Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Day 3611

It was a little warmer today, but apparently not warm enough to get me motivated. I certainly didn't accomplish much. While I was waiting for the temperature to rise, I wrote a letter to my sister and paid a few bills. I'm in no hurry to take an early walk anymore. I debated whether to call McDonald Observatory again or apply for a second NASA event in December and eventually decided to do neither. Maybe I felt that appearing over eager could jinx things.

When I did get around to taking my walk I was surprised when someone stopped me to ask about Dot and Dash. How could anyone even recognize me when I was bundled up like this? Although it was warmer than yesterday, it was still cold enough to warrant wearing my down coat and heavy boots. I looked like the Michelin Man again. I realized later that I was wearing the same winter outfit I've worn outside for many years. These were my dog walking clothes. I was probably instantly recognizable as soon as someone saw the puffy blue coat and wool hat.

There is a big patch of purple asters I pass every day on my walk. These Fall perennials always seem to be the last wildflowers to bloom. I doubt that they'll last much longer in this cold. The butterflies that congregate around these flowers are already gone. They're probably in Mexico by now. Pretty soon the trees will be bare and I won't see any more wildflowers until Spring. I was never very concerned about what to look at in the park in prior years. I was way too busy walking the dogs.

We've got ants in the kitchen again. I think this happens every winter. These are tiny little sweet ants and they seem to be everywhere. We spray and it doesn't do much good, but eventually the ants disappear. One of the many downsides to winter is that the bugs like to come indoors.

I've been a little concerned that my resting heart rate has been higher lately. Why should this change since I do the same things everyday? I did a Google search and learned that your resting heart rate increases when you are warmer and if you are dehydrated. Maybe this explains it. I'm sleeping under a blanket now and wearing much warmer clothes, which I never used to do during the summer. I'm also not drinking as much water. I drank a ton of water when I took hot summer walks. I also learned that my normal resting heart rate in the low 50's is considered very low unless you are an athlete and that my 'elevated' rate in the low 60's is considered normal. Maybe the only thing I really learned today is that I am still a hypochondriac who hates to see anything change.

I need to remember to buy some spare quartz modeling lights and an extra strobe tube for my strobe lights. The SantaPaws season is rapidly approaching and every year I worry that my aging Norman strobes are going to break. I definitely don't want to buy any more studio lights at this point in my life. Good studio strobes have gotten very expensive. I'm hoping that since I basically just use this equipment to shoot Santa photos once a year now, that it will last as long as I do.

The refrigerator was looking empty so I bought some more Cadence Kitchen dinners. I had the Mexican Style Pulled Pork with pineapple and achiote sauce tonight over rice. So good, but they use too much salt. As always, the best tasting things seem to inevitably be bad for you.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Day 3610

It was so cold today. I felt like staying under a warm blanket all day, but knew that I had to face facts and admit that it was winter. I took my time eating breakfast in hopes that it would get warmer. Maybe the temperature rose a few degrees, but it wasn't enough to notice.

I wasn't surprised that the park was empty today. It was just me and an insane jogger who wasn't even wearing a jacket or a hat. I was warm enough. I looked like the Michelin Man, wearing a puffy outer down coat over a lighter inner down jacket. Add a pair of compression pants under my jeans. a wool hat, and some heavy insulated boots and it was a miracle I could even move.

I finished the entire five miles. There were a few spots where the wind was pretty nasty, but for the most part it was a beautiful winter day. I'm glad I dressed warmly. Anything lighter and I would have froze. When I passed the area where the Pelicans spend the winter, they were all huddled together in a big clump. Maybe this was their way of staying warm. What do I know though. If I was a cold Pelican, the first thing I would do was get out of the water.

There seem to be an abundance of opportunities to attend NASA events in December. After I got rejected to attend the Space X ISS resupply launch, I applied to attend the first Boeing Starliner launch a few weeks later. Now there's an opportunity to tour the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. I'm not a huge fan of New Orleans but it would be cool to see the Artemis moon rocket being assembled. Should I apply for this event too? I'm not even sure if I could afford to do both.

I did try to contact the volunteer director at McDonald Observatory today. I haven't heard anything about my application yet. The director wasn't in, so I sent him an e-mail. It would be nice to know if these thoughts I've been having about spending time on Mount Locke this Spring are real or just a fantasy. Sometimes I think all my travel plans are just a fantasy. It's not like I actually need to do any of this.

We'll see what happens. I might be very busy toward the end of the year, or I could just be sitting here wondering if the roof was going to leak. I wish that getting selected to attend rocket launches wasn't so competitive, but that's just the way it is. When something is desirable, there are usually lot of people who want to take advantage of the opportunity. I suspect that being an on-site volunteer at the observatory is the same way. I know for a fact that there are a ton of amateur astronomers who are way more dedicated than me. A lot of them would probably love to spend time at McDonald Observatory. Hey, I rarely even look through a telescope. The only thing that works in my favor is that I'm a pretty decent writer. Sometimes a story needs to be told.

We have a rare adoption event to attend this weekend. Janet and I still can't decide which dog to take. Some aren't quite ready to be around a crowd yet and others might end up being adopted before the event. With the weather we've been having, it might even be too cold for the dogs to be outside. No sense in fretting yet. If I've learned anything it's that a lot can change in a week.

Jada is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, November 11, 2019

Day 3609 - Veteran's Day

I knew it was going to get cold today, but I had now idea how dramatic the cold front's arrival would be. It was 70 degrees when I started on my morning walk. The weather report said the wind was going to pick up and the temperature would start dropping around lunchtime. The cold front had other ideas. After I had walked about a mile, the wind abruptly picked up and the temperature started dropping immediately. So many Fall leaves were being blown off the trees that it looked like rain. Within a few minutes I was freezing. This was not a time to be a slave to Fitbit. I immediately turned around and headed for home. By the time I returned, the temperature had already dropped twenty five degrees.

The temperature had dropped even further by the time Janet and I arrived at the Dalmatian Rescue kennels. It was way too cold for the boarding dogs to be outside today, so the indoor play areas were pretty full. The kennel staff found us a long unused hallway with some empty kennel runs where we could play with the Dalmatians. They loved this new experience, and eagerly explored every inch of this new territory. Some of the shy dogs seemed to warm up and relax in this smaller, more intimate environment. Sock even started following us around and seemed very curious about what we were doing. This was a big deal for Sock. Janet and I got at opposite ends of the long hallway and started calling Charlie, who would run back and forth between us. You'd never know that Jasmine was once a shy dog. She was playful, curious, and absolutely normal today. All the dogs did well this afternoon. It is not surprising that they are finding homes so quickly.

I was glad that the kennel was nice and warm, because it is going to be very cold tonight. They say the temperature will drop to the low twenties before morning. Add some significant windchill to that number and you've got a very cold day. At least there wasn't much rain today. I don't think I'll have to worry about ice on the roof. I did have a momentary scare when the power went out for a few moments. Luckily, it came right back on again. It was probably just a momentary power surge as everybody turned on their furnace at the same time when they returned from work.

I definitely hope we don't have a power outage tonight. Being without power in freezing weather is not fun. It happened to us once a few years ago and we had to take the dogs and stay in a hotel for several days. So far, the furnace is working great and keeping us nice and warm. Let's hope things stay this way.

I think we're going to have to put some extra blankets on the bed tonight. I'll probably still take my walk in the morning, as long as it isn't raining or snowing. I've got lots of warm coats and some insulated boots. I didn't dress warm enough today, but I definitely learned my lesson. I'm not a big fan of winter, but I do know how to dress for it.

I'm surprised that I haven't heard from the observatory yet. I thought I'd be making plans for a Spring trip to the Davis Mountains by now. I may have to give them a call later this week.

Dolly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Day 3608

It's back to normal. I got my 20,000 steps. All the weekend errands are done. No more large restaurant meals for a while. Even the pain in my arms from the shots the doctor gave me is starting to fade. I kind of regret not making another trip up on the roof to look for more bad spots, but since it's supposed to start raining again tomorrow, I don't think there's time enough for repairs to dry properly. I don't have that much silicon left. I want to use it wisely.

The park was really crowded today. I think everybody must know that today might be the last day of Fall. According to the latest weather reports, our next cold front will bring temperatures in the twenties. To a Texan, that's winter.

The gym was much emptier than the park, but the roads were horrible. It was almost like a workday. What are all these people doing? Could they be Christmas shopping already? City congestion makes me realize how much I prefer solitude. I fantasize about the Davis Mountains a lot these days. I wouldn't miss the restaurants and shopping malls a bit. I would be a little nervous about not having good medical care nearby. I'm less than fifteen minutes away from some of the best doctors in the world. Dallas has some pretty impressive veterinary capabilities as well, which was equally important when we had dogs. I guess shifting priorities are normal as you get older. I'm a pragmatic person. I'd hate to have a heart attack or even a bad fall in the middle of nowhere.

I hope we don't get any freezing rain tomorrow night. Snow is rare in Dallas, but freezing rain is common. Icy roads create a traffic nightmare. Ice on power lines causes power outages. More trees fall during ice storms than during wind storms. Ice creates a mess on my roof as well. I think the skies are going to clear before the really cold weather arrives. I hope so. I'll have to be quick removing the water from the roof though. I don't want ice accumulating on the remaining trees or on the roof.

All the activity in the park on a nice day makes me wonder about people. Why would someone want to spend hours outside sitting in a hammock looking at their phone? Why has slacklining become popular? What are all these weird motorized wheels people are riding? I looked up a few brands on the Internet and they are quite expensive. There is a sport for everyone I guess. I'll just stick to walking. It's harder to hurt yourself walking.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Dalmatians tomorrow. I really miss having a dog, but I don't miss all the responsibilities that come with having a pet. I kept thinking that yesterday's trip to Palestine would have been next to impossible with a sick dog. Attending rocket launches or spending several weeks at an observatory wouldn't be easy either. We always put our dogs first. That's the way it should be. It's kind of a novelty to be able to put ourselves first for a change.

I still think I'm not getting enough sleep. Maybe I should just quit looking at Fitbit. I usually think I'm sleeping just fine until I look at the Fitbit log and see how restless I've been. The little tracker even logged some aerobic activity in my sleep last night.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Day 3607

Road Trip. We went to Palestine, Texas today to see Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014 arrive on it's journey through the Southwest. It was definitely worth the four hour trip to see this historic train traveling under its own power. The Big Boy was the largest steam locomotive ever built and the 4014 is the last one running. Union Pacific spent over four years restoring this train. It was pretty impressive. I was amazed at how close we could get to the tracks. As I was taking pictures I realized that if I had tripped I might have fallen into the train. Closer to the depot the police had the tracks pretty well blocked off, but we went to the outskirts of town to get better pictures. We had a good clear view and I could put my camera anywhere I wanted.

There were several other photographers with the same idea. One of them had been following the train for several days, carefully picking different locations to get the best shots. A few of the older photographers were walking encyclopedias about old steam trains. I was definitely an amateur in this group. The train was moving faster than I would have thought. It was all over in a matter of minutes. I managed to get a few decent pictures though. I don't think looking through a viewfinder is as enjoyable as watching the same event without a camera. You always concentrate on getting the shot and in the process you miss a lot of the whole experience.

There were so many railfans watching the train arrive in Palestine that I kept wondering why Union Pacific didn't sell tickets and carry passengers on this historic run. The big steam engine was pulling a long line of restored passenger cars and they were all empty. Union Pacific definitely missed a marketing opportunity here. Anyone dedicated enough to follow this trains journey in a car would almost certainly prefer going along for the ride. The passenger cars were the very best from the railroad's glory days too. It would have been quite an adventure.

It's weird that I'm so apprehensive about traveling. Once I'm underway I always have a good time. Janet is a good traveling companion too. She's always up for going somewhere. Last night I was thinking that it wouldn't be worth making this trip. It was just an old train and my arm still hurt from yesterday's pneumonia shot. Luckily, I woke up in a better mood. It was a beautiful Fall day. Too bad the weather wasn't this nice when we went to McDonald Observatory.

The car did well on the trip. It probably would have made it to Fort Davis or even Kennedy Space Center. My gas mileage certainly leaves something to be desired. It's terrible actually. You just can't expect good mileage from a 500 horse power supercharged V-8. My bad shoulder leaves even more to be desired. It can be very tiring driving long distances with a bad shoulder. These were minor issues though. All in all it was a very enjoyable trip.

We thought about stopping in Corsicana on the way home and picking up a fruitcake from The Collin Street Bakery. Neither of us like fruitcake though, so we kept driving. We arrived back in Dallas around dinnertime and stopped at Knife for burgers. The place was crowded since it was a football weekend at SMU. We had to sit at the bar where you can watch the chefs cook. It was much more interesting than I thought, although sitting here for very long would drive a vegan insane. We watched lots of beef being cooked tonight. I was amazed at how thick the uncooked steaks were. They shrink to about half their size as the fat in the heavily marbled meat melts. Our burgers were delicious, but I don't think I'll be eating much tomorrow. I might have to spend some extra time at the gym as well.

I really need to overcome my fear of traveling. I've enjoyed every journey I've taken this year and there's definitely nothing compelling keeping us in Dallas.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, November 8, 2019

Day 3606

My schedule was a little different today. I skipped breakfast because I had an early morning doctor's appointment. They always want you to fast when blood work is required so I just took a quick shower and headed for my appointment. My health appears to be good, but there are always a few surprises when you take a physical. My doctor wants me to see a dermatologist about a rough patch of skin on my face that I've ignored for years. I've always thought that the small scaly patch was harmless Keratosis, but he wants to make sure it isn't a Basal Cell Carcinoma instead. He also wants me to see an orthopedic specialist about my shoulder. I've done this before, but the doctor said it's time to revisit things. "You might not think your shoulder is getting worse," he told me, "but it is."

He did say I was more than healthy enough to spend time in a remote area like McDonald Observatory. I was more than a little envious when he told me that he'd been to the observatory several times and had even taken his grandchildren on a Special Observing Night. They had perfectly clear skies on the day he went.

I wish I hadn't let the doctor convince me to get a flu shot and my second of two required pneumonia shots. I got one shot in each arm and now I am very sore. Maybe the flu shot wasn't a bad idea. I seldom get them, but always worry about getting sick when we are taking Christmas pictures and I am around a lot of people. The reason I seldom get sick is that I'm seldom around people at all.

When I returned home, I noticed that there was still fresh fruit in the refrigerator, so I made myself a lunch smoothie. This was exactly the same as a breakfast smoothie except that I drank it at noon. I had a choice of taking a long walk today or clearing the water off the roof. I'm a pragmatic person, so I opted for clearing away all the standing water before it rains again. It's amazing how much water remains on the roof after the pumps have done their thing. The good news is that the patches I've made directly over the office appear to be holding. There have been no leaks so far. The bad news is that I'm still finding other areas that need to be repaired.

I took the money I made selling my guitar to the bank and picked up the banner at the printer. This time the printer said they would save the file in case I needed it again. This is what happens when you sit on things too long. The printer lost the file and I lost the banner. All is well now. I can't remember clearly, but I think it cost me less to print this banner now than it did ten years ago.

There was no time for a long walk today, but I did take a short walk through the neighborhood before Janet and I went out for dinner. A lot of houses have been updated. I have a feeling that mine might be one of the only ones that hasn't been touched. I still can't decide whether to drive to Palestine tomorrow to seeing Boy 4014 arrive. It's an amazing looking old steam train, but it's just a train and I don't like to drive. Janet's up for the trip. I'll sleep on the idea and see how I feel in the morning.

I applied for launch credentials at Kennedy Space Center again. I'm not quite ready to give up on this idea of becoming a space journalist yet. Since some of you enjoyed seeing Spot, I've featured him again. What an amazing dog he was.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Day 3605

The dentist quickly agreed that my retainer didn't fit. After he and his assistant made several attempts to adjust the retainer so it would fit better, they eventually gave up and decided to make me a new one. I was surprised that they were able to do this while I was there. I guess there are advantages to having an in-house lab. The new retainer fit much better but it required a bit of customization before it would fit properly. I don't think my teeth are that crooked, but apparently they are crooked enough to make fitting a retainer difficult. I asked the dentist if I was too old for orthodontia and he just laughed. "I have several patients in their eighties who are wearing braces," he said. "Your mouth is fine, " he added. "I wouldn't do anything." Hopefully, my retainer problems are over for a while until I manage to break this new one.

On the way home I stopped by the vintage guitar store to pick up a check. I asked the manager who bought my guitar and he said it was the bass player of a British rock band called Temples. They are on tour now and were playing in Dallas recently. It's not surprising that I've never heard of this group, but they are popular in Europe and have been on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon as well as The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I listened to a couple of their songs on YouTube and the band was pretty good. Maybe my faithful fretless P-Bass will be featured in a future Temples music video.

My application to cover the Space X CRS-19 launch didn't get accepted. It's not the end of the world, but I was disappointed. Somehow I thought it would be easier to get launch access at Kennedy Space Center now that I've had a launch article published. Apparently this is not the case. Maybe my desire to get published in print publications is actually working against me. NASA seems more interested in getting a lot of social media coverage these days. I'd rather be in a magazine than on Instagram. Hey, it's not all bad. The next time an opportunity arises I'll apply again. While I'm waiting, I'll have more time to put some travel money aside. I've already been accepted to attend three of these special launch events. I'm almost certain that there'll be a fourth one of these days.

Maybe my roof repairs have finally worked. It rained again last night and the roof still hasn't leaked. I'll need to clear away the standing water soon. The weather keeps getting colder and I definitely don't want the water turning to ice. Maybe I'll go up on the roof tomorrow. It's been such a busy week that I haven't had time yet. I go to the doctor for my annual physical tomorrow. Usually this doesn't take long, but I didn't think my trip to the dentist today would take long either. I was at the dentist for quite a while today.

I didn't get started on my daily walk until late in the afternoon. By the time I returned home it was completely dark. The weather was cold and windy, so there weren't many joggers and cyclists in the park today. There were quite a few people walking their dogs in the dark though. That's what you do when you come home from work and your dog is waiting at the door to go out. I've spent many hours walking dogs in the dark.

Chase is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Day 3604

Today seemed productive. I didn't really do that much, but nothing went wrong. After breakfast I went to the storage warehouse to see if I might still have a copy of the banner I was thinking of reprinting. Nope. It wasn't there. I sent the file I found yesterday to the printer and told them to reprint the banner.

Next, I went to get a haircut. I was amazed to see that all the stores are already in full Christmas mode. There were Christmas trees and decorations everywhere. A crew was already putting together the little hut where kids come to see Santa. It still seems a little early to me, but what do I know. Maybe it was always this way.

My haircut took a while, but I wasn't in a hurry. When I left the mall I could have sworn there there were even more Christmas trees standing than when I arrived. I didn't stop at the Apple Store today. I have very little interest in computers anymore. I didn't stop at the Tesla Store either. When you're thinking about taking long car trips, an electric car doesn't sound that appealing. I guess it's good that I don't feel like buying things these days. I don't have the money anyway.

I found out this afternoon that the last of my vintage guitars has finally sold. The whole process took over a year but I'm happy with the results. I kept one guitar just in case I feel like playing again. I rarely take it out of its case. Maybe I'll sell that guitar one day as well. I'm a bit surprised that I don't miss anything that I've sold. I spent so long collecting some of this stuff and now that it's gone, it's quickly forgotten. I don't regret the years I spent accumulating things, but it's time to move on.

One of the reasons that I'm in a good mood is that even though it rained a lot recently, there have been no further leaks. I haven't been up on the roof yet either. I'm sure there is still standing water. Maybe my last repair attempts actually worked. Of course, a leak could still appear at any minute. That's the way it works with water. It's always waiting to surprise you. I'll leave the buckets out for another day, just to be safe.

Tomorrow, I go back to the dentist to see if they can fix my retainer. I hope they don't try to tell me that it is just fine the way it is. I'll quit wearing the contraption if that happens. The dentist seems confident that he can adjust the retainer. How? The thing is made of hard plastic and it either fits or it doesn't. I hate to make the long drive for a third time, but I'm kind of curious to see what they're going to do.

I took my walk toward the end of the day because of my hair appointment. The time change really makes a difference. I left the house around 3 PM and by the time I returned home the sun was already starting to set. All in all, I think I liked Daylight Savings Time better. I can always sleep a little later until the sun comes up, but when the day ends early you're stuck. I'd better get used to this. Early sunsets are going to be around for quite a while.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Day 3603

What a wet, dreary day. I kept waiting for the rain to stop, but it never did. Clearly the weather forecast was wrong today. My phone kept saying that it wasn't raining and then I would go outside and see rain falling. I'm typically frozen in place on rainy days. I just sit and wait for the roof to start leaking.

I finally gave up and took some bills to the post office in the rain. I cleaned the car when I got home even though I knew that it was supposed to rain again tomorrow. It was a slow, gentle rain so the pumps on the roof would work for a while and then they would quit. I hate to turn the pumps off on a rainy day, but if the water level gets low and there isn't enough water to prime the pump, the motor can burn up. I fret about little things like this because there isn't anything big to fret about.

I finally got so bored that I decided to take my walk anyway even though it meant getting wet. I put on some waterproof boots, waited until the rain slowed to a drizzle, and then made my usual rounds. I guess I've become a slave to Fitbit. I had very little interest in going out and getting wet, but if I stayed home and did nothing, I would break a 57 day streak for meeting all my fitness goals.

It was actually quite pretty outside. It usually is when I don't have a camera with me. The temperature was a lot warmer than yesterday, so this created a lot of fog on the surface of the lake. If I'd had a camera with the right lens, I could have gotten a great picture of the White Pelicans shrouded in fog. They looked like stately ghosts swimming on the lake.

One of the things on my to-do list today was getting a banner reprinted that I'd done years ago. Usually reprinting anything is a simple matter. You just call up the printer and tell them to reprint the job they have on file. Unbeknownst to me, the printer had experienced a major computer crash a few years ago and lost most of their customer's files. Why didn't I know this already? Probably because I very rarely have anything printed anymore. Did I still have this file on one of my computers? It took me forever to find it, but I still did. It pays to save everything.

One of my doctors called today and asked why I hadn't paid a bill they'd sent me in September. The reason was simple. Either my mail carrier put the bill in the wrong mailbox or I mistook it for junk mail and threw it away. Both things happen frequently. I apologized and said I'd send them a check right away. Maybe I actually received the bill and just forgot about it. I hate the thought that I'm becoming even more forgetful as I grow older, but of course I am. It happens.

The rest of the week is going to be busy by my low standards. I'm getting a haircut tomorrow, going back to the dentist to refit my retainer on Thursday, and going to my regular doctor for my annual physical on Friday. It sure looks like I"m going to be doing some of these things in the rain.

Coach is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, November 4, 2019

Day 3602

I really enjoy the time we spend with the Dalmatians on Mondays. We currently have lots of dogs, so our visit takes most of the afternoon. It is time well spent. The dogs all have distinct personalities now. Some are rambunctious. Others are still shy and timid. Most of the dogs walk well on a leash now. A few have already learned basic commands and will sit, stay, and even lie down. Even the shy dogs have learned to take a treat from your hand. We're making progress.

I wish I knew what makes the shy dogs so fearful. You never really know with a rescue. They probably have a good reason not to trust people. Building trust is one of the reasons we spend so much time with these dogs. They need to learn that life can be good. Happy dogs always have an easier time finding a home. It helps that the kennel staff is so good with these guys. You can tell that they are gaining confidence.

Leftie found his forever home this week and someone is going to adopt Ginny as soon as she finishes her heartworm treatment. It's not surprising that the friendly, affectionate dogs tend to find homes faster than the shy ones. Luckily, shyness is seldom a permanent condition. Many dogs have led a difficult life before they entered the rescue program. It is only natural that they might not immediately trust you. Hopefully our attempts to socialize these guys will help them find the homes they all deserve.

I take a shorter walk on Mondays now. I only walked three miles today but it was nice to get outside. I wonder how long this nice weather will last? It is rare that you can take a walk in the park without feeling either too hot or too cold. Today was one of those days.  We're not getting a lot of Fall color this year, but I need to start taking a good camera with me anyway. There are lots of trees in the park and you never know when you'll see a spectacular splash of red and gold.

It looks like the little circus has finished its run in Dallas. They were starting to take down their tent this morning. I wonder why the performers would choose to spend their life this way. Audiences are small and nobody is getting rich. To each his own I guess. The circus performers would probably wonder why I'm attempting to spend time in a remote part of the Davis Mountains looking at the night sky.

I got a bid to replace the large sliding glass door. Unfortunately, it was not the same type of door and the replacement won't look good with the existing architecture.  Even custom fabricators say they can't duplicate the existing door. Jeez. I need those guys on that "This Old House" show on PBS to come to my house. Ordinary contractors just don't seem well equipped to deal with vintage house problems. So many things in our house just aren't made anymore. Even simple things like cabinet hinges have disappeared over the years. I bought spares for some hard to find items years ago, but when the spare parts start to wear out, you are out of luck.

I'm glad that the dentist was willing to reschedule my appointment so I could visit the dogs today. I'm wondering if it is even worth the effort to replace my retainer. I haven't been wearing one lately and everything seems fine. What do I know though? I seldom question doctors and dentists anymore. I've learned that I get better results by doing what they tell me.

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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Day 3601

Daylight Savings Time is over for another year. I used to dread this day when the dogs were alive. It usually meant that their evening walk took place in darkness. It doesn't really matter anymore. I get up when it's light outside and go to bed after I finish writing the blog. I'm so slow eating breakfast that my morning walk ends up being around midday anyway. I don't know many people who like the time change. I certainly don't. Just pick a time and stick with it. When you get used to a schedule, an arbitrary change just seems silly.

The weather was nice again today. These 20,000 step Sundays are always more enjoyable when I'm not fighting the elements. As usual, I went to the gym right after breakfast. I had a god workout this week. Whatever was dragging me down last week seemed to have disappeared. Since the weather was warm, I decided to attempt some more roof repairs when I returned home. I measured where the leak was using a tape measure and then found the same spot up on the roof. The coating was perfect in this area. I looked for weak spots nearby and eventually found a few. It didn't seem possible that the minuscule tears could cause the leak, but what do I know. When there is a lot of standing water on the roof the water pressure could force a lot of water through these small holes when the silicon coating wasn't firmly attached to the substrate. Maybe this was what was happening. I ripped up the silicon coating around one of these small holes and sure enough there was water underneath.

I applied about a gallon of the silicon material to any place that seemed questionable. Truthfully, I have no idea what I'm doing. The roof shouldn't be leaking, but it is. I have a feeling that all my efforts might be pointless. The silicon dries in a nice waterproof sheet. The thickness of the coating is critical though. If the coating is too thin or too thick, it can tear easily. Sometimes even sweeping the standing water off the roof causes the silicon to tear. Since silicon doesn't really stick to what you apply it to, even a small tear can cause a lot of water to get under the coating. Using common asphalt sealers to patch the small holes won't work either because nothing sticks to silicon. The only thing that can patch silicon is more silicon, but you have to do your work perfectly. It's hopeless.

I didn't even have to wear a jacket when I took my walk this afternoon. The weather was just about perfect. There were lots of joggers and cyclists, along with quite a few picnickers. I could smell barbecue everywhere. Even the little circus was putting on a show this afternoon. I think we all know that this weather won't last long. You've got to take advantage of it when you can.

I need to try to reschedule my dental appointment tomorrow. I don't know how I managed to make a dental appointment on the same day we visit the Dalmatians. I'm sure I just wrote down the date the dentist gave me without really thinking. Usually one day is the same as the next to me. I'm lucky if I even know what day it is.

Wolfgang is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, November 2, 2019

Day 3600

There was very little to complain about today. It was a beautiful Fall day. I filled the car with gas, did my Saturday shopping, and took a long walk. Life seems less stressful than it did last year at this time. I was moving into a new storage warehouse, Dash was having alarming vestibular seizures, and the roof was leaking. The roof is still leaking of course, but some things never change.

I've been following the progress of Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014 as it makes a commemorative journey through the western United States to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The Big Boy was the largest steam locomotive ever made and number 4014 is the last one still running. I was hoping that this journey would take the train through Dallas, but the closest it's going to get will be when it arrives in Palestine, Texas next week. Is it worth a trip to Palestine to see this impressive old steam locomotive? I'm still trying to decide. I guess I'd still consider myself a railfan, but trains aren't nearly as important to me as they used to be. I suspect I could say the same about a lot of things.

If the weather stays nice tomorrow I might go up on the roof and see if I can find the source of the current leak. Since the leak is small and the area directly above it appears solid, this task may prove impossible. I've still got some of the silicon material and I might as well use it. Once you open the container, the material won't stay liquid forever. I'm not sure what will happen to the stuff after our first freeze either. Since the water is coming through a can light in the ceiling, it is probably following the metal electrical conduit lines. The actual source of the leak could be anywhere.

Yesterday, all the White Pelicans were gone. Today, they were back again. I wonder where these birds go when they are not at the lake? The Double-crested Cormorants seem to do everything together as well. Sometimes I see huge groups of these birds leave the lake to go somewhere else. I rarely see Cormorants fly anywhere alone. The Raptors in the area always fly alone. I saw a nice looking Red-shouldered Hawk today. It's easy to see why small animals are wary of hawks. They are always looking for food. Although the birds in the park are interesting, I'd never make a proper birder. I see lots of birders with their long telephoto lenses, binoculars and note pads. I'm just not that obsessive about counting things.

Truthfully, I'm probably the wrong person to be calling anyone else obsessive. I've been making a blog entry every day for 3600 consecutive days. Why? I complete my five mile walk even when the weather is terrible. I'll go to the gym tomorrow as well, even though I don't really enjoy exercise. It's probably best that I don't question these things. There doesn't have to be a reason for everything.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Friday, November 1, 2019

Day 3599

I went out for breakfast this morning and almost immediately realized it was a mistake. What was I thinking? Breakfast Enchiladas filled with pulled pork, eggs, cheese, bacon and jalapeƱos were way too spicy for the way I was feeling. Hey, it was a new restaurant I needed to try. I think next week I'll just stay home and have my smoothie on Friday.

It wasn't quite as cold as yesterday, but I still needed a warm coat when I went out and ran my errands. I went to the bank, the post office, and the grocery store. I could do my banking using an app on my phone. Our mail carrier will pick up mail at the house. And I could even have groceries delivered. I keep going to these places though. Having necessary places to go adds structure to my day. This is probably why I take my five mile walk as well. There's nothing I really want to do, but I need to do something.

The roofer I saw yesterday got me a bid a lot quicker than I expected. The price was no surprise though. It was right in line with all the other bids. I have no idea why a flat roof costs so much more than a normal roof. I have no idea why prices have increased so much in the last fifteen years either. I've resigned myself to the fact that there are no bargains. I just want the job done properly so I won't have to worry about leaks again.

I thought I'd gradually start walking a little faster once I got used to the five mile distance. The opposite has happened. It's actually taking longer to complete the walk than it did in the beginning. I haven't slowed down that much, but I feel like I'm dragging. I guess I'm just not motivated to go any faster. I've convinced myself that the walk does me some good, but I've never been a competitive person. I definitely don't feel like competing with myself.

I encountered a large balloon arch while I was walking today. It wasn't here yesterday. Did someone have a midnight Halloween party in the park last night? Was this the finish line for an early morning 10K or marathon race? Maybe it was just a birthday party. Unfortunately, the balloons will blow away soon and an animal will probably get tangled up in the remains.

I wish I'd hear something from the observatory. It's hard to make plans when you have no idea what is going on. If I'm accepted for an extended stay on the mountain, I don't know whether I'll be excited or apprehensive. Probably it will be a bit of both. On cold days like today, I realize that it is probably even colder in the Davis Mountains. I think a lot about Fort Davis and McDonald Observatory these days but I have no idea whether I'd enjoy the experience of spending time there any more than living in Dallas. I guess to find the answer I need to go out there and see for myself.

I hope it warms up in the next few days. I'd like one more chance to find the roof leak before the next rain arrives later next week. I think it's too cold to even apply the silicon material now. It would have been so much easier if I'd been able to take care of this last summer.

Jeda is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Day 3598 - Halloween

The only thing spooky about today was listening to the roofer this morning remind me of all the things that were wrong with my roof. I was impressed with this roofer's knowledge and experience, but I didn't hear much that I didn't already know. My roof is almost impossible to keep repairing at this point and it is going to be very expensive to replace. Due to the odd shape of the house, adding a slight pitch to the roof so it will drain properly will be complex. Putting on a new roof without eliminating the low spots won't eliminate the standing water problem.

I got the impression that if I wanted the roof to look and function the way it did in 1955, I might as well just build a new house. The large open atrium in the center of the house, a gas line on the roof, and multiple areas where settling has caused rain water to accumulate all add up to a complicated and expensive problem. This roofer, like many of the others who have given me bids, concluded that it would be prohibitively expensive to remove all the plywood decking and add a taper to the beams. He didn't think an engineered roof with foam panels creating a slope would work well either. He did say he could put on a roof that he would warranty for fifteen years whether it was under water or not. That should be enough. Fifteen years from now they'll be carting me off to assisted living anyway. One of the most interesting solutions would be to cover the entire roof with spray on truck bed liner. This would be too expensive, but it would make a tough, durable roof.

I didn't get any good news about the sliding glass door either. Nobody makes doors this large anymore. Nobody has parts for old style doors either. I could have a custom door manufactured, but it probably wouldn't look the same. It's too bad that the only guy in town who could fix my door died.

It was below freezing when I woke up this morning and it was still very cold when I took my morning walk. It was a clear sunny day which made it difficult to dress properly. When the wind wasn't blowing, I was too hot. Down by the shoreline where it was still quite windy, I was too cold. For some reason, my feet hurt more than usual today. By the time I returned home, I was ready to go back to bed.

I did go vote today. The only thing on the ballot were propositions and constitutional amendments. The lack of candidates running for office made this a very low turnout election. It was a good thing there wasn't a line, because there were brand new voting machines and voting was more complex than usual. You were given a blank paper ballot which was inserted into the voting machine. You made your selections electronically on the screen and then the machine spit out a printed ballot with your voting choices. You took this printed ballot to another machine which scanned the results and then saved the paper ballot as a backup. I guess all this complexity is to prevent someone from hacking the system, but you'd think they would have come up with an easier way to accomplish this.

I just realized that I have a dental appointment on Monday when we visit the Dalmatians. I was going to reschedule tomorrow and then I learned that dentists have a four day work week. Most of them are closed on Friday. Why did I not know this before? Janet told me it has always been this way. Restaurants are always open on Friday, but I can't decide whether I want to go our for breakfast tomorrow. I'm losing interest in my breakfast outings.

Roxy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Day 3597

Darn went to his forever home this morning. The couple who adopted him seemed very nice and they have had Dalmatians before. I think this is a good home. Darn might not realize it now, but his life is going to get a lot better. Hopefully, he will get a new name. Many of our new dogs came to us with very strange names. Sock and Jelly Bean seemed to know their names, but the others didn't. I wonder if Darn and Sock got named at the same time. Maybe somebody's sock had a hole in it. Darn is one of the shy dogs, but I think as soon as he starts to feel safe in his new home he's going to relax and start enjoying life.

It was very cold this morning. It was also very wet. After the cold front arrived yesterday, it continued raining for the rest of the night. It rained a lot. I left the pumps running overnight, but I don't think it helped much. Just before I got up this morning, I heard the sound of water dripping into a bucket. The water was coming from the same can light in the office ceiling as it was before. I guess my repairs didn't accomplish much.

It was disappointing that I wasn't able to stop the leak. I certainly tried my best. I have no idea how the water is getting in, but when you have four inches of standing water on a flat roof, water will find a way. The new roofer I called is going to come take a look at things tomorrow. I'm not very optimistic at this point, but I'm always open to suggestions.

I made an appointment to take my retainer back to the dentist. I tried to wear it again last night and it is clear that the thing doesn't fit. Soaking the retainer in hot water before trying to fit it didn't help at all. I should have had a proper fitting at the dentist before taking the retainer home, but the dentist and I were both in a hurry. They told me that these things almost always fit perfectly. I guess I am the exception to this rule.

I wore my winter clothes on this morning's walk. Maybe our hot summer wasn't so bad after all. The temperature was around forty degrees but there was a very strong wind. The wind chill effect made it feel like it was below freezing. I think it actually is going to dip below freezing later tonight. This is our first freeze warning of the fall. I finally remembered to bring the 24 volt battery for the electric lawnmower inside for the winter. It's anybody's guess whether the battery will still be good next spring, but at least I've made an effort to save it.

We can look forward to another very cold day tomorrow. At least the rain is over for a while. I went up on the roof this afternoon and swept all the water away. This stopped the leak for the moment. I'm sure it will return with the next heavy rainfall. All this is frustrating, but at least the tornado didn't blow down our house. We passed through some of the tornado damage on our way back from the kennel this morning and it looked even worse than the pictures I've been seeing. It's still hard to believe that all this destruction happened in just a few minutes.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Day 3596

Every year it is the same. During the summer, I can't wait for winter to arrive. Then as soon as it turns cold, I'm wishing it was summer again. Fall is nice. It is unfortunate that it only lasts two weeks in Texas. Today was one of those cold, damp days that makes you regret getting out of bed. I should have just stayed under the covers this morning.

I had the park to myself today. It wasn't raining during my walk, but I kept expecting to get wet anyway. Maybe sweating isn't so bad. I wore a light down ski jacket, my wool hat, and some heavy hiking boots and by the time I returned home I was wishing I'd worn something warmer. Other walkers must have similar thoughts. I usually see lots of people in the park on hot days but very few on cold days. In other parts of the country, today's weather wouldn't even qualify as winter, but we're not used to the cold here in Texas. I was happy enough to stay inside with the furnace running for the rest of the day.

I tried my new retainer last night. It felt way too tight. At first I thought that the dentist had given me someone else's retainer by mistake. Then the thing clicked into place and I couldn't get it off again. I kind of panicked when the retainer appeared to be stuck and I was afraid I'd lose a tooth trying to remove it. Was the original retainer ever this tight? It's hard to remember. All I know is that my old broken retainer is very easy to remove. Sure, it's worn out and probably doesn't even work anymore, but I never worry about losing a tooth when I wear it at night. Janet said I should soak the retainer in warm water before using it at night to make it more flexible. I'll try that this evening. If this doesn't help, I'll have to go back to the dentist.

A former client wanted me to locate a picture I'd taken back in the early 1990's. Lots of luck with that. I spent several hours looking through files this afternoon and couldn't find the image she wanted.  I wish my memory was better. I found lots of similar images, but nothing that matched the low-resolution thumbnail I was given as a reference. The more I think about this, I have a feeling that another photographer took this picture. It was used in a website and I used lots of other photographer's pictures during this period of time. I'll keep looking, but I have a feeling that this is a lost cause.

The roof isn't leaking, but I have no idea whether my recent repairs worked. The roof is under water now and I won't be able to inspect things until the roof dries out again. Lord knows when that is going to happen. At this time of year we seem to get an endless series of cold fronts preceded by a line of storms. I know it is supposed to continue raining through tomorrow. Hopefully, the pumps will keep working. The pumps don't remove all the water on the roof, but they help keep the standing water from becoming too deep. I'll place buckets under suspicious areas before I go to bed and hope for the best.

We're going up to the kennel again tomorrow to meet with the family who will be adopting Darn. One by one, these dogs are finding good homes.

Dakota is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, October 28, 2019

Day 3595

The Dalmatians are doing well. Jelly Bean and Soldier have been adopted. There is someone who is interested in Ginny and I think Darn is being looked at as well. Lord and Leftie are still painfully shy, but they are making progress. They both seem to gain confidence when they are together. Jasmine is almost finished with her heartworm treatment and Ginny is about ready to begin hers. Luckily, these two girls are the only dogs that are curently heartworm positive. Hank is eating well, but seems to be losing weight again. The bloody stools haven't returned, but we still can't figure out why this dog is so thin. All in all, this is a good report card, but kennel life is stressful. Each of these dogs will do even better when they find their forever homes. A Dalmatian isn't really happy until they can counter surf and sleep on your bed.

I am totally frustrated with the weather forecast. It was supposed to be clear today but ended up raining this afternoon. I hope my roof repairs had time to dry properly. The rain was just a light drizzle, but moisture is moisture. As long as the silicon has developed a skin on the top surface, I think it should continue to cure even if it gets wet. We'll see. I'll go inspect things as soon as the weather dries out again.

I finally received my new retainer. I thought the dentist was going to mail it to me last week, but it never arrived. I called to see if the retainer was finished and we stopped on our way home from the Dalmatian kennels so I could pick it up. Hopefully, this will keep my teeth from getting even further out of alignment. It seems weird that your teeth keep shifting slightly throughout your life, but that's just the way it is.

I had to take a shorter walk today so I'd have time to visit the Dalmatians. It's just as well I didn't complete the entire five miles. It was one of those foggy, damp days were you start out dry and end up wet, even though you aren't aware of rain falling. I wonder if the little circus in the park will come back next year. They've had terrible weather for two years in a row. I can't imagine that they've made much money this year. At least half of their performances have been rained out.

Roofer number four is going to come look at the house later this week. I don't expect their estimate to be much different than the first three roofers, but at least I'm doing something. Maybe they will suggest something new. An old house that has settled is full of problems. Cracks develop. Doors and windows stick. Plumbing starts to leak. All this seems minor compared to the roof though.

I don't know why I'm not sleeping well. Right after Dash died I started sleeping a lot better. Now I'm back to waking up several times a night. I don't have insomnia. I just wake up a lot. Life is full of little mysteries. As always, I'll go to sleep tonight watching an old episode of Perry Mason that I've seen many time before and hope for the best. It seems to be a lot easier to walk 20,000 steps than it is to sleep eight hours.

Abi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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