Saturday, July 20, 2019

Day 3495

There have been so many documentaries about Apollo 11 this week that I feel I know more about the space program now than I did when all this was actually happening. Looking back, it is amazing that John Kennedy's promise to send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade was actually fulfilled. Kennedy himself was starting to have second thoughts about the huge expense of the program just before he was assassinated in Dallas. I don't think we could do something like this today. Can you imagine today's politically correct politicians putting Wernher von Braun in charge of the space program? During the 60's Americans hadn't become tribal yet. Despite all the unrest surrounding the Vietnam War, most Americans still had a lot of national pride. They really wanted to beat the Russians to the moon. I can't even imagine 400,000 people working toward a common goal anymore. That's how many people the Apollo program employed at its peak. Just about everyone my age knows someone who had a connection to the Apollo program.

I'm glad we persevered and kept going despite all the initial failures. It proved that you can do just about anything if you stay focused and put your mind to it. Many of those early space pioneers genuinely believed we would be living in cities on Mars by now. It was definitely possible. They didn't realize how fickle politicians can be and how quickly dreams can fade. When I was a kid I thought we'd be living on Mars by now too. I remember reading articles about space travel in my Dad's copies of Scientific American. We were already designing atomic powered rockets in Nevada during the late 1950's. Project Orion was going to take us to Mars using a rocket powered by firing a series of nuclear bombs. What could possibly go wrong?

I didn't feel like fixing our usual Saturday breakfast. I didn't watch old Have Gun Will Travel episodes while I was eating either. I found some granola that was still sitting in a box in the kitchen that I'd bought over a year ago. It tasted fine. Apparently granola lasts forever. I went shopping for fresh fruit early today, hoping to get my morning walk in before it got too hot. Once again I failed. I think it was too hot before I woke up this morning. At least there was a breeze. It was a warm breeze but it was better than nothing.

My feeble attempts at being useful today were limited to defrosting the small refrigerator and washing the car. I don't count the long walks as being useful. I'm not even sure they are healthy in all this heat. It's something to do though. I do feel like I'm starting to get some muscle tone back. In the Winter these walks might even be enjoyable.

It's time to go to the gym again. It would make sense to use the indoor track for walks but I'm reluctant to do this. I like my rituals. I've convinced myself that memorizing all the details of my route will keep my memory sharp. I make a point to look for specific objects every several hundred yards. So far, I'm memorized a lot of signage, know where to look for Egrets and turtles, and am slowly learning the names of all the plants I see. I imagine I'll take 20,000 steps tomorrow. That's what I do on Sundays.

Lady Jane is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, July 19, 2019

Day 3494

After breakfast this morning, I went and got groceries for the week. Usually Janet cooks on the weekends and I eat leftovers during the week. No leftovers this week. Janet is on vacation with her sister and the refrigerator is empty. I'm not much of a cook so I got some more of those Cadence Kitchen flash frozen meals. I was real excited when this concept was initially introduced, but I'd almost forgotten about the stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the company had added a bunch of new dishes to their repertoire. I will be eating Pesto Shrimp, Creamy Arbol Chicken, and Pulled Pork with Pineapple this week. Did I fix any of these things tonight? Nope. I just had a hot dog.

The backyard birdbath sculpture is back together. I took the pieces over to the Creative Arts Center where my friend is teaching a metal arts class. I thought it would take weeks to fix the sculpture, but she welded it back together on her lunch break. I was surprised that the Creative Arts Center has been around since 1966 and I'd never even heard of it. It wasn't that far away either. There was some really impressive work on display and a ton of interesting classes that were open to anyone. Maybe I should take a class. Or maybe not. I am very ambivalent these days. It's nice to know that a place like this exists. At any rate, if I ever feel the urge to carve stone, fuse glass, throw pots, or learn to weave I'll know where to go.

There is so much information online about the Apollo Fiftieth Anniversary that I have become overwhelmed with facts and figures. I read the articles and watch the YouTube videos wondering why it took fifty years for the world to become interested in this stuff. Probably as soon as the anniversary is over people will forget about the moon again. When I read some of the biographies of people who worked on the Apollo program, I'm amazed at how young many of them were at the time. Some of the engineers manning the consoles at mission control weren't much older than I was. I never realized when I was in architecture school that there were people my own age working on the space program. Of course there were many people my own age fighting in Vietnam as well. All these programs about the Apollo 11 Anniversary are making me realize that 1969 was a long time ago.

I took my morning walk an hour earlier than usual today. It didn't make any difference. It was still way too hot. If I was smart, I'd get up really early like I used to when I walked Dot and Dash. Unfortunately, I'm still enjoying getting a good night's sleep. You can't really walk and sleep at the same time. I'm trying to convince myself that sweating profusely is good for you. Who knows. Maybe it is. I do drink lots of water when I return home, and I always wear a hat now, so I'm probably OK.

I wonder how long I can avoid mowing the grass. It's starting to get long again. I'm ready to patch the tears in the roof coating but the roofer hasn't delivered the silicon yet. There's a new Dalmatian that needs to be photographed too. I guess I'll start by getting more fresh fruit tomorrow morning. I'll eat a peach and then decide what to do next.

Beemer is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Day 3493

I'm starting to get estimates in for fixing things around the house. The estimates seem high, but I guess they're realistic. My reference points are costs from twenty or thirty years ago. Everything is much more expensive now. A lot of the repairs are really necessary but there is no joy in doing them. I've lost interest in the house. Like most old things, it has become a money pit. I don't talk about the architecture anymore. The mid-century design used to seem cool to me but now it is just a place to live. I definitely can't see moving anymore. The house is paid for.

The roofer has promised to bring me some more of the special silicon coating so I can patch some new small tears in the elastomer myself. I'm OK with this. I don't want to push my luck and demand that he bring a crew out to the house again. He's been out here a lot over the years. I just hope he brings the silicon stuff before it rains again.

My sculptor friend said she'd see about fixing the broken sculpture. It's really a bird bath, but it is very artistic. I need to bring the broken pieces to a school where she is teaching tomorrow. Maybe she will weld the thing back together on the spot. She is teaching a welding class.

Although the magazine won't be published until early August I keep hoping to find an advance copy of Spaceflight Magazine in the morning mail. Even a PDF file of the layout in my inbox would be welcome news. I won't be a pest and bother the editor, but it's hard to wait. I really want to see this. Maybe seeing the article in print will inspire me to do something even better in the future.

I certainly need some inspiration at this point. The dog days of summer are wearing me down. The weather is too hot. I feel too poor. Nothing seems exciting at all. I continue to spend my days taking long walks and sweating profusely. I don't read a lot anymore and I've already seen the two summer movies that seemed halfway interesting. I've had a gift card in my wallet for months now and I can't even think of anything to spend it on. The card expires at the end of the month so I guess I'll have to think of something.

I haven't tired of the new neighborhood restaurant yet, so I'll probably go back there again tomorrow morning. Pancakes or omelets? Such big decisions. I learned that my favorite clothing store is having their big end of summer sale, but who needs new clothes to walk in the park? It's weird to have no desire to buy things anymore. Buying things sustained me for years.

I guess writing sustains me now. The desire to have something to share will eventually force me to do interesting things again. It's kind of embarrassing to write about nothing.

Jade is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Day 3492

Occasionally I look back at old posts to see if anything has changed. I'd almost forgotten that on this day in 2014 Dot became very sick and had to go to the emergency vet. A few days later we learned that she had a golf ball sized tumor in her intestines and needed emergency surgery. The tumor turned out to be cancerous and we spent the rest of the year nursing her back to health. Dash was still recovering from cancer at that point as well. I guess things have changed a bit.

I don't miss all the medical emergencies, but I do miss the dogs. Life is very quiet now. I'm getting plenty of sleep these days but it's harder to find a reason to get up in the mornings. Keeping the dogs healthy and happy gave me a purpose, but it also wore me out. Maybe I'll discover a new purpose, but it may take a while. I'm in no hurry at this point.

Hot summer days have always had a slow monotony to them. When you wake up hot, all you really want to do is get through the day. This year I seem to be able to get through the day without really doing anything. Making the bed and fixing and drinking a rather large and somewhat complex fruit smoothie usually takes me to 10 AM. After checking my e-mail I take my first walk of the day. In theory I walk early to avoid the heat of the day. The problem is that I'm so slow that I'm never early. Usually by the time I've finished my three mile morning trek, it is almost noon.

I try to do a few chores during the middle of the day. Usually this just amounts to paying bills, doing laundry, picking up prescriptions, and going to the post office. Every once in a while I vacuum or go up on the roof, but not very often. Today I wrote a letter to my sister because I knew I had to go to the post office anyway. My second walk of the day is always shorter than the first. By the time 4 PM arrives I realize that there is no point in killing yourself.

I was a little disappointed with today's auction results, but at least my lot sold. I think I'm done with auctions for a while. I wish I could stay interested in downsizing because I've got a long way to go. Unfortunately, acquiring things is much more interesting to me than disposing of them. Some people seem to find real joy in lightening their load, but I'll probably always remain a pack rat at heart. It would be nice to clean out my office and start fresh, but when I look around it seems impossible. Probably the best I can do is just try to restrain myself from buying new useless stuff I don't really need.

Maybe I should go to Adult Space Camp after all. Some of the activities make me nervous, but that could be exactly what I need. It would certainly give me something interesting to write about. New experiences are easy to write about. It's much harder to write about nothing. I think I proved that again today.

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Day 3491

I guess I was surprised that the carpenter actually showed up. My expectations are pretty low these days. I liked the guy. His life seemed like the carpenter's version of mine. He'd worked for a number of large construction companies and employed other people himself before concluding that he was happiest working alone. He asked all the right questions and seemed knowledgable. If his bid seems reasonable, he'll be the guy I use to rebuild the greenhouse. Hopefully, by the end of the Summer I can cross this task off my list.

I also called a sculptor friend to see if she could repair a backyard sculpture that got broken during the same June storm that destroyed the greenhouse. Since I was feeling industrious, I climbed up on the roof to see if I could patch some small tears in the elastomer coating using the Liquid Rubber in a Can that I bought at Costco a few weeks ago. After examining the area carefully, I chickened out and begged the roofer who's trying to avoid me to bring me a new supply of the Armor Flex silicon material instead. If I use anything else, I think the repair will fail because silicon only sticks to silicon. The Liquid Rubber in a Can also had all sorts of danger warnings in very small print in the can. I don't have a good feeling about this stuff.

I was a little envious to learn that several of the folks I went to Kennedy Space Center with were participating in Apollo 11 50th Anniversary events today. One got invited to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama to hear Buzz Aldrin and other Apollo era astronauts speak at a special 50th Anniversary Dinner. Another was at the Smithsonian in Washington DC for the unveiling of the restored spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore on the moon. A third was taking his wife to see a Duran Duran concert in the Rocket Garden at the Space Center. There wasn't much on my agenda. After talking with the carpenter, I just took another very hot walk in the park.

I don't know why this summer seems like the hottest ever. Last year it was well over 100 degrees at this time. I remember a year that was so hot that the lake started to dry up. So far this year it is only in the 90's. It still seems miserable to me though. Maybe I'm just getting old. I need to start watering the grass more often. Everything is turning brown and going to die soon. I hate the thought of humongous water bills though. I find myself wishing for rain and hating rain at the same time. Basically, I'm ready for Summer to be over.

Fifty years ago this morning Apollo 11 started its journey to the moon. There certainly wasn't anything momentous going on today. As I channel hopped while I was drinking my smoothie for breakfast the only things on the news was more of the endless bickering you see in Washington DC these days. I'm enjoying all the documentaries about the Apollo 11 Anniversary, but I wish something equally exciting was going on now.

In lieu of excitement, I picked up a prescription at the pharmacy and finished updating the Dalmatian Rescue website. At least I did something today.

Laura is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, July 15, 2019

Day 3490

I finally got some better pictures of Charlie when we visited the Dalmatian Rescue kennels today. He's a hard boy to photograph because he never stays still. I wanted a picture where his ears looked nice, his tongue wasn't hanging out, and there wasn't a ball in his mouth. Eventually I got one.

All the dogs have adjusted well to being in the kennel. They get a lot of attention, are well fed, and are recovering from the medical problems many of them had when they entered the program. They all seem so normal now that I don't think any of them will have any problems adjusting to life in the forever homes each of them will find soon.

We spend a lot of time at the boarding kennel so I don't take a morning walk on Monday's anymore. I still had time for a leisurely breakfast and a few errands before we left for the kennel, but that was about it. I had just enough time to pay some bills, go to the post office, and pick up a few things at Home Depot before we left.

I still had to take some sort of walk when we returned late in the afternoon. This was probably a mistake, but I'm addicted to those Fitbit steps. It was really hot and humid today. I had to stop several times to wet down my shirt and hat in a nearby water fountain. The Pelican has returned but the Egrets are gone. I guess these birds don't like to share the same water. There were water turtles basking on several semi-submerged logs. I guess they liked the sun better than I did.

I'm finally starting to get some bids for the last piece of art I put up for auction. I guess lowering the reserve made a difference. This is just an online auction so there is no drama. Maybe that's for the best. This piece got no attention at all when it was offered at a big auction in New York several months ago. I wish I had more art to unload. The bills for my trip to Florida are starting to come in and it is obvious that travel can be just as expensive as collecting things. I think travel is the way to go now though. When you collect memories they don't take up a lot of space.

I wish I didn't have problems with heartburn. I had some leftover pizza for dinner and I can already tell that it's going to be a long night. Pizza, spaghetti, and chili are just about the only things that give me problems. It's a shame because I love these things. We had steaks last night and a chicken casserole over the weekend and I had no problems at all. Whenever I eat vegetarian meals I don't have any problems either. It's clear that I shouldn't eat pizza, but I hate to give it up entirely. Every once in a while I just resign myself to heartburn.

A carpenter is coming over tomorrow to give me an estimate on repairing the greenhouse. If I like the guy I may get some bids on fixing other things around the house as well. There's certainly plenty of things that need to be fixed. It's hard to find an experienced carpenter who will work on small jobs. I don't know if this guy's any good, but one of my neighbors likes him a lot. I finally called the carpenter because I kept seeing his truck in front of the neighbor's house.

I'll add Charlie's new picture to the Dalmatian website tomorrow. I hope the carpenter shows up. You never know with these guys.

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

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Day 3489

I was terrible on the basketball court this morning. I wonder a lot about consistency. Why can I sink free throws like clockwork on some days and am all over the place on others? You'd think that over time I'd become more and more consistent. Why don't I sleep the same length every night. If my days are consistent, why aren't my nights? I like consistency. I eat the same things and wear the same things over and over. Apparently nature likes a little variety though. Every day seems to have at least one surprise.

There's a sound system at the gym and I always try to remember who is singing the songs. My memory fails me at times. When I heard Sweet Dreams Are Made of This, it took me a little while to remember that Annie Lennox was singing. It took me a little longer to remember that Dave Stewart was her partner. I never could remember the name of the band. I had to look it up when I got home. Jeez. How could I forget the Eurythmics.

Memories are weird. I read an article recently that said that forgetting things was good for the brain and might actually make you smarter. If that's the case I must be a genius. I forget a lot. It's amazing how many memories remain though. One memory often triggers another and all of the sudden you are remembering something that happened fifty years ago in vivid detail. Researchers now say that people who tend to forget unnecessary information are better at problem solving and less prone to depression. I wish I'd heard about this theory years ago. I used to think my forgetfulness was a curse rather than a blessing. I've described my brain to others as a tape loop like those flight recorders in airplanes. After a while new information overwrites the old and you start fresh again. This probably saved me in advertising. I used to do a lot of bank advertising. Basically all bank advertising is the same. If I wasn't continuously reinventing the wheel and starting over, I probably would have gone nuts.

It seemed harder to get my requisite 20,000 steps today. This was puzzling too. I should have had more energy because the weather was cooler and it wasn't miserable outside. It was actually a pretty nice day. Why was I tired today? I certainly got plenty of sleep. I think about these things while I walk. I don't really dwell on them though. I probably spend more time counting ducks than I do having deep thoughts.

Someone asked me recently whether I'd ever considered going to Adult Space Camp in Alabama. Actually, yes. I looked at their web site once and immediately noticed that training involved spending time in a multi-axis simulator and scuba diving in the underwater neutral buoyancy trainer. For someone who routinely gets sick on cruise ships and had difficulty flying a Cessna 152 in a straight line without throwing up, this might not be for me. Maybe spending an evening with an astronomer during a special viewing night at McDonald Observatory's 82-inch Otto Struve Telescope is more my speed.  Janet and most of my friends like to visit new places. I seem to like learning new things instead.

I doubt that I'll be learning anything new tomorrow. We'll probably visit the Dalmatians again though. Monday seems the best day to go to the kennel. Charlie needs a better picture. Now that he's learned to sit still for a treat, maybe I can finally get a decent portrait.

Dolly is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Day 3488

It's been three months since Dash died. There are new routines now. I can't say that life has returned to normal because it still seems normal to have dogs in the house. There was at least one Dalmatian in our home for over 30 years. Dogs still matter to us but I have to admit that it's nice to not have huge vet bills or the responsibility of deciding what is right for your best friend when the end is approaching. Janet volunteers with a local rescue group now. We both enjoy visiting the Dalmatians once a week. For now this is enough. We're traveling more now and doing things that weren't possible when caring for sick dogs was a 24/7 responsibility. Although it is sometimes tempting to take a dog home with us when we visit the Dalmatians at the boarding kennel, I realize that these dogs are finding fabulous homes. That's all that matters. If and when we're ready for a dog again, I'm sure there will be a dog that's ready for us.

I'm trying to do everything earlier now since it is so hot. I thought I'd find fresher fruit at the grocery store if I shopped early, but it doesn't seem to matter. Often stores get fresh deliveries daily, but you can't depend on it. I've noticed that the best strawberries are usually in the bottom boxes. Produce managers put the older fruit on top, hoping that people will buy it first. I sort through all the boxes, trying to find the best. Peaches are weird. Specific varieties are usually in the store for only a month and then you'll find a new variety. Not that it matters, but I'm gradually learning which varieties I like best. I eat a lot of peaches in the summer because they aren't even available in the winter. Most of you know that a fungal disease is gradually destroying the Cavendish banana around the world and this fruit might not be available soon. What am I going to do without my favorite bananas? You'd think that someone who was so interested in fruit would be equally interested in vegetables. Nope. I usually skip the vegetable aisle.

I'm conflicted about food. I really like pork, but feel guilty eating it since pigs are nice, exceptionally smart animals. I'm not sure that vegans are doing themselves any favors. I've known some very unhealthy vegans. I've known some very healthy vegans too, but I do believe that humans are basically carnivorous animals. So are dogs. Dogs seem to thrive on a raw diet. I've often wondered if the high incidence of cancer in dogs is because of the heavily processed food most of them eat.

I was amused to learn that the basic ingredients used to make Beyond Meat and those Impossible Burgers is very similar to the ingredients found in high end dog food. The only real difference is the spices used to make these products taste like meat. These meat substitutes have become very popular recently but they're basically just dog food. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I always thought our dogs ate better than we did.

When I was growing up in Alaska, everybody hunted. People has big freezers in their garages and neighbors traded game with each other. Dad was more of a fisherman, but he often traded salmon and trout he'd caught for Moose steaks or ducks. There was an honest simplicity to all this. It was the complete opposite of factory farming. We try to buy cage free eggs and grass fed beef but it's probably just a token gesture. The world has changed. We're not that far away from Soylent Green.

If you're wondering why I'm talking about food today it is because I didn't really do anything. I could have summed up today in a single sentence: Ate breakfast, bought groceries, walked, and blogged.

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

Day 3487

Some days are very uneventful. I had a different type of omelet this morning when I went out for breakfast at the new place in the neighborhood. For the second week in a row they gave me free juice. I like this place. There are lots of things to try on the menu, so this will probably be my go-to place for the rest of the summer. You can tell this is a neighborhood restaurant. There are lots of older customers and lots of young families. No singles at all.

I tried to take my first walk of the day before things got too hot. I guess I failed because I still came home drenched in sweat. There are sailing classes for kids on the lake during the summer. This morning I saw a small sailboat tipped over with other boats nearby. At first I thought this was an emergency, but several minutes later the boat was upright again. Then another boat tipped over and this one quickly became upright again as well. It finally dawned on me that the kids were being taught what to do in case their boat capsized when they were the only one on board. This would definitely be a good skill to learn.

The White Pelican has disappeared again, but I'm seeing a lot of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers lately. These birds are amazing to watch, making abrupt turns in the sky and even hovering like helicopters at times. When I see these birds I think I need to bring a better camera with me, but it is too hot for that. A heavy camera would just be an encumbrance. Did I tell you that I take most of my wildlife pictures in the winter.

The stock market set an all time high today. All three major indices closed at record levels. This is good news but it makes me a little nervous. Too many times in the past I have witnessed the market set a new record and then immediately go into a slump. I hope this won't happen again but I wouldn't be terribly surprised. It's all about fear and greed. If enough people get nervous they will take their money off the table.

On day like these when nothing is happening I charge batteries. It doesn't take long to find a piece of equipment with a dead battery in the office. I try to keep everything charged, but it's easy to forget about things. If you leave a battery uncharged for long enough it becomes useless and impossible to charge. It's a constant struggle. I thought I'd reached the end of the line with an old laptop I hadn't used in a while, but the battery light finally started glowing and by the end of the day the computer was fully charged again. I've given up on watch batteries. It's just too much trouble to keep a stock of weird little batteries and taking the back off some of these watches has become a giant pain. The watches need to go to auction. All you really need these days is a Fitbit.

I guess I'm not as patient as I thought I was. I keep wondering what my article will look like in the magazine, but I'm going to have to wait until mid-August to find out. Such a long time.

Winston is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Day 3486

Cicadas are the quintessential sound of summer in Texas. They are loud and the sound never seems to go away. I hear these insects when I wake up, during the heat of the day, and well into the night. You hear that Cicadas only appear every 17 years, but I hear them every summer. It took me a while to learn that there are two types of these insects. Annual Cicadas come out every year in July and August and Periodic Cicadas are the ones that periodically appear in massive numbers all at once. Sometimes the 17 year Cicadas appear after 21 years instead. It's confusing. I think we must have both types this year. They're everywhere. Our first Dalmatian, Spot, loved to eat these bugs. He would catch the insects while they were flying and race around the yard with them buzzing in his mouth. Luckily Dot and Dash never acquired this disgusting habit.

The Dog Days of Summer are here. Traditionally, these are the forty days beginning July 3 and ending August 11 when hot, sultry weather is at its worst. I always used to think this term had something to do with dogs panting on a hot day, but it's been around since the early Greeks who used the rising of the dog star Sirius at sunrise as a warning that drought, disease, and discomfort were on the way. For me this time of year is always when the meadows in the park turn yellow, the flowers disappear, and my electric bills go through the roof. It's not a good time to leave your dog outside either. I never seems to be happy with the weather. In the Summer I can't wait for Winter and in the Winter I can't wait for Summer.

I learned recently that the highway department is replacing a bridge near us that I use almost every day. I guess that's a bit of an exaggeration since I don't even leave the house every day, but I do use this bridge a lot. I'm dreading this. Highway construction projects take so long. I suspect there will be detours, traffic delays, and general inconvenience for several years. I wonder why they are replacing this bridge? It seems fine to me and doesn't even get all that much traffic. Nobody ever tells you the truth though. The bridge could be structurally unsound and might collapse the next time I drive over it.

It's time to take the trash out to the curb again, but where do I put it? For some reason there are lots of cars parked on the street that never used to be there. Are these visiting relative or are the neighbors just not using their driveways this summer. There is a particular spot where I always place my can and it was occupied by a car tonight. The fact that this bothered me at all must mean that I have OCD pretty bad.

I'm a little disappointed that the Chasing the Moon series is already over. I've enjoyed watching this show for the past three evenings. Now it's back to old Perry Mason episodes that I've seen three times already. I already know where I'm going to breakfast tomorrow. I liked the new breakfast place I discovered last Friday. There are a lot of tasty things on the menu that I haven 't tried yet. I'm sure I'll eventually get tired of this place too, but it ought to be a welcome diversion during the Dog Days of Summer.

Sophia is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Day 3485

Janet and I went an saw Yesterday at a matinee this afternoon. We are both retired, but it still seems weird that we can just go see a movie whenever we feel like it. I liked the film. It was basically a romcom with a happy ending and lots of great music. I grew up with The Beatles and they were one of the main reasons I learned to play the guitar and was in lots of enthusiastic but inept bands during high school and college. Despite this background, I had forgotten just how many amazing songs The Beatles actually wrote. There are literally hundreds of great Beatles songs. For someone who was a freshman in high school when I Want to Hold Your Hand hit the airwaves, Yesterday was a pleasant trip down memory lane. I completely forgot that the whole premise of the movie was ridiculous.

I like going to movies in the afternoon. The theater is usually empty and you can sit anywhere you want. Ticket prices are a little lower, although they still seem high to me. We got the discounted daytime, senior citizen rate and still paid about $10 a ticket. I remember paying $5 not that long ago. OK. Maybe it was a long time ago. I wonder how movie theaters survive. Why go to a theater when you can watch the same thing on iTunes for half the price?

It is still ridiculously hot. I wear twice as much clothing now because I have to change every time I take a walk. Sweating has become a way of life. I think we have had worse heat waves in the past, but it is so humid this year that it feels even hotter than it actually is. I thought we were going to get some rain today, but one big storm system went to the West of us and then a little while later another one went to the East. Normally this would be great news. Now I'm not so sure. A nice gentle rain would cool things down. Let's not go crazy though. No more downed trees or power outages. We've had enough of those.

I watched the last episode of Chasing the Moon tonight. Seeing this back-to-back with Yesterday made me nostalgic for a time in history that I don't expect to see again any time soon. Sure, there was a lot of social unrest in the sixties. This was the era of Vietnam and campus protests as much as it was  a time of moon landings and the Beatles. The jarring memories have faded away though. I think this is human nature. We like to remember the positive things. The space program faltered for a while after the Apollo program ended and of course The Beatles broke up. These things existed though. They happened. I like to think that if we could do something once, we can do it again.

I often wonder how you keep dreams alive. I've certainly had plenty of big dreams that have faded away. Probably everybody has. It's easy for the problems of daily life to slowly grind you down one inch at a time. I mostly think about paying bills, high cholesterol, rush hour traffic, and roof leaks. Every once in a while when it is very late and very quiet, I still have dreams though. Can I reach them? Do they even matter? I guess you'll have to keep reading to find out.

Keller is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Day 3484

I spent my day thinking about small things. I noticed that a group of about twelve Great Egrets have taken over the small corner of the lake where the wayward Pelican resides. When the new birds arrived, the Pelican disappeared. I wonder why? Are birds this territorial? Did the two camps refuse to share fish? Where did all these Egrets come from anyway? I thought the Pelican was gone for good and then today it reappeared after being gone for a week. All my theories are out the window now.

I also wonder why almost all the fishermen at the lake use bank poles. It's very rare to see anyone spincasting. The people with bank poles usually just sit in a lawn chair and watch their poles. Is there method to this madness or are these fishermen just lazy. Why would anyone even want to eat the fish in this lake anyway? The water is polluted. Who am I to judge though? I bet a lot of the fresh fish you see in the seafood section at your local supermarket have spent time in polluted water. I don't trust farm raised fish at all after what I've read about Tilapia.

I'm starting to see a lot of Onewheel boards and electric scooters at the park. Why did these things catch on and Segways didn't? Maybe it was the price. Maybe nobody thought Segways were cool. I never see these things anymore. I don't understand this need for speed at all. When I walk through the park there is plenty of time to wonder where the Pelican went or why the Passionflower vines I see along the path bloom so infrequently. If I was speeding around on a Onewheel or even a bicycle, I'd never see anything. I'd just be worrying about killing myself.

I heard that Ross Perot died today. Electronic Data Systems was one of my first clients when I started my company. Ross is still the reason that there are a lot of suits in my closet. He ran a tight ship in the early days. Even creative people like me had to wear a suit when you called on the company. I never dressed better. Male employees had to wear a tie just to eat in the company cafeteria. I enjoyed working for EDS and later Siemens in Germany though. These conservative companies made me feel like a wild and crazy guy.

I enjoyed watching the first segment of Chasing the Moon on PBS last night. I'm going to watch the next segment tonight even though it will keep me up past my bedtime. I guess it doesn't matter how late I stay up. The blog will still get posted before midnight and there are no real plans for tomorrow. I did manage to find somebody who will give me a bid on replacing the greenhouse today. It might be months before any work begins but at least I'm making progress. I've set a pretty low bar for myself. As long as I do something every day, I'm good.

Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, July 8, 2019

Day 3483

It looks like Monday is going to be the day we visit the Dalmatians. The boarding kennel is not usually busy on Mondays, so we don't get in the way while we are visiting with the dogs. There is a large, air conditioned indoor play area where we can play ball, let the dogs run freely, and make rudimentary attempts to teach them basic commands. We've spent enough time with the group now that we are starting to learn their personalities.

Now that Penny and Evie, our two sisters, have been adopted, Treasure is our only girl currently in the program. She is playful and affectionate and we have already taught her to roll over. Pongo, pictured here, is one of our newcomers. He is underweight and is still recovering from his heartworm treatment, but is already starting to put on a few pounds. He was much more relaxed today than he was last week. Jenga is deaf but you'd never know it. He is remarkably well adjusted and responds well to hand signals. Jenga loves to play ball and always seems happy. Charlie has probably made the most progress since entering the rescue program. He has finally learned some manners and will sit and stay for a treat now. Hank, another of our newcomers, is a blank slate. He is extremely friendly but could use a little training. We'll work on that. It is fun to see these dogs grow and become more confident with each passing week. Each of them is going to make someone very happy soon.

The weather is hot enough now that it is starting to be featured on the local news. I see stories on the importance of staying hydrated and how to avoid heatstroke. I'd like to see a few more stories about the dangers of leaving your dog out in the hot sun. I'm still walking in the heat of the day, but I do take a few precautions. I soak my hat and shirt in water before I begin my walk to help cool me down. When the hat starts to dry out, I'll wet it down again using a water fountain along the way. These walks are a little tiring although I still think they are a lot better than just staying inside and watching TV. I even made it up on the roof today and got the faulty pump running again. As I expected, there was just a kink in the hose. I was surprised that there was still water on the roof since it has been so hot lately. I guess it did rain a lot a few days ago.

I got a late start writing tonight because I wanted to watch the first episode of Chasing the Moon on PBS. I guess I'll get a late start tomorrow and Wednesday as well since this American Experience show is a three part series. I remember the beginnings of the space program but I'm surprised at how much I've forgotten fifty years later. I don't think any of this would have happened without the cold war and the enthusiasm of President Kennedy. An enormous amount of money was spent to get us to the moon. Today's expenditures on space are small by comparison. We aren't as unified as a country either. The 60's were an amazing time to be alive. I don't think this period of history will be repeated any time soon.

Today will probably be repeated tomorrow however. There won't be a trip to the Dalmatian kennels, but everything else will be the same. A breakfast smoothie followed by a long walk and a longing for cooler weather.

Trevor is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Day 3482

Sunday is all about taking 20,000 steps. I have to stay pretty active to do this, but I've reached my goal for over a month now. Fitbit says I've walked 2,500 miles since I began wearing their bracelet. I haven't even been wearing the Fitbit that long. I wore a succession of Jawbone UP bands before buying the Fitbit. I wonder how many miles those bands accumulated? When Dot and Dash were young we walked long distances every day without bothering to keep track of anything. I had nothing to prove in those days and the walks were probably more enjoyable as a result.

I'm not sure I'm trying to prove anything now. It just seems prudent to keep moving. A lot of my friends are still reasonably healthy, but whenever someone falls by the wayside it is alarming. This is the age when people around you start to drop like flies. I've already outlived a number of friends I went to college with. You hate to think that you only have a limited amount of time left, but that's just the reality of things. Ten to twenty more years at best. Jeez. I've lived in this house longer than that.

It seems much hotter than it did last summer. It's probably just my perception of things. As Dash got older and became less mobile, we never went out during the heat of the day. We would take our short walks before sunrise when the air was still cool. Back when my company was busy I didn't have time to worry about how many steps I was taking anyway. I had ads to write and websites to design. Back in the day I spent a lot more time at this computer than I ever did walking.

I feel bad for all the dogs I see being walked in the park this summer. It is too hot for many of them. Dogs don't sweat like we do and they are wearing a fur coat. If you feel compelled to walk your dog in 100 degree weather, please take water with you and if your dog gets tired go sit under a tree for a while. Whatever you do, don't walk on hot pavement. Paws get burned in this weather. I'm sure people get heatstroke too, but I mostly just worry about the dogs. Today I saw a dog standing on one of those stand up paddle boards way out in the middle of the lake. If the dog fell off the board it probably wouldn't be able to climb back on and it was too far to swim to shore. Why do people do things like this?

I had a good day at the gym. I think I set an all time record for the number of baskets I sunk in a row. I don't think my skills have actually improved though. It was just blind luck. When my streak was eventually broken, I went right back to the same mediocre performance I usually show on the court.

I need to go fix the pump on the roof tomorrow morning. It's bound to rain again soon. I should try that Liquid Rubber in a Can stuff too and see if it works. It it's too hot tomorrow, I can always wait until Tuesday. There's really nothing that's all that urgent anymore. I'm just counting steps these days.

Delaney is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, July 6, 2019

Day 3481

Another hot sunny day that ended with a thunderstorm. This has been happening all week. Most of the brief afternoon storms have missed us, but this one was a direct hit. Every time I hear thunder I worry that the power is going to go out or another tree will fall. No damage this time, but I'm definitely gun shy about storms.

I guess it's a good thing that I didn't attempt any roof repairs today. They wouldn't have had time to dry. Instead of going up on the roof, I went to Home Depot and bought some more river rock to fill the ever growing hole in the driveway. I thought I had fixed this several months ago, but the ground keeps sinking. Instead of buying sacks filled with rocks, I should just get a truckload delivered and cover the entire driveway with river rocks. It would be cheaper than repaving and I bet it would look pretty good. On the other hand, rocks are heavy. I can just see me spending hours shoveling and raking a huge pile of rocks so we can move our cars again. Maybe my minimal efforts to fix things will do just fine.

I keep buying peaches at the store, even though we already have peaches. Janet has already made peach bread and is making a peach cobbler tonight. It's a good thing we like peaches. I need to quit buying food out of habit and start checking to see what we actually have on hand.

Only one of the pumps on the roof seems to be working this evening. Mostly the problem turns out to be a kink in the hose, but I don't feel like climbing up and investigating. I'll fix the pump tomorrow. It's getting dark and there's still lightning in the area. It would be crazy to go up on the roof tonight.

If it had to rain I wish it could have rained this morning. The rain cools things down. I sure could have used a little cooler weather on my walks today. I'm always amazed that there are other people out jogging and cycling on these hot summer days. I feel sorry for the dogs. I think it is too hot to be walking your dog a long way on days like this. Despite the oppressive heat, I keep walking. It keeps me in shape and it beats doing yard work.

The guy who was going to give me an estimate on fixing the greenhouse never showed up. Scratch that guy off the list. It's really hard to find good people who are interested in doing little jobs. I have a lot of things that need to be fixed around the house, but they are all small jobs. Remember that handyman named Eldon on Murphy Brown? That's what I need. Somebody who's always around.  when you need them. I used to attempt difficult jobs myself. Not anymore. I think age is catching up with me.

It's time to go to the gym again. I could think of a lot more imaginative things to do on Sunday, but I guess I like staying healthy.

Cisco is today's Dalmatian of the Day

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Day 3480

The new restaurant is a winner. I was pleasantly surprised to find something so nice very close to home. This is the second new "breakfast only" restaurant I've been to recently. Is this a trend? These places seem to have a huge breakfast menu, but they close for the day early in the afternoon. There seems to be a demand for this kind of place. The restaurant had been open less than a week and it already had a good crowd.

The menus in these new places spend a lot of time talking about sustainable farming and cage free eggs. There was even a small medallion on the table that said it was made using reclaimed ash. Maybe a storm somewhere else blew down a lot of ash trees. This place was clearly designed for the Avocado Toast crowd. Maybe that's everybody younger than me though. I think people still like nice food. They just don't like to cook.

There must be a large Amazon warehouse here in Dallas. My order for the lawnmower battery charger hadn't even been processed early this morning and it arrived at my door around dinner time. Fedex and UPS have made home deliveries difficult by demanding a signature on almost everything. Amazon doesn't bother with this. They just dump the package on your front porch and leave. They seldom even knock because that would slow them down. They do something they other guys don't though. They photograph the package on your porch and send you an e-mail as soon as they deliver. Same day delivery with photographic proof that the package actually arrived. Amazon for the win on home deliveries.

Most of you know that I procrastinate on a lot of things. I've been needing to fix a sliding glass door for almost two years and had never gotten around to calling the place that a friend recommended. I finally called the company today and discovered that the guy who fixes the doors was dead. He had been killed several weeks ago in a home invasion robbery. If there is a lesson in all this it is that Dallas is a much more dangerous place than it used to be and that if you put things off too long, you can easily lose the opportunity to do them. Life is full of twists and turns. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring, so you should always do what you can today.

In an attempt to follow my own advice, I called the rest of the people I  needed to get home repair estimates from and picked up a prescription I had forgotten about at the pharmacy. The only thing I forgot was getting a new roll of stamps at the post office. I guess I forgot to mark Penny and Evie as adopted on the Dalmatian Rescue website too. I'll do that tomorrow.

I hope my new battery charger works. I can plug the receptacle into the lawnmower and the red charging light comes on. So far, so good. I just need to remember to take this thing into the house whenever it rains. Hopefully I can get a fair bid on fixing the greenhouse so there will be a roof over the lawnmower again sometime soon. Maybe I ought to just turn the greenhouse into a storage shed. I doubt that plants are going to be growing there any time in the foreseeable future.

I'm still getting a lot of steps even though it is becoming ridiculously hot outside. I hope that sweating is good for your health.

Isabella is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Day 3479 - Independence Day

For the first time in ages Janet and I went and watched the fireworks displays. A succession of dogs that were terrified of fireworks made this impossible in the past. We couldn't take them with us and we didn't want to leave them home alone. Missing the fireworks was no great loss, but it was kind of nice to see them again.

When I took my walks through the park today I was surprised at the lack of crowds. The park used to be packed with people on the Fourth of July. Often you could smell the smoke from dozens of barbecue fires all the way up at our house. Times have changed I guess. There were still some large family picnics but the crowds were nothing like I remember in the past. Actually, Cinco de Mayo celebrations seem to attract more people than Fourth of July celebrations these days.

If you felt like grilling something, today was a good day to do it. It was typical July day with billowing white puffy clouds dotting the sky. Although it was hot, there was a nice breeze and it didn't feel oppressive at all. Some parts of town got a little rain late in the afternoon, but the park stayed dry and no picnics were ruined. We even did a little grilling ourselves. All we cooked were hot dogs, but somehow hot dogs seemed appropriate for the Fourth of July.

Every Fourth of July I am thankful that I am still in one piece. I cringe when I think of all the dangerous things my friends and I did as kids. We would take the powder out of firecrackers and combine it to make bigger explosions. You could buy cherry bombs and M-80s everywhere and it's a miracle that one of us didn't blow off our hands. I remember making cannons out of steel pipe and filling coke cans with sand to use as shells. A couple of M-80's and a heavy rock blocking the end of the pipe would send those cans traveling a long way. We would also put cherry bombs in the center of  full rolls of toilet paper and throw them up in the air. It was great fun, but I still wonder why no parents intervened.

I enjoy petting a dog a lot more than lighting a firecracker these days. Solitude and quiet is preferable to noise. There are still some Independence Days I remember however. In 1976 I remember sailing into Seattle harbor at night after spending the day in Vancouver. The bicentennial was being celebrated and the fireworks overhead were awesome. I remember selling glowsticks to a huge crowd that had gathered in downtown Dallas to watch the fireworks. We were raising money to help the Dalmatians and I don't think anyone in the group would have the nerve to do something like this today. Dallas seemed a lot safer back then. The whole world seemed safer when my young friends and I were tossing cherry bombs around in the late 1950's. Maybe that's why we felt no danger doing very dangerous things.

I think I'll go try out the new neighborhood breakfast restaurant tomorrow morning. It would be nice if this place were good. It's so close and convenient. The rest of the day is up in the air. I need to start getting bids on fixing some things around the house. I hate to spend the money though. I'd rather go to another rocket launch.

Matao is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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