that seems indestructible.

The blog is far from indestructible. Google could pull the plug at any time. They already decided to abandon Google+ and many other products that were supposed to change our lives. Does anyone remember Google Glass? I wonder if Blogger is next? I don't really have a plan B if someone takes my blogging platform away. I don't think I have the energy or even the desire to export ten years worth of musings to Wordpress.

For now, I'll continue writing. Why not? I've got nothing to lose. Maybe this journal will still mean something eventually. Someday a PhD candidate might use the blog to write a thesis on how opinions change over time. I might even win an award for having the last blog standing some day. I doubt that anything will happen at all. Most of you are just here for the dog stories. Maybe that's enough. I think dog stories matter.

It wasn't a bad day to begin my second decade blogging. Dash had a good day. I'm even making some progress with the roof. Getting on the roofer's emergency list seems to have made a difference. Two guys showed up this morning to evaluate the roof. The wet areas will need to dry out for a few days, but they thought they could repair the leak next week. Several friends have suggested good roofers to completely replace the roof. I'm going to get bids from them. Hey, the sky was clear today, there is no rain in the forecast, and Dash was feeling good. It was easy to feel like I'm making progress.

Jasper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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