Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Day 3555

The doctor's office called with the lab results from yesterday's visit. Everything looks good. I think my health is better today than it was ten years ago. It's amazing what a healthy diet and a little exercise can do. A lack of stress probably helps too. Running a small business was stressful at times. So was caring for very sick dogs. I really miss the dogs, but I don't miss all the worries.

It rained a little today. South Texas is getting some serious downpours, but we just got a few showers. I didn't even hear the rain. I was surprised to go outside and see that the driveway was wet. It's hardly worth going up on the roof for this amount of rain. It's still so hot that any standing water will evaporate quickly. Hopefully, we got enough water to revive the grass in the front yard. It's been looking pretty brown lately.

There are a lot of people who walk faster than me in the park, but there are at least two that walk much slower. I see them every day. There are very old and both use walkers. When I have finished my five miles, they have usually only traveled a few hundred yards. I initially thought these people were lost or abandoned, but they live in the neighborhood and are just doing the same thing I am on a smaller scale. This is probably me in a few years. I hope they manage to keep moving. You've got to keep moving and you've got to know your own pace. I used to see a guy at the gym every Sunday who always wore a t-shirt that said "I wish I was still 85." One day the guy disappeared and I assumed he died. He had a good run though. He had to be at least 95 when I would see him on the treadmill.

The bills from the Davis Mountains trip are starting to come in. The damage wasn't as bad as I thought. Actually a modest road trip is pretty affordable. You get a lot better gas mileage on the highway and restaurants in small towns are much more affordable than what you find in Dallas. The only downside is all the truck traffic. I wish companies would start shipping their freight by train again. A constant stream of eighteen wheelers can ruin just about any long drive.

Should I go see Ad Astra? I see almost every new science fiction movie, but this one is being pushed so hard by the studio and the critics that I almost want to skip it. I did skip the latest episode of Country Music this evening. I made it through the Hank Williams era, but I don't think another four hours will will teach me much more. Ken Burns needs to make shorter movies.

Tomorrow is another day. I think I've eaten most of the left overs, so I may need to go to the grocery store. I'll probably finish the history of the Davis Mountains I've been reading. What does it mean when the early history of West Texas becomes more interesting than Brad Pitt going to Neptune?

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Day 3554

Today was a little different. Instead of taking a walk right after breakfast, I turned on the computer and recreated the missing business card. Why didn't I do this in the beginning? It only took me about fifteen minutes to redo the card from scratch. I spent hours looking unsuccessfully for the old files. I uploaded the layout to one of the same online printing companies I thought might have printed the original card and I was done. Is there a lesson in this? Probably not. If there is an easy way and a hard way, I usually pick the hard way.

After I got the business card taken care of, I edited some of the new Dalmatian pictures I've been taking and got dressed to go to my doctor's appointment. This was just a yearly checkup with a specialist I don't see much anymore. I was hoping that they'd have a better nurse this time. I remember she had a hard time finding a vein during my last visit and ended up sticking me multiple times. You'll never feel it when a good phlebotomist draws your blood. An inexperienced one can make you want to skip your appointment.

Todays blood draw was fairly painless, but my blood pressure seemed abnormally high. I mentioned this to the doctor and he just laughed. "We don't even need your blood pressure," he told me. "We're required by law to take a reading before every exam though, so we just buy the cheapest monitors we can find." "Throw that cuff away," he told his nurse. "It's been reading high all day." The doctor seemed pleased with my exam and said that I didn't need to see him again until this time next year. I don't have nearly as many doctor's appointment anymore. I feel healthier and apparently the most of my doctors agree.

I finally did a side-by-side comparison of the old and new dehumidifiers today. The old one clearly isn't working as well as the new one. It's hard for me to throw the old machine away because it still looks brand new. Rationally, the dehumidifier isn't worth fixing. I've had trouble finding a repairmen who works on this brand and I know that the repairs would cost almost as much as a new machine. This is why we bought the new dehumidifier in the first place. Too bad. I was kind of hoping I could fix the old machine and then we'd have two. Hey, you can't have too many dehumidifiers.

This morning, I was convinced that I wouldn't have time to take my long walk today, but when I got home from the doctor's office, I decided to walk anyway. Skipping a day now and then is no big deal, but I've gotten hooked on taking a lot of steps for my Fitbit to count. A walk at the end of the day is really no different than a walk in the morning. It was still way too hot.

I watched the third episode of Ken Burns documentary about Country Music. After the first hour, I got bored and wandered away from the TV to do something else. Ken Burns films are well done and really interesting, but they are way too long. I think I've got the message now. I'm not sure if I'll watch the final episode at all.

I'm sure that tomorrow won't seem nearly as busy as today. I don't have many busy days anymore. I'll figure out something to do though. I always do.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

Day 3553

You develop new routines when you are retired. Monday's are reserved for the Dalmatians now. It's a good day to go to the kennel because they are typically slow on Monday's and we don't get in the way. First on the list was taking Sock to the vet so he could continue to get his skin condition treated. His coat is already looking a lot better. Jasmine and Jelly Bean, our two new females are much more relaxed now. They were both nervous when they first arrived at the kennel, but now will take treats from your hand and enjoy being petted. They love being together. Rolly is recovering from his heartworm treatment and doesn't need to wear a cone anymore. Hank is doing well and hasn't had any bloody stools since returning from the vet. Charlie is still a bundle of energy, but he's so smart. I'm impressed at how well he's learning basic commands. Treasure is a happy girl who loves to roll over to get a treat. We took her to the vet on our way home so they could examine a small growth that has recently appeared on her belly. Hopefully it is nothing serious. She had another non-cancerous growth removed when she first entered the rescue program. Bandit has already gone to his forever home. Hopefully, the rest of these guys will find their homes soon as well.

I walked early today because I knew we would be spending the afternoon at the kennel. It's hard to believe that I'll being wearing a jacket in a few months. It's still so hot that I arrive home drenched in sweat. I'm not going to try walking any longer for a while. Five miles is plenty. My feet hurt and I start feeling tired after this distance. Maybe I need better shoes, but I suspect what I really need is to be a few years younger. I think I'm walking briskly, but a lot of people are passing me. Some of the younger people I see on the trail are walking a lot faster than I am.

I haven't heard anything from Sky and Telescope yet. It always makes me nervous when I submit something and don't get a quick response. Did they even receive the article? Did they hate it? Some magazines take a long time to respond or make editorial decisions. As much as I hate waiting, that's exactly what I'll do for the time being. It's not good form to bother the editors.

I ended up watching the second episode of that new Ken Burns documentary tonight. I wish these things weren't so long, but I'll probably end up watching the entire series. It's not that I have that much else to do, but if I watch a two hour TV show, I can't finish the blog before Perry Mason starts. I wonder why this matters to me? I've seen all these old episodes three times already. I was late getting started writing tonight anyway because I'm still looking for that old business card file. Why can't I find that thing? I've found dozens of other decades old work projects. I need to stop looking and just do the thing over again.

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Day 3552

I'll have to admit that I'm impressed. Our road is already open again. The highway department was supposed to take three days to demolish the bridge, but they finished what they needed to do in just a single day. Half of the bridge is still there so cars can keep crossing while they start building the new bridge. When the first half of the new bridge is finished, they'll tear down the remaining portion of the old bridge. I wasn't expecting this much coordination. Maybe this project won't be as bad as I thought.

Whenever I go to the gym early, I think I should do this all the time. There's more time for other things when I get my workout finished by mid-morning. My workout hasn't changed, but I've noticed that my heart rate is lower than it was a few years ago. My body seems to be getting used to the routine. This probably means that I should step things up a bit. I do seem to be getting stronger. The first day I extended my morning walk to five miles I thought I was going to die, but now this distance seems more or less normal.

Maybe I'll start wanting to exercise harder and walk longer. I hope not though. I like being healthy, but I'm not really cut out to be a gym rat. Believe it or not, I still need time to do other things. Today I needed to figure out why my phone could connect to the WiFi router, but my computer couldn't. The computer could still connect to the T-Mobile hotspot, but couldn't find the U-Verse WiFi. There was nothing wrong with U-Verse though, because everything else in the house was working fine. I spent way too much time trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the end, I solved the problem the same way I solve most electronic problems. I turned everything off and then on again.

I ended up watching the first segment of the new Ken Burns documentary about Country Music tonight. I always think I'm just going to watch a few minutes of a Ken Burns film, but I inevitably get sucked in and end up watching every minute of the entire lengthy series. I'm not sure how long this new documentary is, but I'm positive it will last for several days. They all do. His film about the Civil War was 11 hours long. His subsequent film about World War II was even longer. These documentaries are so well done though that you don't mind the length. After a while, you realize that it is essential to the complicated story he is trying to tell. I was never that interested in history while I was in school. These documentaries are fascinating though. I've learned a lot. I think we could all benefit from learning more about our past.

It's hard to believe that we're already halfway through September. It still seems like August to me. Pretty soon it will be time for the State Fair again. Even sooner than the fair will be the Dalmatian Rescue Golf Tournament. I haven't gone to this tournament for quite a while because I was always busy tending to sick dogs. Dot and Dash don't need me anymore, so I'll be back taking pictures of the golfers again this year.

Janet and I will be back up at the Dalmatian Rescue kennel tomorrow. Sock needs to go back to the vet for his skin condition and the rest of the dogs just need some play time.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Day 3551

I got asked to reprint a business card I'd designed years and years ago. I couldn't even remember doing the card, but it seemed like something I might have done. I looked through my files and couldn't find anything. I did find hundreds of projects I'd completely forgotten about. I tried to remember printers I used to use and looked up my account on several that still had websites. Nothing again. One printer I've used dozens of times had purged all my files. My folder of old jobs was completely empty. This was a weird feeling. When you retire, it doesn't take long for you to be forgotten. Jeez. It hasn't been that long. Is it that weird to want to reprint a twelve year old business card? I could have recreated the card from scratch in less time than I took looking for the missing file tonight. I should have been able to find the file though. I keep good records. I always thought printers kept old jobs too. Live and learn. I guess I'll have to recreate the business card from scratch.

As I expected, our road was a mess when the highway department finally closed it to demolish the bridge. There were long lines of cars trying to exit to the poorly planned detour routes. It's going to be a pain to travel North now. I guess I'm going to have to just head South for a while. I was able to get gas, do my grocery shopping, pick up a prescription, and go to the post office by heading in a Southerly direction. Eventually I'll have to go North though.

Somebody already took the two lawn mowers I took out to the curb the other day. That didn't take long. If they were just trying to sell scrap metal, they're probably happy with their find. If they were planning to get the mowers working again and actually use them, there's going to be some frustration. You can't even get parts for one of these old mowers and the other one needs a lot of work. I'm glad the mowers got picked up though. The city might not have even taken them on bulky trash day because there was still a little gas in the tanks.

The White Pelican has been gone for a week. If he's gone for good, the bird sure picked a weird time to migrate. His buddies will be returning for the Winter soon. Maybe the bird knew this. I wonder if birds can be antisocial? Maybe this Pelican just wants to be left alone.

I definitely paid a price for the barbecue I ate last night. I woke up with heartburn several times during the night. Was the tasty meal worth it? Who knows. I know exactly what to eat to avoid acid reflux, but it gets boring. It's a shame that the things that bring the most pleasure usually cause the most trouble. I'll definitely be eating barbecue, chili, and pizza again, but I'll give it a rest for a while. When I eat healthy, I sleep better. A good night's sleep trumps just about anything these days.

It's back to the gym tomorrow. This week sure went quickly. I never did get my 20,000 steps yesterday. I fell asleep 37 steps short.

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Day 3550

It looks like the highway department is already late on their bridge project. Our road was supposed to close today, but now it looks like it won't close until late tomorrow evening. From what I've read, the new bridge won't have any more lanes than the old bridge but will have better sidewalks. Pretty expensive sidewalks if you ask me. Construction is supposed to be finished by March of next year, but that seems unlikely. Highway projects never seem to get finished on time.

I thought today would be a good day to see if I could fix the old dehumidifier. I've been meaning to do this for a long time, but the unit has proved very difficult to disassemble. I finally got the thing apart after removing almost forty screws. Even then, it was difficult to gain access to the guts of the machine. The dehumidifier is put together like a Rubik's Cube. I patiently disassembled the unit one slow step at a time and then discovered what the words "sealed system" mean. Although there was plenty of dust inside the unit, the parts I really wanted to clean were inaccessible. I was able to clean the front surface of the evaporator coil, but the rest was out of reach. Maybe my cosmetic cleaning job will help, but I doubt it. I should have just believed the instruction manual when it said "no user serviceable parts."

I wasted a lot of time today with my futile repair efforts, but at least I was inside. Our Fall heat wave doesn't show any signs of abating. When I gave up on the dehumidifier and decided to take my walk, I was wondering if we were ever going to get any Fall weather. Hey, it's supposed to be nice in September. I read that somewhere. For now, I'll continue to drink lots of water and sweat even more.

I ate too much today. Not only did I have a big breakfast, we went out for dinner at one of my favorite smokehouses. I had Burnt Ends, which are even tastier than a rack of ribs. The food was delicious but barbecue is always too salty. I'm going to have heartburn tonight. I don't know why I continue to eat food that I know will give me heartburn. There are plenty of things that don't. I do try to eat a healthy plant-based diet, but pizza and barbecue are just too tempting at times.

I doubt that I'll be eating much for breakfast tomorrow, but there will be plenty of errands to run. Saturday's are always busy. I need to get more fresh fruit for my smoothies. I need to get some batteries and light bulbs at Home Depot. Maybe I'll do a side-by-side test of the old and new dehumidifiers. If the old one still isn't working well, I guess it goes out to the curb with the lawn mowers.

The new Dalmatians are finding homes quickly. It looks like Bandit will be the next to find a home. He might get adopted tomorrow. I wish more people would take a look at Charlie and Treasure. They've both been at the kennel a long time. Everyone finds their forever home eventually. I think the dogs are more patient than I am.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Day 3549

I filled my car with old gasoline containers, rusty propane cylinders, half empty cans of paint, motor oil, antifreeze, and a ton of old non-functional spray cans filled with remnants of bug spray, WD-40, household cleaners and other unidentified liquids for a trip to the hazardous waste disposal center. There were four red plastic gas cans, each filled with a different amount of gas. I don't use gas powered tools very often, so when it came time to fill the tank, I never could remember what kind of additives I'd added to the gas. Two cycle motors needed one thing and four cycle motors needed another. It was always easier to just buy a new gas can and start over from scratch.

Home Depot has made a lot of money from me over the years because I routinely ended up buying things I already had. I threw away a lot of duplicate cans of old, hardened spackling paste and sheetrock mud today. I've been meaning to get rid of this junk for a long time but it is a lot of trouble. I hope the effort was worthwhile. The greenhouse is almost ready for repairs to begin. The two non-functional lawn movers have been taken to the curb for the bulky trash truck along with a lot of other broken lawn and garden stuff. The mowers will probably be gone before the trash truck arrives. There are always people who cruise the streets a few days before big trash day looking for metal they can sell.

I was pretty ambitious today, considering that it is only Thursday. After I cleared away the old hazardous waste, I charged up the one remaining electric lawn mower and mowed the grass. Hopefully, I won't need to do this again, but I probably will. Sometimes the grass continues growing through the end of the year here in Texas.

With all this activity, it wasn't surprising that I didn't get started on my five mile walk until mid-afternoon. I was tired, but I had vague aspirations to do 20,000 steps on a weekday. I don't think I've done that before. I've only taken 19,000 steps so far, but the night is young. I still need to do a load of laundry.

The highway department looks like they're almost ready to demolish the bridge near our house. Some of the inconvenient detours are already in place. The road that travels under the bridge is supposed to close tomorrow. I don't know when they are actually going to blow up the bridge. We'll see what happens. I don't have a good feeling about this. Road construction projects take forever and they're always a much bigger mess than anyone anticipated. I still don't understand why the bridge is coming down. There is nothing wrong with it. I traveled over it one last time today.

I'm going to have to rethink where I go to breakfast tomorrow. Most of the regular places I go require that I drive under the doomed bridge.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Day 3548 - 9/11

I'm still living in the same house, sitting at the same kitchen table, watching the same TV at breakfast as I was on this day eighteen years ago. I haven't forgotten. Memories fade though. With each passing year, more and more people will never remember this day as I do. They weren't here. There are young men and women serving in the military right now who weren't even born when the twin towers fell. I don't think these people and those who come after them will ever realize how much has changed.

When we were visiting The National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg recently, I remember thinking how little I really knew about World War II. This is understandable because I wasn't born until three years after the war ended. I never learned about all the sacrifices my Mom and Dad made. They didn't talk about those days much and high school history classes gloss over a lot of things. My Dad would have experienced this museum much differently. He was a Navy man and served in the Pacific during World War II.

I only have one picture of the World Trade Center. It was taken out of my hotel window at the UN Plaza. I used to stay at this hotel when I worked in New York. Although I have never lived in Manhattan, the city was frequently a destination during my ad agency days. I've walked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. I've taken the express elevator to the top of the South Tower and looked out over the city from the rooftop observation deck. When I watched the towers fall while eating breakfast at our kitchen table I felt like the world I was familiar with was ending. In retrospect, this feeling was surprisingly accurate. The world hasn't been the same since.

I'd like to see a day when the country is unified again the way we were the day after September 11. We're a long way away from that now. When you look at the divided country we've become, it almost seems like the terrorists won. Hopefully, we will find our way again and discover a way to come together. Tribalism and petty bickering is slowly destroying us.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the state of the world. Day to day life is challenging enough for me. Today, Janet and I started to clean out the greenhouse so repairs can begin. What a lot of broken stuff I've managed to accumulate. Instead of fixing old lawn mowers, it was easier to just buy new ones. I kept the old mowers though, thinking that some day I might get the urge to fix them. This same perverse logic is why my storage warehouse is still full of old, obsolete computers. If I lived in the country and had a lot of acreage, there's a good chance that every old car I ever owned would be covered in rust out in the front yard.

The long awaited successor to the Land Rover Defender has finally arrived. What were they thinking? After Toyota completely botched the reintroduction of the iconic FJ40, its almost like Land Rover couldn't wait to say "hold my beer." I loved my old Defender. Not so sure about this complex, high-tech replacement.

I doubt that it matters. After we finish fixing up the house and yard, I won't be able to afford a new car anyway. At any rate, life goes on. I did my five mile walk this morning. I drank my fruit smoothie while watching TV pundits talk about 9/11 and then wrote a letter to my sister. Next year I'll probably do exactly the same thing.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Day 3547

The big tree that fell in our yard is gone. The falling tree also knocked over a large Photinia that we had let grow into a small tree. That tree is gone as well. The yard is starting to look bare now that we have lost our Elm tree and a large portion of one of our Oak trees. I'm afraid more trees will go when the tree guy returns later this month to remove what is left of the Elm tree and evaluate the rest of the trees. These are all very old trees that are near the end of their natural life. I guess I'd rather lose them than have one fall on my house.

I was glad the tree guy was able to come out today but apparently my neighbor wasn't. Less than fifteen minutes after the chain saws started, he was complaining about the truck blocking the alley. Jeez. It's all going to be over in an hour. Couldn't you just chill out and wait to park your car for a few minutes? Neighbors are one more reason the emptiness of the Davis Mountains seems so appealing.

I'm glad I called to confirm my appointment before I left for the doctor this afternoon. The lady who answered the phone told me I didn't have an appointment. "What do you mean," I asked. "Just two days ago you told me that my appointment was for 1:20 this afternoon." "I'm sorry," she told me. "That was last year's appointment we were looking at. We never made an appointment for you this year." Once I confirmed that I actually needed an appointment, we rescheduled everything for next week.

I finally finished my article about McDonald Observatory and sent it off to Sky and Telescope. I think it was a pretty good article, but I'm not sure if people are going to be interested in reading about a rainy day at an observatory. The finished article was certainly a bit different than what I had proposed to the editors. Oh, well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I gave it my best shot. I hope the editors find the article interesting and decide to publish it. At any rate, I plan to return to the observatory. Maybe someday I can actually write about seeing distant galaxies through these telescopes.

We found out that Hank has Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I'm glad that he doesn't have cancer, but this disease has no real cure and can be difficult to treat. Not all dogs respond the same way to the disease either. Treatment often involves experimenting with special diets, antibiotics that can reduce inflammation like metronidazole, and probiotic supplements until the right combination is found. Hopefully Hank will respond quickly to treatment. He is too young to be having these problems.

Even though it was a very busy day, I still managed to take my five mile walk. With a long walk under my belt, I always feel like I have accomplished something even when the rest of the day is a disaster. I'm certainly not planning on tomorrow being a disaster, but you never know. There have been a lot of surprises lately.

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

Day 3546

Today seemed busier than usual. The tree guy call me during breakfast and we tried to schedule some time for him to come remove the fallen tree in our yard. There are other trees that need to be dealt with as well, but first things first. No promises were made, but hopefully he will show up tomorrow. Before taking my morning walk, I took some September bills to the post office and picked up my mystery prescription from the pharmacy. It turns out that they switched all my prescriptions to auto-refill. Maybe I have reached the age where they just assumed I was becoming forgetful.

It was a little cooler this morning and there was a nice breeze, but at the end of my walk I was still hot and tired. I'm continuing to walk five miles in the morning now in case I don't have time for a second walk in the afternoon. Lately, I barely have time for the morning walk.

The reason I was trying to get thing finished up quickly this morning was that Janet and I were returning to the boarding kennel to spend some more time with the new Dalmatians. The kennel staff spends a lot of time with our dogs, but we thought that they could all use some additional time to become accustomed to being around people. A little socialization can work wonders. The dogs are already becoming familiar with their surroundings and were much more relaxed than when we visited them on Saturday.

Our rescue dogs tend to get adopted very quickly. While we were at the kennel today a woman arrived who had been looking for a companion for her female Dalmatian after her male passed away. One of the new dogs got along extremely well with her dog and since the lady was well known to Dalmatian Rescue, this lucky boy ended up finding his forever home as well. Two adoptions in three days is really pretty good.

We stayed to play with the remaining dogs who are still looking for a home. They are all getting to know us now and it is fun to watch them grow and develop. Most are already starting to learn some basic commands. Hank seems to be doing well. So far there has been no reoccurrence of his bloody stools. His lab reports haven't come back yet, so we are still waiting for a diagnosis.

By the time we returned home it was almost time for dinner. The day was basically done and it was too late to start any other projects. I never got around to submitting my article to Sky and Telescope, but I should have no problems doing this tomorrow. The only thing on my calendar is a routine checkup at the doctor's office. I imagine that the tree guy will want to come over during my appointment, but I'll worry about that later. It's hard to decide whether it's harder to reschedule tree removal or a doctor's appointment.

Traffic was terrible on the trip to and from the boarding kennel. I'm really missing the empty streets of Fort Davis. All the new dogs are on the website now if you're curious.

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

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Day 3545

I see the same people at the gym every Sunday. Each of them has a completely different routine and just like me, their routine never changes. I occasionally wonder if I should copy someone else's routine. Maybe theirs would produce better results. I never change though. Nobody ever changes. I'm comfortable with my exercise routine. I know exactly how long it takes and how I'll feel afterwards. I guess this just proves that habits can be powerful.

My walks are always the same as well. Part of this is determined by where I live, but there are alternate paths available. Again, I like following the same path. It provides a frame of reference. I can easily tell if I'm going slower or faster. I know, almost to the minute, when I'll return home. Familiar things are relaxing, even when you're doing something strenuous.

Unfamiliar things drive me nuts. I had to update a website this afternoon, and the software I use had gone through a major update. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. It took me forever to add some slides to a simple slideshow, all because the familiar navigation controls I knew by heart were gone. This is one reason I hate software subscriptions. I don't care about the latest updates. Old versions where I am familiar with everything are so much easier to work with. I use extremely old versions of Microsoft Word and Photoshop all the time. I used to use an equally old copy of Dreamweaver too, until the need to produce mobile ready websites made this familiar friend obsolete. Now I use a suite of powerful online software tools that keeps changing every week. Maybe I could keep up with the changes if I used this software everyday. Once a month is clearly asking for trouble. I practically had to relearn the entire program this afternoon. Why do people keep changing things? This is probably my own personal version of "get off my lawn." I'm tired of change. It's a huge nuisance.

I've got a lot of people to contact next week. I need to find our why the pharmacist is saying a prescription is ready that I never ordered. I need to get the tree guy to remove the tree that fell in my back yard. I need to find out when the carpenter is going to start repairing the greenhouse. Is the roofer ever going to bring me a can of silicon material? What happened to the Sequential Circuits synthesizers I was trying to sell?  There are a lot of loose ends.

I never did get around to making final edits on my article for Sky and Telescope. Deciphering the changes in Webflow used up all my time. Actually, taking long walks in the hot sun used up all my time, but that's another story. I still think I'll be able to wrap things up and submit the article tomorrow. Then we'll wait.

I've almost finished my Sunday routine. Tomorrow I begin the Monday routine. I was always fascinated by Andy Warhol's desire to be a machine. There is a comfort in repetition. The odd thing is that even though I make no effort whatsoever to change things up, every day is different anyway.

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

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Day 3544

We moved six dogs today. The new Dalmatians have all finished their initial evaluation at the vet and have been spayed or neutered. They were ready to join the others at the boarding kennel. One lucky boy didn't have to wait long to find his forever home. Less than an hour after he arrived at the kennel, a family from Houston arrived to look at dogs and adopted him.

I think the other five will be adopted soon as well. They are all good looking, healthy dogs with great dispositions. Two have a skin infection that we are treating and one has heartworms, but all in all they are in decent shape. None of them appeared to have had a lot of contact with people before. They were very shy at first and didn't know how to play with toys. Curiosity prevailed over fear though. After about an hour, they were following us around and enjoyed being petted.

Janet and I transported the young male that got adopted today. I wish I'd gotten to know him better because he was a wonderful dog. He was very shy and a bit scared, but it didn't take long for him to fall asleep in my lap on the ride to the kennel. He got a good home today with a family who has had Dalmatians before. I wish him well.

Transporting the dogs took quite a while, so there were no long walks today. It's just as well. It was very hot. I thought our heat wave was coming to an end this weekend, but apparently not. It was 102 degrees outside this afternoon. I still need to mow the grass, but I think I'm going to wait until it gets a little cooler. Walking is one thing. Pushing a lawn mower is another thing entirely.

I had a lot of things on my grocery list today. I'm disappointed that the app on my phone that lets me bypass the checkout line isn't working well anymore. Every time I scan an item, I have to reboot the app and start over before I can scan the next item. Everything worked perfectly for a long time. Then the company decided to improve the app, adding coupons and promotions for things on sale. Nothing has worked since. Why do people keep trying to improve things that are working fine? Restaurants I like change their menus too often. Cars I like seem to go downhill after the first model year. I don't even like Apple computers as much as I used to. I blame it all on focus groups. If you listen to too many people you can ruin anything.

I wonder how we're going to get home next week. There a big sign a few blocks away saying that our road will be closed for three days while the highway department demolishes a bridge. I bet the people who cross the bridge every day are wondering how they're going to get home too. I wish there was less political news and more news about road construction. Roads are torn up all over town and I never know what is going on.

It's time to go to the gym again. Maybe it's finally time to start doing all my exercising indoors. Walking around the small indoor track is boring, but it probably beats being fried to a crisp under this hot sun. Fall can't come soon enough for me.

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

Friday, September 6, 2019

Day 3543

There was something new on the menu when I went to breakfast this morning. I ordered the Braised Short Rib Benedict basically because anything new on a hot Friday morning is a plus. The odd meaty concoction tasted more like a pot roast than ribs and the creamy sauce definitely wasn't Hollandaise. Hey, I'm easy to please when all I've got ahead of me is a long walk in the park.

I picked up something for dinner on the way home and got ready to walk. It's a little harder to leave the house now with a huge tree blocking the path to the back gate. This weather is really getting old. I'm encountering fewer joggers now and even the cyclists are starting to have second thoughts about a ride through the park. If the prairie grass gets much drier it's going to be a fire hazard. The city doesn't usually mow the areas designated as Native Prairie, but occasionally the risk of a grass fire becomes too great. I wouldn't be surprised to see mowers soon.

Doing all my walking at once definitely saves some time. It also saves me the trouble of taking two showers. After I cooled down for a bit and had a piece of cheese for lunch, I decided to finish my article. I'm pleased to say the first draft is done. I'll do some editing and check for typos over the weekend before sending it to the magazine on Monday. It's admittedly a long shot sending an article to an astronomy magazine about a rainy day at an observatory where I saw nothing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I say. I made the trip and it definitely was an interesting experience. Maybe others will be interested as well.

I'm still used to being paid well to write very short advertisements. Often a day's work wouldn't even fill up a single sheet of paper. Writing much longer pieces where the prospect of any form of payment is often non-existent seems strange. Luckily, I'm retired and don't have anything better to do. I think this would be a stressful way of making a living if you depended on the income.

Janet wants to clean out the greenhouse so we can get the repairs started. Seems like a good idea. It also seems like a lot of work. The building is filled with materials for projects that never got off the ground. There are old bags of fertilizer, half empty bottles of weed killer, a bunch of rusty garden tools, a tiller that never worked in our rock hard soil, several lawn mowers that broke years ago, and lots of unidentified stuff. I should probably keep the live traps that have caught everything from rats to raccoons. We have a lot of critters in our yard.

Tomorrow, we need to transport some of the new Dalmatians from the vet back to the boarding kennel. There are several dogs, so there will be other people helping as well. The dogs have had a rough life so far and have spent most of their time outdoors. The challenge now is to help socialize them and make sure they are healthy. I'm confident that the second phase of their life will be a lot better than the first.

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

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Day 3542

Good grief. When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I noticed that a large tree had fallen in the back yard. How did this happen? The skies were clear last night and there was no wind. Even stranger was the fact that neither Janet or I heard the tree fall. The tree was well over a foot in diameter. It had to make a large crash when it fell. This wasn't the Elm tree that was damaged during our June storms either. It was an Oak that I thought was healthy. At least the tree didn't fall on my head while I was taking out the garbage last night.

We are nowhere near the hurricane and yet our yard looks like it was hit by a hurricane. The remains of our Elm tree still needs to be removed. Our demolished greenhouse still hasn't been repaired. And now one of our Oak trees has joined the mess. I tried to call the guy who trims our trees but he was on vacation in Arkansas. It looks like it is going to be difficult to get to the back gate for a while.

It's sad to lose these old growth trees. We now have only half the trees we started with. It is almost inevitable that we will lose the rest someday. Our trees are no different than similar old trees in the park. They are all nearing the end of their natural life. Insects attack the trees. Wind and weather takes its toll. Eventually the wood gets brittle and the tree falls.

I've been thinking I missed a doctor's appointment for several days, so I finally called the clinic to see if I was imagining things. Usually doctors offices send you a reminder. The receptionist looked up my records and told me I had an appointment several days from now. I wonder if they ever were going to remind me? I've got the appointment on my calendar now but I kind of wish I'd just forgotten about it. Now it don't have any excuse to skip the visit.

I got a text from the phone company today telling me that I'd used up my data plan for the month. What? I thought I had an unlimited data plan. I sat on hold with customer service for a while, only to discover that there never was unlimited data associated with my account. What was I thinking? Maybe I had unlimited data when I first got the account years ago and somewhere along the line, the phone company eliminated it. This happens a lot. I've had most of my accounts for so long that plans change and eventually the company gets tired of grandfathering my old plan in their new program.

The hotter it gets, the less I feel like walking. I did my five miles today but it felt like a chore. I keep moving because I know it is good for me, but I'd really rather just sleep. There are so many little problems that need attention and I'm just not in the mood. Old house. Old trees. Old roof. Old body. It adds up after a while. It won't take much for Janet to convert me into a traveler. When you are away from home, you don't have to think about these things.

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Day 3541

I got an e-mail from the electric company today encouraging us to use less electricity because we are under an extreme heat advisory for the next few days. I wonder what makes Thursday and Friday special? As far as I'm concerned, we've been under an extreme heat advisory all Summer. I don't think we're big offenders anyway. Our house is small and I usually keep the temperature around 78 degrees. Anything colder and I feel like I need a sweater.

I sometimes feel a little chilly while I'm having my morning smoothie, but the feeling seldom lasts long. As soon as I take my morning walk, I'm complaining about the heat for the rest of the day. My body must be adjusting to the high temperature. I no longer feel exhausted after my first three miles and have been continuing to keep moving for an additional two miles. So far, a five mile walk is plenty.

Most of the people I see walking are wearing earphones. I prefer visual stimulus. This is why I continue to walk outside despite the unpleasant weather. There are animals to watch and plants to identify. To me, this is much better than listening to music.

Considering that I used to play in a band, I rarely listen to music. Silence is my friend. Today I saw a Great Blue Heron and several Red Eared Slider turtles. Of course, the lone White Pelican remaining in the park was there as well. It will be months before his companions return to join him for the Winter.

We saw our first pictures of the new Dalmatians that recently entered the rescue program. I believe the dogs were obtained by the Texas humane society from an elderly breeder who could no longer care for them. Most of the dogs were underweight and several had bad skin infections. I'm sure a few have heartworms as well. Dalmatian Rescue will return these dogs to good health and find them great homes. Janet and I are looking forward to meeting the newcomers when they finish their initial treatment at our vet. It's sad that these dogs arrived in such bad shape, but it's good that they now have a second chance. By the time I photograph them for the website, they will be looking great.

One of the benefits of taking a single long walk instead of several shorter ones is that I have more time to write. I'm almost halfway finished with my Sky and Telescope article now. I learned a lot from the observatory staff while I was at Mount Locke, but I'm also doing some necessary research to make sure I have my facts straight. Astronomers read this magazine. I doubt that the editors will accept the finished article if I am vague or confusing about how the telescopes work. I'm determined that if I ever return to McDonald Observatory, I will be an expert on the place.

There will be more writing tomorrow and I'm sure there will be more walking as well. It's amazing how quickly the day goes by with these two simple activities. I'm not making money writing ads anymore, but writing is still a useful skill. Each new experience I have can generate a new story. Looking ahead, it's not really a bad way to spend my remaining years.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Day 3540

No long walks today. It was way too hot and we were too busy. After breakfast I tried to get organized so we could spend the afternoon with the Dalmatians. I paid some bills, went to the post office and the bank, and got the car ready to transport Hank. The last time Hank was in the car, he made a mess of things, so I made sure that I added some extra padding this time.

We couldn't pick Hank up at the emergency vet until 3 PM, so we stopped by the boarding kennel and played with the other Dalmatians first. Rolly is in the middle of his heartworm treatment, so he couldn't play, but Treasure and Charlie were eager for some extra attention. Treasure has perfected rolling over for treats and Charlie can catch them in mid air. Dalmatians are very food motivated. The next time we visit, there will be some new dogs. We've picked up two new adults and four puppies. I hope we get to see the puppies before they go to their forever homes. We very rarely get Dalmatian puppies and there is always a waiting list. Puppies are almost always adopted as soon as they become available.

Nothing conclusive was discovered during Hank's diagnostic exam this morning, but the vet is sending some biopsy samples to the lab for further testing. Hopefully, the endoscopy procedure Hank had today will help determine why he continues vomiting and having bloody diarrhea. It is weird that he will be completely normal for weeks at a time and then the bloody stools will return. Diet alone doesn't explain this recurring problem. Something else is going on. I was hoping that they would examine Hank's colon, since the blood is usually bright red, but today's test only examined the stomach and upper GI tract. This is a process of elimination. Hank may need further tests as well.

The traffic was terrible today. The congestion made me miss the empty roads of Jeff Davis County. You can drive for miles without passing a single car. Fort Davis, the county seat and largest city, has a population of around 2,200 people. I think more people than that live in our own little neighborhood near the lake. Despite its small size, Fort Davis has a veterinarian, a good restaurant, and can connect to the Internet. What more do you need? Until we spent some time in the Davis Mountains I don't think I realized the appeal of wide open spaces. I'm not a city person by nature.

I didn't make much progress on my article today, but there's always tomorrow. It's probably best to stay inside anyway. The cooler weather we had when it rained a few days ago is over. We're in the middle of another heat wave. Our August electric bill was horrendous. September won't be much better. I shouldn't complain though. At least we don't have to worry about hurricanes.

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Day 3539 - Labor Day

It didn't really seems like a holiday today. It did seem like a Monday though. After a week of eating restaurant meals, I returned to my familiar fruit smoothie. As I sipped my drink, I watched the news about the approaching hurricane. It certainly wasn't approaching very fast. At this rate the storm will still be approaching next week.

After breakfast I attached the 2020 vehicle registration sticker I'd purchased weeks ago to my windshield. I never like to do this because I'm obsessive about getting things positioned correctly and if I put the sticker on crooked, I'm stuck with it all year. I carefully peeled off the old sticker with a razor blade, cleaned the sticky residue away with an alcohol soaked rag, and then attached the new sticker. Now I'm in compliance again. The sticker looks reasonably straight too.

Before I took my morning walk, I sent an e-mail to the roofer asking where the silicon coating he promised was. I don't really expect a reply, but I've got to make the effort. If I don't hear from him soon, I'll be forced to go buy a big drum of this stuff myself. I've done this once before and it was a huge hassle transferring the stuff to smaller buckets that I could lift to the roof. I'm really trying to avoid making a huge mess.

For the past several days I've been combining the morning and afternoon segments of my daily walks into one long walk. This way I don't have to take two showers and change clothes as often. I had hoped to walk early so I could write later in the day, but as usual I got a late start. I remember when I was in college I used to hike all day in the Rockies during the summer. I doubt that I could do that anymore. Five miles seems to be my limit.

Hank has gotten sick again. After seeming perfectly normal for about a month, his bloody stools have returned again. He's on fluids at the emergency vet now and is scheduled to have an ultrasound scan in the morning. Hank has already had extensive x-rays to look for foreign objects in his digestive tract and any obvious tumors or growths. So far we have found nothing abnormal. His blood work looks good too. We all thought a change in diet might solve Hanks problems, but clearly that hasn't worked. Hopefully we will learn something after the ultrasound scan. We've got to get this boy healthy again so he can find his forever home.

I started writing my Sky and Telescope article this afternoon. I didn't make a lot of progress. I am taking a completely different approach than I'd originally planned, so I made several false starts. This would have been a lot easier if the skies were clear last Tuesday. My challenge is to turn a rainy day at the observatory into something compelling. Luckily, this isn't a time sensitive article. I've got time for quite a few false starts.

I'm not sure how long Hank will need to stay at the emergency vet, but we may need to transport him back to the kennel tomorrow. We'll see. Other than that, tomorrow will be very similar to today. I'll take a long walk and probably go to the post office. It's a new month and there are bills to pay.

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